Sunday, March 12, 2006

Spring Training Trip Report Part 1 of 2

Last week, my dad, my granddad, and I went on a trip to Phoenix so we could see a few Cactus League games. This is the 1st of two blog entries from my trip. This week’s is a play by play analysis of what I saw at the Cubs/Rangers on March 7th. Next week’s entry will be on the overall trip.

Before the game I got a lot of autographs. I got Hank Blalock (who also gave me his batting gloves), Joselo Diaz, Mike Nickeas (who also gave me a ball), Brad Wilkerson, Nate Gold, Gerald Laird, Wes Littleton, Adrian Brown, Nick Trzesniak, Josh Rupe, Jason Botts, Adam Hyzdu, and Ron Mahay.

The Cubs Spring Training stadium (Hohokam Park) was very nice. You could see mountains in the background and it had a nice concourse.

Here is a summary of each at-bat during the game:

Top 1st:

Brad Wilkerson: He came up to start the game. He had a good eye and walked against Greg Maddux after starting off with a 1-2 count.

Adrian Brown: Brown hit a fairly hard hit ball to short, which resulted in a fielder’s choice. Wilkerson broke up a double play with a good slide.

Hank Blalock: Blalock knew the strike zone and walked on 5 pitches vs. Maddux.

Phil Nevin: Nevin had a good eye and forced a walk vs. Maddux by fouling off 2, keeping him alive.

David Dellucci: Dellucci struggled, striking out on 3 pitches.

Mark DeRosa: DeRosa hit a screaming liner right to the short-stop for the out.

Bottom 1st:

Josh Rupe:
Vs. Juan Pierre: Rupe changed his speeds which forced a weak bunt for an out.

Vs Neifi Perez: He mainly threw fastballs high in the zone. Neifi hit a hard liner that Adrian Brown caught on the run.

Vs. Marquis Grissom: Rupe threw high and inside to Marquis. After Grissom hit a ground ball, D’Angelo Jimenez threw to 1st for the out.

Top 2nd:

D’Angelo Jimenez: D’Angelo chased a low pitch forcing him to hit a soft high-bouncer to 1st for the out.

Gerald Laird: Laird was fooled on a slow pitch getting him to pop out.

Joaquin Arias: Arias took a low pitch then hit a soft liner to left that was caught for the third out.

Bottom 2nd:

Josh Rupe:
Vs. Jacque Jones: Rupe threw a fastball down in the zone forcing Jones to ground out to DeRosa (2B).

Vs. Todd Walker: Rupe couldn’t fool Todd or blaze his fastball by him which allowed Walker to hit a long single down the left-center alley.

Vs. Matt Murton: Rupe tried faster pitches, allowing a single over the shortstop’s head.

Vs. John Mabry: Again, Rupe tried faster pitches. Mabry hit a 2 RBI double, leading me to think that Rupe had been figured out. Score: 2-0 Cubs.

Vs. Ronny Cedeno: Rupe fooled Ronny with different speed pitches. Joaquin Arias and D’Angelo Jimenez had bad communication on a ground ball and bumped into each other, allowing Cedeno to get to first.

Vs. Dennis Anderson: Anderson hit a breaking ball to second for a double play.

Top 3rd:

Brad Wilkerson: Wilkerson led off the inning with a good eye. He forced a 5-pitch walk on tempting pitches from Ryan Dempster.

Adrian Brown: Brown also had a good eye, forcing a talk on the mound with two straight balls. He hit a high fly ball to left center for the out.

Hank Blalock: Hank hit a hard liner to center for a single.

Phil Nevin: Nevin hit the first pitch and grounded into a double play.

Bottom 3rd:

Josh Rupe:
Vs Juan Pierre: Rupe had bad control. He had to pitch low in the zone, which forced a grounder to DeRosa for the out.

Vs. Neifi Perez: Rupe had bad control against him too. When Rupe gained his control, Neifi hit a deep fly ball to right for an out.

Vs. Marquis Grissom: Rupe had a good start for this at-bat. Later in the at-bat, he couldn’t get Marquis to chase balls out of the zone and allowed a blooper to right for a single.

Vs. Jacque Jones: Rupe threw down and in until he was behind with a 3-0 count. When it got to 3-1, he threw another down and in fastball. Gerald Laird threw a strike to second, catching Marquis Grissom stealing.

Top 4th:

David Dellucci: Two of Eyre’s fastballs blew right by him. He hit a soft grounder and was tagged out going to first, even though he ran faster than usual.

Mark DeRosa: DeRosa had a good eye but then swung at pitches low in the zone. He stuck out with a fastball blowing right by him.

D’Angelo Jimenez: Jimenez hit a frozen rope that the second baseman dove and caught.

Bottom 4th:

Ron Mahay:
Vs. Jacque Jones: He threw fastballs low in the zone, fooling him and striking him out on seven pitches.

Vs. Todd Walker: Ron threw fastballs out of the zone, walking Todd.

Vs. Matt Murton: Mahay pitched low, forcing a high chopper up the middle for a fielder’s choice.

Vs. John Mabry: Mahay threw fastballs too low or too inside but recovered with two straight strikes. Mabry still walked with a full count.

Vs. Ronny Cedeno: Mahay threw five straight fastballs and two of those fooled him. With two strikes, Cedeno had a foul tip on a breaking ball in the dirt for a strikeout.

Top 5th:

Gerald Laird: Gerald crushed a triple to deep center against Brownlie. It would have been a homer if the hitter’s backdrop wall wasn’t about as tall as the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Joaquin Arias: Joaquin was fooled by the outside pitch. He hit a high sacrifice fly to center field. Score: 2-1 Cubs.

Brad Wilkerson: Wilkerson forced an 0-2 count to a 2-2 count with a good eye. He had a hard hit ball almost to the warning track for an out.

Adrian Brown: Adrian beat out a perfect bunt down the third-base line. The Cubs’ third baseman gave up and didn’t even hustle because of Brown’s speed and how great the bunt was.

Hank Blalock: Blalock hit the first pitch to deep left center for an out.

Bottom 5th:

Ron Mahay:
Vs. Jake Fox: Mahay threw fastballs on the outside corner. He threw a hanging pitch that was stomped for a ground rule double. The umpires had originally called it a homer but Showalter got it turned around.

Vs. Juan Pierre: Pierre had a sacrifice bunt on the first pitch.

Vs. Neifi Perez: Mahay threw a low changeup forcing a pop fly to second.

Vs. Angel Pagan: A breaking ball fooled Angel, forcing him to hit a ground-out to short.

Top 6th:

Phil Nevin: Nevin held back his swing on a tempting pitch from Boehringer. On the next pitch, he was fooled and swung way off. His at-bat resulted in a high home run down the left field line. Score: 2-2.

David Dellucci: David had a good eye and stayed with it, fouling off a couple of pitches back behind home plate. Later in the at-bat, he crushed a liner that rocketed into the Rangers bullpen for a home run. Score: 3-2 Rangers.

Mark DeRosa: Mark had a good eye. He worked a 3-0 count and walked on five pitches. Ruddy Yan pinch-ran for DeRosa.

D’Angelo Jimenez: Jimenez hit a grounder between first and second, moving Yan to second base. Drew Meyer pinch-ran for Jimenez.

Gerald Laird: Laird hit a single into short right field, loading the bases. Kevin Mahar pinch-ran for Laird.

Joaquin Arias: Joaquin hit an RBI fielder’s choice to the shortstop. Score: 4-2 Rangers.

Brad Wilkerson: Wilkerson struck out looking after fouling off four 1-2 pitches.

Adrian Brown: Adrian hit a hard-hit grounder for an out.

Bottom 6th:

Joselo Diaz:
Vs: Michael Restovich: Restovich crushed the first pitch for a home run in center, next to the hitters’ backdrop. Score: 4-3 Rangers.

Vs: Eric Patterson: Joselo had bad control with his fastball but still forced Eric to ground out on nine pitches.

Vs. Adam Greenberg: Joselo fooled him with down and in fastballs. He then threw two straight balls that were low and out of the zone. Adam came back with a good bunt down the first base line and the Rangers barely got him out.

Vs. Brandon Sing: Joselo almost hit him with his fastball but still got him to pop up to second later in the at-bat.

Top 7th:

Jason Botts: Botts looked and three low and inside pitches from Corey and then fouled one off into the stands. Botts forced a walk with what probably is the biggest strike zone in major league camp.

Ian Kinsler: Kinsler let a pitch by and then popped out to center.

Adam Hyzdu: Hyzdu took a ball and then hit a hard liner to center for a single. Botts was tagged out trying to go to third.

Ruddy Yan: Ruddy took a tempting inside pitch. He then hit a high chopper up the middle for the third out.

Bottom 7th:

Jayson Durocher:
Vs. Ojeda Augie: Durocher threw a strike on the inside corner and Ojeda hit a soft short flair that Kinsler made a good play on for the out.

Vs. Kopitzke: Durocher allowed a bloop single on a fastball.

Vs. Felix Pie: Durocher lost control of his fastball but then blew two right by him. Durocher then tried to fool him with his changeup but it was out of the zone. The next pitch caught the outside corner for a strikeout.

Vs. Casey McGehee: McGehee hit a ground-out to second on the first pitch.

Top 8th:

Drew Meyer: Meyer crushed a towering home run over the right field fence on the second pitch. Score 5-3 Rangers.

Kevin Mahar: Mahar hit a solid foul ball on a 2-2 count but then a fastball blazed right by him for a strikeout.

Travis Metcalf: Metcalf was walked on a wild pitch.

Nick Trzesniak: Nick watched two pitches go right over the heart of the plate and then struck out swinging.

Nate Gold: Gold knew the strike zone, taking two balls. He then blooped a single to right.

Jason Botts: Botts took two balls, then fouled one off. He took strike two and then struck out swinging on the next pitch.

At this point, I stopped taking notes so that I could get ready to say hi to Jon Daniels and get autographs after the game. The final score was 6-5 Rangers. The last Rangers run was scored by a Drew Meyer sacrifice fly.

After the game I waited by the team bus for autographs and I got D’Angelo Jimenez, John Hudgins, Drew Meyer, Derek Lee, and Jayson Durocher.

Come back next weekend for a summary of my whole trip.

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