Hey, how’s that for a thrilling Game Eight?
Today, the Cubs and Indians did something they couldn’t pull off at the end of the World Series: they concluded a game tied after nine innings. Good thing it doesn’t go that way when the games are real, eh? Can you imagine having to share the World Series trophy?
The Cubs got a run on a Matt Szczur infield single, and that was it. Pitchers are ahead of the hitters and all that.
Some other things …
- Jason Heyward didn’t do much at the plate again today, though it’s worth point out that the second strikeout was on a check swing that was reasonably close. It occurs to me, based on many of the comments I’m seeing from folks, that some don’t recall that Heyward’s 2012 swing – the one the Cubs are trying to re-install – always looked wonky (which was part of the reason teams kept feeling like they could “fix” him and unleash more natural power). Watching him swing and thinking aloud, “Still looks jacked up,” doesn’t really speak to whether his “new” swing is addressing the actual timing and balance issues. Most swing issues – the ones that cause problems at the margins – are subtle. In other words, Heyward’s current swing my looked jacked to you, but it might lead to a dramatic improvement in results from last year if it gets him back-in-whack for him, so to speak.
- Heyward also attempted a stolen base – perhaps a missed sign somewhere by someone? – and it was not close:
— Mike Legittino (@LEG_en_dairy) February 26, 2017
- Javy Baez did what he normally does up the middle, Spring Training or not, making a beauty of a sliding play.
- Matt Szczur had another two-hit day, as he will keep making his case to make the big league team, despite the arguably imperfect fit (the Cubs can already go three deep at each outfield position, even with a four-man bench, without carrying Szczur). Szczur has no minor league options left, so, by the end of Spring, it’ll be: rostered, traded, injured, or waived (and almost certainly claimed by another team).
- Eloy Jimenez absolutely blistered a single, and if you want to see what a beautiful swing looks like, it’s this:
Hitting that niche. pic.twitter.com/wZbXBXBodk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 26, 2017
- On the pitching side of things, it was a fairly quiet, nod-your-head kind of day. Jake Buchanan got through two scoreless in the way he would generally have to in order to succeed (limiting hard contact, working in the zone, getting ground balls).
- Given the recent glowing (about the potential) things said about minor league signing Casey Kelly (the former top Boston pitching prospect), I watched the righty’s inning with particular interest. I don’t want to go too far with one inning – the first inning of his Spring – but I wasn’t all that impressed. He did get some good movement on his curveball, but the fastball was poorly-located without much velocity or movement (and was expected hit hard a couple times). It’s one inning, and it’s Spring Training. Don’t judge a guy entirely by it. But, given that he’s a reclamation minor league season, the presumption is already there that he’s got a long way to go to become a big league contributor. The Cubs will keep working with him.
- Lefty Zac Rosscup – remember him? – got an inning of work as he comes back from a season lost to a shoulder injury. He showed flashes of promise in 2015, but, even with a relatively low volume of lefty competition, he’s probably down in the pecking order to make the big league bullpen at this point. It’s just good to see that he’s come back.