A Tie is Like Kissing Good Bye
Long story short, Mark Hamilton's solo homer with two out in the top of the 9th gave Memphis a see-saw 7-6 win over Iowa today that also advanced the Redbirds to the PCL playoffs and ended the Cubs' season. The teams deadlocked for their divisional crown with records of 82-62 and split their season series 8-8 but the playoff berth goes to the visitors on the basis of their superior intra-divsional record.
It was another pulsating game in a pulsating series. I would say that the umpiring left a little to be desired, not necessarily in terms of the accuracy of calls, but in the length of fuses. After all, these were two teams in a dead heat with 140 games down and four to go. Thicken the skins and stop tossing people in the early innings. More on that later.
For the second straight day the wind was blowing briskly out to left and was a factor.
Iowa starter Jay Jackson was shaky at the outset, loading the bases with one out in the first but escaping unscored upon. In the second he got himself in the same jam but wasn't so lucky this time. Tyler Greene was at the plate with teammates at second and third when he checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch. The plate ump called it a foul ball but Greene swore the pitch had hit him on the forearm. The plate ump asked one of his colleagues on the bases and he too said foul ball. But Greene must have shown evidence of a mark where the ball had struck him because he was suddenly waved to first. You know who, back in the dugout after yesterday's banishment, joined the conversation at that point but his brief and somewhat restrained argument fell on deaf ears and the game resumed with the crowd actually into the action on the field for a change. Alas, Jackson was nonplussed by now and became even more so when he lost the ruling on another checked swing that ensued on his first pitch to the new hitter. In the middle of his next windup the plate ump broke out of his crouch to eject someone inside the Iowa dugout who turned out to be Mitch Atkins. Another delay, after which Jackson completed a four pitch walk to force in a run. A sacrifice fly followed but Jackson finally made it back to the dugout trailing by only 2-0.
In the bottom of the inning back to back doubles by Bryan LaHair and Bobby Scales and a single by Robinson Chirinos, who had three important hits and dug a bunch of sliders out of the dirt behind the plate in my first look at him, tied the score and the game was on.
Jackson labored again in the 3rd, giving the lead back on a single to his counterpart as the bottom of the Memphis lineup got to him. The frame ended when Chirinos threw behind a runner at first to pick him off and a runner breaking from third was eventually tagged out trying to score in the confusion.
In the top of the 4th Scales made a great diving catch of a wind-blown popup down the line in right to start Jackson's first 1-2-3 inning of work. In the bottom of the frame Dubois led off with a prodigious blast to tie the score before Scales was safe on an error and Chirinos doubled him home to give the I-Cubs their first lead of the day. Jackson then doubled off the center field wall and I noticed Sandberg smiling and gesturing at the dugout railing while the Redbirds pow-wowed at the mound. He seemed confident.
When Dubois homered again in the 6th to put his team ahead 6-3 it looked bubbly for the home team. They had been overcoming leads throughout the weekend, not blowing them.
Jackson was removed after surrendering a leadoff double in the top of the 7th. Justin Berg came in and served up a run scoring single and a double that put runners at second and third with no outs. A grounder and a sac fly were all it took to tie the game from there.
While Iowa was failing to score in the bottom of the 7th and Memphis was being put down in order in the top of the 8th some kid with #28 on his back and nothing else [all the other players' names were on their jerseys] was nervously throwing in the Memphis pen. He took his nerves with him to the mound in the bottom of the 8th and walked Dubois on four pitches leading off. Better than allowing him the hat trick I guess. Then he fell behind LaHair and the dam seemed about to burst. Instead LaHair grounded sharply into a 6-4-3 double play with a 3-2 count even though Dubois was running on the pitch. The kid, whose name turned out to be Alan Reifer, was new in town, having come a running from Springfield after yesterday's 15 inning affair drained the Memphis relief corps.
Hamilton's dramatic homer made Reifer the winning pitcher in his first Triple A appearance, but not before the aggressive Chirinos hit the first pitch from closer Josh Kenney in the bottom of the 9th for a double and got stranded at third. While Reifer was working into and out of trouble in the 8th Kenney was making new friends by returning a cell phone dropped over the RF railing the way young ladies used to accidentally on purpose drop their hankies.
One minute 10,000 people were on their feet headed for the playoffs. The next, the season and the summer were over.
It took a long time for the parking lot to clear after the game. I didn't really mind the lingering.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.
Just with the chanting thing it worked to rattle Cueto last year where he dropped a ball and gave up a HR next pitch so you can't really hate on the fans for trying it again in this important of a game.
I felt the same way, too, but...
I was very disappointed with Pittsburgh fans. At Wrigley a few weeks ago, they were very obnoxious guests, the cockiness on Twitter, and what's the deal with chanting Arrieta's name during the game? Very bush league. Add that up with Rodriguez's poor sportsmanship and you quickly have a team that you don't mind beating 4-0 in a do or die game.
Absolutely-It was tense. And when the Pirates couldn't push any runs across, you could see the frustration boil over.
I meant December.