Second Verse of the Spring … Same as the First – Cubs 3 Brewers 5

Spring Training Game Two – Cubs 3 Brewers (ss) 5
WP – Tim Dillard (1-0) LP – Andrew Cashner (0-1, BS 1) Save – Brian Garman (1)

Monday was a beautiful day at HoHoKam Park and Q’s crew responded with a better effort in front of a very small crowd of 5,405. The Cubs once again struggled with their defense and pitching plus on Monday they could not buy a hit with runners in scoring position. Again, wins and losses are not important in the spring but execution is and after the second game it is clear to see the Cubs have a lot of work to do.

Randy Wells had a good outing and threw the ball well. Wells kept the Brewers off the board but more importantly he hit his spots. The Cubs defense did not help Wells but unlike last year, Wells did not let the miscues impact his outing. Wells threw 26 pitches in his two innings of work, 16 went for strikes. Wells ended his day by striking out Caleb Gindl swinging on a nice changeup.

Andrew Cashner and Kerry Wood pitched better than their results. Cashner allowed two runs on three hits with a walk, a wild pitch and a wild pick off attempt in his two innings of work. After his outing Cashner said, “Today was fun. My stuff was good, it just didn’t go where I wanted.” The Brewers jumped on Cashner’s first pitch for a majority of his outing and Cashner did not miss his spots by much. Cashner threw 23 pitches in the third, 15 for strikes. Cashner settled down in the fourth and threw 19 pitches, 10 for strikes.

After receiving a standing ovation as he jogged in from the bullpen, Kerry Wood threw strikes and both of his strikeouts came on his breaking ball. The Brewers were very aggressive against Wood and jumped on the first pitch. Wood was tagged for two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a wild pitch in an inning of work. Wood threw 19 pitches, 13 for strikes.

Of all the relievers Mike Quade used Monday, Jay Jackson was the most impressive. Jackson threw strikes (10 out of 13 pitches) and if not for Jeff Baker losing a pop up in the sun, he would have retired the Brewers in order. Jackson faced Triple-A hitters but showed an ability to throw strikes and appeared confident on the mound. The Cubs should use him against Major League hitters to see how he responds.

Chris Carpenter, John Gaub and Sean Marshall each threw an inning. Marshall sat down the backend of the Brewers’ roster in order thanks to a nice tumbling catch by Fernando Perez in right center.

Reed Johnson (2-for-3 with a run scored), Tyler Colvin (1-for-2 with a triple and a RBI), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a double and a run scored), Welington Castillo (2-for-2 with a run scored) and Scott Moore (2-for-3 with a RBI) led the Cubs offense. As a whole, the team struggled again with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs. The Cubs refuse to change their approach at the plate and they finished the game 2-for-15 with RISP. The Cubs left 12 on base and eight of them came with two outs.

As for the exhibition game, the Cubs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Reed Johnson put together a good at bat before reaching out and poking a single into center. Ryan Braun took extra bases away from Darwin Barney with a running catch toward the left field line. Tyler Colvin followed with a triple into the right field corner. Johnson scored. Alfonso Soriano flied out to Braun in left but the Brewers’ left fielder threw a strike to Wil Nieves to cut down Colvin at the plate.

The Brewers took the lead in the third off Andrew Cashner. Zelous Wheeler led off with a single to center on Cashner’s first offering. Carlos Gomez hit a grounder up the middle that Jeff Baker got to but he and Barney could not complete the double play.

Cashner paid a lot of attention to Gomez at first. Cashner’s second pickoff attempt short-hopped Carlos Pena and allowed Gomez to advance to second. Gomez stole third on a 1-1 pitch to Craig Counsell. Cashner then uncorked a wild pitch on a 2-1 pitch to Counsell that allowed Gomez to tie the game.

Ryan Braun reached on a double to left center and scored on a single to left by Mark Kotsay. Alfonso Soriano, who played a solid left field again Monday, made a strong, accurate throw to Koyie Hill but Braun just beat it and slid in safe. Kotsay advanced to second on the throw but Luis Cruz fouled out to Hill on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Brewers increased their lead to 4-1 in the sixth off of Kerry Wood.

Luis Cruz greeted Wood with a single to left on his first pitch. A wild pitch advanced Cruz to second with one out, then Wood struck out Anderson De La Rosa looking for the second out. Caleb Gindl tripled to right center and scored on a double to left center by Zelous Wheeler.

The Cubs got one of the runs back in the bottom of the sixth. Alfonso Soriano doubled off the top of the wall in left with two outs and scored on a single to center by Scott Moore on a 3-2 pitch. Matt Camp grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Brewers made it 5-2 in the top of the seventh off of John Gaub. Gaub struggled with his command and gave Welington Castillo a workout behind the plate. Gaub threw 20 pitches, 12 for strikes and missed his spots badly. The Brewers fifth run scored on the Cubs third wild pitch of the game.

Bobby Scales pinch hit for Gaub in the bottom of the seventh and “drove” in the Cubs third and final run with a bases loaded walk. Welington Castillo led off the inning with a single to left. Luis Montanez lined out to center but Fernando Perez singled to left (hitting left-handed). Augie Ojeda flied out to deep right, which allowed both runners to tag and advance ninety feet. Brad Snyder walked to load the bases ahead of Scales. Bryan LaHair struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

It was that kind of day for the Cubs offense.

Chris Carpenter made his first appearance of the spring in the eighth. Carpenter has a big arm but looked nervous Monday. Carpenter threw 24 pitches, 10 for strikes, and issued two walks in his inning of work. To his credit, Carpenter fielded his position very well and after a visit from Mark Riggins he settled down and got out of the inning without allowing a run.

Sean Marshall was Sean Marshall. The Cubs’ lefty put together a ho-hum 1-2-3 inning that was highlighted by a tumbling catch in right center by Fernando Perez. Marshall got his work in and looked sharp.

The Cubs have a lot of work to do on the “little things” before the final score of the games count.

Box Score from MLB.com

Notes from Monday

  • Greg Maddux was in uniform and on the field in pre-game warm-ups.
  • Kerry Wood and Andrew Cashner appear inseparable.
  • Cashner was working on different grips with Lester Strode while warming up in the bullpen.
  • Tyler Colvin spent a lot of time working on his defense at first base. Colvin looked smooth handling tricky hops off a fungo bat.
  • Speaking of fungo bats, Mike Quade carries a blue one with him wherever he goes.
  • The Brewers put on the shift twice for Carlos Pena Monday … and he grounded out into the shift in both at bats.
  • Sean Marshall and Chris Carpenter discussed pitching and how to setup hitters on one of the backfields after the game.
  • There is a noticeable difference in Josh Vitters and Darwin Barney this spring. It appears their time at ‘Camp Colvin’ has paid off.

The Cubs travel to Scottsdale Tuesday to face the Giants. Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start and Casey Coleman is expected to get his first action of the spring.

Quote of the Day

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." - David Brinkley
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  • Mark

    Neil, GREAT job on the details and insight! Reading was like watching the game! Thank you!

  • Wickitkevin

    Thanks for the insight. I am going to be there on Thrusday and staying for a week can’t wait to see the younger players.

  • paulcatanese

    I agree with Mark,great job Neil,actually reading about it is BETTER than watching the game.

  • Jamesr101576

    Good job love the site

  • Aaron

    These first two games are eerily similar to the last 2 Spring Trainings. The funny thing is, every time we hear, “it’s just exhibition games and they don’t really count” blah blah blah.

    But the fact that we can’t get the key hit at the right time should NOT surprise anyone. I’ve discussed this at length before, but just to re-iterate, we have 4 guys that will strike out more than 100 times in Pena, Soriano, Colvin, and Byrd (98 and 98 the past 2 seasons comes damn close to being the 4th). And that’s not even factoring in the free-swinging Castro.

    We have a team of hackers, and when you have that, you’re playing with fire. The guys that I wouldn’t really consider hackers would be Fukudome (who wouldn’t be in the everyday lineup if Colvin is), Soto, DeWitt, and ARAM (who, sans 2010, is normally a selective hitter). When you start talking about clutch hitting etc., it’s almost always a direct correlation to selective hitting. If you’re a right-handed hitter, and you’re trying to move a runner from 2B to 3B, and you receive an inside pitch, logic would tell you to let it go. Once you get an outside pitch, you try to push it to the right side, which is MUCH easier to do than an inside pitch. Usually, it’s the disciplined hitters that are able to accomplish this task.

    However, when you’re talking about the Cubs hitters, you almost never see that type of discipline.

    The fact is, it’s NOT on the hitting coach to teach this, meaning, it’s not Rudy’s job, just like it wasn’t Von Joshua or Gerald Perry’s jobs to do it before. Plain and simple, you either have it or you don’t. You can teach timing mechanisms, and use strength and conditioning to improve bat speed, but recognizing a pitch coming at 95 mph+, and having the hand-eye coordination to hit it where you want to (not necessarily precisely, but general direction such as pulling it, or taking it the other way or up the middle), is something that is nearly impossible to teach.

    It’s why I was a strong advocate for going after Adam Dunn, because while he strikes out a lot, he averages over 100 walks per season to go along with 40 hr and 100+RBI. He makes the rest of the lineup better, because he’s selective at the plate, and willing to take a walk. It’s a mentality you have to have, where you are selfless enough to take the less glorifying walk as opposed to trying to force the issue by swinging at pitches out of the zone trying to hit the sexier long-ball or extra base hit.

    I’ve been wrong before though on Spring Training. (actually in both ways, by being overly optimistic and overly pessimistic).

    What I don’t understand is how the Cubs could possibly overlook the offensive deficiencies during the offseason and failure to address the issue of needing more selective hitters, and more specifically run production from 2B, OF, and the bench. We kept the status quo, and the status quo landed us in 5th place last year.

    I am betting that Colvin won’t even be a starter come Opening Day. In fact, I bet our lineup will be:

    Fukudome-RF
    Castro-SS
    Byrd-CF
    ARAM-3B
    Pena-1B
    Soriano-LF
    Soto-C
    DeWitt-2B

    • Ripsnorter1

      Well, let me start by contradicting you, Aaron.

      Funk not a hacker? He fans 100+ times per year. Just because he doesn’t hit the ball hard enough to break a pane of glass at 2b, doesn’t mean he’s not a hacker.

      BUT I fully agree that Funko will start over Colvin. It’s so easy to see that Funko has so much more ability. Just look at their contracts and think like Jim Clueless: Funko makes about $14.5 million, and Colvin makes about $500,000. Why, Funko is 29 times the player Colvin is!

      Adam Dunn: too late now. ChiSox have him. Besides, he only hit 38 HR last year, not his traditional 40, so he would not have helped us. LOL
      Oh, and I hope the Sox finish last, but I want Dunn to hit 50+ this year. Just to prove Jim Clueless right, that he would not have helped us. [In Jim Clueless' mind, last place is the best place].

      DeWitt–he’ll hit for us, Aaron. I’m looking for .229, 3 HR, 29 RBI if he gets his 500 AB.

  • Ripsnorter1

    When you talk about moving Wells to AAA, just remember:

    2010–32 starts, and in 27 starts, the Cubs scored 3 runs or less.
    Hard to be better than 8 wins with a team like that behind you.

    I consider him our solid #4 starter, and the job won already. I thin he has a bounce back year in 2011. I am hoping for 15 wins out of him. But we have to have some offense, and I don’t see that out of Carlos K, “Mr. .196.

    BTW, our Mr. .196′s glove looks awful thus far. Last year his UZR dropped into a -2.6. Yesterday he probably should have had Cashner’s errant throw, or at least blocked it.

    Glad Cubs’ baseball is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccckk!!

  • Dorasaga

    What alarms me from this game is the, “surprise, surprise,” lack of fundamentals from our dear Cubbies.

    Cashner-Pena, Baker-Barney… I’ll never get how Major League players, after repeating those plays thousands and thousands of time throughout their career, can simply miss catching like that.

    If they don’t improve as Spring training progresses, this will be 2010 all over again.