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
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.