Cubs Eat A's for Breakfast
Mark Pawelek threw three shutout innings, and the EXST Cubs strung together four consecutive two-out RBI hits in the top of the 7th inning, en route to a 4-1 victory over the EXST A's in a "Rush Hour Special" (9 AM start) at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Pawelek, the Cubs #1 draft pick in 2005, has now thrown six consecutive scoreless innings after returning from a sprained ankle suffered the first week of EXST, and if he can continue to throw the ball like he did today, he could well find himself in Peoria by this time next month. This is a Mark Pawelek the Cubs haven't seen since 2005.
Despite Pawelek's three shutout innings, the EXST Cubs trailed the A's 1-0 after six, as the A's scored a run off Cubs LHP Arik Hempy on a double, wild pitch, and a sac fly in the bottom of the 4th.
But then the Cubs went to work.
Gian Guzman led-off the top of the 7th with a line single to left. After Luis Bautista flied out, Guzman stole second (BTW, Cubs Roving Baserunning and Outfield Instructor Bobby Dernier is at EXST this week), and advanced to third on an overthrow.
Bryan Jost struck out, but then Dwayne Kemp (double down the LF line), John Contreras (double off the left-centerfield fence), Alvaro Sosa (line double to right-center), and Kevin Soto (line single to left) plated four runs, giving the Cubs a lead they never relinquished.
RHPs Yohan Gonzalez and Miguel Sierra each threw two shutout innings to finish off the A's, as Sierra returned to the mound after missing three weeks as a result of being struck on the right (pitching) elbow with a line drive in a game last month.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
NOTE: When he wasn't warming up pitchers in the bullpen, Roberto Sabates hit in two different spots in the batting order.
1. Kevin Soto, RF: 2-4 (RBI, 2 K)
2. Nelson Perez, LF: 1-4 (K)
3. Brandon Guyer, DH #1: 0-4 (K)
4. Drew Rundle, CF: 1-4 (3B, K)
5. Gian Guzman, SS: 2-4 (R, SB, K)
6. Luis Bautista, C-1B: 1-4
7a. Bryan Jost, 1B: 0-2 (BB, K)
7b. Roberto Sabates, PH-C: 0-1
8a. Dwayne Kemp, 2B: 1-3 (2B, RBI, R, GIDP)
8b. Starlin Castro, 2B: 0-1
9a. NONE - SKIPPED
9b. Roberto Sabates, DH #2: 0-1
10. John Contreras, 3B: 1-3 (2B, RBI, R)
11. Alvaro Sosa, DH #3: 2-2 (2 2B, RBI, R, BB)
1. Mark Pawelek - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 PO (4/0 GO/FO)
2. Arik Hempy - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP (3/2 GO/FO)
3. Yohan Gonzalez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1/4 GO/FO)
4. Miguel Sierra - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (2/1 GO/FO)
ERRORS (3): Kemp (E-4 bobble), Bautista (E-2 overthrow at 2B on SB attempt), and Jost (E-3 dropped pop-up in foul territory).
Bautista: 0-1 CS
WEATHER: Hot and sunny
HISTORY NOTE: Most of the EXST Cubs and A's players probably aren't aware of it, but the Papago Sports Complex was once part of a large WWII POW camp (Security Unit #84) that featured a mass escape of German prisoners (mainly U-boat officers) in December 1944.
While Papago Park no longer has gun turrets and barbed-wire fences (at least none that are visible), it's still out in the middle of nowhere, and you can readily see the caves high up in the neighboring buttes where some of the escapees who didn't try to make it to Mexico hid-out while on the lam.
And If the POW camp was still there today, you can figure the Cubs would probably sign some 6'4 volleyball player from Dusseldorf who never saw a baseball game in his life, and make him a pitcher.
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?
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.