If you can believe it, I turned off today's Cub game and watched opera on PBS instead. That's how bad things have gotten. (No, I'm not an opera fan, but my wife is and my baby girl loves all music. So there was a bit of making the rest of the family happy going on there. But my wife is a baseball fan too, so it wasn't to stop an argument of anything.)
It may be the Dog Days of August in the majors, but it's crunch time in the minors.
Iowa Cubs (71-65)
The I-Cubs won their fifth game in a row today with a 2-0 shutout of the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
Starter Mitch Atkins has had a rough season, but today he was great, throwing six shutout innings. He allowed only five hits. He gave up one walk and struck out eight.
David Patton, John Gaub and Blake Parker each tossed a shutout inning to end the game. Parker got his 21st state with a perfect inning. He struck out two.
Shortstop Andres Blanco led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on a groundout to give the Cubs a lead they would never relinquish. Blanco was 1 for 3 with a walk. Catcher Chris Robinson went 2 for 3.
The I-Cubs are in second place in the PCL American North Division, tied with Nashville and one-half game behind Memphis. The Cubs hold the tie-breaker over Memphis, but Nashville has the tie-breaker over the I-Cubs. They have seven games left: four against Omaha and three against Albuquerque.
Tennessee Smokies (34-29)
The Tennessee Smokies were mauled by the Mobile Bay Bears, 5-1.
Andrew Cashner ran into trouble today, giving up all five runs in six innings. One of the runs was unearned. Cashner allowed six hits. He walked two and struck out only one.
Right fielder Tyler Colvin hit his thirteenth home run today. He was 1 for 4 with the one RBI.
West Tennessee also lost, so the Smokies remain tied for first. The Smokies have two more games left with Mobile, and then play a five game series at West Tennessee that will decide the second-half champs.
Daytona Cubs (27-35)
The D-Cubs were beaten by the Clearwater Threshers, 4-2.
Starter Craig Muschko took the loss. He went seven innings, allowing four runs on nine hits. Muschko walked one and struck out three.
DH Brandon Guyer hit his second home run tonight, a solo home run in the ninth inning. Guyer was 2 for 4 with a double and the home run. Guyer scored twice. First baseman Jake Opitz went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
Peoria Chiefs (39-23)
The Chiefs banged out 24 hits as they harvested the Cedar Rapids Kernels, 16-5.
Jeffry Antigua started and got the win. Antigua pitched six innings and allowed five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits. Antigua struck out five and walked no one.
Josh Whitlock got the three-inning save, but he really earned it. He was perfect for three innings. He struck out one.
First baseman Rebel Ridling was 4 for 6 with a double and four RBI. Ridling took over the Midwest League lead with 96 RBI.
Left fielder Nelson Perez was 5 for 6 with two doubles. Cruz scored twice. Second baseman Ryan Flaherty went 2 for 3 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBI.
Third baseman David Macias went 2 for 6 with an RBI and a run scored. Shortstop DJ LeMahieu was 3 for 6 and scored three times. Catcher Mario Mercedes went 2 for 6 with a double, three RBI and one run scored. DH Junior Lake went 2 for 6 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Center fielder Jose Valdez has had a successful start to the Midwest League. He went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBI.
Boise Hawks (31-36)
The Hawks snapped a six-game losing streak by cleaning up the Tri-City Dust Devils, 2-1.
The Hawks pitching staff allowed only two hits tonight. Starter Kevin McNutt went three innings and allowed one run on one hit. He walked three and struck out three.
Austin Kirk made his Boise debut a successful one. He picked up the win by pitching three innings and allowing no hits. He walked one and struck out three.
Daniel Keefe pitched the final three innings and got his fourth save. He gave up one hit and one walk while striking out four.
Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee was 2 for 5 with a stolen base and a run scored. First baseman Justin Bour was 3 for 3 with two walks, a double and a stolen base. Left fielder Derrick Fitzgerald went 3 for 5 with a steal.