A's Score Often and Late to Trump Cubs at Fitch
Chris Bostick, Kelvin Rojas, Rhett Stafford, and Miguel Marte ripped consecutive two-out RBI hits in the top of the 8th to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead, as the AZL Athletics scored six runs over the final two innings to defeat the AZL Cubs 8-4 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Cubs 2011 17th round draft pick John Andreoli (U. Conn) made his pro debut today, playing RF and batting 6th. He reached base in each of his first three plate appearances, lining a first-pitch opposite-field single into RF in his first pro AB, grounding a single sharply between short and third in his second AB (and then stealing 2nd base), and walking and later scoring a run his third time up. He popped out to the catcher on a bunt attempt on his 4th PA.
Andreoli displayed a strong arm in RF and plus-speed on the bases. The big question with him is how much he will hit at the higher levels, and whether he will ever hit for power. He reminds me of a RH version of Jim Adduci.
18-year old LHP Brian Smith (Cubs 2010 40th round draft pick - Canadian Junior National Team) got the start for the Cubs today, and worked three innings (59 pitches - 40 strikes). He allowed two first-inning runs with one out on a single, a double, and a triple by Bostick, Rojas, and Stafford (respectively), but left Stafford stranded at 3rd and threw shutout ball in the 2nd and 3rd. Overall Smith allowed two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out five (all swinging). He threw a lot of pitches (59) in his three innings, but he also got a couple of big strikeouts when he needed them.
In 12 games (10 GS) in what is definitely a hitter's league, Smith is 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP, with 19/37 BB/K and only one HR allowed in 39.1 IP.
After having a 16-game hitting streak stopped last Thursday, Marco Hernandez has started another one, this time five games and counting (and 21 out of 22). Hernandez smacked an RBI double (near HR) down the RF line and off the fence in the bottom of the 3rd today (although he was thrown-out trying to stretch the double into a triple), and is now 9-22 over his last five games. Overall he is hitting 354/392/516, and is tied for second in the AZL in doubles, is 3rd in RBI, 6th in runs scored, 7th in batting average (teammate Gioskar Amaya is 6th), and is tied for 8th in the league in triples.
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.