A VogelBomb, a VogelTrip, and Two VogelSongs Rx for Cub Victory at HoHoKam
Dan Vogelbach homered, tripled, and singled twice, drove-in three runs, and scored two more, leading the AZL Cubs to a come-from-behind 9-7 victory over the AZL Athletics in Arizona League action this evening at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
After hitting just 189/306/379 in 26 Extended Spring Training games (111 PA), Vogelbach has been on fire in AZL play, ripping a league-leading seven doubles and hitting a robust 471/514/824 through his first eight AZL games.
Although he has been an AZL "double machine"so far, Vogelbach had not hit a HR going into tonight's game. But he made up for it by blasting a 420+ foot HR to the right of the light-standard in right-centerfield in the bottom of the 5th.
And watching Vogelbach tear around the bases on his opposite-field RBI triple smoked into the left-centerfield gap in the bottom of the 6th reminded me of a man carrying a briefcase and an umbrella trying to catch a bus that's pulling away from the stop.
Vogelbach was really messed-up for most of Extended Spring Training (both at the plate and in the field--he committed a whopping ten errors at 1st base), and that's why he was left behind in Mesa, (Extended Spring Training is approximately equivalent to Boise, while the AZL is considered to be the next click below). And Vogelbach's frustration was clearly evident as EXST was coming to a close, too, as he was slamming his bat into the ground harder & harder with each out (and doing a fairly decent impression of somebody with Tourette's Syndrome) as he probably realized he wasn't going to Boise.
But he finally began to show some life in the intrasquad games played at Fitch Park between the close of Extended Spring Training and the start of the AZL, and it has carried over into league play. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now, and opposing teams are pitching him very carefully (albeit to no avail). This is the Dan Vogelbach I saw at Fitch Park last year.
INF Tim Saunders (Cubs 2012 32nd round draft pick out of NCAA D-III champion Marietta College) pumped out two more hits in tonight's game, and is now hitting a league-leading .483. (Vogelbach is 2nd in the AZL in BA, and Trey Martin-moved up to Boise last week--is 5th).
Both Vogelbach and Saunders will probably get moved up to Boise sooner rather than later (Saunders might even score a ticket to Peoria), with Vogelbach and Rock Shoulders likely alternating between DH and 1B in Boise once Vogelbach gets there.
Although the Cub offense produced nine runs on 13 hits and six walks, none of the AZL Cubs pitchers who threw in the game tonight showed much.
RHP Ethan Elias got the start and allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in three innings of work, RHP Ryan Hartman had trouble throwing strikes (again), and when he did get the ball over the plate he got hammered (including back-to-back-to-back doubles at one point), and LHP Nathan Dorris (Cubs 2012 17th round draft pick out of Southern Illinois) had command issues (26 pitches - only 11 strikes) and was pulled after throwing just one inning.
2012 21st round pick RHP Steve "Percolator" Perakslis (U. of Maine) also struggled with his control in the 7th and 8th innings, walking two batters before getting himself together just in time to strike out the last two men he faced on six pitches.
And while closer Alvido Jimenez did get the save, it was only after he hit the first batter he faced (on an 0-2 pitch), followed by a 1st degree brain fart.
Up by three runs in the top of the 9th, Jimenez decided to try and pick the A's runner off 1st base, except 1st baseman Dan Vogelbach was playing well behind the runner and about eight steps off the bag, resulting in a two-base error as the ball sailed past the baserunner and 1st base coach and into the 1st base box seats. What makes the play especially stupid is that after Jimenez hit the batter, the Cubs bench, catcher Carlos Escobar, and 1st baseman Vogelbach all yelled at Jimenez (with Vogelbach crossing his arms for emphasis) to let him know that Vogelbach would not be holding the runner. But Jimenez threw to 1st anyway.
Recently-signed 20-year old Cuban mega-defector Jorge Soler ($30M nine-year contract) is taking BP with the AZL Cubs, but he isn't quite ready for game action yet.
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.
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.