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
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.
I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.
TBS' K Zone seems to be more harsh than the others.
I wonder if MLB will ask the networks to stop using them. They just make the umps, and the game, look bad, and it only pisses off the fans.