Chris Valaika drew a bases loaded walk to force home the only run of the game in the Iowa Cubs 1-0 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs (53-50) on Tuesday night at Principal Park. The game featured only eight hits, all of them singles. With the win, Iowa maintains first place in the PCL American North division.
The pitching matchup featured Dallas Beeler for Iowa (55-48) going against Andrew Heaney, top prospect of the Miami Marlins according to Baseball America, going for New Orleans. With the wind blowing in from left field, the game promised to be a pitcher’s duel and lived up to that expectation.
Heaney (3-2) took a perfect game into the seventh inning, retiring the first 18 Cubs batters in order. In the seventh, Matt Szczur collected Iowa’s first hit with a single to right through a semi-shift. Without the shift, Szczur’s hit would have been an easy ground ball to second. Brett Jackson followed Szczur and attempted a sacrifice bunt. Jackson popped up the bunt and reached on an infield single when New Orleans catcher Rob Brantly dove for the ball but couldn’t come up with it. Perhaps the key at bat of the inning belonged to Kris Bryant. Heaney quickly went ahead of Bryant 0-2, but Bryant was able to coax a walk to load the bases, leading to Valaika’s walk to score Szczur. The Cubs had an opportunity to score more runs but Zephyrs shortstop Juan Diaz made a circus play on a missile off the bat of Rafael Lopez to turn a double play and end the inning.
Beeler (7-3) meanwhile tossed his fifth straight quality start for Iowa. Beeler allowed only one runner to third base over seven innings, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out a season-high seven batters. Beeler has now thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings for Iowa.
Zac Rosscup, in his first appearance back from Chicago since begin optioned pitched the eighth inning and gave way to Blake Parker to pitch the ninth. Parker retired the Zephyrs in order and picked up his league leading 21st save of the season.
Javier Baez went 0-for-4, ending his 15-game hitting streak, one short of his career-high 16 game streak with single-A Peoria in 2012. The 15-game streak is a team-high for Iowa in 2014.
NOTES: Kyle Hendricks picked up his first major league victory on Tuesday night. Hendricks pitched seven shutout innings against the San Diego Padres, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out five. Wednesday, Tsuyoshi Wada will take the mound for the Chicago Cubs, looking for his first victory with Chicago in his second start.