Cubs Drop Fourth Straight Spring Game – Cubs 2, Giants 3

Spring Game Fourteen – Cubs 2, Giants 3
WP – Eric Surkamp (2-1) LP – Matt Garza (1-2) Save – Danny Otero (3)

The Cubs lost their fourth exhibition in three days on Friday afternoon in front of the largest crowd of the spring at HoHoKam Park. There were a lot of positives that came out of the game … but in the end it was the Cubs’ over-aggressiveness that cost them a meaningless victory.

For as good as the pitching was on Friday afternoon, three runners were thrown out at third base and two errors ended up costing the Cubs two runs.

Matt Garza rebounded nicely from his start against the Dodgers last Sunday and allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in four innings. Once again it was a free pass that led to the oppositions first run of the game. Garza retired six of the first seven batters he faced with three strikeouts … and nine of the first 10.

The Giants first run came after Garza issued a leadoff walk to Melky Cabrera in the fourth and a single to Pablo Sandoval. Steve Clevenger tried to pick off Sandoval from first, the ball ended up in right field and Cabrera scored easily from second. And the second run came on a single by Aubrey Huff on a 0-2 pitch one batter later.

Rafael Dolis (no runs on one hit without a walk or a strikeout) was impressive in his inning of work. Non-roster invitee, Chris Rusin, tossed two innings of shutout ball and allowed only one runner to reach base (no hits, a walk and two strikeouts). Lendy Castillo struck out the side in his inning of work but gave up a double and his throwing error allowed the Giants third run to score. Trever Miller pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Cubs offense outhit the Giants 7-6 but three decisions on the bases likely cost them runs. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo were thrown out trying to steal third in the sixth and Joe Mather was thrown out at third in the ninth trying to go from first to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Jackson.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a home runs) hit his second home run of the spring (both against the Giants) and Blake Lalli (1-for-1 with a home run) hit his second longball of the spring in the eighth inning.

Matt Garza mowed down the Giants in order to start the game. Garza struck out Gregor Blanco and Melky Cabrera then retired Pablo Sandoval with one pitch (groundout to third).

The Cubs did nothing against Eric Surkamp in the first … DeJesus (struck out swinging), Byrd (fly out to center) and Castro (lined out to center) went down in order.

Buster Posey led off the second with the first hit of the game, a single to right on a 2-2 pitch. Garza retired Aubrey Huff (flyout to left center), Nate Schierholtz (struck out looking) and Ryan Theriot (flyout to center) to end the inning.

Anthony Rizzo led off the home half of the second with his second dinger of the spring … and just like that the Cubs led 1-0. Surkamp sat down the next three batters in order (Mather, lineout to third; Clevenger, struck out swinging; Sappelt, groundout to short).

After two, the Cubs had a 1-0 lead.

The Giants did nothing against Matt Garza in the third.

Adrian Cardenas (popped out to short) and Matt Garza (struck out swinging) to start the third. David DeJesus, the newly crowned bunting champion, reached on an infield single to Ryan Theriot … the former Cub mistimed his jump and the ball went off his glove. Marlon Byrd followed with a single to right center. DeJesus ended up at third with two out.

Starlin Castro chopped a 0-1 pitch to third. Sandoval gloved and threw out Castro to end the inning.

Matt Garza issued a leadoff walk to Melky Cabrera to start the fourth. Sandoval followed with a single to right … and the Giants were in business.

After Garza’s 0-1 pitch to Buster Posey missed the zone, Steve Clevenger made a snap throw to first. The ball ended up in right field and Cabrera scored … game tied at one. Posey hit a tapper back to Garza. Sandoval held at second as Garza threw to first for the out.

Aubrey Huff lined a 0-2 pitch into left. Sandoval scored, 2-1 Giants. Schierholtz followed with a grounder to Rizzo. The Cubs’ first baseman threw to second to force Huff. Ryan Theriot popped out to center to end the inning.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth. Rizzo (struck out looking on a 2-2 pitch) and Mather (tap back to the mound) went down quickly but Steve Clevenger reached on a double to left center. Dave Sappelt walked and the Cubs had runners on first and second with two down. Adrian Cardenas flied out to left (0-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After four, the Cubs trailed 2-1.

Rafael Dolis took over in the fifth and faced the minimum.

Rafael Dolis retired Mike Fontenot on a grounder to first to start the inning. Emmanuel Burris hit for Surkamp and reached on a ground rule double to right center. Burris tried to steal third with Blanco at the plate. Clevenger threw him out and Blanco ended up grounding back to Dolis to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Jeremy Affeldt in the fifth.

Chris Rusin took over in the sixth. Matt Szczur (CF) stayed in the game after hitting for Dolis in the fifth and James Adduci (RF) replaced DeJesus.

Rusin threw the ball well and retired three of the four batters he faced. Rusin issued a two-out walk to Buster Posey but retired Aubrey Huff on a flyout to left to end the inning.

Starlin Castro led off the sixth with a smash off Clay Hensley to short that “ate up Ryan Theriot“. The ball ended up in left after it rolled under Theriot’s glove.

Anthony Rizzo followed Castro with a single to left. Joe Mather struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Castro was running on the play and was thrown out at third. Rizzo advanced to second but he was thrown out at third to end the inning with Clevenger at the plate.

Dale Sveum made more changes prior to the seventh and left Chris Rusin on the mound. Edgar Gonzalez (1B), Junior Lake (SS) and Tony Campana (LF) took over for the starters.

Chris Rusin retired the side in order in the seventh … and struck out both Theriot and Fontenot for the last two outs.

Adrian Cardenas managed to reach on an error by the Giants’ first baseman with two outs in the seventh but Szczur struck out looking to end the frame.

Blake Lalli (C) and Lendy Castillo entered the game in the eighth.

Emmanuel Burris blooped a single into right center to start the eighth and stole second with Brett Pill at the plate. Lendy Castillo struck out Pill swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Eli Whiteside swung at and missed a 3-2 offering from Castillo and Tyler Graham tapped back to Castillo. Instead of inning over, Castillo’s lobbed throw sailed over Gonzalez’s head at first. Burris scored, 3-1 Giants. Castillo struck out Juan Perez swinging to end the inning.

Ramon Ortiz faced his former team for the first time this spring in the bottom of the eighth and retired James Adduci to start the inning.

Blake Lalli made it a 3-2 game with one swing of the bat. Lalli deposited his second homer of the spring over both bullpens in right. Junior Lake flied out to the track in center and Gonzalez grounded out to second to end the inning.

Trever Miller retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth.

With the Cubs down 3-2, Joe Mather led off the ninth with a single to left against Danny Otero. Brett Jackson hit for Trever Miller and dropped down a bunt toward third. Burriss picked the ball up and threw across the diamond. Mather rounded second and tried to advance to third but Brett Pill’s throw was on the mark to Joaquin Arias covering the bag. Tony Campana grounded out to Arias at short to end the inning … exhibition game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs play four games in the next two days. Dale Sveum and half of the roster will be in Las Vegas for the weekend playing the Rangers while Jamie Quirk will lead the other half against the A’s (Saturday in Phoenix) and White Sox (Sunday in Mesa).

Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Derek Holland and the Rangers on Saturday afternoon while Paul Maholm will face Travis Schlichting and the A’s in Phoenix.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Just saw where Chris Carpenter was the #7 hardest throwing pitcher in baseball. Impressive. 

    Dolis was #31. Cashner was #30. Samardzija was #43. 

    • Aorcappy

      Sure its impressive, but like the article said ”thrower” and not pitcher. Big difference there. Carpenter has never had the best of control.

    • Jeff in Az

      Just read that Theo Epstein is considered one of the best if not the best current genermal managers in baseball. I’ll give up the #7 hardest thrower in baseball. On second thought…nope still would do it. Then again,.. nope sitll making that trade.

      • cubtex

        let me see that article Jeff :)

      • Ripsnorter1

        Jeff,
        The article is wrong since Theo is not the GM of the Cubs. Jed Hoyer is the GM. 

  • Tony_Hall

    I know that this subject will get some opinions, but what is wrong with a 6 man rotation.

    This is from a ESPN Insider article
    – http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2012/story/_/id/7695349/boston-red-sox-lack-pitching-depth-again-cost-them

    —————————————–

    “A starter on your favorite team’s staff will get injured this year.

    OK, sure, the odd staff stays healthy all year — that’s just the law of probabilities. But the percentages also say that it’s more likely that the average staff suffers an injury or two before the season is over.

    Jeff Zimmerman’s research on FanGraphs shows that any starting pitcher who started a game last season has a 39 percent chance of hitting the disabled list this year. That number changes based on their health to date, and their age, but the lowest percentage likelihood in his projections still doesn’t dip below 30 percent.

    The consequence of this reality is that teams use more than five starters — last year, the average was 7.4 starting pitchers with more than 20 innings pitched per team. Some teams are equipped for the inevitability of injury, and some aren’t. Let’s look at three contenders that could list rotation depth as a strength, and three that might find themselves reaching for antacid by the end of the season.”
    —————————————-

    It then goes on to talk about teams (playoff teams) and their issues or strengths in this area.One area the Cubs are strong is SP depth.

    Now don’t get that confused with quality.

    We are really down to 6 guys for the rotation.  T Wood, Sonnanstine, Coleman, Lopez are all headed to Iowa ifthey are going to start.  One of them could end up in the bullpen.

    The 6 guys left

    Garza, Dempster, Maholm – are for sure.

    So far Samardzija is looking good, same for Volstad and Wells.

    So why not go with all 6.  

    That doesn’t mean you might not skip a guy from time to time. That you can’t use a few of them as a long man if another starter has a short outing.  And it doesn’t mean you don’t keep Garza on a more set schedule and let the 4/5/6 guys be moved around more.  If a guy is struggling or has a minor injury, it would be easy to give him a few extra days. If starting pitchers who started last year, have a 39% chance of going on the DL this year, then why not have 6 in the rotation.  If one goes down, no big deal.  If you have days off, skip a guy and let him pitch out of the bullpen.   You also might avoid those DL stints, as you won’t have guys going out there, when all they may need is an extra day or two off.

    The other side of this is the bullpen.  You are leaving it a man down.  But not really.  You are just taking the 7th guys, who is the long man, and shifting his responsibility.   The rest of the bullpen will look the same. But here is how the type of players makes a big difference.

    You want a starter or 2, who have options, and a couple of relievers as well, at all times.  

    Why?

    So you can send a guy to the minors to get a start, if he has been skipped.  I believe it is 10 days a player must be in the minors before coming back up (baring injury to another player).  If so, that is perfect, send them down, for the 4-5 days of rest before and after the start, and you get them a start in the minors, when they may have been skipped.  And you bring up a fresh arm from the minors and get 10 days to see how they do against ML players, and get the extra arm in the pen.

    Now the ones against this, will say, pitchers like routines, no one is doubting that, you give the guys who have earned it, their routine.  The other guys will have a new routine.  They will say there that modern day pitchers just aren’t like the old days. You  are correct, the guys who could go every 4th day, and throw 250-300+ innings are long gone.  But for every Nolan Ryan, there 4 or 5 guys with very short careers or even no career, because they blew their arms out and the was no surgery to bring them back.  Today, guys can get 2nd and 3rd chances and lifes in their arm.  I am sure there are still guys, who if brought up on the old way, would have been able to do it.  

    So I am not saying this is a fit for every team, but for the 2012 Cubs, I think it is.

    • John_CC

       It is an interesting idea.  I have also read good arguments for 4 man rotations – which will never happen.  I’ll try to dig something up.

      • Tony_Hall

        I actually have said that as well.  I don’t feel you always do any one way.  There are a lot of variables that go into it.  I was all for the Cubs going 4 man at the beginning of the year, when Lilly was going to miss the first month.  But that was to minimize the number of starts by bad pitchers, in a year, that they had playoff hopes.  This year is about development.

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

      I have said that you need at least 8 quality arms to make it through any given season and the numbers you have pointed out have proven that. But to go to a 6 man rotation is not the answer unless your 6th man is also your long man.
       You are talking about taking the ball out of your top pitchers hands about 7 times a year. So Garza instead of getting 33 starts will get 26 if he is healthy.  Is there anyone at the back of the rotation that has enough promise to justify taking starts away from your top 2 pitchers? I don’t think at this point any of the guys you are talking about are top of the rotation guys so you are basically trading 14 starts from superior pitchers for a guy that is a fringe 4/5 guy anyway.
      The only reason I could see the 6 man rotation being used effectively is if you are trying to control the wear on pitchers coming back from injury or young guys that are transitioning from the bullpen.
      Not saying there is not a good amount teams with young pitching that could benefit from the 6 man rotation (Washington should look at it closely to control Strasburgs innings) but the Cubs do not have a young guy with enough promise to justify it.

      • Tony_Hall

        I am going to assume you didn’t read my whole post.

        I stated that guys like Garza you would keep on their schedule and skip the 5/6 guys, as they would also be used as long men as well, which was your other point.

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

          Your right I didn’t catch the part of Garza being on a regular schedule. But that makes it harder to keep everyone sharp with one or 2 guys pitching on 4 days rest and the others going every 6 or 7 days.
          Now that being said if one of those guys was Darvish who is use to pitching once a week I would look stronger at it. But like I said there is no one of the guys you mentioned that justifies taking starts away from another.

          • Tony_Hall

            I didn’t expect everyone would agree, but all of that could be taken care of by using all the examples I gave.  

  • cubtex

    6 man rotation? With rainouts and bad weather usually in early April….that would be a disaster. Many times the #5 starter is skipped in April…..can u imagine doing that now with 2 pitchers? Never happen. I think it will be what you said………Garza, Demp, Maholm, Volstad and Shark with Wells being the first to get a spot start for an injury. Travis Wood needs to start at AAA.

    • Tony_Hall

      It’s not 1 size fits all…April would obviously be when you have to take full advantage of sending a guy to AAA for a start and the long man is needed in April the most, as guys get shelled are not able to go as long as later in the year.

      • cubtex

        The big problem is if one of your guys has a bad outing and might only go a couple of inning and throws less than 50 pitches. Now he needs to wait another 7 days to pitch again?Back in the day…..there was nothing but 4 man rotations and it seemed like pitchers were more durable.I like what Nolan Ryan is doing with Texas these days.

        • Tony_Hall

          If that happened and a guy had a short outing, you would use the 5/6 guy that is available (you would space them out in the rotation) and use them then.  Problem solved.

          Back in the day, many guys blew out their arms only to never be heard of again.  If that way was better don’t you think more teams would still use it.

          Of course these were all the same arguments people made as teams went from 4 man rotations to 5 man rotations.  

  • paulcatanese

    Nothing wrong with being aggresive this time of the year, but they will lose some because of it. No matter, can’t get the extra base if they don’t try.
    One thing is certain, with the winning % the Cubs have, they should stay out of the Casinos in Vegas, they could pay the light bills for the
    place in one night.

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

      I still think it just Sveum trying to see what guys have the basic baserunning instincts to try that hyper-aggressive style of play. I also think it will help the guys in the minors as they get closer to being ready to understand the proper time to push the envelope and when to be a little conservative. As we get closer to the regular season they will pull up a bit I hope.

      • paulcatanese

        Agree Richard, the point I would make is getting the players used to being aggresive and push the defense. When a team continualy trys for the extra base the defense has to adjust, and it throws them off a bit. You are right, now is the time to condition the team with that aspect, and let it be spead around that the Cubs are going to make the defense make a play.

  • cubtex

    Lendy Castillo is obviously a little raw and really shouldn’t be on a major league roster……but he looks like an arm that would be worth keeping. He has definate upside and a power arm. With the Cubs losing Carpenter,Cashner,Kurcz…..he would be nice to add for the future as a starter or relief guy.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Does anybody have any overall impressions of recent games?  I haven’t been able to watch and I see what the stats are but I’d really appreciate an update on what guys are looking like overall.  Stuff you can’t see in a box score.  Who’s having good at bats?  Who’s working the count?  Who’s taking pitches?  Who’s having productive at bats?

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Sorry, not productive at bats.  I meant who is having productive outs?  You know, hitting the ball hard but right at somebody.  Going to the warning track?  Sacrifices? 

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I think most of what you are asking about are included in the recaps. I do my best to note counts, warning track flies, line outs etc.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Probably true, it’s just the recaps are so long I don’t always have time to read them.  I like some bullet points at the end that I can take in pretty swiftly.  But as usual you do a great job and I appreciate everything…