Breakfast with the Cubs
The Angels edged the Cubs 8-7 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, in what was the final 2009 Instructs game for the Cubs.
Because it was the last game and several players were scheduled to depart home from Sky Harbor Airport at mid-day, the game started at 9 AM, and was called after eight innings.
Only 11 Cubs position players and five pitchers were dressed for the game (others left town last night or early this morning, while a dozen more left a week ago), and two of the players in today's starting lineup (Jovan Rosa and Richard Jones) had to leave for the airport at 10:30 AM, so the Cubs used a nine-man batting order (only one DH today), and played with no extra men available in case of injury once Rosa and Jones left.
20-year old RHP Trey McNutt (Cubs 2009 32nd round pick out of Shelton State CC, who got over-slot money to sign) got the start for the Cubs today, and threw three shutout innings. He did allow five hits (four singles and a double) in those three innings, but he didn't issue any walks, and he picked a runner off 2nd base to get out of one jam, and benefiited from a baserunning gaffe by the Angels to get out of another.
RHP Thomas Diamond followed McNutt to the hill, and had his best outing since being acquired from Texas off waivers last month, throwing three innings of one-hit shutout ball, while striking out five in a row at one point. The 26-year old Diamond (the Rangers 1st round draft pick in 2004 out of the University of New Orleans, who underwent TJS in 2007) was absolutely dominating today, throwing hard and pitching with a lot of confidence. .
The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the 6th, but Logan Watkins led-off the frame with a sharply-struck single through the box to CF, followed by a D,. J. LeMahieu RBI triple smashed off the RF fence that scored Watkins from 1st base. Brett Jackson then lined an opposite-field single to LF to score LeMahieu with the second run of the inning.
However, the Cubs lead was short-lived, as the Angels pummeled RHP Tarlandus Mitchell and LHP (ex-OF) Drew Rundle to the tune of eight runs on seven hits (five singles and two triples), two walks, and a WP, in a nightmare top of the 7th.
The Cubs did come back in the bottom of the 7th to score four runs and cut the Angels lead to 8-6, as Sergio Burruel led-off with a bloop single to CF, advanced to 3rd on a Rebel Ridling double that was crushed off the Green Monster "batter's eye" in dead CF, and then both runners scored on an opposite-field two-run RBI double lined into the RF corner by Brandon May. D. J. LeMahieu lined a one-out RBI single to center to plate May, and, after taking 2nd on the throw to the plate and advancing to 3rd on a WP, LeMahieu scored on a Brett Jackson sac-fly to left.
The Cubs came close to tying the game in the bottom of the 8th (which was understood by both teams to be the last inning). Ryan Flaherty and Justin Bour walked to open the frame, and advanced one base each as Sergio Burruel bounced out 4-1 (2nd baseman to the pitcher covering 1st). Then Flaherty scored and Bour (representing the tying run) moved up to third when Rebel Ridling reached base on an RBI E-6 (errant throw to 1st base by the SS). However, Brandon May struck out swinging for the second out, and then Logan Watkins was retired for the final out of the game (and the final out of Instructs) on a spectacular diving catch by the Angels right-fielder on what looked like a sure-fire game-tying (or possibly even game-winning) bloop hit into right-center.
Several of the Cubs who attended Instructs at Fitch Park will be playing Winter Ball in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic, and eight more will be en route from Phoenix to the Cubs Dominican Academy in Boca Chica for six weeks of Dominican Instructional League, where the American kids will get a chance to see how their Latin brothers live and play ball at Baseball City.
Last year, Matt Cerda, Brandon Guyer, Nate Samson, and Josh Vitters spent a month at the Cubs Dominican Academy after attending AZ Instructs, and it worked so well that Player Development Director Oneri Fleita decided to expand it and send even more U. S. kids down there this year. (The Dominican Instructional League runs through November).
Meanwhile, Fitch Park will continue to be used throughout the off-season by players rehabbing from injuries.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only): .
1. Logan Watkins, 2B: 1-5 (2-3, 3-2 FC, 1B, 4-3, P-9), R
2. D. J. LaMahieu, SS: 2-4 (6-3, 4-3, 3B, 1B) 2 R, 2 RBI
3. Brett Jackson, CF: 1-3 (K, K, 1B, L-7 SF), 2 RBI
4. Brandon Guyer, RF: 0-4 (F-8, K, L-5 DP, F-8)
5. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 1-3 (L-9, 2B, E-4, BB), R
6. Justin Bour, 1B: 0-3 (E-6, 4-3, K, BB)
7a. Jovan Rosa, C: 0-1 (L-8)
7b. Sergio Burruel, C: 1-3 (4-3, 1B, 4-1), R
8a. Richard Jones, DH: 1-1 (2B)
8b. Rebel Ridling, PH-DH: 1-2 (BB, 2B, E-6), R, RBI, PO
9. Brandon May, LF: 1-4 (6-3, F-9, 2B, K), R, 2 RBI
1. Trey McNutt - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 4/2 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)
2. Thomas Diamond - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/3 GO/FO, 44 pitches (27 strikes)
3. Tarlandus Mitchell - 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R (5 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 28 pitches (13 strikes)
4. Drew Rundle - 0.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 19 pitches (16 strikes)
5. Corey Martin - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R,0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 8 pitches (5 strikes)
CATCHERS DEFENSE: No SB attempts, PB, or errors involving Cubs catchers.
OUTFIELD ASSIST: Brandon Guyer
WEATHER: 90's & sunny
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.