Hernandez Extends Hit Streak to 15, Kim Throws Blanks
Marco Hernandez extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Jin-Young Kim threw five shutout innings, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Dodgers 2-1 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Hernandez is hitting 426/453/639 with four doubles, three triples, a HR and 16 RBI, with only six strikeouts in 65 PA over the course of the 15-game hit streak, and is hitting 354/391/497 for the season. The 18-year old Dominican leads the AZL in RBI, and is tied for 3rd in the league in doubles. And (not too surprisingly) Hernandez was in the middle of the Cubs two-run 4th today, looping a single to CF that advanced Gioskar Amaya (who is hitting 366/401/486) to 3rd base with no outs. Both Amaya and Hernandez scored later in the inning.
Kim received a reported $850K bonus (equivalent to "2nd round money") when he signed with the Cubs as a 17-year old out of South Korea last year, and after struggling at AZ Instructs (7.20 ERA & 1.30 WHIP) last fall and at Extended Spring Training (4.91 ERA & 1.68 WHIP) and at Boise (7.66 & 2.15 WHIP) earlier this year, the 19-year old right-hander has (finally) put together a couple of decent outings, throwing 8.1 IP of shutout ball for the AZL Cubs. He allowed five hits and a walk in his five innings (61 pitches - 45 strikes, 3/5 GO/FO) today, and probably could have thrown at least another couple of innings, but there is a limit of 75 pitches or five innings (whichever comes first) for pitchers in the AZL.
18-year old RHP James Pugliese (Cubs 2011 18th round draft pick out of Mercer CC in New Jersey) piggy-backed with Kim, and threw three shutout innings of one-hit ball with no walks and four strikeouts (48 pitches - 30 strikes). Pugliesse is the guy with the max-effort extreme over-the-top delivery that would seem best-suited for a pitcher working out of the bullpen.
RHP Yilver Sanchez pitched the 9th and picked up the save. The 21-year old Dominican did allow a two-out RBI double before recording the final out, but only because the Cubs defensively-challenged 2B-SS combo (Brian Inoa & Gioskar Amaya) failed to turn what should have been a game-ending DP on the previous AB. Working as the AZL Cubs primary closer since getting sent-down from Boise, Sanchez now has a 3/22 BB/K in 15.0 IP for the AZL Cubs.
FWIW, the AZL Cubs currently trail the AZL Giants by 4-1/2 games in the AZL East, but have a 1-1/2 game lead over the AZL Athletics, the AZL Indians and the AZL Reds in the Wild Card race. (The three division winners and the 2nd-place team with the best record qualify for the AZL playoffs).
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.