Bobby Tips the Scales for I-Cubs
Thanks to a 33 year-old journeyman who's probably had all he's likely to get of the big leagues, what remains of the Iowa Cubs took another big step toward a division pennant and the PCL playoffs with an 8-5 win over the Memphis Redbirds last night in Des Moines. Jeff Samardzija will take the mound this afternoon and try to toss the clincher.
Iowa broke on top in the first inning for the second night in a row, again courtesy of Jason Dubois who banged a two-run double off of the center field wall to score Jim Adduci and Brad Snyder. Mitch Atkins, who never touched 90 on the radar gun all night, made the lead stand up until Memphis got to him for a three spot in the top of the 4th. Coasting to that point, Atkins was rocked with two outs and nobody on by a tape measure home run, two singles, an error that Marquez Smith played off of his chest and another sharp base hit that plated two runs and put the Redbirds ahead. They added another run in the top of the 6th to lead 4-2 on a run scoring single by Ruben Gotay. Atkins then tried to pick Gotay off and twice came very close, so close on the 2nd attempt that Atkins and the crowd took exception and, forgive me, a Ryno came charging from the Cubs' dugout to argue the point, to no immediate avail.
In the bottom of the frame Dubois led off and beat out, I swear, an infield hit on a close play at first. He doesn't get many of those. Did he get the nod on the call because of a seed planted by his hall of fame manager in the mind of a young minor league umpire? With Bryan LaHair at the plate and the count 3-1, Sandberg had the ponderous Dubois running. The pitch was ball four but the throw drawn by Dubois sailed into center and he scooted, so to speak, into 3rd. The official scorer originally credited him with a stolen base that was erased in this morning's version of the box score, but the play was reminiscent of the time Ronny Cedeno stole second on a fourth ball and was called out when he overslid the bag; the only time I recall seeing a runner on first thrown out stealing second on the same pitch that walked the batter.
Up came the patient, choosy Scales who worked the count full before sending his 10th homer of the year in his 1,200th professional game over the wall in right-center to put the I-Cubs back in front. A two-run double by Snyder highlighted a three-run seventh that padded the lead and cemented the win that ensures Iowa of no worse than a dead heat for the title in the American North branch of the far-flung PCL. The other run was delivered by a Scales single.
Memphis pitchers walked five hitters, three of whom scored. Atkins and his successors walked no one. Halfway through the four game showdown the first three hitters in the Memphis lineup are a collective 1-23.
Another observation having nothing to do with the outcomes of the games concerns the demise of the good ol' American baseball bat. Last night five of them shattered and Dubois cracked another the old fashioned way. That makes a total of seven compound fractures and one hairline in two nights. Something's rotten, or there are termites, in Louisville...
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.