I Can See Four Miles (ABs)
Aaron Miles got four at bats and reached base twice, and four Cubs pitchers combined to throw a four-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, as the EXST Cubs blanked the EXST A's 5-0 this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 under mostly-cloudy skies.
Miles, on the Cubs 15-day DL since May 27th with a sore shoulder, got the start at shortstop, and hit 2nd in each of the first four innings. He was the middle-man on a 4-6-3 DP in the top of the 2nd, but otherwise had a quiet day in the field throughout his four innings at SS.
At the plate, Miles grounded out to 2nd base (4-3) on a hit & run play that advanced a runner to 2nd base in the 1st inning, walked in the 2nd inning, popped up to short in the 3rd inning, and singled to right (sending the runner on 1st to 3rd) in his final AB in the 4th.
In addition, IF-OF Ryan Freel (on the Cubs 15-day DL with a strained hamstring since May 28th) and INF Luis Rivas (on the Iowa Cubs DL with a hamstring strain since April) took "live" BP, but did not play in the game. (Rivas has actually been at Fitch Park for several weeks, but he is just now starting to get out onto the field).
18-year old Dominican LHP Jeffry Antigua got the start for the EXST Cubs today and was outstanding, throwing four shutout innings, allowing two ground singles and no walks, while striking out eight. He kept the ball down on every hitter, getting four ground outs in addition to the eight punchouts, including the 4-6-3 DP that featured a nice "turn" by Aaron Miles.
19-year old RHP Tarlandus Mitchell (Cubs 2008 22nd round draft pick out of Alto HS - Alto, TX) followed Antigua to the mound, and threw two hitless & shutout innings, striking out four while walking two. Mitchell had a very poor outing last week in Tempe (he was yanked out of the game after only one inning), so I'm sure he felt good with his comeback outing today.
RHP (and ex-OF) Andres Quezada then threw two shutout innings, and RHP Carlos Rojas finished up with one inning of shutout relief.
The Cubs offense got going right off the bat in the bottom of the 1st. Jose Valdez was hit on the foot with a pitch (he also was hit on the same foot with a pitch in his next AB), and advanced to 2nd on the Aaron Miles ground out. Then with two outs, John Contreras blasted a double off the LF fence, scoring Valdez.
The Cubs scored again in the 4th. Matt Cerda (2008 4th round pick out of Oceanside HS - Oceanside, CA) led off with a walk, and advanced to 3rd on a line single to right by Miles. Then with one out, Chris Weimer lined a single to CF, scoring Cerda.
The Cubs got three insurance runs in the 8th, as 20-year old lanky Dominican switch-hitting infielder Robert Bautista (batting right-handed) led-off the inning by blasting a home run over the left-field fence onto 8th Street. (The normally light-hitting Bautista hit an inside-the-park HR yesterday, so maybe I should stop comparing his speed and defensive play to Junior Lake and his hitting prowess to Veronica Lake). Jose Valdez and Dwayne Kemp singled, and Valdez scored on a passed ball. Then Contreras singled, scoring Kemp.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Jose Valdez, CF: 1-2 (HBP, HBP, F-8, 1B + 2 R, 1 CS)
2a. Aaron Miles, SS: 0-1 (4-3)
2b. Dwayne Kemp, SS: 1-2 (4-3, 1B + 1 R)
3. Matt Cerda, DH-C: 0-3 (F-7, BB, F-9, 4-3 + 1 R)
3x. Aaron Miles, PH: 1-1 (1B)
4. John Contreras, DH #2: 3-4 (2B, 1B, K, 1B + 2 RBI)
5. Chris Weimer, 1B: 2-4 (K, 1B, 3B, L-6 + 1 RBI)
6. Jae-Hoon Ha, LF 2-4 (1B, 1B, K, 1-3)
6x. Aaron Miles, PH: 0-0 (BB)
7. Logan Watkins, 2B: 1-2 (1-3 SH, P-6, 1B)
8. Jesus Morelli, RF: 0-2 (5-2 FC, K, 5-3 SH)
9. Alvaro Sosa, C-DH: 1-3 (F-7, E-6, 1B + 1 PO)
10. Robert Bautista, 3B: 1-3 (F-7, F-7, HR + 1 R, 1 RBI)
10x. Aaron Miles, PH: 0-1 (P-6)
1. Jeffry Antigua - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 GIDP, 4/0 GO/FO
2. Tarlandus Mitchell - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K
3. Andres Quezada - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 GIDP, 4/1 GO/FO
4. Carlos Rojas - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO
1. C Alvaro Sosa - overthrow at 2nd base on stolen base attempt, allowing runner to advance to 3rd.
2. 2B Logan Watkins - dropped pop-up in short RF, allowing batter to reach base.
1. Alvaro Sosa: 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above)
2. Matt Cerda: 1-3 CS
WEATHER: temperature in the 90's, mostly cloudy, not as hot as yesterday,
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.