No, not those Cubs.
Rather, the Mesa Cubs of the Arizona Rookie League were shutout by the Phoenix A’s, 5-0, on Wednesday in their season finale. A’s starter Trevor Cahill, Oakland’s first-round pick this past June, struck out seven batters in four perfect innings.
Only two Cubs -- ninth-round draft pick Cliff Anderson and 17-year-old Cesar Valentin -- reached base in the game, courtesy of two walks by winning pitcher Henry Rodriguez.
And prior to what might ordinarily be popular belief, it wasn’t the first time this year that the Cubs’ short-season rookie affiliate had been no-hit. Instead, it was only the first time they’d lost as a result of it.
In a game against the Royals at Fitch Park in Mesa on July 19, the Cubs won, 1-0, behind a combined four hits allowed by four Mesa pitchers: Brandon Taylor (a former infielder turned pitcher), 17-year-old Robert Hernandez, 2006 23rd-round draft pick Chuckie Platt, and 12th-round pick Kitt Kopach, who has since been promoted to Boise.
The Cubs scored the game’s only run in the fourth inning that day as starting second baseman Valerio Heredia (since promoted to Peoria) reached base on a throwing error, stole second and third base, and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by catcher Carlos Perez.
“How about that?” Cubs Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita said at the time. “You’ve got to be a hell of a club to get no-hit and win! That’s the mark of a champion, don’t you think?”
The rookies may have had the heart of a champion, but they won’t be one just yet. The team finished 11-16 in the second half of Arizona League play, eight games back of the first place Angels in the nine-team league. They went 10-18 in the first half, tied with the A’s for last place.
The Angels and first-half champion Padres meet Thursday for the league championship.
Taking the loss in Wednesday’s finale was Chris Huseby, the Cubs’ 11th-round selection in this year’s draft. The 18-year-old from Martin County High School in Stuart, Fla., underwent Tommy John Surgery in early 2005, but returned to the mound in ’06.
One day after he was drafted, the Auburn Tigers announced that Huseby had signed with the Plainsmen before the Cubs made Huseby an offer of $1.3 million as a signing bonus – the largest ever for an 11th-round selection, as first reported by Baseball America.
The right-hander, whose height and weight vary in published reports from 6’4” to 6’8” and 195 to 220 pounds respectively, made his sixth start for the Mesa team and allowed one run and one hit in three innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Huseby allowed four runs in two of his starts, but one run or less in his remaining four outings. He had a 5.19 ERA with 14 strikeouts to six walks in 17 1/3 innings with the Mesa team this season.
Fleita was on hand for Huseby’s Aug. 20 start in Mesa against the Rangers, when he allowed a run and one hit to 11 batters faced in three innings.
“He was throwing in the low to mid 90’s,” Fleita said. “He’s got a good arm and a good body. He throws a lot of strikes and has a real good future, which is about as good as you could sum it up. He’s 6’8” and very athletic.”