Ascanio: Where's the Stretch?
Jose Ascanio was brilliant this afternoon at Principal Park but he remains a pitcher in limbo.
Ascanio tossed five scoreless innings at the Nashville Sounds on a drizzly day at the ballpark to lower his ERA to a minuscule 1.01. He didn't walk a batter and fanned nine, including the side in each of his last two frames. All of which begs a question as to why he was yanked after throwing 76 pitches, 51 of them strikes. His high water pitch count in six starts this year is 81 in his previous start, which was the only other time he lasted as many as five innings. He left the game leading 6-0.
Looks like the Cubs are grooming a helluva long man...
ALSO: Ascanio's opponent was the Nashville Sounds, Triple A affiliate of Milwaukee, managed by long-time Brewer 3B Don Money [great name]. Money showed he's still cat-quick at the hot corner when he made a slick barehanded grab in the 3B coaching box in the bottom of the first...the sacrificial southpaw the Sounds trotted out actually took the mound leading the PCL in walks with a BAA vs. lefties in excess of .500! I-Cub skipper Bobby Dickerson stacked his lineup accordingly which meant,among other things, that Jake Fox got the day off. Why then, if Dickerson wanted as many LH's as possible to hit, did switch-hitting SS Andres Blanco bat from the right side?...before striking out the side in the 4th and 5th, Ascanio whiffed somebody by the name of Tony Gwynn on a 12 pitch marathon AB in the 3rd...last night the I-Cubs finally got their first pinch-hit of the season in their 19th try...Jeff Stevens, obtained in the Mark DeRosa trade, entered the day's play unscored upon in nine appearances spanning 11 innings. He's permitted only three hits while striking out 12...in the wake of Randy Wells' call-up to start in place of Carlos Zambrano on Friday, reliever Greg Reinhard is slated to start on Saturday against Memphis. Reinhard has a 0.55 ERA in 16+ innings and 24 strikeouts versus a mere five walks...MW