Monday, August 26, 2013

Nate Schierholtz

I had another post ready to go today but because of yesterday's game, I decided to bump Nate Schierholtz up in the rotation. Yesterday (Sunday) held a mostly meaningless rubber match between the lowly Padres and the even lowlier Cubs.

I don't know if all of the Cubs Sunday games have been televised on WGN this year but it is something I look forward to every week and I've seen most of them. I get up early, try to get my day's chores out of the way so I can relax and just watch the game. Yesterday was no different, except for the length. And when it came time to pick up my son from baseball practice, my wife graciously volunteered to do it since it was going in to extra innings. Nice!

It started with a not-so-veiled-threat before the game from Padres starter and former Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner that he was going to "shove it up the Cubs' @sses" for trading him (for Anthony Rizzo if you don't recall). And I'm not against that at all. Stick it to your former team. A good underdog story if you can back it up. And for what it is worth, Cashner pitched 7 innings of shutout, 2-hit, 1-walk baseball, effectively following through on his threat.

But on the other side, Chris Rusin pitched an equally effective 6.1 innings of shutout, 3-hit, 4-walk baseball. In fact, neither team scored until the 13th inning which is when the game got really weird and Nate Schierholtz comes into play.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the 13th, Schierholtz hits a ground ball to the first baseman. It looks to be a pretty sure 3-2-3 double play. But Schierholtz stumbled out of the batter's box (later saying he tweaked his back on the swing). After he got up and took off for first, probably lost in thought, frustrated about the turn of events, Schierholtz took the throw from first basemen Jesus Guzman off the bill off his helmet  and his shoulder, sending the ball off towards third base. The runner from third scores and Schierholtz is safe at first.

Everybody was safe.

Something that usually happens to the Cubs was suddenly happening for the Cubs. The Cubs only manage one more run before the third out, but hey, a two run lead in an otherwise scoreless game and your closer coming in will probably hold up, right? A 96% win expectancy at this point according to the boxscore on baseball-reference.

Well, it's the Cubs so I'm sure you know the answer to that. So the Padres scored two in the bottom of the inning to tie it and sure enough, go on to win in 15.

But the whole point of this story is Nate Schierholtz. I wasn't sold on him when the Cubs first picked him up but he has grown on me. And the ability to take a thrown baseball to the face has nothing to do with it. I believe he is tops among Cubs starters in batting average and only behind Anthony Rizzo in RBIs (if you new school Sabermetric fans can trust those outdated stats).

The ATCRCS card above was signed during the Seattle series and I'm glad to have another off the list. For those of you who might remember, I also got my 2013 custom team set card signed msyelf when the Cubs came to DC in May.

Schierholtz stood in the rain signing for the few people there that day, definitely earning my respect then. Hopefully he's just shaken up and nothing is broken or strained or pulled.

Its not much of a siganture, but with a name like Schierholtz, I'd probably scribble the last part too.

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