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Cubs Minor League Wrap: July 4

With Josh on assignment, I get to fill in with the Minor League Wrap for Thursday.

Bob Levey

Even as the games began, I was still unsure how I was going to do the Wrap for Thursday's game. I decided to merge the Zygote 50 in tonight. If you see parentheses after a player, it will have a letter (H, for hitter, P, for pitcher, or R for reliever) and a number, indicating where they fit in on my list.

Mechanical failures and weather delays abounded early, as I tried to find a game to follow early on. Read below to find out how the future Cubs did.

Iowa Cubs

Without looking, my memory is that the I-Cubs tend to struggle mightily when visiting the Albuquerque Isotopes (Dodgers). Nick Struck struggled early on the mound, though his hit was the I-Cubs' only one through the first four innings.

3B Junior Lake (H-15) homered to lead off the fifth, cutting the deficit to 3-1, but a two-run homer by the 'Topes stretched it to 5-1, where it stayed until two were out in the top of the seventh. With two out and none on, C Luis Flores hit what appeared to be a meaningless solo homer. PH Anthony Giansanti and 2B Logan Watkins (H-5) followed with doubles, cutting the deficit to 5-3. Fast-forward to the ninth, where (with two outs, which tends to be a theme in this game) PH Tim Torres clubbed his first homer for Iowa, to tie things up.

With two down in the tenth, 1B Brad Nelson hit a routine grounder to short, but reached on an errant throw by Dee Gordon. Following a walk to Lake, LF Ty Wright singled, and RF Darnell McDonald tripled, to stretch the game to a three run lead in a hurry, with McDonald's poke landing just to the right of the Houston-esque hill thingie in center. A Flores single scored McDonald with the last run of the game. An Isotopes record 16,229 saw the I-Cubs' 9-5, 10-inning win. The I-Cubs committed two errors.

After Struck's six-inning, five-hit, five run, five-walk, one-strikeout performance, the bullpen was spot-on. Eduardo Sanchez allowed a walk and a hit over two frames, and Casey Coleman hurled two hitless innings, walking and fanning two.

Of the Cubs 12 hits, nine came from the six through nine spots. Wright had three hits, and scored twice. Flores had the two aforementioned hits and RBIs. The pinch-hitters had two very important hits, as well. It was a team-effort win by a team that trailed by four with seven outs remaining.

Tennessee Smokies

I mentioned there was some rain. I'm not sure the game ever dried up very much, and starting pitcher Eric Jokisch (P-10) was struggling mightily keeping any command of the wet baseball early. He limited the Huntsville Stars (Brewers) to a run on four hits over six innings, but it seemed very rough for him early. He walked two, fanned nine, and trailed when he left the mound.

The Smokies put together a very solid sixth inning, and the bullpen saw to it that the three-run sixth would be enough. P. J. Francescon and Tony Zych (R-6) closed the game out in fine style, with each fanning two in hitless relief in a 4-1 Smokies win. Zych pitched the ninth for his first save, and Francescon took care of the seventh and eighth.

Tennessee hit for a cycle in that three-run sixth. CF Matt Szczur (H-9) started it with a triple, and scored the tying run on a single by 2B Arismendy Alcantara (H-4). One out later, 1B Justin Bour (H-19) homered to the opposite field. 3B Christian Villanueva (H-7) completed the cycle with a double. The Smokies completed the scoring in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by LF Rubi Silva (H-11) that plated RF John Andreoli.

Villanueva had three hits, and Szczur had two in another game with contributions from a wide swath of players.

Daytona Cubs

Listening to the early part of this game was so difficult, I opted for rain delay theatre from Tennessee. The reception was choppy like I was under a bridge the first two innings. It's rather unfortunate, as it was a swift-moving D-Cubs 3-1 win win in a fight for first place with the Brevard County Manatees (Brewers). Ben Wells (S-15) earned the win, pitching the first seven with complete command. Wells allowed only a pair of hits, walking one, and fanning three. Wells didn't need much offense, and got enough. CF Tim Saunders hit his third homer in the third with LF Pin-Chieh Chen aboard. In the sixth, 1B Dustin Geiger (H-17) finished the D-Cubs scoring with a solo blast in the sixth.

Geiger and Saunders both had two hits, with Geiger's other hit being a double. Chen and SS Javier Baez (H-3) each had a walk and a single. Reliever Carlos Gutierrez closed the game out for his first save, giving up a run on two hits, fanning three and walking none. The D-Cubs regained first place in the Florida State League North, passing the Maanatees by a half game. The Cubs played error-free defense.

Kane County Cougars

This is what was expected all year from Kane County. Facing the Quad City River Bandits (Astros), the Cougars scored early, got enough pitching, and won in a rather routine fashion by a 7-4 score. 1B Dan Vogelbach (H-6) doubled in two runs in the first, including Albert Almora (H-1) who was doing his best Ron Hunt impersonation, getting plunked two of his first three times up. (Hunt holds the MLB single-season HBP record, getting hit 50 times in 1971.) SS Marco Hernandez singled in Vogelbach to add a third first inning run.

Vogelbach and 3B Jeimer Candelario (H-8) singled in runs in the fourth, and a homer by 2B Gioskar Amaya (H-16) and a double play grounder scored LF Reggie Golden in the ninth.

All-Star pitcher Felix Pena wasn't sharp, walking three and giving up five hits in just under five innings, though he struck out five. Nathan Dorris somewhat vultured a win, as (like Josh would say) Pena didn't go the required five innings to pocket the win. Dorris, however, allowed only a walk in his four-out performance. Dillon Maples was credited with a three-inning save, allowing two runs in the ninth. Maples allowed a hit and a walk, while fanning three.

Hitting stars included Amaya, with three hits, Hernandez and Vogelbach with two, and the top two in the lineup, Almora and RF Kevin Encarnacion, scoring twice.

Boise Hawks

You didn't think I could go five-for-five, did you? I didn't.

Like Iowa, Boise trailed 5-1. Like Iowa, Boise tied the game at 5. Unlike Iowa, the bullpen gave up two runs, and the game ended with the Tri-City Dust Devils (Rockies) as 7-5 winners. Duane Underwood (P-13) went 4⅔ innings, getting tagged for five runs, largely on four walks, a homer, and some shaky defense. Underwood fanned three, before turning it over to losing pitcher Jasvir Rakkar, who gave up three hits and two runs over three innings and a third. Carlos Martinez-Pumarino (R-8) pitched a clean ninth, fanning one.

The Hawks offense was led by 3B Daniel Lockhart, who had three hits and a run, and SS Carlos Penalver (H-18), who had a hit, a run, and two driven in. Five starters scored, and seven had hits. All 10 Boise safeties were singles, the Hawks made three errors, and two runners were on as the game-ending double play ended the proceedings.

The AZL Cubs won 2-1.

And with that, I return this feature to its proper author.