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.
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.