Down on Cubs Farm: Maldonaldo drills go-ahead homer to lift South Bend


by - Staff Writer -
Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports
Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports

For those of you fed up with the Cubs inconsistencies at this point in the season, there is a team a little over an hour East playing for the Midwest League title in the South Bend Cubs. Mixed with a terrific pitching performance, flawless defense and a clutch homer off the bat of Nelson Maldonado, the Cubs were able to remain unbeaten this postseason (5-0) topping the Clinton LumberKings to take a 1-0 lead in the best of five series.

SOUTH BEND 3 – Clinton LumberKings 1: For game one of the Midwest League Championship series South Bend turned to a surprising name to get the start as Kendall Graveman took the ball. Signed as a free agent this past winter, Graveman has been recovering from Tommy John surgery all season but has made five appearances since August. Wednesday he continued to show why the Cubs may pick up his option for next season tossing 3 2/3 brilliant innings of one-run ball before turning things over to Brandon Hughes, Zach Mort and the rest of the Cubs pen.

It was the LumberKings who got off to a hot start as they opened the game with consecutive doubles from Christopher Torres and Jose Devers to take a 1-0 lead. That run didn’t come without controversy, however, as the throw from Brennan Davis in left appeared to have gotten Torres at home. With Devers now standing on third with one out, Levi Jordan prevented what could have been an even bigger inning diving to his right to snare a liner at the hot corner and then beating Devers back to the bag for an inning-ending double play.

The Clinton offense was held in check the rest of the night as they tallied just two more hits in the game’s final eight innings. South Bend was able to draw even in the bottom of the second when Nelson Velazquez reached on an RBI fielders’ choice to bring home Jake Slaughter for the 1-1 tie. That was the last of the scoring until the later innings as pitching set the tone throughout.

With Mort keeping things 1-1 following three perfect innings of relief, it was up to the Cubs offense to come through as they looked to continue their perfect playoff record intact. Look no further than Nelson Maldonado who not only connected for his first homer of the postseason, but the Cubs first homer of the postseason as his solo shot made things 2-1 South Bend.

South Bend was able to add a crucial insurance run just an inning later as Buddy Bailey busted out the tricks with the squeeze play as Clayton Daniel couldn’t have rolled the ball toward first any better to make it a 3-1 Cubs lead with just three outs to go. Back on the mound for his second inning of work was Brian Glowicki as he looked to nail down the save. After a catcher interference began the inning, Clinton refused to go down quietly as they had two runners on with two outs. Glowicki didn’t let that phase him as he buckled down to retire the very next hitter and secure the Cubs game one win 3-1.

South Bend did not have much success offensively in this one as they were outhit 5-3. Davis, Maldonado, and Slaughter were responsible for the teams three hits as the Cubs manufactured runs the old-fashioned way. As a staff, the Cubs combined to allow just five hits and two walks while striking out nine as they are only two wins away from their first league title since 2005.

Game 2 will once again take place in South Bend tonight and will be the Cubs final home game of 2019. Faustino Carrera is set to make his second start of the postseason as he will square off with Jake Walters. First pitch is set for 7:05 P.M. Eastern time.

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