TONIGHT'S GAME: The Iowa Cubs and Memphis Redbirds play the first game of a five-game series over three days. The Redbirds are the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. This is the fifth of nine games in seven days for the Cubs on this home stand. The Cubs are 3-1 on this home stand after winning the opening series against the New Orleans Zephyrs.
CUBS BLOW PAST ZEPHYRS: Every starting position player and a total of 10 different I-Cubs had at least one hit in an 11-2 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs last night at Principal Park. 2B Javy Baez and 1B Mike Olt each had two hits and drove in three. Baez and PH Josh Vitters connected on home runs in the game. The Cubs took three-of-four to win the series over the Zephyrs and have won back-to-back series coming out of the All-Star Break. In 14 home series, the Cubs have won seven, lost one, and split six for the year.
THE HIGHEST HEIGHTS: The Cubs have won three straight games and have matched their high-water mark of the year at nine games over .500. The Cubs were also nine games over on July 2 at 47-38. The Cubs have been in first place in the American Northern Division for 27 of the last 28 days and enter play tonight with a 2.5 game lead on Omaha. The Cubs' largest division lead this year has been three games, also on July 2.
THERE'S NO PLATE LIKE HOME: The Cubs have scored 24 runs in the last two games, setting a season-high for runs in consecutive games. The Cubs are no longer last in the league in runs scored. The Cubs have scored 459 runs this season and have moved ahead of Colorado Springs (457) and Nashville (452).
JAVY STAYS HOT: IF Javy Baez hit his team-leading 17th home run last night and his team-best 66 RBI rank eighth in the PCL this season. Baez has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games and is batting .315 (23-for-73) with seven doubles, six home runs, 13 runs scored, and 19 RBI during this stretch. He has hit safely in seven of eight games since the All-Star Break and is batting .394 (13-for-33) and is tied for third in the league with three homers and 11 RBI since the Break.
VS. REDBIRDS: The Redbirds lead the Cubs 7-4 in a season series that has been marked by rain. The Redbirds won three-of-four at Principal Park to open the season. The Cubs won 2-of-3 at Auto Zone Park, April 11-13, but the last game was rained out. The Cubs and Redbirds endured over 10 hours of rain delays in a series at Memphis, May 27-30. Two games were postponed and one was suspended. The Redbirds won three-of-four, but the teams will make up the last game during this series. Last year, the Redbirds won the season series 10-6, but the teams split the eight games played at Principal Park. The Redbirds lead the all-time series 123-111, but the Cubs hold a 69-46 mark in Des Moines.
PINCH ME: OF Josh Vitters came off the bench yesterday and hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning last night. It was Vitters' eighth home run of the season, but his first since June 18. Three of his home runs have come against the Zephyrs. Vitters' blast was the Cubs' third pinch-hit home run this season. INF Javy Baez came off the bench to homer against Memphis on April 6 and OF Brett Jackson connected on June 1 at Nashville. Cubs' pitch-hitters this season are batting .258 (17-for-66) with two doubles, a triple, three home runs, eight runs scored, and 11 RBI with five walks and 19 strikeouts.
NO JOKE: LH Eric Jokisch (6-8) allowed two runs on a season-high 10 hits in 5.1 innings to earn the win last night. It was his first win since June 1 at Nashville. Jokisch leads the league with 123.1 innings over his 20 starts and ranks fourth in the PCL with 113 strikeouts.
FUJIKAWA ON REHAB: RH Kyuji Fujikawa pitched a perfect inning and struck out two on Wednesday in the second game of his Major League rehab assignment. Fujikawa joined the I-Cubs on July 21. In two appearances, he has allowed a run on two hits and struck out two in two innings. Fujikawa underwent Tommy John surgery last June after appearing in 12 games with Chicago. Prior to joining the I-Cubs this year, he made six rehab appearances between Rookie Mesa and single-A Kane County, and didn't allowed an earned run in 5.2 innings. He struck out nine and walked two.