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.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "thet 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.