Down on the Cubs Farm: Iowa on Kimbrel watch, Carrera deals for South Bend, more


by - Staff Writer -
Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports
Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports

Starting now, all eyes will be on the Cubs farm system as we await the arrival of Craig Kimbrel. The question will be, when will he arrive, where will he report to and how long will he be there until ready to produce in the bigs. For now, we get to enjoy the rest of the farm system as they continue to deliver strong showings and battle for playoff positions.

IOWA CUBS 4 – El Paso Chihuahuas 6: For the second night in a row, the Cubs gave the best team in AAA another hard-fought battle only to come up short in the end 6-4. Alec Mills got the start in this one and pitched well enough to earn the win. In five innings, Mills allowed 3ER on 5H, 1BB, and 7k. That effort was reasonable enough to have him leave with the lead, but it was the bullpen floundering late handing him a no-decision.

The offense was undoubtedly not a problem in the early stages of the game as the Cubs got rolling in a big way. Mark Zagunis continues to knock the cover off the ball in AAA as he led the inning off with a double. With two outs and standing on third, Phillip Evans worked a walk which was followed by Robel Garcia getting hit by a pitch as Iowa loaded the bases.

Wynton Bernard delivered the big hit that inning as his single plated a pair of runs to give Iowa the lead. An error on the same play allowed the bases to be emptied for a 3-0 Iowa advantage. Trent Giambrone pushed the lead to 4-0 following his single as the Cubs were in control early. However, the Iowa offense would suddenly go cold as they were held scoreless the final eight innings.

EL Paso managed to cut the deficit in half as a second-inning homer from Esteban Quiroz and fourth inning Francisco Mejia double made it 4-2. The comeback bid continued the next two innings as Luis Urias picked up a fifth-inning single and Jose Pirela delivered a solo shot in the sixth to tie things up 4-4 suddenly.

The Chihuahuas continued to tee off on the Cubs bullpen as Mejia gave EL Paso the lead for good with a solo shot in the eighth. Matthew Batten added some much-needed insurance in the top of the ninth as his double made it a 6-4 game with Iowa down to their final outs. Outside of the fourth inning when the Cubs had a pair of runners on base, they didn’t have many scoring chances to finish out the game and the ninth was no different as Iowa was sent down to seal the 6-4 loss.

The Cubs are now 34-26 but still lead their division. Zagunis continues to deliver, picking up two more hits to raise his average to .360. Giambrone, Garcia, Mills, and Bernard added the final four hits in the loss. Taylor Davis and Ian Happ combined to go 0-7 with 3K in the defeat.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 1 – Montgomery Biscuits 5: In another battle with a first-place club, the Smokes continued to search for answers as they were silenced by the Biscuits once again 5-1. It was Thomas Hatch taking the ball for the start allowing 3 ER in five innings to keep things close before Scott Effross, and Craig Brooks allowed two late-inning runs in relief.

The Biscuits struck first scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. David Rodriquez pushed across the first run with an RBI ground out following a leadoff double and single to start the inning. Kevin Padlo doubled that lead to 2-0 with a double as the Biscuits were in control early.

It was in the third inning where the Smokies scored their lone run of the game hoping to battle back into the game. Jesse Hodges showed great patience to start the inning working a seven-pitch walk. Now with two outs and Hodges on second, Roberto Caro came through with his 10th double of the season to make it a 2-1 game.

Brett Sullivan got that run right back in the bottom of the third with a double before pushing the lead to 4-1 in the sixth on a Rodriguez single. The Biscuits capped off the scoring in the eight as Sullivan went deep for the fourth time this season to make it a 5-1 game. The Smokies did have a great opportunity in the fifth the push across a run as Clayton Daniel worked a walk before a Caro single, but nothing was to come of it in the 5-1 loss.

The Smokies continue to struggle to find consistency, falling to 28-30 on the season. Caro continued to stay hot as he collected three of the Smokies four hits in the game. His average is now at .295. P.J. Higgins tallied the other hit.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS: Off Travel Day

SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 – Bowling Green Hot Rods 1: The Cubs continue to battle as they picked up another huge win over the Hot Rods Wednesday night 2-1. Faustino Carrera got the call in this one and pitched what might have been his best game of the season. In his six innings of work, Carrera (4-2) allowed just 2H while striking out 4 and walking 0 to pick up the win as his ERA dropped to 2.58 in the process.

It didn’t take long for the Cubs to back Carrera with some early run support as they struck first in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Brennan Davis extended the inning reaching base with a single. Christopher Morel followed that up with the first big knock of the game, as his double gave the Cubs a quick 1-0 lead.

The South Bend lead doubled in the bottom of the third as Gustavo Polanco picked up his second homer of the season to make it 2-0 Cubs lead. That homer would prove to be the game-winner as the pitching from Carrera and company was lights out in this one.

For the remainder of the game, neither team was able to generate much of a scoring chance with the Cubs best chance coming in the eighth inning on a Rafelin Lorenzo double, but he was stranded at second. The best opportunity for the Hot Rods came in the ninth, and they made sure to keep the pressure on the Cubs.

With two outs, Michael Smith took one for the team reaching base on a hit by pitch. The very next pitch, Smith was able to take second on a defensive indifference as Polanco did not throw to second. That proved to be costly, as Wander Franco lined the two strike pitch up the middle for an RBI single to make it a 2-1 game. That would be all Bowling Green could do, as Eugenio Palma struck out Chris Betts for his fourth save and preserved the 2-1 win.

South Bend continues to keep their playoff hopes alive with this win, as they move to 32-25 for the season. The Cubs collected four hits in the ball game with all of them coming from the bottom of the order. Davis, Morel, Lorenzo, and Polanco tallied those hits. Jose Albertos tossed 2 2/3 innings of relief, allowing just 1ER on 1H to go with 4K.

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Tags: Alec Mills, Mark Zagunis, Phillip Evans, Robel Garcia, Wynton Bernard, Trent Giambrone, Taylor Davis, Ian Happ, Thomas Hatch, Scott Effross, Craig Brooks, Jesse Hodges, Roberto Caro, Clayton Daniel, Faustino Carrera, Christopher Morel, Gustavo Polanco, Rafelin Lorenzo, Eugenio Palma, Jose Albertos
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