Matt Mervis – Picture by Todd Johnson
Tonight did not start off in the best of ways.
All four full-season clubs fell behind early but good things happened later in the evening. Still, South Bend lost 7-1. Iowa fell behind by 6 but crawled back into their game at one point thanks in part to 2 home runs by Nelson Velazquez but the Cubs could not get back in it all the way. Tennessee, on the other hand, came back from a 2-1 deficit and wound up winning 5 to 2.
Myrtle Beach was down 6-2 but scraped their way back in it to 6-5 only to give up two runs in the seventh to go down 8-5. Hold on here because the Pelicans scored three in the eighth and ninth and then added two in the tenth to take a 10-8 lead. Adam Laskey came on in the tenth and managed to shut it down after an initial single. Laskey got a K and then coaxed a double play to give the Pelicans a much-needed come from behind win! Whew! That was an exciting finish!
Starting Pitcher of the Day
The way the night began, I didn’t know if there was going to be a Starting Pitcher of the Day. But Chris Clarke of Tennessee settled down after giving up 2 early runs, one in the first and one in the third. He wound up throwing 5.2 innings and just topped 80 pitches as he struck out eight while scattering five hits. After the first inning, he was pretty efficient and only had 65 pitches after five frames. This was a really good start for him. He looked impressive after the third inning. He ran into some trouble in the sixth, but was bailed out by the Reliever of the Day.
Relief Pitcher of the Day
When Blake Whitney of Tennessee came into the game against Biloxi, the bases were loaded and two were out. With nerves of steel, Whitney ended the rally and pitched two more innings of scoreless ball while striking out two and setting up Bailey Horn for the save while Whitney took the win. It was a pretty gutsy performance.
Hitter of the Day
Simply put, today was the trifecta for Tennessee Matt Mervis went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double while driving in three runs including two insurance runs in the eighth. In his 18 games at Double-A, Mervis is hitting .328 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs. He is just on an amazing run and nobody seems to have an answer for him as he is hitting with power and precision. I mentioned to some friends tonight that Mervis is probably going to be moving to the top of the promotion list very soon if he continues to hit like this. That would be really something to see a hitter move three levels in three months!
Rookie League News and Notes
We’ve also gotten to see the Cubs rookie league teams begin play the past couple of days in the Dominican and Arizona. Jefferson Rojas and Darlyn De Leon in the DSL have stood out so far along with Adan Sanchez. In Arizona, Christian Hernandez went 2-for-5 on the first night with a home run.
However, it looks like the Mesa Cubs are going to struggle with starting pitching out in Arizona. They lost 10 to 3 to the Guardians on opening night. At press time tonight, they were already down 7 to 0 in the fifth, again to the Guardians. The hitters, meanwhile, as a team had already struck out 9 times in five innings. It’s going to be a learning experience in Mesa. Just be patient. Sometimes, adjusting to stateside baseball takes a while.