Big "Z" Returns to The Game
Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.
The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.
Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.
There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.
Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:
TOP OF THE SECOND INNING:
JIN-HO SHIN at bat:
1. strike one (looking)
2. strike two (looking)
6. ball one
7. IN PLAY: 5-3 ground out
HENRY MORENO at bat:
1. strike one (foul)
2. strioke two (swinging)
3. strike three (looking)
YSMELIN ALCANTARA at bat:
1. ball one
2. IN PLAY: 5-3 ground out
"Z" looked very good tonight, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, with good sink on his two-seamer. He will supposedly be moving up to Iowa later this week.
After his one inning of work, Zambrano went out to the bullpen and threw an additional 15 or so pitches, signed some autographs along the RF foul line, and then retired to the Cubs dugout to hang with the kids.
One thing about Carlos Zambrano... he sure doesn't play The Big Shot Major Leaguer when he's down here. I half expected him to help the off-duty AZL Cubs pitchers chase down foul balls in the stands.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.