TONIGHT'S GAME: The Iowa Cubs and Memphis Redbirds play the first game of a four-game series. The Redbirds are the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Following this series, the Cubs will return to Principal Park for an eight-game home stand against the New Orleans Zephyrs and Round Rock Express.
CUBS CONTINUE MASTERY OF SOUNDS: The Cubs beat Nashville 5-1 yesterday afternoon at Principal Park and won three of four in the series against the Sounds. The Cubs have won 11 of their last 13 home games against Nashville going back to 2012. SS Javy Baez belted a two-run homer off Sounds' starter Jimmy Nelson in the sixth inning to give the Cubs their first lead at 2-1. The Cubs added a third run against Nelson in the sixth and two insurance runs against Michael Blazek in the eighth. 1B Chris Valaika chipped in two hits, including a double, and two RBI.
QUALITY CONTROL: RH Kyle Hendricks allowed one run on five hits over seven innings yesterday to post his first quality start and earn his first win of the season. The Cubs have received a quality start in each of the last five games and the rotation has reorded a 1.40 ERA (7ER/45.0IP) during this stretch.
STRIKE FORCE: Three Cubs pitchers combined for eight strikeouts yesterday, increasing the Cubs' league-leading total to 81 punchouts in 72 innings on the year. The Cubs have recorded 10 or more strikeouts in three of their eight games. RH Carlos Pimentel set a career-high with 10 strikeouts on Wednesday afternoon and leads the league with 16 strikeouts in 11 innings over two starts. RH Marcus Hatley (8K/4.0IP) and LH Zac Rosscup (7K/3.2IP) are among the top relievers in the league in K/9.0 innings ratio.
THE .500 CLUB: After losing their first three games, the Cubs are 4-1 in the last five games to get back to the .500 mark. The last time the Cubs had a .500 record was July 12, last season, when the team was 48-48 and had a two-game lead in the American Northern Division standings. The Cubs went 18-30 from that point to finish last season at 66-78. The last time the Cubs had a winning record was July 9, last year at 47-46. The Cubs boasted a winning record for a total of nine days in 2013.
VS. REDBIRDS: The Redbirds lead the season series 3-1 after winning a four-game set Opening Weekend at Principal Park. These two teams are no longer division rivals, but are scheduled to meet 16 times this year. The Cubs will return to Auto Zone Park for a second series, May 27-30 and the Redbirds return to Principal Park, July 25-27. That series will include a double-header on the final day. Last year, the Redbirds won the season series 10-6, including a 6-2 mark at Auto Zone Park. The Redbirds lead the all-time PCL series 119-108, including a 73-39 mark in Memphis.
ROAD OPENER: Tonight is the Cubs' first road game of the season and one of just eight road games scheduled for the month of April. Last year, the Cubs finished a league-low 22-50 on the road. The Cubs have had the worst road record in the PCL in each of the last three seasons.
SHORT HOPS: Cubs' opponents have scored the first run in each game this year...OF Matt Szczur is one of five players tied for second in the league with three stolen bases on the year...the Cubs turned two double plays yesterday and rank third in the league with nine double plays behind a first place tie between Reno and Salt Lake with 12...2B Arismendy Alcantara has hit safely in all six of his starts.
HA JOINS I-CUBS: OF Jae-Hoon Ha joins the I-Cubs from extended spring training today. Ha had off-season wrist surgery that caused him to miss most of spring training. Last year, Ha started the year with double-A Tennessee and hit .284 (27-for-95) with a homer and 14 RBI in 28 games. He was on the disabled list with a strained right oblique from May 5-June 19 before joining Iowa on June 22. He made his triple-A debut at Memphis that day and went on to hit .241 (55-for-228) with five home runs and 21 RBI in 62 games. The Cubs signed Ha as a non-drafted free agent on September 19, 2008.
SANCHEZ PLACED ON DL: The Cubs have placed reliever Jonathan Sanchez on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left shoulder. Sanchez has made just one appearance with Iowa this season. On April 4 against Memphis, he allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning on just one hit. He walked three, hit a batter, and gave up a grand slam to Greg Garcia.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.