My post before last night’s game was anything but optimistic about the chances the Cubs had to beat the Reds last night. With Edwin Jackson on the mound, the Cubs had lost six consecutive games. That’s before Edwin pitched seven innings, allowing only one run and hitting a home run.
“He battled,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Jackson. “Got a lot of foul balls early and then settled down and got two big, huge double-play balls when it looked like things could get out of hand. Obviously the offense gave him a big cushion there, and he finished it off.”
Jackson entered winless in his last six starts, giving up 22 earned runs in 33 2/3 innings (5.88 ERA). The difference between that stretch and his impressive July — in which he went 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in five starts — was simple, according to Jackson.
“I think the biggest thing before that I could take from July was the strike-to-ball ratio,” said Jackson, who threw 68 of his 98 pitches for strikes. “These last four or five starts, I have been just the opposite. I was behind in the count a lot and not able to make pitches. Just fortunate enough tonight to come out and be able to make some pitches in some key situations and get a lot of run support to back it up.”
Welington Castillo helped back it up with two home runs of his own, including one that went 470 feet.
But was it the longest one Castillo has ever hit?
“I don’t think so, but I know it went a long way,” the Cubs catcher said with a smile. “I didn’t try to do it, I just tried to hit the ball hard somewhere.”
As for the Reds, they’ve been very Cub-like in the first two games of this series.
While much of that has been the result of the Cubs playing well, the Reds have also squandered opportunities, going 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the two games.
“[Hitting] has let us down the last couple of days,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Every time we got something going, we had a double play in there somewhere to wipe out the inning.”
So sorry, Dusty!
The Double-A Tennessee Smokies were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday night, but Jed Hoyer had some praise to heap on top prospect Javier Baez.
“Personally, in my career, it’s as good a minor league season as I’ve seen,” Hoyer said before the Cubs played the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.
Baez hit 37 home runs combined in Single-A and Double-A, driving in 111 runs and stealing 20 bases.
Maybe the most impressive number was his .638 slugging percentage at Double-A
“There’s a list of guys that slugged over .600 at his age; it’s a pretty special list,” Hoyer said.
The Daytona Cubs finished their season Monday by winning the Florida State League on the strength of four shutouts in six playoff games.
“To be honest, it’s a little bit exciting, because of three of the four starters we traded for midseason,” Hoyer said. “They have long futures with the Cubs.”
Corey Black came from the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano, CJ Edwards from Texas for Matt Garza, and Ivan Pineyro was brought in from Washington for Scott Hairston. That group helped pitch four shutouts in six playoff games.
“That was a pretty dominant performance,” Hoyer said. “The fact they finished strong says a lot about their development.”
The good times are on their way, hopefully.