Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cubs Fall Short in Comeback

First things first, Mike Quade addressed the team this morning about the defensive lapses that have led to the Cubs 14 errors this spring, and it appears at least for today - message received. The Cubs looked pretty sharp defensively in spite of losing 8-7 to a split-squad Texas Rangers club at Hohokam in front of 6,229 fans.

Z looking good for 3
Another gorgeous day in Mesa saw Big Z start and throw 3 effective shutout innings. After his innings Z was talking about a little arm fatigue which is natural for many pitchers at this time in the early spring. Z's arm fatigue shouldn't be a concern but it bears watching. Braden Looper followed Z and gave up a run in his first inning but looked sharp in his second and final inning going 1-2-3 finishing with a K of Esteban German. The damage was done by the Rangers mainly against Cubs youngsters Rafael Dolis and Thomas Diamond. With Dolis unable to get more than 1 out while giving up 4 runs, only 2 earned because of the Cubs lone error on first baseman Scott Moore unable to come up with a low throw from Darwin Barney. Dolis gave up a rocket HR deep to the right field berm delivered by Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. Brad Snyder who was in RF for the Cubs just turned and watched the ball sail. Thomas Diamond took the loss by giving up 2 runs on 2 hits in his lone inning. Carlos Marmol looked like, well, Carlos Marmol in a 1-2-3 seventh inning, in particular with a K of Rangers youngster Omar Quintanilla who looked simply overmatching against the Cubs closer.

Matt Camp's first effort
Once again the Cubs hit, compiling 14 hits although they did leave 17 stranded base runners. Blake DeWitt who was at second base and hitting lead-off had a nice game going 2-3 with an RBI and a double. Geo was 2-3 with a double and run scored. Geo looks to have found the right balance this spring between his weight and strength. Augie Ojeda started at short and had a 2 RBI double. Darwin Barney replaced Augie and had a ground rule double to deep LC. The battle for the utility infielder position between Augie and Barney is turning into one of the better contests of spring training as both players are preforming well.

Matt Camp replace Soriano in LF and was 2 for 2 with an RBI. In the deja vu moment of the game Camp made a long run after a foul ball to short left, only to just miss the catch then landed on the ball. A pitch or two later a ball was hit in nearly the exact same spot, with the same results (pics). Camp was shaking his head at not getting either ball but the fans gave him a nice hand for his hustle. The Cubs defense looked much better than it has so far, with nice defensive plays made by Brett Jackson on a long run to sang a deep fly in LC, and a couple double plays including a sweet 3-6-1 started by Carlos Pena.

Snyder and Jackson near miss
The Cubs were down by a score of 8 to 5 in the bottom of the 9th when they tacked on 2 runs with consecutive hits by Marquez Smith (a double), Scott Moore, and Matt Camp to pull within one. With Camp on first Koyie Hill popped out to end the game. The Cubs may not have needed the comeback as Brad Snyder made a long run and had David Paisano's deep drive to the alley in his glove only to have it pop out allowing two runs to score in the 8th. Snyder and CF Brett Jackson avoided what could have been and ugly collision (pic) and ended up nailing Paisano at the plate as he was going for the inside-the-park HR (pic).

The snow is now all gone on Four Peaks to the North East of Hohokam. Randy Hundley was in attendance today. The Cubs wives are holding their annual food drive this coming Sunday March 6 at Hohokam to benefit Mesa's Paz De Cristo. So bring non-perishable food items with you to the game. The first 500 fans making a donation of 10 non-perishable food items or $20 will be able to randomly select a 5x7 photo autographed by a Cubs player, with a limit of two photos per person while supplies last.

The Cubs head to Surprise tomorrow to take on the Kansas City Royals.

Today's outstanding photos by John Antonoff.    

Paisano about to be tagged out by Koyie Hill

Camp's second attempt looked more painful than the first


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