Cubs Trio Help Solar Sox Glow to Victory
Starlin Castro jacked-up his AFL league-leading batting average to .423 as he ripped two singles, knocked-in two runs, and scored one, Josh Vitters tripled and scored, and John Gaub tossed a 1-2-3 7th, leading the Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, Angels, and Twins) to a 7-2 victory over the Peoria Saguaros (Padres, Reds, Indians, Braves, and Astros) in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at sunny HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
AFL leading hitter Castro was the Solar Sox DH today and hit 2nd, getting four ABs.
Facing Saguaros starting LHP Mike Minor (Braves 2009 #1 draft pick out of Vanderbilt) with a runner at1st base and no outs in the bottom of the 1st. Castro lined a single to LF on the first pitch he saw, advanced to 2nd uncontested on the back-end of a double-steal, and then scored on a two-out two-run RBI single to CF by Hank Conger (Angels).
Castro bounced out weakly to the third-baseman in his second PA against Minor in the 3rd, before lacing a two-run RBI single past the SS into left-center off RHP Mike Leake (Reds 2009 #1 draft pick out of Arizona State) with two outs in the 5th. In his final AB of the day, Castro struck out looking to end the 7th, only his 5th K in 55 AFL Plate Appearances.
Vitters played 3B and hit 6th, grounding out on a first-pitch broken-bat roller to the second baseman his first time up leading- off the 2nd. before popping out to short RF in his 2nd PA the 5th. But the 20-year old really tagged one leading off the bottom of the 7th against Padres RHP Mike DeMark, juicing a laser-liner stand-up triple into the right-centerfield gap that rolled all the way to the fence. He then scored on an error. In his final AB, Vitters flied out to CF.
Vitters had only one chance in the field today, handling a routine grounder without incident, as he back-handed the ball, squared himself, and made a strong & accurate throw to 1st base to nail the batter by two steps. .
LHP John Gaub entered the game in relief in the top of the 7th and was unhittable, striking out Mitch Canham (Padres) swinging and Josh Rodriguez (Indians) looking, before retiring Lance Zawadzki (Padres) on a lazy pop up to the 1st baseman in foul territory. This was certainly Gaub's best AFL outing (so far), as he alternated a 94 MPH heater and filthy breaking ball.
The 24-year old Gaub was one of the three minor league pitchers the Cubs acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade last-off-season. He figures to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster on 11/20, because otherwise he would be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft. .
And Michael Brenly made his AFL debut this afternoon, entering the game as a defensive replacement at catcher in the top of the 9th. Brenly replaces Welington Castillo (DL retro to 10/23) on the Solar Sox roster.
RHP Andrew Cashner is scheduled to make his 4th AFL start tomorrow, as the Solar Sox travel to Peoria Stadium for a rematch with the Saguaros.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.