Sol-Era Begins with a Whimper at HoHoKam Park
Making his professional debut after signing a reported nine-year $30M contract with the Cubs, Cuban defector Jorge Soler went 0-3 as the DH, and the AZL Mariners pushed across a run in the top of the 12th to edge the AZL Cubs 4-3 in Arizona League action tonight at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
Soler hit a two-bouncer to the shortstop on a 2-1 pitch leading-off the bottom of the 2nd, a one-bouncer back to the pitcher on the first pitch he saw leading off the bottom of the 5th, and lined-out to the pitcher on a 3-2 pitch with no outs and a runner at 1st in the bottom of the 7th (the runner was doubled off 1st base for a DP) after taking a close 2-2 pitch just off the outside corner for ball three. Soler was removed for a PH in the bottom of the 9th. (He was pre-scheduled to get just three AB in the game and then be replaced).
There is (surprise) a mistake in tonight's "official" milb box score (see link above).
Cubs 2012 1st round Supplemental draft pick RHP Paul Blackburn (selected by the Cubs with 2012 Rule 4 Draft slot #56, the slot awarded to the Cubs when Article XX-B Type "B" FA Carlos Pena signed with TB last off-season) did indeed start the game for the AZL Cubs, but he pitched only one inning (20 pitches - 11 strikes), allowing one run on two hits (both doubles) and a walk. (The second double was a two-out RBI double that was actually a routine pop up that RF Yasiel Balaguert apparently lost in the twilight sky).
Then Cubs 2012 12th round pick RHP Justin Amlung (who is not presently listed in the box score) worked the 2nd & 3rd innings (22 pitches - 14 strikes), allowing a single and no runs, with one strikeout.
Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita was at the game tonight.
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.
Just with the chanting thing it worked to rattle Cueto last year where he dropped a ball and gave up a HR next pitch so you can't really hate on the fans for trying it again in this important of a game.
I felt the same way, too, but...
I was very disappointed with Pittsburgh fans. At Wrigley a few weeks ago, they were very obnoxious guests, the cockiness on Twitter, and what's the deal with chanting Arrieta's name during the game? Very bush league. Add that up with Rodriguez's poor sportsmanship and you quickly have a team that you don't mind beating 4-0 in a do or die game.
Absolutely-It was tense. And when the Pirates couldn't push any runs across, you could see the frustration boil over.