Zak Blair

Four Jacks Give Cubs Winning Hand at Riverview Park

Zak Blair (single, walk, 3-run HR, three runs scored), Kevin Brown (single, walk, solo HR, three runs scored), and Erick Castillo (three singles and a solo HR) slugged back-to-back-to-back home runs to cap a six-run 2nd inning, Varonex Cuevas clubbed a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored two runs, and Roney Alcala drilled a two-run double, as the Cubs decimated the Diamondbacks 15-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, AZ.  

Fernery Ozuna belted a solo HR, a triple, and a single, and Damion Smith slugged an RBI double, singled, walked, and stole two bases for the D'backs in a losing cause.

The Cubs came into game having homered only five times in their first 42 Cactus League EXST games (Tyler Alamo, Rashad Crawford, Erick Castillo, Jeffrey Baez, and Rony Rodriguez with one each), so hitting four dingers in one game was a bit of a surprise. (And Erick Castillo now leads the team in HR with two).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP Tyler Ihrig (Cubs 2013 23rd round draft pick - College of Marin) and 22-year old RHP Trevor Graham (Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick - Franklin Pierce University) have been promoted to Hi-A Daytona, replacing RHP Jose Rosario (assigned to Extended Spring Training) and RHP Zach Cates (placed on D-Cubs 7-day DL). Graham and Ihrig have been the two best starting pitchers so far at Extended Spring Training and the duo very likely would have been the Boise Hawks top two starters, too. Graham was scheduled to start today's game at Riverview Park and Ihrig was scheduled to start tomorrow, so the EXST Cubs pitching plans were thrown into disarray with the two promotions (although nobody is complaining).   

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TYLER IHRIG'S SEVEN 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/11 - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 40 pitches (25 strikes)  
4/16 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/23 - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 51 pitches (32 strikes) 
4/29 - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes) 
5/5   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 
5/10 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 53 pitches (39 strikes)  
5/16 - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO, 61 pitches (41 strikes)
TOTAL: 21.0 IP, 16 H, 8 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 26 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 22/13 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 OppBA

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TREVOR GRAHAM'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/10 - INTRASQUAD GAME
4/15 - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 7/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)  
4/21 - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 33 pitches (24 strikes)  
4/26 - INTRASQUAD GAME 
5/2   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 65 pitches (36 strikes)   
5/8   - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 2/6 GO/FO, 52 pitches (30 strikes) 
5/15 - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)
TOTAL: 17.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 15/12 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.59 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .226 OppBA   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

More Errors at Salt River Fields Than Can Be Imagined in Your Philosophy

Emerson Jimenez (2012 NDFA - Dominican Republic - $275K bonus) stroked a two-run single and David Bergin and Miguel Dilone followed with RBI triples to highlight a four-run 3rd inning, Hamlet Marte belted an RBI triple in the 6th and doubled and scored in the 8th, Marcos Derkes collected three hits, stole a base, scored a run, and drove-in another, and Ryan Garvey blasted a two-run home run, leading the Rockies to a 9-6 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action thiis morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.  

Kevin Brown (a double and three walks) and Zak Blair (two singles and two walks) reached base four times a piece for the Cubs in a losing cause. (The Cubs left 11 men on base and had three runners thrown out on the bases).

The two teams combined to commit nine errors, including six by the Cubs and three by the Rockies.

Casper Wells (back spasms) continued his EXST rehab, serving as a DH and batting five times (once in each of the first five innings). He drew a two-out walk in the 1st inning, reached base on an HBP in the 2nd, lined out to 2nd base in the 3rd, ripped a two-run double down the LF line in the 4th and then later scored on a Ricardo Marcano RBI single, and struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 slider (from a LHP) in the 5th. 

In EXST roster news, OF Jorge Soler (hamstring) has completed his rehab assignment at Extended Spring Training and will be rejoining AA Tennessee. In seven EXST Cactus League games (34 Plate Appearances), Soler hit 179/265/214 with five hits (four singles and a double), one walk, three HBP, five strikeouts, two sacrifice flies, five RBI, and one stolen base. 

Also, RHP Michael Wagner has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spring Training. The 22-year old 6'4 200 Wagner was the Cubs 15th round pick in last June's MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of San Diego, where he was the USD closer, second-team All-American, and a teammate of Cubs mega-prospect Kris Bryant. 

THE PITCHING LINES FROM MICHAEL WAGNER'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/14 - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/4 GO/FO, 24 pitches (15 strikes)
4/18 - 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 23 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/21 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 3/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (20 strikes)
4/26 - INTRASQUAD GAME
4/29 - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 17 pitches (12 strikes)  
5/2   - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 1/1 GO/FO, 31 pitches (20 strikes)
TOTAL: 9.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 10 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 7/10 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.92 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .222 OppBA

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Alcala Helps Cubs Gain Split with Giants at Riverview

Roney Alcala singled, doubled, and tripled, drove-in two runs, and scored another, Gleyber Torres reached base three times on a triple, a single, and an HBP, and scored a run, Zak Blair ripped an RBI single and an RBI triple, and LHSP Jose Paulino tossed three innings of no run/no hit ball, leading the Cubs to a 9-6 victory over the Giants on Field #6, and Craig Massoni singled and scored in the 7th and clubbed a two-run home run in the 8th as the Giants rallied for four runs over the final three innings to beat the Cubs 4-2 on Field #5, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

RHP Zak Hermans threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball and Eloy Jimenez knocked-in both Cub runs (RBI double in the 1st and RBI single in the 6th) in a losing cause on Field #5. 

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  • The Cubs have released RHRP Scott Frazier (2013 7th round dfraft pick - Pepperdine).

    A Cubs pitching coach told me in Spring Training 2014 that he thought Frazier had the best pure stuff in the organization. Absolutely electric fastball & breaking ball combo. Other pitchers would gather behind the screen just to watch him throw "live" BP. That's how amazing he was. 

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 28 min ago view
  • Got a chance to see Diamondbacks RHSP Zack Greinke (15-day DL - strained oblique) throw a rehab start at Sloan Park Friday night. Four of the first seven AZL Cubs hitters singled and the Cubs did score an unearned run in the bottom of the 1st inning, but then Greinke got serious and struck out five in a row.

    ZACK GREINKE: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 4/0 GO/AO, 49 pitches (34 strikes)

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 42 min ago view
  • Eloy Jimenez grand slam tonight. Hoping Soler power returns and gets hot but future looks bright in the outfield regardless.

    Eric S 6 hours 53 min ago view
  • Have fun - It may be good for Arrieta to be facing a team that doesn't know him as well as the NL teams. A nice shutout would do wonders for his confidence. He is confident in public but baseball is hard and he could use a boost, I'm sure.

    Old and Blue 7 hours 34 min ago view
  • Me too. I'll be at the game tomorrow and would love to see Good Arrieta.

    Brick 7 hours 58 min ago view
  • Last few games have been the April version of the Cubs that disappeared completely the past two months.
    Hope they can sustain it.

    blockhead25 8 hours 25 min ago view
  • Don't sell yourself short, Judge.

    Jackstraw 8 hours 52 min ago view
  • I love this team.

    Looks like Mother Nature is trying to call this fight.

    Rob Richardson 10 hours 20 min ago view
  • Hey! I remember this team!

    billybucks 10 hours 29 min ago view
  • The key for Heyward's offense: get early leads. Heard a stat on Mike & Mike on the way to work that his avg/power much better this year when the Cubs have the lead. And true to form he gets the two run dinger with Cubs winning 3-0 ...

    Eric S 11 hours 55 min ago view
  • I'm sorry - I was probably not looking at the correct line, or spot, or...who knows!

    I could blame it on the weed, but I stopped smoking many years ago.

    Fortunately, I can rely on the rest of you sober and astute folks to bring the correct info forth.

    The E-Man 12 hours 22 min ago view
  • Oh yeah! It just felt like one for some reason.

    Old and Blue 13 hours 28 min ago view
  • Agreed. I was not including Fowler or Heyward.

    I'm just not a fan of 2016 Coghlan.....

    Dusty Baylor 13 hours 35 min ago view
  • @Dusty Contreras if it's a Lester or Arrieta start. TLS is good PH too. You also forgot about Heyward, assume Fowler is CF.

    chitownmvp01 13 hours 36 min ago view
  • I expect Soler to get optioned as well when activated and Cahill to replace Grimm. It wouldn't surprise me if Coghlan and/or Soler is included in a trade.

    Maybe Coghlan is up to see if he can get on track before someone acquires him.

    This move could also be to assure that we have as much OF depth as possible to maximize Joe's ability to rest players in September once we've clinched.

    chitownmvp01 13 hours 38 min ago view
  • Maddon basically said as much...Fowler still kind of sore, they're being proactive, etc.

    Tito 13 hours 41 min ago view