Javier Baez singled through a drawn-in infield scoring Matt Szczur with the winning run as the Iowa Cubs (20-15) took a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Nashville Sounds in 10 innings at Principal Park on Monday night. Sounds closer Donovan Hand took the loss for the second straight game.
Lars Anderson forced extra innings when he drilled an 0-2 pitch from Hand over the right field wall leading off the ninth to tie the game at 1-1. Anderson has come on strong of late, hitting .292 over the last ten games.
The game promised to be a pitcher’s duel with Jimmy Nelson going for the Sounds (20-18) against Iowa’s Tsuyoshi Wada. Both pitchers came into the game with sub-2 ERAs. Nelson, the top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization according to Baseball America, was dominant over six innings. Nelson didn’t allow a run and gave up only two hits and three walks while striking out nine, lowering his ERA to 1.76 in 51 innings pitched.
Meanwhile for Iowa, Wada continued to keep runs to a minimum for the opposition. Wada surrendered a third-inning home run to Jeremy Hermida, his third, for the Sounds only run of the game. Wada went seven innings, giving up six hits and three walks while striking out eight and giving up the lone run. Through 44.1 innings, Wada has allowed only six runs, good for a league-best 1.22 ERA. Perhaps more extraordinary than his ERA is the fact that all six runs have come on home runs, four solo and one two-run homer. Wada has 46 strikeouts against only nine walks.
Baez heroics in the tenth were set up when Szczur reached on an infeld hit with one out on the tenth. Szczur advanced to third when Logan Watkins drilled a single to right, setting the stage for Baez. Baez fouled off two good Hand (0-2) breaking balls before grounding a single up the middle to win the game.
Eduardo Figueroa (1-0) picked up the win for Iowa pitching a scoreless tenth inning.
Iowa goes for the series victory on Tuesday afternoon.
NOTES: In what should come as a surprise to no one, Chris Rusin was named PCL Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Rusin threw a no-hitter against the New Orleans Zephyrs on Wednesday. The no-hitter was the first in the PCL since 2009.