Cubs Keep Heat on the A's in Arizona
Carlos Penalver and Shawon Dunston smacked back-to-back two-out doubles and Ben Carhart followed with an RBI single to plate the first two runs in the top of the 5th, and Jeffrey Baez poked an opposite-field RBI single to drive-in the final run in the 8th, leading the AZL Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the AZL Athletics in Arizona League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field" ) in Phoenix this evening.
The Cubs clinched the AZL Wild Card slot with their victory over the Giants last night, but with tonight's win, the Cubs closed to within one game of the AZL East Division leading A's (albeit two back in the "loss column"), and they still have a chance to win the East Division and finish with the league's best record (insuring "home field advantage" in the AZL Playoffs).
Home Field Advantage is especially important to the AZL Cubs, because they have the league's best home record in 2012.
Both the Cubs and the A's have only two games left, and so the Cubs need to win both of their games and hope that the A's lose both of their games.
Tonight's game was scoreless until two outs in the top of the 5th. Carlos Penalver lined a rope-double into the LF corner, and then Shawon Dunston Jr smoked an RBI double into the RF corner to score Penalver. Ben Carhart followed with a line-drive RBI single over a leaping A's shortstop to plate Dunston with the second run of the game (and the inning).
The A's narrowed the score to 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the 5th, but the Cubs took advantage of a throwing error by the A's catcher to score two unearned runs in the top of the 6th.
With two outs and Cub runners at 2nd & 3rd, Danny Lockhart swung & missed at a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Lockhart then took off for 1st base, requiring the catcher to throw him out. But the throw overshot the 1st baseman by a mile and rolled into the RF corner, allowing both runners to score easily and Lockhart to advance all the way to 3rd base (standing up).
The Cubs scored their 5th and final run in the 8th.
Yasiel Balaguert reached base on a throwing error by the A's shortstop, advanced to 2nd base on a ground out, and then stole 3rd base. Jeffrey Baez (called up from DSL Cubs #1 last weekend) then shot a ground single past the 1st baseman and into RF, scoring Balaguert.
Cubs 2012 2nd round draft pick Duane Underwood (Pope HS - Marietta, GA) got the start for the Cubs, and the 18-year old RHP labored through 2.1 IP (47 pitches - 26 strikes, including a 25-pitch 2nd inning), allowing two hits (a single and a double) and two walks, plus a HBP.
Underwood was relieved by 22-year old Dominican Hombre Misterio Juan Carlos Paniagua with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 3rd, and the recently-signed right-hander promptly struck out the next two batters (both swinging) to escape the jam. Paniagua also worked a 1-2-3 4th and recorded another punch-out, retiring all five men he faced (20 pitches - 12 strikes). He absolutely tied the young A's hitters in knots.
Paniagua has nasty stuff, including a 94-97 MPH heater, a plus-change, and a hard-breaking slider. He was known as "Juan Callado" back when he signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, and although he spent two seasons pitching for the DSL Diamondbacks (2009-10), his contract was never officially approved by MLB (the contract was "pending" the entire time) and was eventually voided due to "fraudulent documentation." (BTW, players are no longer permitted to play in the DSL with a contract "pending").
Callado was suspended by MLB for one year, and then signed with the New York Yankees in 2011 (this time as "Juan Carlos Paniagua") for $1.1M, but the contract was voided again because his age could not be documented.
The Cubs signed Paniagua last month ($1.5M bonus) after they were satisfied that all of his papers were in order, and Paniagua received a work visa from the US INS almost immediately. His contract was approved by MLB about ten days ago.
Paniagua is not a big guy (6'1 175), but he has a "live" arm. He also is athletic and fairly polished (after all, he has been pitching professionally off-and-on since 2009), and so he could move quickly through the pipeline, especially in a Cubs system devoid of legitimate MLB-caliber starting pitcher prospects.
Because his prior contracts were never approved by MLB, Paniagua was designated by MLB as a "First Year Player" when he signed with the Cubs in July, meaning his $1.5M bonus will count against the Cubs 2012-13 International Signing Bonus Pool. On the other hand, because he was designated a "First-Year Player" by MLB he will not be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft until December 2015. (If Paniagua had not been designated a "First-Year Player" prior to signing with the Cubs, the contract signed with the Cubs would have been a so-called "second contract," and while the $1.5M bonus would not have counted against the Cubs 2012-13 International SBP, Paniagua would have been eligible for selection in the December 2012 Rule 5 Draft, and thus the Cubs probably would have felt the need to add him to the their 40-man roster immediately to protect their investment).
Most of the AZL Cubs have nicknames associated with the player's last name (Carlos Penalver is "Penny," Danny Lockhart is "Lock," Steve Perakslis is "Percolator," et al), but everybody calls Juan Carlos Paniagua "Juan," probably because nobody really knows for sure whether his last name actually is Paniagua.
Hagsag 12 hours 8 min ago (view)
Chase Strumpf and Andy Weber invited to the ML camp.
Dolorous Jon Lester 17 hours 32 min ago (view)
Ryan Tepera returns. Major League deal
crunch 1 day 15 hours ago (view)
spring training TV is usually fluid...adding and subtracting broadcast games...
first cubs TV (as of now) is March 3 (wednesday) on ESPN at 3pm EST.
radio broadcasts available for almost every game that's not televised. the cubs get going on monday and some other teams will start the day before.
crunch 2 days 12 hours ago (view)
dj snelton's left elbow is screwed up...6 weeks rest then re-evaluate.
looks like he's going to try to avoid having surgery.
Arizona Phil 3 days 4 hours 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 4 days 11 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 4 days 13 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 4 days 13 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 5 days 14 hours ago (view)
Barry Foote bobble day! Cool!
Mornington Crescent 5 days 16 hours ago (view)
They also gave away Larry Craig bobblefoot dolls as a promotion.
crunch 6 days 8 hours ago (view)
alcantara passes through waivers and is assigned to AAA.
marisnick contract final, phllip ervin (OF) DFA'd
Hagsag 6 days 10 hours ago (view)
Yes they did.
crunch 6 days 11 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 6 days 12 hours ago (view)
Hagsag, the River Bandits made the cut tho, right?
Craig A. 6 days 13 hours ago (view)
Could have an option year remaining. Bleacher Nation walked it back, per the link above.
Hagsag 6 days 13 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.