About That 9th Inning and Other Bullets

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About That 9th Inning and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

pedro strop cubsTo add injury to insult, I got a pretty healthy sunburn at yesterday’s 100th Anniversary Game. That ninth inning, man. I’m still bummed about how it played out, given how well the day had gone until that point. The Cubs did a great job of making the day special for fans, and it’s not like a win was necessary to keep it that way. But a three-run lead in the 9th? Walks, an error, a ball that hits a base, and catchable hits in the outfield? Really? That’s the way it had to go down?

  • Justin Ruggiano, who was hurt trying to catch a blooper in that 9th inning yesterday, had an MRI on his hamstring, and the Cubs won’t know what will happen with him until they see the results. They could make a DL move today, or wait until tomorrow. Ruggiano had to be helped off of the field, so it’s pretty hard to see him not needing some time on the DL. If the Cubs opt to bring up an outfielder to replace Ruggiano (not necessary, given the presence of Emilio Bonifacio), Josh Vitters seems like the most likely option (already on the 40-man, righty bat). Matt Szczur and Brett Jackson are also on the 40-man, and there’s also Chris Coghlan at Iowa, but he would require a 40-man spot. If the Cubs opt for a versatile player, they could go with 28-year-old Chris Valaika, who’s currently raking for Iowa, or maybe Logan Watkins (who is on the 40-man, and is also hitting well).
  • In that fateful 9th inning, which saw Pedro Strop walking guys and James Russell giving up a critical hit after it looked like he’d struck a guy out, I decided to take a peak at the pitch locations for each pitcher in the game using Brooks Baseball’s PitchF/X tool. As I suspected and feared, two of Strop’s “balls” were actually strikes – and not borderline strikes. They were dead smack in the middle of the zone. And, although James Russell didn’t have any balls in the middle of the plate that were called balls, he did have two clear strikes (including a should-have-been strikeout to end the game) that were called balls. I’m not going to say the Cubs got screwed, and I’m not even going to say anything about pitch framing. I’m just going to say, it looks like Strop and Russell performed better than yesterday’s results suggest. And that sucks all the more. [EDIT! So those two obvious strikes for Strop were actually balls that were put in play. The light blue shaded mark and the green mark looked the same to my eyes (am I going slightly color blind? I hope not … ). It turns out that Strop did have two borderline strikes that were called balls, but none in the dead center of the zone, as I thought. On Russell, it was one clear missed strike, not two.]
  • None of that is to excuse the leadoff walk from Strop (which came on four clearly bad consecutive pitches) or the error from Starlin Castro. In that situation, neither mistake is excusable. You just have to move on, though.
  • In yesterday’s game, by the way, Strop recorded both a “hold” (left the game with the lead intact) and the “loss” (his inherited runners scored, losing the lead). You all can see how stupid that is, right? How stupid those stats are, right? Speaking of stupid pitching stats:

  • You “win” supporters out there: you’ve seen how Samardzija has pitched in his five starts this year, right? And you’ve seen why he doesn’t have a “win”, right? Are you seriously going to tell me that the fact that Samardzija is 0-2 tells us anything about how he’s pitched this year? Hell, can you even argue that his 0-2 record is not grossly, horribly misleading?
  • After his fantastic leadoff performance on Tuesday night, Luis Valbuena may get more shots to leadoff. (Cubs.com)
  • Ryan Dempster discusses his decision to take a year away from the game (or more), and whether he’d consider coming back to play next year. (CSN)

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.