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August 25 Game Notes: Iowa Cubs vs. St. Paul Saints

August 25, 2022 - International League (IL) - Iowa Cubs News Release

IOWA CUBS (54-65) vs. ST. PAUL SAINTS (57-60)

Thursday - 6:38 PM - Principal Park - Des Moines, IA

RHP Hayden Wesneski (0-2, 10.13) vs. RHP Louie Varland (1-0, 1.64)

TONIGHT'S GAME: Iowa and St. Paul will play game three of their six-game series tonight, with Hayden Wesneski taking the ball for the I-Cubs. Wesneski is 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA through three starts with Iowa this year, allowing 12 earned runs on 14 hits in 10.2 innings pitched. He has walked four batters compared to 13 strikeouts while opponents are hitting .318 over that span. Despite the numbers not looking great, Wesneski is coming off his best start of the year with Iowa. The righty allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings his last time out against Indianapolis on Friday, walking once batter compared to five strikeouts. On the other side, Louie Varland is scheduled to make his third start of the year for the Saints, bringing his 1-0 record and 1.64 ERA to the table. Varland has allowed just two earned runs on eight hits over 11.0 innings with St. Paul, walking just two batters compared to striking out 15. The righty started the year with Double-A Wichita, going 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 20 games, allowing just 39 earned runs over 105.0 innings pitched. Combining his 20 games with the Wind Surge and his two games with the Saints, Varland has spun five or more innings in 19 of his 22 games this year.

JUST KEEP HITTING: After going 6-for-17 in Indianapolis, Darius Hill hasn't missed a step since returning home. With a 3-for-8 line so far this week, he is now hitting .342 on the year with Iowa. That not only leads the active roster, it would also lead all of Triple-A baseball by almost twenty points if Hill qualified for leaderboards. He has amassed 80 hits in 61 games as an I-Cub, helped by a team-leading 26 multi-hit efforts, and has gone hitless in just 14 games since joining the roster. He struck out two times yesterday, but that was only his fifth multi-strikeout game with Iowa, nearly 250 at-bats in. Hill's single also extended his current hitting streak to 11 games, making him the owner of three of Iowa's six longest hitting streaks this year. With that, he has now logged a double-digit hitting streak in each of the three months he has spent in Iowa, including a career-high 12-game streak from July 15 to August 5.

HEAD START: Wyatt Short's start yesterday was his second of the year and his first in two months, but he made it count with a five-inning shutout effort. His work was enough to earn him his first professional win as a starter and also marked the second straight shutout start for the I-Cubs. The rotation was hot and cold on the road last week, with three of the starters pitching five- or six-inning shutouts, and the other three combining to allow 11 earned runs in 8.0 innings, but they've been lights-out this series so far. Short's shutout start matched Caleb Kilian's five-inning effort in the opener, so now the rotation has gone 2-0 this week with eight hits, two walks, and 12 strikeouts in the ten innings they've covered. That means five of Iowa's last eight starts have been scoreless outings that lasted at least five innings. The efforts have been paying off, too, as the I-Cubs have gone on to win four of those five games.

KEEP BRINGING THEM IN: Matt Mervis provided a chunk of Iowa's offense yesterday, going 3-for-3 with a run scored, a double, a home run, two runs batted in and a walk. The three-hit game was his first with Iowa and gave him nine multi-hit efforts in his 27 games at Triple-A. He is now hitting .284 (29-for-102) with 15 runs scored, 10 doubles, one triple and four home runs. His 16 runs batted in with Iowa give him 96 overall this year, good for third among all minor league players. Yesterday's contest marked his third multi-RBI game of the season with Iowa.

WELCOME BACK: The I-Cubs are to expected to add Major League rehabber Michael Hermosillo to their roster today. After spending 2021 with Chicago on a Minor League contract, the outfielder signed a Major League deal with the Cubs this offseason. However, he appeared in just 17 games this spring before hitting the injured list, where he's been since May 8. He began his rehab assignment in Arizona a week ago, made four starts for the ACL Cubs, and was then transferred to Iowa. It will be a familiar setting for Hermosillo, who spent the majority of last season with the I-Cubs. He hit .306 (45-for-147) in 43 games for the club, collecting ten doubles, ten home runs, and 29 RBI along the way. Tonight's game would be his first with Iowa since August 15 of last year and his first at Principal Park since July 11 of that season.

LEADING ACROSS THE BOARD: After starting the year batting .154 (10-for-65) with two doubles, two home runs and six runs batted in through his first 23 games, Narciso Crook has turned it around and is now leading Iowa in multiple hitting categories. Since those 23 games, the outfielder has hit .296 (73-for-243) with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 54 runs batted in in his last 62 games with Iowa. He also had a four-game stint with Chicago, making his Major League debut on June 30. After his 1-for-4 game yesterday, Crook now leads Iowa's active roster in hits (83), doubles (18), home runs (18), runs batted in (60) and stolen bases (12). He is second on the team with 85 games played, 53 runs scored, three triples and 29 walks. Despite the slow start to the year, Crook enters tonight's game hitting .269 (83-for-308) with an on-base percentage of .346 and a slugging percentage of .523, good for seventh in the International League.

STAY NASTY: Since joining Iowa roster on August 5, Jeremiah Estrada has been lights-out in five relief outings for the I-Cubs. He spun a scoreless eighth inning in yesterday's 4-2 win over St. Paul, striking out two of the three batters he faced to earn his first Triple-A hold. Estrada has not allowed a single earned run over his five innings pitched, striking out two batters in four of the five appearances. The 23-year-old has allowed five hits and one walk while striking out nine, earning one save along the way. In 47.1 innings across three different levels this season, Estrada has allowed just seven earned runs on 30 hits and 20 walks while striking out 75 batters.

AGAINST ST. PAUL: Iowa and St. Paul are set to play game three of their six-game series tonight with Iowa up 2-0 entering tonight's contest. Their two wins to start the series mark the first time in the 10 series the two teams have played that Iowa has taken the first two games of a series. With those two wins, they are now 4-4 here at Principal Park this year against St. Paul and 9-11 overall. They are 7-13 against the Saints here at Principal Park all-time while going 21-34 all-time overall. With their 4-2 win in yesterday's game, Iowa now trails St. Paul in the season scoring by 17 runs, at 126-109.

SHORT HOPS: Yesterday marked the first save in over a year for Manuel Rodriguez, with his last save coming on August 4, 2021, with Chicago against the Colorado Rockies...Iowa earned just their fourth win of the season yesterday when their opponent has 10 or more hits, going 4-32 in those games; it also marked just their sixth win of the year when they are out-hit by their opponent, moving to 6-43...this is the 10th series Iowa and St. Paul have played against each other all-time and it is the first time in those two years that Iowa has taken a 2-0 lead over the Saints.

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