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.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.
I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.