Pierce Johnson Racks Up the Punch-Outs at Riverview Park
Gleyber Torres ripped an RBI triple and a single and scored a run, Charcer Burks singled twice, drove-in a run, and stole three bases, Roney Alcala reached base three times on a single, a double, and a walk, and starting pitcher Pierce Johnson (hamstring rehab) struck out eight in five innings of work, leading the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
Working fast, throwing strikes, and mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a hard breaking-ball and a change-up, Johnson allowed one unearned run on four hits (two singles and two doubles) in his 5.0 IP (66 pitches), with no walks and eight strikeouts, 4/1 GO/FO, and a 78% strike percentage (70% is considered outstanding). I would think this will probably be Johnson's last EXST outing, and so I would not be surprised to see him get a start for AA Tennessee next Friday.
Veteran MLB RHP Joel Pineiro followed Johnson to the mound and worked four innings (64 pitches - 48 strikes), allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits (two singles, a double, and a triple), with no walks and four strikeouts and a WP. The 35-year old Pineiro last pitched in MLB in 2011, but he made a comeback in Liga de Beisbol Roberto Clemente (the Puerto Rican Winter League) post-2013 (and he started a game for Team Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series in January). He did not receive an NRI to Spring Training with an MLB club, but the Cubs signed him to a minor league contract after the conclusion of Spring Training and assigned him to Extended Spring Training, where he is getting back into playing shape and being stretched-out as a starting pitcher. Like Pierce Johnson, Pineiro displayed excellent command today, throwing 75% of his pitches for strikes. His fastball velocity was only 87-88 MPH, but he got a ton of ground balls (8/0 GO/FO, plus two more grounders that were played into errors), and he displayed effective off-speed stuff (curve & change-up), too.
RHP Josh Conway (2013 elbow stress fracture) threw another 25-pitch "live" BP session prior to the game, facing Jorge Soler (hamstring rehab), Elliot Soto (serving a 50-game Drug of Abuse suspension), Eloy Jimenez, and Erick Castillo. Conway sailed through his "inning," but Soler grabbed his right upper hamstring after only two AB in his first round and left the cage. He did eventually return for one five-pitch round, however, facing 19-year old Venezuelan RHP Adbert Alzolay (the other pitcher who threw a "live" BP session prior to the game).
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):
1. Charcer Burks, CF: 2-5 (4-3, 1B, E-6, 1B, 4-6-3 DP, RBI, 3 SB)
2a. Kevin Brown, LF: 0-4 (3-U, 4-3, K, K, RBI)
2b. Tyler Alamo, PH: 0-1 (K)
3. Rony Rodriguez, RF: 1-4 (F-7, K, 1B, K, SB)
4. Eloy Jimenez, DH: 1-4 (E-5, F-9, K, 1B, CS)
5. Antonio Valerio, C: 1-4 (5-4-3 DP, 2B, F-9, 4-3, R)
6a. Gleyber Torres, SS: 2-2 (1B, 3B, R, RBI)
6b. Bryant Flete, SS: 0-2 (L-6, P-4)
7. Roney Alcala, 3B: 2-3 (1B, BB, 1-3, 2B, R, SB)
8. Zak Blair, 2B: 0-4 (L-8, 4-3, 3-U, K, RBI)
9. Matt Scioscia, 1B: 2-4 (1B, 4-3, K+E2, 1B, 2 R, RBI)
1. Pierce Johnson: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 8 K, 1 PO, 4/1 GO/FO, 66 pitches (52 strikes)
2. Joel Pineiro: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (48 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 4
1. 2B Zak Blair - E-4 (two-base throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely and runner to score from 2nd base)
2. 2B Zak Blair - E-4 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely)
3. 3B Roney Alcala - E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
4. 3B Roney Alcala - E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Antonio Valerio: 1-1 CS
WEATHER: Mostly sunny & breezy with temperatures in the 80's
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 min 57 sec ago (view)
Lots of games where they failed to add on.
Lots of games Strop has single handedly blown, too.
Charlie 32 min 17 sec ago (view)
There are so many candidates. The early season losing streak comes painfully to mind.
Charlie 32 min 45 sec ago (view)
JHey's swing looks like it slipped into groundout mode. That Nico lineout was heartbreaking. :(
Charlie 33 min 26 sec ago (view)
Threw Vanmeter a curve and changeup that both looked great on TV, though Vanmeter didn't offer.
Mike Wellman 2 hours 18 min ago (view)
First thing I'll point to, depending on the final order of finish, is the fact that, for the second year in a row we took the lead off of Hader in the 8th inning of a key late-season game @ Milwaukee & couldn't keep it. The second thing will be the game we led 5-0 after 7 & managed to lose. Nats next face Marlins. Cards come to town licking their chops/beaks to finish us off...
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 hours 24 min ago (view)
They’re toast. Can’t finish games, can’t finish series, and it looks very much like they won’t finish this season.
Hagsag 6 hours 41 min ago (view)
The Cubbies are in a tough situation. If they make the playoffs, they will have earned it!. Enjoy the ride folks.
Eric S 13 hours 7 min ago (view)
Reds win season series 11-8 - possibly the first thing you point to should the Cubs miss the post season
Eric S 13 hours 14 min ago (view)
Long looking swing for JHey ... and Nico - oof
Eric S 13 hours 15 min ago (view)
Heard Len say Descalso’s name and about had a heart attack. Then heard him say “pinch runner” and settled down a bit
Charlie 13 hours 19 min ago (view)
Contreras's receiving didn't do Norwood any favors in that Vanmeter at-bat. And Norwood needed some favors.
Eric S 13 hours 24 min ago (view)
Gotta do better than three hits in nine innings in a start by Mahle - this one is on the bats
crunch 13 hours 29 min ago (view)
4th pitcher of the inning coming in...neat
crunch 13 hours 34 min ago (view)
crunch 13 hours 42 min ago (view)
i'm all about kemp protecting a lead in the last few innings or getting to play after some pinch running, but that dude's bat is getting way too much work. now that getting him starts isn't a priority he's still getting a lot of early shots off the bench at the plate.
i hope to not see him next season.
Eric S 13 hours 44 min ago (view)
Until Russell gets off the concussion protocol and/or Baez returns, Kemp may be the best option at second for defense, but Bote certainly better there defensively than Happ or Zobrist