|Posted by Tim Huwe on June 13, 2012 at 1:25 PM|
I've decided to review this game as if it were an opera in three acts. It works out better that way. No extended arias. No death scene for the tenor. Some memorable moments, though. I look forward to my next curtain-raising, even though the combatant I was cheering for lost. Since I'm talking music, I finally decided to add "Walking On Sunshine" to my IPod. Guilty pleasure track, but it was free. Walk-up music notes: Miguel Sano likes Calypso-style music, and Drew Leachman's is "Rocky Mountain Way". Old school.
Tonight was all about seeing Javy Baez play against Miguel Sano. The Chiefs, all but eliminated from first-half playoff contention a week ago, had run off seven straight. A sweep over Beloit, and second place would be up for grabs. I wasn't failiar with either starting pitcher coming in (Peoria's Michael Jensen or Beloit's Matthew Summers). What I was unaware of was the importance of the home plate ump on the flow of the game. With the exception of a couple of middle innings, Alex Tosi's strike zone was "your stirrups". Many hitters early and a few late either didn't believe they would be called out on strikes, or realized they wouldn't hit them anyway.
The Chiefs tended to have rather good contact. With an unfortunate combo of one-hoppers to infielders and liners to the outfield, the hit total of five easily could have doubled. Though the fourteen strikeouts hurt, the glovework was maddening. Lead-off hitter Zeke DeVoss, fresh off a SportsCenter highlight catch, one hopped one to first for the first tough out of the night. Two of the next three hitters struck out looking, sandwiched around an infield hit by Dustin Geiger.
Since this is a Cubs-centric blog, I will focus more on Michael Jensen than Summers, who was not terribly impressive. When someone looks at Jensen's line (4.2 IP 6 H 5R), they won't be impressed. While even the Cubs scouts behind me didn't have a speed gun going, I'd guess he was sitting low 90's. The velocity isn't exciting, but he has a decent repertoire, flashing a curve, slider, and occasional change-up. I have no problem with him having a rotation spot, as there is a there there. My main problem with Jensen is how he gets pre-occupied with runners on base.
A triple and a single in the second put Beloit in front 1-0 after 2, leading to the most interesting inning for me, the top of the third. If asked to guess which Chief would hit a triple, I would not have guessed Yaniel Cabezas, the Chiefs catcher. It was pounded down the first base line to score Yasiel Balaguert, who had reached on a strikeout/wild pitch. Long-time Snapper Wang-Wei Lin was less than effective digging the ball out of the corner, helping along the triple. Next up, Zeke DeVoss doubled down the right field line. Only, the base ump called it foul. Undeterred, ZeVo hit one the same place, only about eighteen inches 'more fair' to give the Chiefs the lead. He reached third when Lin misplayed the shot for an error. (Third year in the league, and Lin still can't make a routine play in RF. He also took a 'curious' route on a later flyball. The Twins ought to sign another rightfielder, methinks) Pin-Chieh Chen roped one to LF for a sac fly to extend the lead to 3-1.
After the opera's first act, Peoria led 3-1. (The background music turns decidedly more tense.)
Javy Baez led off the fourth showing off his amazing bat-speed. While it only resulted in a single to left, when this kid times up a pitch, the defender doesn't have much reaction time. With an out, Snappers SS Tyler Grimes started a nifty 6-4-3 DP. Baez tried to wipe out the second baseman, but the home squad turned two very well.
Aaaaaah, the fourth inning. After a leadoff walk, Lin hit a grounder to third. Dustin Geiger played it 'off to the side' instead of husting in front of it. The resulting whiff had runners at second and third. If Geiger had made the play, Lin probably would have legged it out, but there should have been one out/one on. Infielder Adam Petterson's swinging bunt went to Geiger, who tried to peg the runner out at plate. He shouldn't have bothered. He might have gotten the batter at first, but Geiger's late and errant throw tied the game, sending the batter to second. None out. Two in. No well-hit balls. A Tyler Grimes double to center gave Beloit a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Another infield hit (a squibber to third, with Geiger looking "You're kidding, right?") preceeded a strikeout and a sac fly. With two outs, the inning was extended as Javier Baez misplayed a routine grounder before Geiger executed a 5-4 force. Baez would also misplay routine grounders in the fifth and sixth. Nothing to worry about, though. He will eventually be good at easy grounders right at him.
The only other trip I will focus on is Baez' in the seventh. Again showing obscene bat speed, he almost pegged the pitcher with a single to center. If he gets elevation.....yikes. On first, there was a pitch in the dirt...I quickly glanced to see where Baez was, and he was 2/3 of the way to second. Either he was tryng to steal, or he has very quick reactions on pitches in the dirt. While a wild pitch was charged, I thought a SB was due. Getting a monstrous lead off of second, the catcher threw behind him. Baez went to third, and slid in safely, aided by a Sano bobble. A Balaguert grounder drove in Baez to conclude the scoring. The last seven Chiefs would strike out, but Baez almost legged out a pitch that one-hopped the catcher. It ended up 2 feet from the plate, and Baez was impressive home-to-first.
Other bits. Chiefs reliever Larry Suarez is big. He throws hard. I'm not sure if anything will come of him as far as going up the ladder, but is is, definitely, big. Felix Pena was the third and final Chiefs pitcher. He intrigues me. Not much deception, but he challenged all four hitters, retiring them all. Snappers closer Michael Tonkin is scary. His off-speed stuff looked like he was hittable in the eighth, but when he jumped it up to mid-90's in the ninth, he became unhittable. Also, Miguel Sano doesn't like off-speed stuff yet.
It was a fun night at the park with my dad. My final question, Why were there less than 1000 fans, especially with a bunch of Cubs fans in attendance to boost the numbers? Perhaps Rockford should re-enter affiliated ball. They draw more a RiverHawks games.
As usual, ask questions regardless the platform you read this.