Rizzo Shoots & Scores!
Glad tidings from breezy Principal Park where the I-Cubs climbed all over the Tacoma Rainiers and snapped a four-game skid with an 18-8 slapstick win this afternoon. Anthony (Ratso) Rizzo (who else?) paced Iowa with a record-tying performance in support of Chris Volstad's first outing for the team.
Rizzo lined his 15th homer to the luxury seats in left-center on the first pitch in the bottom of the 2nd for the game's first run. 25 more would follow and Rizzo scored four of them to tie the club record of five in a game. He also drove in two of the others with a bases-loaded single. All told Rizzo had three hits and reached on two of the Rainiers' half dozen errors. The stands were full of field-tripping grade-schoolers, a random batch of whom could have acquitted themselves as professionally with their gloves as did the visitors.
Volstad? The highlight was striking out the side in the first, all swinging, with a single mixed in. I would estimate that 90% of his pitches registered between 89-91. He looks imposing on the mound but is not and seems to have little margin for error. In only one of his six frames did he retire the side in order. The top of the 3rd started out like it might be his designated poor one for the day when he walked the leadoff man on four pitches and then gave up a single. But he righted himself there, surrendering only a sacrifice fly as he retired the next three hitters. In the 6th he had two down with a man at first when he ran out of gas and was rocked for a homer, a single and a double before Luis Valbuena rescued him with a diving snag to end the uprising. In fairness, that sequence began with Iowa in front 16-1 and he was in a new city throwing to a new catcher against a new opponent.
Steve Clevenger started at DH today in a rehab assignment and batted twice before he was removed after three innings. He may have tweaked something frollicking around the bases and sliding home in the midst of the Tacoma fielding follies. Luckily Rizzo wasn't hurt while running more laps in a game than any I-Cub has since Roosevelt Brown at Omaha's venerable old Rosenblatt Stadium in the previous century.
Brett Jackson had the day off.
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!