Yes, You CAN Steal 1st Base!

Hak-Ju Lee used his blazing speed to beat-out a routine grounder to second with the game tied, bases-loaded, and two outs in the bottom of the 9th, giving the Cubs a hard-fought 5-4 victory over the Brewers in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon in Mesa.

The Cubs entered the bottom of the 9th trailing the Brew Crew 4-3, thanks to a two-run Brewer rally in the top of the 8th resulting from a Ryan Flaherty E-5 throwing error, followed by an RBI double and an RBI triple surrendered by Cubs reliever Eduardo Figueroa.

But the Cubs could not be defeated.

Kyler Burke led-off the bottom of the 9th, drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and Rebel Ridling followed by ripping a line-shot single to left, Ridling's third hit of the game. Jae-Hoon Ha then dropped a picture-perfect sac-bunt (the kind they practice over-and-over again with coach Bobby Dernier at Instructs), advancing the potential tying run to 3rd and the potential winning run to 2nd. The Brewers walked DH Justin Bour (who had two RBI hits earlier in the game) intentionally to set-up a force at any base or a possible game-ending DP, and the Brewers got exactly what they wanted when Kyung-Min Na slapped a one-hop bouncer to the third-baseman. But the throw home was rushed, bouncing past the catcher for an error, allowing Burke to score the tying run, and leaving the bags jammed with just one-out. But Jovan Rosa struck out swinging, setting the stage for Lee's heroics.

The 18-year old Lee (he turns 19 next month) received a reported $725K bonus (equivalent to "2nd round money") when he signed with the Cubs out of a South Korean high school in 2008, and he probably deserved it, as he was named the top prospect in the Northwest League last week by Baseball America. Lee hit 330/399/420, with a league-leading 25 SB and a league-leading 56 runs scored in just 68 games at Boise, and teamed-up with Hawks second-baseman Logan Watkins to form a deadly 1-2 punch at the top of the order.

On the negative side, Lee also committed a whopping 27 errors in those 68 games,  but that problem has not been in evidence so far at Instructs. Just as with Starlin Castro last year, young shortstops Hak-Ju Lee and Wes Darvill (2009 5th round pick out of Langley, BC - Canada) and second-baseman Logan Watkins (2008 21st round pick out of Goddard HS - Goddard KS) have been paying attention to their coaches, as all three have played middle-infield defense with a steady hand for the past couple of weeks, showing off their talents without misplay. If anything, it's the guys with the Div-1 college experience (like Ryan Flaherty and D. J. LeMahieu) who have been shaky with the glove. 

RHP Chris Archer got the start for the Cubs today, and fared much better than he did in his previous outing last week. Archer worked three innings this afternoon, allowing just one run on two hits (one of which was a lead-off triple to the first batter of the game), NO WALKS, and a strikeout, and all that on just  41 pitches (28 strikes). It took him 58 pitches to get through just two innings last week. Archer may be discovering that he doesn't have to strike out every hitter, that while maybe strikeouts are cool and sexy, sometimes making good, quality pitches and letting the offense get itself out can work, too, especially if it keeps the pitch count at a reasonable number that can get you past the 5th inning.  

The Cubs tied up the game in the bottom of the third, on a lead-off walk to Bobby Wagner and consecutive one-out singles by Darvill and Watkins, Darvill lining his single to left (as he used the whole field instead of trying to pull everything) and Watkins bouncing his to right (no longer just trying to slap everything to the opposite field).

2009 4th round pick LHP Chris Rusin (U. of Kentucky) pitched the 4th and 5th, and allowed one run on one hit (a first-pitch lead-off triple in his first inning of work) in his two innings. (Seeing Archer and Rusin throw consecutively is probably like watching 2/5 of the 2010 Daytona Cubs starting rotation pitch back-to-back). 

The Cubs once again tied-up the game, scoring a single run in the 5th on a lead-off single by Ha and an RBI double by Bour (although the lumbering Bour then got himself picked-off second with no outs).

2009 11th round pick LHP John Mincone (Suffolk County CC) and 20-year old Venezuelan RHP Hector Mayora (the only member of the Cubs two DSL teams who got a post-season invite to Fitch Park this year) pitched scoreless innings in relief, before the Cubs pushed across a run to take the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th, thanks to a one-out RBI single by Bour that knocked-in Ridling, who had led-off the stanza with a single. 

Then the Brewers scored two runs off Figueroa to take the lead in the 8th, before the big Cubs rally in the bottom of the 9th.

I guess it's not very often that an infield single produces a walk-off  "Shot Heard 'round the World," or at least heard 'round the neighborhood of Fitch Park... (or maybe that was gunshots?).

Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):

1. Logan Watkins, 2B: 2-3 (4-3, 1B, 1B, 3-U SH), RBI, SB
2. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 0-4 (1-3, 3-6-3 DP, F-8, F-9)
3. Brandon Guyer, CF: 1-4 (F-8, 1B, F-8, F-8), CS
4. Kyler Burke, RF: 0-3 (E-6, F-7, F-8, BB), R
5a. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 3-4 (1B, F-8, 1B, 1B) R
5b. Pin-Chieh Chen, PR: 0-0, R
6. Jae-Hoon Ha, DH #1: 1-3 (K, 1B, 5-3, 1-4 SH), R
7. Justin Bour, DH #2: 2-3 (5-4-3 DP, 2B, 1B, IBB), 2 RBI, PO 
8a. Bobby Wagner, LF: 0-1 (BB, K), R
8b. Kyung-Min Na, LF 0-2 (F-8, FC-E5)   
9a. Sergio Burruel, C: 0-1 (K, HBP)
9b. Jovan Rosa, C: 0-2 (K, K)
10a. Wes Darvill, SS 1-2 (1B, L-4)
10b. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 2-2 (1B, 1B), RBI

1. Chris Archer - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 BALK, 4/4 GO/FO, 41 pitches (28 strikes)
2. Chris Rusin - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP, 4/0 GO/FO, 35 pitches (21 strikes)
3. John Mincone - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 13 pitches (11 strikes)
4. Hector Mayora - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 16 pitches (10 strikes)
5. Eduardo Figueroa - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 21 pitches (15 strikes)
6. Steve Grife - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 14 pitches (seven strikes)  

ERRORS: (1):
Ryan Flaherty - E-5 (throw)

Sergio Burruel - 1-1 CS

WEATHER:  80's, mostly sunny, VERY breezy

ATTENDANCE: 12 (not so many scouts today)


Phil, how does Rosa look behind the plate?

Another well-written, and greatly appreciated update from Fall Instructs, AZPhil. I was wondering how Sergio Burruel has been looking. I know he received a fairly nice bonus to skip college, and it would be nice to get another legit all-around catcher in the system. I had heard he might not be able to stick behind the plate, though. Your thoughts on him so far?

Thanks for the AzIL reports Phil. Keep 'em coming.

Recent comments

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  • maddon is easily one of the best managers out there, that's why he's getting paid huge for someone that doesn't have to rent/own in NYC/LA.

    for the most part there's 2-3-5 of guys on that level, and 25-28 other teams trying to find a guy who's capable. they can also go out of favor rather quickly (m.sciossa recently). last year's NL MOY didn't make it a full year into 2015 before getting fired.

    no matter how one feels about how it could have been done cheaper with less commitment, we only know how this way is working out. it's been awesome so far.

  • Agree. It could not be more perfect that we beat the Cardinals in this ascendant season of all seasons, and in the first postseason series we ever saw them in.

  • I think all we can say is, "Okay, let's go on to the next series and see what happens." And how indescribably awesome is it to be able to say that on this date in this year.

  • Thanks, O&B. So funny about our age. Let's just say- I have always wondered why Durocher didn't give Hundley a few days off when he had Gene Oliver and John Boccabella on the bench.

  • Strop K'ing Peralta to start the 8th, given their history -- what a fantastic moment! And Javy bouncing back -- big time -- form yesterday's games.

    Contributions from literally everyone in this series -- Soler and Schwarber were off the charts -- Miggy's pick-off was awesome.

    This team is just so much damn fun.

  • Wish I knew how to post a pic. Both CUBSTER & I in attendance. I finally feel like some demons have been vanquished, and there is some magic here.

    Joe Maddon is far and away the best manager I have seen work for my team.

  • pretty much this. also, a magician.

  • Madden brought it in some lions and sharks to Wrigley Field and let them eat people

  • What did I miss?

  • I think Strop deserves a very special mention. He had so many struggles against the Cardinals but pitched two successful and very high pressure innings the last two games against them and looked nasty doing so.

  • How about this, the Cubs are 10-1 over the last 3 weeks.

  • I was thinking about it earlier that the Cubs are 101-66 and the Cards 101-65...but, does anyone outside of the two of us ever calculate records including post season? Don't think I've seen that ever before.

  • With today's victory,  the Cubs are just 1/2 game behind (0.5 GB) the Cardinals for the best record in MLB in 2015. 

    If they win the LCS and the World Series and go no worse than 8-4 in the process, the Cubs will be World Champions AND they will have the best record in MLB in 2015 (CUBS 109-70 .6089 versus STL 101-65 .6084). 

  • Well, I can say this...Cardinals fans certainly hate the Cubs right now...about as much as Pirates fans.

    Our bullpen was friggin brilliant this series...even if their ERA doesn't look good.

  • Not sure who I want...Kershaw/Greinke is scary, but I almost worry more about the Mets ability to score in bunches like us.

    Do like the fact that if it is the Dodgers, Kershaw can't go until Game 2 and Greinke until Game 3.

  • I agree with you, but I hate them both. I hate Stephen Piscotty. I hate Tommy Pham. I hate Yadier Molina. I hate Kolten Wong. I hate Jon Jay. And that's just off the 2015 version of the Cardinals.

    Sorry, I'm a hateful person :(