With great games in Peoria and Iowa, pitching was the star on Sunday. Off the mound, a number of known prospects and intriguing fringe guys had pretty good days in their own right. How many of them did you see? Remember, if you attended any games over the weekend (or at any other time during the season) we’d love to hear about them. The comments are a great place to post your observations, and so are the Message Boards. Whether you have a scouting report on Wes Darvill or a first hand account of the best food in the Chief’s ballpark, we welcome all pictures and reports from any of the Cubs minor league teams.
AAA – Iowa Cubs. 8 – 10
When Iowa went to the ballpark on Sunday morning, their bullpen was undermanned, overworked, and exhausted. More than anything else, they needed starter Chris Rusin to eat up a big chunk of innings to allow the pen a day to rest. Rusin had bigger ideas. Not only did he pitch eight innings, he allowed just two hits on the way to a sparkling 2-1 win.
Blake Parker allowed a run in the ninth inning as he collected the save, but Rusin could probably have gone the distance. According to the box score, he finished the eighth with a pitch count of 93.
Adrian Cardenas tripled, Anthony Rizzo and Welington Castillo both doubled, and Rusin drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Brett Jackson did not have a hit, but he didn’t strike out either. Jackson probably does need a few more weeks in Iowa, but Rizzo, Castillo, and Cardenas could be ready at any time. The Cubs won’t rush any of their young players, but as we saw this weekend, call ups can happen at any time.
Ryan Searle pitched the first four innings, earning his first loss of the season. Casey Weathers, Casey Harman, and Daniel Berlind all pitched in relief. Harman probably had the best day of the bunch (2.1 innings, 4H, 1R, 1BB, 3K) but no one had a truly great performance.
In 67 AB across 18 games, Watkins is now hitting .299/.382/.388 with a double, a triple, a home run, and four stolen bases. He has walked eight times against eleven strikeouts. If Adrian Cardenas is promoted to Chicago at some point in the near future, it will be very tempting for the Cubs to give Watkins a chance to hit Triple A pitching.
The Cubs pieced this game together with the bullpen. Matt Loosen, Brett Wallach, Ty’relle Harris, Brian Schlitter, and Tony Zych all pitched in the game. Ty’relle Harris earned the win despite being the only pitcher in this list to allow a run.
Ronald Torreyes and Rubi Silva both tripled. Elieser Bonne contributed his second home run of the season as the Cubs made the most of their seven hits to push six runs across the plate. Once again, the Cubs’ hitters helped their own efforts by playing error-less defense.
Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 7 – 10
It was a chilly 58 degrees in Peoria on Sunday afternoon, but those fans who made it to the ballpark were treated to a fantastic pitching performance. Patrick Francescon, Andrew McKirahan, and Jeffrey Lorick combined to throw a two hit shutout against Lansing. Peoria won 2-0.
Francescon was fantastic. In seven innings he allowed one hit, one walk, and struck out five. When he is good, Francescon might be the best starter in this rotation. Michael Jensen has been very good and very consistent, but Francescon now has pitched two absolute gems. We will continue to follow both these guys with interest.
McKirahan and Lorick should not be ignored in this game. Neither one has allowed an earned run this season. As any Cub fan can tell you, a good team needs a good bullpen. With guys like these two, among others, the Cubs are well on their way to building a good bullpen from within.