Redbirds Put Cork in I-Cubs' Party Plans
What a strange day at the ballpark. I arrived about 11:30 A.M. in time to see the Iowa Cubs' GM unloading champagne out of the back of his SUV. Special shampoo for the clubhouse showers. I had to leave five hours later for a wedding reception with the potential pennant-clincher still unresolved after 10 innings. Turns out I'd only seen two thirds of the game.
On my way into the ballpark a team official in a championship frame of mind mentioned to me that 18 of the players had been to the clubhouse chapel service that morning. It wasn't clear if he thought that somehow boded well for the game ahead. I asked him if Jeff Samardzija, the appointed starting pitcher, had been there. No, apparently he has neither a prayer nor a clue. What would Touchdown Jesus think?
I watched him closely while he warmed up, something I've not done before so who knows if this time was different than others. But his body language didn't seem to fit the occasion. Granted, pitching for a division title in the PCL pales compared to shaking down the thunder in South Bend, but still. He never worked his way up to throwing hard. A good portion of his pitches were thrown from the stretch. He even took a break for several minutes in the middle before he started throwing from a full windup. He appeared almost indifferent. Then the bell rang and he came undone, as if he were suddenly nervous about what was at stake.
The first pitch of the game was an out. The second batter homered. The third lined a single to left and the fourth blooped one there. The fifth scorched a two-run double down the line whereupon Iowa's false starter uncorked a wild pitch and Memphis had a stunningly quick 4-0 lead. In five or so minutes the Redbirds got as many hits as they would manage in the next few hours. Let's see; on the heels of a five inning, 11 run start earlier in the week in Albuquerque, Samardzija had now been bludgeoned for 15 runs in six innings of work during his team's drive to the finish line.
The unexpected start got even stranger in the bottom of the 1st after Jim Adduci led off with a walk. The wind was blowing briskly toward left but not enough to get Adduci to second safely on his attempted steal. His manager hustled right over to disagree with the umpire's assessment of the situation, but things seemed to quickly defuse and everyone returned to their posts. But Triple A has three man umpiring crews and the managers man the 3rd base coaching box when their team hits. These facts combined to put Sandberg and his new friend in close proximity; too close. After Marquez Smith struck out on the game's next pitch, the two resumed their conversation about Adduci's arrest and the newly crowned manager of the year was excused from further participation. He was accorded a kind of nervous and tepid ovation as he made his way down the leftfield line to the doorway in the wall that leads to the clubhouse.
After his teammates cut their deficit in half thanks to the generosity of Oneli Perez's ill-advised walks and Matt Camp's bases loaded double, Samardzija re-dug their hole even deeper by giving up three more runs in the 3rd. Full disclosure dictates that it be noted his last three innings of work were scoreless ones enabling the I-Cubs to eventually catch up.
Jason Dubois had run-scoring singles in the 3rd and 5th. Bryan LaHair cracked a two-run homer, his 25th, and Brad Snyder's single scored Adduci, who'd stolen 2nd, to finally tie the game in the bottom of the 6th. It was in the midst of this sequence that Memphis skipper Chris Maloney was also tossed by the other base ump for arguing an appeal of a checked swing by Smith. Whereas Sandberg looks like he's still in playing trim, Maloney waddles about as though afflicted with George Brett's disease.
With no managers involved the game settled into a bullpen stalemate until Memphis broke through against Jeff Gray in the 15th. By then Iowa had been reduced to using two pitchers, Mitch Atkins and Jay Jackson, as pinch hitters in the extra innings. Jackson will start today and try to clean up Samradzija's mess. By late afternoon that champagne should be well-iced and ready for popping. Hopefully it won't have to be re-gifted to the Memphis clubhouse.
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.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.
I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.
Been quite the roller-coaster the past two days -- both games, plus the Chapman kerfuffel. How about a couple of nice, comfortable wins before facing Sale? Cubs should definitely wear throwbacks for that game.
The Cubs are stronger defensively than most of the teams they play. In order to capitalize on that, they have to a) put the ball in play and b) run the bases aggressively.
That said, Cabrera has a strong, accurate arm, as witnessed by his 97 outfield assists over 12 seasons--mostly left field but also a lot of center. Bryant is rarely thrown out, but I guess you have to know who's throwing the ball.
On the other hand, Pries won his first start for Iowa, only giving up two HRs in the process. This trade has got some legs yet!