Geiger & Amaya Lead AZL Cubs to Victory at Talking Stick
Dustin Geiger and Gioskar Amaya drove-in three runs a piece, leading the AZL Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the AZL Diamondbacks in Arizona League action at Whirlwind Field at Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick east of Scottsdale his evening.
Geiger knocked-in his three runs on a two out two-run HR over the LF fence in the top of the 3rd, and a two out line drive RBI single in the top of the 7th. Another run scored on a Geiger 6-4-3 double play grounder in the top of the 1st, but of course there is no RBI credited on a GIDP.
Amaya had three hits (two singles and a double) and a walk in tonight's game, driving-in lead-off hitter Oliver Zapata (who reached base three times on a walk and two singles) three different times with three hits in three separate innings, including an opposite-field line-drive RBI double down the RF line in the top of the 1st (it would have been a triple except the ball rolled under the RF fence for a ground rule double), an RBI single to CF in the 5th, and another RBI single (this time to RF) with two outs in the top of the 9th. Amaya also stole a base, and played a solid defense at 2B, helping to turn two inning-ending double plays.
The Cubs eighth run scored on a Gregori Gonzalez solo HR over the LF fence leading off the top of the 3rd.
On the strength of tonight's performances, Oliver Zapata has taken over the Arizona League lead in runs scored and is tied for 2nd in walks, Gioskar Amaya has cracked the Top 10 in hitting, and Dustin Geiger is now 2nd in the league in RBI, tied for 2nd in HR and hits, 4th in SLG %, and tied for 6th in doubles and runs scored.
While the AZL Cubs offense had a good night, the pitchers (with one exception) also did very well.
21-year old Cuban defector LHP Frank Del Valle was masterful, allowing just one-hit (a harmless single) and a walk over his three innings (42 pitches - 26 strikes). He struck out only two, but that's a bit misleading because he got a lot of swings & misses early in the count (and broken bats when D'backs hitters did make contact) with his plus-fastball and filthy slider.
Like many Cuban players who have defected, Del Valle is polished and has obviously been well-coached. He is an excellent fielder, and he also has a really neat pick-off move (he picked two runners off 1st base tonight, but one of them got a reprieve when Del Valle was called for a balk). He was a member of the Cuban Junior National Team as a teenager, so he must have been given a lot of time and attention from the Cuban coaches over the years, and it shows. I doubt that Del Valle will remain in Mesa very long, and so it will be up to him to prove that he is more than just spit & polish once he hits the higher levels (Peoria or Daytona or wherever).
Del Valle is only 5'11, but his upper body is well-built. He looks like he has spent some serious time in the weight room. Fellow LHP Jeffry Antigua is probably the best comp for a current Cub minor league pitcher most like Del Valle, but at least physically Del Valle reminds me a lot of ex-Cub LHRP Felix Heredia.
18-year old RHP James Pugliese (Cubs 2011 18th round draft pick out of Mercer CC in New Jersey) made his third pro appearance, "piggybacking" with Del Valle and throwing three more shutout innings (40 pitches - 26 strikes). He did allow three singles and a walk, but he also struck out two and induced one inning-ending double play, and none of the runners got past second base. After tonight's outing, Pugliese is tied for the AZL league lead in ERA and is third in WHIP. As I have mentioned before, Pugliese throws with a max-effort over-the-top overhand delivery much like that of Arizona Diamondbacks rookie RHP Josh Collmenter.
2nd year RHRP Ryan Hartman (who is repeating the AZL) was wild (28 pitches - only 12 strikes) and was able to retire only two hitters (albeit both via the strikeout) in the bottom of the 7th before allowing three runs on two hits, two walks, and a HBP.
But Cubs 2011 32nd round draft pick RHP Pete Levitt (Mt. Olive College) relieved Hartman and did throw strikes (33 pitches - 25 strikes), working the final 2.1 IP to pick-up his first professional save. At 6'5 250+ Levitt looks more like an offensive tackle than a pitcher, but he works fast, throws strikes, and gets outs when he needs to get them. But he is really a load. When I say he's 6'5 250+ it's probably more like 6'5 270. He reminds me of Bobby Jenks.
But where are the rest of the Cubs draft picks? Time is a wastin'...
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).