Cubs Ding Long Dongers to Christen Cubs Park in Mesa
Justin Ruggiano, Welington Castillo, and Christian Villanueva blasted solo home runs, and Kyle Hendricks threw 2.2 IP of no-run/no-hit ball, as the Cubs "White" team defeated the Cubs "Blue" team 5-3 in a six-inning Cactus League Intrasquad game played this afternoon in what was the first Cubs game played at Cubs Park in Mesa.
Hendricks started the game for the "White" squad, and retired all eight men he faced, recording three strikeouts (all three swinging) and 4/1 GO/FO along the way.
LHP Eric Jokisch got the start for the "Blue" men, and he threw 2.1 IP of shutout ball, allowing two harmless singles. He also did not walk anyone, and he struck out four (all four swinging).
Chang-Yong Lim, Tsuyoshi Wada, Neil Ramirez, and Arodys Vizcaino had poor outings, each allowing at least one run. Vizcaino could not throw strikes consistently (he walked the first two men he faced), Lim threw almost nothing but strikes but got hammered anyway (two doubles and a single in one inning of work), Wada gave up two long home runs of the type you usually only see in Batting Practice (one to Ruggiano and the other to Castillo), and Ramirez was just a mess, allowing two runs on a HR, two singles, a walk, and a WP, in just a third of an inning, while throwing 23 pitches (only 11 strikes).
Marcus Hatley tossed a scoreless inning but threw more balls than strikes, and Brian Schilitter allowed a run on a walk and a ringing double by Chris Coghlan, followed by an Arismendy Alcantara Sacrifice Fly. (Coghlan also laid-down a textbook RBI squeeze bunt SH earlier in the game).
RHRP Armando Rivero had a strong outing, though, throwing 1.1 IP of perfect baseball with two swinging strikeouts. His splitter was dive-bombing opposing hitters today, and was virtually unhittable.
In addition to the three solo home runs, the sac fly, and the squeeze bunt, two more runs were driven in by way of RBI single (one by Junior Lake, and another by PH Ryan Kalish). The eighth run scored on a Wild Pitch.
The defensive gem of the day was turned in by LF Matt Szczur, who robbed Alcantara with a diving catch at the LF foul line, a catch that prevented a two-run double that would have made Brian Schlitter's day a lot worse (although one run did score from 3rd base on the SF). Schlitter also benefited from a fine defensive play on the last AB of the game, as 2B Logan Watkins showed quick reflexes by staying with a ball that bounded off the 2nd base bag and appeared headed toward the outfield, making a bare-handed catch and rapid-fire throw to nip Jorge Soler on a "bang-bang" play at 1st to end the game.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game:
BLUE SQUAD LINEUP:
1a. Luis Valbuena, 3B: 1-2 (F-8, 2B, R)
1b. Christian Villanueva, 3B: 1-1 (HR, R, RBI)
2a. Junior Lake, CF: 1-2 (K, 1B, RBI)
2b. Brett Jackson, CF: 1-1 (1B , R, SB)
3a. Starlin Castro, SS: 1-2 (6-3, 1B)
3b. Jeudy Valdez, SS: 1-1 (1B, SB)
4a. Nate Schierholtz, RF: 0-2 (3-1, K)
4b. Aaron Cunningham, RF: 0-1 (K)
5a. Ryan Roberts, DH: 0-2 (6-3, 5-4 FC)
5b. Mike Olt, PH: 0-0 (BB)
6a. Darnell McDonald, LF: 0-2 (K, F-8)
6b. Matt Szczur, LF: 0-1 (K)
7a. Chris Valaika, 1B: 0-2 (K, 5-3)
7b. Josh Vitters, 1B: 0-1 (F-9)
8a. Darwin Barney, 2B: 0-2 (4-3, K)
8b. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-1 (1-3)
9a. John Baker, C: 0-1 (4-3, BB)
9b. Rafael Lopez, C: 0-1 (K)
WHITE SQUAD LINEUP:
1a. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B: 0-2 (F-8, K)
1b. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B: 0-0 (BB, F-7 SF, RBI)
2a. Justin Ruggiano, RF: 1-2 (K, HR, R, RBI)
2b. Jorge Soler, RF: 0-1 (BB, 4-3, R, SB)
3a. Anthony Rizzo, 1B: 0-2 (K, K)
3b. Casper Wells, LF: 0-0 (BB)
4a. Ryan Sweeney, CF: 1-2 (1B, K)
4b. Albert Almora, CF: 0-1 (P-2)
5a. Welington Castillo, DH: 1-2 (4-3, HR, R, RBI)
5b. Ryan Kalish, PH: 1-1 (1B, RBI)
6a. Donnie Murphy, 3B: 0-1 (K)
6b. Kris Bryant, 3B: 0-1 (BB, 6-3, R)
7a. Javier Baez, SS: 0-2 (K, P-6)
7b. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-1 (K)
8a. George Kottaras, C: 1-1 (1B)
8b. Luis Flores, C: 1-1 (2B, BB, R)
9. Chris Coghlan, LF-1B: 1-2 (5-3, 1-3 SH, 2B, RBI)
BLUE SQUAD PITCHERS:
1. Eric Jokisch: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (25 strikes)
2. Tsuyoshi Wada: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 1/1 GO/FO, 46 pitches (28 strikes)
3. Arodys Vizcaino: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 26 pitches (14 strikes)
4. Brian Schlitter: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 20 pitches (12 strikes)
WHITE SQUAD PITCHERS:
1. Kyle Hendricks: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 30 pitches (22 strikes)
2. Chang-Yong Lim: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 20 pitches (17 strikes)
3. Marcus Hatley: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 17 pitches (8 strikes)
4. Neil Ramirez: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 23 pitches (11 strikes)
5. Armando Rivero: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 14 pitches (10 strikes)
BLUE SQUAD CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Rafael Lopez: 0-1 CS
WHITE SQUAD CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Luis Flores: 0-2 CS
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
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.