On The Farm: Iowa Starts Road Trip With Big Win

On The Farm: Iowa Starts Road Trip With Big Win

Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010
Posted: 8:30 a.m.
By Kevin Czerwinski
Iowa AAA
The I-Cubs began their critical eight-game West Coast road trip in brilliant fashion Friday night with a 5-0 victory over Fresno at Chukchansi Park. The win, over the Pacific South leading Grizzlies, allowed Iowa to maintain its 2.5-game lead over Omaha in the American North Division.

Iowa has three more games at Fresno before playing four games at second-place Sacramento next week.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx put on yet another show in what has become a common occurrence by Chicago pitching prospects in recent weeks. Bibens-Dirkx scattered three hits over seven innings in winning his third consecutive start. He improved to 5-0 overall since joining Iowa at the beginning of July and has fashioned a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings.

The right-hander also withstood a 41-minute delay in the fourth inning when a pipe burst and water began flooding the warning track in the left-field corner. Play was eventually resumed and Bibens-Dirkx proved to be dominant.

He would get all the help he would need in the second inning when Bobby Scales connected for a two-run homer. Micah Hoffpauir returned to the I-Cubs from Chicago and went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, extending his hitting streak to 19 games. Hes batting .418 33-for-79 during the streak with eight homers and 24 RBIs. Hoffpauir is also two games shy of equaling the longest hitting streak in the PCL this season. Catcher Robinson Chirinos made his Iowa debut after moving up from Tennessee this week and went 2-for-4.

In other action, the AZL Cubs dropped a 5-3 decision to the AZL Mariners despite banging out 13 hits. Dustin Geiger was 3-for-3. Boise dropped a 4-1 decision to Tri-City at Memorial Stadium. In White Sox action, Great Falls was blanked at Billings, 3-0. Mike Blanke had a pair of hits, pushing his average to .344, seventh best in the Pioneer League.

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

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Here are some of the biggest stories from the day in Chicago sports:

Complete Cubs-Indians World Series Game 1 coverage on CSN

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Cubs see Kyle Schwarber looming as potential World Series hero

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Local product and former fan Jason Kipnis has 'zero conflict' extending Cubs' World Series title drought

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

No-brainer: Cubs rolling with Jon Lester again in World Series Game 1

The making of a superstar: Kris Bryant believes in Cubs — not goats or curses

What can the Cubs expect from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series?

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

CLEVELAND — As the New York Yankees marketed Andrew Miller this summer and prepared for their first sell-off in a generation, their demands started at either Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez — and the Cubs still would have been forced to throw in more talent to get the All-Star reliever.

This could be the fascinating what-if for this World Series. The Cleveland Indians paid the price, giving up a four-player package headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier (the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (the No. 31 pick in the 2014 draft) to get what turned out to be the American League Championship Series MVP.

The Cubs didn’t make Schwarber untouchable because they thought he would be ready in time for the World Series, but he’s preparing to be their Game 1 designated hitter on Tuesday night at Progressive Field after a remarkable recovery from major surgery on his left knee.

“It was impossible to avoid some of the names — particularly the Cubs — (with) the year they were having,” Miller said. “Whether I wanted to avoid it or not I heard it. Guys in the clubhouse, our media was certainly bringing it to us.”

Even in other possible deals for pitching, the Cubs never came close to selling low on Baez, who broke out as the National League Championship Series co-MVP for his offensive production and defensive wizardry. 

Instead of getting Miller’s late-game dominance for three pennant races — and giving up five potential 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons with Schwarber — the Cubs closed a different blockbuster deal with the Yankees for a left-handed power arm.

The Cubs wanted Aroldis Chapman’s 100-mph fastball to get the last out of the World Series and would rationalize his 30-game suspension to begin this season under Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy. Already holding an age-22 All-Star shortstop in Addison Russell, the Cubs surrendered elite prospect Gleyber Torres.

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“Gleyber’s a good baseball player,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That kid’s going to be really good. So you have to give up something to get something. But also our guys felt if we got Aroldis this year, we’d have a chance to be sitting here and answering this question. And they were right.

“It’s an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour. You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. So he’s really a big part of why we’re doing this right now.”

Chapman has saved five playoff games — and become that reassuring ninth-inning presence at Wrigley Field — but he clearly responds better to a scripted role.

Miller has been untouchable during the postseason, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out 21 of the 41 batters he’s faced, giving Terry Francona even more freedom to manage a lights-out Cleveland bullpen.

“To be utilized like Miller,” Maddon said, “not everybody is cut from the same cloth mentally, either, or the ability to get loose and prepare. Andrew Miller — having done a variety of different things in the big leagues as a pitcher — is probably more suited to be able to be this guy that can get up in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth and warm up in a manner that gets him in the game both mentally and physically.

“Whereas Aroldis — if he wanted to do that — I think that would have had to be done from spring training. He’d have to differentiate his mindset. He’d have to have a different way to get ready. I do notice he throws a heavy baseball before he actually throws a regular baseball. That’s his routine.

“Whether you agree with it or not, that’s just the way it is. So with a guy like Aroldis — to ask him to attempt to dump his routine right now (and) do something else — I think you’re looking for failure right there.

“We stretched him to five outs the other night, which is a good thing, I thought. So now going forward he knows he can do that. But to just haphazardly throw him in the sixth, seventh or ninth, I think would be very difficult to do.”

Even in a World Series featuring historic droughts, Cy Young Award winners, MVP candidates and star managers, this October could come down to the bullpens shaped by deals with the Yankees.

“Both teams made aggressive trades,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Both teams are still standing. There’s something to that.”