TONIGHT'S GAME: The Iowa Cubs and Reno Aces play the first game of a four-game series. The Aces are the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is the first game of an eight-game road trip for the Cubs. The team will travel to Tacoma on Sunday and play a four-game series against the Rainiers to complete this trip.
SALT LAKE SWEEPS SERIES: The Salt Lake Bees beat the Cubs 4-2 yesterday afternoon, completing a four-game sweep of the series at Principal Park. DH Manny Ramirez swatted a two-run homer in the fourth inning to give the Cubs an early edge, but the Bees battled back and took the lead on an RBI single by Vance Albitz in the seventh inning. CJ Cron finished with three hits, including a home run, and scored twice. The Cubs have lost 11 straight games against Salt Lake over the last three seasons.
BROKEN HOME: The Cubs have lost five straight, finished 1-7 on their just completed home stand against Las Vegas and Salt Lake, and have dropped 12 of their last 13 home games. Prior to this stretch, the Cubs had lost just one home series the entire season, but now have lost three straight. The Cubs were also swept in a five-game series by Memphis, July 25-27. This is the Cubs' worst home stretch since the team dropped six in a row, June 11-16, and went 2-11, June 11-28, 2012. The Cubs finished 29-43 at Principal Park that season. That is the club's only losing home record since 2000.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: This is the Cubs' final road trip of the regular season. The Cubs went 9-5 on their longest trip of the year, July 29-August 11 and are 32-31 on the road this year. The Cubs have finished with a winning road record just once in the last nine seasons. The team was a league-best 43-29 on the road in 2010. The Cubs have finished with the worst road record in the PCL each of the last three seasons.
"WHIFF"-LE BALL: The Cubs lead the league, and have set a new franchise record, with 1,172 offensive strikeouts this year. The previous record was 1,093 set in 1999. There have been 53 games this season where the Cubs have fanned 10 or more times, including five games on the last home stand.
VS. RENO: This is the only regular season series between these two clubs this year. Last year, the teams split a four-game series at Aces Ballpark, May 11-14. The Cubs won the first and third games of that set. Josh Vitters, Logan Watkins, Yoanner Negrin, Blake Parker, and Chris Rusin are the only Cubs that played in that series and are returning with the team to Reno for this set. The Cubs lead the all-time series 11-9, including a 7-5 mark in Reno.
AMAZING RACE: With 12 games left in the regular season, the Cubs are in third place in the American Nothern Division, three games behind the Omaha Storm Chasers for first place and one game behind the Oklahoma City RedHawks for second. Prior to falling into third place on Sunday, the last time the Cubs were in third place and as far as three games back of first was on June 23. The Cubs don't play Omaha any more this season, but will host Oklahoma City for a four-game set to finish the regular season. The Cubs have held at least a share of first place for 76 days this season.
DALLAS BEELER'S CLUB: RH Dallas Beeler (8-6) allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings yesterday to post his 13th quality start in 18 games with Iowa this year. Beeler joined the Cubs from extended spring training on May 5 and has also made two starts with Chicago this year. As of today, he has enough PCL innings to qualify in the league ERA race. His 3.80 ERA (47ER/111.1IP) ranks eighth and he is fifth in WHIP (1.19). Among qualified starters, he is fourth in fewest baserunners per nine innings (10.91) and fifth in opponents' average (.249).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: 3B Kris Bryant returned to the starting lineup yesterday and was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. He was limited for a couple of days by a deep bruise on his left foot. Bryant is tied for the league-lead with 47 runs scored since since he joined the Cubs on June 19. His 18 home runs rank second to Carlos Peguero of Omaha (19). In his first full season of pro ball, Bryant is batting a combined .333 (149-for-447) with 40 home runs and 103 RBI in 126 games between double-A and the I-Cubs this season. Bryant leads all of minor league baseball in extra-base hits (74), total bases (303), slugging (.678), and OPS (1.119). Bryant is tied with Joey Gallo of double-A Frisco for the minor league lead in homers.