Down on the Cubs Farm: Alzolay impressive again, Maples wild, De La Cruz struggles, more


by - Staff Writer -
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports

It was a quiet night on the farm for the Cubs as they limped to an 0-3 record. Despite going winless, one prospect, in particular, continues to roll on the hill and starting to hear the writing on the walls about when he will be called up in 2019.

IOWA CUBS 4 – Albuquerque Isotopes 8: It is starting to become must-see in Des Moines when Adbert Alzolay takes the mound as it should be known as Alzolay day. Saturday night, he was at it again putting together another impressive performance. For the fourth consecutive start, Alzolay last five innings or more, giving up 2ER or less and walked one batter to go with 8K. That effort went by the wayside as Dillon Maples was used as batting practice in the later innings as Iowa fell 8-4 for their fourth straight defeat.

It didn’t take the Cubs long to get going as the offense grab the lead in the first inning. With one out in the first, Mark Zagunis put himself in scoring position with a double before later advancing to third on a throwing error with Phillip Evans at the plate. The very next pitch saw Ian Happ line one to right field for a single and quick 1-0 lead. Two batters later, it was reassigned Jim Adduci who cleared waivers as he picked up another base knock to make it 2-0 Cubs after one.

Not to be outdone, the Isotopes began to rally as they managed to plate a pair of runs to draw even heading into the fifth. First, it was Roberto Ramos, keeping his strong season alive as he went deep in the second for his 14th of the year to make it 2-1. Two innings later, Peter Mooney came through with a pair of runners on base as his single brought things back to even at 2-2.

After being silenced for three straight innings, the Iowa offense got back to work as they retook the lead. First, in the fifth inning, Jacob Hannemann led things off with a double before advancing to third on the Zagunis single. The top of the order continued to wreak havoc as the Evans double made it 3-2 in favor of Iowa. Adduci added to that lead in the sixth inning as his eighth homer of the season gave the Cubs a 4-2 advantage.

Heading to the eighth inning, things were looking good for Iowa. That was until Maples was utterly lost on the mound walk three hitters in less than an inning. To make matters worse, two of those walks came with the bases loaded as the Isotopes now had things tied 4-4 taking a decision away from Alzolay. Elliot Soto picked up an RBI forceout later that inning as two runs came to score giving the Isotopes the lead for good at 6-4.

Things only got worse for Iowa in the ninth inning as Dom Nunez pushed the Albuquerque lead to 8-4 following his two-run shot as the Cubs were down to the last outs needing four runs to tie. The Cubs would go down in order in the ninth to seal their fate as they fall to 34-28 after their fourth straight loss.

Both Zagunis and Adduci had good nights at the plate, collecting a pair of hits each in the loss. Evans, Happ, Hannemann and Robel Garcia all managed to pick up the remaining four hits. Some of the most encouraging signs of late has to be from Duane Underwood. Since moving from the rotation to the pen, Underwood has allowed just 2ER in 10 innings of work. That includes a scoreless streak of 7 2/3 innings after his 1 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching last night.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 1 – Chattanooga Lookouts 7: With one of the best arms in the system Oscar De La Cruz on the mound, the Smokies loved their chances of putting an end to their current losing streak. Unfortunately for them, De La Cruz threw his worst outing of the season, allowing 6R, 5ER in 5 2/3 innings of work while the offense was limited to just three hits in the rain-shortened 7-1 loss.

With both team scoreless after one, it was the Lookouts striking first in the second as they grabbed the led and never looked back. Calten Daal put Chattanooga in front as his single to center aided by a pair of throwing errors gave the Lookouts the 2-0 lead early. That lead extended to 3-0 in the top of the fourth when Mitch Nay picked up an RBI single as it was all Chattanooga early.

Down by three an in the fifth inning, the Smokies were finally able to break through as they put an end to the shutout bid. Vimael Machin keeps on hitting like a machine as he led the inning off with a single. With one gone, Clayton Daniel continued to reach base working a walk to put two runners on base. That set things up for Jhonny Pereda who singled home the lone Smokies run cutting things to 3-1 after five.

Still, in the game, the Lookouts ended any chance of a come back bid with a huge sixth inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out, the Lookouts pushed the lead to 4-1 following a Gavin LaValley double play. The big blow was delivered by Daal a few batters later as his triple brought home two more runs to make it a 6-1 game. TJ Friedl capped off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh to make it a 7-1 game as the rain followed shortly after to hand the Smokies a 7-1 rain-shortened loss.

Tennessee is now on a season-long five-game losing streak as they fall to 28-32 for the season. Machin, Pereda and Jared Young were responsible for the three Tennessee hits as the Smokies managed to put just five runners on base in total for the game.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS: Postponed (Double Header to be played Saturday)

SOUTH BEND CUBS 1 – Great Lakes Loons 10: Coming off an impressive series sweep of Bowling Green to move closer to securing an end of the season postseason berth, the Cubs had an even more difficult task this weekend as they took on first Place Great Lakes. With Brailyn Marquez on the mound, the Cubs liked their chances to pick up another win, but it was the Loons came ready to go, scoring nine runs in the first two innings to win 10-1.

After consistent for much of the 2019 season, Marquez picked the wrong time to deliver his worse outing of the season, lasting just 1 1/3 innings to allow 8R, with 5 of those runs earned. His ERA rose to 4.83 following that outing after hovering around 3.4 for much of the season.

Command was not an issue for the struggles in this one as the Loons seemed to have him timed up from the start. With a pair of one-out single setting the stage for the offense in the first, it was an error by the Cubs that gave the Loons the quick 1-0 lead. That is when Marquez appeared to let that get to his head as a walk and hit by pitch made things 2-0, before Luke Heyer made it 4-0 after one with a two-run single.

The Loons only continued to push their lead a bit further as they continued to capitalize on every South Bend mistake. A pair of doubles to start the second brought home the games fifth run as Jair Carmargo tallied that RBI for the 5-0 lead. A Dillon Paulson single made it 6-0 before another error made it 7-0. Dan Robinson capped off the second straight huge inning with a two-RBI single to chase Marquez as Great Lakes was up 9-0 heading to the third.

Robinson was not finished quite yet, as he would add a fourth-inning RBI double to his line to give the Loons a 10-0 advantage. That 10-0 score would hold up until the ninth inning when the Cubs finally broke through to put an end to the shutout bid.

With just three hits through eight innings, the Cubs managed to nearly double that total in the ninth as they were hoping to end the game on a positive note. Christopher Morel certainly did that as he homered for the second straight night to make it a 10-1 game. Rafelin Lorenzo followed that up with a single, but that would be all the Cubs could do as their winning streak comes to an end 10-1.

South Bend has some work to do but remains in the playoff hunt at 33-26. Lorenzo was the leader on offense collecting two of the teams five hits, while Morel, Brennan Davis, Gustavo Polanco added the other three. After the rough start from Marquez, the bullpen was strong allowing just 1ER in 6 2/3 innings of work. Jeffrey Passantino went 3 1/3 allowing the lone ER, while the combination of Brendan King, Ethan Roberts, and position player Polanco combined to toss 3 1/3 scoreless frames.

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Tags: Adbert Alzolay, Dillon Maples, Mark Zagunis, Phillip Evans, Ian Happ, Jim Adduci, Jacob Hannemann, Robel Garcia, Duane Underwood, Oscar De La Cruz, Vimael Machin, Clayton Daniel, Jhonny Pereda, Jared Young, Brailyn Marquez, Christopher Morel, Rafelin Lorenzo, Gustavo Polanco, Jeffrey Passantino, Brendan King, Ethan Roberts
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