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
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
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.