Breaking News: I-Cubs Get to Play!
Just by taking the field today the Iowa Cubs snapped their three-game skid at the hands of Mother Nature. Then they proceeded to hand Oklahoma City its first loss in a week by whipping the Redhawks 5-2 in the first game of a twinbill at Principal Park with a little help from rehabbing Kyuji Fujikawa.
A wind-breaking homer by Josh Vitters was the winning blow on a day that seemed balmy compared to the snow and rain that have plagued Des Moines since mid-week. In the top of the 2nd this contest was delayed by umpire attrition. The poor bastard behind the plate caught one in his sour spot and had to leave with a pair of badly fouled balls. By the time he got to his feet, received a wincing ovation and determined he wouldn't be able to do justice to called third strikes ten minutes had elapsed. Then it was another ten or fifteen before one of his two colleagues could dash to the dressing room under the outfield skyboxes and return girded for reassignment in the direct line of fire.
Fujikawa pitched the 6th and protected the lead he inherited by authoring a scoreless, hitless inning. He fanned two, one swinging; one not, and walked one. In the pressbox they opened the partition to a luxury suite to accommodate the small entourage of Japanese paparazzi assigned to chronicle Fuji's comeback. We'll see if they leave it open for Garza's noontime start tomorrow which I also plan to attend.
Speaking of authoring (and awkwardly contrived segues) I've got a new book releasing this week and the Kindle edition is already up @ Amazon. Versus the Demons is historical fiction with a jumping off point of the first nighttime ballgame ever played under permanent lights, an event that happened right here in Des Moines on May 2, 1930. It's the story of a journeyman bush leaguer. If you're curious here's a link:
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.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.