A's Rally Hangs Loss on Cubs at Riverview Park
Gabriel Sanchez belted a bases-clearing three-run double to cap a four-run 7th inning, and Justin Higley singled twice, stole two bases, scored two runs, and drove-in another, as the Athletics rallied to defeat the Cubs 5-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
Jeffrey Baez had three hits and Varonex Cuevas smacked a triple and an RBI single for the Cubs in a losing cause.
Jorge Soler (hamstring rehab) is still at Extended Spring Training, and (just like yesterday) he played RF for all nine innings in today's game. He had four Plate Appearances in the game, hitting a check-swing dribbler back to the pitcher on a 3-0 pitch in his first AB in the bottom of the 1st inning, walked on four pitches in the 4th, grounded out 5-3 in the 7th, and (representing the tying run) lined-out to right with runners on 1st & 2nd and out out in the 9th.
Veteran MLB OF Casper Wells (AAA Iowa 7-day DL) returned to game action today after missing about six weeks with knee and back issues. He batted five times in the game--once in each of the first five innings, going 1-4 with two infield pop outs, two fly outs (one of which was a run-producing sacrifice fly), and a line-drive single. For a player who has missed as much time as he has, he showed plus bat-speed and really nailed the ball with authority in three of his five AB, and showed good speed on the bases, too.
Wells was an NRI outfielder at Cubs MLB Spring Training, and probably would have been the Opening Day RF at Iowa if he hadn't started the season on the DL. He also probably would have been the logical candidate to replace Justin Ruggiano when Ruggiano went on the DL with his hamstring injury last month, because Ruggiano and Wells are very similar-type players.
RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa (2013 TJS rehab) and RHP Jesus Castillo (one of two pitchers acquired from Arizona in the Tony Campana deal) were scheduled to throw "live" BP on Field #5 prior to the game on Field #6. Both pitchers warmed up in the Field #5 bullpen, and while Castillo did throw his two "innings" (40 pitches total - 20 pitches in each inning), Fujikawa returned to the clubhouse after completing his warm-ups and did not throw BP.
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
X. Casper Wells, DH #1: 1-4 (P-6, F-8, P-4, F-7 SF, 1B, RBI)
NOTE: Wells batted third in the bottom of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings
1. Jeffrey Baez, CF: 3-4 (1B, 1B, L-8, 1B, PO)
2. Varonex Cuevas, 2B: 2-4 (3B, 1B, K, E-5, RBI)
3. Jorge Soler, RF: 0-3 (1-3, BB, 5-3, L-9)
4. Shamil Ubiera, LF: 0-4 (5-3, 6-4-3 DP, 4-3, 5-3)
5. Roney Alcala, DH #2: 0-3 (3-U, K, 6-3)
6. Elliot Soto, SS: 1-3 (P-2, F-9, 1B)
7. Adonis Paula, 3B: 0-3 (1-3, 5-4 FC, F-8)
8a. Eufran Vargas, C: 0-0 (BB, R)
8b. Erick Castillo, C: 0-2 (3-U, F-7)
9. Mark Malave, 1B: 1-3 (1B, 4-3, F-8, R)
1. Jose Paulino: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP, 4/4 GO/FO, 50 pitches (28 strikes)
2. Carlos Llano: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
3. Yomar Morel: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 7 pitches (6 strikes)
4. Greyfer Eregua: 1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (4 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 0/1 GO/FO, 43 pitches (27 strikes)
NOTE: Eregua's second inning was stopped with one out and runner at 2nd base
5. Francisco Carrillo: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 28 pitches (19 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: NONE
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
1. Eufran Vargas: 0-1 CS
2. Erick Castillo: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 80's
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
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
I was hearing some talk that John Mallee is trying to change Heyward's swing. Wonder if that is lending itself to the slow start.
at least it wasn't a "nobody showed up" stomping.
anytime you wanna jumpstart your season would be nice, heyward.
Now looming VERY large. Game tied.
That Braves TOOTBLAN trying to stretch a double into a triple is looming very large.