The Iowa Cubs came to El Paso this week for a four game series against the El Paso Chihuahuas. The series between the PCL American Northern Cubs and the PCL Pacific Southern Chihuahuas will be the only time the teams play each other all season.
The first game of the series was a surprising pitching duel between Iowa’s Rob Zastrynzy and El Paso’s Christian Bethancourt. Bethancourt even homered to score the only El Paso run of the game but gave up a two run home run to Mark Zagunis in the third which was all the Cubs would need. Bethancourt only pitched three innings so the outing was not great by ERA standards. Rafael DePaula, Logan Bawcom, and Adam Cimber pitched the final six innings and didn’t allow any hits. Bawcom’s ERA is down to 2.63 which is miniscule in the PCL. Among qualified pitchers (minimin .8 IP/team game) the league leader, Mike Mayers, has a 3.48 ERA. El Paso pitcher, Matt Magill has the 5th best ERA in the league with 4.04.
The following game was another battle with Cubs All-Star Seth Frankoff starting against Michael Kelly. Neither pitcher was especially effective but on the bright side for El Paso fans they at least avoided surrendering the long ball. The usually very effective Carter Capps was roughed up for three runs in the 9th (two earned) and almost gave up the lead but the Dogs were able to hold on and win 7-6.
Nick Buss homered in the win and would homer again the following day, a 6-5 loss to the Cubs. The third game of the series started well for the Chihuahua as they were able to start scoring early and knock starter Williams Perez out of the game in the third inning. Bryan Rodriguez started for the Chihuahuas and came into the fifth having only given up one run. He seems to falter in the fifth inning and beyond and this game was no different. The fifth itself wasn’t so bad but he gave up 1 run on two hits. In the sixth inning Rodriguez allowed a walk, a single, another walk and then a run scored on a sacrifice fly. The next batter walked loading the bases. Fortunately for Rodriguez, Jose Valdez came in in relief and struck out John Andreoli and Jemile Weeks to end the threat. El Paso would go on to lose the lead in the seventh when Keith Hessler gave up three runs on three hits and a walk. Down by one going into the bottom of the ninth Travis Jankowski drew a lead-off walk but reliever Matt Carasiti followed up by striking out the side ending the game.
After the Cubs got to starter Zach Lee early in the final game of the season it appeared that the string of one-run games would be broken. In the third inning it was 6-1. Jen-Ho Tseng was virtually lights out, but did give up a home run to Franchy Cordero. Zach Lee was able to settle down and keep the Cubs to one hit from the fourth to the sixth inning, and Carter Capps added a scoreless inning after giving up a leadoff hit in the seventh. Christian Bethancourt came in in the eighth and allowed a run after a single, sacrifice bunt, and a double hit by John Andreoli. Coming into the bottom of the ninth the Chihuahuas were down 7-1 but their bats came alive.
Collin Cowgill, Rocky Gale, and pinch-hitter Nick Buss hit consecutive singles with Buss picking up an RBI. After last night’s game Buss has reached enough at-bats to officially become the PCL leader in batting average and this bumped him up to 3.73. Travis Jankowski, who is struggling somewhat on this rehab assignment, walked to load the bases. Another rehabbing player, Yangervis Solarte, also walked. He started the game at short stop as the Padres are looking to move him there in order to keep Carlos Asuaje at second base and end the hunt for a short stop. Cordero followed-up with a bases clearing triple which brought the Dogs to within two runs.
That would be all the scoring in the eighth but with Rafael DePaula pitching the Cubs had more scoring of their own to do. Mark Zagunis, Chris Dominguez, and Jeimer Candelario hit consecutive singles. Then Yangervis Solarte had just his second ball hit to him all day. The towering fly ball was ruled in infield fly. With one out DePaula walked in a run and then Taylor Davis hit a sacrifice fly making the score 9-5.
The bottom of the ninth started with singles by Chase d’Arnaud and Collin Cowgill who was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. After Rocky Gale struck out Nick Buss was hit by a pitch which initially looked worse than it was. He was on a knee talking to a trainer for about a minute before jogging down to first and staying in the game. With the bases loaded Jankowski grounded out but knocked in d’Arnaud. PCL All-Star Matt Carasiti came in and promptly allowed a single to Solarte driving in Cowgill and Buss with a single bringing the Chihuahuas to within one run. With the crowd on their feet for Franchy Cordero, Carasiti returned to his All-Star form and struck out Cordero ending the game 9-8 in favor of the Cubs.
Three one-run losses and one one-run win made for an exciting but disappointing series for Chihuahua fans. After the game Nick Buss said his foot was fine and downplayed the situation that had initially looked like an injury.
- Cory Mazzoni‘s ERA is still 0.00 after four Triple-A innings and 10 rookie league innings.
- Solarte looked comfortable at SS, but only had two balls hit his way so it’s difficult to judge. It’s looking likely that Carlos Asuaje will stay in San Diego at second base and Solarte will move to short, probably meaning a demotion for Dusty Coleman.
- Speaking of Coleman, the recent call-up hit his first big league home run on the seventh and is 3-for-8 on the season.
— FOX Sports San Diego (@FOXSportsSD) July 28, 2017
Don’t be surprised if the Royals sign Tyrell Jenkins sometime before next season starts. The scout that signed him out of high school still believes in him and thinks he’ll be good. That scout now works for the Royals. Another scout in professional baseball liked him as a prospect a few years ago but feels like he plateaued. But that scout was surprised by the Padres decision to release him.
Andre Rienzo is recovering from surgery in Peoria, AZ. He appears to be in good spirits and on his way to recovery.