Cubs Throw No Hitter at Fitch Park
Five Cub pitchers combined to throw a no run, no hit game, but the Angels threw a three-hit shutout of their own right back at the Cubs, as the two teams played to a scoreless tie in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
The Cubs mounted the only real scoring threat of the day in the bottom of the 3rd inning against Angels starter RHP Fabio Martinez. Willson Conteras smacked a lead-off double off the LF fence, but was still on 2nd base two outs later after Chris Huseby struck out and Xavier Batista flied out to left. Evan Crawford then lined a single into RF that looked like it might score Contreras, but the slow-footed ex-catcher was held up at 3rd, and then Crawford was caught stealing to end the inning and the threat.
The Cubs also had runners at 1st and 2nd with one out in the 7th, but pinch-runner Marco Hernandez was picked-off 2nd base and Reggie Golden grounded out to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the Cubs hurlers were shutting-down the Angels, allowing three walks but facing only one batter over the minimum through nine innings, thanks to a pick-off that short-circuited the Angel 7th and a 4-6-3 DP that concluded the Halo 8th.
Cubs 2010 10th round pick RHP Aaron Kurcz (College of Southern Nevada) got the start and continued his Instructs magic, throwing today’s first three innings of no-hit baseball. The 20-year old allowed just a walk while striking out four. In four AZ Instructional League outings covering 9.2 IP so far, Kurcz has allowed two hits and two walks, and no runs, while striking out 16.
6’4 230 RHP Dustin Fitzgerald (Cubs 2010 19th round draft pick out of Hill JC in Texas) followed Kurcz to the hill and retired the Angels six up/six-down on just 23 pitches (L-5, 4-3, 4-3 in his first inning of work, and 5-3, 6-3, and K-looking in his second inning).
19-year old RHP Robinson Lopez (one of three pitchers acquired by the Cubs from the Atlanta Braves in the Derrek Lee deal) worked the 6th and 7th, striking out the first man he faced and then getting two long fly outs to complete a 1-2-3 6th inning, and then after walking the lead-off hitter in the top of the 7th on four pitches, Lopez picked the runner off 1st, before inducing two routine ground outs (a 6-3 then a 4-3) to end the frame.
RHP Kevin Rhoderick (Cubs 2010 9th round pick out of Oregon State) worked the 8th and allowed a lead-off walk, but then got a 5-4 FC for the first out (nice leaping stab by 3B Gioskar Amaya to start the play), and a slick 4-6-3 GIDP to end the inning.
2010 29th round pick LHP Casey Harman (Clemson) threw an eight-pitch 1-2-3 9th to guarantee the no-hitter, with the Cubs needing just one little old run to complete what could have been a stirring victory, and with the top of the batting order due up. But Evan Crawford, Hak-Ju Lee, and Engel Santana went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th (5-3, K-swinging, and 4-3), resulting in a scoreless tie that would have made World Cup Soccer proud.
Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Evan Crawford, CF: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, F-8, 5-3, CS)
2. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 0-4 (P-6, K, 5-3, K)
3a. Max Kwan, C: 0-1 (E6, HBP, BB)
3b. Marco Hernandez, PR-DH: NO AB (PO)
3c. Engel Santana, PH: 0-1 (4-3)
4. Justin Bour, 1B: 0-3 (3-1, 6-3, K)
5. Logan Watkins, 2B: 1-3 (4-3, 3-1, 1B)
6. Reggie Golden, DH #1: 0-3 (K, K, 5-3)
7. Micah Gibbs, DH-C: 0-2 (K, F-7, BB)
8a. Willson Contreras, 3B: 1-1 (2B, HBP)
8b. Gioskar Amaya, 3B: 0-0 (1-3 SH)
9. Chris Huseby, LF: 0-3 (K, K, P-6)
10. Xavier Batista, RF: 0-3 (F-7, F-7, L-6)
1. Aaron Kurcz: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 37 pitches (26 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO
2. Dustin Fitzgerald: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 23 pitches (15 strikes), 4/1 GO/FO
3. Robinson Lopez: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 26 pitches (13 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
4. Kevin Rhoderick: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 11 pitches (5 strikes), 3/0 GO/FO
5. Casey Harman: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 8 pitches (6 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
ATTENDANCE: 31 (including cubs.com beat writer Carrie Muskat)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80’s
If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!
(But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)
Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.
He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
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.
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.