Big 5-Run Cubs 6th Starts & Ends with Balaguert
Yasiel Balaguert laced a double into the left-centerfield alley and scored on a Ben Carhart single to get the inning started, and then ripped an opposite-field line-drive RBI single to right to drive-in Jacob Rogers with the final run of the frame, as the AZL Cubs sent 11 men to the plate and scored five times in the bottom of the 6th en route to an 8-2 victory over the AZL Royals in Arizona League action this evening at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
The 19-year old Balaguert was a teammate of recently signed Cubs OF Jorge Soler on the Cuban Junior National Team before defecting in 2011 and signing with the Cubs last December ($400K bonus), and while he is not the offensive force that is Soler, he does occasionally show some upside at the plate. However, he has a long swing and is kind of a lug on the bases and in the field (he's not in the best of shape), so I think there probably is some doubt in some circles about whether he will ever be anything more than a AA player.
20-year old 6'3 235 RHP Trey Lang (Cubs 2012 6th round draft pick by way of Mesa Skyline HS, Northern Illinois University, and Gateway CC) got the start for the Cubs and threw four shutout innings (50 pitches - 37 strikes, 6/1 GO/FO), allowing four hits (three singles and a double) and a walk with five strikeouts.
The husky ex-Huskie throws a mid-90's fastball and a hard slider when employed as a one-inning closer and profiles as a two-pitch late-inning reliever at the higher levels (he was a full-time slugging OF and part-time closer in HS and college), but it's not unusual for a Pitcher with Promise to be used as a starter early in his career in order to get as many innings as possible under his belt as soon as possible.
Cubs 26th round draft pick RHP Jasvir "Jazz" Rakkar (SUNY - Stony Brook) made his professional debut, throwing a scoreless top of the 5th. He allowed a lead-off single and a walk, but he also notched a strikeout. He labored a bit to throw strikes (16 pitches - 9 strikes), but then he hadn't pitched in a game since working in relief at the College World Series in Omaha more than six weeks ago.
A member of the National Honor Society in Secondary School and the America East All-Academic team in college, Rakkar's pro debut was delayed while he applied for a work visa (he is a Canadian, and had been in the U. S. on a student visa while attending Stony Brook).
While Lang and Rakkar were throwing goose eggs, Royals starter Miguel Almonte was doing likewise, as the teams were scoreless through the top of the 6th. But then the Cubs erupted for a five-spot, and never looked back.
Cubs 2012 1st round draft pick Albert Almora played CF and hit lead-off (he struck out swinging in his only AB), but he left the game after only two innings with an apparent leg injury.
Jorge Soler played LF, hit clean-up, and went 0-5 (struck out swinging, three ground outs, and a pop fly out), although he did collect an RBI on a FC in the 6th and later scored a run in that same inning.
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
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).