September 23 Game Notes: Iowa Cubs at Omaha Storm Chasers
IOWA CUBS (66-78) @ OMAHA STORM CHASERS (70-74)
Friday - 6:35 PM - Werner Park - Papillion, NE
RHP Caleb Kilian (5-3, 4.08) vs. RHP Jackson Kowar (4-9, 6.10)
TONIGHT'S GAME: The I-Cubs and Storm Chasers are set to play game four of their five-game series tonight, with Caleb Kilian taking the ball for Iowa. Kilian is among International League leaders in strikeouts and games started, ranking seventh in strikeouts with 117 and tied for fourth in games started with 24. The righty is 5-3 with a 4.08 ERA through his 24 starts with Iowa, allowing 45 earned runs on 100 hits and 52 walks over 99.1 innings pitched. He has struck out 117 batters over that span, while opponents are hitting .259 against him. On the other side, Jackson Kowar will get the start for Omaha. Kowar is 4-9 with a 6.10 ERA in 19 starts with the Storm Chasers this year, allowing 54 earned runs on 89 hits and 39 walks while striking out 85 batters over 79.2 innings pitched. Iowa is very familiar with Kowar, seeing him six times last year and twice already this year. In those eight starts against the I-Cubs, the 25-year-old is 3-4 with a 6.08 ERA.
HOT AND COLD: Tonight's starter, Caleb Kilian, has had an up-and-down second half. In his last 13 starts, Kilian completed five innings and allowed less than two runs six times. In those six starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA (5ER/31.1IP) and his first career Triple-A quality start. Six of the other seven starts in those two months didn't go so well, however; four of them lasted less than three innings and three of them saw Kilian allow six or more earned runs. In those six starts, he went 0-3 with a 11.84 ERA (25ER/19.0IP). Over the past month, the good and not-so-good starts alternated every other outing for Kilian. The trend began on August 11, when he went six innings and allowed two runs. Kilian gave up six runs in three innings in his next start on August 17. He went five shutout innings on August 23, then gave up a career-high seven runs in 3.1 innings on the 28th. After allowing only one unearned run in five innings on September 4, he then surrendered three runs in 2.2 innings in his start on September 10. Kilian was due for an effective outing in his matchup with Memphis last Saturday, and seemed on track for one, before the rain delay cut his start short at three shutout innings.
GOING BACK-AND-FORTH: Alexander Canario and Matt Mervis have been battling back-and-forth on the home run leaderboard among all Minor League players. The two are currently tied with each other for third with 35 long balls. Canario had been held at 31 for multiple weeks before hitting three in the series opener on Tuesday to get up to 34, tying Mervis at that mark. Mervis then clubbed a two-run shot in Wednesday's game to re-gain the lead, but that didn't last long as Canario hit a solo home run last night to match Mervis with 35. The two are each two shy of the leader among all Minor League players.
SAVE THAT BASEBALL: Although it ended up being not enough for a win, Christian Donahue came through with a huge RBI single to score the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th inning last night. The single marked his first career Triple-A hit, going 0-for-6 back in 2018 and starting 0-for-4 this year. Donahue's hit pushed across the first run for either team since the bottom of the eighth inning and was Iowa's first knock since a double by Narciso Crook in the sixth inning.
NEED SOME LENGTH: Iowa used a season-high seven pitchers in last night's 13-inning marathon, having previously used six pitchers in a single game 15 times this year, most recently on September 11 at Jacksonville. All seven of the pitchers threw at least one full inning, with three of the seven giving two or more frames. With those seven different pitchers being used, the I-Cubs will need some length out of their starting pitcher, Caleb Kilian tonight. Kilian's last start got cut short due to bad weather, allowing him to only throw three innings. It was his second consecutive start of three innings or less, throwing just 2.2 innings before that on September 10 against the Jumbo Shrimp.
SOME GOOD, SOME BAD: The I-Cubs went through a season-high seven pitchers last night, all seven relief pitchers. All seven pitchers walked at least one batter with two of the seven walking three batters each. All of those walks added up to 12 total free passes, tying a season high set back on June 29 against Columbus. Although they combined to walk 12 batters and allow 11 hits, the seven pitchers did strikeout 15 and only allowed four earned runs. They held the Storm Chasers' offense to 5-for-27 with runners in scoring position and stranded 20 men on-base.
NOT MUCH TO SHOW: Despite playing their longest game of the year in both time (3:48) and innings (13), Iowa's offense never could get much going. They scored just four runs on five hits, taking four walks while striking out 15 times. Four of their five hits went for extra-bases, with two doubles and two home runs. Their lone single was an RBI single in the 13th inning to give Iowa the lead at the time. The I-Cubs went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on-base in the one-run loss.
AGAINST OMAHA: Iowa and Omaha will play game four of their now five-game series, with Iowa currently leading the series now two games to one after dropping last night's extra-inning contest. The loss dropped Iowa to 13-5 this year against Omaha, putting them at 145-159 on the road all-time against the Storm Chasers. They fell to 322-294 all-time overall against Omaha, still 28 games above the .500 mark. The loss snapped Iowa's four-game winning streak over Omaha dating back to their last series, when they took each of the final two games. With their one-run loss last night, the I-Cubs are now outscoring Omaha by 26 runs, at 102-76.
SHORT HOPS: Iowa went six full innings without a hit, going from a double in the top of the sixth all the way to a single in the top of the 13th; the only base runners for Iowa were on walks and the ghost runner to start each extra-inning...last night marked Iowa's longest game (innings) since April 23, 2017, when they played a 13-inning contest at Round Rock; Iowa's longest game last year also came against Omaha when they two teams played a four hour, 20 minute game that went 12 innings, just five days earlier than last night's game, on September 17, 2021.
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