We have a difficult choice to make, Cubs fans. Tonight, two games are scheduled to start about five minutes apart (weather permitting) and I suspect many of us will be watching one or the other. In Cincinnati the Chicago Cubs will send Edwin Jackson to the mound against the Reds. Meanwhile, in Chattanooga the Lookouts will send Clayton Kershaw to the mound against the Smokies. Yes, that Clayton Kershaw (he is on a rehab assignment). Yes, those Smokies.
Game time for the Double A game is 7:15 PM ET. That means, assuming he is in the lineup and batting third as usual, somewhere around 7:20 we can probably expect to see the most overanalyzed at bat of 2014: Kershaw versus Kris Bryant.
The most likely outcome is that Kershaw will strike out Bryant in short order, and make him look foolish in the process. Kershaw is a two time Cy Young award winner, after all, and Bryant is in just his second professional season. On paper that is a fairly one-sided battle. But, as we all know, baseball doesn’t always go according to the paper.
How awesome would it be if Bryant draws a walk?
Or singles up the middle?
Keep in mind, Bryant already has a home run off Mat Latos this season (and was promptly drilled for his troubles). If he hits off Kershaw at all, or if he even looks good when facing Kershaw, the excitement over Bryant is probably going to get cranked up a few more notches. If he homers off Kershaw, the Internet may well pop a few tubes from the outpouring of unrestrained exuberance by Cubs fans everywhere.
So, what will you be watching? Cubs versus Reds? Or Bryant versus Kershaw?
As for me, well, do you really need to ask?
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa - Iowa, like much of the rest of the United States, had rain yesterday. This game was postponed.
Tennessee - Tennessee had the day off.
Daytona - Not a lot went right for the Cubs in this 7-0 loss.
Kane County - Good pitching and a late rally carried Kane County to a 2-1 win.
Performances of Note
- [Daytona] The Cubs managed just two hits in this game, and both were singles. Dan Vogelbach had one, and Marco Hernandez had the other.
- [Daytona] The Daytona pitching in general struggled in this game, but Zach Cates finished things off with 3 quality innings. He allowed a run on 3 hits, no walks, and struck out 3. Cates now has a season ERA of just 1.76.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann doubled, tripled, and finished with 3 hits out of the leadoff slot.
- [Kane County] Will Remillard stayed red hot with 3 more hits of his own. Jacob Rogers, with 2 hits, was the other Cougar with a multihit game.
- [Kane County] Tyler Skulina pitched 5 innings and allowed just one run on 4 hits and a walk while striking out a pair. Nathan Dorris followed that up with 2 scoreless innings.
- [Kane County] The most impressive pitching performance, however, came from Zack Godley. The Kane County closer notched his 5th save by striking out 5 over 2 innings, including 3 in the ninth. He allowed one hit and a walk and lowered his ERA to 1.54. If he keeps striking out hitters like this, Godley has a chance to move up quickly.
- After getting off to a slow start to begin the year, it looks like Jacob Hannemann is starting to warm up. He has had multiple hits in three of his past five games, including the double and triple in yesterday’s game. In that same span he has a pair of walks against just four strikeouts. In general, his slash line has been trending up lately, and his strikeout rate has been trending down. Sample size warnings apply, particularly when looking at the trend lines, but that pattern is not unexpected for a young hitter this time of year. It is still too early to know for sure what the Cubs have in Hannemann, and the draft day comparisons to Ellsbury remain as ridiculous as ever, but it is good to see his game start to come around. Keep an eye on this guy.