It was a good night at Principal Park Monday for the Iowa Cubs as the I-Cubs fought back and beat the Omaha Storm Chasers on a walk-off single by Josh Vitters in the 10th inning that plated Javier Baez with the game winner. The Iowa Cubs moved into first place, one half-game ahead of Omaha with Monday’s victory.
Iowa was being shutout 4-0 going into the seventh inning before Manny Ramirez (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) connected for his first homer for Iowa, a two-run shot with Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI, a walk and two runs scored) on base. Omaha added a run in the top of the eighth and took a 5-2 lead into the home half.
Rafael Lopez (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) and Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) led off the eighth with back-to-back walks and former Cub Casey Coleman was summoned from Omaha’s bullpen. Ryan Kalish lined out to center. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored) walked to load the bases. Coleman struck out Chris Valaika swinging for the second out.
Kris Bryant stepped in and launched Coleman’s second pitch over the wall in center. And Bryant’s mammoth shot, a Grand Slam, put the I-Cubs up 6-5.
Blake Parker had a rough ninth inning and blew his first save of the year. After Iowa was unable to push across a run in the ninth, it was free baseball time at Principal Park. Marcus Hatley, another hard throwing reliever in the Cubs’ system, pitched a 1-2-3 top of the tenth.
Javier Baez led off the bottom of the tenth with a double to left. Baez just missed a walk-off home run. Chris Valaika bunted Baez to third and set it up for Bryant. But Omaha wanted nothing to do with Bryant and intentionally walked him and Logan Watkins to load the bases with one out.
With all of the attention on Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Manny Ramirez, it was the Cubs former top prospect, Josh Vitters that delivered the game winner. Vitters ripped a single into left, Baez scored and Iowa moved into first place.
Kris Bryant told Tony Andracki after the walk-off that Monday night was one of the 10 best games he’s ever been a part of.
The Iowa Cubs held an introductory press conference for Manny Ramirez Monday afternoon at Principal Park. Ramirez, wearing an Iowa Cubs logo t-shirt, was rather engaging throughout the press conference as he fielded questions from the Des Moines and Chicago media.
Theo Epstein was very honest with Ramirez from the beginning and told Ramirez that he would play maybe once a week. Ramirez likes the challenge that poises because that means he will have to be prepared to play on a daily basis. Ramirez said he would give his best when he has the opportunity to play.
Ramirez was asked why it took so long for him to report to Iowa. Ramirez admitted he “kinda loved it” in Mesa and pointed out the Cubs have such a great facility there he did not want to leave. He enjoyed working with the young players there.
Ramirez is looking forward to working with the young players and giving back to the game. Ramirez said having a routine is the key to success for a young player. Ramirez is thankful for the opportunity Theo Epstein and the Cubs have given him. Ramirez said he would’ve just coached and did not have to play. Ramirez said it was Theo Epstein’s idea to maybe play once a week.
Manny Ramirez was asked what he thought about the talent on Iowa’s roster, such as Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Ramirez said it’s unbelievable.
With his 2-for-4, home run, walk and four RBI performance on Monday night, Kris Bryant is now hitting .333/.412/.800 in 12 games for the Iowa Cubs. Bryant has three doubles, six home runs, 15 RBI, six walks, 16 strikeouts and a 1.212 OPS. Over the last 10 games, Bryant is 14-for-37 with three doubles, five home runs, six walks and six strikeouts (.378/.465/.865/1.330).
Bryant hit his 28th home run of the season Monday night between Double-A and Triple-A and is second in the minors in home runs behind the Rangers’ Joey Gallo. Gallo has hit 29 longballs this season.
For the year, Kris Bryant is hitting .352/.451/.717 with 23 doubles, 28 home runs, 210 total bases, 73 RBI and a 1.168 OPS.
Arismendy Alcantara was named the PCL Player of the Week Monday and extended his hitting streak to nine games in Iowa’s win. Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored Monday and is batting .439/.467/.732 with four doubles, a triple and two home runs over his last 10 games with a 1.198 OPS.
Arismendy Alcantara should give Kris Bryant a run for his money for the Cubs Player of the Month for June. Alcantara finished the month with a .345/.395/.549 slash line that included eight doubles, three triples, three home runs and a .944 OPS.
Javier Baez is figuring things out at the Triple-A level. Baez went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and a strikeout Monday night. Baez has more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) since June 24 and is 13-for-38 over his last 10 games with four doubles, seven walks and 11 strikeouts (.342/.444/.447/.892).
In 28 games last month, Baez hit .275/.345/.471 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 11 walks and 34 strikeouts with a .815 OPS.
Minor News and Notes
Jed Hoyer provided updates on C.J. Edwards and Jorge Soler prior to Monday’s game. Hoyer said the reports he’s getting on C.J. Edwards “have been encouraging” but there is not a time table on when he will be returning to the Smokies. Soler is closer to rejoining Tennessee than Edwards is. The AZL Cubs had Monday night off. Soler played Sunday and went 1-for-3. In five rehab games in Arizona, Soler is 8-for-15 with two doubles, a home run, three walks and three strikeouts.
Kyle Schwarber was named Player of the Week in the Midwest League.
RHP Dae-Eun Rhee was named Pitcher of the Week in the Southern League … four straight weeks a Smokies player won a weekly honor in the Southern League.
RHP Daury Torrez was named Pitcher of the Week in the Midwest League.
According to a report from the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Cubs are “in the process” of getting No. 99 jerseys for Manny Ramirez. Ramirez is currently wearing No. 44.
From ESPN Stats and Info … Kris Bryant and Manny Ramirez homered in the same game Monday night for the Iowa Cubs. Bryant was one-year old when Ramirez debuted for the Indians in 1993.