Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/09/13

It was not a great start to the week as Daytona ran into a buzz-saw named the St. Lucie Mets and saw their winning streak come to an end. The seemingly orphaned Tennessee Smokies went 27 innings without scoring a run. And then, there is Iowa, who seemingly never know which players will show up, or even if they have shown up, when they are physically there. The only team making some noise is Kane County, riding the “too hot to handle” Bijan Rademacher. These, and other stories, inside Down on the Farm.

Editor’s Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (14-14)

Whether it is consistency, better weather, or just plain luck Kane County’s pitching has gotten better over the past week, as they defeated Dayton 2-0 on Sunday for their sixth straight win. Michael Heesch allowed the first batter for the Dragons to reach on an infield hit, and then didn’t allow another baserunner until giving up a two-out double in the seventh. Altogether, Heesch struck out five and tossed 7.1 scoreless innings. Coming in with two runners on in the eighth, it only took one pitch for Nathan Dorris to induce a double play to get the Cougars out of the inning. Dorris ended up shutting Dayton out the rest of the way to pick up his second save.

Two of Kane County’s hottest hitters, Rock Shoulders (1-for-4) and Bijan Rademacher (2-for-4), sandwiched singles around an out to start the fourth inning. Wes Darvill (1-for-2) walked to load the bases, and a base hit by Oliver Zapata (2-for-3 with a RBI) drove in Shoulders. Back-to-back doubles to lead off the fifth inning by Gioskar Amaya (2-for-4) and Dan Vogelbach (1-for-2, RBI) produced the Cougars’ only other run.

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An almost improbable comeback fell short on Monday as Kane County lost 11-8 to Dayton. The Cougars were down 11-1 in their half of the fifth inning, but had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the ninth. Lendy Castillo saw his first action in ten days due to cancellations … and he looked more than just a little rusty. Castillo had absolutely no command and he was hammered for two home runs when he tried to use his fastball. Castillo had an early shower as he allowed eight runs (six earned) with two strikeouts in four innings. Jeffry Antigua had been Kane County’s most consistent relief pitcher, but the worst offensive team in the league teed off on him. Antigua gave up three earned runs in only an inning of work. Eddie Orozco has been rounding back into form and he shut the Dragons out for two innings while striking out two batters. Brian Smith had a shaky beginning, but bailed himself out with a strikeout and a double play and he escaped unscored upon. Outfielder Bijan Rademacher (3-for-5 with a RBI) was asked to finish things out and he broke an opponent’s bat while tossing a scoreless inning. Kane County scratched out a run in the first as Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with two RBI) drew a two out walk and Jeimer Candelario (1-for-3 with a RBI) doubled him in. Rademacher led off the fifth inning with a single and stole second base. Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-3 with two RBI) delivered a two out single that plated Rademacher. Chen moved to third on a single by Gioskar Amaya (1-for-5) and both scored on a double by Vogelbach that cut the lead to 11-4. The Cougars pushed across another run in the sixth as Willson Contreras (1-for-4) singled and Marco Hernandez reached on a dropped third strike. Walks to Oliver Zapata and Chen scored Contreras. A rally started in the ninth as Chen singled and Candelario walked two outs later. A wild pitch moved them up ninety feet, and a single from Wes Darvill (1-for-1 and two RBI) brought them both home. Contreras walked to move Darvill into scoring position and a single by Rademacher plated him. But the rally would fall short as Hernandez struck out to end the game.

High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (16-15)

A pitcher’s duel may be an overused expression, but that’s just what occurred on Sunday as both Daytona and St. Lucie each had only three hits. But the Mets prevailed as they defeated the D-Cubs 1-0 … and put an end to Daytona’s six-game winning streak. Yeiper Castillo limited St. Lucie to only two hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. Hunter Cervenka followed with two scoreless innings, but control issues continued to plague Luis Liria. Liria allowed the only run of the game in 0.2 innings after walking three and surrendering only one hit. Daytona’s most consistent performers, John Andreoli, Dustin Geiger, and Ben Carhart notched the D-Cubs only hits.

For the second day in a row, pitching dominated the early innings on Monday but St. Lucie pulled away and Daytona lost to the Mets 6-2. Zach Cates held the Mets in check for the first three innings, but then fell apart. Cates allowed two runs in the fourth and couldn’t record an out in the fifth. Cates ended up being charges with six earned runs in four innings. Frank Del Valle relieved and struck out three batters in two scoreless innings. Austin Reed held St. Lucie for two more innings, but the offense could not mount a comeback. Jorge Soler (2-for-4 with a RBI) was involved in both of the D-Cubs’ runs. Soler led off the fifth with a triple and scored on a sac fly. Soler then drove himself home in the seventh, as he smashed his fourth home run.

There was no talk of a pitcher’s duel on Tuesday as St. Lucie spanked Daytona 13-3. Ben Wells held the Mets scoreless for three innings, but served up three home runs and a total of five earned runs in five innings. Sheldon McDonald was the only D-Cub pitcher that had a good outing. McDonald held St. Lucie without a run for an inning. Even though he returned from the disabled list, there still seems to be something wrong with Starling Peralta. Peralta gave up five earned runs in only 0.1 innings. Peralta has allowed 14 earned runs in only 3.2 innings since returning from the DL. David Cales took over and let in another three runs (two earned) in 1.2 innings. The D-Cubs pulled to within a run in the fifth inning as Ben Carhart (1-for-4) singled and Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4) doubled.  A one-out, two-run double by Taiwan Easterling (1-for-3 with two RBI) plated both Carhart and Giansanti. Javier Baez (1-for-4, RBI) belted his sixth home run, a solo shot, in the sixth inning.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (15-15)

Things have gone from bad to worse for Tennessee as they were shutout for the second straight game and lost 6-0 to Mississippi. It’s time to tell things like it is. The Cubs’ organization has allowed the Smokies to twist in the wind after injuries to run producers Justin Bour and Jae-Hoon Ha, rather than provide support through promotions and/or demotions. The now feeble Tennessee attack has not scored a run in 22 innings, and has not produced an earned run in 29 innings. Matt Szczur, Elliot Soto, Ronald Torreyes, Ty Wright and Johermyn Chavez each had a hit as the Smokies never mounted a serious scoring threat. Kyle Hendricks did all the he could to keep his team in the game, but even his defense abandoned him as he allowed five run (two earned) and struck out five batters. Marcus Hatley and Zac Rosscup each had a scoreless inning. Trey McNutt allowed an earned run in an inning of work.

The best thing about Tuesday’s game with Birmingham was that it was halted in the sixth inning due to weather, although they could have invoked the slaughter rule as Tennessee lost 16-0. The struggling Smokies had a chance to score first in the second inning, as they had two runners on base with one out when Ty Wright grounded into a double play. The offense hit into two more double plays in the remaining four innings, wiping out all of their scoring chances. Starter Matt Loosen pitched like a man trying to get three strikes with one pitch. Loosen’s control simply abandoning him as pressed to keep Tennessee in the game. The result was seven earned runs and two strikeouts in 2.1 innings. As A.J. Morris came in and the defense simply fell apart. The Smokies committed three errors that led to six unearned runs in 1.1 innings. Tony Zych also could not stop the bleeding and gave up another three earned runs in 1.1 innings.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (11-18)

Iowa was able to get in a doubleheader on Sunday after having three straight games cancelled due to weather. In game one, the I-Cubs got some fresh help from a familiar face to beat Oklahoma City 5-2. Josh Vitters (2-for-4 with two RBI) was activated from the disabled list and his first hit of the season put Iowa in the lead for good. The I-Cubs started their scoring in the second inning as Brian Bogusevic (2-for-2) walked, stole second base, and reached third on a throwing error. J.C. Boscan (1-for-2 with two RBI) then singled in Bogusevic. Ryan Sweeney (1-for-4) led off the fourth with a single and was on board for Vitters’ home run. Boscan reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Edwin Maysonet (1-for-2) singled and Logan Watkins walked. Alberto Gonzalez (1-for-2 with a RBI) then coaxed a free pass that forced in Boscan. Iowa added a run in the fifth as Vitters singled and moved to third on a double by Bogusevic. Vitters eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.

Guillermo Moscoso couldn’t sneak up on the RedHawks like he did in his first start of the season. Moscoso went four innings and allowed two earned runs with three strikeouts. Esmailin Caridad also had a strikeout as he held Oklahoma City for an inning. On a rehab assignment, Kyuji Fujikawa looked sharp as he struck out two in a scoreless inning, and Blake Parker added two more strikeouts to earn his third save.

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Game two saw Iowa fail to hold a lead again as they lost 4-3 to Oklahoma City in ten innings. The game started well for the I-Cubs as Logan Watkins (1-for-4 with a RBI) led off with a triple and trotted home on a single from Alberto Gonzalez (1-for-5 with a RBI). Iowa tied the game in the sixth as Ryan Sweeney drew a two out walk, and was replaced by Tim Torres. Singles by Josh Vitters (3-for-5) and Brian Bogusevic (2-for-4, RBI) brought in Torres. Going into extra innings, the I-Cubs found themselves down a run again in the ninth when a single by Brad Nelson (1-for-4) and walks to Luis Flores and Edwin Maysonet (1-for-3) loaded the bases. Watkins then drew a walk to tie the game at three. The see-saw affair was made possible by Iowa pitching, as starter Brooks Raley gave up the lead by allowing two earned runs in the second innings. Raley would right the ship and go on to pitch five innings. Raley struck out four while not allowing any more runs. Casey Coleman and Yoanner Negrin held the RedHawks as Coleman struck out a batter in an inning of work and Negrin fanned three in 1.1 innings. Hisanori Takahashi gave up the go-ahead run as he pitched 1.2 innings, while Cory Wade surrendered the game-winner.

Iowa got a rare complete effort on Monday as they defeated Oklahoma City 6-1. Matt Garza moved his rehab show to Des Moines and pitched 3.1 innings. Garza was charged with an earned run and struck out three batters. Cory Wade was asked to finish up the fourth inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced. Chris Rusin followed on his regularly scheduled day and went five shutout innings. Rusin struck out two and earned the victory.

The I-Cubs jumped ahead in the second inning as Brad Nelson (2-for-4) singled and trotted home on an Edwin Maysonet (2-for-4 with three RBI) home run, his first of the season. They added two more in the third as Brent Lillibridge (1-for-4) doubled and Brian Bogusevic (1-for-2 with a RBI) tripled. Two outs later, Maysonet hit a double that scored Bogusevic. Iowa capped their scoring in the seventh as Logan Watkins (1-for-4) led off with a double and Josh Vitters (1-for-4 with two RBI) hit his second home run in two days.

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Despite the score, it appeared that only pitching arrived at Colorado Springs on Tuesday as Iowa lost 5-0. Nick Struck pitched a much better game than his numbers indicate. Struck was ahead of most of the batters he faced, but got caught being too fine when his offense failed to back him up. Struck allowed five earned runs, but recorded six strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Yoanner Negrin continued to be the best pitcher on the staff and struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings. After a rough start to the season, Zach Putnam has been settling down of late. Putnam held the Sky Sox without a run for an inning and struck out a batter. None of the I-Cub batters deserve a mention, as Struck provided one of the team’s four hits.

News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs selected the contract of Iowa Cubs OF Ryan Sweeney; optioned OF Dave Sappelt to Iowa; recalled RHP Rafael Dolis from Iowa. The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Barret Loux, IF Donnie Murphy and OF Darnell McDonald from the 7-day disabled list; assigned IF Tim Torres to Tennessee from Iowa; released RHP Cory Wade. The Daytona Cubs placed IF Stephen Bruno on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to May 3; activated C Taylor Davis from the 7-day disabled list.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax