Final Cashner AFL Start Simply Indefensible
Nick Evans (NYM), Mike Moustakas (KC), and Colin Curtis (NYY) each crushed two-run homers, and Ian Kennedy (NYY) threw five innings of one-run ball, leading the Surprise Rafters to a 9-2 drubbing of the Mesa Solar Sox in Arizona Fall League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, in what was Andrew Cashner's final AFL start.
Cashner allowed three runs (two ER) on four hits and a walk, with three strikeouts, over his three innings of work, but he actually looked very good. He threw a shutout top of the 1st, issuing a one-out walk to Daniel Descalso (STL) and allowing an Ike Davis (NYM) two-out single through the box to CF (the ball went off a diving Starlin Castro's glove and trickled into CF, as Castro ranged far behind the 2nd base bag) around a ground out, a strikeout, and a fly out.
Cashner should have had an easy 1-2-3 2nd inning, getting an infield pop up, a weak ground ball to second, and a strikeout. But his defense let him down.
Third-baseman Casey Kelly (BOS) insisted on calling Starlin Castro off the infield pop up, and then proceeded to drop the ball behind the mound, allowing Mike Moustakas to reach base on an E-5. So with Moustakas at 1st and nobody out, Daryl Jones (STL) hit a routine ground ball to Solar Sox second-baseman Steve Singleton (MIN), who figured instead of taking the sure-out at 1st, maybe he should try and get the lead runner (Moustakas) at 2nd base. Unfortunately, it was a hit & run play, so Moustakas beat the throw to 2nd, allowing Jones to reach base on a FC
An exasperated Cashner decided he probably needed to get the outs himself, so he reared-back and threw a couple of 96 MPH heaters and a wipe-out slider past Bryan Anderson (STL), striking out the Rafters catcher. However, the next two batters (Ruben Tejada and Jarrod Dyson) ripped RBI hits, resulting in three runs scoring.
Cashner got out of the 2nd on a DP fly out to CF (Dyson was running on the pitch and he never stopped running), and then threw a shutout 3rd inning (lead-off single by Colin Curtis, followed by an Ike Davis strikeout and two pop ups). But because of the extra pitches he had to throw in the 2nd, Cashner was removed from the game after only three innings of work (63 pitches - 41 strikes).
Starlin Castro played SS and hit 2nd for the Solar Sox, and went 2-4 (raising his batting average to .387).
In his first AB in the bottom of the 1st inning, Castro laced a line-drive single to CF on the 1st pitch he saw, stole second, advanced to third on a bloop single to center, and scored on a bloop hit to LF. He was swinging first pitch again when he ripped an opposite-field single to RF with one out in the bottom of the 3rd, stole second (again), and advanced to third on a fly ball to CF, before being left stranded. He was retired on a lazy fly ball,(F-9) and topped out to third (outstanding barehand pick-up and throw by Rafters 3B Mike Moustakas, just barely nipping Castro at 1st) in his other two plate appearances.
Besides his activity at the plate, Castro also made the defensive play of the day, coming in full-speed behind the mound to grab a ball that was deflected by the pitcher, and then throwing out the batter (Nick Evans) by half-a-step.
Michael Brenly was the catcher today (with father Bob once again in attendance), and batted 9th. He fisted an RBI bloop double down the LF line in the bottom of the 7th, but grounded out weakly 3-U, 6-3, and 4-3 in his other three plate appearances.
LHP James Russell worked the top of the 9th for the Solar Sox and pitched another shutout inning, allowing just a lead-off 1st pitch opposite field single to Ike Davis, before retiring the side on a ground out (Castro's defensive gem) and two strikeouts (and both of Russell's strikeout victims were left-handed hitters). Russell has looked VERY good so far.
Josh Vitters did not play again today (he was a last-minute scratch yesterday), and RHP Blake Parker and LHP John Gaub are scheduled to work out of the bullpen tomorrow night at Scottsdale. Both Parker and Gaub are waiting to find out if they will be added to the Cubs 40-man roster (the deadline is Friday).
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
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.