Despite being four games under .500, and despite riding a three game losing streak, the Iowa Cubs (31-35) are still sitting in second place in the division and are only four and a half games back of Oklahoma City. Considering their fortunes of late, that’s not a bad place to be. This has been a streaky team this season, and a well timed hot streak could put them right back at the top of things.
Triple A leagues do not crown a first half winner like the lower level leagues do, so Iowa has plenty of time to turn things around. This week they finish up a series in Memphis and then head home for four against Nashville starting Tuesday. If they can get a winning streak going in those games, it will be just in time to visit Oklahoma City for five starting Saturday.
For the Tennessee Smokies, the first half of the season cannot end soon enough. The Smokies are in free fall, losers of four in a row and owners of a .406 winning percentage at 28-41. That’s good for dead last in the league.
But when the second half begins this week, none of that matters. If the Smokies win the second half, they’ll still make the playoffs. They wrap up the first half in Jackson today, and then after the All Star break they’ll open the second half at home on Thursday.
For the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (36-33), a strong start to the second half is important. They will finish the first half in second place largely because of the early lead Salem was able to build up. The Pelicans were mostly able to stay with them in the later part of the first half, but could not close the gap. If Myrtle Beach can take the early lead in second half, I like their chances of holding onto it.
The Pelicans have one left to play in Potomac this afternoon, and then the break begins. They start the second half at home with four against Carolina, and then hit the road for Salem.
The South Bend Cubs (40-28), meanwhile, remain in control of their playoff destiny. They win, they’re in. It is just that simple. It was also that simple the past two nights, but the Cubs went 0 for 2 in those chances. They are technically in second place, behind West Michigan by percentage points, but that is less important. The top two teams will punch a playoff ticket, so even if the Cubs wind up in second they are just fine.
To stay there, though, they need to beat Lake County; Lake County trails South Bend by just half a game. The winner of today’s game goes to the playoffs. Win or lose, the Cubs start their second half on Thursday in Dayton.
The season just started for the Eugene Emeralds; we’ll start taking a look at their place in the standing next weekend.
- Felix Pena: 2 IP, 3 K
- Carl Edwards Jr.: 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K
- John Andreoli: 2 for 5, 2B, SB
- Kristopher Negron: 2 for 5, 2B
- Dan Vogelbach: 2 for 5
- Matt Murton: 2 for 5
- Tyler Skulina: 1.2 IP, 7 R, 5 H, 3 BB. Six of those seven scored in the second.
- Steve Perakslis: 4.1 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 3 K
- Bijan Rademacher: 2 for 5, 2B
- Carlos Penalver: 1 for 5, 2B
- Victor Caratini: 2 for 5
- Billy McKinney: 3 for 4, 2B, BB
- Ben Carhart: 2 for 5
- Trevor Clifton: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 2 K. He had sixty pitches when he left.
- James Pugliese: 3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- Gleyber Torres: 2 for 3, HR. Torres is up to eight homers.
- Ian Happ: 2 for 2, 2 2B, BB
- Erick Leal: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 7 K. This line and all below it are from Game Two.
- Ian Happ: 2 for 4, 2B
- Gioskar Amaya: 2 for 2, 2B, BB
- Jason Vosler: 1 for 4, 2B
- Erick Castillo: 2 for 3
- Kyle Twomey: 5.2 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K
- Ian Rice: 1 for 4, HR, BB. Rice has nine long balls.
- Eloy Jimenez: 2 for 5
- Donnie Dewees: 1 for 4, HR
- Jesse Hodges: 3 for 3
- Bryan Hudson: 5 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Michael Knighton: 2 IP and a line of zeroes.
- Andruw Monasterio: 1 for 3, 2B, 2 BB
- Chris Pieters: 3 for 4, 2B, SB. More on Pieters below.
- Yeiler Peguero: 1 for 4, 2B
- Robert Garcia: 1 for 4, 2B
- Once again, the Iowa Cubs had little trouble getting hits off of excellent Cardinal pitching prospect Alex Reyes. Reyes did not get out of the fifth inning, giving up a pair of runs on seven hits and two walks while throwing one hundred pitches. He did strike out six.
- Bryan Hudson was on the mound for the Emeralds last night, and in general I liked what I saw. The video feed from Eugene is a pretty good one, good enough to see that Hudson does get a lot of movement on his curve. With a few exception he was able to keep his fastball down in the zone, and his curve was definitely causing hitters problems. Tons of groundballs, too. It was a good start for the very promising prospect.
- Also worth noting was the Eugene infield defense; it was very, very good. Andruw Monasterio needs to work on his throws to first (but then, find me a young shortstop who doesn’t), but he showed pretty good range and made some very tough plays. Wladimir Galindo also left room for improvement in the throw department, but was moving well to both sides and showed pretty good hands. The linchpin of the infield, though, was first baseman Chris Pieters. He took a lot of not great throws, and he just kept converting them into outs. Low, high, leaping, scooping, it didn’t matter. Pieters was able to handle all of them.