And that’s not all. Not only did the farm system pile on the wins, in every case they did it on the back of some pretty good pitching. Add it all up, and Monday was a great day to be a Cub fan.
Once again a combination of rough starts and roster shuffles had left the Iowa bullpen stressed, and once again an Iowa starter put the team on his shoulders and gave most of the relievers a day to rest. Last time Chris Rusin was the hero. This time it was Casey Coleman.
Coleman was simply fantastic. He needed 91 pitches to complete seven innings of two hit, shutout baseball in which he walked one and struck out nine. He also smacked a double that stood as Iowa’s only hit until the ninth inning. In his six starts this season the right hander is being hit at merely a .188 pace. That’s a career low.
Randy Wells and Travis Wood have both had their chances to fill in for a start in Chicago. Casey Coleman might be next, and I would not be surprised if he enjoys some success when that opportunity comes. After all, he is only 24. He should still be getting better.
After Coleman exited the game, Scott Maine entered and earned the win with two innings of no hit pitching.
Other than Coleman’s double, Iowa’s lone hit in the game was a ninth inning single off the bat of Josh Vitters. Brett Jackson drew a ninth inning walk (the only one earned by Iowa), advanced to third on the single by Vitters, and scored when New Orleans starter Alex Sanabia balked while pitching to Mr. Everything Jonathan Mota.
In one sense, Bour had a terrible day. He was picked off base, was caught stealing, and was erased at first on a double play. On the other hand, his base running adventures led to the Smokies pushing a run across the plate. In the first inning Bour singled, advancing Jae-Hoon Ha to third with two outs. Somehow he then gets himself picked off of first, but rather than simply accepting the out he apparently tried to make it to second base. Keep in mind that Bour is a 6’4″, 250 pound first baseman. To put it kindly, he is no Tony Campana. Needless to say, he doesn’t make it to second and gets hit with a Caught Stealing as well. However, he manages to stay alive long enough for Ha to score from third (keep mind that there were two outs). Without knowing any further details I can’t say if it was brilliant base running by Bour, or just a guy making the best out of a mistake, or perhaps a little of both. Regardless, I suspect it was one of those plays that you are unlikely to see outside of the minor leagues.
Take everything I recently said about Austin Kirk, and repeat it for Eric Jokisch. The young lefty threw seven innings, allowed four hits, and struck out a league high eleven batters. Joksich began the 2011 season in Peoria, but he finished it in Tennessee. I think he will be heading back to Tennessee in the near future. Jokisch has pitched 6+ innings with 7+ strikeouts in four of his last five starts. He has had a few rougher games this season, but despite those he is still striking out around a batter per inning. He hasn’t exactly been dominant, but he is certainly getting the job done. Like Kirk, Jokisch profiles as potential back of the rotation starter according to most scouts (I suspect he could improve enough to be a No. 3), and he is still a few years away from the majors.
Matt Szczur was three for four with a double and Nelson Perez was two for two with a triple to lead the Cubs. Richard Jones also tripled and Elieser Bonne collected his ninth stolen base of the season.
In his last ten games Matt Szczur, the Cubs’ future center fielder, is hitting .326/.356/.512 with two walks and five strike outs over 43 at bats. Two walks in 43 ABs is not a great rate, but since his OBP is still .356 and he has only struck out five times in that span, I’m not worried. In the past ten games he also has five stolen bases and seven extra base hits. If he hasn’t packed for Tennessee yet, I think he might want to do so soon.
Patrick Francescon pitched another of those low-WHIP, low-K games that have become so common among the Cubs’ better tier of pitching prospects. He did allow four runs in his six innings of work, but only two of them were earned. Sheldon McDonald, a Canadian left hander making his season debut, and Jeffrey Lorick pitched the final three innings.
Paul Hoilman had a huge game for the Chiefs. His three for four, five RBI night was capped off by a grand slam in that decisive seventh inning. Taiwan Easterling scored three times on two hits (including a double) and no walks. Ryan Cuneo also had two hits, including a double.