Cubs Beat Brewers, but Apparently Lose Conway
Carlos Escobar blasted a 420+ foot two-run HR that landed on the roof of a mobile classroom at Frank Borman Elementary School beyond the left-centerfield fence to put the Cubs on the scoreboard in the top of the 1st, Shawon Dunston Jr belted a triple and two singles, scored two runs, and drove-in two more, and Yasiel Balaguert laced a two-run triple, singled, walked, and scored two runs, as the Cubs outlasted the Brewers 9-7 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Maryvale Baseball Complex Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") in Phoenix, AZ.
Tyler Roberts doubled twice, singled, scored two runs, and drove-in one, and Dustin Houle singled, doubled, walked, and scored three runs, to aid the Brewer cause.
The pitcher's mound on Field #7 was in deplorable condition. It had apparently baked in the heat (the infield was hard as cement) and then had been over-watered just prior to start of the game, so starting pitchers Josh Conway (Cubs) and Daniel Keller (Brewers) were constantly slipping & sliding on clods of dirt when they hit their respective landing spots after throwing a pitch, and the two pitchers had to continually go to the back of the mound and scrape mud out of their cleats. The mound was also tacky at the rubber, so that at one point the cleats on Keller's right shoe got stuck in the mud and he had to abort a pitch by throwing it directly into the ground.
Meanwhile, Conway looked uncomfortable from his very first pitch, continually pawing at his landing spot and scraping mud out of his spikes after every single pitch. A member of the grounds crew was eventually located after the end of the 1st inning (today is Saturday, so there was just a "skeleton crew" on duty), and while he raked up the mud clods, nothing was done to dry up the mud itself or stamp-down the mound. On his second pitch in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Conway's spikes got caught in the mud and he tripped and threw a pitch awkwardly, about six feet over the head of the Brew Crew batter. A loud pop could be heard when he let go of the pitch, and his arm recoiled as if he had been shot. He was obviously in tremendous pain, and he ran up the 1st base line into foul territory before coming to a stop and going to one knee.
Only after Conway left the game did two other members of the Maryvale grounds crew arrive and completely manicure the mound to make it safe for the pitchers.
Conway was immediately driven back to Fitch Park in the Cubs utility van, and presumably he will be examined next week.
Conway was the Cubs 4th round draft pick last season out of Coastal Carolina University, and he was considered a pre-draft 1st or 2nd round talent who fell to the 4th round only because he had elbow UCL reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery) prior to the June draft. But after nearly making the Kane County starting rotation out of Minor League Camp, Conway has been the most-impressive Cubs pitcher so far at Extended Spring Training, and after throwing five solid innigs and 80 pitches in his previous start last Monday, he appeared to be on the verge of getting a promotion to Kane County or possibly Daytona.
Jose Rosario was scheduled to once again "piggy-back" with Conway (with both pitchers throwing four or five innings each), but Conway's early exit caused the Cubs to turn to reliever Mike Hamann to get ready quickly and throw a couple of innings. Rosario eventually did enter the game in the bottom of the 4th, and he had a miserable outing, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits (including three doubles), three walks, a wild pitch, and a two-base throwing error over three innings of work. He benefited from an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP and two runners being thrown out at the plate trying to score on singles to the outfield, or his final line would have been even worse.
Reggie Golden earned the notorious "Golden Sombrero," striking out four times (all four times swinging), and he did it in four AB.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
1. David Bote, 3B: 2-5 (1B, 3B, 5-3, K, 6-4 FC, RBI, CS)
2a. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-3 (F-8, 6-3, 4-3)
2b. Bryant Flete, SS: 1-1 (F-8 SF, 1B, 2 RBI)
3. Yasiel Balaguert, 1B: 2-4 (BB, 1B, 6-3, 3B, 6-3, 2 R, 2 RBI)
4a. Carlos Escobar, C: 2-3 (HR, 1B, 4-3, R, 2 RBI)
4b. Erick Castillo, C: 0-2 (E-5, K,)
5a. Garrett Schlecht, RF: 0-3 (K, 5-4-3 DP, K)
5b. Jose Dore, RF: 0-1 (K)
6. Reggie Golden, CF: 0-4 (K, K, K, K)
7. Rony Rodriguez, DH: 1-4 (K, K, 1B, 6-3, R)
8. Brad Zapenas, 2B: 1-2 (1B, F-7, BB, BB, 3 R)
9. Shawon Dunston Jr, LF: 3-4 (3B, 3-U, 1B, 1B, 2 R, RBI)
1. Josh Conway: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 18 pitches (10 strikes), 2/0 GO/FO
2. Mike Hamann: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 30 pitches (22 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
3. Jose Rosario: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 62 pitches (28 strikes), 5/1 GO/FO
4. Tyler Bremer: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 25 pitches (19 strikes), 1/1 GO/GO
CUBS ERRORS: 4
1. P Mike Hamann - E-1 (errant throw on pick-off attempt at 2nd base allowed runner to advance to 3rd)
2. P Jose Rosario - E-1 (two-base throwing error allowed batter to reach 2nd base safely)
3. SS Bryant Flete - E-6 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely - eventually scored unearned run)
4. 1B Yasiel Balaguert - E-3 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
CUBS OUTFIELD ASSISTS:
RF Garrett Schlecht - baserunner thrown out 9-3-2 trying to score from 2nd base on single
LF Shawon Dunston Jr - baserunner thrown out 7-2 trying to score from 2nd base on single
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.
It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.
I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.
I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.
This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:
Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!
Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.
Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.
Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible