Spencer Hits Early and Often at Extended Spring Training
Xavier Batista and Blair Springfield drove-in two runs a piece in a four-run Cubs 2nd, and Matt Spencer whacked a home run over the RF fence leading-off the bottom of the 3rd, as the EXST Cubs held-on to defeat the EXST A's 6-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
At Extended Spring Training while rehabbing from a broken toe suffered last month in Minor League Camp, Matt Spencer hit in each of the first five innings of today’s game (he batted in all nine innings yesterday), going 2-4 with the solo HR, a single, and a walk. He left the game after playing just five innings, possibly an indication that he has completed his rehab assignment and will be re-joining the AA Tennessee Smokies tomorrow or Monday. (Spencer was acquired from the Oakland A's last December along with pitchers Jeff Gray and Ronny Morla for IF-OF Jake Fox and INF Aaron Miles).
Trailing 1-0, the Cubs erupted for four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Spencer led-off with a line single, Charles Thomas drew a walk, and Sergio Burruel was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then with one out, 18-year old Dominican slugger Xavier Batista ripped a double off the LF fence to drive-in two, and with two outs, Blair Springfield lined a single to right-center to plate the other two runs.
The Cubs scored their final runs of the day in the bottom of the third inning. Spencer hit a lead-off HR over the RF fence, and then Vismeldy Bieneme drew a walk, Pin-Chieh Chen singled to right (Chen’s second hit of the day) sending Bieneme to 3rd, and Charles Thomas bounced an RBI single with a lot of top-spin through the box and into CF to knock-in Bieneme.
The Cubs bullpen did a pretty good job in the middle innings, at one point retiring 13 A's batters in a row. 20-year old Dominican LHP Marcos Perez was especially impressive, throwing two perfect 1-2-3 innings, striking out three, and doing it while throwing only 14 pitches (13 for strikes!). In two apperarances so far for the EXST Cubs, Perez has thrown four perfect innings (29 pitches - 24 strikes), with four strikeouts. If the Peoria Chiefs are in need of another lefty reliever (and it would appear they are), I would think that M. Perez is definitely a strong candidate to get tabbed.
In EXST Cubs roster news, LHP James Leverton has been moved up to Peoria, replacing RHP Jon Nagel, who was placed on the Chiefs 7-day DL. Leverton struck out all four batters he faced in his only EXST appearance last Monday.
Here is today’s abridged box score (EXST Cubs players only):
NOTE: 1B Matt Spencer batted in each of the first five innings, getting five plate appearances total in the game.
X. Matt Spencer, 1B: 2-4 (4-3, 1B, HR, BB, 4-3, 2 R, RBI)
1. Vismeldy Bieneme, 3B: 0-2 (4-3, BB, 6-3, R)
2. Pin-Chieh Chen, 2B: 2-3 (1B, 1B, F-8, CS)
3a. SKIPPED FIRST TWO TIMES
3b. Melvin Camarena, 1B: 0-1 (F-8)
4. Charles Thomas, DH #1: 1-2 (BB, 1B, P-4, R, RBI)
5a. Sergio Burruel, C: 0-1 (HBP, 6-4-3 GIDP, R)
5b. Jose Guevara, C: 0-1 (K)
6. Arismendy Alcantara, SS 0-3 (P-7, 1-3, K)
7. Xavier Batista, RF: 1-3 (2B, 5-4-3 GIDP, 6-3, R, 2 RBI)
8. Manuel Pestana, LF: 0-3 (5-3, K, F-8)
9. Blair Springfield, DH #2: 1-3 (1B, P-4, P-4, 2 RBI)
10. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 0-2 (K, K)
1. Luis Liria – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 50 pitches (32 strikes)
2. John Mincone – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 3/1 GO/FO, 34 pitches (18 strikes)
3. Marcos Perez – 2.0 IP, 0H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 14 pitches (13 strikes)
4. Yohan Gonzalez – 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 33 pitches (21 strikes)
2B Pin-Chieh Chen E-4 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base with one out in the top of the 3rd inning – did not score).
Sergio Burruel: 0-1 CS, 1 PB
LF Manuel Pestana threw out batter 7-4 trying to stretch a single down LF line into a double with no outs in the top of the 2nd inning.
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80’s
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.