Nothing down on the farm today can compare to what went on at Wrigley today. (Or so I hear. Fox decided that Sacramento didn't want to watch the Cubs or even the Dodgers, but were dying to see Cleveland blow out the Yankees 22-4.) But there were some impressive efforts from our #1 and #2 prospects tonight.
The I-Cubs wasted an impressive start by Jeff Samardzija and lost to the Round Rock Express, 7-5.
Samardzija faced the minimum over the first four innings, erasing a hit batter through a double play. After a walk in the fifth inning, he allowed his only hit of the game, which unfortunately was a two-run home run to Reggie Abercrombie. The Shark's final line was six innings pitched with two runs allowed on one hit and one walk. Samardzija did hit two batters. He struck out five.
The loss went to Jesse Estrada, who got clubbed around for five runs in only 1.2 innings of relief, including two home runs. Jeff Stevens finished the game out the game nicely. He pitched 1.1 perfect innings and struck out three of the four batters he faced. If only he were left-handed. . .
Jake Fox just continues to punish the pitching staffs of the Pacific Coast League. Tonight he hit his sixth home run of the year already, a titanic blast to dead center field, if Gameday is to be believed. Fox was 2 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. His batting average did drop to .488 though.
Second baseman Bobby Scales was 2 for 3 with a double and two walks. Scales crossed the plate twice. Shortstop Andres Blanco went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Starter Jay Jackson took the loss, but he was much better in his second start than in his first. Jackson lasted five innings and gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. Jackson struck out six Barons.
But Jeremy Papelbon had a very rough outing in relief, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks in 1.2 innings, including two home runs. Papelbon struck out two.
Shortstop Darwin Barney got moved back to the #9 spot, but continued his hot start to the season anyway. Barney was 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI. He was caught stealing third.
His DP partner Tony Thomas is also having a great 2009 so far. He was 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI tonight. Center fielder Brandon Guyer was 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. DH James Adducci was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored.
The Daytona Cubs were shot down by the Lakeland Flying Tigers, 5-3.
Starter Rafael Dolis allowed only one hit over three innings, but still managed to get tagged with the loss. The four walks he issued had something to do with that, but in the end, Dolis only allowed one run. Dolis struck out two.
But the D-Cubs were unable to catch up because Henry Williamson gave up three runs on three hits and two walks over 2.1 innings. Williamson failed to strike out a Flying Tiger.
Third baseman Marquez Smith provided all the Cubs runs tonight with a three-run home run in the sixth inning. Smith was 1 for 4. First baseman Russ Canzler was 2 for 4 and scored on the Smith homer.
DH Tyler Colvin was 1 for 3 with a double and a walk and also scored on the Smith HR. Colvin has now walked in four straight games and has walked nine times this season compared to six strikeouts.
We aren't going to know anything for sure until Colvin is healthy enough to take the field and returns to AA, but right now Tyler Colvin looks like a completely different hitter out there.
Shortstop Starlin Castro was 0 for 3 tonight. After starting the season 5 for 5, Castro's batting average is down to .233. I will say there is no reason to panic because it's early and he was promoted very aggressively. But it is a reminder that he's still young and learning.
Time for my regular rant about baseball's antiquated "winnning pitcher" rule. Starter Marcus Hatley pitched four innings and allowed only one run on five hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out four. But of course, he couldn't get the win because he was the starting pitcher and he didn't go five innings. So the win went to Kevin Kreier, who allowed four runs on five hits over 2.2 innings. He didn't pitch five innings either, but still "qualified" for the win with a bad outing.
They could have given the win to the most effective reliever, who was Erik Hamren, who threw 2.1 innings of perfect baseball, striking out two. But because he qualified for his third save of the year, he was awarded the save and Kreier, the only other pitcher, got the win despite turning a laugher into a close game.
Peoria hit three home runs tonight. Catcher Luis Flores was 2 for 4 with his first home run. Shortstop Ryan Flaherty also had his first dinger with a man on in the sixth inning. He was 1 for 4. Finally, left fielder Kyler Burke also went yard for the first time this season in a 1 for 2 night.
Third baseman Josh Vitters didn't hit a homer, but was 3 for 4 with a double and a triple. Vitters scored twice and knocked two in. Vitters is now hitting .423. So much for struggling in the Midwest League in April, although it is still early.