TAMPA, FL - After playing only ten minutes of baseball through the first half of their final road trip of 2013, the Daytona Cubs showed no rust in pounding the Tampa Yankees in three games at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The Cubs set a new high-water mark with Saturday's win and improved their record to 68-50 with Sunday's 11-2 triumph, their seventh consecutive win against Tampa.
Daytona never trailed at any point over the three games, and led after 23 of the 27 innings played in the series.
Friday night the Cubs scored five runs between the second and third innings, with C Chadd Krist starting things off with a two-out, three-run home run in the second off Yankees starter RHP Branden Pinder (L, 1-2). INF Dustin Geiger drove home a run with a ground-rule double then scored on a wild pitch in the third inning to give the Cubs a 5-0 lead they would not relinquish.
RHP C.J. Edwards continued to dazzle for Daytona, striking out eight over his four innings of work on Friday, and working out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the fourth to keep Tampa off the scoreboard. LHP Kyler Burke (W, 5-1) threw two innings in relief to earn the victory and RHP Zach Cates (S, 1) became the 12th different Cubs pitcher to earn a save by pitching the final three innings.
Saturday's game also saw the Cubs get out to an early lead, again thanks to some clutch hitting with two outs. A pair of walks by Tampa starter RHP Rafael De Paula put two on with two outs in the second inning for INF Elliot Soto, who lined a single to score OF Anthony Giansanti for the game's first run. With two outs and nobody on in the third, INF Dan Vogelbach drew a walk and went to third on INF Kris Bryant's double. Both runners promptly came home thanks to a two-run single from Giansanti, and the Cubs led 3-0 in support of RHP Corey Black (W, 3-0).
Black held the lead until the 5th, when Tampa struck for three on OF Mikeson Oliberto's first home run of the season. Black would get out of the inning with the score still 3-3, stranding the potential go-ahead run at second base.
While Black's day would conclude after five innings, the Cubs offense kicked right back into gear to answer the Tampa uprising. INF Wes Darvill and Chadd Krist both singled to lead off the inning against Yankees reliever RHP Jaron Long (L, 0-1), then moved to second and third on Elliot Soto's sacrifice bunt.
Next up was Cubs OF Zeke DeVoss. The switch hitter grounded a ball to Yankees INF Dan Fiorito, who was playing in with Darvill on third. Darvill broke for home on contact, and scored the go-ahead run with a splendid slide around the tag of C Jeff Farnham. OF Pin-Chieh Chen made it 5-3 with an RBI groundout to score Krist and move DeVoss into scoring position, then back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Kris Bryant, who ripped a two-run single to left for his sixth and seventh RBIs as a Daytona Cub.
LHP Frank Del Valle, RHP Ryan Searle and RHP Lendy Castillo combined to keep the game 7-3 and preserve the win for Black and grow Daytona's lead in the FSL North to six games over the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
Sunday's series finale featured another early offensive explosion by the Cubs, highlighted by the second seven-run inning of the month for Daytona. A two-out RBI single from Wes Darvill started the proceedings for Daytona in the first inning after two walks and a hit batsman from Tampa starter RHP Cesar Vargas.
After Tampa scratched out a run without a hit in the bottom of the first against RHP Ivan Pineyro (W, 3-1), the Cubs retook the lead for good on Elliot Soto's sacrifice fly in the second and removed virtually all doubt with seven in the third. 11 Cubs came to the plate in the seven-run frame, the first five of which all reached on hits and scored. INF Ben Carhart made the most of his first start of the series with a two-run double that made it 5-1 Cubs. Kris Bryant recorded two hits in the inning, leading off the frame with a single and driving in the final two runs with another two-run double.
Pineyro struck out six over his six-plus innings, scattering five hits and walking three while posting his second quality start in August. RHP Yao-Lin Wang (S, 4) also whiffed six Yankees over the final three innings, allowing only one run on a pair of hits and not walking a batter.
Every Cubs starter on Sunday scored at least one run, with Chen and Carhart both scoring twice.
Anthony Giansanti went 6-for-13 over the three games, scoring three runs and driving in three more. Kris Bryant went 5-for-13 with a pair of doubles and drove in four, while Dan Vogelbach only went 2-for-8 but walked six times and scored two runs.
Wes Darvill also chipped in five hits that came over five consecutive plate appearances between Saturday and Sunday's games.
The Cubs return home Monday to face the Dunedin Blue Jays for five games in three days, including doubleheaders Tuesday and Wednesday. First pitch for Monday's game is scheduled 7:05 p.m., with Tuesday and Wednesday's action starting at 5:05 p.m.