Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/20/10

The Tennessee Smokies lost the Southern League Championship series. The Jacksonville Suns were victorious in four games, topping Tennessee in the league finals for the second consecutive year. A great year for Bill Dancy and company came to a close on a sour note, as a walk-off home run ended the series.

All that and more in the final Down on the Farm Report of the season.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies
Regular Season: 86-53
First Half: 42-27, three games ahead of West Tenn for the division title
Second Half: 44-26, 10 games ahead of Huntsville & West Tenn for the division title
Semi-final Series: Won three games to one over West Tenn
Southern League Championship Series: Lost three games to one to Jacksonville

Individual Awards
Brandon Guyer (Cubs Minor League Players of the Year)
Chris Archer (Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year)
Bill Dancy (Southern League Manager of the Year)
Mick Gillispie (2010 Southern League Radio Broadcaster of the Year)
Nick Gates (Southern League Sportswriter of the Year)
Brain Cox (Executive of the Year)

Postseason All-Stars: Tony Campana, Brandon Guyer, and Robinson Chirinos
Midseason (All-Star game) All-Stars: Chirinos, Steve Clevenger, Campana, Blake Lalli, Ryan Butcher, Luke Sommer, Hung-Wen Chen, David Cales, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Ty Wright

Team Leader in Batting Average: Brandon Guyer .344
Team Leader in Homers: Russ Canzler, 21
Team Leader in ERA: Chris Carpenter, 3.16

Game 3: Suns 2, Smokies 0
The Tennessee offense disappeared on Friday night in a 2-0 loss. The Jacksonville Suns took control of the series, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five set. After splitting the two games at Smokies Park, Tennessee could not come up with a road win at the Baseball Grounds.

The Suns scored both of their runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on a Jeff Corsaletti two-run homer over the right field wall. Matt Dominguez, who was walked to start the inning, was along for the ride. Outside of that one mistake pitch, Trey McNutt was lights out. He went six innings and allowed only two runs on five hits. Luke Sommer and Blake Parker came on in relief and both worked perfect frames.

The Smokies mustered up only three hits in the loss. Blake Lalli had two of those hits, both singles. Their best scoring chance came in the third inning, when Marwin Gonzalez led-off with a double. Trey McNutt failed to lay down a bunt and ended up striking out. Then Tony Campana popped up to short, Brandon Guyer walked, and Blake Lalli struck out swinging to end the opportunity. Click for full box score.

Game 4: Suns 1, Smokies 0
Tennessee went into Saturday night’s game hoping to force a game five, but the offense had no luck once again. For the second straight year, the Smokies watched the Suns celebrate the Southern League title.

Starting pitcher Craig Muschko certainly did everything in his power to keep the series going. He dominated the Suns, tossing seven one-hit innings! The bats could not produce a single run in support of one of the best pitching performance by a Smokie this season.

The game was still scoreless when Craig departed in the eighth. Kyle Smit came on and faced two men. One struck out while the other rapped a base hit. Luke Sommer was summoned from the ‘pen, and he worked out of the inning.

Brandon Guyer, who went 2-for-4, singled to start the top of the ninth, but was quickly erased as Blake Lalli bounced into a twin killing. Robinson Chirinos struck out to retire the side and give the Suns a chance to win the series with a run.

It didn’t take Jacksonville long to end it in the bottom of the inning. The first batter of the frame, Chris Hatcher, crushed a walk-off homer to left field to give his team the title. Luke Sommer served up the big fly. Hatcher accomplished one of the most amazing feats possible in the game of baseball, hitting a walk-off home run to win the league title.

The only time Tennessee had a man in scoring position was in the top of the seventh. Robinson Chirinos started the inning with a walk, and then Russ Canzler moved him over on a bunt. However, Tony Thomas was sat down on a fly ball to center and Marwin Gonzalez bounced out to short to end the threat.

Two different Smokies were caught attempting to swipe second base. Brandon Guyer was cut down in the fourth, while Tony Campana was out on a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play to end the eighth. Brett Jackson was the hitter that whiffed with the runner in motion.

The Smokies scored no runs on eight total hits in the two games in Jacksonville. They were sent home dejected after a fantastic regular season. Click for full box score.

The Tennessee club was nominated for the 2010 Larry MacPhail Award. It is given out annually to the minor league team that has done the best promotion work. The award will be presented at the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings (December 6-9 in Orlando). This great honor caps off a banner season for the Smokies, even though it ends without a championship banner.

Down on the Farm Report Notes
I want to thank Neil for allowing me be a part of this wonderful site this season! Also a big thanks to Neil for all of the work he does so that we can read about the big league team on a daily basis. I appreciate all of the Cubs fans who visit the CCO and read my reports. Your comments and thoughts are always enjoyable. Thank you so much for making this site what it is!

The Down on the Farm Reports will take a few weeks off, but they will return in time for the start of the Arizona Fall League on October 12. I’ll provide full coverage of Cubs prospects in the AFL and Caribbean Winter Leagues all offseason. Chris Archer and Brett Jackson will take part in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament from October 1-10. I will recap that once posts resume and I’ll try to keep you posted at during the hiatus.

Thanks again for a fun 2010 season; maybe next year it will end the way we want it to for the Chicago Cubs!

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon