Cubs Fire Blanks to Celebrate Memorial Day at Talking Stick
Danny Lockhart tripled, singled twice, and drove-in two runs, Jacob Rogers singled twice, walked, and knocked-in two runs, and four pitchers combined to toss a three-hit shutout, as the Cubs whitewashed the Rockies 7-0 in Memorial Day Extended Spring Training action this morning at Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort, east of Scottsdale, AZ.
25-year old Cuban RHP Armando Rivero ($3.1M signing bonus in March) started the game for the Cubs and threw one shutout inning, surrendering one walk while striking out one. Rivero was consistently working at 94-95 MPH with his fastball, mixing it with a hard-breaking splitter and an occasional slider. Although he only struck out one, he got seven swings & misses among his 19 pitches. Rivero was the closer for Industriales in Serie Nacional (the Cuban Major League) prior to defecting, and so I wouldn't be surprised to see him move quickly through the system once he leaves EXST. He has late-inning shut-down type stuff.
RHP James Pugliese followed Rivero to the mound and tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball (51 pitches- 38 strikes). He retired the first eight men he faced, and allowed his one hit (a single) with two outs in his fourth inning of work. He also walked one and struck out three.
Though he may not have the ceiling of a Dillon Maples or a Duane Underwood, Pugliese has been the best Cub pitcher so far at EXST (1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .155 OppBA, 9/25 BB/K, and a team-leading 70% strikes in a team-leading 29.0 IP). He will very likely join Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn, Trey Lang, and a 5th starter TBD to form the Boise starting rotation. (RHPs Ryan McNeil and Josh Conway would have been candidates for the Hawks rotation, but both suffered season-ending elbow injuries during the course of Extended Spring Training).
It's possible that a pitcher presently at Kane County (perhaps someone like Brian Smith or Ian Dickson) could be moved down to Boise next month to get regular work as a starter, or one of the pitchers currently projected to make-up the "Big Four" at AZL Cubs (Erick Leal, Alexander Santana, Daury Torrez, or Carlos Rodriguez) could possibly yet capture the 5th rotation slot at Boise. (The AZL Cubs only need four starting pitchers, because AZL teams get every fifth day off). RHRP Loiger Padron has also recently been stretched-out as a starter at EXST in case he is needed to start or to "piggy-back" at Boise.
RHP Daury Torrez followed Pugliese to the hill and hurled three shutout innings (needing only 31 pitches to do so), allowing two harmless singles. He struck out one and did not issue any walks. Torrez is a strike-throwing machine.
LHRP Hunter Ackerman then threw an 11-pitch 1-2-3 9th (4-3, 1-3, 4-3) to wrap things up neatly.
Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) saw his first EXST game action at catcher, working as the Cub backstop for the first five innings (catching Rivero and Pugliese). He also batted five times. once each in the top of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. He went 1-5, with an opposite-field RBI double into the LF corner in the top of the 3rd. (He later would score on the Danny Lockhart triple). Clevenger also grounded out 4-3 and popped out to the third-baseman in foul territory, and he was called out on strikes in his final final two Plate Appearances (and was none too pleased either time).
In EXST Cubs roster news, catcher Lance Rymel has been promoted to Tennessee, and 3B Luis Acosta, OF Roberto Caro, and SS Frandy de la Rosa have been sent back to the Cubs Dominican Academy. (The DSL Cubs begin play this Friday).
The 23-year old Rymel was the Cubs 2012 28th round pick out of Rogers State U. He hit 226/353/321 in 16 EXST games (37 PA), throwing out 10-21 runners attempting to steal (48% CS), plus one PO.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game:
X. Steve Clevenger, C: 1-5 (4-3, 2B, P-5, K, K, R, RBI)
NOTE: Clevenger batted five times, hitting third in the top of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th innings
1a. Kevin Encarnacion, CF: 1-3 (2B, K, 1-3, R)
1b. Justin Marra, C: 0-2 (4-3, K, RBI)
2. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 3-5 (P-6, 3B, 1B, 1B, 1-3, 2 RBI)
3. Jacob Rogers, 1B: 2-4 (4-3, L-4 DP, 1B+E6, 1B, BB, 2 RBI)
4a. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 0-2 (HBP, K, F-9)
4b. Mark Malave, 3B: 0-1 (K)
5. Xavier Batista, RF: 1-3 (1-3, BB, 2B, F-7, R)
6a. Trevor Gretzky, DH: 1-3 (K, 6-U FC, 1B, RBI)
6b. Rony Rodriguez, PH: 1-1 (1B)
7a. Dong-Yub Kim, LF: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 2-2 (1B, 2B, R)
8a. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-1 (BB, 4-3, R)
8b. Rashad Crawford, CF: 0-1 (BB, 1-3, R)
9a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES THRU BATTING ORDER
9b. Francisco Sanchez, SS: 0-2 (5-2 FC, 5-3, R)
1. Armando Rivero: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 19 pitches (12 strikes), 1/1 GO/FO
2. James Pugliese: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 51 pitches (38 strikes), 5/4 GO/FO
3. Daury Torrez: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 31 pitches (21 strikes), 3/5 GO/FO
4. Hunter Ackerman: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 11 pitches (7 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: NONE
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Steve Clevenger: 1 PB
CUBS OUTFIELD ASSISTS:
RF Xavier Batista - runner thrown out 9-5 trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a single
LF Garrett Schlecht - runner on 1st base doubled-off 7-3 on L-7 line drive out
WEATHER: Overcast with temperatures in the 80's
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.