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).
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.
Just with the chanting thing it worked to rattle Cueto last year where he dropped a ball and gave up a HR next pitch so you can't really hate on the fans for trying it again in this important of a game.
I felt the same way, too, but...
I was very disappointed with Pittsburgh fans. At Wrigley a few weeks ago, they were very obnoxious guests, the cockiness on Twitter, and what's the deal with chanting Arrieta's name during the game? Very bush league. Add that up with Rodriguez's poor sportsmanship and you quickly have a team that you don't mind beating 4-0 in a do or die game.
Absolutely-It was tense. And when the Pirates couldn't push any runs across, you could see the frustration boil over.