It was home opener week down on the farm as both Kane County and Tennessee won their first home games of the season. Jen-Ho Tseng made his debut while Gerardo Concepcion was very good in relief.
C.J. Edwards was solid for the Smokies on Wednesday. But the big news from the middle of the week came courtesy of three prospects. Dan Vogelbach, Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson all went yard on Wednesday. And both Albert Almora and Pin-Chieh Chen just keep on hitting.
Low Class-A – Kane County Cougars (3-3)
Kane County decided to give their fans a little extra for opening night as they defeated Fort Wayne 4-3 in 12 innings. It was another debut as 19-year old Taiwan native Jen-Ho Tseng made his first professional start. Tseng did well, blanking the Tin Caps for four innings. Tseng ended up allowing three earned runs with five strikeouts in five innings. All three runs scored in his last inning of work. Lefty Gerardo Concepcion was much better in his second outing of the season. Concepcion gave up only one hit while striking out three in three scoreless innings. Tyler Bremer held Fort Wayne for another two innings, posting two strikeouts. Zach Godley found the control that escaped him during his last outing as Godley recorded his first win after shutting down the Tin Caps over the last two innings.
The Cougars relied on the Tin Caps’ porous defense to aid in scoring runs as Jacob Hannemann (2-for-5 with a RBI and a stolen base) led off the game with a single and then stole second base. After a fly out and a walk to Ben Carhart (0-for-4), Hannemann scored on an error that allowed Carhart to move to third and Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-5) to advance to second. A fielder’s choice by Jacob Rogers (0-for-5 with a RBI) drove in Carhart. In the second inning, Trey Martin (1-for-5 with a stolen base) reached and made it to second on a throwing error. After a ground out moved him to third, Martin scored on a single by Hannemann. That’s how things remained until the 12th inning when Carlos Penalver (1-for-5) reached base on a fielding error. Penalver advanced to third on a sacrifice and throwing error on a bunt by Hannemann. After Danny Lockhart (0-for-5) was walked intentionally to load the bases, a grounder to short by Carhart resulted in a throwing error that plated Penalver with the winning run.
The bullpen failed to hold the lead in a Wednesday matinee as Kane County lost to Fort Wayne 7-4 in 10 innings. Paul Blackburn got the start and was able to hold the Tin Caps to two earned runs over five innings while striking out four batters. James Pugliese worked 2.1 innings and was touched for an earned run with a pair of strikeouts. Nathan Dorris pitched a perfect 0.2 innings, but closer Jose Arias was victimized by some poor defense. Arias actually allowed Fort Wayne to tie the game in the ninth on a home run. With one out into the tenth, outfielder Jacob Hannemann played a fly ball into a two-base error. And that opened the floodgates for three unearned runs.
The Cougars drew first blood after Jacob Hannemann (1-for-5 with a triple) tripled to lead off the game and scored on a sacrifice fly. Jacob Rogers (1-for-4 with a home run) tied the game leading off the second inning with a solo home run. Kane County took the lead in the sixth as Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with a RBI) reached on a one out single. A base hit by Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4) and David Bote (1-for-2 with a double) was hit by a pitch loaded the sacks. Shawon Dunston Jr. (1-for-4 with two RBI) then delivered a single that scored both Carhart and Balaguert.
High Class–A – Daytona Cubs (1-5)
Daytona had some trouble getting both phases in sync on Monday as the D-Cubs lost 5-4 to Brevard County. The D-Cubs have not received good pitching performances yet when the offense is able to put up runs … and when the pitching staff does their job, the offense has struggled. Daytona jumped out ahead of the Manatees in the second inning after Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3), Jeimer Candelario (2-for-4 with a triple and a RBI), and Willson Contreras (1-for-4) reached with singles. Vogelbach was thrown out at home. A double by Rock Shoulders (2-for-4 with a double and two RBI) allowed Candelario and Contreras to score. Marco Hernandez (1-for-3) singled Shoulders to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Gioskar Amaya (0-for-2 with a RBI). The D-Cubs added a run in the third inning after Albert Almora reached on a one out single and advanced to third on an error. Almora scored on a groundout.
Big lefty Rob Zastryzny made his first High-A start and kept Brevard County off the board for the first two innings. But Zastryzny allowed four earned runs over the next two innings. Zastryzny picked up six strikeouts and left the game with it tied at four. Yao-Lin Wang was hung with a tough loss as he was charged with an unearned run after Marco Hernandez dropped a fly ball. Zach Cates was shaky but successful in his two innings of work. Cates managed to get out of some self-made jams to hold the Manatees scoreless while striking out a batter. Arodys Vizcaino came in throwing some 97 mph heat while recording a strikeout as he kept Brevard County off the board for an inning. Austin Reed finished the game by getting two quick outs and hitting a batter before recording the final out on a pop-up.
After a storm washed out Tuesday’s game, a doubleheader was scheduled for Wednesday and Daytona lost 1-0 to Dunedin in game one. Felix Pena was a hard-luck pitcher again as he only allowed one earned runs through six innings while striking out one batter. Michael Jensen pitched the seventh and also recorded a strikeout. Albert Almora (2-for-3 with two doubles) was the only D-Cubs player that produced at the plate.
The D-Cubs dropped the second game of Wednesday’s twinbill with Dunedin 6-4. Starter Jose Rosario was charged with two runs, one earned, on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings. But it was Starling Peralta that could not keep the Blue Jays off the board. Peralta allowed four runs, two earned, on three hits with one strikeout in 0.1 innings.
The D-Cubs’ infield committed four errors … one each by Gioskar Amaya and Jeimer Candelario while Marco Hernandez was charged with two miscues.
Daytona tried to battle back in the seven-inning game, but it was a case of too little, too late. The Blue Jays took a 6-1 lead into the sixth before the D-Cubs scored three runs with Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) providing the highlight. Vogelbach hit a three-run homer for his first longball of the season. Albert Almora (1-for-3 with a run scored) was along for the ride and so was Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-2 with a walk, a double, a RBI and a run scored).
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (2-4)
The offensive woes continued for Tennessee on Monday as the Smokies lost 3-2 in the series finale to Pensacola. Starter Matt Loosen did not pitch that poorly in his first time out. Loosen allowed three earned runs over five innings while striking out two batters. The rest of the Smokies’ staff held the Blue Wahoos in check, with Ryan Searle getting the first call. Searle struck out a batter in 1.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka struck out the only two batters he faced, while Tony Zych also notched two strikeouts as he worked the final inning. Tennessee would not get on the board until the eighth inning when John Andreoli (0-for-2) drew a one out walk and scored on a double by Jeudy Valdez (2-for-3 with a double and a RBI). Dustin Geiger (2-for-4 with a home run) added a solo home run in the ninth.
The Smokies beat the Lookouts 3-1 on Wednesday night in the home opener in East Tennessee. C.J. Edwards started the game and was solid over 5.2 innings. Edwards gave up one run on five hits with four walks, a wild pitch and five strikeouts (95 pitches, 58 for strikes). Edwards loaded the bases in the sixth before turning the game over to the pen. P.J. Francescon bailed out Edwards and ended up with the victory on opening night. Jeffrey Lorick put together a scoreless outing while Armando Rivero earned his second save. Rivero was electric and struck out three of the four batters he faced.
The Smokies scored all three of their runs in the sixth inning. And the third run scored on a little league home run. Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a runs scored) started the two-out rally with a single to center. Dustin Geiger (1-for-4 with a run scored) reached on an error. With two on, two down and the Smokies down by a score of 1-0, Rafael Lopez (2-for-3 with a double, two RBI, a walk and a run scored) doubled to right. Bryant and Geiger scored … and so did Lopez on a throwing error by the Lookouts’ first baseman.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (3-4)
After Iowa’s 4-1 win over Nashville on Monday, the I-Cubs put themselves on twice as fast of a pace as 2013 when it took Iowa ten games to record two wins. The star of the night was starter Tsuyoshi Wada as the 33-year old left-hander from Japan allowed an earned run and struck out eight in 6.2 innings. Neil Ramirez bounced back from a poor performance to strike out two batters in 1.1 scoreless innings. Blake Parker gave up two hits, but also struck out two in the ninth to record his first save of the season.
The I-Cubs countered a home run given up by Wada in the second when Brett Jackson (2-for-2 with a triple and a stolen base) hit a one out triple in the fifth. Jackson scored on a single by Eli Whiteside (1-for-4 with a RBI). The score remained tied at one until the sixth inning when Matt Szczur (1-for-2) started a two out rally with a single. Chris Coghlan (0-for-3) walked to bring up Christian Villanueva (1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI). Villanueva belted his first Triple-A home run that provided Iowa with its winning margin.
Tuesday saw the second start for Chris Rusin, and while he pitched better, the results were the same as Iowa lost 4-1 to Nashville. Rusin’s control was better in his second start. Rusin struck out five batters without issuing a walk. However, he didn’t receiving the run support as he allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings. Alberto Cabrera followed and was, well, Alberto Cabrera. Cabrera tossed two innings and allowed an earned run while striking out a batter. Marcos Mateo pitched a scoreless ninth with a strikeout. The only run for the I-Cubs scored in the fifth inning after Christian Villanueva (1-for-3 with a double) laced a one out double and scored on a single from Eli Whiteside (1-for-3 with a RBI).
While the offense broke out the long ball on Wednesday afternoon, nothing could overshadow Iowa’s power pitching as the I-Cubs throttled the Sounds 6-1. Carlos Pimentel was on top of his game as he gave up a home run as one of his three hits, but struck out ten in six innings. Zac Rosscup continued the domination as he struck out four and gave up only one hit in two innings. Marcus Hatley slammed the door with two strikeouts in the final inning.
Pimentel also helped himself with the bat as his RBI single drove in Chris Coghlan (2-for-3 with a double and a RBI). With one out in the fifth, Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-3 with a stolen base) walked and Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double) doubled and put runners on second and third. Alcantara then scored on a wild pitch, while a sacrifice fly plated Baez. Brett Jackson (1-for-4 with a home run) added a solo blast in the sixth inning. It was Baez with a one out single in the seventh that set up Josh Vitters (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) for a two-run home run.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent RHP Jake Arrieta to the Tennessee Smokies for a rehab assignment.
The Iowa Cubs placed RHP Dallas Beeler, LHP Tommy Hottovy, 2B Edgar Gonzalez, OF Casper Wells and OF Jae-Hoon Ha on the disabled list prior to the season. RHP Barret Loux and RHP Trey McNutt were placed on the 60-day DL before the season began.
RHP Pierce Johnson and C Taylor Davis were placed on the disabled list by the Smokies prior to the season and the D-Cubs placed RHP Josh Conway, RHP Marcelo Carreno, LHP Michael Heesch and C Lance Rymel on the disabled list. C Nathan Maldonado was placed on the 60-day DL. Kane County added RHP Dillon Maples, RHP Trey Masek and C Cael Brockmeyer to its DL prior to the season.
Race to Wrigley
For the second straight year, I will be competing in the Race to Wrigley 5K run on April 12, 2014. If anyone is interested in making a donation, please visit ChicagoCubsOnline – Race to Wrigley to register. All proceeds go to Chicago Cubs Charities and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital).