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
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.