Vogel-Jack Bomb Not Quite Enough to Overcome Giant Attack
Cubs 2011 2nd round draft pick Dan Vogelbach crushed a tape-measure three-run HR over the RF fence to cap a five-run 4th, doubled and scored to key a five-run 8th, and reached base four times to lead the Cubs back from 8-2 and 14-7 deficits, only to see the AZL Giants score twice in the top of the 12th on two consecutive two-out balks and go on to defeat the Cubs 17-15 at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning, as the AZL Cubs were officially eliminated from contention in the AZL Wild Card standings.
Vogelbach (called "Fat Boy" by the Giants when they first saw him) showed his hitting skill throughout the game, as the opposing pitchers mostly tried to work him away. While he pulled (tomahawked) a high, hanging breaking ball out for the monster HR onto the roof of the batting cages in the 4th, he also hit opposite-field ropes in four other ABs when the Giants tried to stay away from his pull-power (line-drive single to LF in the 1st, L-7 line-drive out in the 3rd, hard-hit 6-3 ground out in the 6th, and a ground rule line-drive double that sliced into the LF corner before going out of play in the 8th). Vogelbach also displayed plenty of patience in his six plate appearances, showing that he is not afraid to go deep into counts and hit with two strikes (the lead-off walk in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied 15-15 was vintage Rickey Henderson).
It's hard to explain Vogelbach's baserunning, because he is certainly is not fast, but while Rock Shoulders (for instance) is bottom-heavy and runs like a 350-pound nose tackle, Vogelbach runs more like a pulling-guard. Again, he is not fast, but he runs hard, is light on his feet, and gets down the line OK. He is most-definitely faster than Shoulders.
In addition to Vogelbach's big day, Cubs 2011 9th round pick LF Garrett Schlecht (Waterloo HS - Waterloo, IL) reached base five time (four walks and a single) and scored three runs. The 18-year old lefty-swinging Schlecht has (at best) average speed, and is a below-average defender with an average arm, but he is a solid spray hitter with power potential, and (as evidenced by the four walks) is EXTREMELY patient and choosy at the plate. Three of his four walks today happened after he was initially down 0-2. Schlecht had signed an NLI with Middle Tennessee State before opting to turn pro and sign with the Cubs for a reported $235K (about equivalent to "4th round money").
Two pitchers recently drafted and signed by the Cubs made their pro debut today, with somewhat opposite results.
20-year old 26th round draft pick RHP Michael Jensen (Hartnell JC) had a rocking-chair easy nine-pitch 1-2-3 top of the 1st (F-7, K-swinging, and an F-9), while 19-year old 5th round pick RHP Tayler Scott (Notre Dame Prep - Scottsdale, AZ) allowed three runs on three hits (a single, a double, and a triple) and a walk, with one strikeout and a 1/3 GO/FO, in 1.2 IP (25 pitches - 14 strikes). Both pitchers threw nothing but fastballs, but Jensen's sat at 94, while Scott's was topping out at 91.
Jensen gave up a chance to pitch at USC when he signed with the Cubs for $225K ("4th round money") and appears like he could maybe be another one of those McNutt-Struck-Kurcz JUCO finds, while Scott is the South African baseball & soccer prodigy whose parents moved to the U. S. just so Tayler could work with pitching guru Tom House. Scott gave up a chance to both pitch AND play soccer at the University of Arizona when he signed with the Cubs ($279,950 bonus).
Kudos should go out to AZL Cubs closer Yilver "San-Cheese" Sanchez, who threw five innings and 70 pitches in relief after Tayler Scott, Hunter Ackerman and Felix Pena got pounded for 14 runs in innings 3-4-5-6. The Cubs have a rule where AZL Cubs pitchers are not permitted to throw more than five innings or 75 pitches (whichever comes first), so Sanchez milked the "five innings or 75 pitches rule" for all it was worth. The Cubs scored three in the 7th and five more in the 8th while Sanchez was in the game, but they just could not manage to push across the winning run before Sanchez had to depart. (The Cubs had runners on 2nd & 3rd with two outs in bottom of the 9th, and runners at 1st & 2nd with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, but the runners were left-stranded).
Two Cubs players had on-field tantrums that got them unceremoniously yanked out of the game.
18-year old Venezuelan hitting sensation Gioskar Amaya was pulled from the game by Manager Juan "Pee-Pee" Cabreja after smashing his bat to smithereens when he struck out (swinging) in the bottom of the 5th, and LHP (and losing pitcher) Luis Villalba was kicked out of the game by the home plate umpire after vehemently protesting the second consecutive balk called against him in the top of the 12th (which directly resulted in the Giants scoring what would be the eventual winning run and an "insurance" run). Fact is the Giants baserunners just absolutely screwed with Villalba's head with two outs and runners at 2nd & 3rd in the top of the 12th, causing him to make unnecessary movements while standing on the pitching rubber in response to two different baserunners faking a steal of home... TWICE IN A ROW...
A sad end to a very long (and very hot) day.
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.