Z Cubs Zweep Sunday’s Zplit Zquad Games – Cubs 4 Dodgers 3, Cubs 7 D-Backs 5

Spring Training Game Seventeen – Cubs (ss) 4 Dodgers (ss) 3 – 10 innings
WP – Jeff Stevens (1-0) LP – Michael Antonini (0-1) Save – None

Spring Training Game Eighteen – Cubs (ss) 7 Diamondbacks 5
WP – Braden Looper (1-0) LP – Daniel Hudson (1-1) Save – None

wflag.jpgAfter dropping both split squad games Saturday, Q’s crews in Las Vegas and Scottsdale won on Sunday. A solid effort by Braden Looper and the second home run by Carlos Pena in three games led the Cubs to victory in Scottsdale.

Carlos Zambrano had a good outing in Las Vegas. Big Z even doubled and scored on another hit by Starlin Castro. Jeff Baker delivered the game winner with two outs in the 10th in Las Vegas, a single to left that gave the Cubs the win.

Carlos Zambrano completed five strong innings in Vegas. Z was sharp, threw strikes and allowed only one run on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Zambrano even got into the act offensively. Z doubled and scored the tying run in the fifth on a hustle-double by Starlin Castro (3-for-3 with a double, a stolen base and a RBI).

Steve Clevenger put together a two-hit day in relief of Koyie Hill in the game in Vegas. Clevenger singled in the 10th and scored the winning run on Jeff Baker’s single. Clevenger also showed off his defensive skills behind the plate in front of the Cubs’ brass.

Braden Looper and Carlos Pena were the difference in Scottsdale. Looper allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 3 2/3 innings. Looper also contributed with the bat. Looper finished a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, a run scored and a RBI.

Carlos Pena hit his second home run in three games. Pena was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run and a RBI. Pena also helped the Cubs defense turn five double plays at the new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Park.

Fernando Perez walked twice, drove in a run and scored a run in five trips to the plate.

For as good as the defense was in Scottsdale, the Cubs two squads committed three more errors on Sunday.

Spring Training Game Seventeen – Cubs (ss) 4 Dodgers (ss) 3 – 10 innings – in Las Vegas

Carlos Zambrano gave up two of his six hits in the first inning … but faced the minimum. Rafael Furcal led off with a single to left. Xavier Paul attempted to sacrifice Furcal to second but popped the bunt up to Zambrano for the first out.

With James Loney at the plate, Z picked Furcal off first. Loney ended up blooping a single into left center. Castro and Soriano tried to get to the ball but it fell to the ground. Soriano kicked it slightly before picking it up and throwing a strike to DeWitt at second base. Loney was called out to end the inning.

Zambrano threw six pitches in the first, four for strikes.

The Cubs went quietly in the first. Starlin Castro reached on a single and stole second but was stranded when Alfonso Soriano fouled out to first.

Zambrano was sharp again in the second. He surrendered a hit but no runs and threw only 12 pitches, nine for strikes.

Big Z retired the Dodgers in order in the third on six pitches, all strikes. The Dodgers managed other hit in the fourth but no runs. Zambrano threw 15 pitches, 11 for strikes.

The Dodgers finally broke through in the fifth … and it all started on a two-out walk.

Rod Barajas worked a two-out walk and advanced to second on a bloop single to left off the bat of Aaron Miles. Rafael Furcal lined a single to right on Z’s first pitch. Kosuke threw to the plate but was off the mark. Barajas scored … 1-0 Dodgers. Both runners advanced on the throw to the plate.

Z struck out Xavier Paul swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the fifth … and his outing. Zambrano threw 25 pitches in the fifth, 15 for strikes.

After Koyie Hill popped out to start the bottom of the fifth, Zambrano stayed in to get an at bat from the right side. Z doubled down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch and flipped his helmet off as he rounded first.

Z advanced to third on a ground out to second by Fukudome. Starlin Castro stepped in and ripped a single back up the middle. Z scored as the ball went off Eugenio Velez’s glove. Castro kept running and was given credit for a double. Castro hustled out of the box, which is a great sign.

Alberto Cabrera took over in the sixth and kept the Dodgers off the board.

Scott Rice and Kyle Smit showed why they will start the year at Triple-A in the seventh. Rice could not find the strike zone again. Rice ended up walking two and surrendering a run on a hit in 2/3 of an inning of work. Rice struggled mightily with his command. Smit replaced Rice and uncorked a wild pitch, on his first offering, that allowed the Dodgers to score the go ahead run.

Marquez Smith, who had both a good day and a horrible day in the field, led off the seventh with a single to left. After Koyie Hill failed to get a bunt down, he ended up popping out to center. Jeff Baker hit for Smit and reached on an infield single to the hole at short.

Kosuke Fukudome ripped lefty David Pfeiffer’s first pitch into right for a double. Smith scored the tying run. Pfeiffer uncorked a wild pitch with Matt Camp at the plate that allowed Baker to score the go ahead run. After seven, the Cubs held a 3-2 lead.

Chris Carpenter took over in the eight … and gave up the lead to the first batter he faced. Hector Gimenez launched a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right, game tied at three.

Carpenter settled down after the longball. He gave up a double to Jerry Sands but hit the mid 90s on his fastball and had good location. Carpenter threw 26 pitches in the eighth, 15 for strikes.

Jeff Samardzija took over in the ninth with the game tied at three … and was horrible. Samardzija gave Steve Clevenger a workout behind the plate. Samardzija did not allow any runs but struggled with his command. Samardzija struck out two but walked two and left with the bases loaded.

Jeff Stevens came in and struck out Matt Kemp swinging to end the ninth. Stevens was solid in the 10th as well. He gave up a two-out single on a 0-2 pitch but struck out a pair in his 1 1/3 innings of work.

Steve Clevenger led off the 10th with a single to center. Tony Campana flied out but Marquez Smith (2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) singled to center. Max Ramirez pinch-hit for Jeff Stevens and hit a weak grounder to Dee Gordon at short. Gordon was unable to turn two and settled for the sure out at first.

Jeff Baker lined the first pitch he saw into left for the game winner (Baker recorded two hits off right-handed pitching Sunday).

Tyler Colvin played the entire game at first and turned in a good performance in the field.

Box Score from MLB.com

Spring Training Game Eighteen – Cubs (ss) 7 Diamondbacks 5 – in Scottsdale

The game in Scottsdale was not as close as the final score indicates. Josh Vitters committed a couple of blunders in the ninth that allowed the inning to continue. Vitters was given an error on a ball that went under his legs but he could not start an around the horn double play that would have ended the game. The D’Backs scored three runs off Scott Maine after the game should have been over.

Braden Looper put together a good outing against the Diamondbacks. Looper faced the minimum in the first after Justin Upton hit into the first of five double plays to end the inning. Looper threw 18 pitches, nine for strikes.

The D’Backs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Russell Branyan led off with a single to right. Chris Young doubled to left and Ryan Roberts singled to center with one out. Branyan scored … 1-0 D-Backs.

Looper settled down and retired Henry Blanco and Daniel Hudson to end the inning. Looper threw 25 pitches in the second, 19 for strikes.

Braden Looper broke up Hudson’s no-hit bid with a two-out single to right center. Fernando Perez walked ahead of Darwin Barney’s ground-rule double to left. The ball hit the track and jumped over the sidewall. Looper scored and tied the game at one.

With runners on second and third with two outs, Marlon Byrd reached on a ball hit to the hole at short. The ball went off Ryan Roberts glove to Stephen Drew at short and was ruled a hit (later changed to an error). Perez scored and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

Aramis Ramirez flied out to center to end the inning.

Looper gave up a one-out single to Kelly Johnson in the third but did not allow any runs. Looper threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes.

The Cubs took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on Carlos Pena’s second homer of the spring.

Geovany Soto then reached third on an error by Brandon Allen. Soto hustled around the bases and scored on a two-out double to right center by Braden Looper.

The Cubs led 4-1 after three and a half.

Looper retired the two batters he faced in the bottom of the fourth on 13 pitches, nine for strikes. Looper handed the ball off to Jay Jackson.

Brandon Allen made it 4-2 with a home run to right center off Jay Jackson. Jackson struck out Ryan Roberts swinging to end the fourth.

The Cubs tacked on a pair in the sixth. Carlos Pena and Geovany Soto reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning. Bobby Scales then loaded the bases with a single to right. James Adduci hit back to Carlos Rosa. The D-Backs pitcher fumbled the ball, every one was safe and Pena scored on the play … 5-2 Cubs.

Jay Jackson struck out but Fernando Perez worked a bases loaded walk that forced in Soto from third … 6-2 Cubs.

Darwin Barney hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.

Kerry Wood faced the minimum in the seventh after the Cubs defense turned the third double play (at the time). Wood threw 11 pitches, six for strikes.

The Cubs’ minor leaguers added a run in the top of the eighth. Bobby Scales worked a one-out walk and James Adduci was hit by a pitch. Junior Lake hit for Kerry Wood and delivered a single to left that plated Bobby Scales … 7-2 Cubs.

The D-Backs scored three in the ninth off Scott Maine … but Josh Vitters’ defensive blunders led to all three runs off the lefty.

Several Cubs’ prospects appeared in the game against the Diamondbacks … Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Marwin Gonzalez, Rebel Ridling and Michael Burgess.

Q’s crew showed improvement in both games Sunday. With that said, the way this group of guys plays in the field it constantly feels like one step forward, two steps back.

Box Score from MLB.com

Matt Garza and the Cubs will travel to Peoria Monday to face David Fister and the Mariners.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
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  • fryegye

    Neil, it feels like one step forward, one step back to me. The status quo is strictly maintained which is enough to drive everyone who reads CCO crazy. But it was still nice to watch two Cubs games in one day and see two wins.

    Out of curiosity I started looking at tentative starters (position players) within our division and how they are doing this spring. Brewers look good on offense as always and we look better than we did last year. However, something struck me as I compared teams. While five of the NL Central teams were giving their opening day lineup about 30-40% of the playing time in spring training, one team has been playing their opening day lineup considerably less. That team is the Reds under good ol’ Dusty. Reds opening day lineup is playing about 22% of the time in spring training so far. And delving just a bit farther, those players are having mediocre springs at best so far.

    I know spring stats don’t matter, but the disparity is huge and it seems to me that cruising through the spring without enough at bats might lead to a cold start to the regular season.

    I’ll play any angle to make us look better… Go Cubs!

    • Ripsnorter1

      I think Dusty is actually thinking on this one. Here’s how “I think HE thinks:”

      Lots of rookie pitchers with live arms and no control in the Spring.
      After March 16, when the first big round of cuts comes by, Dusty will start playing his regulars more “regularly.” His reasoning is to possibly prevent injuries by giving the pitchers time to gain control of their stuff, and weeding out the wild things in the league.

      At least, that is what I think he is thinking . . . .:)

  • Ripsnorter1

    Bobby Scales knows how to take a walk, and how to hit some. He would have been a regular on the ML level if he could have hit with enough power to overcome his Blake DeWitt defense.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I’m not a Samardzija supporter. I figure the Cubs will keep him on the roster even though he has no control, and gives up the longball with great frequency.

    John Grabow–we haven’t seen too much of him just yet. Does he have health problems again?

    Stevens pitched well yesterday.

    Since Carlos “Mr. .196″ Pena has backed off the plate, he has hit 2 HR. That’s very good. The Cubs haven’t hit very many HR this Spring, and we need his power. But Zonk says such a move means relearning the Strike Zone. I hope Carlos can adjust. I’ll get off of his back if he can show during the regular season that he can hit. This is still early ST, and the pitchers are throwing more fastballs than during the regular season.

    Zonk says these position players are a lock to make the team:

    Pena
    DeWitt
    Baker
    Castro
    Aram

    Funko
    Colvin
    Byrd
    Soriano

    Soto
    Hill

    Now the question marks:
    Barney or Scales or Scott Moore–probably Barney
    (Ojeda won’t make the team, imo). Moore has done well so far.
    But there is still time to make the team.

    Johnson or Perez–probably Johnson.
    I know that Quade likes Perez’s speed, but he can’t hit more than Joey Gathright, so why would the Cubs keep him? Johnson has no power, but he has a glove.

    If I ran the show, Scales makes the team for versatility, hitting ability and PH skills. He can take a walk, but doesn’t play SS anymore. If I had to cut someone, it would be the 12th pitcher on the staff. I’d just start with 11 pitchers.

    Zonk’s locks on the pitching staff:

    Z
    Dempster
    Garza
    Wells
    Cashner

    Silva
    Wood
    Grabow
    Marshall
    Russell
    Marmol

    That leaves one spot—
    Coleman or Wellemeyer or Looper or Samardzija or Stevens or Maine or Diamond.

    I figure Diamond and Looper have no chance at all.
    Coleman will certainly be sent down if it comes down to him or Samardzija.
    Maine or Stevens are the most deserving, with Maine being my choice, but I think it really comes down to Samardzija or Wellemeyer.

    If Wellemeyer can pitch lights out the rest of the Spring, he’ll make the team and Samardzija will be cut. If not, Samardzija will get the job simply because he makes more money.

    Thus two players will make the team who don’t deserve to be here:
    Silva and Samardzija. I sure hope the Cubs trade them both before ST is over.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Do you mind if I list the top 10 hitters for the Cubs this ST? These stats do NOT include the games from Sunday.

    LeMahieu 1.000
    Russell 1.000
    Clevinger .667
    Byrd .650
    Castillo .571
    Garza .500
    Cashner .500
    Camp .417
    Castro .400
    Vitters .385

    How about the bottom 10 hitters–the unimpressive ten:
    (remember, it’s early ST)
    K. Hill .000 0-14
    B. Jackson .067 1-15
    Adduci .083 1-12
    Mr. .196 .117
    Ojeda .125
    Robinson .200
    DeWitt .200
    LaHair .222
    R. Johnson .222
    Colvin .227

  • Ripsnorter1

    Grabow–1 game, 1 IP, 2 ER, 18.00 ERA

    Where has he been? Don’t tell me we have a sore knee for 2011!

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      –LHP John Grabow, trying to come back from knee problems last year, is battling tightness in his pitching shoulder. Grabow entered last weekend having not pitched since the Cactus League opener on Feb http://cubs.scout.com/2/1055744.html

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

        Didn’t we already discuss this in depth when he was still wearing a knee brace in Feb? He is going to have a lot of arm/shoulder problems until he trusts his knee. I still think extended spring training is where he is going to go for a few more weeks just to get his strength in his knee to a point he trusts it.

      • paulcatanese

        I said that earlier about Grabow, favoring the knee with a brace and would eventualy end up damaging his arm, I just knew it,dang it. He now may end up on the DL again. And yeah Rip,he will have a sore knee or worse for the season.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Scott Moore:
    Plays all four infield positions, as well as LF (and maybe even RF). Sounds like
    a useful guy to me. Has some pop in his bat, with 7 ML HR, and he has some speed, too. He was a #1 pick of Tigers in 2002 (8th overall). Aaron ought to be excited about him : ) Anyway, he’s 27 and I would take him along if I were Quade.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Scott Moore:
      I don’t know about his minor league numbers, but in 16 ML PA vs. LHP he has 2 BB 6 SO and no hits.

      • Ripsnorter1

        True.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

      I know we need more power on the bench but I would rather have Marquis Smith or Matt Camp for the last spot on the bench and send DeWitt to get more seasoning and his head on strait. I know it isn’t going to happen but In a perfect world that would be the choice instead of a career AAAA player like Moore. Both guys have versatility and can have a better upside than Moore.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Marquez Smith in not even considered ML ready because of his fielding. He has a stick, but not enough glove. Smith is not versatile enough to be a bench player, because he only plays 3B. (He has played exactly 1 game at SS, and exactly 10 games at 2B since he became a Cub’s property in 2007). He is not on the Cubs’ 40 man roster. If he was competent with the glove, he’d be on the team (provided Jim Clueless wasn’t saving the spot for Koyie Hill or another one of his friends).

  • Ripsnorter1

    Look at these possibilities:

    Silva traded.
    Samardzija cut from the 25 man.
    Grabow on the DL–again.

    Right there are three open spots on the 12 man pitching staff.
    Suddenly Maine makes the team, as well as Wellemeyer and probably Stevens over Coleman (let Coleman start games in AAA).

    • Cheryl

      What about Ramirez? They even tried him at third base. Does Max have a chance of making the team? And how bad does Hill have to be to be traded or cut?

      • Ripsnorter1

        Cheryl,
        I consulted with several nuclear scientists, 14 PhD’s, and Bill James, 7 NL scouts from the Reds, Cards, Brewers, Giants and Phils; 2 scouts from the Yanks and one from the BoSox, and they all agree: they can’t figure out how Koyie Hill has a MLB job in the first place. They are all completely bumfoozled about it.

        SO …. Max Ramirez has no chance at all.
        Wellington Castillo has no chance at all.
        Steve Clevinger has no chance at all.

        But, I might add, Jim Clueless has it all figured out.

        • Cheryl

          Thanks to all the PhD’s scouts and yourself for the assessment. It would be a shame to lose Ramirez but from what you and the others have said I won’t be surprised.

        • paulcatanese

          Rip.just got home,LOVE the post. Can always count on you to brighten my day after looking at the scores.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Thanks, Paul. I hope I can continue to brighten your day. I don’t think the Cubs are going to do much of that for you this year . . . .