A Player-of-the-Year candidate has moved to the forefront as Billy McKinney of Myrtle Beach now leads the Carolina League in hitting and RBI, and is second in home runs, as the Pelicans have gained their 20th win of the season. South Bend has the most likely leader for Pitcher-of-the-Year as Jeremy Null improved his record to 4-0 while the SB Cubs moved their record to two games over .500.
Kyle Schwarber and Dan Vogelbach keep bashing home runs as Tennessee maintained their winning record but slipped in the standings to second place. And despite home runs from Javier Baez and Christian Villanueva, Iowa slipped to two games under .500 for the year.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (17-15)
South Bend is attempting to climb in the standings by knocking off teams ahead of them and the SB Cubs started by beating Lansing 7-4 on Monday. Manager Jimmy Gonzalez is probably hoping this was a confidence builder for two of his beleaguered pitchers, as starter Jake Stinnett was roughed up for four earned runs, but struck out three in five innings and came away with the win. Tommy Thorpe has had all kinds of trouble this season, but the lefty had his best showing as he struck out a batter in two scoreless innings. James Farris has emerged as the closer and fanned four in two perfect innings.
The SB Cubs answered two runs by the Lugnuts with three of their own in the first inning after Charcer Burks (1-for-5 with a double) led off with a double and Gleyber Torres (1-for-4) singled. A wild pitch brought in Burks and a base hit from Chesny Young (2-for-4 with an RBI) scored Torres. Singles by Jason Vosler (2-for-4) and Gioskar Amaya (2-for-3 with a double and an RBI) drove in Young.
With two outs in the second inning, Young had another single and scored on a home run from Yasiel Balaguert (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI). Jesse Hodges (2-for-3 with a home run and an RBI) padded the lead in the sixth inning with a solo home run. One out walks to Amaya and Justin Marra (0-for-3 with a walk), along with a single by Hodges loaded the bases in the eighth, and Amaya scored on a force out.
On Tuesday afternoon, South Bend unleashed their ace and came away a 5-3 victory over Lansing. Jeremy Null tied for the league lead as he improved to 4-0 on the season. Null is second in the league in both ERA (0.78) and WHIP (0.87). Null struck out four and allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits in six innings. Ryan McNeil worked around two hits with a strikeout in two scoreless innings. Despite giving up an earned run, Jordan Minch collected his second save as he pitched the ninth.
The SB Cubs scored their runs one at a time as Jason Vosler (2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI) and Yasiel Balaguert (2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI) had back-to-back two out doubles that allowed Vosler to score. In the second, Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4 with a triple and two stolen bases) reached on a force, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on a wild pitch. Gleyber Torres (2-for-3 with a double) led off the third with a double and scored on a double from Vosler. The fifth inning began with a double by Balaguert and a walk to Jesse Hodges (0-for-2 with a walk). A force play and a throwing error allowed Balaguert to score.
South Bend scored for a final time in the eighth after Hodges was hit by a pitch and scored on a two-out single from Rashad Crawford (2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base).
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (20-12)
A Monday matinee was a see-saw affair that had Myrtle Beach come out on top over Winston-Salem 8-5. Behind 1-0, Danny Lockhart (1-for-3 with a home run) tied the score in the third inning with his first home run since 2012. Carlos Penalver (1-for-3 with an RBI) reached on an error and Mark Zagunis (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) doubled. Penalver later scored on a ground out and Zagunis on a sacrifice fly. After the Dash took the lead 4-3, walks to Victor Caratini (0-for-3), Trey Martin (1-for-4 with a triple), and Lockhart loaded the bases to start the seventh. A sacrifice fly brought in Caratini, and a single from Zagunis scored Martin. Following a throwing error, a base hit by Billy McKinney (2-for-4 with three RBI) plated Lockhart.
The Pelicans added two more runs in the ninth inning after Penalver led off with a single and scored on one out base hits by Wes Darvill (1-for-5 with an RBI) and McKinney. Darvill came home on a sacrifice fly.
Daury Torrez took the hill for Myrtle Beach and was roughed up Winston-Salem. Torrez allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits and a walk while striking out four in five innings. James Pugliese relieved and gave up an earned run in two innings. Zach Cates had two walks and two strikeouts in two scoreless innings for his first save.
Myrtle Beach’s game on Tuesday was postponed due to a bus accident involving their opponent, the Carolina Mudcats. None of the players were seriously injured.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (17-15)
A tense game was broken open in the eighth inning as Tennessee walked away with a 4-0 victory over Montgomery on Monday. The Smokies manufactured a run in the first inning after Albert Almora (0-for-3 with a walk) walked, advanced to third on an error, and scored on a ground out. Tennessee got a little more breathing room in the sixth inning when Willson Contreras (1-for-4 with a home run) reached on a force and scored after singles from Elliot Soto (1-for-1 with three walks) and Stephen Bruno (2-for-4 with an RBI). The eighth inning saw the Smokies put the game away after Dan Vogelbach (1-for-2 with a home run) and Contreras led off the inning with back-to-back home runs.
Starter Jeffry Antigua had to be perfect in order to protect the fragile lead, and he was up to the task. Antigua scattered two hits and three walks in five innings while striking out three batters. Michael Jensen also fanned three in two innings. P.J. Francescon joined the party as he struck out three in the final two innings for his fourth save.
The Smokies had a rare day/night doubleheader Tuesday and Tennessee edged Montgomery in the opener 7-6. Frank Batista remains a stalwart of the Tennessee rotation as he struck out six and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings. Stephen Perakslis ate up some innings as he gave up an earned run with a strikeout in two innings. Carl Edwards Jr. is still a work in progress as he surrendered two runs (one earned) but struck out four in two innings to earn the victory.
Tennessee jumped out to an early lead in the second inning after Dan Vogelbach (3-for-3) and Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI) singled. A sacrifice from Bijan Rademacher (1-for-3) and a throwing error allowed Vogelbach to score. Kyle Schwarber (1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI) crushed a solo home run to right center with two outs in the third inning. Vogelbach followed with a single and scored on a triple by Contreras. With the score tied at three in the fifth, Elliot Soto (3-for-5 with a double and an RBI) led off with a single. A walk to Schwarber and a base hit by Vogelbach loaded the bases. A ground out brought in Soto to break the tie. In what proved to be the decisive inning, Rademacher led off the eighth with a single. After a sacrifice and a wild pitch moved Rademacher to third, a two out base hit by Anthony Giansanti (1-for-4 with an RBI) drove in Rademacher. A triple from Jacob Hannemann (1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI) scored Giansanti, and Hannemann came home on a double by Soto.
In the nightcap, Tennessee was embarrassed by Montgomery 14-0. The Smokies hitters just did not come to play as Elliot Soto (1-for-4) and Albert Almora (1-for-4) were the only ones to get hits. Corey Black provided what is turning out to be a typical performance. Black allowed two earned runs and struck out six in six innings. Gerardo Concepcion pitched well in the seventh inning, but was part of an inning to forget in the eighth. Concepcion, Starling Peralta, and Andres Santiago combined to surrender ten runs in the inning, with Concepcion yielding two earned runs as he struck out three in 1.1 innings. Peralta pitched to seven batters and failed to record an out and gave up seven runs (three earned). Santiago allowed another earned run and two more in the ninth inning.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (15-17)
Iowa had the tables turned on them by Colorado Springs on Monday and lost to the Sky Sox 13-7. Dallas Beeler started the afternoon game and still looked unprepared. Beeler gave up six earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four in 4.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka had two strikeouts in 1.2 scoreless innings. Blake Cooper suffered some poor defense as he was nicked for four unearned runs in 1.2 innings. Joe Ortiz was hammered. Ortiz allowed three earned runs in 1.1 innings.
The I-Cubs tried to make a game of it in the fourth inning after John Andreoli (1-for-3 with a triple, two RBI, and three stolen bases) was hit by a pitch with one out, and stole second base. Javier Baez (1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base) walked, and both he and Andreoli scored on a triple from Rafael Lopez (2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI). Lopez scored on a ground out. In the fifth inning, Chris Valaika (1-for-3 with a double) doubled and Mike Baxter (0-for-1 with a walk) walked with one out. A triple by Andreoli drove in Valaika and Baxter. A single from Baez plated Andreoli.
Iowa added a run in the ninth after Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-5 with a double) doubled and scored on a two out single from Lopez.
Tuesday’s game with Nashville had the feeling the some of the Iowa players were “mailing it in” as they lost 6-3. The I-Cubs seemed thrown by a late scratch of scheduled starter Tsuyoshi Wada and the spoiled a decent Triple-A debut by left-hander Tyler Ihrig.
Called up from extended Spring Training, where he was listed as a member of the Short-Season A Eugene Emeralds, Ihrig struck out three and allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks in five innings. Armando Rivero regressed as he gave up an earned run and had two strikeouts in an inning of work. Gonzalez Germen was lit up as he surrendered three earned runs in an inning. Drake Britton and Brian Schlitter each tossed a scoreless inning.
The Iowa bats were relatively silent in the early going. Adron Chambers (1-for-3 with an RBI) walked to lead off the third inning. A double from John Andreoli (1-for-4 with a double) and a sacrifice fly scored Chambers. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a home run) added a one out home run in the sixth, and Christian Villanueva (3-for-4 with a home run) hit a solo home run to start the seventh.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs assigned LHP Tyler Ihrig to the Iowa Cubs for the Eugene Emeralds; assigned INF Chesny Young to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from the South Bend Cubs.