Round and Round Goes Rizzo
Coming into tonight's action Anthony Rizzo trailed Omaha's Will Myers (Double A and Triple A combined) by eight for the top spot in all of minor league baseball in total bases. So he homered twice and doubled to briefly wrest the lead away before Myers homered off of Jeff Beliveau to break a 7-7 tie in the top of the 9th and give the Storm Chasers a hard fought win in a series opener at Principal Park.
The I-Cubs climbed out of two four-run holes dug for them by punching bag Jay Jackson who faced 24 batters and threw 88 pitches in his three+ innings of hard labor.
By the way, all of Rizzo's demolition was inflicted upon left-handed pitching. The discrepancy that marked his splits early in the year has narrowed considerably. He's now hitting well above .300 against southpaws too.
Geo Soto caught half of the game to ease into his rehab stint. He went hitless but was nicked by a pitch in one at-bat and also reached on an error ahead of Rizzo's 22nd homer in the 5th. Rizzo has homered four times in two days. His double came on a 3-0 pitch. In between roundtrippers he struck out swinging on an off-speed pitch in the 3rd. His second homer came on that same pitch after he took a fastball inside.
Ty'Relle Harris tossed three+ frames of hitless relief while Iowa fought back to tie the score.
Josh Vitters had two hits and started an inning-ending 5-4-3 with a diving stop that was the most sparkling defensive play I've seen him make. Having said that, I'll eat my notepad if he ever amounts to anything at the big league level. He just ain't got the look.
Brett Jackson played left to Dave Sappelt's center tonight and was allowed to stay in the two hole despite the lefty starter. He managed a bunt single in five trips and fanned twice more.
Poor (Jay) Jackson. Inasmuch as the game was versus an AL affiliate he didn't even get to bat, something he probably enjoys more than pitching these days and is probably better at.
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
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.