Tennessee Puts On Another Hit Parade

Tennessee Puts On Another Hit Parade

Wednesday April 13, 2011
Posted: 11:10 p.m.
CUBSTennessee A
The Smokies used another big night at the plate, this time to offset a weak effort on the mound, to pound out 16 hits and out-slug visiting Montgomery, 12-10.

Brett Jackson three runs scored and an RBI, Marwin Gonzalez a homer and three RBIs and Matt Spencer a run scored and an RBI each had three hits. Blake Lalli, who had two hits and three runs scored, also had a homer and three RBIs. Tennessee continues to lead the Southern League in hitting, batting .360 through six as a group following Wednesday nights affair. Mobile was second at .302.

The Smokies needed another big offensive night. Starter Chris Rusin allowed six runs on nine hits in four innings while Marco Carillo gave up three runs on two hits and a pair of walks in his inning of work. Blake parker allowed a run in his two innings but earned his first victory of the season.
Daytona A
Clearwater knocked the Cubs from the ranks of the unbeaten Wednesday night, earning a 2-1 victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Joe Saverys RBI single in the eighth inning was the difference .

Nick Struck started for Daytona and had his second consecutive strong outing. He allowed a run on six hits in 5 23 innings. He fanned three and has a 1.63 ERA through two outings. Jordan Latham was tagged for the loss, allowing Saverys hit and three others in 1 23 innings.

Mike Brenly had a pair of hits for the Cubs while Logan Watkins drove in their run.
Peoria A
Austin Kirk did not enjoy the same success Wednesday night at Burlington that he did in his season-opening effort last week at OBrien Field. The Bees roughed up the former third-round pick, ran up his pitch count and chased him en route to an 8-7 victory.

Kirk 0-1, who allowed five first-inning runs three earned, gave up two homers and walked a pair before departing following a three-inning stint.

The Cubs eventually battled back, scoring in the top of the ninth to close to within 8-7. But it wasnt enough as a fine effort from Smaily Borges four hits, three runs scored went for naught. Fellow Cuban Rubio Silva had two hits and two RBIs, extending his hitting streak to a season-long seven games. Richard Jones missed his third straight game after being hit by a pitch in the right ankle on Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs allowed two stolen bases and they have not thrown out a base stealer in 12 attempts this season. Peoria has turned eight double plays in its last three games and lead the MWL with 11 turned.
Iowa AAA
The I-Cubs lost their third straight contest and for the fourth time in five games Wednesday night, this time dropping a 10-7 decision in Albuquerque.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx 0-1 got hit hard, allowing nine runs on nine hits three homers in four innings.
WHITE SOXKannapolis A
The Intimidators ran their winning streak to five games Wednesday night, downing Delmarva, 8-3, behind a strong effort from starter Ryan Buch.

Buch 1-1 fanned a career-high eight over six innings, during which he allowed two runs one earned. Addison Reed tossed two scoreless innings before Phil Negus closed things out.

Dan Black had a homer and two RBIs to pace the Intimidators. It was the first homer and RBIs of the season for the 2009 14th-round pick who has struggled thus far. He had three hits overall as did Brady Shoemaker.
Charlotte AAA
Jake Peavy made a rehab start for Charlotte Wednesday night and took the loss after an up and down outing in which Durham emerged with a 5-2 victory at Knights Field.

Peavy went six innings and allowed only two runs. But he scattered eight hits. Former Cub Brandon Guyer and Jose Lobaton each had three hits off Peavy while Russ Canzler launched a monstrous homer off the center-field scoreboard in the fifth inning to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead. Lucas Harrell then allowed three runs in three innings.

Jordan Danks had three hits and an RBI while Jim Gallagher had two hits, including a homer, and an RBI.
Winston-Salem A
The Dash split a doubleheader, taking the opener, 3-2, in 10 innings before dropping the nightcap, 3-2.

A trio of relievers tossed six shutout innings in the opener after starter Joe Serafin allowed two runs on two hits in four innings. One of the hits he allowed was a homer and he walked three. Orlando Santos struck out three over three shutout innings to pick up the victory before Taylor Thompson earned the save.

Daniel Wagners RBI single in the 10th proved to be the difference. Ian Gacs two-run homer in the sixth set the stage for Wagners 10th-inning heroics.

Terry Doyle 0-1 pitched a complete game in the nightcap, scattering eight hits and striking out two. The Dash managed just four hits in his support.
Birmingham AA
Dylan Axelrod tossed shutout ball in his first outing of the season but had no such effectiveness on Wednesday as Birmingham dropped a 6-2 decision to visiting Chattanooga.

Axelrod allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings before Kyle Cofield gave up two runs in 1 13 innings. Brandon Short had a double and an RBI.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

The new Cubs are out to write their own history

The new Cubs are out to write their own history

The Cubs felt so nervous just before a 7:09 first pitch on Saturday night that Javier Baez found the camera looking into the home dugout, waved with a big smile and started pumping his fist, hamming it up for the video board as Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” blasted through the Wrigley Field sound system.

The Cubs then ran out onto the field and systematically destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending this National League Championship Series in six games with a 5-0 win that featured almost no tension or suspense, obliterating for now the narrative around this franchise.

The old stadium still kept shaking, from Kris Bryant’s RBI single in the first inning to the clapping to Anthony Rizzo’s “Intoxicated” walk-up music to a standing ovation for Kyle Hendricks, who outpitched the supposed best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw.

“We don’t care about history,” Bryant said. “This is a completely different team, different people all around. It doesn’t matter. This is a new Chicago Cubs team. And we are certainly a very confident group.”

Sure, 1908 will hover over the entire World Series, which begins Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. But this is the new normal for Bryant, who within two years has won 200 games, four playoff rounds, a Rookie of the Year award and probably MVP hardware.

This team isn’t going away, either. With a chance to win the pennant for the first time since the Truman administration, the Cubs started two rookies who began this season at Triple-A Iowa – catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. – in a lineup that featured Bryant (24), Rizzo (27), Baez (23), Addison Russell (22) and Hendricks (26).

Contreras caught a shutout and posed for a moment at home plate watching his line-drive homer off Kershaw fly into the left-field bleachers in the fourth inning. Rizzo – who had looked overmatched earlier in the playoffs – became the first left-handed hitter to homer off Kershaw during this calendar year.

And when Rizzo tried to wave off Baez for the ball Josh Reddick popped up to the right side of the infield in the fifth inning, Baez cut right in front of Rizzo to catch it, continuing a long-running gag among the Cubs infielders.

“I don’t think they’re oblivious, because that’s sort of insulting in some ways,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “They know the history. I just don’t think they care. They think they’re a good team and they love to play. And we have some guys that definitely shine on the big stage.”

Baez – a September call-up last year who couldn’t get an everyday spot during the regular season – showed off his bat speed and unbelievable defensive instincts and emerged as the NLCS co-MVP along with big-game pitcher Jon Lester. Sold on the idea of all this young talent someday coming together, Lester joined a last-place team after the 2014 season, taking a leap of faith, even at $155 million.

“I don’t feel like there’s pressure at all in our clubhouse,” said Almora, the first player Theo Epstein’s front office drafted here in 2012. “There’s just hunger and excitement and desire to win.

“None of us were around in 1945…so we just got to write our own history.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

This is what the Cubs have been talking about since the New York Mets swept them out of last year’s NLCS, since the Ricketts family invested almost $290 million more in free agents, since unconventional manager Joe Maddon made “Embrace The Target” the theme of spring training.

Whatever your preconceived notions of the old Cubs are, know that this group has an amazing sense of balance. They are youthful and experienced. They play as a team and with individual flair. They have style and get dirty. They are analytical and sort of oblivious. They are loose and intense. And the ending hasn’t been written yet.

“We still got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “We’ll enjoy tonight – don’t get me wrong – we’ll have a celebration. We’ll have a good time. We’ll smile, we’ll hug each other, probably get drunk a little bit…but we got some work to do.”

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

John Hendricks sent a text message to his son at 11:24 a.m. on Saturday: “Good luck tonight!! Remember, great mechanics and preparation will prevail. Just let it go!!” It ended with three emoji: a smiley face with sunglasses, the thumbs-up sign and a flexed biceps.

The Cubs have bonded fathers and sons for generations, and Hendricks immediately understood what it meant for his boy when the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers minutes before the deadline on July 31, 2012, telling Kyle: “You win in this city, you will be a legend. There is no doubt about it. This is the greatest sports town in the United States.”

This is the intoxicating lure of the Cubs. It didn’t matter that Kyle had been an eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth College, and hadn’t yet finished his first full season in professional baseball, and would be joining an organization enduring a 101-loss season, the third of five straight fifth-place finishes.

Kyle’s low-key personality will never get him confused with an ’85 Bear, but he delivered a legendary performance in Game 6, outpitching Clayton Kershaw at the end of this National League Championship Series and leading the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

Five outs away from the pennant, a raucous crowd of 42,386 at Wrigley Field actually booed star manager Joe Maddon when he walked out to the mound to take the ball from Kyle and bring in closer Aroldis Chapman. Kyle, the silent assassin, did briefly raise his hand to acknowledge the standing ovation before descending the dugout steps. 

After a 5-0 win, Kyle stood in roughly the same spot with Nike goggles on his head and finally looked a little rattled, his body shivering and teeth chattering in the cold, his Cubs gear soaked from the champagne-and-beer celebration.

“It’s always been an uphill climb for me, honestly,” Kyle said. “But that really has nothing to do with getting guys out. My focus from Day 1 – even when I was young, high school, college, all the way up until now – all it’s been is trying to make good pitches. 

“And as we moved up, you just saw that good pitches get good hitters out.” 

At a time when the game is obsessed with velocity and showing off for the radar gun, Kyle knows how to pitch, putting the ball where he wants when he wants, avoiding the hot zones that lead to trouble, mixing his changeups, fastballs and curveball in an unpredictable way that takes advantage of the team’s intricate scouting system and keeps hitters completely off-balance.

“Kyle didn’t even give them any air or any hope,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.

Amid the celebration, scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod spotted Kyle’s dad and yelled at John: “You f------ called it!” John – who once worked in the Angels ticket office and as a golf pro in Southern California – had moved to Chicago two years ago to work for his good friend’s limo company and watch his son pitch at Wrigley Field. John had told McLeod that Kyle would one day help the Cubs win a championship.

“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen,” McLeod said. “Ever.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities] 

The media framed Kyle as The Other Pitcher, even though he won the ERA title this season, with all the pregame buzz surrounding Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. Except Kershaw gave up five runs and got knocked out after five innings, while Kyle only gave up two singles to the 23 batters he faced, finishing with six strikeouts against zero walks and looking like he had even more left in the tank at 88 pitches.

“It was incredible,” Ben Zobrist said. “That was the easiest postseason game we’ve had yet and it was the clincher to go to the World Series. 

“He’s just so good, so mature for his age. He just has a knack to put the ball where he needs to. He’s smart and he’s clutch. He deserves to win the Cy Young this year.”

Where Kershaw’s presence loomed over the entire playoffs, Kyle has always been underestimated, coming into this season as a fourth or fifth starter with something to prove, and even he didn’t see all this coming. But big-game pitchers can come in all shapes and sizes and don’t have to throw 97 mph. 

“He wants the ball,” John said. “Every big game – I don’t care if it was Little League or wherever – he wants the ball. Plain and simple, (he’ll) get the job done.”