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
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.