With their sixth consecutive win last night, Arizona Cubs 1 clinched the first half division title in the Arizona League East (probably) and became the first team in the Cubs organization to make the postseason. The Cubs currently have a five-year streak of at least one team in the organization winning a championship; right now it is up to AZL Cubs 1 to keep that streak alive another year, and also to defend the title they won last year as the AZL Cubs.
This may not seem like a big deal, but I very much believe that the best way to develop players who are used to being in must-win games and playoff style environments is to have a farm system that exposes them to that sort of environment regularly. A September playoff game in Mesa will have no here near the same atmosphere as an October playoff game in Wrigley, but a must-win game is a must-win game.
As you move up the minors into larger parks with more fans, fans who are practically sitting on top of the field, you will find some very loud, very intense game settings indeed. Not quite October in Wrigley, but probably a lot closer than you’d imagine if you haven’t yet visited one of those stadiums in such a situation.
And it is worth pointing out that when AZL Cubs 1 was in the final stretch of the first half, they ripped off a six-game winning streak to clinch it.
Now the question becomes: will any other farm team join AZL Cubs 1 in the playoffs? Maybe. Tennessee is slumping right now, but they are still a candidate to make the playoffs. AZL Cubs 2 played very well over the past week and a half themselves, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that team in title contention in the Arizona League Central division. But the best candidate right now might be South Bend. They are in second place, so if the season ended today they would be in the postseason.
Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa had the day off.
- Michael Rucker: 3 IP, 6 R, 7 H, 1 K
- James Buckelew: 3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Scott Effross: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K
- Charcer Burks: 1 for 2, 3 BB, SB
- Vimael Machin: 2 for 4, BB
- Ian Rice: 1 for 3, 2 BB, SB
- P.J. Higgins: 2 for 3, BB
- Alex Lange: 5.1 IP, 5 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 K
- Ryan Kellogg: 2.1 IP, 1 R, (0 ER), 2 H, 1 K
- Manuel Rondon: 1 IP, 3 BB, 2 K
- Andruw Monasterio: 2 for 3, BB, SB
- Jared Young: 2 for 3
- Brendan King: 3.2 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K
- Zach Davis: 3 for 5
- Austin Upshaw: 2 for 4
- Rafael Narea: 1 for 2, 2B, 2 BB
- Derek Casey: 2 IP, 1 BB
- Eury Ramos: 4 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K
- Carlos Vega: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
- Luis Vazquez: 1 for 6, 2B
- Jonathan Sierra: 1 for 5, 2B
- Nelson Velazquez: 1 for 4, 2B, BB
- Luke Reynolds: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- Gustavo Polanco: 3 for 5
- Luis Diaz: 2 for 5, 2B
- Justin Steele: 4.1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K
- Maikel Aguiar: 4 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 2 H, 8 K
- Edmond Americaan: 1 for 5, 2B
- Alexander Guerra: 2 for 5
- Yonathan Perlaza: 2 for 3, BB
- Josue Huma: 2 for 4, 2B
- Rafael Mejia: 2 for 4, HR
- Kwang-Min Kwon: 2 for 3, 3B, BB
- Kohl Franklin: 0.2 IP, 3 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- Chris Allen: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Ivan Medina: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 3 K
- Reivaj Garcia: 1 for 4, 2B
- Kevin Zamudio: 1 for 4, 2B
- Raymond Pena: 1 for 3, 2B
- And now for the caveat. I think AZL Cubs 1 has clinched the title. The standings have rolled over to the second half, and I think the second half starts tonight. But… the D-backs are still listed with an elimination number of one, half a game behind the Cubs. And the Cubs play the D-backs tonight. I don’t think tonight counts as a first half game, but I’m not entirely certain. If the Cubs lose tonight, I don’t know what happens. The best thing for everyone, then, would be if they just pushed their winning streak to seven games and stomped the D-backs by a couple dozen runs or so.
- It feels like I’ve been typing the name Charcer Burks a lot lately, and sure enough he is hitting .299/.402/.494 with 3 homers and 5 steals on the month. This is the sort of performance I expected from Burks all season; hopefully he can keep it up the rest of the way.
- Yesterday was the first time this season Lange has allowed four walks, and his two strikeouts tied a season low. I have not watched any of the tape yet, but right away I wonder how well he was locating his curve. That curve is the cornerstone of his arsenal, and it is a really good one. But if it is off on any given night, he’s going to have a rough time putting batters away.
- The Smokies have now lost seven straight. Despite that, they are still only four games out in the division and .500 on the season. They are good enough to get back in this thing.
- The Emeralds finish the first half of the season with a record of just 14 – 24. Their pitching was right about the middle of the pack in most categories, but their offense was awful. The Emeralds finished dead last in runs scored, homers, and walks, and they lead the league in strikeouts. Their team OPS of .606 was the worst in the Northwest League by a wide margin.
- The latest rehab start for lefty Justin Steele went very well. Eight of the thirteen men he retired went down on strikeouts, and he allowed just two hits.