Results tagged ‘ Vine Line ’

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/13/14

One of the Cubs top prospects gave Tennessee a walk-off win, and Kane County kept its winning streak alive Wednesday. Iowa and Boise both lost, and Mesa dropped both sides of a doubleheader. Daytona had a scheduled day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (66-60)
T-1st Place (–)

Despite outhitting the 51s 10-7, the I-Cubs fell to Las Vegas at home by a final score of 6-4.

  • 1B Mike Olt (.329) homered in the second inning. He has hit in five of his last six games, going 8-for-23 (.348) with a double, four homers and eight RBI.
  • CF Matt Szczur (.257) went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to five games (.333/7-for-21) and knocked in his 24th run.
  • LF Josh Vitters (.219) reached base three times, going 2-for-4 with a walk.

Tennessee Smokies (26-26)
T-1st Place (–)

After surrendering a four-run lead to visiting Huntsville, Tennessee won 6-5 on a walk-off, pinch-hit double from Albert Almora in the bottom of the ninth inning.

  • RHP Corey Black gave up one earned run over five innings, striking out six.
  • Almora’s two-bagger (3) was the sixth Smokies double of the night. 1B Charles Cutler (.310, 12 2B), LF Lars Anderson (.356, 6 2B), RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.211, 3 2B), CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.227, 16 2B) and 2B Stephen Bruno (.270, 25 2B) all doubled as well.
  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.223) finished 3-for-5 with the double and two RBI (44). In his last three games, Ha is 7-for-14 (.500) with two doubles, a homer and four RBI.
  • RHP P.J. Francescon (10-6, 3.71) pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief to earn his 10th win.

Kane County Cougars (31-20)
1st Place (+1.0)

Kane County won its third-straight contest with a 6-4 victory over visiting Quad Cities.

  • C Ben Carhart (.269) posted his second-consecutive two-hit game, including his fifth homer, a two-run shot to put the Cougars on the board in the first inning.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.279) singled and drove in two runs (7). Since going 0-for-9 in his first three games with Kane County, Baez has posted a .327 average (17-for-52) in 14 games.
  • 2B Danny Lockhart (.288) hit his second triple in four games after failing to triple in his first 69 contests.
  • LHP Michael Heesch (3-1, 2.94) struck out four over three perfect frames to earn his third win.
  • RHP Francisco Carrillo (3.00) earned his second save in five games with the Cougars.

Boise Hawks (9-11)
T-3rd Place (-5.0)

After being no-hit through 9.1 innings, Boise lost 1-0 on a walk-off walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th at Hillsboro.

  • 2B David Bote (.319) tallied his eighth double of the season with one out in the 10th inning to break up the no-hitter.
  • RHP Joshua Conway (3 IP, 3 K, 2.60 ERA), RHP Ryan Williams (1.93) and RHP James Farris (4.50) combined to allow just one Hillsboro hit through nine innings of work and struck out 13.
  • RHP Corbin Hoffner (0-1, 6.75) took over in the 10th and suffered the loss, allowing one run on a hit and three free passes.

Mesa Cubs (5-9)
4th Place (-6.5)

GAME 1: The AZL Indians and Cubs took a tie game into the seventh, when the Indians scored three to top host Mesa, 6-4.

  • With a 1-for-4 effort, 2B Andrew Ely (.357) has hit in eight of his last nine games (.447/17-for-38).
  • SS Gleyber Torres (.286) walked twice, doubled (5) and knocked in his 24th run, reaching base three times.
  • LHP Andin Diaz (2-2, 3.32) blew a save (2) and suffered his second loss, allowing four runs (three earned) over two innings of relief.

GAME 2: The Indians completed the doubleheader sweep with a come-from-behind, walk-off, 4-3 win over Mesa.

  • 1B Roney Alcala (.287) finished 2-for-3 with his fifth double and a stolen base (2).
  • LF Ricardo Marcano (.281) singled twice, plated his 11th run and stole his fourth base.
  • 2B Ho-young Son (.302, 9 SB) and CF Kevonte Mitchell (.321, 15 SB) each singled and swiped a base.
  • RHP Zach Hedges (1-1, 1.32) suffered his first loss, allowing one unearned run on two hits over 1.2 frames of work.

A Cubs fan is living the dream in the MLB Fan Cave

MLB-Fan-cave

(Illustration by Jerry Neumann)

Michael Bolling isn’t sure what he wants to do next year, but for now, he’s already got most baseball fans’ dream job.

The 24-year-old multimedia journalism graduate from Lewis University is the first-ever Cubs representative in the MLB Fan Cave in New York City. That means he’s spending this year meeting MLB superstars, blogging and tweeting on behalf of MLB and the Cubs, and—first and foremost—watching every big league pitch thrown in 2014.

The MLB Fan Cave debuted in 2011, putting its Dwellers “at work” from noon, when the first pitch of the first afternoon game is thrown until about 1:30 a.m., when games wrap up on the West Coast. They also conduct public tours of the space and participate in the filming of MTV2’s weekly Off the Bat show.

“It actually really hectic,” Bolling said. “There’s a ton of stuff going on, but the main focus is when there are games on, we’re in front of those television sets, and we aren’t missing any pitches.”

The Fan Cave first came to Bolling’s attention during the 2013 World Series, when he saw last year’s Dwellers covering the games and getting premium media access. He ultimately hopes to have a career in sports, so when he saw the link to apply online, he was all in.

“I felt like it would be a good opportunity to at least find the door—and maybe even get my foot in the door—and that’s something that probably doesn’t come around very often,” he said. “I figured if I got anywhere near the last few cuts, and they were thinking about bringing me in, I was going to drop everything to do it.”

Bolling, who spent much of his childhood living about six blocks from Wrigley Field, has been a Cubs fan since birth—his mother is from the Dominican Republic and was friendly with Sammy Sosa’s family. He and a friend even drove from Chicago to Anaheim, California, in 2010 to watch Marlon Byrd represent the Cubs in the All-Star Game.

So far this year, Bolling has met countless major league players and even got a chance to play a Playstation MLB: The Show Home Run Derby with Dodgers star Yasiel Puig (for the record: Bolling won). But what he’s really looking forward to is when the Cubs come to New York to take on the Mets August 15-18, because that means some Cubs players will stop by the Cave.

“I don’t care who comes through the doors. I’m going to freak out,” Bolling said. “I really hope we can get Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo through to the Cave just to show them around and interact with them a bit. But honestly whoever is wearing the pinstripes and comes through that door, I’m going to be so happy to see them. I can’t wait.”

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/12/14

Kane County roared back, Boise recorded a walk-off win, and Daytona salvaged a split Tuesday. On the other side of the ledger, Iowa couldn’t hold on, while Tennessee dropped an early lead. Mesa had the afternoon off due to rain. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (66-59)
1st Place (+1.0)

After Iowa scored two in the eighth to tie the contest at 5-5, Las Vegas took the lead in the top of the ninth, beating the I-Cubs, 6-5.

  • 3B Kris Bryant (.322) took over the minor-league lead with his 39th homer of the season, and 17th with Iowa, finishing 3-for-5 with two RBI (42). Over the course of the season, Bryant has homered once every 11.05 at-bats.
  • C Rafael Lopez (.263) went 2-for-3 with a double (3). He has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, posting a .314 (11-for-35) batting average over the span.
  • LHP Felix Doubront was dealt a no-decision in his first start since joining the Cubs, striking out seven in four innings.
  • RHP Marcus Hatley (2-6, 4.43) suffered his second loss in as many outings, allowing one run in the ninth.

Tennessee Smokies (25-26)
T-1st Place (–)

Tennessee surrendered a two-run lead to drop the home series opener against Huntsville, 5-2.

  • 3B Christian Villanueva (.245) doubled (12) for his first extra-base hit since August 2 vs. Pensacola. He knocked in both of Tennessee’s runs (25).
  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.223) was the only Smokies player to record multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with his 15th double. In his last two games, Ha is 4-for-9 with a double, a homer and two RBI (42).

Daytona Cubs (29-20)
1st Place (+3.5)

GAME 1: Daytona managed just one run on six hits in the opening game of a home doubleheader vs. Brevard County. The Cubs fell to the Manatees, 5-1.

  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.290) went 2-for-4 with a double (3) and the only Cubs RBI (6). His two hits gave him eight in his last five games.
  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.279) snapped a four-game, 0-for-12 hitless skid with a multihit effort, his 20th of the season.

GAME 2: Daytona scored one run in each of the final three innings to beat Brevard County, 3-2, on a walk-off throwing error from Manatees pitcher Taylor Williams.

  • RF Bijan Rademacher (.265) went 2-for-3 with his 18th double. He is hitting .302 (52-for-172) at home, compared to .221 (33-for-149) on the road.
  • DH Billy McKinney (.321) doubled (7) in the fifth and scored a run. He has reached safely in 30 of his 33 games with Daytona.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.268) singled twice in his 27th multihit game of the year.
  • RHP Yao-Lin Wang (3-5, 5.43) earned his third win in relief, striking out one in a perfect seventh.

Kane County Cougars (30-20)
1st Place (+1.0)

Kane County entered the ninth down 3-0, and emerged victorious on a walk-off single from SS Danny Lockhart. The Cougars defeated visiting Quad Cities, 4-3.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers’ (.266) 14th homer, a two-run shot in the ninth, brought the Cougars within one run. He’s plated seven runs in his last four games, and his 56 on the season lead the team.
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.285) tallied two singles and stole two bases (21).
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.281) finished 2-for-3 with a walk and his seventh double of the year.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.240) recorded his second triple and scored a run.
  • RHP David Garner (1-0, 4.05) tossed a perfect ninth inning to earn his first win in his fifth game with Kane County.

Boise Hawks (9-10)
T-3rd Place (-4.0)

Boise beat Eugene 9-8 at home on a walk-off, 10th-inning single from RF Charcer Burks to complete the sweep. The Hawks scored 37 runs in the three-game set.

  • Five Hawks—CF Rashad Crawford (.279), RF Charcer Burks (.310), 1B Danny Canela (.311), 3B Jesse Hodges (.259) and SS Bryant Flete (.344)—recorded two-hit games. Crawford (10 2B), Canela (13) and Hodges (8) each tallied a double.
  • Crawford’s two hits extended his hitting streak to seven games (.333/10-for-30). Hodges had seven hits and 10 RBI (35) over the three-game set. Canela had seven hits and eight RBI (40) during the same stretch.
  • LHP Alberto Diaz (9.00) allowed one run in two frames to earn his first hold.
  • LHP Sam Wilson (5-0, 3.24) surrendered one earned run in two innings, blowing his third save but improving to 5-0 with the win.

O.A.R. to perform a free show at Wrigley Field

OAR

O.A.R. performing during the 2006 MLB All-Star Game. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

To help Wrigley Field continue its season-long centennial celebration, the Cubs will host rock band O.A.R. for a postgame Extra Innings Show on Saturday, Aug. 23.

The free show will take place from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. in the Red and Purple Lots due west of Wrigley Field, with O.A.R. taking the stage immediately following the end of the Cubs’ afternoon matchup with the Orioles.

This summer, O.A.R released their eighth studio album, The Rockville LP, and recently played at the 2014 All-Star game in Minneapolis. They are known for hits including “Love and Memories,” “Lay Down” and a Friendly Confines favorite, “This Town,” a track played as the Cubs are introduced before every home game this season.

Fans will also have the chance to enjoy live entertainment starting at 11 a.m. until the beginning of the game, and after O.A.R.’s postgame set.

Available for purchase during the performance will be ballpark food and beverage options, including Vienna Beef hot dogs, snacks and Anheuser-Busch products, as well as O.A.R. merchandise.

The event is free to the general public and limited to a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please visit cubs.com.

Now Playing: It’s Javy Time

Just one week into his major league career, infielder Javier Baez has already made quite an impression on the baseball world—and especially on the Cubs’ fan base. Hyped as one of the game’s best young prospects (No. 5, according to MLB.com), the 21-year-old slugger hit the go-ahead home run in his major league debut on Aug. 5 against the Rockies. Fans were already sporting his No. 9 jersey and cheering loudly for each at-bat when he made his Wrigley Field debut on Friday. In eight games and 37 plate appearances, Baez is hitting .243/.243/.541 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with three homers, two doubles and six RBI.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Don Zimmer lived a baseball life

Zimmer

(Getty Images)

For the August issue of Vine Line, we took a look back at the inimitable career of former Cubs player, coach and manager Don Zimmer.

On July 17, 1990, manager Don Zimmer’s struggling Cubs squad was in the midst of a modest three-game winning streak. But what the team really needed was to get its slumping ace, Greg Maddux, back on track. Following a comfortable 7-2 win over the Padres, Zimmer was asked about the next day’s game and was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying:

“Hopefully, tomorrow, [Maddux] can go out and pitch well enough to get a W. If he does, who knows? He might win four, five, six games.”

And then the coup de grâce.

“I’d swim Lake Michigan if Maddux could win tomorrow.”

Though, at first glance, it would seem like a bad idea to bet against a future Hall of Famer and eventual 355-game winner, Maddux was in the midst of a rare rough patch. He had gone 0-8 in his last 13 starts with a 6.15 ERA and hadn’t won since May 5. He was also just 24 years old, and his shelves were not yet lined with Cy Young Awards, so a successful rebound wasn’t a certainty.

Apparently just as eager to see Zimmer jump in a lake as the press corps, The Professor responded by twirling seven solid innings in a Cubs 4-2 win and picking up his 50th career victory to propel the team to a three-game sweep of the Friars.

Following the game, Zimmer showed up at his press conference wearing sunglasses, an orange life jacket and an inflatable inner tube around his rather sizable waist. As for the 60-mile swim, the fun-loving Zim demurred, saying he swam “like a rock.”

“Sometimes you make statements,” he explained. “I just wanted the kid to win a ballgame.”

And that, in essence, was former Cubs player, coach and manager Don Zimmer, who died on June 4 in Dunedin, Florida, at the age of 83. He was passionate, comical and, above all, a dedicated baseball man who would do anything to motivate his players and pick up a win. Zimmer spent his life learning and trying to understand baseball, and he had a special gift for passing on his acquired knowledge in a friendly, accessible way.

“He was like a psychologist,” said Cubs Hall of Famer and former teammate Ernie Banks. “He understood things real well. A lot of people look at the world as backward. But he did not. He looked at [baseball] as a business you could learn. You can learn playing this game. You can learn how to play it. You can learn how to manage it.”

Over six professional decades, Zimmer made All-Star teams as a player and coach, collected six World Series rings, won a Manager of the Year Award and left an indelible mark on the game by influencing generations of players, from Cubs greats Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace to modern superstars like Evan Longoria and Derek Jeter (who used to rub Zim’s head for luck before at-bats).

“[He was] iconic, jolly,” said Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who was with Tampa Bay when Zimmer was a senior advisor there. “He was a voice of influence—a man with so much history in the game you couldn’t help but engage with him in conversation about baseball, stories about baseball, advice about things you could do differently to help improve your game.”

THE LIFER

During his years on the diamond, the jowly, ebullient baseball lifer earned a reputation as a character. He was a phenomenal storyteller who was quick with a joke—especially if it was directed at himself.

Modern fans probably best remember Zimmer as the bench coach for Joe Torre’s championship New York Yankees teams, on which he collected four World Series rings between 1996-2003. In classic Zimmer style, he liked to downplay his impact on those dominant Yankees squads—even though Torre was always quick to admit he ran everything by his second in command, who managed more than 1,700 of his own major league games.

“People say, ‘What is the job of a bench coach?’” said Zimmer in a 2001 interview with Esquire. “Very simple—I sit next to Torre on the bench. When he plays hit-and-run that works, I say, ‘Nice goin’, Skipper,’ and if it doesn’t work, I go down to the other end of the bench, get a drink and get out of his way. We only got one manager. I don’t want no credit for doin’ anything.”
When most fans picture Zimmer, they probably see him wearing a green army helmet emblazoned with the Yankees logo one day after being struck on the side of his face by a foul ball during a 1999 playoff game against Texas. Or charging at, and being thrown to the ground by, then-Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez in the 2003 ALCS at 72 years old.

But lost in these remembrances is what a dedicated, intelligent, forward-thinking baseball man he actually was. Truly, there’s almost nothing Zimmer didn’t do in his years on a baseball field.

He married his high school sweetheart, Jean (nicknamed Soot), at home plate in Class-A Elmira, New York, in 1951, with his teammates holding a canopy of bats over their heads; he met Babe Ruth; he played alongside Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers; he helped move baseball westward on the inaugural Los Angeles Dodgers team; he was an original New York Met; he played in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Japan; he coached, he managed, he advised; he won World Series championships as a player and coach; and he taught legions of players what it means to be a major leaguer.

But Zimmer was also a survivor. He was fired from four managerial jobs; he was Boston’s manager when Bucky (Effin’) Dent hit his fateful, wind-aided home run over the Green Monster in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker game; and he had more than his fair share of run-ins with management.

But that was hardly the worst of it. During his playing career, he fought his way back from two near-fatal beanings—the first in 1953 and the second in ’56. The initial one, which happened when he was still in Triple-A, fractured his skull and left him unconscious for almost two weeks, requiring doctors to drill four holes in his head to relieve the pressure and swelling. The second, a fastball from Reds pitcher Hal Jeff-coat, crushed his cheekbone and almost cost him an eye. Though he was never really the same player after that, he still found ways to contribute to the game he loved and hung on to play until 1965.

“What you lack in talent can be made up with desire, hustle and giving 110 percent all the time,” Zimmer once told the Chicago Tribune.

Through it all, he never lost his passion for the game and never once considered any other career.

“I can’t say it enough about how much he still loved the game,” said former Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel, who met Zimmer during his time with the Rays. “To be in something for 60-plus years, you’ve got to really have a passion for it.”

CHICAGO LEGACY

Despite his success in New York, perhaps no stretch in Zimmer’s career was as wild and as colorful as his time with the Cubs. The squat, muscular infielder—his forearms were so large, Dodgers teammate Roy Campanella nicknamed him Popeye—made the lone All-Star appearance of his 12-year playing career as a Cubs second baseman in 1961. That season, he hit .252/.291/.403 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 13 home runs in 128 games.

Zimmer began his big league baseball career in 1954 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he won a World Series title as a reserve infielder in 1955 and then made the move westward to Los Angeles in 1958. In April 1960, with Maury Wills ready to take over the Dodgers shortstop job, Zimmer was traded to the Cubs for Ron Perranoski, Johnny Goryl, Lee Handley and $25,000.

But Zimmer’s first go-round in Chicago would be short-lived. In 1961, he played for the Cubs during the initial season of the College of Coaches. With the team forgoing a single manager and constantly changing leadership, owner Philip K. Wrigley and General Manager John Holland named Zim captain, calling upon his “veteran presence.”

But he ruffled a few feathers when WGN Radio broadcaster Lou Boudreau interviewed him midseason about the coaching experiment. Zimmer, as usual, spoke his mind and told the listening audience about the system’s faults—coaches playing favorites, guys not knowing who would be starting, one coach wanting things one way while another wanted things a different way, etc. The coaches had the radio on in the clubhouse and heard the interview. Afterward, one of them told Zimmer he wouldn’t have to worry about it for too much longer because he’d be gone before the start of the next season.

And the coaches were true to their word. On Oct. 10, 1961, Zimmer was selected by the New York Mets from the Cubs in the expansion draft. After that, he spent brief stints with the Reds, Dodgers and Senators, where he played his final major league game in 1965. He toiled one last year in Japan in 1966 and then moved into coaching, eventually becoming the manager of the San Diego Padres (1972-73), Boston Red Sox (1976-80) and Texas Rangers (1981-82).

He wouldn’t rejoin the Cubs until 1984, as the team’s third base coach under longtime friend and manager Jim Frey. Though that 1984 Cubs team ultimately won the NL East title, both Zimmer and Frey would lose their jobs in June 1986, with the club languishing 16.5 games out of first.

He spent the intervening years with the Yankees and Giants, but rejoined the North Siders as manager in 1988, when Frey was hired as GM following Dallas Green’s resignation.

After a below-.500 season in 1988, Zimmer had the finest managerial campaign of his career in 1989, when he led the “Boys of Zimmer” to a surprising NL East crown. His popularity on the North Side skyrocketed, as he used aggressive strategies no one had ever seen before—or since—to help Sandberg, Grace, Maddux, Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe, Mitch Williams and the rest win 93 games.

“This guy was an amazing person,” Banks said. “He was like a genius to me. He could do things that were so special in this game. It was like the game was built for him. When he came in to manage the Cubs, the things that he was doing, nobody could understand it. Bases loaded—a bunt. You’d say, ‘Why is he doing that?’ He knew everything there is. He was one of the smartest guys I ever met in the game.

“He understood the fans here. He understood the players here. He understood everything about the park. The wind blowing out to right, the wind blowing to left field, the foul lines. I mean, he just knew everything about this park that I don’t think anybody knew about. He had great instincts for the game.”

Zimmer’s colorful personality and wild strategies grabbed the attention of the baseball world. Though the Cubs ultimately fell to the Giants in five games in the NLCS, he was awarded Manager of the Year for his efforts—and a permanent place in the hearts of Cubs fans everywhere.

“I’ve been in a lot of great cities and known a lot of great fans, but I’ve never seen so many fans of one team in so many different places,” Zimmer said during that 1989 season. “I was with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and there were a lot of Brooklyn fans everywhere, but I’ve never seen as many fans around the country as Cub fans.”

PAY IT FORWARD

In his last professional stop, Zimmer joined the Rays as a senior advisor in 2004 and remained there until his death. With Tampa Bay, the man who gave his life to the game was able to spend his later years dispensing knowledge and helping younger players develop.

“I always loved to go to the clubhouse early for lunch and just sit down, and he’d be in there, and he’d just be telling stories,” Ruggiano said of his days with the Rays. “I just feel like, as a player, you get a real feel for the history of baseball from older veteran guys’ stories, and he was one of the best at it. He could tell story after story. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to go work.”

Hammel, who was with the Rays during their shocking 2008 run to the World Series, credits Zim with helping turn that moribund franchise around after a decade in the AL East cellar.

“For him to come over and all of a sudden completely change the dynamic that he was surrounded with—[the Yankees had] a lot of veterans and a team that knew only winning,” Hammel said. “Then to come to Tampa, and it’s just a bunch of young guys who didn’t know winning. I really do believe he was part of the turnaround there.”

I guess, after 66 years on a baseball diamond, you learn a thing or two.

“The guy went through everything,” Ruggiano said. “You can imagine in 60 years of baseball, he’d been through everything that any player nowadays who plays the game for five or 10 years can go through. And then all the different things he did in the game—coaching, managing, playing. He had seen it all. He had so much information for younger guys that helped us all out.”

Zimmer is survived by his wife of 62 years; his son, Thomas; his daughter, Donna; and four grandchildren. He also leaves behind an unmatched baseball legacy and an unforgettable mark on Cubs history.

—Gary Cohen

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/12/14

All three teams in action Monday picked up victories, with Iowa pitching a shutout, Boise putting up a big run total and quality pitching pacing Mesa. Tennessee, Daytona and Kane County were all off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (66-58)
1st Place (+1.0)

Iowa recorded the team’s 13th shutout of the season with a 3-0 victory over host Oklahoma City. The 13 shutouts lead the PCL and tie an Iowa Cubs franchise record (also done in 1985).

  • RHP Dan Straily gave up two hits and no earned runs in six innings of action, striking out four in the win.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.305) extended his hitting streak to six games, going 1-for-4 with his eighth double of the Triple-A season. Soler is 9-for-22 (.409) with four doubles in the six-game stretch.
  • LF Josh Vitters (.216) went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He has hit in eight of his last nine games, going 12-for-38 (.316).
  • CF Matt Szczur (.256) went 2-for-4, knocking in his 23rd run.
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.33) and RHP Armando Rivero (1.61) each pitched a scoreless inning to earn holds.
  • RHP Blake Parker (1.19) tossed a scoreless ninth to notch his league-best 23rd save.

Boise Hawks (8-10)
4th Place (-4.0)

Boise scored double-digit runs for the second-straight game, beating visiting Eugene, 11-6.

  • 1B Danny Canela (.309) went a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs, a walk, his sixth homer and four RBI (38). He has five hits and six RBI in his last two games.
  • 2B Bryant Flete (.333) went 3-for-4 with two runs and a double (3).
  • LF Calvin Graves (.226) tallied two hits, including his first triple, and knocked in three (6).
  • C Mark Zagunis (.306) recorded his second-straight two-hit game.
  • RHP Brad Markey (1-0, 3.00) threw two innings and allowed one earned run, earning his first win in relief.

Mesa Cubs (5-7)
4th Place (-4.5)

Mesa’s six extra-base hits and a quality start from LHP Jose Paulino helped the Cubs defeat the AZL Rangers at home, 8-1.

  • Paulino gave up two hits and struck out six over six scoreless innings to pick up the win.
  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.324, 2 3B), DH Yasiel Balaguert (.200, 1 3B) and 2B Ho-Young Son (.300, 1 3B) each tripled for the Cubs. Son’s three RBI bring his season total to nine.
  • 3B Adonis Paula (.260, 5 2B), C Tyler Pearson (.189, 1 2B) and Mitchell (.324, 1 2B) added one double apiece.
  • Each Cubs hitter recorded at least one hit, with five of the nine turning in multihit efforts.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/10/14

It was a pretty successful Sunday for the Cubs minor league system, with everybody in play securing a win. Mesa had the day off and will resume play Monday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (65-58)
T-1st Place (–)

Iowa jumped ahead to a 5-0 lead after two innings and never looked back, winning at Oklahoma City, 10-2. Each Iowa hitter had at least one of the team’s 12 hits.

  • 1B Mike Olt (.338) hit his third homer in two days with a two-run shot in the first. He has 12 RBI in his last six games (19 total) and has slugged .757 in nine games in the month of August.
  • SS Elliot Soto (.226) went 3-for-4 with his first homer of the year, and the third of his career.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.322) went 1-for-3 with two walks, two runs, and his 40th RBI. He has recorded at least one hit and one run in 13 straight games, batting .381 (16-for-42) while scoring 20 runs during the streak. Bryant’s 40 RBI with Iowa bring him to 98 on the season, tied for fifth in the minors.
  • LHP Eric Jokisch extended his scoreless innings streak to 18.1 before allowing a run with two outs in the fourth. His 131 strikeouts lead the Pacific Coast League.
  • RHP Alberto Cabrera (3.71) tossed 2.1 scoreless innings of relief for his second save.
  • Since July 1, the I-Cubs have 51 home runs, best in the Pacific Coast League.

Tennessee Smokies (25-25)
1st Place (+1.0)

GAME 1: RHP Pierce Johnson and LHP Andrew McKirahan combined to one-hit the BayBears in Mobile, as the Smokies won the first game of a doubleheader, 3-0.

  • SS Addison Russell (.301) and C Luis Flores (.277) each recorded their fifth double of the year. Flores recorded his second-straight multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-2 with his 13th RBI.
  • RHP Pierce Johnson struck out eight for the third time in four games, giving up no runs on just one hit over six innings. He has 11.25 strikeouts per nine innings over that stretch (30 SO/24.0 IP).
  • McKirahan’s perfect seventh inning earned him his first save with Tennessee and ninth of the year.

GAME 2: The Smokies could not complete the doubleheader sweep, falling 9-8 at Mobile on a walk-off homer from Mobile 2B Gerson Montilla in the bottom of the ninth.

  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.220) finished 2-for-5 with his fourth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the second inning. He had two hits in his previous 24 at-bats (.083) before the multi-hit effort.
  • SS Addison Russell (.308) extended his hitting streak to five games (.500/7-for-14), going 2-for-4.
  • C Taylor Davis (.319) went 2-for-3 with two runs, a walk, a double (9) and an RBI (23). He is hitting .333 (16-for-48) with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBI in 17 away games.
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (2-3, 4.19) allowed the walk-off homer, suffering his third loss of the year.

Daytona Cubs (28-19)
1st Place (+3.5)

1B Dan Vogelbach ended a 13-inning marathon with a walk-off single, giving Daytona the 4-3 win over visiting Lakeland.

  • RF Rock Shoulders (.229) hit a solo shot in the fifth, his third in four games. In those contests, Shoulders is 6-for-13 with six runs, a double, three homers, and three RBI (41 total).
  • Vogelbach (.267) finished 1-for-5 with a walk and two RBI. His 57 walks and 65 RBI lead Daytona.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (1-0, 0.00) earned the win in his third outing with Daytona, hurling three scoreless innings.

Kane County Cougars (29-20)
1st Place (+1.0)

DH-P Ben Carhart earned the win as Kane County scored three time in the top of the 15th inning to beat Cedar Rapids, 7-4.

  • Carhart (1-0, 0.00) went 2-for-6 with a run and a walk at the plate and contributed two hitless frames of relief, walking two, to earn the win in his first professional pitching appearance.
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.282) went 3-for-7 with his second homer of the season, a solo shot in the third.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.267) went 2-for-7 with two RBI (35), including a go-ahead, two-run triple (2) in the 15th.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.313) finished 3-for-7 with two RBI (35), one coming off a double (11) in the 15th.
  • 2B Danny Lockhart (.290) recorded his fifth multi-hit effort in his last six games (.500/12-for-24), going 3-for-6 with two runs and a walk.
  • RHP Zak Hermans (4.06) blew his third save, allowing two runs (one earned) over 1.1 innings pitched.
  • The Chicago Cubs and their minor league affiliates played a total of 15 extra innings yesterday, going 3-1 in four extra-inning games.

Boise Hawks (7-10)
4th Place (-5.0)

After falling 16-3 to Salem-Keizer on Saturday, Boise beat visiting Eugene, 17-3.

  • 3B Jesse Hodges (.256) went 4-for-5 with a double (7), a grand slam and a career-high seven RBI (32). He had been 1-for-17 (.059) before his first career four-hit affair. His seven RBI are the most for a single Boise player in the 14 years since the team became affiliated with the Cubs.
  • Each of the first four Hawks hitters—CF Rashad Crawford (.278), RF Charcer Burks (.288), LF Mark Zagunis (.301), and 1B Danny Canela (.298)—tallied two hits. Zagunis knocked in three (26), while Canela plated two (34).
  • Boise’s 17 runs were the team’s most since beating Everett 17-5 on July 6, 2007.

Home Series No. 19 Preview: Cubs vs. Brewers

Lucroy
Jonathan Lucroy has emerged as an NL MVP candidate. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

The Brewers’ hot start to the season may have come as a surprise, but it’s their continued excellence that’s really catching people’s attention. Milwaukee is led by its very impressive offense, which is making the Upper Midwest look a lot like the Mile High City. While the starting staff doesn’t boast a true ace, all five arms are quality rotation pieces. The bullpen came into the season as a major question mark, but it has managed to be strong thus far—though that isn’t a complete surprise considering how variable relief arms can be from year to year. The major issue for the pitching staff is the lack of depth in the minor league system. This kept the Brewers relatively quiet in the trade market, and it also likely means they won’t be able to inject much youth into their playoff push.

PITCHING
(4.0 RA/G, 9TH IN NL)

Wednesday starter Kyle Lohse has continued his late-career renaissance, as he looks to compile his fourth-consecutive sub-3.50 ERA season. As the de facto staff ace, he has delivered his usual steady performance. Tuesday’s starter Wily Peralta has also emerged as a strong mid-rotation arm. Monday night’s starter Yovani Gallardo has not have lived up to the lofty, early-career hype, but continues to produce solid starts. The bullpen has been anchored by resurgent closer Francisco Rodriguez and a breakout performance from fireballing setup man Will Smith. The biggest issue in the ’pen may be what happens if the wheels fall off for Rodriguez down the stretch.

HITTING
(4.3 RS/G, 2ND IN NL)

The Brewers trail only the Coors Field-aided Rockies when it comes to scoring runs. The offense is led by three MVP-caliber players in Ryan Braun (who isn’t firing on all cylinders, but has still been strong), Carlos Gomez (who announced his presence with an elite 2013 season on both sides of the ball) and breakthrough performer Jonathan Lucroy. The backstop gets plenty of accolades for his abilities behind the plate, but his above-.860 OPS is also impressive, along with his 18 homers and 82 driven in. His 5.0 wins above replacement total is the fourth-highest among NL hitters. That trio has overshadowed another strong season from Aramis Ramirez and a solid year from Scooter Gennett. Add the power of Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds, and this is truly one of the more impressive offensive units in baseball.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 8/7/14

Daytona won in extras, while Mesa salvaged a split Thursday. Iowa, Kane County and Boise were all handed losses, and Tennessee had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (63-57)
1st Place (+0.5)

Iowa lost at Oklahoma City, 16-4, after surrendering seven runs in the first two innings.

  • DH Manny Ramirez (.211) doubled (1) and homered (2) in four at-bats, knocking in two (6). It was
    his third multihit game and first game with two extra-base hits.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.323) launched his 37th homer and walked twice. His 37 homers tie Joey Gallo for
    the minor league lead. Despite having played just 47 of Iowa’s 120 games, Bryant has the second
    most homers of all Iowa players this season (15) and the fourth-most RBI (38).

Daytona Cubs (27-17)
1st Place (+4.5)

Two big innings—a six-run second and a seven-run fifth—helped Daytona rout the Threshers in Clearwater, 18-2.

  • RHP Tayler Scott fanned seven over seven innings, giving up two earned runs in the win.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.268) finished 3-for-4 with three runs, two walks, a homer and three RBI (14).
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.283) and DH Billy McKinney (.330) added three singles apiece.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.269) hit a three-run homer with two out in the fifth inning. It was his eighth
    homer in 177 at-bats since the All-Star break after hitting five in 221 at-bats before the break.
  • RF Rock Shoulders (.221) led off the third inning with his 10th home run. He has also drawn five free passes in
    his last two games.

Kane County Cougars (27-19)
T-1st Place (–)

Cedar Rapids beat the Cougars, 4-3, in 11 innings, on a walk-off double from Kernels 3B Bryan Haar.

  • RHP Duane Underwood struck out seven in six innings, giving up one earned run.
  • 2B Chesny Young (.409) finished 2-for-5 with his third double since joining the Cougars, and one RBI
    (4). He has an eight-game hitting streak (.441/15-for-34), including multiple hits in each of his last
    five games (.524/11-for-21).
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.280, 6 3B) and C Victor Caratini (.263, 1 3B) each tripled. Dunston’s six triples
    lead the team.
  • RHP David Garner (5.79) allowed two runs over 1.2 innings to blow his first save.
  • RHP Francisco Carrillo (0-1, 18.00) allowed the game-winner without retiring a batter to suffer his first loss.

Boise Hawks (6-8)
4th Place (-4.0)

Boise dropped the series opener at Salem-Keizer, 9-5.

  • C Mark Zagunis (.308) belted a two-run shot in the seventh to cut a 6-2 deficit in half. It marked
    Zagunis’ sixth multi-RBI game of the season.
  • Starting 2B David Bote (.347) went 3-for-5 and scored two runs. Bote has posted multiple hits in
    eight of his 20 games with Boise this year.
  • SS Bryant Flete (.326) went 2-for-4 with a double (2) and an RBI (6). He has five multihit efforts in
    his last seven games (.462/ 12-for-26).

Mesa Cubs First Half: (13-14), Second Half: (3-4)
4th Place (-5.5)

GAME 1: In the makeup of a rained-out July 3 contest at the AZL Padres’ Peoria Stadium, Mesa fell, 5-3. The loss finalized the club’s first-half record at 13-14.

  • LF Varonex Cuevas hit two doubles in two at-bats, while DH Kevonte Mitchell singled twice and stole two bases.
  • LHP Jose Paulino (2.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO) suffered the loss.

GAME 2: Mesa took a 4-1 decision over the Padres in the second game at Peoria Stadium.

  • LF Ricardo Marcano (.280) went 2-for-3 with a double (7) to extend his hitting streak to 16 games
    dating back to July 9 (.328/20-for-61).
  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.333) tallied three singles for his third three-hit game of the campaign.
  • 2B Andrew Ely (.351) finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk, his first double and an RBI (6). After
    recording three extra-base hits in his first 12 games with Mesa, he has tallied three more in his last
    four contests.
  • RHP Tanner Griggs (1-1, 4.26) tossed 2.1 scoreless frames and fanned five for his first win.
  • LHP Jordan Minch (10.13) allowed one run over two innings for his first save in his second professional
    appearance.
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