Down on Cubs Farm: Alec Mills impressive in win, Ben Zobrist update, Marquez's gem, more
Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports

Down on Cubs Farm: Alec Mills impressive in win, Ben Zobrist update, Marquez's gem, more

by - Senior Writer -

Things are starting to get fun in the Cubs system as not one, but four teams are battling for a playoff spot this season. With two teams more likely to get it done that the others, it was a solid 3-1 night on the farm with the fifth game getting suspended.

IOWA CUBS 5 – San Antonio Missions 1: Led by Alec Mills and his five innings of one-run, four-hit ball, the Cubs were able to knock the Missions off for the second night in a row topping San Antonio 5-1. With the win, Iowa stands at 68-59 but has also trimmed their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to six games.

Mills did have to wiggle through some trouble in his no-decision effort which helped San Antonio push across the games first run in the top of the first. For the second night in a row, Tyrone Taylor was responsible for getting things started as his double put the Missions in front 1-0. Fortunately for Mills, that would be all he allowed while the bullpen kept the high-powered Missions in check while waiting for the offense to respond.

P.J. Higgins was finally able to get Iowa in the board in the fourth with an RBI single getting Mills off the hook with the score tied 1-1. Two innings later it was time for Phillip Evans to come through as he provided the game-winning hit in the sixth with his 17th homer of the season putting Iowa on top for good 2-1.

The Cubs put things away in the seventh as they busted the game wide open with a nice inning. With a pair of runners on, Trent Giambrone extended the lead to 3-1 with an RBI single keeping the line moving. Evans worked a walk later that inning with a throwing error helping to make it 4-1 before Dixon Machado capped off the scoring with a beautifully executed sacrifice bunt to make it 5-1 Iowa.

That was all the offense Iowa would need as Randy Rosario closed out the final two innings to preserve the 5-1 Cubs win. With just seven hits, the Cubs made them count as Higgins was the lone player with two. The rest of the lineup produced as needed outside of Albert Almora, Daniel Descalso, Jim Adduci and Robel Garcia. The four of them went a combined 1-11 on the night.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 0 – Jackson Generals 0 (Suspended): The Smokies and Generals will continue their game tonight as their contest was suspended in the fourth with both teams tied 0-0. Each side had one hit through the game’s first three innings.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 6 – Carolina Mudcats 2: Although very slim, the Pelicans still have a shot at the postseason as they are within four games of the top spot in the second half. Their second-half surge continued Tuesday as the Pelicans used a six-run opening inning to deliver all the offense they needed knocking off the Mudcats 6-2. The win moves them to 51-73 on the season but 30-27 in the second half.

Brailyn Marquez was on the mound once again, and finally, someone was able to show he is human. In 5 1/3 inning, Marquez (3-0) allowed his first run of the season in High A on just five hits to go with one walk and eight strikeouts. His ERA is 0.59 with the Pelicans as the offense made sure to back him with plenty of support.

The only support Marquez needed came in the first inning as the Pelicans offense erupted for a massive frame. With two men on and the pressure already on the Carolina defense, Grant Fennell put the Pels up for good with a grounder into left for the 1-0 lead. Now with the bases juiced it was Luke Reynolds turn to come through as his single brought home a pair to make it 3-0 Myrtle Beach.

The line continued to move in the first inning with Aramis Ademan cashing in with a double to stretch the lead to 5-0 Pelicans. Cam Balego was thrown out at home on the same play as he tried to score from first on the double. The Pelicans didn’t let that baserunning mistake cost them with Kevonte Mitchell coming through with one more single giving the Pelicans a 6-0 lead after one. That would be all the runs they would need as they would not score the rest of the way.

The scoreless streak came to an end for Marquez in the fourth inning when Rob Henry got the Mudcats on the board with a single to make things a 6-1 game. Following Marquez’s departure in the sixth, Carolina was able to bring home another run in the seventh off a fielding error but could do much more falling 6-2.

Only Zac Taylor and Carlos Sepulveda were held hitless as the rest of the lineup pounded out ten hits. Six of those hits came from the trio of Miguel Amaya, Reynolds and Ademan as each of them tallied two-hit nights. Scott Effross and Manuel Rodriquez relieved Marquez and tossed the games final 3 2/3 innings allowing just one run on four hits.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 4 – Great Lakes Loons 3: Perhaps the best postseason race to watch in the minor leagues would be that of the Midwest League western division as things are starting to get interesting. Finding themselves right in the middle of it all, South Bend was able to earn a huge series win over the first half champions 4-3 improving to 69-56 in the process. The Cubs are also deadlocked in a three-team fight for the final playoff spot as they are 32-25 in the second half good for the top wild-card spot.

Faustino Carrera continues to do great things on the mound as he has turned into their second half ace. In six innings, Carrera (8-6) was able to earn the win as he allowed just two runs on five hits with the offense giving him just enough support. Carrera is also spotting a 3.29 ERA, which is closer to 3.00 in the second half.

With offense hard to come by early, Cole Roederer got the scoring started in the fourth inning as his single gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. That lead didn’t last long, however, as the Loons responded one inning later to grab the lead. Dan Robinson tied things up 1-1 with a fifth-inning single before James Outman was held in the ballpark but still managed to give the Loons their only lead of the game with a sacrifice fly making it 2-1 Great Lakes.

Not to be outdone, South Bend came roaring back in the top of the sixth as Nelson Velazquez remained red-hot at the plate tying things up with an RBI triple. A few pitches later saw Jake Slaughter come through yet again as his single gave the Cubs the lead for good 3-2. Slaughter was in the middle of the action yet again in the eight as a throwing error from the Loons allowed the winning run to score with the Cubs up 4-2.

With just six outs to go, South Bend knew the Loons wouldn’t go down without a fight. They didn’t make things any easier for themselves in the eighth inning when a throwing error of their own allowed Great Lakes to pull within one at 4-3. Fortunately for South Bend, that would be as close as they would get as Sean Barry locked down his sixth save to give the Cubs a huge 4-3 win.

Gustavo Polanco was the lone player with a multi-hit night for South Bend as he stood alone with two hits. Darius Hill, Clayton Daniel, and Andy Weber joined the other players mentioned with hits as South Bend tallied eight as a team. Despite being charged with a run in the eighth inning, Ivan Medina continues to impress at South Bend as his ERA is 1.09 for the season.

EUGENE EMERALDS 0 – Hillsboro Hops 5: In what may determine the Emeralds playoff hopes the rest of the way, the Emeralds opened a huge series against the Hops who they are currently chasing in the standings. Even with a 30-34 overall record, Eugene has rebounded with a 14-12 second half as they sit behind Hillsboro by two games and continue to fight for that playoff spot.

Things became much harder on Tuesday as the Emeralds offense was held to just three hits before bowing out to the Hops 5-0. Looking to get on track was Didier Vargas who was tagged with a start. Vargas continues to search for answers, as he allowed one run in each of the first three frames before being chased after four innings and an ERA of 5.67 this season. Chris Kachmar and Alex Whitney took over the for the final five frames giving up two runs, but the offense couldn’t get anything going on the other end.

Typically one run of support is not enough in this league, but it was all the Hops would need as Liover Peguero plated the winning run in the first with a soft single. That lead doubled in the second with a Lyle Lin single before tripling on a Tristan English third-inning homer.

Hillsboro was able to put an end to the scoring as Peguero notched his second RBI hit in the fifth ahead of the Dominic Canzone sixth-inning homer for the 5-0 Hops lead. With just three hits, Eugene had no chance at a come back as they had to settle for the 5-0 loss and fall further behind the first place Hillsboro team.

Pedro Martinez, Grayson Byrd, and Alexander Guerra picked up the three Emerald hits as they failed to take a walk as a team while striking out 12 times. Kachmar may have allowed a run, but his 1.76 ERA continues to show why he has been one of the best in the league this summer. Whitney struck out three men in his four-inning appearance.

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