The week ended in extremes as Eugene held on to a first place lead with big pitching performances from Justin Steele and Oscar De La Cruz. South Bend’s reshuffled line-up produced a blow out win and a big game from Angelo Amendolare.
And Iowa fell out of playoff contention despite the efforts of Mike Baxter.
So get the lowdown as we head into the final weekend of minor league regular season play in today’s Down on the Farm Report.
Short Season Class-A – Eugene Emeralds (37-35)
The Emeralds were able to get some breathing room on Tuesday, but not without a scare as Eugene held on for a 5-4 victory over Salem-Keizer. Justin Steele is beginning to show the dominant form that he displayed early in the season, as he had four strikeouts and gave up only one hit in four innings. Jose Paulino was a different story, surrendering four earned runs and recording two strikeouts in four innings. Craig Brooks notched his second save with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth.
It was a big fourth inning for Eugene after P.J. Higgins (3-for-4 with a double) and Eloy Jimenez (1-for-4) singled. Two wild pitches scored Higgins and moved Jimenez to third base. A one out double from Alex Bautista (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) drove in Jimenez, and a base hit by Tyler Alamo (1-for-4) brought in Bautista. Blake Headley (3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base) led off the seventh with a single and a stolen base. Headley then came home after a base hit from Adonis Paula (2-for-4 with an RBI) and a ground out.
Despite a 3-2 loss to Salem-Keizer on Wednesday, Eugene was able to maintain their one game first place lead. The Emeralds took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Ian Rice (0-for-2 with two walks) walked and scored after singles by Alberto Mineo (1-for-4) and Blake Headley (1-for-4 with an RBI). A two out base hit by Donnie Dewees (2-for-3 with a double and an RBI) drove in Mineo.
Organizational Pitcher of the Month Oscar De La Cruz was able to nurse a fragile lead by striking out four and allowing an earned run in six innings. Tyler Peitzmeier was ineffective as he gave up two earned runs in only 0.1 innings. Pedro Araujo was electric in the final 1.2 innings with five strikeouts.
Low Class-A – South Bend Cubs (63-70)
A final roster shake-up for 2015 seemed to jar South Bend on Wednesday, as they lost to Dayton 10-1. The Cubs started out hot after Charcer Burks (2-for-4 with a triple) led off the game with a single and scored on a double from Gioskar Amaya (2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI), but that would be it. James Norwood continued to have his troubles as a starter, allowing four earned runs while striking out two batters in 5.1 innings. Ryan McNeil was stung by his defense, which included an error of his own. McNeil gave up three runs (one earned) and had a strikeout in 1.2 innings. Corbin Hoffner had his scoreless inning streak snapped as he yielded three earned runs in the final two innings.
Turnabout is fair play, as South Bend laid some embarrassment on Dayton Thursday, beating the Dragons 12-5. The inconsistency of Jake Stinnett is almost maddening as the 2014 second round pick gave up two earned runs in the first inning, allowed two base runners over the next three innings, and then served up two home runs. The final line for Stinnett was 6.2 innings, five earned runs, and seven strikeouts. Alex Santana had a good outing, striking out a batter over 2.1 scoreless innings.
The Cubs’ offense bailed Stinnett out in the first inning after Angelo Amendolare (2-for-4 with a double and three RBI) and Kevin Encarnacion (2-for-4 with a home run) started the game with singles. They were still at first and second with two outs when David Bote (2-for-5 with a double, two RBI, and a stolen base) drove Amendolare and Encarnacion in. Bote stole second and Charcer Burks (0-for-3 with two walks) walked. A single from Jesse Hodges (2-for-4 with two RBI) scored Bote, and a walk to Vimael Machin (1-for-2 with an RBI) loaded the bases. A free pass to Erick Castillo (0-for-3 with two walks) forced in Burks. A double by Amendolare cleared the bases, bringing in Hodges, Machin, and Castillo. Bote doubled with one out in the second and scored after a wild pitch and a base hit by Hodges. Encarnacion drilled a solo home run in the third inning. In the seventh, Hodges reached on an error and walks to Machin and Amendolare had the sacks full. A wild pitch brought in Hodges. Ian Happ (0-for-3 with two walks) led off the eighth with a walk, and walks to Burks and Hodges had the bases full again. Machin and Castillo were able to coax walks to force in Happ and Burks.
High Class–A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (78-55)
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans know how to deal with pitcher’s duels, as they broke through against Potomac for a 4-2 victory on Wednesday. Myrtle Beach was held hitless until the sixth inning when Chesny Young (0-for-3 with a walk) reached on an error with one out. Mark Zagunis (1-for-4) followed with a single and two out double from Victor Caratini (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in both Young and Zagunis. A base hit by Jacob Rogers (1-for-4 with an RBI) brought in Caratini. In his Myrtle Beach debut, Jeffrey Baez (1-for-4 with a triple) led off the seventh inning with a triple and scored on a one out single by Ben Carhart (1-for-4 with an RBI).
Fresh off the disabled list, Jonathan Martinez was able to match the potential no-hitter being thrown against the Pelicans. Martinez blanked the Nationals for six innings while striking out two batters. Michael Heesch ran into some trouble as he allowed two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Side-arming David Berg had a strikeout in the final 1.1 innings to collect save number four.
The Pelicans appear to be adjusting to a new lineup as they lost to Potomac 4-2 on Thursday. Regardless of whether the offense consists of three new faces, Myrtle Beach has had a habit this season of coasting when they feel they have enough runs. That came back to haunt the Pelicans as Duane Underwood set the team up well. Allowing an earned run and striking out three in five innings. But Tyler Ihrig was unable to hold as he gave up three earned runs and had four strikeouts in three innings.
Myrtle Beach came out swinging. Chesny Young (1-for-4), Mark Zagunis (1-for-4), and Ben Carhart (1-for-3) loaded the bases on single, but only Young was able to score after a double play. Carhart walked to start the fourth inning, followed by a base hit by Victor Caratini (1-for-4). A double play moved Carhart to third, and he came home on a wild pitch.
Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (73-61)
Tennessee atoned for a miserable effort Tuesday by blowing out Biloxi 11-3 on Thursday. The Smokies answered two runs in the bottom of the second when Dan Vogelbach (1-for-4 with a double and an RBI) drew a one out walk in the third inning. Willson Contreras (3-for-6 with a double and an RBI) singled and walks to Bryant Flete (2-for-4 with a double and an RBI) and Anthony Giansanti (1-for-3 with an RBI) forced in Vogelbach. Carlos Penalver (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) and Andres Santiago (0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI) drew free passes to bring in Contreras and Flete. A wild pitch scored Giansanti, and a double from Bijan Rademacher (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) drove in Penalver and Santiago. Rademacher scored on an error. Contreras led off the fourth with a single and came around on a double from Flete. Penalver made his first Double-A hit in the ninth inning memorable as he slugged a solo home run. Rademacher walked, and back-to-back doubles by Vogelbach and Contreras scored Rademacher and Vogelbach.
Andres Santiago had one of his better games, striking out three and allowing three earned runs in six innings. Corey Black had an outing most expected being a frequent occurrence this season, as he tossed two scoreless innings. Starling Peralta set down the side in order in the ninth.
Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (78-62)
It was hard to believe that Iowa would be playing game two of a double header on Tuesday after game one lasting 19 innings, but the end of the season looms. An exhausted I-Cubs’ pitching staff did their best, but were unable to contain Oklahoma City in a 3-1 loss. Carlos Pimentel went the distance, allowing three earned runs and striking out four in six innings. The only run for Iowa came in the fifth inning after Mike Baxter (1-for-2 with a double) walked, was sacrificed to second, and scored on a two out single by Ryan Dent (1-for-3 with an RBI).
A depleted pitching staff meant calling on someone who was not ready as Iowa bowed to Oklahoma City 11-3 on Wednesday. Fernando Cruz, who was had his issues at Double-A, was called up from Tennessee for the start and was just destroyed, surrendering 10 earned runs in four innings. Armando Rivero allowed another earned run in one inning. Zac Rosscup, Yoervis Medina, and Brian Schlitter each tossed a scoreless inning.
The I-Cubs were already down 5-0 in the third inning when Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-4) walked with one out and scored after singles by Taylor Davis (3-for-4 with a double and an RBI) and Christian Villanueva (1-for-5 with an RBI). A base hit from Mike Baxter (1-for-4) loaded the bases, with Davis coming home on a sacrifice fly. Iowa added a consolation run in the seventh when Bonifacio singled and scored on a double by Davis.
It was another disappointing effort against Oklahoma City on Thursday as Iowa lost 8-3. Starter Eric Jokisch was pounded for six earned runs as he struck out five in six innings. Carl Edwards Jr. came off the DL to strike out a batter in an inning. Also returning to the I-Cubs was James Russell, who gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Brian Schlitter got the final out of the eighth.
The game was still in reach in the sixth inning when Kevin Brown (1-for-3) singled and came in on a two out base hit from Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-4 with an RBI). It was another quick run in the seventh. Mike Baxter (1-for-4) had a base hit and Taylor Teagarden (2-for-4 with a double) doubled. A sacrifice fly brought in Baxter. Iowa manufactured a run in the eighth after John Andreoli (1-for-3) walked, Bonifacio singled, and Andreoli scored after a double play and a wild pitch.
News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs sent LHP James Russell outright to the Iowa Cubs; assigned OF Kevin Brown to the Iowa Cubs from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans; assigned RHP Fernando Cruz to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; assigned RHP Michael Wagner to the Tennessee Smokies from the Iowa Cubs; assigned SS Carlos Penalver to the Tennessee Smokies from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans; assigned OF Jeffrey Baez and SS Gleyber Torres to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from the South Bend Cubs; assigned C Jordan Hankins to the South Bend Cubs from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans; assigned OF Danny Spingola to the South Bend Cubs from the Eugene Emeralds;
The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Carl Edwards Jr. from the 7-day disabled list, placed RHP Fernando Cruz and RHP P.J. Francescon on the 7-day disabled list. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans activated RHP Jonathan Martinez from the 7-day disabled list; place RHP Paul Blackburn on the 7-day disabled list.