Harden Makes It Look Easy at Fitch Park
Rich Harden threw four shutout innings and Welington Castillo's two run home run capped a five-run 5th, as the Iowa Cubs (Cubs AAA affiliate) edged the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's AAA affiliate) 5-4 before an unusually large Minor League Camp crowd of 50+ at cool & breezy Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon
Cubs Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and Assistant Pitching Coach Lester Strode were in attendance, and the place was absoluely crawling with beat writers, bloggers, and assorted Cubs fans intent on watching an actual Cubs major league pitcher throw on a day when the big club had the day off, and they were not disappointed.
However, very few stayed for the whole game.
So for those of you who want to know how Harden looked, but also just HAVE to know how the Iowa Cubs did it,.. here is... the... rest...of... the... story...
Harden worked the first four innings, and looked pretty good. He threw 63 pitches (42 strikes - 21 balls), and kept his fastball at the belt or higher on every hitter (he struck out four and got seven fly outs, but no ground outs), mixing in a change-up that he had trouble commanding.
Here's Harden's day:
1st inning: 1) K - swinging (that would be ex-Cub Eric Patterson), 2) ground single to LF, 3) F-9 in foul territiry, and 4) pop up to CF.
2nd inning: 1) line out to CF, 2) line single to CF, 3) F-7 to medium-deep LF, and 4) K - swinging.
3rd inning: 1) fly out to CF 2) bloop broken-bat single to short CF, 3-A ) Koyie Hill threw out baserunner trying to steal 2nd 2-4, 3-B) Strike out - called (Eric Patterson again).
4th inning: 1) Strike out - swinging, 2) F-9, 3) F-9.
Harden said he felt great, and I can confirm that he did NOT grab his shoulder at any point while he was on the mound, he was NOT carried off the field on a stretcher, and in fact, after he finished his post-outing stretching, he shook hands with a number of the A's players and coaches on the River Cats bench (Harden is understandably well-known among the Oakland A's family) and then he spent about 15 minutes siging autographs, before finally heading for the Fitch Park clubhouse.
Koyie Hill was the other big league Cubbie at Fitch Park today, and he was there specifically to catch Rich Harden's four innings, and get four ABs as quickly as possible. Therefore, K. Hill was permitted to hit once in each of the first four innings, where he walked in the 1st, got called out on strikes in both the 2nd & 3rd innings, and finally (hitting left-handed) sliced a bloop double down the LF line leading off the 4th (and then he got doubled off 2nd base on a fly out to RF, much to the joy and hilarity of Hill's former Iowa teammates).
The game was scoreless after four innings, but the River Cats took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 5th inning off I-Cubs RHRP Vince Perkins (Team Canada). Perkins gave up a lead-off double, and the runner advanced to third on a 4-3 GO and scored on a F-7 SF.
But the I-Cubs came right back in the bottom of the inning in a furious volley--a virtual "triple-mania"--parlaying a single, three triples and a HR to score five and take a 5-1 lead.
With one out, Luis Rivas tripled to the fence in right-centerfield, and then scored when River Cats 2B Eric Patterson launched his moonshot relay throw literally all the way to the middle of Field #2 (where the Cubs AA Tennesse Smokies affiliate was playing the A's AA club, and the I-Cubs got a big kick out of that one, too). Kyle Reynolds then tripled down the RF line, and scored on an RBI single to LF by DH Shawn McGill. Matt Camp thripled into the RF corner, and Camp scored on Welington Castillo's two-run jack over the LF fence onto 8th Street. (The I-Cubs had a total of four triples for the day, as Richie Robnett also tripled leading off the 2nd, although he was left stranded when K. Hill and Rivas struck out and Reynolds flied out).
Iowa LHP Jason Waddell (who got sent down to Minor League Camp just yesterday) pitched the 6th and 7th (24 pitches - 14 strikes, 2/3 GO/FO)), facing only six batters (thanks to an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP that followed a one-out walk in the top of the 7th). Waddell struck out one, and that was the first batter he faced, on three pitches ("Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night").
With the Cubs still leading 5-1, RHP Rocky Roquet pitched the 8th, and really struggled. It took him 28 pitches to get out of the inning, and before he got the third out (which was a spectacular run-saving diving stop & throw to first by second-baseman Luis Rivas), he allowed a two-out bases-loaded two-run single after Sacramento had loaded the bases on a single (+ E-9 bobble by Richie Robnett) and two walks. (Roquet did get a "K" on a called third strike facing the lead-off hitter in the inning, however).
LHP Matt Smith (ex-NYY) pitched the 9th, and really pushed his luck. The River Cats scored almost right away on a single and an RBI double off the LF fence (a near game-tying HR), and then Smith loaded the bases on a couple of walks. After Iowa Pitching Coach Mike Mason made a visit to the mound, Smith got it together and retired the side on two pitches (an infield pop up and ac 4-6-3 DP), preserving the 5-4 victory.
Smith was an NRI to big league camp, but he only got into one Cactus League game before getting sent to Minor League Camp. He probably will have to pitch better in his next outing to avoid getting released.
Sam Fuld, Jake Fox, Bobby Scales, and Jose Ascanio will report to Fitch Park tomorrow.
Here is today's abridged box score (I-Cubs player only). Note that Valdez and Bautista were temporarily loaned to Iowa from the Boise-Mesa squad after the B-M kids finished their work on Field #4.
1-A Matt Camp, SS 1-3 (3B, RBI, R)
1-B: Jose Valdez, PH-CF: 0-0 (BB, CS)
2-A. Koyie Hill, C: 1-1 (2B, BB)
2-B: Welington Castillo, C 2-2 (HR, 2 RBI)
3-A. Doug Deeds, CF: 1-2 (BB, K)
3-B. Robert Bautista, PH-SS: 0-1
4. Jason Dubois, LF: 0-4 (K)
5. Richie Robnett, RF: 1-3 (3B)
6-A. Koyie Hill, DH #1: 0-1 (K)
7. Luis Rivas, 2B: 1-3 (3B, R, K)
8. Kyle Reynolds, 1B:1-3 (3B, R)
9. Shawn McGill, DH #2: 1-3 (RBI, R)
10-A. Koyie Hill, DH #3: 0-1 (K)
11. Matt Matulia, 3B: 0-2 (BB)
1. Rich Harden - 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (63 pitches - 42 strikes, 0/5 GO/FO)
2. Vince Perkins - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K (11 pitches - 7 strikes, 2/1 GO/FO)
3. Jason Waddell - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP (24 pitches - 14 strikes, 2/3 GO/FO)
4. Rocky Roquet - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 1 K (28 pitches - 16 strikes, 1/1 GO/FO)
5. Matt Smith - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP (21 pitches - 11 strikes, 2/1 GO/FO)
Koyie Hill 1-1 CS
Richie Robnett E-9 (bobble in RF allowed batter-runner to advance to 2nd base after bases-loaded RBI single in top of the 8th)
And now you know... the rest of the story...
AZ Phil....................................Good Day!