Javier Baez Leaves Team Japan Lost In Translation
Javier Baez homered in consecutive at bats, crushing a solo home run in the 7th and a walk-off two-run bomb in the 9th, helping to rally the Cubs to a 7-5 victory over Team Japan this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
Team Japan is in Phoenix preparing for the World Baseball Classic Championship Round that will be played in San Francisco next week.
The Cubs scored first, plating three runs in the bottom of the 1st inning against Team Japan lefty junkballer Tetsuya Utsumi.
Javier Baez worked a one-out walk on a 3-2 pitch, and advanced to third base on a Welington Castillo ground-rule (book rule) double that bounced off the right-centerfield warning track and over the fence. Alfonso Soriano lofted a sacrifice fly to right-center to score Baez, and Dave Sappelt drove-in Castillo with a rocket two-out double down the line and into the LF corner. Josh Vitters then ripped an RBI line-drive single to center to score Sappelt.
But Team Japan came back against Cub starter LHP Travis Wood, scoring two runs in the top of the 2nd inning and three more in the 3rd.
Sho Nakata hammered a two-run HR over the LF fence with one out in the 2nd, and then after Kazuo Matsui reached base on a Javier Baez E-6 throwing error to open the 3rd, Shinnosuke Abe clubbed an RBI double into the left-center alley (Abe had two rope-doubles in the game), and Hayato Sakamoto followed with a monster two-run homer that hugged the LF foul line and landed in the parking lot.
Wood threw 4.2 IP (78 pitches - 53 strikes, 4/5 GO/FO), allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits (four singles, a double, and two HR), but he did throw strikes and did not issue any walks, and he struck out four (three swinging). He also picked a runner of 1st base.
Cory Wade relieved Wood and got four outs (the last out in the 5th and all three outs in 6th), doing it on just eight pitches (seven strikes). Wade has been ultra-efficient in his Cactus League outings, making it look ridiculously easy at times (F-8, K, 1B, 6-4-3 DP today).
Rafael Dolis followed Wade and threw a nine-pitch 1-2-3 7th (F-8, 6-3, 3-U), and Casey Coleman worked a scoreless 8th (allowing a one-out double).
While the Cub bullpen was throwing goose-eggs at Team Japan, the Cubs offense began to claw its way back from a 5-3 deficit.
Javier Baez hit his first home run (a solo moonshot bomb over the LF scoreboard and into the parking lot) off LHP Kenji Otanari with one out in the 7th. Then Dave Sappelt led off the bottom of the 8th with an infield single (his third hit of the game), and after Rubi Silva laid down a sacrifice bunt and Jorge Soler popped out, Dan Vogelbach lined an opposite-field two-out RBI single to left to score Sappelt from 2nd base with the tying run (terrible throw by the Team Japan LF, which allowed Vogelbach to take 2nd base). Alberto Gonzalez followed the Vogelbach RBI hit with an opposite-field line-drive single to right, but Vogelbach was thrown out 9-2 trying to score the go-ahead run from 2nd.
RHP Jensen Lewis entered the game for the Cubs in the top of the 9th, and Team Japan parlayed a couple of singles to put runners at 1st & 3rd with only one out. But Jensen induced two ground outs (the first one a FC where the potential go-ahead run was thrown out at the plate by third-baseman Christian Villanueva) to get out of the inning unscathed, although he did labor a bit (18 pitches - only 10 strikes).
With the score tied 5-5 and one out in the bottom of the 9th, Christian Villanueva smacked a double into the left-center gap off RHP Takeru Imamura, and that set-up Javier Baez to be the hero, as the youngster displayed his incredible bat speed by drilling a two-run line-drive walk-off HR over the left-centerfield fence to give the Cubs the hard-fought victory. (You know it's an unusually hard-hit line-drive HR when the hitter shakes hands with his 1st base coach AND the opposing team's third-baseman shakes the hitter's hand while he's circling the bases).
New Cubs RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa delivered the Cubs lineup to home plate prior to the game, and had a good time interacting with some of the Japanese players and coaches. There were lots & lots of photos taken of the scene (including Fujikawa posing with the Team Japan manager and the umpires) by the dozens of Japanese photographers at the game.
A musician dressed in traditional Japanese warrior garb serenaded the crowd on the third-base side of the field (where Team Japan's bench and most of the Japanese fans were located), beating a Tzusami drum and playing a Hayashi flute throughout the game (Team Japan's version of Ronnie Woo Woo). I think my headache is almost gone.
Arizona Phil 12 hours 12 min ago (view)
AAA leagues really need to play through the month of September, because with September rosters being limited to 28 instead of 40, players will need to be moved back & forth between MLB and AAA throughout the month of September instead of just through the month of August.
Mike Wellman 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
I get you, SW. Here in Des Moines, Cardinal fans flocked to I-Cub games when Memphis Redbirds were in town. That won't happen in '21 and even if it does in '22 & beyond it won't be as frequent as when they were in the same division. Not that I'll miss seeing Cardinal gear @ our ballpark...
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
Ervin claimed by Braves. So we lose a potential future (and also current) asset in exchange for one year of a very mediocre Jake Marisnick.
This team has no direction at the moment.
Sonicwind75 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
As a midwest kid now living in Texas, new scheduling is a bummer. Only get a chance to drive and see Cubs once every 3 years with interleague. Really looked forward to those games in Round Rock and the one season in San Antonio. I understand it makes more sense in the big picture, just selfishly disappointed.
Cubster 2 days 22 hours ago (view)
Barry Foote bobble day! Cool!
Mornington Crescent 3 days 31 min ago (view)
They also gave away Larry Craig bobblefoot dolls as a promotion.
crunch 3 days 16 hours ago (view)
alcantara passes through waivers and is assigned to AAA.
marisnick contract final, phllip ervin (OF) DFA'd
Hagsag 3 days 18 hours ago (view)
Yes they did.
crunch 3 days 19 hours ago (view)
welcome to the "big time" st paul saints...they built a nice park, the fans showed up, and they go from indies to AAA (with a bit of $ help from the twins for part ownership).
billy murray is a part owner of the group that owns the saints, btw.
Mike Wellman 3 days 20 hours ago (view)
Hagsag, the River Bandits made the cut tho, right?
Craig A. 3 days 21 hours ago (view)
Could have an option year remaining. Bleacher Nation walked it back, per the link above.
Hagsag 3 days 21 hours ago (view)
Living in the Quad Cities area, I look forward to hopefully coming to Des Moines to see the I Cubs a few times this summer.
CubbyBlue 3 days 22 hours ago (view)
CTSteve 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
It was time.
Hagsag 4 days 6 hours ago (view)
Love it Jackstraw.
Arizona Phil 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have signed OF Cameron Maybin to a 2021 minor league contract.
Because he was an Article XX-B MLB free-agent post-2020, he gets the automatic $100K retention bonus and June 1st player opt-out if he is not released or added to the MLB 40-man roster by MLB Opening Day.