Vitters Cleans Up After Rizzo, Jackson
(Oh My) Josh Vitters doubled and singled today to nudge his batting average past .300 as the Iowa Cubs, tied with Delmarva of the South Atlantic League for the most one-run losses in MiLB, nipped Omaha for the third straight day at Principal Park. Adrian Cardenas, whose error permitted Omaha to tie the game in the 7th, delivered a walk-off single in the 9th to give the I-Cubs a 6-5 victory.
Brett Jackson sat for the fourth straight game with those pesky back spasms. But what about his bat spasms? Whenever he returns to the lineup he'll lug a 16 game whiff streak to the plate. Not since June 17th has Jackson started and not struck out at least once. Almost half of his hits are for extra bases (he's in double figures in all three of the non-single categories) but he's no Adam Dunn as a slugger, except for having fanned an astonishing 122 times already this year. Last week Jackson got a haircut and declared his intention to also trim his sweeping swing. We'll see if a curtailed swing curtails his futility as effectively as the aching back has in recent days.
Today was my first return to the scene of The Call-up and somebody named Diory Hernandez and his .179 BA were where The Rizzo used to be (sigh).
Randy Wells trudged to the mound and went through the motions to the tune of a 3-0 deficit after two innings before pitching a few relatively professional innings while his mates climbed back into the game. The winner in relief was recently promoted Alberto Cabrera who struck out four in two+ frames, running his total to 13 in nine innings of work across five appearances against nary a walk so far. He's promising at 6'4" with heat wave velocity. Cabrera earned a Southern League all-star nod before joining the I-Cubs.
Wellington Castillo threw out a base thief today after the Storm Chasers swiped five last night with Brian Esposito behind the plate. Iowa ranks last in the PCL in catching speeders.
Jay Jackson has pitched to the tune of a 1.67 ERA in 12 relief appearances. In nine starts he went 2-5 with a 9.23 ERA. Yes, he can hit, but maybe he's best-suited for supporting rather than leading roles; a bullpen/occasional pinch-hitter combo.
Finally, the hat trick of wins against the runaway division leaders notwithstanding, the only race in the second half of the season that's close around here is the local knock-off of the Milwaukee sausage derby. Today Hot Diggity Dog won. At the break it's Chippy 17, Koolee 16 and HDD now at 15.
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.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?