Cubs Roll a Big Five in 8th to Edge D-backs at Fitch
Javier Baez, Dan Vogelbach, and Rock Shoulders hammered back-to-back-to back doubles and Gioskar Amaya ripped an RBI single to cut the deficit to one, and then Gregori Gonzalez slammed an RBI triple to tie the score and scored the go-ahead run (eventual winning run) on a suicide squeeze play (pitcher threw a ball in the dirt and past the catcher), as the AZL Cubs rallied for five runs in the bottom of the 8th to edge the AZL Diamondbacks 5-4 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.
This was the final 2011 game for the AZL Cubs, who were eliminated from contention for the AZL Wild Card last Thursday.
Recently-signed 2011 draft-picks RHPs Michael Jensen and Tayler Scott made their second appearances in four days, and both looked sharp, each throwing two innings of one-hit shutout ball (although Jensen's one hit allowed was a two-out broken-bat single, while Scott allowed a booming one-out triple but the runner was left-stranded), with a combined 9/0 GO/FO between the two pitchers. Jensen threw 23 pitches (17 strikes) with a 4/0 GO/FO and two strikeouts (both swinging) in his 2.0 IP, while Scott threw 21 pitches (15 strikes) with a 5/0 GO/FO and one K (looking).
Jensen (who broke about three or four D'backs bats in his two innings of work) throws a fastball that tops out at 94 MPH and a hard slider, and reminds me a lot of Daytona RHRP and 2010 10th round pick Aaron Kurcz, and Scott throws an 89-91 MPH fastball and a slow curve.
Cubs #1 draft pick Javier Baez got the start at SS and batted 2nd in the order today.
He doubled off the top of the LF fence and then stole 3B in the bottom of the 1st, flied out to the warning track in CF in his 2nd AB in the 3rd, flied out to the warning track in LF in the bottom of the 5th, and then doubled off the top of the right-centerfield fence in his 4th PA leading off the five-run 8th. No question the kid has big-time power.
But Baez wasn't quite as impressive in the field, committing three careless errors at SS that resulted in three unearned runs scoring. While he made one nifty "no-look" back-handed stop & throw worthy of the Harlem Globetrotters in the top of the 2nd, and started a key 6-4-3 DP to help protect the Cubs one-run lead in the top of the 9th, he also bobbled two easy bouncers (one in the 6th and another in the 8th) allowing batters to reach base (both eventually scored), and then on one of the fielding errors he blew his cool, launching a totally unnecessary throw over the 1st baseman's head (the batter had already crossed 1st base) allowing the batter-runner to advance to 2nd base.
The 18-year old Baez is kind of cocky and a bit of a "hot dog" (like holding the ball an extra beat and then firing a rocket to 1st base, or trying to turn a routine play into an ESPN Sports Center highlight), and he is a bit chippy with the umpires, too. He does run OK and he is an aggressive base-runner, and while he looks like he enjoys playing SS, he probably does not have the range to stay there. He could eventually end up at 3B, or maybe even a corner OF spot (he appears to have the arm strength needed to play RF). However, the Cubs will probably leave him at SS for a while to help ease his adjustment to pro ball, since he obviously feels comfortable playing the position.
Cubs 2011 2nd round pick Dan Vogelbach played 1B and batted 3rd today, and handled himself well around the bag at 1st base. He also (once again) took an outside fastball and hammered it to the opposite field (into the LF corner) for an RBI double, driving in Baez for the Cubs 1st run in the bottom of the 8th.
DH Rock Shoulders--who struck out in each of his first three AB, looking totally lost trying to hit breaking balls and off-speed pitches--then put a hurt on a first-pitch fastball, pulling it down the RF line for a double to score Vogelbach from 2nd base.
2B Gioskar Amaya followed, lining a single to drive-in Shoulders from 2nd (the hot-hitting Amaya had two singles and a double today, as he went 17-32 over his final eight AZL games), before AZL Cubs supersub Gregori Gonzalez sliced a triple over the right-fielder's head to knock-in Amaya with the tying run.
And then with Carlos Romero squaring for a suicide squeeze bunt, G. Gonzalez scored the go-ahead run (what was the eventual winning run) on (technically) a steal of home, when the Diamondbacks pitcher threw the ball into the dirt and past the catcher.
Cubs 2011 18th round draft pick RHP James Pugliese pitched the 8th inning and struggled to throw strikes (20 pitches - only nine strikes), and despite allowing two walks and an unearned run, picked-up the win, and RHP Rafael Diplan threw a shutout 9th for the save (as the Diamondbacks left the potential tying run stranded at 3rd base).
BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
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.