Drew Rundle (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)
PEORIA -- The Peoria Chiefs continued their second-half slide Wednesday as they welcomed the Cubs’ former affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts, to O’Brien Field. The Lugnuts downed the Chiefs, 6-2, giving Peoria its fifth loss in six games.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-1) made his first start of the season and gave up his first home runs. After striking out Chris Emanuele to start the game, Bibens-Dirkx served up a triple to Tyler Pastornicky. Brian Van Kirk would strike out looking, but Johermyn Chavez would take the first pitch he saw and put it into the picnic tables in right field for a 2-0 Lansing lead.
Bibens-Dirkx would work the next two innings without giving up any more runs before serving up another home run in the fourth. Lugnuts first baseman Mike McDade hit a full count pitch so hard to straight away center that Chiefs (48-46 overall, 10-15 second half) outfielder Kyler Burke could only stand in awe as the ball flew over his head at an estimated 430 feet.
“I have to admit that was one of the longest ones I’ve seen all year,” Chiefs manager Marty Pevey said of McDade’s shot. “I told their manager (Clayton McCullough) I am going out there (Thursday) to measure.”
Bibens-Dirks would end his night after five innings of work. He gave up five runs, four earned, striking out four batters.
“Most of their hits (off Bibens-Drikx) were to the opposite field and he sawed two batters off,” Pevey said. “Most of his balls were down, but he left a few up. I would like to see him change speeds a little more and use both sides of the plate.”
“He wasn’t blessed with a 94-95 MPH fastball so the only way he can be effective is to change speeds and work both sides of the plate. Out of the bullpen, he has pitched that way, but (Wednesday) he changed his style and only used one half of the plate.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ offense was once again baffled by Lugnuts (35-58, 9-15) ace Henderson Alvarez (6-5). Alvarez pitched five scoreless innings, giving up only two hits for his second victory against the Chiefs this season. Back on May 7 in Lansing, Alvarez needed only 82 pitches to finish off a one-run, four-hit complete game.
“The first time faced us, he was really nasty,” Pevey said of Alvarez. “He’s got great late life on his fastball, he’s got unbelievable late life on his changeup that acts almost like a screwball, and he mixed in some sliders as well. He was tough.”
One bright spot for the Chiefs was Drew Rundle’s second home run of the season. The Chiefs’ No. 9 hitter Wednesday, Rundle produced the only offense for Peoria with a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The top three Chiefs hitters were a combined 1-for-12, with the only hit coming from left fielder Derrick Fitzgerald in the ninth inning.
“(Rundle) really needed that,” Pevey said. “He’s having a tough year striking out a lot. For him to do that really picks him up, especially from the bottom of the order.”
Chiefs relievers Erik Hamren and Marcus Hatley pitched two innings apiece and combined for 11 strikeouts. Hamren struck out the side in the seventh and Hatley recorded the last six outs by virtue of strikeouts.
OMAHA 9, IOWA 6 (CLASS AAA)
At Des Moines, the Cubs (50-47) collected 11 hits in the loss Wednesday. CF Sam Fuld (2-for-4) hit his first home run since August 30 of last season at Class AA Tennessee, and LF Matt Camp (1-4) doubled and drove in three runs. RHP Jose Ascanio (2-3) started and suffered his worst outing of the season, allowing a season high six runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings.
MISSISSIPPI 8, TENNESSEE 5 (CLASS AA)
At Sevierville, Tenn., the Smokies (45-52 overall, 13-14 second half) collected 14 hits in the loss Wednesday. 1B Blake Lalli (3-4) paced the offense with three hits, including his 16th double, and 3B Marquez Smith (2-5) hit his team-high 26th double. RHP David Patton (0-1) started on a rehab assignment and allowed three runs and two hits in two innings for the loss.
PALM BEACH 5, DAYTONA 3 – 13 INNINGS (CLASS HIGH-A)
At Daytona Beach, the Cubs (46-46, 12-13) were held to nine hits in the extra-innings loss Wednesday. CF Tony Campana (3-7) paced the offense with three hits to extend his hit streak to five consecutive games. LF Josh Harrison (2-6) and SS Starlin Castro (2-5, double) added two hits. Castro has hit safely in six straight games. LHP Luke Sommer (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing two runs and three hits in the final inning.
SALEM-KEIZER 10, BOISE 8 (CLASS LOW-A)
At Boise, the Hawks (13-19) squandered a 5-0 lead en route to the loss Wednesday. Boise collected 11 hits with 2B Logan Watkins (2-3), 1B Justin Bour (2-4), C Richard Jones (2-5) and LF Jose Valdez (2-3) collecting two hits apiece. Watkins has hit safely in 14 consecutive games. CF Brett Jackson (1-3) singled and walked twice. He has reached base safely in all 18 games with the Hawks and is batting .333 with a .487 on-base percentage. RHP Corey Martin (1-1) suffered the loss in relief, allowing five runs and four hits in one inning.
CUBS 7, ATHLETICS 0 (ARIZONA ROOKIE LEAGUE)
At Phoenix, the Cubs (15-11) collected 10 hits and four pitchers combined on a two-hitter in the victory Wednesday, their seventh in a row. 2B Blair Springfield (2-3) and LF Glenn Cook (2-5) paced the offense with two hits apiece. 1B Bobby Wagner (1-4) hit his third home run and has now hit safely in nine of 10 games. RHP Miguel Sierra (1-0) earned the win with four scoreless innings, allowing two hits.