The needle seems to be pointing up for the Cubs’ affiliates to start the week, as three of the four have reached their 13th win of the season.
South Bend is riding the extra base bat of Yasiel Balaguert as Ryan Williams’ ERA keeps getting smaller. Myrtle Beach swept a series on the road behind the pitching of Duane Underwood Jr., Paul Blackburn, and Tyler Skulina. The bat of Kyle Schwarber and the arm of Ivan Pineyro allowed Tennessee to take two out of three from White Sox affiliate Birmingham. Iowa was able to avoid a sweep as Donn Roach pitched a gem and the offense clicked with Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (13-11)
South Bend is on a roll winning seven of their last nine games as the pulled away on Friday to beat Fort Wayne 11-5. A seven-run seventh inning sealed the deal, but it was tight game up until then. Justin Marra (1-for-5 with an RBI) reached in the second inning on a fielder’s choice and scored after singles from Gioskar Amaya (1-for-3) and Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-3 with a triple and four RBI). In the third inning, Rashad Crawford (2-for-5 with an RBI) led off with a single and came around on a one out single from Chesny Young (3-for-5 with an RBI). Young took second on an error and scored on a base hit from Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-4 with an RBI).
The seventh inning started innocently enough, as Balaguert drew a leadoff walk. Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4) singled and a throwing error put runners on second and third. A base hit by Crawford drove in Balaguert. After Crawford was picked off of first, a triple by Gleyber Torres (2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI) scored Baez. Young reached on a fielder’s choice as Torres was thrown out at home. Brockmeyer was intentionally walked, and a single from David Bote (2-for-2 with an RBI) brought in Young. A base hit by Marra drove in Brockmeyer, and a walk to Amaya loaded the bases. Balaguert delivered a bases clearing triple to score Bote, Marra, and Amaya. South Bend added one more in the eighth on singles from Torres, Young, and Bote.
Zach Hedges had a quality start as he allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out three in six innings. David Garner remains unscored upon as he struck out three in two innings. Tommy Thorpe still had his troubles, giving up two earned runs on two hits and two walks in the ninth.
On Saturday, South Bend electrified the home crowd with a thrilling comeback for a 5-4 victory over Fort Wayne. The scoring started in the bottom of the first after Gleyber Torres (1-for-3 with a stolen base) reached on a force play and advanced to second on an error. Torres scored on a single from Chesny Young (2-for-3 with two RBI). Down 3-1 in the fifth inning, the SB Cubs cut the lead with the combination of Torres and Young. Torres walked, stole second and scored on a base hit from Young.
Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, Torres led off with a single and took second on an error. Young walked and Cael Brockmeyer (2-for-4) reached on a base hit to load the bases for Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4 with a double and three RBI). For the second straight night, Balaguert drilled an extra base hit, a double that scored Torres, Young and Brockmeyer for the game winner.
Trevor Clifton took the hill for South Bend and continued to show his sharp control, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks as he struck out three in five innings. Tyler Ihrig ate up some innings, giving up an earned run in three innings. James Farris collected his first save as he struck out the side in the ninth.
It was a familiar story for South Bend on Sunday as poor defense and an iffy bullpen led to a 6-3 loss to Fort Wayne. Ryan Williams lowered his league leading ERA to 0.35 as he scattered four hits over six scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Ryan McNeil was the victim of poor defense as he allowed three runs (one earned) with two strikeouts in an inning of work. Jordan Minch had his worst outing of the season as he gave up three earned runs with three strikeouts in two innings.
Down 3-0, the SB Cubs cut the lead in the seventh inning after Rashad Crawford (1-for-4 with a double) had a two out double and scored on a double from Charcer Burks (3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and two stolen bases). Burks stole third and scored on a single by Gleyber Torres (1-for-4 with an RBI). South Bend added a run in the ninth inning when Jeffrey Baez (0-for-3) walked, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a base hit from Burks.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (13-9)
Friday saw Myrtle Beach remain persistent as the Pelicans got past Lynchburg 7-3 in a rain shorted seven and a half innings. Duane Underwood had his good stuff working as he had six strikeouts and allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and four walks in five innings. Michael Heesch had two strikeouts in two perfect innings for his first save.
The visiting Pelicans got off to a fast start after Mark Zagunis (1-for-3) led off the game with a walk and scored on a two out double from Jeimer Candelario (2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI). A single by Jacob Rogers (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) plated Candelario. Wes Darvill (1-for-3) started the second inning with a single and was sacrificed to second. Zagunis drove in Darvill.
Myrtle Beach broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth when Rogers blasted a solo home run to right field. The Birds broke the game open in the seventh inning after Carlos Penalver (2-for-2) singled and Kevin Brown (2-for-4) reached with a one out base hit. A double by Candelario scored Penalver and Brown. And Candelario scored on an error.
Myrtle Beach survived a late inning scare on Saturday and ended up with a 5-4 win over Lynchburg. The Pelicans made the most of the six hits. Mark Zagunis (1-for-3 with a home run and a stolen base) tied the score at one in the third inning with a solo home run. Jacob Rogers (0-for-3) walked to start the fourth and went to second on a single from Victor Caratini (1-for-4). A one out base hit from Trey Martin (1-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base) drove in Rogers with the go ahead run. Martin stole second and Wes Darvill (0-for-3) walked to load the bases. Carlos Penalver (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) delivered a double that plated Caratini and Martin. Darvill scored on a wild pitch.
Paul Blackburn had his most effective start of the season. Blackburn allowed an earned run and struck out two in five innings. The good news was that Gerardo Concepcion struck out six in two innings … the bad news was that Concepcion also gave up three earned runs in the process. Tayler Scott worked around two hits for a scoreless inning, while Jasvir Rakkar tossed a perfect inning for his second save.
It was a good, old fashioned pitcher’s duel on Sunday as Myrtle Beach used two big hits to edge Lynchburg 2-1. Tyler Skulina gave his best effort of the year as he limited the Hillcats to one hit while striking out eight in six scoreless innings. Ben Wells gave up the only earned run as he tossed 2.1 innings. James Pugliese recorded the final two outs for his first save.
The entire Pelicans offense came via Billy McKinney (2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI), whose two solo home runs in the fourth and seventh innings provided the winning margin.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (13-9)
Suddenly, the bats seem quiet for Tennessee as they managed only four hits in a 3-2 loss to Birmingham on Friday in 10 innings. The Smokies scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings after Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a double) doubled and scored on a single from Ryan Dent (1-for-4 with an RBI). After a walk to Kyle Schwarber (0-for-2) and a base hit by Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4) in the sixth, Schwarber scored on a double play.
Frank Batista pitched another great game, striking out three and allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. Stephen Perakslis had a second straight good outing, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings. Zach Cates could not get the final out of the tenth. Cates gave up three straight singles and allowed the winning run to score.
It took a little while for Tennessee to warn up on Saturday but the Smokies were able to get hot at the right time to beat Birmingham 6-5 in 10 innings. Corey Black started and had an uneven effort. Black struck out 10 batters in 5.2 innings, but allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks. Starling Peralta may be getting closer to larger responsibilities as he shut down the Barons for two innings. P.J. Francescon tried to nail down the four out save, but gave up the tying run in the ninth. Francescon was able to redeem himself in the tenth inning by inducing Birmingham to hit into a game ending double play with the tying run on third base.
The Smokies trailed 2-0 in the fifth when Dan Vogelbach (3-for-4 with a double, a triple, and an RBI) led off with a double and Willson Contreras (1-for-5) singled. A double by Stephen Bruno (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) scored Vogelbach. Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI) put Tennessee ahead by launching a three-run homer to the opposite field. With the game tied at four in the eighth, Tennessee took the lead after Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-5) reached with a one out single and scored on a triple by Vogelbach.
The game was tied again five in the tenth, Kyle Schwarber (1-for-5 with a home run and an RBI) broke the deadlock for good with a solo home run to right.
On Sunday, it was the Smokies’ pitching that took control as Tennessee blanked Birmingham 3-0. Ivan Pineyro was at the top of his game as he limited the Barons to five hits as he struck out five in seven innings. Carl Edwards Jr. tossed two perfect innings and had two strikeouts for his first save.
Tennessee broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning after Stephen Bruno (1-for-4) singled with one out and scored on a triple from Bijan Rademacher (2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and an RBI). A base hit by Elliot Soto (3-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base) plated Rademacher. The Smokies added a run in the sixth after Rademacher led off with a ground rule double and scored on a single by Soto.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (10-13)
Iowa could not dig themselves out of a hole they created as four errors contributed to a 5-4 loss to Oklahoma City on Friday. Dallas Beeler made his second rehab start and was a victim of the shoddy defense as he allowed three runs (one earned) and struck out four in 3.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka continued to get torched in Triple-A as he gave up two earned runs and had four strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Armando Rivero, Brian Schlitter, and James Russell each tossed a scoreless inning.
The I-Cubs tried to mount a comeback in the fifth inning after Adron Chambers (1-for-4) and Rubi Silva (3-for-4 with a double and a triple) singled with one out, with a sacrifice advancing them a base. A triple from Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) drove in Chambers and Silva and Alcantara scored on a balk. Matt Szczur (1-for-4 with a home run an RBI) added a solo home run in the eighth inning.
A lack of offense magnified Iowa’s defensive mistakes as they lost 4-1 to Oklahoma City on Saturday. Making another rehab start, Tsuyoshi Wada was at the top of his game, as he was nicked for two unearned runs but struck out five in seven innings. After a working around a single in the eighth, Yoanner Negrin gave up two earned runs in the ninth inning.
The only run for the I-Cubs came in the seventh inning as Rubi Silva (2-for-4 with a double) led off with a double and scored on a single from Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base).
The I-Cubs played a complete game Sunday and avoided a sweep as they beat Oklahoma City 7-3. Donn Roach remains a rock in the starting rotation, allowing three runs in eight innings while striking out two batters. Blake Cooper pitched a perfect ninth inning.
Iowa parlayed two out singles from Rafael Lopez (3-for-5 with a double), Javier Baez (3-for-5 with a double, a home run, and two RBI), and Mike Baxter (1-for-5 with an RBI) in to the first run of the ballgame in the bottom of the first. Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) led off the third inning with a solo home run. Matt Szczur (1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI) followed with a triple and scored on a ground out.
In the fourth inning, John Andreoli (0-for-1 with three walks) drew a one out walk and Adron Chambers (2-for-3) singled. A sacrifice bunt by Donn Roach (0-for-3) and error brought in Andreoli. A base hit from Alcantara plated Chambers. A sacrifice fly scored Roach. Javier Baez added a solo home run in the fifth inning.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned RHP Andres Santiago to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs.
The Tennessee Smokies placed LHP Rob Zastryzny on the 7-day disabled list.
Top Prospect Watch
Note: OF Mark Zagunis replaces OF Albert Almora Jr., who is on the disabled list.
- Trevor Clifton (RHP) – 1-1, 16.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 5 ER, 19 K, 1.020 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (RHP) – 0-2, Save, 11.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 5 ER, 13 K, 1.544 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
- Billy McKinney (OF) – .290/.375/.435/.810, a double, three HR, 10 RBI (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Kyle Schwarber (C) – .364/.476/.697/1.173, five doubles, a triple, five home runs, 15 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Jake Stinnett (RHP) – 0-1, 15 IP, 6.60 ERA, 11 ER, 12 K, 2.067 WHIP (South Bend Cubs)
- Gleyber Torres (INF) – .349/.443/.434/.877, three doubles, two triples, 15 RBI, eight SB (South Bend Cubs)
- Jen-Ho Tseng (RHP) – 1-0, 14.1 IP, 3.14 ERA, 5 ER, 10 K, 0.977 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Duane Underwood Jr. (RHP) – 3-0, 21 IP, 1.29 ERA, 3 ER, 18 K, 1.048 WHIP (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
- Dan Vogelbach (1B) – .378/.474/.610/1.084, eight doubles, a triple, three HR, 14 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)
- Mark Zagunis (OF) – .262/.402/.369/.772, two doubles, a triple, a HR, eight RBI, three SB (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)