Chicago Cubs: Down on the Farm: 2-2 record, Machado's walk-off homer, Edwards pitching well, and more

by - Senior Writer -
Edwards hopes to help 'Fly the W' in the majors soon (Dennis Wierzbicki - USA Today Sports)
Edwards hopes to help 'Fly the W' in the majors soon (Dennis Wierzbicki - USA Today Sports)

Strong pitching was undoubtedly the case in the minors Thursday night as nearly every Cubs farmhand starter delivered a winning-type performance on the hill. However, a lack of offense in some games mixed with some bullpen letdowns took what could have been an even more impressive night and turned it into a 2-2 evening.

IOWA CUBS 5 - New Orleans Baby Cakes 4: With snow and rain postponing Wednesday's contest, the Iowa Cubs were back in action Thursday as they once again had to brave the elements. With the cold weather limiting the offense early on, it was one hot stretch of hitting that lifted the Cubs to a 5-2 win.

Duane Underwood certainly redeemed himself after his rough first start. Although only lasting 4 2/3 innings, Underwood stood tough allowing just two runs and punching out six. Another scoreless inning from Carl Edwards Jr and Brian Duensing highlighted the pen while James Norwood picked up the win.

The lone runs Underwood surrendered came in the first inning as Iowa had to play catch-up early. With a pair of baserunners already on base, the Baby Cakes took a 2-0 lead when Yadiel Rivera and Austin Dean each picked up RBI singles. That score would hold up for quite some time until the Iowa offense broke through in the fifth.

Dixon Machado got the Cubs on the board as he continued his red-hot start to the season. His hard-hit single up the middle to score Johnny Field cutting things to 2-1. New Orleans quickly got that run right back in the top of the sixth pushing the lead back to two at 3-1 after the Isaac Galloway solo home run.

In desperate need of some offense, Trent Giambrone took it upon himself to put the Cubs in front. With Field and Machado both on the bases, any hit would be good enough to bring at least one run home. Giambrone said enough of that as he crushed a three-run homer to give Iowa 4-3 lead with the bullpen in control of things now.

After Edwards Jr and Duensing held down the fort, it was time for Norwood to lock down the save. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite do that as Harold Ramirez evened things up at 4-4 sending the game to the bottom of the ninth. That set the stage for the hottest hitter on Iowa as once again Machado came through. This time it was a walk-off solo home run to lift Iowa to the 5-4 win as they improve to 5-2 on the season and remain in first place.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES 1 – Birmingham Barons 5: Judging by what the final score says, you would think that Birmingham was in complete control of this game. That is far from the truth as the Smokies bullpen imploded late in the game wasting what started off as a magical night.

The man on the night was starting pitcher Thomas Hatch who was untouchable on the mound. Hatch may have lasted just five innings, but he allowed only one baserunner via the walk in his outing keeping the Barons bats guessing all game long. His performance on the mound kept the Smokies in the game all night as they waited for their offense to break through.

The break they were looking for finally came in the sixth inning as Jared Young continued to stay red hot connecting for his third homer of the season and 1-0 Smokies lead. On a typical night, a one-run lead would be something Tennessee would be looking to build on, but through seven innings that appeared to be all the run support, the Smokies would need. That was until the eighth inning when everything was about to change.

Clinging to a one-run lead, the Smokies began to see Birmingham rally as they looked to take the lead. A Joel Baker single tied things up at 1-1 before Ti’Quan Forbes delivered the knockout with a bases-loaded triple to put the Barons in front 4-1. Gavin Sheets added to the lead with an RBI groundout as the Smokies now trailed 5-1 heading to the ninth. Looking to mount a rally, Tennessee was unable to do so as they put just one runner on base before falling 5-1. With the loss, the Smokies fall to 4-2 on the season.

MYRTLE BEACH PELICANS 2 – Fayetteville Woodpeckers 3: They say you cannot win a division in April, but you can certainly lose one. For the Pelicans, that saying may soon become a reality as they have not fared well to start 2019. Despite another strong effort on the mound, the lack of offense and a late bullpen let down proved to be the difference as Myrtle Beach dropped a tight 3-2 contest.

For the most part, Bryan Hudson was sharp on the mound allowing just two runs on four hits in five innings striking out five. Even with those strong numbers, he found himself playing catchup following the first Woodpecker at-bats of the night.

With Seth Beer already on base and Hudson looking to keep Fayetteville scoreless, Jake Adams made him pay for his mistake. Not only did he make him pay, but it was Adams second homer of the season as the Woodpeckers took a quick 2-0 lead. From that point on, Hudson was near flawless on the mound despite working through some deep counts.

With the Pelicans pitching staff setting the tone early, it was time for the offense to do their part and get in on the action. They were unable to do so through five innings, but finally got things going in the seventh. A Carlos Sepulveda leadoff single gave the Pelicans a baserunner bringing the tying run to the plate with every passing hitter. Aramis Ademan fit that description perfectly drilling his first homer of the season to tie things up 2-2 heading to the eighth.

With both teams still tied 2-2 and down to their final at-bats, it was all about who wanted it more at this stage in the game. Unfortunately for Myrtle Beach, it was the Woodpeckers who wanted it more. With Beer setting the stage with a leadoff single, Colton Shaver delivered the game-winning knock with his double as the Pelicans went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to fall 3-2. Miguel Amaya was hitless on the night going 0-4 with Sepulveda the lone Pelican player to collect multiple hits. Myrtle Beach is now a dismal 1-7 on the year.

SOUTH BEND CUBS 2 – Great Lakes Loons 1: Sticking with the theme of strong starting pitching, Thursday nights Cubs vs. Loons matchup certainly fit the bill as a total of three runs were scored. It was a late rally from South Bend that proved to be enough as they get back to .500 with the 2-1 win.

Cam Sanders was on the hill to start things off and picked up where he left off in his last start. Even though he battled through some less than stellar command, the only thing that matters is his final line as he tossed five shutout innings before turning things over to Peyton Remy and Ethan Roberts to finish the game.

Matching Sanders pitch for pitch was Loons starter Josiah Grey, who not only threw five shut out innings himself but five perfect innings of baseball in the process before coming out of the game. Thankfully for South Bend that was the break they needed as their offense was finally able to come through late in the game.

Starting in the seventh after a Levi Jordan double, the Cubs opened up the scoring Jonathan Sierra connected for a single and the 1-0 advantage. The Cubs offense was back at it in the eighth inning when Rafelin Lorenzo reached base with a single. A costly fielding error put Gustavo Polanco on base before Delvin Zinn single loaded things up with just one out. Jordan then stepped up to the plate with two outs and delivered a single scoring Polanco, but a great throw from Dan Robinson nailed Zinn at the plate to keep things 2-0.

Looking for a late rally of their own, the Loons began to chip away in the bottom of the eighth. After making a key defensive play in the top half of the inning, Robinson stepped up to the plate with a chance to play hero with the bases loaded. Even though it wasn’t what he had hoped for, Robinson still connected for a single to bring things within 2-1. That would as close as it would get as South Bend survived 2-1 to climb back to .500 at 4-4.

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