Playing as a visiting team at Wolff Stadium hasn't been a very enjoyable experience for anyone in the Pacific Coast League this season. The visitors usually fall victim to the Missions' pitching or their clutch hitting, or both.Usually, they do. But, in recent days, the Iowa Cubs have started to
Playing as a visiting team at Wolff Stadium hasn't been a very enjoyable experience for anyone in the Pacific Coast League this season. The visitors usually fall victim to the Missions' pitching or their clutch hitting, or both.
Usually, they do. But, in recent days, the Iowa Cubs have started to flip the script.
They've started to write their own narrative after winning two of three at the Wolff. Pitcher Alec Mills and his friends did it again Monday night, bolting to a four-run lead and then holding on for a 5-3 victory in front of 3,087 fans.
Actually, it's really the same old script that the Cubs have followed all year. They come into another town with a bit of a swagger and the best road record in the PCL. Now, they've taken two against the team with the PCL's best home record.
Cubs manager Marty Pevey struggled to explain exactly why his team plays so well on the road.
"You know, that's hard to say," Pevey said. "We were trying to figure that out earlier this year. I don't know why. I guess we just have a real good clubhouse, and we play good together."
Mills (7-2) was the major difference-maker in Game 3 of a five-game series between division leaders. He pitched seven innings and contributed in multiple ways.
With his arm, he allowed only four hits and an unearned run and struck out seven. With his bat, he drove in a run with a line single off Bubba Derby (3-5) in a two-run second.
Catcher Taylor Davis also played a significant role, throwing out a couple of runners trying to steal and then blasting a two-run homer against reliever Angel Perdomo in the eighth.
Pevey agreed that his battery played well.
"(Mills) used his fastball effectively and was hitting on his secondary pitches," Pevey said. "Taylor followed the game plan that pitching coach Rod (Nichols) put together for them, and they were outstanding."
The Cubs made mistakes in the eighth and ninth innings and allowed the Missions to score a run in each inning.
Nursing a two-run lead that eventually turned out to be the final score, Iowa closer James Norwood struck out Greg Nottingham and Blake Allemand with a runner on first to end the game.
"He has that in him," Pevey said. "He's got really good stuff. When he's commanding his fastball and his split, he's tough."
The Missions entered the game looking to take charge of the series. The Cubs had won the opener 12-2 on Saturday night. On Sunday, the Missions rebounded with a 10-2 victory.
But, for the third game in a row, Iowa scored first and, this time, the Cubs made it tough on the home team to play catch-up. In the end, the Cubs improved to 30-13 on the road while dropping the Missions to 29-14 at home.
"They're first in their division, and there's a reason (for that)," Missions manager Rick Sweet said. "We're in a stretch with Round Rock and Iowa and New Orleans (later this week) - three teams with good records. You don't get to this time of the year and have a good record and not be a pretty good club."
Outside of the second inning, Derby probably pitched well enough to win. In fact, he enjoyed some good moments, striking out six batters in 5 and 1/3 innings. But, he said he didn't always have the command that he needed, and it cost him..
"It's one of those teams that, you know it's going to be a grind," Derby said. "It's never going to be a pushover game. That makes it interesting. That's what we want. That's why we're here. You know, I think, I should have done a better job of commanding the baseball.
"But, in the end, it was a fight. We had runners on in the eighth and the ninth. We're always pushing. There's a lot of fight in this team. It's going to be exciting to see how it turns out in the future."
With the victory, the Cubs improved to 5-2 against the Missions in meetings between leaders in the American Northern and American Southern divisions, respectively.
American Southern Division - San Antonio 51-33, Round Rock 49-34, New Orleans 45-38, Oklahoma City 34-48.
American Northern Division -- Iowa 48-36, Omaha 38-46, Nashville 36-47, Memphis 34-49.
Getting settled with a new team
Infielder Travis Shaw went 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts in his first game since being optioned down to the Triple-A level by the parent-club Milwaukee Brewers.
"He came in, he got his ground balls, he got his work in (this afternoon)," Sweet said. "His batting practice was good. I thought he had some good at-bats today. You know, he hadn't done anything for three or four days.
"So, he's going to be a little bit rusty. But, overall, I thought he did a pretty good job. I think he'll have success here."
Paying respects to Tyler Skaggs
A moment of silence was observed before Monday night's Cubs-Missions game for Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, 27, who was found dead earlier in the day in Southlake.
Missions pitcher Jay Jackson tweeted condolences to Skaggs' family and friends.
"Life is short," Jackson said on his social media page. "Enjoy (the) moments you have and the people around you. Prayers!"
Southlake police responded to a report of an unconscious man in a hotel room, according to the Associated Press.
Officials pronounced Skaggs dead at the scene. No foul play is suspected, and an investigation is ongoing, police told the AP.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Angels-Texas Rangers game was postponed. In the PCL, the game between the Salt Lake Bees and Tacoma Rainiers at Tacoma also was postponed.
Salt Lake is the Triple-A affiliate of the Angels. Skaggs played at Salt Lake in parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Belisario to Biloxi
To make room for Travis Shaw on the roster, pitcher Johan Belisario was sent down to Double-A Biloxi. Belisario, in his only start for the Missions, gave up eight runs on nine hits and took the loss in Saturday's series opener against Iowa.