Volstad Act Prohibits Giants from Scoring
Anthony Rizzo crushed a tape-measure two run home run, Chris Volstad and Jay Jackson combined to throw six innings of five-hit one-run ball, and the Cubs withstood a late San Francisco rally, edging the Giants 5-4 in Cactus League action at warm & sunny Scottsdale Stadium this afternoon.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings, but the Cubs put two runs on the board against Giant LHSP Madison Bumgarner in the top of the 3rd. Starting pitcher Chris Volstad lined a lead-off single to RF, advanced to 3rd base on a David DeJesus double to the 430-foot sign in dead center (normally would have been a stand-up triple for DeJesus, except Volstad was “clogging the bases” in front of him), and then scored on a Darwin Barney ground out, with DeJesus moving up to 3rd. Starlin Castro then knocked-in DeJesus with an RBI single grounded through the 5.5 hole and into LF.
The Cubs scored another run off Bumgarner in the top of the 4th, as Steve Clevenger lined a single to right, and Josh Vitters ripped a pinch-hit opposite-field two-out RBI triple into the right-centerfield gap to score Clevenger from 1st.
Meanwhile Chris Volstad, Scott Maine, and Jay Jackson were shutting-down a mostly “A” team Giant lineup (Pagan-M. Cabrera-Sandoval-Posey-Huff-Belt-Theriot-Crawford), allowing just one run on six hits (and no walks) over the first seven innings.
Volstad and J. Jackson were particularly effective, each breezing through a three-inning stint.
Volstad threw three shutout innings (39 pitches – 25 strikes), allowing just one hit. The 6’8 right-hander had the Giant hitters beating his sinker into the ground throughout his three innings of work (7/1 GO/FO).
J. Jackson also threw three innings (37 pitches – 23 strikes, 5/3 GO/FO), surrendering a run in the 5th on an Angel Pagan two-out RBI triple (bad break on the ball and a poor route taken by CF Dave Sappelt), but he finished strong, retiring seven of the last eight men he faced. J-Jax's likely destination will be the Iowa Cubs starting rotation, but he has been very impressive so far this spring.
The Cubs added two more runs in the top of the 7th, as Adrian Cardenas ripped a two-out double into the RF corner, and scored when Anthony Rizzo clubbed a towering two-run 450+ foot HR over the Charro Party Pavilion well beyond the RF fence. (It was so obviously a homer run that none of the SF outfielders moved an inch, and the ball itself was last seen headed for Don & Charlie's for an early-bird special).
Battling for a job in the Cub bullpen, RHP Andy Sonnanstine fared poorly in the bottom of the 8th. The ex-Ray allowed three runs on five hits (including back-to-back ringing doubles leading off the inning), but one of the other hits was a nifty squeeze bunt single, and another should have been scored a FC because 3B Blake DeWitt tried to tag a runner going from 2nd to 3rd (he missed him), and then threw late to 1st base (there were two outs at the time… just throw the friggin’ ball to 1st base, Blake!).
23-year old RHP Alberto Cabrera (like Jay Jackson, also likely destined for Iowa) had a shaky 9th, but did manage to retire the side and pick-up the save (leaving the tying run stranded at 3rd).
Cubs 2012 Spring Training sensation Joe Mather got the start at 3B today, a position he has played before, although not much in recent years. Mather was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of HS as a shortstop, and was moved to 3B after his rookie season in the minors. He played 3rd base for the next three seasons in the minors after that, before being moved to corner OF and 1B.
The 29-year old Mather would obviously have a much better chance of making the 25-man roster if he shows the Cubs that he can play 3B and CF in addition to 1B-LF-RF, but wouldn’t you know it? Despite the ten Giant ground outs in the first five innings, Mather had only one ball hit to him at 3B (which he handled flawlessly, BTW) while he was in the game. (Mather was replaced by Blake DeWitt at 3B in the bottom of the 6th).
The Cubs return home to Mesa tomorrow, where they will be playing the Milwaukee Brewers at HoHoKam Park.
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.