Zak Blair

Four Jacks Give Cubs Winning Hand at Riverview Park

Zak Blair (single, walk, 3-run HR, three runs scored), Kevin Brown (single, walk, solo HR, three runs scored), and Erick Castillo (three singles and a solo HR) slugged back-to-back-to-back home runs to cap a six-run 2nd inning, Varonex Cuevas clubbed a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored two runs, and Roney Alcala drilled a two-run double, as the Cubs decimated the Diamondbacks 15-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, AZ.  

Fernery Ozuna belted a solo HR, a triple, and a single, and Damion Smith slugged an RBI double, singled, walked, and stole two bases for the D'backs in a losing cause.

The Cubs came into game having homered only five times in their first 42 Cactus League EXST games (Tyler Alamo, Rashad Crawford, Erick Castillo, Jeffrey Baez, and Rony Rodriguez with one each), so hitting four dingers in one game was a bit of a surprise. (And Erick Castillo now leads the team in HR with two).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP Tyler Ihrig (Cubs 2013 23rd round draft pick - College of Marin) and 22-year old RHP Trevor Graham (Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick - Franklin Pierce University) have been promoted to Hi-A Daytona, replacing RHP Jose Rosario (assigned to Extended Spring Training) and RHP Zach Cates (placed on D-Cubs 7-day DL). Graham and Ihrig have been the two best starting pitchers so far at Extended Spring Training and the duo very likely would have been the Boise Hawks top two starters, too. Graham was scheduled to start today's game at Riverview Park and Ihrig was scheduled to start tomorrow, so the EXST Cubs pitching plans were thrown into disarray with the two promotions (although nobody is complaining).   

4/11 - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 40 pitches (25 strikes)  
4/16 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/23 - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 51 pitches (32 strikes) 
4/29 - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes) 
5/5   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 
5/10 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 53 pitches (39 strikes)  
5/16 - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO, 61 pitches (41 strikes)
TOTAL: 21.0 IP, 16 H, 8 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 26 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 22/13 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 OppBA

4/15 - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 7/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)  
4/21 - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 33 pitches (24 strikes)  
5/2   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 65 pitches (36 strikes)   
5/8   - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 2/6 GO/FO, 52 pitches (30 strikes) 
5/15 - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)
TOTAL: 17.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 15/12 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.59 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .226 OppBA   

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

More Errors at Salt River Fields Than Can Be Imagined in Your Philosophy

Emerson Jimenez (2012 NDFA - Dominican Republic - $275K bonus) stroked a two-run single and David Bergin and Miguel Dilone followed with RBI triples to highlight a four-run 3rd inning, Hamlet Marte belted an RBI triple in the 6th and doubled and scored in the 8th, Marcos Derkes collected three hits, stole a base, scored a run, and drove-in another, and Ryan Garvey blasted a two-run home run, leading the Rockies to a 9-6 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action thiis morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.  

Kevin Brown (a double and three walks) and Zak Blair (two singles and two walks) reached base four times a piece for the Cubs in a losing cause. (The Cubs left 11 men on base and had three runners thrown out on the bases).

The two teams combined to commit nine errors, including six by the Cubs and three by the Rockies.

Casper Wells (back spasms) continued his EXST rehab, serving as a DH and batting five times (once in each of the first five innings). He drew a two-out walk in the 1st inning, reached base on an HBP in the 2nd, lined out to 2nd base in the 3rd, ripped a two-run double down the LF line in the 4th and then later scored on a Ricardo Marcano RBI single, and struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 slider (from a LHP) in the 5th. 

In EXST roster news, OF Jorge Soler (hamstring) has completed his rehab assignment at Extended Spring Training and will be rejoining AA Tennessee. In seven EXST Cactus League games (34 Plate Appearances), Soler hit 179/265/214 with five hits (four singles and a double), one walk, three HBP, five strikeouts, two sacrifice flies, five RBI, and one stolen base. 

Also, RHP Michael Wagner has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spring Training. The 22-year old 6'4 200 Wagner was the Cubs 15th round pick in last June's MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of San Diego, where he was the USD closer, second-team All-American, and a teammate of Cubs mega-prospect Kris Bryant. 

4/14 - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/4 GO/FO, 24 pitches (15 strikes)
4/18 - 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 23 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/21 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 3/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (20 strikes)
4/29 - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 17 pitches (12 strikes)  
5/2   - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 1/1 GO/FO, 31 pitches (20 strikes)
TOTAL: 9.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 10 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 7/10 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.92 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .222 OppBA

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):

Alcala Helps Cubs Gain Split with Giants at Riverview

Roney Alcala singled, doubled, and tripled, drove-in two runs, and scored another, Gleyber Torres reached base three times on a triple, a single, and an HBP, and scored a run, Zak Blair ripped an RBI single and an RBI triple, and LHSP Jose Paulino tossed three innings of no run/no hit ball, leading the Cubs to a 9-6 victory over the Giants on Field #6, and Craig Massoni singled and scored in the 7th and clubbed a two-run home run in the 8th as the Giants rallied for four runs over the final three innings to beat the Cubs 4-2 on Field #5, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

RHP Zak Hermans threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball and Eloy Jimenez knocked-in both Cub runs (RBI double in the 1st and RBI single in the 6th) in a losing cause on Field #5. 

Recent comments

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  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.