Tribe Blasts Raley & Cabrera for eight runs in 5th & 6th
Cedric Hunter smacked a three-run home run to cap a five-run 6th, and Zach McAlister threw four shutout innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 9-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League action this afternoon at cold & dreary Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
Javier Baez produced both of the Cub runs with a two-run HR just to the left of the CF Batter's Eye ("Green Monster") with no outs in the top of the 1st. Baez also fisted an opposite-field bloop single into right-center in his second AB.
David DeJesus collected two hits, including a lead-off bounding double down the RF line off LHP David Huff that preceded Baez's HR in the 1st. (DeJesus hit only 149/289/149 with no extra-base hits in 113 PA vs LHP in 2012, so it's big news anytime he does anything against a lefty).
LHP Chris Rusin got the start for the Cubs and threw three shutout innings (48 pitches - 34 strikes, 4/3 GO/FO), allowing three harmless singles in the 3.0 IP. Rusin threw strikes and mostly stayed ahead in the count throughout his outing. He faced only ten batters (one over the minimum) in his three innings of work, nailing one baserunner at 1st base with a nifty pick-off move that froze the runner, and erasing another runner by inducing a timely 6-4-3 DP.
LHP Brooks Raley and RHP Alberto Cabrera followed Rusin to the hill, and both had poor outings, Raley allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits (including a solo HR by LH hitting Jason Kipnis) and a walk in 1.1 IP (32 pitches - 18 strikes), and Cabrera surrendering five runs (all earned) on three hits (including Hunter's three-run dinger) and three walks (with no strikeouts) in 1.1 IP.
Cabrera's outing featured a 30-pitch 6th inning where he was relieved after retiring only two hitters, and he wouldn't have retired anybody in the inning if not for a spectacular back-handed diving catch near the LF foul line by Johermyn Chavez, and a laser-throw by Welington Castillo to 2nd that nabbed a basrunner trying to steal.
Cubs #1 LHRP James Russell surrendered a run on two hits (a double and a single) and a walk in 1.2 IP, Shawn Camp threw a shutout 8th inning (allowing one hit), and Kyuji Fujikawa had a VERY impressive inning of work, racking up two strikeouts (both swinging) and a pop fly in the 9th.
Fujikawa has an excellent splitter as his strikeout pitch that he sets up with a lively fastball he throws for strikes. He should be the Cubs closer, and certainly will be when & if the Cubs trade Carlos Marmol
Of the five likely Iowa Cubs starting pitchers at Big League Camp right now (Rusin, Raley, Cabrera, Nick Struck and Barret Loux), there is no question that Chris Rusin is the only one of the five anywhere near MLB-ready anytime soon. Rusin works fast and throws strikes, and although his stuff is somewhat pedestrian, he is polished, and generally makes the most of what he has.
Raley and Cabrera have been nothing short of abysmal, and I would think their futures as starting pitchers are definitely in doubt at this time. Cabrera is especially frustrating because he actually has electric stuff (including a mid-90's fastball and a wipe-out slider), but he also has virtually zero command, and so he is constantly pitching from behind in the count and hitters are able to sit on his fastball (which he will sometimes try to throw BP-style over the plate just to avoid walking the hitter).
The Cub offense has been misfiring over the past few days, although it would probably aid the cause a bit if Starlin Castro (out with a hamstring issue) and Anthony Rizzo (playing in the WBC) were in the lineup.