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).
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.