O Mio Amaya!
Gioskar Amaya drilled two home runs and an RBI single and collected four RBI, Jesse Hodges doubled twice, singled, and drove-in two runs, and Kelvin Freeman belted a two-run HR, leading the Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the Athletics in Arizona Instructional League action this afternoon at the Papago Park Baseball Facility Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix.
Amaya also reached base on an HBP, stole a base, and made three diving stops & throws at 2B that resulted in run-saving put-outs (two of the stops made while going to his right, and one made while going to his left).
19-year old RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (the top rated international prospect out of Taiwan this year who received a reported $1.625M bonus when he signed with the Cubs in August) made his professional game debut today, and it was painful. After allowing an unearned run on no hits in a languorous 28-pitch bottom of the 3rd inning (the run scoring thanks to two walks and an Erick Castillo PB), Tseng was struck on the lower left leg by a line-drive off the bat of A's 1st baseman Ryan Huck on his very first pitch in the bottom of the 4th. Tseng was obviously in a lot of pain (he didn't even try to retrieve the ball and throw Huck out after being struck, even though the ball landed just a couple of feet from the mound), and he had to be helped off the field.
Tseng has a herky-jerky delivery where he snaps his head up into the air just before releasing the ball, and in the process he loses sight of the catcher & batter and really isn't in a position to see the ball when it comes off the bat.
RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua threw a couple of innings and was cranking his fastball up to 97 MPH, easily retiring the first five men he faced. But then he walked a batter on a 3-2 pitch with two outs, before hanging a slider that Jaycob Brugman hooked over the RF fence for a two-run HR, followed by a Kyle Wheeler double off the top of the left-centerfield fence (near HR).
RHP Duane Underwood had an impressive outing, striking out the first three men he faced on 11 pitches and then retiring four more in a row before allowing a couple of singles (the run charged to Underwood was an inherited runner who scored after Underwood had left the game). The young right-hander had command of all of his pitches (fastball, curve, and change-up), such that he was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes (which has been a problem for him in the past). He also worked quickly and seemed to be pitching with a lot of confidence (he didn't waste any time between pitches).
Despite the nine runs and 11 hits, Cubs hitters collectively struck out 14 times today, but 13 of the 14 strikeouts were racked up by just four hitters: Kelvin Freeman four times (all swinging), and Trey Martin, Jeffrey Baez, and Rashad Crawford three times each (Martin and Baez all swinging strikeouts, while Crawford struck out looking each time).
Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only)
1. Gioskar Amaya, 2B: 3-4 (HR, 1B, K, HR, HBP, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB)
2. Trey Martin, LF: 1-5 (6-3, K, K, K, 2B, RBI)
3. Jeffrey Baez, RF: 1-4 (K, BB, 1B, K, K, R, SB)
4. Jesse Hodges, 3B: 3-5 (2B, 2B, 5-3, 1B, P-3, R, 2 RBI)
5. Kelvin Freeman, 1B: 1-5 (K, K, K, HR, K, R, 2 RBI)
6a. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-2 (6-3, BB, 1-3)
6b. Gleyber Torres, SS: 0-2 (3-U, 4-3)
7. Rashad Crawford, CF: 0-5 (F-8, K, 4-3, K, K)
8a. Erick Castillo, C: 0-3 (6-3, 4-3, 1-3)
8b. Wilfredo Petit, C: 1-1 (1B, R)
9. Jordan Hankins, DH: 1-3 (BB, 5-3, 2B, 4-3, 2 R)
1. Paul Blackburn: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 42 pitches (19 strikes)
2. Jen-Ho Tseng: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (17 strikes)
3. Juan Carlos Paniagua: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 2/2 GO/FO, 37 pitches (19 strikes)
4. Duane Underwood: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 1/4 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes)
5. Tyler Ihrig: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (18 strikes)
CUBS ERRORS: 1
3B Jesse Hodges - E-5 (dropped pop fly in foul territory)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
Erick Castillo: 2-4 CS, 1 PB
ATTENDANCE: 96 (including 80 students & instructors from MLB Scout School)
WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's
Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.
Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.
Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.
He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.
He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.
Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.
Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.
That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible
I was hearing some talk that John Mallee is trying to change Heyward's swing. Wonder if that is lending itself to the slow start.
at least it wasn't a "nobody showed up" stomping.
anytime you wanna jumpstart your season would be nice, heyward.
Now looming VERY large. Game tied.
That Braves TOOTBLAN trying to stretch a double into a triple is looming very large.
Phil, do you know if Victorino has an opt out date approaching? Thanks.
Maybe he can even fall asleep/passout at a red light. #cardinalway
hopefully he has enough time to pound 6-10 beers before the drive back home.
: / )
Yeah, there's that....
CTSteve -- have they decided to skip tomorrow's game...? (I keed)