In a possible preview of the World Series (well, maybe the 2015 World Series), the Cubs played the Angels this afternoon in Arizona Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, and even though MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was not at the game (at least I don't think he was there), his presence was felt at the end, as the game was called after nine innings tied 1-1.
Needeless to say, all bats were mostly quiet today, as the pitchers ruled. The only run for the Cubs came in the bottom of the 3rd, when Josh Vitters led-off with a line single to center, and came around to score on a two-out triple hit into the RF corner by Jovan Rosa.
The Angels tied the game in the 6th, plating their run on a lead-off double, a single, and a sac fly.
The Cubs only managed five hits and seven base runners in the entire game. Tony Thomas was the only Cub to reach base twice, and he was thrown out trying to steal after reaching base on an HBP in the bottom of the 1st inning, and then he was picked-off second base after reaching on a bunt single and stealing second with two outs in the 6th.
The six Cubs pitchers surrendered only six hits and two walks, while racking up eight K's and two GIDPs.
Chris Huseby got the start and went two innings, and he looked VERY sharp. He also pitched very well in his first outing last Friday, and he looks like he is on the verge of getting switched to a faster track as he develops into one of the Cubs top pitching prospects.
The 6'7 Huseby was selected in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, but the Cubs had to give him "1st round money" to convince him to forgo a college career at Auburn. He underwent Tommy John elbow surgery his senior year in high school and was a little slow to round into shape with the Cubs at AZL Mesa in 2006 and at Spring Training and EXST at Fitch Park in 2007, but he pitched effectively at Boise this past June-September, and appears to be continuing his progression at the AZ Instructs camp.
RHP Hernan Ramos made his pro debut, pitching the third and fourth innings. He pitched OK, and did not allow a run. Ramos is a 21-year old Venezuelan who was signed as a NDFA out of Ellsworth CC in Iowa at the Rule 4 deadline in August (he was set to transfer to Wayne State). Ellsworth is one of a couple of JC baseball programs in Iowa (Indian Hills CC is the other one) that recruits internationally, going after players from Latin America, Australia, Asia, and Europe, and that's how and why Ramos ended up there.
Another one of the three pitchers signed by the Cubs out of Tijuana (Mexican League) this past month made his Cubs debut today. 19-year old RHP Alan Guerrero worked the 5th and 6th innings, and he is a load. He looks like he could play left guard for the Bears. Guerrero throws fairly hard, but he has command problems (he was 3-2 on every hitter in his first inning of work). He also was the only Cubs pitcher to surrender a run today.
Probably the most surprising performance by a Cubs pitcher today was in the 7th, when 24-year Colombian RHP Dumas Garcia made his Cubs debut. Garcia was signed by the Cubs a couple of weeks ago, after pitching for the South Georgia Peanuts in the independent South Coast League in 2007. Garcia has the same physique as Roberto Novoa, and he throws with a funky-deceptive 3/4 motion and a fastball/slider combo that really kept the Angels hitters off-stride. Garcia struck out all three of the batters he faced, and he made them look sick in the process, as they took some of the most awkward swings I've seen in quite a while.
Jose Ceda worked the 8th inning (seven pitches) and his fastball was clocked at his usual 98 MPH. He walked the first batter he faced on four piches (all four were fast balls below the knees), but then got the next batter out on a pop-up to the catcher on a failed sac-bunt attempt, and the final two outs were registered on an easy infield chopper room-service 6-3 DP hit to SS Darwin Barney as he came across second-base.
Side-armin' RHP Matt Maradeo threw an eight-pitch 9th, getting his outs on a 4-3 ground-out, and a 1-6-3 DP following a walk.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Tony Thomas
, 2B (1-3, K, HBP, SB, CS, PO)
2. Jonathan Wyatt
, CF (0-2, BB)
3. Steve Clevenger
, DH-C (0-3, K, GIDP)
4. Josh Donaldson
, C-DH (1-3, K)
5. Kyler Burke
, 1B (0-3, K)
6. Brandon Guyer
, LF (1-3)
7. Josh Vitters
, 3B (1-3, R)
8. Darwin Barney
, SS (0-3, K)
9. Cliff Andersen
, RF (0-3, K)
10. Jovan Rosa
, DH #2 (1-3, 3B, RBI, K)
NOTE: Clevenger and Donaldson switched positions in the 7th.
1. Chris Huseby
- 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (26 pitches)
2. Hernan Ramos
- 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (19 pitches)
3. Alan Guerrero
- 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K (30 pitches)
4. Dumas Garcia
- 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (16 pitches)
5. Jose Ceda
- 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP (7 pitches)
6. Matt Maradeo
- 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP (8 pitches)
Donaldson 1-1 CS
Guyer (threw out runner 7-5 trying to advance from first to third on a single to left-center)
TIME OF GAME: 2:03
ATTENDANCE - 7 (Dae-Eun Rhees' parents, a couple of scouts, an MLB umpire instructor who met with the three-man umpire crew after every half-inning to tell them what they did wrong the previous half-inning, AZ Phil, and a mysterious guy sitting in the shadows I couldn't quite identify).