First, the good news...
Albert Almora, who was not expected to play after crashing face first into the wall in Game 2, started and played CF once again. No matter what happened, we could say that the Cubs top draft pick and arguably 2nd best prospect, was healthy heading into the offseason.
Juan Paniagua also made his Boise debut and looked like a man among boys. He threw with an easy motion and the ball explodes out of his hand. He threw what looked like a mid 90s fastball, a sharp-breaking slider, and what looked like a slower breaking curve ball on one pitch to DJ Davis. After opening with 2 balls out of the strike zone, Paniagua threw 6 straight strikes. The Canadians did not have so much as a foul tip, often swinging late.
Now the bad news...
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Boise Hawks scored early and often only to see their lead and the game frittered away by the bullpen. Once again, an error helped open the flood gates. The surprising part this time is that it was the normally reliable Eddie Orozco who imploded.
The starting pitcher, Tayler Scott, also struggled, giving up a whopping 10 hits and 2 walks in 3.2 innings. That added up to 5 runs. The Boise offense, however, was able to bail him out.
The Hawks took an early 4-2 lead on a Stephen Bruno RBI double high off right-center field wall. Dan Vogelbach then hit a towering shot that cleared the batters eye in CF, 400 feet away. The Boise announcer Mike Safford estimated it at 430-440 ft. We'll split the difference at 435.
Scott gave the lead back, however, in the top of the 4th when he allowed 3 runs.
In the bottom of the inning, the offense fired back and took Scott off the hook. A double by Trey Martin and singles by Stephen Bruno, Dan Vogelbach, and Jeimer Calendario led to 3 runs to give the Hawks a 5 run inning.
A brilliant relief performance by LHP by Michael Heesch (3.1 IP, 1H, 0R, 0 BBs, and 4 Ks) kept that lead in tact through the 7th inning. In the 8th inning the Hawks brought in 22 year old RP Tyler Bremer, who had pitched well toward the end of the season. Bremer had some uncharacteristic control issues, walking 2 batters and throwing a wild pitch in 1/3 of an inning.
With the game in the balance, the Hawks brought in Orozco to get the last 5 outs. The first batter hit a high one-hopper to Candelario, who tried to field it with what was likely an unnecessary jump. Perhaps he was also distracted by the runner at 2nd. Whatever the case, the ball deflected off his mitt allowing the Canadians to pull within one and put the tying run on 3rd base. Orozco was able to strikeout the next hitter, putting him within one out of escaping the inning without any further damage. After getting ahead of the next hitter, he hit him with a pitch to load the bases.
And then the wheels came off. Orozco was not able to record another out and was eventually tagged for 5 runs. The Hawks turned to LHP Brian Smith and RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua to get the last 4 outs, all 4 via the strikeout. But by that time the damage was done. The Hawks scored runs in the 8th and 9th to make the final score 12-9.
It was an unfortunate end to a great season, particularly the 2nd half as the Hawks became the best team in the entire Cubs organization. The fact that they did it with prospects and not veterans makes this trip to the finals even more meaningful. While most of the Canadians key players were at least 21years old, the Hawks accomplished their feat with teenagers like Amaya, Hernandez, Vogelbach, Candelario, Almora, and Martin as the nucleus. They may have come up short this time, but congrats to them on a great season and thanks for giving Cubs fans something exciting to look forward to in the next few years.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap