Ben Carhart Wild Card Joker in the Mesa Deck

Ben Carhart muscled a walk-off RBI single to center with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to drive-in Garrett Schlecht from 3rd base with the winning run, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Giants 8-7 to clinch the AZL Wild Card berth tonight in Mesa, AZ.

box score

The Giants grabbed an early 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st, as Shane Houck took Cubs starter Paul Blackburn (Cubs 2012 Supplemental 1st round pick received for losing free-agent 1B Carlos Pena post-2011) deep with a three-run shot before Blackburn could record an out.

But the Cubs came back to tie the game in the bottom of 2nd.

David Bote singled and Trevor Gretzky walked to start the inning, and after Yasiel Balaguert plated one run with an opposite-field line-drive RBI single to RF (the first of two RBI singles for Balaguert tonight), hot-shot 18-year old Venezuelan SS Carlos Penalver came through with a two-out two-run bases-loaded RBI single to right to drive-in the tying runs.

The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 3rd, as Shawon Dunston Jr blasted a two-out bases-loaded three-run double to right to cap a four-run inning and put the Cubs up 7-3, but the Giants came back to tie the game with four runs of their own in the 5th, as Jonathan Jones and Gabriel Cornier ripped RBI singles off Cubs reliever Jasvir Rakkar.

Cubs RHP Ethan Elias then threw three clutch hitless innings in relief (with four strikeouts - all swinging) and Steve Perakslis followed with a 1-2-3 9th to keep the Giants at bay, giving the Cubs a chance to win the game in the final frame.

Garrett Schlecht led of the bottom of the 9th by doing what he does best (draw a walk), and advanced to 2nd base on an errant pick-off attempt by Giants reliever Scotty Walker. Shawon Dunston Jr laid down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Schlecht to 3rd base with just one out, but Carlos Penalver grounded out 6-3 with the infield drawn-in to keep Schlecht at 3rd. That's when Carhart came through with his big two-out hit, the one that put the Cubs into the 2012 AZL playoffs.

Tonight's game was important for the Cubs but absolutely critical for the Giants, because for the G-Men to get into the AZL playoffs as the Wild Card team, they had to win their last four games, and the Cubs needed to lose their last four. The Giants did have the advantage of playing the Cubs twice over their final four games (tonight in Mesa and Monday night in Scottsdale), but it was still a long-shot for the Giants to catch the Cubs before time ran out.

The Cubs still have an outside shot at winning the AZL East Division and finishing with the best record in the league, but to do that they would have to win all three of their remaining games, and the AZL Athletics would have to lose their final three. The Cubs do play the A's Sunday night in Phoenix, but beyond that they will have to beat the Giants on Monday and the Diamondbacks on Tuesday and hope for some assistance from the Giants and Diamondbacks (the A's opponents in their final two games on Tuesday and Wednesday).

To further complicate matters, there is a very remote possibility that the Athletics and Dodgers might have to play a rain-out make-up game on Thursday (delaying the start of the playoffs), but that's only if the Dodgers lose their next four games and the Indians win their last three.

Otherwise, the AZL playoffs are scheduled to begin this coming Thursday (and end on Friday!), with (as things stand right now) the Cubs playing the A's at Papago Park in Phoenix and the Rangers playing the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, and then the winners of those two games meeting in the AZL Championship Game the next day (Friday) at the home field of the last-surviving division winner with the best record. (The Wild Card team does not get a home game, which is unfortunate for the Cubs because they have the best home record in the AZL).


Paul Blackburn (who started tonight) is probably the likely Cubs starter in Thursday's semi-final playoff game versus the A's, and if the Cubs are able to get to the AZL Championship Game on Friday, Cubs 2012 2nd round draft pick RHP Duane Underwood could be the starter in that game.

BTW, minor league baseball is mainly about player development and individual performance, and so as a result it might seem sometimes as though winning isn't all that important. But winning does matter to the players. And there is nothing wrong with developing a winning team attitude that a player can take with him to the higher levels of the minor leagues and (hopefully) eventually to the big leagues.

So congratulations to the AZL Cubs.

Comments

rain delay...lame.

now they're showing Cheers..."we'll be back every 30 minutes to update" blah blah blah

I'd be more disappointed if they were showing Cubs games due to a Cheers rain delay.

Haven't lost a home game to rain yet this year, why start now?

vin scully to return in 2013 for another year behind the mic.

Jackson is 1/1 with a BB and no K's

AND

Volstad has a 2 hit shutout through 6ip.

To avoid the end of the world, can somebody add some Cubbery soon and handle this?

it would be volstad's 1st win since Sep 17, 2011.

Valiant effort crunch!!! :D

Jackson reminds me a lot of Aaron Rowand.

I think the Cubs just signed the pitching equivalent of Dorian Gray/Bart Simpson...
not sure if this is 3/44 since it's dated friday but...here is the Ben Bader article:

"MLB Approves Juan Carlos Paniagua’s Deal With Cubs"

Major League Baseball has approved Juan Carlos Paniagua's $1.5 million deal with the Cubs, one year after terminating his $1.1 million deal with the Yankees that he signed using the same age and the same name.

According to a source familiar with the situation, MLB ruled Paniagua's age undetermined, a decision that put the onus on the Cubs of whether to continue forward with the contract. Paniagua received his visa from the U.S. Consulate and made his first start for the Cubs yesterday in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he threw two scoreless innings of relief with one walk and one strikeout.

Paniagua, a 22-year-old Dominican righthander who signed with the Cubs last month, has had two previous pro contracts terminated despite using the same date of birth (April 4, 1990) to sign every time.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/play...

well...at least he didn't cost a roster spot.

top 9th rain delay when the cubs lead by 5 at home and no lighting spotted...

derryl cousins...you're a dick.

brb, throwing stuff at the TV.

5-0 Cubs as they score 3 in the 8th.
9th inning rain delay but basically game should be over since it's raining pretty hard.

Volstad WINS. Only Cubbery from the Heavens above can stop his losing streak from ending.

This is also a valiant effort! Tempting the fates! Can the Gods stop Volstad the great?

Rain delay theatre...Pappas 1972 No Hitter

Padres uniforms REALLY UGLY, mustard yellow.

Bill North slips going after a fly to CF and Billy Williams comes out of "nowhere" to catch the ball, losing his hat in the process.
Brickhouse classic call..."Oh Brother, whoooooo"!

Larry Stahl walks on a 3-2 bad call that set up a life long feud between Ump Froemming and Pappas. Pappas gets the no-no with Jerry Jestadt pops out to 2nd (Carmen Fanzone)

@CarrieMuskat: Jorge Soler 2-for-5, 2 RBIs, @D_Geiger 3-for-4, 3 RBIs in @peoriachiefs 10-3 win over Wisconsin.

Mult tweets... Game called. Volstad wins!

Now back to the quest for the 2nd draft pick.

Crazy Crazy play in Marlins Dodgers game. It made sense once they sorted it out - but just when you think you've seen everything: check out "Marlins Awarded an Out" on MLB.com etc.

So Volstad gets a win and Jackson played a game without a K at the plate! Pretty awesome. The combined odds of that happening had to be astronomical.

I haven't had a chance to see the last 4 or so games but looking at the box score it seems that Jackson has been getting a bit more of a feel at the plate. And I've seen his name at least a couple times on my MLB At Bat video clips on outfield plays. The only couple times I've seen him in person he seems to have something but I can't tell if it's my innate desire to see a Cubs prospect succeed or if he just looks like a player to me, despite the massive strikeout ratio. I don't get that feeling with Vitters so much.

Also: I know these things are highly subjective. But I absolutely cannot listen to the home run calls of:

Hawk Harrelson (Sox)
The 'Big Fly" guy who calls the Angels
The Miami Marlins guy who sounds like a video game announcer

All three make me want to punch a wall just hearing their voices: so contrived.

I can't listen to Hawk Harrelson call anything.

I can't listen to Hawk Harrelson call anything.
---
there was another incident in the WSux game today when one of the Sux hitters (couldn't tell because they didn't have names on the throwback red uniforms) got called out on a close pitch and walked away, flipped his bat/helmet and then got confronted by the 1st base ump who seemed to provoke the player before a coach interceded. This was a day after Pierzinski got tossed for a ball-strike call on saturday leading to Ventura also getting tossed in the 3rd inning or so.

anyway, Stone was doing all the anti-ump commentary. Hawk just said I've got to bite my lip.

Somewhat enjoyable to see he feels the muzzle put on him by the commish.

I can't stand his play by play. The first time I heard him say "can of corn" I nearly through a bottle at the TV.

You can put in on the board.....yes!

No.

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  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 18 min 46 sec ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 19 min 24 sec ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 25 min 51 sec ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 29 min 23 sec ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 32 min 59 sec ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 41 min 55 sec ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 43 min 47 sec ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 49 min 33 sec ago view
  • QuietMan 57 min 31 sec ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 1 hour 16 min ago view
  • O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.

    The E-Man 1 hour 55 min ago view
  • Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 39 min ago view
  • I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 50 min ago view
  • You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.

    To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 51 min ago view
  • So, playing .500 for the rest of the year puts them at 91 wins. You would think there is enough talent to do a little better than that, right?

    The E-Man 3 hours 10 min ago view
  • First team to 60 wins! Onward to 70, 80, 90 and 100!

    billybucks 11 hours 40 min ago view