AZL Angels Jett Past AZL Cubs at HoHoKam
Jett Bandy laced three doubles, including a two-run two-base hit with one out in the top of the 8th that drove-in the tying and go-ahead runs, leading the AZL Angels to a 4-3 victory over the AZL Cubs in Arizona League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this evening.
The Cubs went into the top of the 8th inning leading 2-1, thanks to a solo HR by Dustin Geiger in the 4th and a Ryan Durrence RBI ground out in the 6th. But AZL Cubs 8th inning set-up man Colin Richardson could not hold the lead, issuing a one-out four-pitch walk, followed by back-to-back doubles and consecutive singles, as the Angels took a 4-2 lead.
The Cubs did score a run in the bottom of the 8th on a leg-double by lead-off hitter Oliver Zapata, an Angels error, and a sacrifice fly, but it wasn't enough, as Angels closer Brandon Efferson threw a 1-2-3 9th for the save.
18-year old LHP Brian Smith (Cubs 2010 40th round draft pick out of Pickering, Ontario) got the start for the AZL Cubs, and threw a solid four innings (61 pitches - 40 strikes), allowing just one unearned run on five hits and a walk, while striking out three. A member of the Canadian Junior National Team prior to signing with the Cubs right at the August 16th signing deadline last year, Smith had his second quality outing in a row, especially significant since he was absolutely terrible in his pro debut at AZ Instructs last fall (30.00 ERA, 4.33 WHIP, and a .527 OppBA) and got a late start to the 2011 season, not pitching in a game until more than halfway through Extended Spring Training. But he has looked OK in AZL action so far (albeit just 7.1 IP over two games), displaying a high-quality curve and change-up, and the poise and stamina needed to throw multiple innings.
19-year old Dustin Geiger (Cubs 2010 24th round draft pick out of Merritt Island HS - Brevard County, FL) continues to be the offensive leader for the AZL Cubs. After two more hits tonight (including the 390-ft+ home run to left-center that gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead, and a picture-perfect hit & run single to right that advanced a runner from 1st to 3rd and led directly to the Cubs second run), Geiger is hitting a robust 400/423/769 (including three doubles, two triples, and a HR) through his first six AZL games, while playing adequate defense at both 3B and 1B (although he looks better at 1B). Geiger has showed tremendous improvement in his power stroke over the last few weeks (having hit 325/367/525 with three doubles, two HR, and 12 RBI over his last 13 Extended Spring Training games), and I had thought that just based on that he would get assigned to Boise, but the Cubs chose to place 3B-1B Wilson Contreras on the Boise roster instead, while keeping Geiger in Mesa. But if he keeps slugging the way he has over the last few weeks, I would expect Geiger to get a promotion to Boise (if not to Peoria) before much longer.
While Geiger has been the offensive star of the AZL Cubs, 19-year old Dominican switch-hitter Brian Inoa has struggled to find a position. Inoa was used mainly as a DH in the DSL last season where he hit 279/356/369 for DSL Cubs #2, but he was worked exclusively at catcher throughout Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training this year. However, it became quite clear over time that Inoa did not have the defensive chops to succeed as a backstop, so he was moved to 1B, and now (more-recently) to 2B, with poor results at each stop. Inoa made two more errors (on successive plays) leading to an unearned run in tonight's game, and was pulled out of the game in the top of the 7th. Next stop? Maybe LF. But to play LF Inoa will have to show the slugging he displayed at times in Extended Spring Training, like when he hit for the cycle against the Diamondbacks on May 23rd.
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.