Delvin Zinn had a five-game hitting streak going through the weekend, but Class A South Bend was off Sunday and he didn't start on Monday or Tuesday. A three-day break from the starting lineup might hinder some hitters' rhythms, but not Zinn's.
The 21-year-old Cubs prospect responded with the best game of his four-year Minor League career Wednesday afternoon, going 5-for-5 and finishing a home run shy of the cycle as the Cubs outlasted host Lansing, 10-8, at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Video: South Bend's Zinn rips fifth hit
Zinn started his day in the second inning by lining a 1-2 pitch from right-hander Sean Wymer to left for an RBI triple to tie the game, 1-1. The 21-year-old second baseman watched a strike go by in the fourth inning before singling to center to score Cubs No. 15 prospect Nelson Velazquez from second, starting a three-run rally that gave South Bend a 5-4 lead.
"Today I was really big on shortening up my movement in the box and swinging at pitches in the zone," Zinn said. "Just really having patience, getting my pitch and having faith that I know I can hit and put the ball in play."
Wymer was out of the game by the time Zinn led off the sixth inning, and the 2016 23rd-round pick's patient approach landed him in another two-strike hole against left-hander Marcus Reyes. Zinn responded by ripping a single to center. He scored two batters later when D.J. Artis doubled to left, the first of five South Bend runs in the frame to break a 5-5 tie and give the Cubs the lead for good.
Gameday box score
Zinn led off the following inning against another new reliever, running the count 1-2 against right-hander Mike Pascoe. The Mississippi native fouled off two pitches before watching another ball go by and ripped the seventh pitch of the at-bat to left for his third double of the season, which left him a homer shy of the cycle with two innings to play.
A 5-foot-10, 170-pound infielder with one home run in 122 career games entering Wednesday, Zinn faced yet another reliever in the ninth, right-hander Sean Rackoski. While he didn't complete the cycle with a long ball, Zinn smacked another double to left to cap his career day.
"I'm not going to say I wasn't [thinking about the home run]," Zinn said. "One-hundred percent I was, but I guess if you miss with a double, that's alright."
There wasn't much Zinn missed on the day, as the fourth-year player set new career highs with five hits, nine total bases and two doubles. He also matched career marks with two RBIs and two runs scored.
2019 MiLB include
Zinn enjoyed his best pro season last year in his full-season debut at South Bend, batting .286/.335/.323 in his first taste of the Midwest League after hitting .218 in 51 games over two seasons in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He's raised the stakes this season with his current .375/.419/.525 mark, but he still looks back to last year's success as a path forward.
"I went back and watched some old film of how I hit last year," Zinn said. "Just trying to get back to that ... and trying to keep this ball rolling."
Four other Cubs enjoyed multi-hit afternoons as part of the team's 10-run, 16-hit outburst, including Artis, Velazquez, Cubs No. 30 prospect Andy Weber and Tyler Durna. Fifth-ranked prospect Cole Roederer drove in two runs with a third-inning single and a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
South Bend starter Cam Sanders entered the game having allowed no runs on seven hits and eight walks through 15 innings this season, but yielded five runs on six hits and five walks with two strikeouts and watched his ERA jump from 0.00 to 2.37 after his first afternoon start of 2019. Ryan Lawlor (1-1) picked up the win in relief after firing three one-hit innings and striking out three.
Leadoff man Reggie Pruitt reached base five times for the Lugnuts, going 2-for-2 with three walks, two runs scored and an RBI to pace the Lansing offense. Fifth-ranked Blue Jays prospect Jordan Groshans went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and No. 27 prospect Alejandro Kirk went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a two-run homer in the ninth that cut Lansing's deficit to 10-8.