Cubs Walk-Off with 7-6 Decision at Fitch
After Neftali Rosario was walked intentionally to load the bases and set-up a potential game-ending double play, Taylor Davis drilled a one-out two-run game-winning walk-off single on a 2-2 pitch past a a diving 3rd baseman into LF to score Marco Hernandez from 3rd base with the tying run and Gioskar Amaya from 2nd base with the winning run, as the AZL Cubs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th to edge the AZL Rangers 7-6 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
The Cubs led 5-1 through three innings, plating two runs in the bottom of the 2nd on a Marco Hernandez two-run triple into the RF corner following back-to-back two-out singles by Trey Martin and Kyung-Min Na, and then three more in the bottom of the 3rd on a Taylor Davis RBI GO, a Ryan Cuneo RBI double, and a Kyung-Min Na RBI single.
Two rehabbin' Iowa Cubs were in the AZL Cubs lineup today, as Marquez Smith (on the I-Cubs 7-day DL since 6/26 with a hand injury) played 2B and hit 3rd, and Welington Castillo (on the Iowa DL since 7/28 with a hamstring injury) was the catcher and hit clean-up. Both of the I-Cubs played seven innings, with mixed resuits.
W. Castillo doubled twice (one a near-HR slammed off the right-centerfield fence, and the other a near-HR crushed off the top of the LF fence), and looked fully mobile behind the plate. (And none of the Ranger baserunners dared to run against him, either). This will be Castillo's only rehab game action, as he will be rejoining the Iowa Cubs in Tacoma on Friday.
Marquez Smith looked fine right up until the very end (hitting the ball hard twice), before tweaking a groin or a quad while running out a pop-fly in the bottom of the 7th in what was supposed to be his final AB. Since he is at Fitch Park rehabbing a hand injury, and since a quad or groin strain is a completely different problem, Smith could very possibly be spending considerable more time on the DL while dealing with this new medical issue.
LHP Hunter Ackerman (Cubs 2010 4th round draft pick out of Louisburg JC) got the start for the AZL Cubs today, and threw four innings (61 pitches - 38 strikes), allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits, while walking two, and striking out two. The lefty got a ton of ground balls (10/0 GO/FO including two 6-4-3 DP) with his high-80's two-seamer, and a few swings & misses with his plus-curve, although he also bounced several in front of the plate.
Down 5-1, the Rangers rallied for five runs in the top of the 7th off Cubs RHP Felix Pena, who had breezed through his first two innings of relief (six-up & six-down on only 17 pitches). But Pena could only get one out in the 7th, allowing a two-run HR to Rangers DH Clark Murphy, and then three more runs on three hits and a HBP after that (with LHRP Andrew McKirahan allowing two inherited runners to score on a WP and an RBI single).
Up 6-5, the Rangers were in a good position to add some insurance in the top of the 9th, as Cubs reliever Santo Rodriguez surrendered a bunt single and a double with no outs. But (with the Cubs playing a drawn-in infield to cut down a potential score), Rodriguez induced a weak grounder to 1st (3-U) for the first out (with both runners holding their respective base), and then struck out the last two hitters of the inning (one looking and one swinging) to end the threat.
The Cubs could not have asked for a better set-up coming into the bottom of the 9th, trailing by only one run with hot-hitting Marco Hernandez and Gioskar Amaya due up 1-2. And the two young infielders did not disappoint, either, as Hernandez came back from 0-2 to work a ten-pitch walk, before Amaya (with the Ranger infield expecting a bunt) drilled a single through the 5.5 hole into LF to advance Hernandez to 2nd. Gregori Gonzalez then beat the wheel-play and laid down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd with one out.
Neftali Rosario was walked intentionally to load the bases and set-up a potential game-ending DP, but Taylor Davis (possibly the slowest runner in professional baseball) upset the Ranger plan, working the count to 2-2 before hammering the game-winning hit to the left of the third-baseman and into LF. Hernandez scored the tying run easily from 3rd, and with AZL Cub manager Juan Cabreja enthusiastically waiving him around third, Amaya scored the winning run from 2nd, sliding home just ahead of the left-fielder's throw in a cloud of dust as Hernandez directed Amaya (with hand signals) to slide to the outside of the plate and touch the plate with his left hand.
With a single and a two-run triple today, Hernandez extended his hitting streak to 16 games, and improved his "slash line" to 358/397/509. And with two walks and a single, Amaya improved his "slash line" to 366/408/483. Hernandez is now 10th in the AZL in BA, second in RBI, tied for 3rd in doubles, and tied for 6th in triples, and Amaya is 4th in the AZL in BA and is tied for 3rd in triples.
By rallying to edge the AZL West-leading Rangers, the AZL Cubs remain five games behind the AZL Giants in the AZL East, but two games ahead of the AZL Reds for the AZL Wild Card lead, with 15 games left to play. The three division winners and a Wild Card team (the second-place AZL team with best record) will qualify for the AZL playoffs.
And if you think winning doesn't matter in the minor leagues, you didn't see the AZL Cubs mob Taylor Davis after his game-winning hit.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
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.