Things are tightening up in the playoffs. That's good news for the Smokies, but not so much for Daytona or Boise. The Smokies were getting help from unexpected sources today -- which was much needed because Baez wasn't really a factor in the game.
Thanks to reader Matt for the great picture of Vogelbach above.
On with the recap...
Tennessee 10 - Birmingham 7
- Eduardo Figueroa has gone from struggling reliever at Class A Daytona to playoff starter at AA Tennessee but today some of his old struggles resurfaced. The control issues that have plagued him despite solid stuff overall came back to haunt him and put the Smokies in an early hole. Figueroa allowed 3 hits while walking 4 batters, causing manager Buddy Bailey to yank him after just 2.1 innings and a bases loaded jam.
- A.J. Morris came in and may have saved the series for the Smokies by immediately striking out 2 batters with the bases loaded, keeping the score at just 2-0. The Smokies immediately capitalized and tied the game in the bottom of the inning and then took the lead with 3 in the 4th. Morris wasn't quite as sharp for the rest of his outing, walking 2 and allowing a run in his next 2 innings, but his clutch performance saved the day and he was able to pitch through the 5th and get the win.
- The Smokies mixed and matched with their bullpen until the 8th inning but ran into trouble again in the 9th. By that time, however, the Smokies had build a 10-4 lead and while it got a little scary when P.J. Francescon gave up 3 runs in the top of the 9th before Frank Batista came up with the tying run on deck. Fortunately Batista got Cody Puckett to ground out to Javy Baez to end the game.
- OF Matt Szczur went 1 for 3 including a key double down the left field line that drove in 2 runs in the bottom of the 4th, giving the Smokies a 5-2 lead at the time. He later drove in another key insurance run with a sac fly in the 8th.
- Arismendy Alcantara singled twice including a game tying 2 run single in the 3rd.
- While Javier Baez and Justin Bour have struggled for the most part so far, the Smokies have had other players step up and one of them is Rubi Silva, who went 4 for 4 today and is hitting .429 in the series. Silva was more of a rally starter than the RBI guy today, scoring 3 runs.
- Speaking of different players stepping up, experienced infielder Jonathan Mota did just that today with a triple, single, and a walk. He was a key factor in the scoring all night with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored.
- The Smokies also got an unexpected but welcome contribution from backup catcher Taylor Davis, who doubled twice and drove in 2 runs. He also scored a run.
Charlotte 3 - Daytona 2
- This was looking very, very good early as Corey Black pitched in yet another dominant performance, going 6 innings and allowing just one hit. He walked 2 and struck out 2. He continued a string of such dominant performances from the the D-Cubs staff but this time the bullpen couldn't close the deal.
- Manager Dave Keller opted to go with the experienced Jeffrey Lorick in relief, who had pitched well in the playoff but the Stone Crabs got to him today with a solo HR, to bring them within 2-1 heading into the 9th. It awas the only run Lorick allowed in 1.1 innings and he did get credit for a hold.
- Austin Reed was then brought in and immediately allowed a double, but was not able to finish the frame as the rains came down and delayed the game, leaving the D-Cubs just 5 outs from a title. When the rains stopped, Zach Cates was brought in and finished the inning with no further damage. However, when Cates came back out for the 9th, he walked the leadoff batter. How often is that the kiss of death? After a sac bunt, Cates walked the next batter and then allowed a game tying single. Jonathan Quinonez, who homered to break the shutout in the 8th was the hero as he finished his performance with a walk off single into RF.
- Pin-Chieh Chen continued his strong series with a 3 hit day, scoring a run. He's hitting .421 out of the leadoff spot.
- Number 2 hitter Zeke DeVoss has been just as good and he went 1 for 2 with a walk. He's hitting .429.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach drove in the D-Cubs first run with a single, driving in Chen.
- Kris Bryant went 1 for 3 with a walk. He singled in the 7th and came around to score on a Chadd Krist double for what, at the time, seemed like an insurmountable 2-0 lead.
Vancouver 4 - Boise 2
- It seems like everytime I ask about Paul Blackburn, the word I always hear somewhere in the response is "stud". He was exactly that for the 2nd straight playoff start. After allowing a first inning run, Blackburn settled down and shut Vancouver down on one hit the rest of the way. In all he went 5 innings and allowed just 3 hits and the one run. He walked just one batter and struck out 9. It appears the Blackburn we saw early in the year is back. Stud.
- Corbin Hoffner has been one of the Hawks best pitchers all season but today was not his day. Hoffner gave up a run in the 6th and then 2 more in the 7th to put Boise in a 4-1 hole. In all, he went 1.2 innings and allowed 5 hits and the 3 runs.
- Jasvir Rakkar finished up with 1.1 scoreless innings to give Boise a chance but they were only able to get one closer.
- Down 1-0, the Hawks immediately answered in the 2nd with a single from David Bote (1 for 3, BB) and an RBI double from Jordan Hankins (2 for 4).
- The Hawks tried to rally in the 8th behind a pinch hit double from Jesse Hodges and an RBI single from Daniel Lockhart to make it 4-2, but were unable to capitalize any further despite loading the bases in the inning on walks from Rony Rodriguez and Justin Marra, but Bote struck out to end the threat.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap