Tuesday was not a good day for pitchers at any of the minor league games. We expected the Iowa game to be a high scoring one (and it was), but neither of the A-ball clubs had any trouble putting up runs of their own. In fact, Iowa had the fewest runs of any Cub farm team on Tuesday night.
Chris Rusin gave up six runs in the first, but only two of them were earned. That was his only inning of work. Frankie De La Cruz came out for the second inning and actually pitched fairly well. He held the Isotopes to one run on five hits over four innings – not bad for an extended relief outing in Albuquerque. Nate Robertson did not fare nearly so well over the final three innings. In all, the Cubs’ pitchers allowed 20 hits. That was bad enough, but the three errors committed behind them didn’t help matters any.
The Cubs scored three quick runs in the top of the first, but that was the only time they led all game. In total, Iowa did earn ten hits. Luis Valbuena, Anthony Rizzo, and Adrian Cardenas all had two hits a piece. Brett Jackson hammered a triple in the first inning, his second of the year.
AA – Tennesse Smokies. 6 – 6
The Smokies were rained out on Tuesday. We won’t have to wait long to make up the game up, though, as the plan is to play a double header today. Both games will likely last seven innings instead of the usual nine, baring extra innings. Dallas Beeler will pitch the first game, and Dae-Eun Rhee will handle the second.
Hayden Simpson did not have anything close to his usual control, and the Blue Jays chased him in the third. After that, four relievers combined to allow just two additional runs the rest of the game, but those were runs the Cubs offense could not quite make up.
Daytona did manage to put together a couple of rallies in this one, including a two run burst in the ninth that fell just short of knotting the score.
Matt Szczur once again managed to score a run without getting a hit. This time he didn’t even have a walk. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, he scored from first on a wild pick off attempt in the fourth inning. Even Tony Campana could be proud of a play like that.
Elieser Bonne hit his first professional home run Tuesday evening while leading off the fourth. Greg Rohan also homered as part of his 2 for 3 night. He collected two walks, as well. Daytona’s nine hits marked one of their better offensive showings of the season, but their defense coughed up another two errors.
Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 6 – 6
It took four tries before Peoria found a pitcher who could keep Cedar Rapids off the boards, but the offense just kept putting up the runs. The Chiefs won an offensive nail-biter, 7-6.
Patrick Francescon gave up three runs and did not get out of the fourth. Bryce Shafer was worse, and Scott Weismann was not a whole lot better. Finally, Yao-Lin Wang was brought in for the eighth and pitched two innings of hit-less ball. Unless the Cubs are going to keep Wang in the pen with the intent of moving him up the farm system quickly, I suspect we will see the right hander rejoin the starting rotation in the second half, if not before. I’m not sure which starting rotation he will join, though; I can make a case for Peoria or Daytona.
Rafael Lopez got credit for a triple, his first of the season. That’s somewhat unusual given that Lopez is a catcher, a position not exactly known for producing fast base runners. Outfielder Pin-Chieh Chen had two extra base hits (a double and a triple) and scored twice. Brad Zapenas also had two hits and scored twice. The biggest story of the night, however, would have to be the surprising play of previously relative unknown Oliver Zapata. Not only did Zapata go three for four, he also stole a base and threw out a runner at home in the fifth. Zapata, 19, was an international signing a few years ago, tore up rookie ball last year, but then struggled to close the year with Boise.
There are some video highlights of the Chief’s win on Monday available on the website for the Peoria Journal Star, giving us our first glimpse of Zapata at the plate. I’m hoping some of our loyal readers in the Peoria area will be heading to the ballpark soon and can check this guy out in person.