On The Farm: Iowa Loses Marathon, Will Need To Win Finale To Reach Playoffs

On The Farm: Iowa Loses Marathon, Will Need To Win Finale To Reach Playoffs

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010
8:50 PM
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

CUBSIowa AAA
The I-Cubs made a mighty comeback and almost pulled off a stunning victory Sunday at Principal Park but in the end, dropped an 8-7 decision in 15 innings to Memphis. The loss leaves the Redbirds a game back of Iowa with one game remaining in the regular season. That game will be played Monday with the winner clinching a berth in the Pacific Coast league playoffs.

Allen Craigs RBI single in the 15th off Jeff Gray gave Mondays game meaning. The Redbird had battered I-Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija, scoring four times in the first and three more in the third. Iowa rallied in the middle innings, though, tying the score at 7-7 on a Brad Snyder RBI single.

Iowa had a chance to win it in the ninth when Jason Dubois lined a one-out double to right. Bryan LaHair struck out, though, and after an intentional walk to Bobby Scales, Chris Robinson struck out to end the inning. The I-Cubs also had men on in the 10th, 12th and 15th innings but each time the rally fizzled.

Dubois was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. The Cubs used seven pitchers even after Samardzija gutted his way through six innings. Jay Jackson 11-8, 4.58 will face Evan MacLane 8-7, 4.35 in Mondays finale.
Daytona A
The Cubs finished out the regular season Sunday afternoon with a 6-0 victory over Lakeland at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Daytona, which was in the hunt for a playoff spot until the final week of the season, received a stellar effort on the mound from Robert Whitenack, who pitched his finest game in seven Florida State League outings. Whitenack went seven innings and allowed only two hits while striking out three.

Whiteknack finished the season on a 17-inning scoreless streak, ending with a 3-1 record and a 2.04 ERA with Daytona. Overall, he was 11-8 with a save and a 4.15 ERA while splitting time between Daytona and Peoria.

Ryan Flaherty was 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. DJ Lemahieu added a pair of hits and finished with a .314 average and a six-game hitting streak. ... The Cubs finished with an overall record of 75-64 but were 41-28 in the second half.

In other action, playoff-bound Tennessee eked out a 3-2 victory over Carolina, scoring the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning on a fielders choice. Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer each had a pair of hits. Guyer is batting .342, second in the Southern League. Chris Archer started and pitched two scoreless innings in his final playoff tuneup. James Leverton picked up the win.

WHITE SOXCharlotte AAA
Charlotte, looking to finish the regular season on a positive note, earned a victory in its penultimate game by defeating visiting Gwinnett, 5-1, at Knights Stadium.

Stefan Gartrell and Luis Rodrigues each had a homer and two RBIs. Gartrells homer was his 27th while Rodriguez went yard for the 15th time. Buck Coats drove in the other Charlotte run.

Freddy Dolsi 3-7 picked up his first victory since July 10 after allowing a run on five hits through six innings.

In other action, Winston-Salem saw its winning streak come to an end at nine games after it was swept in a twinbill by Sale, 3-0 and 8-1. The Dash magic number for winning the second half Southern Division title remains one with Mondays finale looming. The opener was played in 1:28, the shortest game for either team this season. Josh Phegley had a homer and three RBIs to lead Birmingham by Mississippi, 9-2. Justin Greene and Sal Sanchez also had homers while Henry Mabee pitched two scoreless innings for the win. ... Jose Vargas' two-run single in the 10th inning gave Kannapolis a 4-2 victory over playoff-bound Lakewood. Jordan Cheatham had three hits, including a pair of doubles. Orlando Santos earned the victory. ... Stephen McCray allowed a run over 5 23 innings to pick up the victory as Great Falls defeated Billings, 3-1.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler won't be making a surprise return to the Cubs next season.

Fowler is closing in on a deal to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay last week to a one-year deal, pretty much sealing Fowler's future with the Cubs.

In two seasons in Chicago, Fowler batted .261/.367/.427 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, and a World Series ring.

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”