Mighty Casey Has Struck Out 7 & Walked but 2
Welington Castillo was penciled in at DH today for the I-Cubs but he got his catching in before the game by lunging about to stop all the ceremonial first pitches from pint-sized birthday boys and lame-armed luminaries. The only one that got past him was flung by a mascot creature from some non-profit.org.
From atop the left-field wall beckoned the giant glove that homers sometimes land in, wiggling against its moorings in the breeze that slightly relieved the generally welcome heat of summer. The thing's almost as big as the one sported by Tony Campana.
The game began and Casey Coleman got ahead of the first hitter 0-2. Seven pitches later, he'd walked him. Here, I thought, we go again. But I was wrong. Coleman proceeded to retire the next 15 in a row, seven of them on strikes, including the side in a dazzling 5th. Ranging from the high 70's to the low 90's he mixed up his pitches and the erstwhile Omaha Royals, now saddled with the too contemporary nickname of Storm Chasers [sporting teams needn't be tagged with both a first and a last name in addition to their locale ID].
This was a performance to make one believe that Coleman may yet become a solid big league starter, especially given that he was facing the first place team in the division, the top farm club in the organization that many have rated as being stocked with the best minor league talent in the game, in a league not known for its enhanced pitching conditions and stats.
He was staked to a 1-0 lead almost immediately in the bottom of the 1st after Fernando Perez bunted the first pitch leading off and wound up with a little league triple when the lunging pitcher shoveled the ball into the Omaha bullpen.
Coleman's opposite number was Jeff Suppan, reduced now to the role of Triple A innings eater. Suppan threw up on himself in a couple of early frames as the I-Cubs built a seemingly insurmountable lead behind Coleman. The spell was broken when #8 hitter Lance Zawadski [what, a Polish playboy?] blooped a double just fair down the left-field line leading off the 6th. This being the minor leagues, Coleman wasn't even accorded a symapthetic ovation to soothe the loss of his no-no. People were generally oblivious. Perhaps disappointed, Coleman walked the next hitter and eventually was touched for a pair of runs, only one of them earned, in his last inning of work. Zawadski's well-aimed badminton serve was the only hit marring Coleman's line for the day.
Meanwhile Suppan kept eating and got in a groove, retiring nine straight after Bryan LaHair, who's amassing Hoffpauiresque numbers, belted a three-run homer to max out the Iowa lead at 8-0.
Jeff [Dead Man Walking] Stevens coughed up a four-spot in the 7th in first relief of Coleman and big Kila Ka'aihue tied it up with a two-run homer in the 8th off of John Gaub in a lefty/lefty match-up before the I-Cubs walked off with the win an inning later on Matt Camp's run-scoring single.
But back to Coleman's opposition. Eric Hosmer, he of the anagrammatic headlines, has already swapped spots on the organizational flow chart with Ka'aihue and waits now at the major league level for the arrival of his playmates from the farm. The first one to join him may be third baseman Mike Moustakas whom the Royals tabbed one spot ahead of the Cubs' Josh Vitters in the '07 draft. It's fair to say that Moustakas is on a faster track than Vitters. His personal highlight today was a sparkling dive to his left from a drawn-in position to turn Perez's second at-bat into a fielder's choice at 2nd. Check out his solid offensive numbers if you care to. The kid's a player.
Omaha second baseman Johnny Giavotella is probably Kansas City bound as well. Right fielder Jarrod Dyson swiped a pair of bases and reminds of both Delino Deshields and Willie McGee. And Ka'aihue is big and agile around the bag at first. He draws a lot of walks at the plate but has blown his chance in Kansas City. Surely he could be had and is worth another look from a different team. When Omaha leaves town Round Rock and Chris Davis will arrive. He's another corner infielder who could conceivably draw some Cub interest come the latter part of July.
The Royals, er, Chasers, also fielded DH Clint Robinson who won the triple crown in the Texas League last year and Lorenzo Cain in CF who's only in Omaha so he can play daily. On the pitching side ex-Chaser Danny Duffy is one of eight, at last count, rookies already on the KC roster and Mike Montgomery too is considered can't miss.
I wonder how many of the guys I saw today will be seen again when I chug three hours south to see the C-Cubs in Kansas City in a couple of weeks.
By the way, how'd they do today? I heard they were leading into the 9th...
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.
it's been a while since joe's over-managed a game...it's gotta feel good for him to be back in the saddle making people's scorecards look like their pens blew up.
Fuck a bench spot on the playoff roster, Coghlan is competing to bat cleanup.