Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/30/10

The 2010 Arizona Fall League schedule has been released. The Iowa Cubs are battling the Memphis Grizzlies for the PCL American North crown. The Daytona pitching staff is brilliant but the bats go cold at the wrong time. Tennessee’s Bill Dancy earns managerial win number 1,600. The Smokies clinch the second half division title. Walk-off hits are the big story as several Cub affiliates pull out late inning wins.

All that and more in today’s Down on the Farm Report!

AAA-Iowa Cubs – (77-58)
A huge 4-1 weekend against the contending Omaha Royals helped the Iowa Cubs put some distance between the two teams in the PCL American North standings. They’ve opened up a 3.5 game lead over the Royals, but the Memphis Grizzlies are now in second place and just 0.5 games out of first. Ryne Sandberg’s team has nine regular season games left to try to hold off the Grizzlies for the division crown. They host Memphis the final four days of the season in a big set at Principal Park.

The head groundskeeper at Principal Park, Chris Schlosser, has been named the 2010 Pacific Coast League Groundskeeper of the Year. Chris always has the field in tip-top shape and everyone in the organization is very appreciative of his work. The Iowa grounds crew was in the top three on nine ballots, including three first place votes. Click for full story.

The Iowa Cubs held on for a 7-6 win on Thursday night in Omaha. Jeff Samardzija was sharp through five innings, but the Royals tagged him for four total runs, (3 ER) before he departed with two outs in the sixth. Jeff walked four and surrendered one gopher ball, but he still got his 11th win of the season. Justin Berg struggled in the ninth inning and a 7-4 game turned into a 7-6 game before the book was closed on Berg with only one away. Jeff Stevens came in and got the job done to earn his sixth save at Triple-A. Marquez Smith hit his 14th home run in the first, and Jason Dubois delivered a grand slam in the fifth. Click for full box score.

The Cubs survived another late scare on Friday night, as they took a 9-3 edge into the eighth in a game that turned into a 9-8 thriller by the time the final out was recorded. Four different Iowa guys homered, including Robinson Chirinos who enjoyed a 4-for-5 day at the plate with three RBI. Bryan LaHair (3-for-5), Jason Dubois (three RBI), and Brad Snyder (2-for-4) were the other I-Cubs to go deep. Jay Jackson gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in six innings. Hung-Wen Chen allowed the O-Royals to climb back into the games with five runs against him in two innings. Click for full box score.

The Royals evened the crucial five game series at two wins apiece when they edged Iowa 5-4 on Saturday. Bryan LaHair’s 21st home run of the year closed the gap in the eighth inning, but it turned out to be a case of too little too late. Sam Fuld, Marquez Smith, Jim Adduci, and Brad Snyder all suffered hitless nights. Austin Bibens-Dirkx went 4.2 innings and allowed five runs (3 ER) on five hits and four walks. Click for full box score.

The Iowa Cubs won the series on Sunday afternoon 8-7 in the fourth straight one run game between the two clubs. Omaha snagged the lead with a four run bottom of the eighth, but Iowa responded with four runs in their final at-bat. Chris Carpenter allowed four runs including two homers in six innings as he continues to adjust to the jump to Triple-A. Jeff Gray was responsible for the eighth inning Royals rally, but he ended up getting the win and Jeff Stevens notched the save. Brad Snyder capped off his three hit day with a two-run go-ahead single in the ninth. Click for full box score.

Iowa Cubs Player of the Week: Bryan LaHair
The Iowa first baseman has hit safely in nine of his last ten. He homered in two straight games this past weekend. LaHair is hitting .444 during his nine of ten streak. His .314 season average leads the team and his 21 homers rank third among I-Cubs. Look for Bryan to stick with the Triple-A club through their playoff run and then possibility join the big league team for a late September call-up.

Upcoming Games and Probable Pitchers:
*All Times CDT
Tonight @Albuquerque 7:35 (Mitch Atkins)
Tuesday @Albuquerque 5:00 (Jeff Samardzija)
Tuesday @Albuquerque Game 2 (TBA)
Wednesday @Albuquerque 7:35 (Jay Jackson)

AA-Tennessee Smokies – (82-50, 40-23)
While the First Half and Second Half division champion Smokies readied themselves for the opening round of the playoffs against a yet-to-be-determined opponent, a few special members of the organization were honored on Saturday. Longtime beat writer Nick Gates of the Knoxville News Sentential received a special honor during a pregame ceremony on Nick Gates Day. The press box will now bear his name as the “Nick Gates Press Row“. Gates has entered an unofficial retirement due to some health issues, but he was in attendance for his special day.

A post-game ceremony also took place on Saturday after the Smokies pulled out a thrilling win for manager Bill Dancy’s 1,600th win in his career in the minors. General manager Brian Cox presented Dancy with a commemorative plaque on the field after the game. Hopefully the celebrations just keep on coming in Tennessee as we progress into the fall.

The Smokies took the opener of the series against the Birmingham Barons of the White Sox organization 4-3 in 11 innings on Thursday night. Russ Canzler walked with one out in the bottom of the 11th and eventually crossed the plate on a wild pitch for the winning run. It was Russ’s second base on balls of the night, plus he had drilled an RBI double earlier. Chris Archer allotted only two runs on five hits in seven innings. He struck out nine but got a no-decision. Click for full box score.

Steve Clevenger went 3-for-4 with three runs scored to lift Tennessee to a 5-2 victory on Friday. Rafael Dolis got the win thanks to six quality innings in which he limited the damage to two runs on eight hits and three walks. Esmailin Caridad had his first solid outing of his rehab stint with 1.1 scoreless innings. Blake Parker did not allow a run or a hit in 1.2 innings to nail it down. Click for full box score.

The Smokies came away with a wild 8-7 win over Birmingham on Saturday, a milestone W for manager Bill Dancy. Brandon Guyer went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and four runs driven in. Blake Lalli, who did the designated hitting, went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. It was Russ Canzler who became the hero of the day with a walk-off home run with one out in the ninth. The homer was originally ruled in-play, but the umpiring crew got together and decided that it did indeed leave the yard. Click for full box score.

After three straight losses, the Barons showed no mercy on Sunday in a 16-1 rout of the Smokies. Tony Campana and Blake Lalli both had multi-hit games, but the pitching staff fell apart in the loss. Tommy Harris gave up seven earned runs in four innings. Esmailin Caridad was charged with two tallies in an inning of work. Jeremy Papelbon retired only one man and allowed six runs to cross the plate. Birmingham put together back-to-back seven run frames to break the game open. A down day turned into a good day when Huntsville lost to Mobile and the Smokies clinched the Second Half title even with their blowout loss. Click for full box score.

Tennessee Smokies Player of the Week: Russ Canzler
When you glance at Canzler’s stats for last week (two hits, one hit, one hit, one hit, one hit, one hit) it doesn’t look like he did anything spectacular. However, Russ was a vital part of the team’s wins during the week. He hit the dramatic walk-off homer on Saturday and followed that up with an encore long ball on Sunday to increase his season total to 21. Canzler had an extra-base hit in five of his six games last week. He is enjoying a strong season as a force in the middle of the Tennessee order.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Today Off Day
Tuesday @Jacksonville 6:05
Wednesday @Jacksonville 6:05

Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs – (71-61, 37-25)
The D-Cubs are not in good shape going into the final week of the regular season. They are 2.5 games back of a surging Tampa squad with just six games left to play. The Cubs will have to finish strong on this road trip plus do some scoreboard watching in the final week in order to earn a spot in the Florida State League playoffs.

The Daytona Cubs have had to alter their schedule quite frequently this summer due to the rain, as was the case when Thursday’s game against Clearwater was postponed. After an unexpected day off, D-Cubs kicked-off a series with the Lakeland Flying Tigers of the Detroit system on Friday. They fell in 11 innings by a final of 5-1 due to a big top of the 11th against Mike Perconte. Alberto Cabrera’s start was outstanding. He went 6.1 innings, fanning ten and allowed just one unearned run on three hits. Michael Brenly, who went 0-for-4, also had a tough day behind the plate allowing two passed balls to slip by. Ryan Flaherty had two hits but did commit a throwing error. Click for full box score.

The offensive struggles of Daytona continued on Saturday in a 3-0 loss. The Cubs managed only five base runners against Flying Tiger pitching. Nick Struck was impressive, allowing just one tally in four innings, but he got the loss to drop to 0-2. Michael Brenly and D.J. LeMahieu both went hitless to continue their mini-slumps. Click for full box score.

The bats came to life on Sunday for a 6-1 win in the final home game of the regular season. LeMahieu had two hits, Brenly doubled, and Evan Crawford tripled and drove in two. Winning pitcher Brooks Raley’s line looked like this: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R. Click for full box score.

Daytona Cubs Player of the Week: The Starting Pitching
Although it is cheating to name a whole group the player of the week, the temptation to recognize the great pitching the D-Cubs got last week is irresistible. All three starters from the Lakeland series had great outings. Alberto Cabrera struck out ten and allowed only three hits in his no-decision. Nick Struck, recently promoted from Peoria, looked sharp. Brooks Raley improved to 8-6 with a win in the finale on Sunday. Let’s hope the starting five will continue to do a great job of keeping their team in the game.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Today Off Day
Tuesday @Clearwater 6:00
Wednesday @Clearwater 6:00

Class-A Peoria Chiefs – (68-66, 30-30)
The Chiefs are trying to hang in the race, but things are not looking good. In order to make a second straight trip to the Midwest League postseason, they will have to climb over five teams during this final week. Closer Corey Martin has started to get the job done in the Midwest League, Anthony Giansanti has been a nice addition, and Carlos Silva gave the guys a one-night boost, plus a good meal.

Frank Batista was lights out in a swift 1-0 Peoria win against Cedar Rapids on Thursday night. The Chiefs scored their only run in the eighth when Anthony Giansanti walked, advanced to second on a single, stole third base, and then scampered home on a wild pitch. After Batista’s start of six scoreless innings, Daniel Keefe (winning pitcher) and Corey Martin (save) came on to complete the shutout. Logan Watkins and Jae-Hoon Ha both had two hits. Click for full box score.

Carlos Silva made a rehab start at O’Brien Field on Friday in the Chiefs 3-1 victory over the Kernels. He allowed two hits over 2.2 scoreless innings. As Neil tweeted yesterday, Silva paid for both teams’ meals after the game. Robinson Lopez came in and went 3.2 innings, allowing only a solo-homer on his way to his first win. Ha and Fitzgerald both drilled dingers, while Hak-Ju Lee singled twice. Click for full box score.

The Chiefs pounded the Lumber Kings 7-1 in back of a combined two-hitter by Marcus Hatley, Austin Kirk, and Manolin De Leon on Saturday. D.J. Fitzgerald had a huge day, going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBI. Tony Giansanti went 3-for-3 and Jae-Hoon Ha had two hits of his own. Click for full box score.

Brett Wallach allowed four hits, four walks, and four runs in his team’s loss to Clinton on Sunday in the first game of a double header. His numbers have declined ever since he was traded to the Cubs organization. With Great Lakes he was 6-0 with a 3.72 ERA in 17 starts. Since the trade to Peoria, he’s 0-3 with a 5.61 ERA in six starts. Click for full box score. In the second game the Chiefs scored twice in their last at-bat to salvage a 2-1 victory in walk-off fashion. Jae-Hoon Ha tied the game with a single and Tony Giansanti delivered the game winning RBI. Click for full box score.

Peoria Chiefs Player of the Week: Anthony Giansanti
The Chiefs young outfielder is hitting .296 in 23 games with the club. This past week he had a three hit game, plus came through in some key spots. The right-handed batter was drafted out of Siena College and is 21 years of age.

Upcoming Games:
*All Times CDT
Tonight VS Clinton 6:30
Tuesday VS Clinton 6:30
Wednesday @Kane County 6:30

Updates from Boise/Mesa
The Boise Hawks are 11-19, eight games back of Yakima in the Northwest League East division. With seven games left to play, skipper Jody Davis must continue to provide good coaching and instruction in order to prove he is deserving of a possible promotion. Many of the Hawks players will head for the Arizona Instructional League at Fitch Park in October, which is intended for younger guys that need some extra work or guys who are making position changes or recovering from injuries.

The Mesa Cubs finished the year a few games under .500. They concluded their AZL slate last night as they hosted the A’s.

Arizona Fall League
The 2010 Arizona Fall League schedule has been announced! The Mesa Solar Sox, who will once again play their home games at HoHoKam Park, open up the year in Phoenix on the afternoon of Tuesday October 12. The home opener will take place on the 13th in a night game at 6:35. The Rising Stars game will be on November 6th in Surprise, AZ and the Championship game is set for November 20th in Scottsdale. Josh Vitters and Chris Archer are both expected to play for the Solar Sox, who will be managed by Chiefs skipper Casey Kopitzke.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth