Ben Carhart Wild Card Joker in the Mesa Deck

Ben Carhart muscled a walk-off RBI single to center with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to drive-in Garrett Schlecht from 3rd base with the winning run, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Giants 8-7 to clinch the AZL Wild Card berth tonight in Mesa, AZ.

box score

The Giants grabbed an early 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st, as Shane Houck took Cubs starter Paul Blackburn (Cubs 2012 Supplemental 1st round pick received for losing free-agent 1B Carlos Pena post-2011) deep with a three-run shot before Blackburn could record an out.

But the Cubs came back to tie the game in the bottom of 2nd.

David Bote singled and Trevor Gretzky walked to start the inning, and after Yasiel Balaguert plated one run with an opposite-field line-drive RBI single to RF (the first of two RBI singles for Balaguert tonight), hot-shot 18-year old Venezuelan SS Carlos Penalver came through with a two-out two-run bases-loaded RBI single to right to drive-in the tying runs.

The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 3rd, as Shawon Dunston Jr blasted a two-out bases-loaded three-run double to right to cap a four-run inning and put the Cubs up 7-3, but the Giants came back to tie the game with four runs of their own in the 5th, as Jonathan Jones and Gabriel Cornier ripped RBI singles off Cubs reliever Jasvir Rakkar.

Cubs RHP Ethan Elias then threw three clutch hitless innings in relief (with four strikeouts - all swinging) and Steve Perakslis followed with a 1-2-3 9th to keep the Giants at bay, giving the Cubs a chance to win the game in the final frame.

Garrett Schlecht led of the bottom of the 9th by doing what he does best (draw a walk), and advanced to 2nd base on an errant pick-off attempt by Giants reliever Scotty Walker. Shawon Dunston Jr laid down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Schlecht to 3rd base with just one out, but Carlos Penalver grounded out 6-3 with the infield drawn-in to keep Schlecht at 3rd. That's when Carhart came through with his big two-out hit, the one that put the Cubs into the 2012 AZL playoffs.

Tonight's game was important for the Cubs but absolutely critical for the Giants, because for the G-Men to get into the AZL playoffs as the Wild Card team, they had to win their last four games, and the Cubs needed to lose their last four. The Giants did have the advantage of playing the Cubs twice over their final four games (tonight in Mesa and Monday night in Scottsdale), but it was still a long-shot for the Giants to catch the Cubs before time ran out.

The Cubs still have an outside shot at winning the AZL East Division and finishing with the best record in the league, but to do that they would have to win all three of their remaining games, and the AZL Athletics would have to lose their final three. The Cubs do play the A's Sunday night in Phoenix, but beyond that they will have to beat the Giants on Monday and the Diamondbacks on Tuesday and hope for some assistance from the Giants and Diamondbacks (the A's opponents in their final two games on Tuesday and Wednesday).

To further complicate matters, there is a very remote possibility that the Athletics and Dodgers might have to play a rain-out make-up game on Thursday (delaying the start of the playoffs), but that's only if the Dodgers lose their next four games and the Indians win their last three.

Otherwise, the AZL playoffs are scheduled to begin this coming Thursday (and end on Friday!), with (as things stand right now) the Cubs playing the A's at Papago Park in Phoenix and the Rangers playing the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, and then the winners of those two games meeting in the AZL Championship Game the next day (Friday) at the home field of the last-surviving division winner with the best record. (The Wild Card team does not get a home game, which is unfortunate for the Cubs because they have the best home record in the AZL).


Paul Blackburn (who started tonight) is probably the likely Cubs starter in Thursday's semi-final playoff game versus the A's, and if the Cubs are able to get to the AZL Championship Game on Friday, Cubs 2012 2nd round draft pick RHP Duane Underwood could be the starter in that game.

BTW, minor league baseball is mainly about player development and individual performance, and so as a result it might seem sometimes as though winning isn't all that important. But winning does matter to the players. And there is nothing wrong with developing a winning team attitude that a player can take with him to the higher levels of the minor leagues and (hopefully) eventually to the big leagues.

So congratulations to the AZL Cubs.

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Comments

rain delay...lame.

now they're showing Cheers..."we'll be back every 30 minutes to update" blah blah blah

I'd be more disappointed if they were showing Cubs games due to a Cheers rain delay.

Haven't lost a home game to rain yet this year, why start now?

vin scully to return in 2013 for another year behind the mic.

Jackson is 1/1 with a BB and no K's

AND

Volstad has a 2 hit shutout through 6ip.

To avoid the end of the world, can somebody add some Cubbery soon and handle this?

it would be volstad's 1st win since Sep 17, 2011.

Valiant effort crunch!!! :D

Jackson reminds me a lot of Aaron Rowand.

I think the Cubs just signed the pitching equivalent of Dorian Gray/Bart Simpson...
not sure if this is 3/44 since it's dated friday but...here is the Ben Bader article:

"MLB Approves Juan Carlos Paniagua’s Deal With Cubs"

Major League Baseball has approved Juan Carlos Paniagua's $1.5 million deal with the Cubs, one year after terminating his $1.1 million deal with the Yankees that he signed using the same age and the same name.

According to a source familiar with the situation, MLB ruled Paniagua's age undetermined, a decision that put the onus on the Cubs of whether to continue forward with the contract. Paniagua received his visa from the U.S. Consulate and made his first start for the Cubs yesterday in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he threw two scoreless innings of relief with one walk and one strikeout.

Paniagua, a 22-year-old Dominican righthander who signed with the Cubs last month, has had two previous pro contracts terminated despite using the same date of birth (April 4, 1990) to sign every time.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/play...

well...at least he didn't cost a roster spot.

top 9th rain delay when the cubs lead by 5 at home and no lighting spotted...

derryl cousins...you're a dick.

brb, throwing stuff at the TV.

5-0 Cubs as they score 3 in the 8th.
9th inning rain delay but basically game should be over since it's raining pretty hard.

Volstad WINS. Only Cubbery from the Heavens above can stop his losing streak from ending.

This is also a valiant effort! Tempting the fates! Can the Gods stop Volstad the great?

Rain delay theatre...Pappas 1972 No Hitter

Padres uniforms REALLY UGLY, mustard yellow.

Bill North slips going after a fly to CF and Billy Williams comes out of "nowhere" to catch the ball, losing his hat in the process.
Brickhouse classic call..."Oh Brother, whoooooo"!

Larry Stahl walks on a 3-2 bad call that set up a life long feud between Ump Froemming and Pappas. Pappas gets the no-no with Jerry Jestadt pops out to 2nd (Carmen Fanzone)

@CarrieMuskat: Jorge Soler 2-for-5, 2 RBIs, @D_Geiger 3-for-4, 3 RBIs in @peoriachiefs 10-3 win over Wisconsin.

Mult tweets... Game called. Volstad wins!

Now back to the quest for the 2nd draft pick.

Crazy Crazy play in Marlins Dodgers game. It made sense once they sorted it out - but just when you think you've seen everything: check out "Marlins Awarded an Out" on MLB.com etc.

So Volstad gets a win and Jackson played a game without a K at the plate! Pretty awesome. The combined odds of that happening had to be astronomical.

I haven't had a chance to see the last 4 or so games but looking at the box score it seems that Jackson has been getting a bit more of a feel at the plate. And I've seen his name at least a couple times on my MLB At Bat video clips on outfield plays. The only couple times I've seen him in person he seems to have something but I can't tell if it's my innate desire to see a Cubs prospect succeed or if he just looks like a player to me, despite the massive strikeout ratio. I don't get that feeling with Vitters so much.

Also: I know these things are highly subjective. But I absolutely cannot listen to the home run calls of:

Hawk Harrelson (Sox)
The 'Big Fly" guy who calls the Angels
The Miami Marlins guy who sounds like a video game announcer

All three make me want to punch a wall just hearing their voices: so contrived.

I can't listen to Hawk Harrelson call anything.

I can't listen to Hawk Harrelson call anything.
---
there was another incident in the WSux game today when one of the Sux hitters (couldn't tell because they didn't have names on the throwback red uniforms) got called out on a close pitch and walked away, flipped his bat/helmet and then got confronted by the 1st base ump who seemed to provoke the player before a coach interceded. This was a day after Pierzinski got tossed for a ball-strike call on saturday leading to Ventura also getting tossed in the 3rd inning or so.

anyway, Stone was doing all the anti-ump commentary. Hawk just said I've got to bite my lip.

Somewhat enjoyable to see he feels the muzzle put on him by the commish.

I can't stand his play by play. The first time I heard him say "can of corn" I nearly through a bottle at the TV.

You can put in on the board.....yes!

No.

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