Cubs hope Adbert Alzolay will follow spring path again
During spring training David Ross was impressed with the moxie that Adbert Alzolay showed.
His first two outings in spring weren’t ideal: he allowed 8 runs on 7 hits, 2 home runs and 3 walks while only striking out 2 in 3 innings of work. He bounced back, though, in his last outing of the spring, striking out 5 against the Dodgers.
The Cubs are going to hope he can show some more grit in his next outing, as Alzolay took the loss Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, allowing 4 hits including a 3-run, 1st inning home run as the Brewers beat the Cubs 4-0.
In some ways, Alzolay showed some of that tenacity on Tuesday night. After surrendering the 3-run home run to Travis Shaw, Alzolay bounced back with strikeouts to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Avisaíl Garcia.
“Overall I feel really good,” Alzolay said. “I was able to come back after that homer. I take that from the outing, that I was able to keep competing and finish 5 innings for the team.”
Other than a solo home run to Omar Narváez in the 4th inning, Alzolay was able to stymie the Brewers’ offense over the last 4 innings he pitched.
“I don’t know if there were nerves, or the excitement of the first start we’ve talked about it a couple times, how different guys have handled that,” Ross said. “I don’t know if that was an issue or not, but seemed to settle in nicely after that 1st inning and only allowed 1 more run. It looked like he was getting his breaking stuff over, the fastball command was better. The slider looked nice and sharp after that 1st inning.”
Peralta silences Cubs bats
Brewers’ young righty Freddy Peralta twirled a gem for the Brewers and silenced the Cubs’ bats, throwing 5 innings of 1 hit ball and striking out 8.
“He was doing a good job of moving his heater around a little bit,” Ian Happ said. “It was a little bit different sequencing than I think we’ve seen in the past. We’ve seen him throw a lot of heaters in the past and be pretty aggressive in the zone and today was more kinda around the zone and a lot more off-speed. So it was just a little different look from him. Did a good job.”
Reliever Brent Suter followed suit to keep the Cub hitters at bay, pitching 3 shutout innings and striking out 2.
Bote’s defense shines
David Bote flashed his leather Tuesday night, making a trio of highlight-reel plays.
In the 5th inning, Bote leaped high to snag a liner hit by Daniel Vogelbach and threw it back to first to double up Kolten Wong and end the inning. In the 6th, Travis Shaw hit a grounder to the right-center field grass and Bote charged to his right and snagged the ball, threw it to Anthony Rizzo at first to get the out. He made another nice play diving to his right to get Daniel Robertson out on a groundout.
“Really awesome plays,” Happ said. “Honestly the one he made up the middle, sometimes when you’re in the outfield and you’re blocked by the mound, you don’t actually see ground balls off the bat. No clue where that one was and then I see Bote sliding and throwing and it was like, ‘oh, that was incredible.’
“It happened so fast I had to go watch the replay to see what that was. That was really impressive.”
Ross still learning
In many ways, the managerial role is still a bit new to David Ross. While 2020 was his first official season, it was a pandemic-shortened, 60-game season. This season presents’ Ross’ first with a full spring training, normal roster rules and a 162-game slate. That means he’ll still be learning some things along the way.
Like he did Monday night.
“If I’m really transparent, I probably … tried to sneak a little bit extra out of Trevor last night which is probably something, if I could go back and do again, I would not have,” Ross said. “I’ve seen too many times, whether it’s out of the bullpen or a starter getting out of a big moment like he did the inning before, getting the double play and the fist bump and the range of emotion that probably took out of him and then sending him back out and seeing a four-pitch walk was, I knew right then I had made the mistake. That happens. I’m gonna mess up, too. But that’s something I learned from last night.”
Trevor Williams had pitched 5 perfect innings before surrendering a base hit to Omar Narváez to start the 6th inning. Williams got Orlando Arcia to lineout, but then worked himself into a little trouble, walking Vogelbach and hitting Wong to load the bases.
Williams induced an inning-ending double-play grounder to Keston Hiura, which elicited a fist bump of excitement from Williams as he walked off the mound. Ross turned to Williams to start the 7th, but he walked Christian Yelich and García before turning to his bullpen.
Willson Contreras OK
In addition to learning, Ross had a worrisome moment in Monday night’s game. He became concerned in the bottom of the 7th inning when Willson Contreras took a Devin Williams pitch to the head. Contreras shook it off and stayed in the game, but Ross was still alarmed.
“I felt like the dad last night, for sure where I checked on him, he was probably sick of seeing my face walk by his locker after the game and during the game,” Ross said.
Luckily, for everyone, Contreras was OK and was in the starting lineup Tuesday.
“We had the doctors check on him again today,” Ross said. “He’s all smiles, seems to be in a good place. I don’t think anybody is worried. He’s passed all the testing that we have.”
Tuesday night, Contreras was hit by a pitch for the second time in as many days and it resulted in both benches and bullpens being cleared. Everything settled down rather calmly, though.
“First of all get hit in the head, fastball 93 miles-per-hour and then another hit by pitch today,” Alzolay said. “I don’t know what to think about. I just think it’s not right.”
Ross reacts to Fergie Jenkins statue
Ross was thrilled to learn that Cubs legend Fergie Jenkins would be immortalized outside of Wrigley Field with a statue next year.
“Super deserving,” Ross said. “Getting a statue outside of a baseball stadium, I don’t even know what world that is that people get to live in and have that. That’s pretty darn neat when you have that.”