Mike Wellman's Archives

Release the Hounds! Friday Night Foxhunt...

Ahh, opening night at the ballpark. The aromas of the stadium grills. The energy of the gathering crowd. The intense greenness of the diamond. The excitement in the PA announcer's voice. The flowers in the restrooms!?

Even the national anthem singer last night at Principal Park in Des Moines couldn't wait to get the Iowa Cubs' home season started. She zipped through a snappy rendition in a minute or so and away we went.

Alas, once the game was put in the hands of professional ballplayers it ground nearly to a halt right out of the blocks.

TCR Correspondent Coverboy

Since season's bitterly abrupt end I have been busy putting finishing touches on my first book, Far From the Trees: The Troubled Sons of an American Neighborhood. If nothing else the gang hereabouts should like the cover design. You can check that out without even buying the book, though it goes without saying that I hope you do both.

Will Cubs Eat Their Young in September?

Today's double-barreled day off for the Chicago and Iowa Cubs seems like a good time to assess how the two teams' fortunes intertwine as their respective seasons round third.

Like their parents the Iowa Cubs enjoy a five game bulge over their nearest divisional pursuers [the Cardinal proteges in Memphis]. Since the PCL regular season ends on Labor Day [Monday, September 1], the I-Cubs are only a couple dozen games away from a likely playoff spot. That likelihood makes the annual speculation about September call-ups a little less idle than in most years.

His Name Spelled Backwards is 'Ffej'

When the golden boy took the mound yesterday he must have felt right at home, what with the golden dome of the Iowa statehouse beyond the center-field wall and the Notre Dame fight song blaring over the PA system conjuring flashbacks of his alma mater.

Six innings and 101 pitches later Jeff Samardzija left having made another tentative promise on his well-financed junket through the bush leagues to the big-time.

He surrendered only one run despite walking six and recorded his first AAA win in his second start at that level.

A Start and a Stop

 

Hello again from Des Moines, the soggy branch office of the Chicago Cubs National League ballclub.

A bizarre homestand that began last weekend with a flood-delayed game played behind closed doors as a public safety precaution ended last night with the season's largest crowd witnessing the latest episode in the unraveling of Rich Hill.

One night after Sean Marshall required only 87 pitches to get 24 outs, Hill scatter-gunned 45 before he was taken into custody after a mere two-thirds of the first inning.

Guest Pitchers Aboard for Hoffpauired Win Streak

Micah Hoffpauir was activated a week ago and the Iowa Cubs haven't lost since. In the last two games alone he's driven in more runs than the pesky redhead has in 23. Yesterday he manned a post in right-field, possibly as a Plan B in the event of a failed Jim Edmonds experiment.

Meanwhile Kevin Hart was 'stretched out' from 67 pitches in his previous start all the way to 68 yesterday; from 3.2 innings all the way to four.

Hill Climbing in the Flatlands

Expecting to see the enigmatic Rich Hill make a not so triumphant return to the scene of some of his finest professional work, I headed to the ballpark last night planning to call it a night whenever he did.

He only lasted five innings but I stayed for a sixth when it was assigned to Scott Eyre.

The battery in the starting lineup was Hill squared, and after three innings it was hard to say whose arm was more impressive, the left of Rich or the right of Koyie. At that point Rich had fanned three but Koyie had thrown out a man stealing and picked another off of second.

For the record, Rich Hill allowed seven hits and two runs while walking one and striking out five on the night. I had him for 47 strikes among his 78 pitches, but left with other less quantifiable impressions of his work.

Hill's misses weren't close. The 'balls' he threw were so flagrant that the batter was rarely tempted by them.

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How Does Gallagher Spell Relief? W-A-L-K-I-N-G...

I delayed my end-of-homestand post for a day so I could see how Sean Gallagher followed up on his brilliant outing from last week.

The results? Mixed.

Gallagher retired the first ten Fresno hitters he faced. He entered the sixth having surrendered only one run and retired the first two routinely before an infield single dripped from the faucet. A stolen base followed, then an intentional walk, then an accidental walk and Gallagher called it a night, leaving the bases loaded and the water running for Carmen Pignatiello.

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Gallagher's Dirty Dozen

The season here in Des Moines has had a hard time getting started this year. Bad weather, bad team and bad schedule; you're out!

Yesterday was an exception.

Sean Gallagher served up a tasty lunch in a nooner matinee at Principal Park on one of the very few days so far when the elements didn't cross-up the schedule makers.

After seven innings Gallagher had thrown 86 pitches, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. All 12 K's were swinging, most of them on a nasty breaking ball.

His pitch counts by inning were as follows: 11, 13,13, 14, 16, 9 and 10.

They trotted him back out for the eighth, the only frame when he failed to fan anybody. He walked the leadoff man, erased him on a DP grounder, gave up a base hit and called it a day after 101 mostly carveaceous, to coin a word, pitches.

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  • If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.

    billybucks 8 hours 16 min ago view
  • Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."

    billybucks 8 hours 59 min ago view
  • This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.

    Charlie 9 hours 10 min ago view
  • I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.

    They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.

    However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.

    The E-Man 9 hours 16 min ago view
  • I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
    - They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
    - Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.

    billybucks 9 hours 20 min ago view
  • new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup

    crunch 9 hours 31 min ago view
  • Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.

    .500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.

    blockhead25 9 hours 36 min ago view
  • ...i hate espn.

    nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.

    oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.

    crunch 9 hours 52 min ago view
  • I'm liking this rookie Nathan.

    CTSteve 9 hours 53 min ago view
  • Richard DFA'd. Meh...

    The E-Man 12 hours 44 min ago view
  • Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.

    Charlie 15 hours 17 min ago view
  • The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.

    chitownmvp01 15 hours 49 min ago view
  • If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.

    If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.

    Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.

    chitownmvp01 15 hours 51 min ago view
  • The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.

    billybucks 17 hours 48 min ago view
  • I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.

    JoePepitone 20 hours 8 min ago view
  • Been quite the roller-coaster the past two days -- both games, plus the Chapman kerfuffel. How about a couple of nice, comfortable wins before facing Sale? Cubs should definitely wear throwbacks for that game.

    billybucks 21 hours 3 min ago view