DeRosa Not Too Right-Handed Today
Mark DeRosa drove in four runs with two long home runs and a sacrifice fly and scored another run after reaching base on a double, as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Cubs 7-5 before 13,097 fans at sunny and breezy Dwight Patterson Field at Ho Ho Kam Park in Mesa this afternoon.
DeRosa's two home runs were both monster shots, one crashing into the scoreboard in LF, and the other one missing the scoreboard only because it went over the fence too far toward CF. But the double was even more incredible, as it hit the upper part of the 30-foot high "Green Monster" (Batter's Eye) in dead CF.
All of the DeRo blasts were hit off Cubs starter Ted Lilly, who would have had a nice final line if it wasn't for his ex-teammate (both with the Cubs & Team USA) crushing his pitches every time he came up to the plate againt him. If I didn't know better, I would say there must have been some kind of pre-arranged deal for Lilly to throw "BP fastballs" to DeRosa to allow the ex-Cub to put on a long-ball dsplay in front of the assembled Mesa multitude.
Ex-Cub Kerry Wood also returned to Ho Ho Kam Park today for the first time since signing as a Free-Agent with the Tribe during the off-season, and pitched the 7th inning against his former club. .
Both DeRosa and Wood received loud ovations from Cub fans when they were announced.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning off Lilly, when lead-off man Grady Sizemore lined a single to the outfield and DeRosa hit his first HR (the one to the CF side of the scoreboard). But Lilly then retired eight in a row quite impressively (6-3, Ks, Ks, F-8, Ks, F-8, Kc, Ks).
But DeRosa broke Lilly's magic spell, hitting a solo HR (the one off the scoreboard) with two outs in the top of the 3rd, giving Cleveland a 3-0 lead.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the 2nd against Indians starter RHP Fausto Carmona on two singles and an error, but Lilly and Alfonso Soriano struck out, leaving the bases full.
The Cubs did score in the next inning, however, Ryan Theriot grounded a single to lead-off the 3rd, and then with one-out, Milton Bradley (hitting LH) smashed a home run over both bullpens in RF, making it 3-2 Indians.
Lilly gave up a couple of harmless singles in the 4th and had retired the first two men in the 5th, when DeRosa unloaded his moon-shot off the CF Batter's Eye for a two-out double. Victor Martinez followed with a line shot RBI single to score DeRosa from 2nd, and the Indians took a 5-2 lead.
The Cubs came back to score a run in the bottom of the 5th, as Theriot bounced a double down the LF line and Derrek Lee hammered a single between 2nd & 3rd into LF to put runners on 1st & 3rd with no outs. Milton Bradley grounded out to the 1st baseman (unassisted) as Theriot scored and D-Lee took second, but Aramis Ramirez and Mike Fontenot grounded out to end the threat.
Lilly had thrown 73 pitches through five innings, and I really thought that was probably going to be his limit. But he did return to the mound to start the 6th, although there was activity in the bullpen. And Lilly was indeed clearly tiring as he began the 6th, walking Ryan Garko and Ben Francisco (his first two walks of the day), before getting relieved.
For the day, Lilly pitched five innings (plus two batters in the sixth), allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits (two HR) and two walks. while striking out eight. He threw 92 pitches (66 strikes), with a 2/5 GO/FO. Other than when he faced DeRosa, I thought he looked pretty good.
Chad Gaudin relieved Lilly, coming into the game in a tough situation, with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd. But he retired Jamey Carroll on an infield pop up, Tony Graffanino on an F-8 fly out, and pitcher Carmona on a 5-3 bunt out to get out of the jam.
The 7th was another story, however, as Gaudin first got pounded, and then could not find the strike zone.
Grady Sizemore roped Gaudin's very first pitch of the 7th into the RF corner for a lead-off triple. DeRosa then hit a F-8 SF to deep CF to score Sizemore, before Victor Matinez lined a single to CF. Gaudin struck out Jhonny Peralta, but AAA OF George Lombard turned a Gaudin offering around, launching it over the two bullpens beyond the RF fence, just about exactly where Bradley hit his dinger earlier in the game. Gaudin walked Ben Francisco before striking out Wilson Valdez for the final out of the inning. .
In his two innings of work, Gaudin allowed three runs (earned) on three hits (including a triple and a HR), and one walk, with two strikeouts. He threw 39 pitches (23 strikes) over the two innings, but he needed 29 pitches to get out of the 7th, while throwing only 15 strikes that inning. He certainly did not do anything to ensure a spot in the Cubs bullpen with today's outing.
On the other hand Rule 5 RHP David Patton continued to make a favorable impression, working an easy ten-pitch 1-2-3 8th, getting two strikeouts (both swinging) around an F-7 fly out.
Kerry Wood faced only four Cubs batters in the bottom of the 7th, getting Alfonso Soriano on a fly out (F-7) to lead off the inning, before walking Ryan Theriot on four pitches. But Micah Hoffpauir flied out harmlessly F-9, and Milton Bradley was called out on strikes (and he knew it, too, as Woody must have fooled him with a 3-2 slider).
The Cubs did narrow the score to 7-5 in the bottom of the 8th against Japanese RHP Masahide Kobayashi. Aramis Ramirez doubled to the deepest reaches of CF to lead-off the inning, before Reed Johnson unloaded a two-run HR off the scoreboard beyond the LF fence. Koyie Hill then followed with an opposite-field near HR sliced down the LF line (it was caught by the left-fielder, however), and Joey Gathright lined a shot into left-center, using his speed to reach second-base on a "hustle double." But Aaron Miles and Alfonso Soriano grounded out to end the threat, and the score remained 7-5 in favor of the visitors. ,
LHP Neal Cotts worked an 11-pitch 9th (nine strikes), striking out DeRosa before allowing one single to the outfield and an infield single (Aaron Miles threw the ball away for an error attempting to get the runner at 1st base, allowing the runner arriving at 2nd base--Victor Martinez--to advance to 3rd), but Cotts then got the tyhe left-handed hitting Lombard to tap into a "room service" 4-6-3 DP to end the inning on the very next pitch.
The Cubs attempted to mount a rally in the bottom of the 9th off Cleveland's hard-throwing LHRP Rafael Perez, but it fizzled pretty quickly. Andres Blanco popped out to open the frame, and then Micah Hoffpauir struck out (swinging). But "strike three" got away from catcher Victor Martinez, and Hoffpauir was able to reach first base when Martinez's throw hit Hoffpauir in the back while he was running to 1st (and he was running in the lane, so it wasn't interference). But So Taguchi struck out swinging (and looked terrible in the process, as he swing late on every pitch), before Esteban German grounded out sharply 6-3 on a 3-2 pitch to end the game and seal the Cactus League victory for the Indians.
BTW, Andres Blanco, So Taguchi, and Esteban German were all sent to Minor League Camp after the game (and they were probably the last to know, too), but FWIW, LHP Mike Stanton was warming up in the Cubs bullpen during the bottom of the 9th in case the game had gone to extra innings, so he is definitely still around. I don't know why, but he is...
Besides Bradley's HR and three RBI and Reed Johnson's two-run dinger, several other Cubs had good days at the plate today. Ryan Theriot reached base all four times he batted on a double, a single, and two walks, Joey Gathright had three hits (two singles and the "hustle double") and also made a nice running catch at the fence in left-center, and Aramis Ramirez had a single and a double.
The Cubs travel out to Surprise (which is halfway to California as far as I'm concerned) tomorrow to face the Kansas City Royals, before returning to Mesa on Tuesday.