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...
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.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.
I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.
Been quite the roller-coaster the past two days -- both games, plus the Chapman kerfuffel. How about a couple of nice, comfortable wins before facing Sale? Cubs should definitely wear throwbacks for that game.
The Cubs are stronger defensively than most of the teams they play. In order to capitalize on that, they have to a) put the ball in play and b) run the bases aggressively.
That said, Cabrera has a strong, accurate arm, as witnessed by his 97 outfield assists over 12 seasons--mostly left field but also a lot of center. Bryant is rarely thrown out, but I guess you have to know who's throwing the ball.
On the other hand, Pries won his first start for Iowa, only giving up two HRs in the process. This trade has got some legs yet!