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Cubs battle back, but Mets walk off with victory

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Cubs battle back, but Mets walk off with victory

Friday, Sept. 9, 2011Posted: 10:20 p.m. Updated: 11:00 p.m.

Associated Press

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READ: Cubs will feel a wave of emotions in NY on 911
READ: The eternal optimism of Carlos Pena

NEW YORK (AP) By the time the boos had faded, the New York Mets were already mounting the winning rally.Justin Turner doubled in the decisive run with two outs in the ninth inning and New York beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 on Friday night moments after blowing a one-run lead.A scrappy rookie who has proven reliable in clutch situations, Turner recalled that his other game-ending RBI this season came when he was hit by a pitch."Yeah, this one definitely felt better," he said.Turner also had a tiebreaking double in the fifth and finished with three hits. Jason Bay doubled twice and threw out a runner at the plate for New York in the opener of a weekend series that culminates Sunday night with a pregame ceremony to mark the 10-year anniversary of 911.The Mets are offering free tickets to New York City first responders and their families for that game.Earlier on Friday, several current and former Mets visited New York City firehouses - from David Wright and Bobby Parnell to Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura and John Olerud.Wright and Bay each had an RBI to help the Mets overcome an early 3-0 deficit for their 11th victory in 16 games. Mike Pelfrey recovered from a rocky start as New York evened the all-time series against the Cubs at 345-345 with two ties."Regardless of where you're at, those are always exciting," Bay said about walk-off wins. "And you could see by the way we run out there and try to beat up whoever does it."Late in a lost season, the Mets are trying to groom a potential closer for the future. Parnell has failed to grab hold of the role, however, and Manny Acosta (3-1) couldn't put this one away.Acosta, who saved a 1-0 win Wednesday at Florida, gave up a tying single to new father Darwin Barney with two outs in the top of the ninth. Aramis Ramirez flied out to end the inning, but the crowd of 27,639 let Acosta hear it.His teammates responded right away.Nick Evans singled off Sean Marshall (6-6) to open the bottom half and pinch-runner Jason Pridie advanced on Josh Thole's sacrifice. After pinch-hitter Ruben Tejada hit a soft liner for an out, Jose Reyes was intentionally walked.Turner hit a long drive to center over the head of Marlon Byrd, who was playing shallow. The ball bounced on the warning track and over the fence - it was initially ruled a single, then changed to a ground-rule double."Just kind of hung that curveball down the middle and Turner put a good swing on it," Marshall said. "The ball stayed in the air for a while, the ball kind of carried and that was it."Turner touched second and was swarmed by excited teammates. Then he was pelted in the face with a cream pie during a TV interview on the field."Of all the guys on the team, he probably has the most disciplined swing in those situations," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He just wants to put the bat on the ball. He doesn't care where it goes."Carlos Pena extended his power surge with a long two-run homer for Chicago, which has lost 12 of 18. Bryan LaHair had an RBI triple before he was thrown out by Bay at the plate on pitcher Casey Coleman's fly to left.Reyes, trying to hold off Milwaukee's Ryan Braun for the NL batting title, blooped a ground-rule double in the fifth and scored on Turner's soft double to put the Mets up 4-3. Reyes has hit safely in all 12 games since returning from the disabled list.Pelfrey caught a break in the seventh when pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt hit a one-out grounder that appeared headed into right field for a single that could have put runners at the corners. But the ball bounced up and hit pinch-runner Tony Campana for the second out.After Castro was hit by a pitch, Josh Stinson retired Barney on a flyball to end the inning."We battled it all the way to the end and we gave ourselves a shot," Pena said. "We had one of our best on the mound and they beat us. That's the only way to look at it."Pelfrey loaded the bases with one out in the first, prompting a visit from pitching coach Dan Warthen. The big right-hander then struck out Alfonso Soriano and got Byrd on a liner to shortstop to escape unscathed after 29 pitches.NOTES:
Mets ace Johan Santana, sidelined all season following shoulder surgery, tossed three innings in a rehab start with Class-A Savannah in a South Atlantic League playoff game. He gave up two hits and an unearned run, with one walk and one strikeout. The left-hander threw 39 pitches, 27 for strikes. Next, the Mets hope Santana recovers well enough to pitch again in five days - either in another minor league playoff game or a simulated or instructional league game. "I'm not looking for results. I'm not looking for velocity," Collins said. "I'm looking to see how he comes out of this tomorrow." ... Barney rejoined the team in time for batting practice. He flew in from Oregon following the birth Wednesday of his daughter, Zoey Jane Leilani. ... RHP Randy Wells (7-4) tries to extend his career-best five-game winning streak when he starts Saturday for Chicago against LHP Chris Capuano (10-12), who is 8-3 against the Cubs.

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes/failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who’s struggled immensely at the plate for the last season-and-a-half at the plate.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora recently refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined, and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

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USA Today

Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

For those who follow such things, Keith Law's yearly Top 100 prospect rankings is always a highly anticipated read. What would baseball twitter even do with their time if they couldn't spend it vocally disagreeing with subjective lists? Having a handful of Top 100 guys is always a shot in the arm for franchises that maybe aren't doing a whole lot of winning at the major league level; when you know you're not winning a World Series, the debuts of these prospects are high points of the summer. 

There wasn't a whole lot of Cubs' representation this season, which isn't a surprise by any means. Only guys two made Law's list: Brennen Davis at 55, and Brailyn Marquez at 80.  

Law claims Davis has the highest upside of any Cubs' prospect, but isn't necessarily close to a debut: 

Davis is lanky and has barely begun to fill out, so there’s likely to be more power to come, while he’s already shown he can manage at-bats and use the middle of the field to get himself on base. Despite his 6′4″ frame he already has a very balanced swing, and the Cubs will just have to tighten up some mechanical things since he’s got such long levers. A former shortstop, he’s adapted quickly to center field; he projects to stay there and add value with his range. 

He also loves Marquez's stuff – comparing it to Aroldis Chapman's – and says it's the reason why he's team's best pitching prospect since Dylan Cease. You can see the entire rankings, which go pretty in-depth, right here.