Where Have You Gone, Ozzie Timmons?
Ozzie Timmons smacked a two-out game-winning walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th to give the Cubs the victory in the last game played at HoHoKam Park before the stadium was to be demolished...
But it's now 2013, and in the last Cactus League Spring Training game played by the Cubs (as the home team) at HoHoKam Park before moving to their new facility at Mesa Riverview next season, Nate Tenbrink ripped a two-out two-strike two-run single and Kelly Shoppach followed with an RBI double into the LF corner, as the Seattle Mariners rallied for three runs in the 8th to defeat the Cubs 6-4.
Carlos Villanueva got the start for the Cubs and threw five strong inings (90 pitches - 59 strikes), allowing three runs (only one earned) on four hits and two walks in five inings (plus one batter in the 6th). He struck out three.
Michael Morse put the Mariners on the board in the top of the 2nd with a solo HR over the fence in right-centerfield, but the Cubs came back to score three off SEA starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the bottom of the 3rd. Arismendy Alacantara (up from Minor League Camp) led-off the inning with a triple off the right-centerfield fence, and scored on a line-drive PH RBI single to right by Zeke DeVoss (also up from Ninor League Camp). Then with two outs, Alfonso Soriano clubbed a two-run home run (his team-leading 5th Cactus League HR) over the LF fence.
Villanueva was crusing slong with a 3-1 lead going into the 5th, but a throwing error by 2B Tim Saunders (another player up from Minor League Camp) on what should have been the start of a 4-6-3 DP put Villanueva behind the 8-ball, and the M's made him pay when Kyle Seager stroked a two-out two run double to left that tied the game at 3-3.
But the Cubs took the lead again in the bottom of the 6th, as Brett Jackson did his Jackie Robinson impression.
Jackson drew a lead-off walk, advanced to 2nd base on a fly out to CF (the first instance of aggressive baserunning by B-Jax), and then scored on another bit of fancy baserunning. Dioner Navarro chopped a bouncer that was fielded by the third-baseman, who eye-checked Jackson back to 2nd before throwing Navarro out at 1st for the second out of the inning. But Jackson only pretended to go back to 2nd base, instead racing for 3rd once the third-baseman began his throwing motion to 1st, and he was able to slide safely into 3rd as 1st baseman Tenbrink's throw sailed past third-base and into LF foul territory, which allowed Jackson to jog home with the go-ahead run.
LHP Hisnori Takahashi (who apparently has claimed the 12th spot on the pitching staff) relieved Villanueva in the 6th and retired seven of the first eight men he faced, before running into trouble in the top of the 8th. With one out, Jesus Sucre and Jason Bay singled, and then with two outs, Nate Tenbrink (a LH hitter facing LHP Takahashi) pulled a two-strike pitch into RF for a two-run single, and then Kelly Shoppach followed with an RBI double.
It is fairly obvious that while he has the ability to throw multiple innings and probably make a spot start when needed, Takahashi is not particularly effective against LH hitters, and so he's not the type of lefty you bring into a game to try and neutralize Joey Votto at a critical point. James Russell (who is basically a 7th inning guy who happens to throw LH) isn't especially tough on lefties, either, so the Cubs might want to keep their eyes open for a true LOOGY, should one become available.
Shawn Camp pitched out of a runner at 3rd & one out jam in the top of the 9th, striking out the last two men he faced to leave the runner stranded. (Camp struck out the side in a 1-2-3 inning vs SF on Monday).
Welington Castillo singled to lead-off the bottom of the 9th and bring the potential tying run to the plate three times, but the next three hitters went down 1-2-3.
No sign of Ozzie Timmons anywhere.
So the Cubs spent their last day as the home team at HoHoKam Park. The stadium will remain open until December, with the AZL Cubs (June-August) and Mesa Solar Sox (October-November) playing their home games there later this season. The facility will then be closed for about a year while it undergoes a renovation (seating capacity will be rduced as grandstand seats will be removed and patio-picnic areas will be constructed), and then the Oakland A's will relocate to HoHoKam Park (and Fitch Park) in 2015.
The Cubs have a lengthy history in Nesa. They moved their Spring Training HQ to Rendevous Park (southeast corner of University & Center) from Santa Catalina Island in 1953, thanks to the efforts of Mesa businessman Dwight (Pat) Patterson (the first Big Ho) and the rest of the HoHoKams (Mesa businessmen & boosters). The Cubs Spring Training home remained at Rendevous Park through the 1965 season, before being moved to Long Beach, CA for a year (Leo Durocher's first season as Cubs manager). Meanwhile, the Kansas City Athletics (later the Oakland A's) noved to Meaa and replaced the Cubs at Rendevous. The Cubs moved back to Arizona from Long Beach in 1967, but this time they were based at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, and this is where I first experienced Cubs Spring Training in the 1970's.
The Cubs moved back to Mesa from Scottsdale in 1979, but by this time a new Spring Training ballpark was in service (located at HoHoKam Park on Center Street north of Brown Road). The Cubs played in this stadium for 18 years (through Spring Training 1996), after which a new stadium (Dwight Patterson Field) was constructed on the same site.