Almora & Vitters Lead Cubs to Victory over A's
Albert Almora laced an opposite-field RBI triple into the RF corner and then scored one out later on a sacrifice fly, Josh Vitters roped an RBI double, and Jose Rosario threw four innings of one-hit ball, helping the Cubs edge the Athletics 4-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ.
Almora (the Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick) saw his first game action in more than six weeks, since having hand surgery on March 16th (he broke his hamate bone at Minor League Camp on March 14th). He was a DH and hit five times in today's game, once in each of the first five innings. He lined out to CF in his first AB, then bounced out to third, reached base on an E-5 (another bouncer that the A's third-baseman tried to cut-off in front of the shortstop), ripped his RBI triple (and then he tore his pants and got a pretty good "raspberry" on his left thigh sliding home on the sac fly), and (in his last AB) grounded out to short.
Josh Conway got the start for the Cubs and went five strong innings (80 pitches), allowing two runs on four hits (all four singles) and two walks, while striking out six (five swinging). He retired nine of the first ten men he faced and then four of the last five, but in between he gave up two runs on four hits in the top of the 4th. The way he is being stretched out makes it look like the Cubs might be thinking about moving him up to Kane County or Daytona in the near future.
Jose Rosario followed Conway to the mound and threw four innings of one-hit ball (although he did walk three). He surrendered a lead-off triple in the top of the 9th, but looked like he would get out of the inning and leave the runner stranded at 3rd after retiring the next two hitters. However, a two-out fielding error by 1st baseman Mark Malave allowed the runner at 3rd to score. Rosario looks like he might be about ready to move up to either Kane County or Daytona, too.
The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair, and the A's did score two runs off Ethan Elias to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the 10th. However, the game was called in the middle of the 10th because the A's ran out of available pitchers, and so the score reverted to what it was at the end of the 9th inning, and therefore the Cubs won 4-3.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
X. Albert Almora, DH #1: 1-5 (L-8, 5-3, E-5, 3B, 6-3, R, RBI)
NOTE: Almora batted five times, hitting 2nd in each of the first five innings
1a. Shawon Dunston Jr, CF: 0-1 (K, F-8 SF, RBI)
1b. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 1-1 (1B, F-7 SF, RBI)
2a. David Bote, 2B: 0-2 (L-9, 1-3)
2b. Roberto Caro, CF: 1-1 (1B, BB, CS)
3. Carlos Penalver, SS: 1-3 (E-6, 1B, F-8, R)
4. Josh Vitters, 3B-DH: 2-3 (5-3, 2B, 1B, RBI)
5. Yasiel Balaguert, RF: 1-3 (4-3, 1B, K)
6a. Jose Dore, 1B: 0-2 (L-4, 4-3)
6b. Wilfredo Petit, C: 0-1 (K)
7a. Xavier Batista, LF: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Mark Malave, 1B: 0-1 (4-6 FC)
8a. Lance Rymel, C: 0-2 (6-4-3 DP, 4-3)
8b. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 0-0 (BB, R)
9. Kevin Encarnacion, DH #2: 0-1 (BB, K, BB, R)
10a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES THRU BATTING ORDER
10b. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 0-1 (L-4)
1. Josh Conway: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 80 pitches (50 strikes), 4/4 GO/FO
2. Jose Rosario: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 59 pitches (33 strikes), 4/6 GO/FO
3. Ethan Elias: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 19 pitches (14 strikes), 1/2 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. 1B Mark Malave - E-3 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely & unearned run to score)
2. C Wilfredo Petit - E-2 (overthrow at 2nd base on SB attempt allowed baserunner to advance to 3rd)
1. Lance Rymel: 1-3 CS
2. Wilfredo Petit: 0-1 CS , 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump