EUGENE, Oregon -- In the past few weeks, Jack Patterson has learned how quickly plans change in the Minor Leagues.
The left-handed Cubs pitching prospect's bags were packed following the completion of the Rookie-level Arizona League season, until AZL Cubs 2 manager Jonathan Mota told him on Aug. 29 he was being sent to the Northwest League and would pitch out of the Class A Short Season Eugene bullpen as the team jockeyed for a playoff berth. Emeralds starter Yovanny Cruz soon was shut down, which led to a spot start against Boise and ultimately led to a spot in the postseason rotation.
And thanks to Patterson, the Emeralds are one victory away from a championship.
Gameday box score
Patterson, Eugenio Palma and Sean Barry combined on a four-hitter as Eugene took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Northwest League Championship Series with a 4-0 win over Spokane on Monday night at PK Park.
"I was just really excited to go up and get the opportunity to pitch and help us get in the postseason, but I didn't expect any of this," Patterson said. "It kind of all spiraled into getting a start in Game 2 of the Finals, which is awesome."
The 2018 32nd-round pick scattered three hits and three walks while striking out three over four scoreless frames in just his second start for the Emeralds and his first of the postseason. Patterson compiled a 2-1 record and a 2.70 ERA over 30 innings in the AZL before being promoted to the Northwest League.
"It felt great [to be called up to Eugene], because I told myself when I got drafted that was where I wanted to finish the year, and I was fortunate enough to be able to do it," he said. "When you're down in Arizona, you're playing in awesome parks, but it's in front of 10 fans and most of them are just scouts. Coming up here and pitching up in [Boise], it was definitely a lot to take in at first ... but I love it. Whether you're pitching home or away, you can just feed off the fans. The Emeralds I think have the best fans in the whole league and we play in a beautiful park. It just fuels me. It just give me that extra bit of energy when I need that extra gear to make a pitch."
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Patterson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth after relinquishing two-out singles to Tanner Gardner and Francisco Ventura and walking Starling Joseph, but he dropped in a curve ball for strike three against Tyler Depreta-Johnson to squash the threat.
Video: Emeralds' Patterson freezes batter to work out of jam
"I just wanted to attack the zone, get ahead and I was thankful to put him away with a breaking ball," the 23-year-old said. "I don't think he was ready for it."
Palma followed with three one-hit frames and retired seven consecutive batters to end his outing. Barry shut the door with two flawless frames. Eugene's bullpen has yet to surrender a run over 20 frames this postseason.
"Those two guys have been doing that all year," Emeralds manager Steven Lerud said. "There were a few times where we've probably run them a little thin and not given them enough rest in between. They're pretty fresh right now and they're pitching great."
Video: Emeralds' Jordan puts Eugene up early with double
Levi Jordan ripped a two-RBI double down the left-field line in the first inning and Grant Fennell brought in Jordan by flicking a single to center. Caleb Knight thumped two doubles for the Emeralds and scored an insurance run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Andy Weber.
Rangers No. 30 prospect Yerry Rodriguez struggled in the first, but struck out six of his final seven batters. He was tagged with three runs on six hits over 4 2/3 frames for the loss. Tai Tiedemann followed with 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one unearned run on two hits while striking out five and walking one.
Third-ranked Texas prospect Julio Pablo Martinez was 2-for-4 with a double to lead Spokane's offense.
Eugene's longest winning streak in the regular season was only two games, but the Emeralds haven't dropped any of their four playoff games.
"We finally hit a stride as a team," Lerud said. "It took us awhile to get our full club that it is now. These guys are learning to play together and it's coming together at the right time."