After today, the Pelicans only have two six-game series left plus the playoffs, which they qualified for with their first-half title. The South Bend Cubs have three six-game series left. They also have a five-game lead in the second half, so they have a strong chance of making the playoffs as well.
The Smokies have four six-game series left and Iowa has five six-game series and one three game series remaining. This is the new normal and the first season of the revamped minor league schedule. If you remember, last year was messed up with a late start because of the pandemic.
The Iowa Cubs were beaten by Indianapolis (Pirates), 8-2. Iowa lost the six-game series, four games to two.
Dakota Mekkes got his first start of the season and only the third of his minor league career. The first batter he faced, Hoy Park, homered. Mekkes finished the day with two innings, allowing two runs on two hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Blake Whitney relieved Mekkes and got the loss after giving up two runs on one hit and three walks over 1.1 innings. Whitney struck out one.
Jeremiah Estrada retired the side in order in the eighth, striking out one. Estrada was the only one of Iowa’s six pitchers to not allow a run in this bullpen game.
Both Iowa runs scored on a double by left fielder Greg Deichmann in the top of the fourth inning. Deichmann went 1 for 4.
Center fielder Darius Hill was 2 for 4.
The Tennessee Smokies defenestrated the Birmingham Barons (White Sox), 13-5. The win was only the Smokies’ second win of the six-game series.
Ben Brown threw the first five innings and got the win after allowing three runs on six hits. Brown impressively struck out seven and did not walk anyone.
Chris Clarke then threw the next four innings and Clarke, normally a starter, got his first career save. Clarke gave up two runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked one.
The Smokies hit five home runs.
Center fielder Alexander Canario had two two-run home runs today, giving him 31 on the year and 24 with Tennessee. The first one came in the top of the first inning and the second one was in the fifth. Canario was 2 for 5.
Shortstop Andy Weber also had two home runs in today’s game. Weber hit a solo home run in the fifth inning and three run home run in the seventh. Weber now has four home runs this year and three in Double-A. Weber went 2 for 4 with a walk. He scored three runs.
Third baseman Jake Slaughter slugged a solo home run in the third inning. It was Slaughter’s 19th home run this year and 16th with the Smokies. Slaughter was 3 for 4 with a double, the home run and a walk. He scored three times and drove in two.
First baseman Nelson Maldonado was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He scored twice.
Left fielder Cole Roederer was 2 for 5 with an RBI double. He was thrown out at third trying to make it an RBI triple.
South Bend Cubs
The South Bend Cubs filled the Beloit Sky Carp (Marlins) with buckshot, 4-3. South Bend won five out of six games in the series against second-place Beloit.
Daniel Palencia was strong over four scoreless innings, giving up just three hits. Palencia struck out six and walked just one.
The win went to Adam Laskey, who threw 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. Laskey allowed one hit. He did not have a strikeout nor did he issue a walk.
All four South Bend runs came on home runs and two of those were hit by first baseman Casey Opitz. Optiz hit the first one with the bases empty in the second inning and the second one came with a man on in the sixth. Optiz was 2 for 3. He now has three home runs this year.
The other run came from shortstop Fabian Pertuz, who gave South Bend a 1-0 lead with a home run in the top of the first inning. It was Pertuz’s eighth home run this year. He was 1 for 4 today.
Second baseman Yeison Santana was 2 for 3.
Here are the three home runs.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans burned the Down East Wood Ducks (Rangers), 7-1 in a game that ended in the eighth inning because of rain. Despite today, Down East won the series, four wins to two.
Tyler Santana was the announced starter for today’s game, but he never threw a pitch. Whether he was pulled because of an injury or because of the threat of rain, I can’t tell you. I guess we’ll find out soon.
So Saul Gonzalez ended up actually starting and getting the win, which he was eligible for because Santana was technically the starter. Gonzalez allowed one run on three hits over two innings. The one run came on a second-inning home run. Gonzalez walked two and struck out three.
Angel Gonzalez replaced Anthony Menez with two on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. He retired the only batter he faced on a ground out and then was awarded save when the game was called in the eighth inning—even though Myrtle Beach scored three runs in the top of the eighth.
First baseman Liam Spence connected on a two-run home run in the second inning, his third for the Pelicans and fourth overall. Spence was 2 for 3 with a walk and he scored twice.
Center fielder Kevin Alcantara was 3 for 5. He scored once and had one run batted in.