Backed by strong pitching efforts in both games, the Iowa Cubs (59-54) swept a doubleheader on Wednesday, taking game one in a 9-0 shutout and scraping out a 2-1 victory in the nightcap over the New Orleans Zephyrs (56-56). The victory in game one snapped Iowa’s season-high six-game losing streak. After the sweep, Iowa holds a .5 game lead over the Omaha Storm Chasers for first place in the PCL American North division.
Game one saw the Zephyrs hand Iowa numerous scoring opportunities to which the Cubs took full advantage. The Zephyrs committed four errors, leading to eight unearned runs for Iowa. Zephyrs starter Brian Flynn (7-8) contributed to his own demise, committing two errors.
Eric Jokisch (7-8) pitched a complete game (seven innings) shutout for Iowa. Jokisch was dominant, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out six. The last Iowa complete game shutout was also recorded in New Orleans when Chris Rusin pitched a no-hitter on May 7.
Iowa posted four runs in both the third and fourth innings. The big blow of the third came off the bat of Jorge Soler who belted his second home run in an Iowa uniform, scoring Kris Bryant ahead of him.
Not to be outdone, Javier Baez blasted his 20th home run of the season in the fourth. The bomb to center field plated three, putting the game away for Iowa. Baez continues to move up the PCL RBI leaders, and currently sits in second place with 76 RBI, three behind league-leader Adam Duvall’s 79 RBI with Fresno.
Game two pitted former two-time all-star Brad Penny (1-2) for the Zephyrs against Yoanner Negrin for Iowa. Iowa drew first blood off Penny when Mike Olt drilled an RBI single up the middle scoring Soler who doubled earlier in the inning.
Iowa took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Rafael Lopez singled to right, scoring Bryant.
Kyle Skipworth cut the Iowa lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, driving in Zach Cox with a single to right for the only run Negrin would yield. Negrin (1-3) pitched five innings, allowing one run on six hits, walking none and striking out five.
Kyuji Fujikawa pitched scoreless sixth for Iowa, leading to Armando Rivero to pitch the seventh. Rivero continued to impress, striking out two in route to his first career triple-A save. Since arriving from double-A Tennessee, Rivero has thrown 17.2 innings, allowing 12 hits and eight walks while striking out 26. Rivero is 3-0 with one save and a 1.02 ERA.
Game four of the five-game series is Thursday night at Zephyr Field.
NOTES: Chris Rusin was recalled by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. In the corresponding move, PCL saves leader Blake Parker was optioned back to Iowa.