Giant Gaffe and Cub Smoke Combine to Produce Opening Night Victory
Four AZL Cubs pitchers combined to throw a six-hitter with 16 strikeouts, and the Cubs took advantage of a gaffe by the AZL Giants manager to push across two runs in the bottom of the seventh, en route to a 3-1 Arizona League Opening Night victory at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
There is a 35-man roster limit in the AZL, but only 30 of the players (of which at least ten must be pitchers) can be designated as "active" for each game. However, AZL Giants manager Derin McMains apparently failed to list one of his pitchers as "active" before tonight's game, and then he called that pitcher into the game.
RHP Jake Shadle entered the contest in the bottom of the 7th entrusted to protect a 1-0 Giant lead, but after he completed his warm-up pitches, home plate umpire Reid Gibbs called McMains out onto the field and told him that Shadle was not listed on the official Giants game roster submitted by McMains prior to the game, and so Shadle could not pitch in the game. As a result, LHP Randall Zeigler (who had been sitting quietly in the bullpen) was brought into the game "cold" (albeit only figuratively, since it was 109 degrees on the field), but because Shadle did not leave with an injury, Zeigler was permitted only eight warm-up tosses. And it showed
Zeigler labored through his 2/3 of an inning of work, allowing two runs (both unearned) on two hits and a walk, but he really gave up the ship (and was immediately pulled from the game) because he failed to cover 1st base on a two-out bases-loaded grounder down the 1st base line by Trevor Gretzky, where 1st baseman Leonardo Fuentes bobbled the ball and then did not have enough time to beat Gretzky to the bag after he recovered (although Gretzky would have been out if Zeigler had covered the bag and had been available to receive the throw from Fuentes).
The four Cub pitchers who worked in the game were really sharp tonight, although three of them (Zach Cates, Zac Rosscup, and Shane Lindsey) were rehab guys from higher classifications. Rosscup (biceps tendinitis) was especially impressive, striking out four in 1.2 IP (19 pitches - 16 strikes) with 94 MPH gas. I've never seen Rosscup throw that hard before (he usually sits 89-91), but he was unhittable tonight. (Rosscup was one of the "other" players acquired by the Cubs from Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza deal). Rosscup was at Extended Spring Training, but had only thrown in "sim" games prior to tonight.
6'5 RHP David Henrie (2011 NDFA - Trinidad State JC) made his "official" pro debut tonight and threw three shutout innings (7-8-9) for the victory, although to say it was the big right-hander's pro debut is only technically true, because he saw action in 12 games (21.2 IP) combined between AZ Instructs last fall and Extended Spring Training earlier this season.
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.