Cubs & Giants Kiss Their Sisters at Fitch Park
Seven Cub pitchers combined to throw a five-hitter, as the EXST Cubs and EXST Giants played to a 1-1 12-inning tie before a Memorial Day Weekend packed house at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Skies remained overcast and game-time temperatures were in the low 80's after an all-night rain Thursday into Friday, as the two teams took the field for an early (9 AM) first-pitch.
2008 17h round draft pick RHP Jon Nagel got the start for the Cubs and threw three perfect innings. An EXTREME ground ball pitcher (and a good ol' country boy from the Ozarks), Nagel (as usual) pounded the bottom of the strike zone with a hard sinker, getting most-all of the opposition hitters to either strike out, or chop the ball into the ground in front of home plate.
Now 22, Nagel (6'4 230+) was drafted by the Cubs despite undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament transplant surgery prior to last June's draft, and it looks like the Cubs made an astute selection. He spent last summer rehabbing at Fitch Park before finally making his on-field debut this season, and he looks like he could pitch at Peoria right now. He has all the ear-marks of a rotation horse. .
Recently demoted RHP Josh Whitlock (2008 26th round pick out of U. of West Virginia) threw two inings of shutout ball in relief of Nagel, and looked much better than he did last Monday when he made his first appearance for the EXST Cubs after getting sent down from Peoria a week ago.
20-year old Venezuelan RHP Robert Hernandez (at Fitch Park rehabing from a spriained ankle suffered the last week of Minor League Camp) also threw two innings of shutout ball this morning, and appears ready to move up and out of Fitch Park whenever there is a roster opening at Daytona or Peoria. He has pitched very well every time out (so far). Hernandez went 2-4 with a 5.14 ERA in 17 games (15 starts) at Peoria in 2008, after missing the first two months of the season while serving a 50-game PED suspension.
21-year old LHP Melvin Vasquez (signed last August by Cubs chief Dominican scout Jose Serra) worked the next two innings, and although he blew the save by allowing a single and an RBI double in the top off the 9th, the little lefty also struck out four.
20-year olld lanky Dominican RHP George Pineda, LHP Ryan Sontag (2008 23rd round pick out of Arizona State who is being converted from OF to pitcher at EXST), and 18-year old Australian RHP Adam Spencer each threw one inning of shutout, hitless ball in the extra frames.
While the Cubs pitchers were shutting down the Giants, the Cubs bats were mostly silent, the only run scoring in the bottom of the 3rd when 18-year old Korean bonus baby Hak-Ju Lee lined a single into right-center after speedy (but normally light-hitting) Robert Bautista laced a two-out triple into the RF corner. The Cubs might have scored more runs in the inning, but lumbering Jericho Jones was thrown out trying to stretch a sure-thing double into a highly-speculative AIG triple after smashing a near-HR off the "green monster" batter's eye in dead CF.
Hak-Ju Lee, who had been limited to DH duty while rehabbing from 2008 Tommy John surgery, played shortstop for five innings today, and handled five chances hit his way seemlessly, making strong throws to 1st base each time. He showed no ill effects from the TJS.
While Lee played only five innings, other Cubs position players moved around the field like a game of musical chairs throughout the contest, allowing several players to get PT at more than one position.
In EXST Cubs roster news, RHP Marco Carrillo has been assigned to Daytona after completing his rehab at Fitch Park.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1a. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 1-2 (4-3, 1B - 1 RBI)
1b. Jose Guevara, C: 0-2 (BB, K, K)
2. Jose Valdez, CF-DH-RF: 2-4 (1B, 4-3, 4-3, 1B - 1 SB, 1 CS, 1 PO)
3a. Matt Cerda, C-2B: 1-3 (1B, K, F-9)
3b. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-1 (K)
4. Sean Hoorelbeke, LF-DH-1B: 0-4 (F-8, 5-3, K, K)
5. Jae-Hoon Ha, RF-CF-DH: 0-4 (4-3, 1-3, F-8, K)
6. Chris Weimer, DH-1B-LF: 0-4 (4-3, F-8, 5-3, L-7)
7. Kevin Soto, DH-RF-CF: 0-4 (6-3, 5-3, F-7, K)
8. George Matheus, 2B-3B: 0-4 (F-8, 6-3, 4-3, K)
9a. Jericho Jones, 1B-LF-DH: 2-4 (2B, K, 6-3, 1B)
9b. Jose Made, PR: 0-0
10. Robert Bautista, 3B-SS: 1-4 (3B, 4-3, K, 6-4 FC - 1 R)
1. Jon Nagel - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 6/1 GO/FO
2. Josh Whitlock - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GO/FO
3. Robert Hernandez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/4 GO/FO
4. Melvin Vasquez - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 2/0 GO/FO
5. George Pineda - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GO/FO
6. Ryan Sontag - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO
7. Adam Spencer - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GO/FO
Jose Guevara - 1 PB
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.