Kyle Hendricks pitched seven strong innings and Javier Baez launched his second home run of the season as the Iowa Cubs (4-4) defeated the Nashville Sounds 5-1 on Thursday afternoon at Principal Park. With the win, Iowa took three out of the four games in the series.
After giving up seven runs in his first start, Hendricks (1-1) looked much more like the pitcher who was the Cubs minor league pitcher of the year in 2013. The Sounds were able to push across a run against Hendricks in the fourth when Hunter Morris lined a single to left, scoring Eugenio Velez. That would be the only run the Sounds would score on the day. Hendricks, picking up his fifth quality start in seven attempts with Iowa, pitched seven innings, giving up five hits and a walk, while striking out five.
Neil Ramirez and Blake Parker each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game for Iowa.
Iowa was able to post some offense on what looked to be a tough day to do so. Nashville starter Jimmy Nelson is the top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, according to Baseball America. Nelson didn’t pitch poorly but the I-Cubs broke through in the sixth. Matt Szczur singled to lead off the inning and stole second base. One batter later, Nelson would face the top prospect of the Chicago Cubs according to Baseball America, Javier Baez. Baez crushed an 0-2 fastball over the right-center field wall, giving Iowa a 2-1 lead. The home run was the second of the season for Baez. Iowa would score a third run in the inning when Chris Valaika doubled down the left field line, scoring Josh Vitters from first base.
Iowa would add two more runs in the eighth inning off Sounds reliever Michael Blazek. Arismendy Alcantara led off the inning with a double to right. After a Josh Vitters walk, Valaika singled, scoring Alcantara and sending Vitters to third. Vitters would come home on a sacrifice fly by Christian Villanueva to close out the scoring for Iowa.
Szczur, Alcantara, and Valaika had two hits for Iowa, while Baez and Vitters each added one.
Iowa opens its first road series of the season on Friday against the Memphis Redbirds.