Anticipated Pitching Duel Fizzles into Slugfest at HoHoKam
With two of the AFL's top starting pitchers on the hill, naturally the game turned into a slugfest, as the Mesa Solar Sox scored eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit, only to blow a four-run 8th inning lead, before scoring the game-winning run on a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th, en route to a 9-8 victory over Surprise Rafters in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
(And next time you come by, bring my stomach!)...
Cubs RHP Andrew Cashner got the start for the Solar Sox, and went just three innings. He left a lot of his pitches up in the zone, allowing four runs on seven hits (including three doubles and a home run) in what was his worst outing of the 2009 AFL season.
Ike Davis (Mets 2008 1st round pick out of Arizona State) was Cashner's main tormentor, ripping a two-run double into the right-field corner in the the top of the 1st, and a two-run homer over the right-centerfield fence in the top of the 3rd, as the Rafters took an early 4-0 lead.
Cashner did strike out five and walked just one, but he had to throw 69 pitches (44 strikes) to get through his three innings.
Meanwhile, Rafters RHP Ian Kennedy (NYY) sailed through his first four innings, before falling apart in the bottom of the 5th. Like Cashner, Kennedy allowed four runs on seven hits, although at least he was able to get one out in the 5th before he was relieved. .
Red Sox CF Ryan Kalish clubbed a three-run homer off Yankees LHP Michael Dunn to cap the five-run Mesa 5th, and then the Solar Sox added two more runs in the 7th, one of the runs scoring on a Josh Vitters RBI single.
Vitters returned to the Mesa lineup today as the Solar Sox DH, having missing five games after suffering a muscle strain while taking BP last week.
Vitters grounded out to short in the 2nd, popped up to the catcher in the 4th, and lofted a singled over the third-baseman's head in the 5th, before ripping his RBI single to left in the 7th. (Vitters was called out for interfering with the catcher's throw to 2nd on a stolen base attempt in the bottom of the 9th--a VERY questionable call by the ump--leaving him 2-5 for the day).
The Solar Sox took their 8-4 lead into the top of the 8th, but Doug Hogan (TEX) clubbed a two-run home run over the scoreboard beyond the fence in LF off Red Sox LHP Dustin Richardson to narrow the gap to 8-6, and then Cubs RHP Blake Parker blew the save, surrendering a towering game-tying two-run home run to Yankees 3B Brandon Laird off the light-standard in left-center with one out in the top of the 9th. Parker struck out two (including Ike Davis) in his one inning, while walking one and allowing the game-tying HR.
The Solar Sox pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the 9th, on a two-out RBI single by Cuban defector SS Jose Iglesias (BOS) following a walk and a single (overcoming the Vitters interference play), edging the Rafters 9-8.
Michael Brenly entered the game as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 7th, as Hank Conger (LAA) pulled up lame at 3rd base, and scored on the Vitters RBI single. Brenly then stayed in the game at catcher, and grounded out 6-3 in his one AB in the 8th.
Starlin Castro had the day off, although he and Angels OF P. J. Phillips alternated as the Solar Sox 1st base coach (good experience for when their playing careers are over).
LHPs John Gaub and James Russell threw yesterday at Surprise, and Gaub had a very bad outing, immediately walking the bases loaded and throwing a WP after entering the game in relief, before allowing an F-9 SF and an RBI single. Gaub was yanked out of the game after retiring only two hitters and throwing 26 pitches (only ten strikes).
If it's possible to pitch yourself off the 40-man roster by throwing piss-poor in the AFL, Gaub might be doing just that. Now, I personally do not believe what Gaub does in the AFL should have a bearing on whether he is added to the 40 on 11/20, but it might influence Jim Hendry.
Remember, Donald Veal appeared to be a virtual "lock" to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster this time last year, but then he stunk it up in the AFL, got left off the 40-man roster, and was selected by Pittsburgh in the December 2009 Rule 5 Draft. (And Veal has been the best pitcher in the AFL so far this year, too).
Although Gaub had a poor outing yesterday, James Russell had another fine one, throwing 1.1 IP of shutout ball for Mesa in relief of Gaub. The 21-year old Russell has now thrown 9.1 innings of four-hit shutout ball (2/7 BB/K) over his last eight appearances for the Solar Sox.
I can relate to that, E-Man. I don't think I'll enjoy watching a high-stakes away game like this on TV. I've watched a lot of games this season after they ended or at least after the Cubs got out to a decent lead. Since they usually win, I've gotten to see a lot of baseball.
But in this case I think we should probably all watch the game live, and not let the pressure exceed the pleasure.
Remember, as I told my wife when our kids went off to college -- this is a good thing! Enjoy it!
Fully agree -- can't prove it. But, the numbers are what they are, and a lot of his OF games have come in Aug & Sept, when he has been killing the ball otherwise. And, knowing how baseball players love routine, it seems logical that it could at least be a a factor.
Really, really, really hope I'm wrong on this.
Indeed! It has been absolute blast -- from getting swept by the Phillies to sweeping the Giants, I have always enjoyed being part of this group. Hope we have a lot more games to talk about this year.
Yes, cheers to me! I've noticed a fairly strong correlation between my tenure and Cubbie victories.
And thanks to Michael for our new diggs--and to y'all for sticking around!
CHEERS to CT Steve for keeping this alive in 2015. Who would have thought that the season would have been so successful to this point? Thank you CT STEVE!
I think I may be too nervous to watch the entire game. I will probably watch in bits and pieces - and constantly check MLB App. I will be like Blockhead: Nervous Nellie.
You can't prove the performance is because he played the OF. You just can't. Sorry.
BTW, Bryant hit .168 in July playing 3B exclusively.
oh man, early on it seems like he made at least 1 stupid baserunning blunder per game and almost every single one turned into a positive for the cubs. it was magical.
Not surprised about Lester but bit surprised about Hendricks. Guessing that if something happens to Arietta right away they go to Lester but if they've burned relievers and are in extra innings they go to Hendricks.
My kids' 8:30pm (ET) bed time will be waived tonight (They are Rizzo & Castro fans). We'll get geared up in our Cubs apparel and will watch this as a family. I am stoked. Go Cubs!
Bryant: Base running adventures.
Remember Bryant's home-away splits, too.
Wrigley: 21 HR, 59 RBI, .311/.408/.629
Road: 5 HR, 40 RBI, .243/.333/.360
Good Lord this season has flown by so far. I need more Cubs gifs--the four on the MLB.com article today are not enough. I need a 100 best moments of the season listicle of gifs.
Rizzo: The slide, the catch.
Russell: All the defense.
Bryant: Pelting the video board.
Soler: 125 MPH ground balls.
Schwarber: DINGERS, surprising LF catches.
Fowler: Walks, the many walks he should have had on 3-2 BS strike calls.
Baez: That 3B play.
Ross: Walk-up music? Bullpen appearance?
No evidence other than 8 hits and 0 HR in 45 AB....
I just think hitters like their routines -- think Boggs or Ted Williams -- and messing with that routine adds an element of change. I want my best hitters in their normal routines.
evidently i was busy burying context and meaning.
i was excited about this playoff season kicking up in the drama of that environment, but it was stated insanely muddled.
Woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep in excitement/anticipation. Go Cubs Go!