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September 27 Game Notes: Iowa Cubs vs. Toledo Mud Hens

September 27, 2022 - International League (IL)
Iowa Cubs News Release

IOWA CUBS (67-80) vs. TOLEDO MUD HENS (86-62)

Tuesday - 12:08 PM - Principal Park - Des Moines, IA

LHP Wyatt Short (6-2, 3.52) vs. RHP Elvin Rodriguez (6-4, 4.70)

TODAY'S GAME: The I-Cubs and Toledo will play game two of their three-game series today, with Toledo currently leading the series 1-0 after last night's extra-innings victory. Wyatt Short will take the ball for Iowa, looking to improve on his 6-2 record in his final game of 2022. The southpaw leads Iowa's roster with six wins, starting in seven games while pitching in 25 total contests. In all, he has allowed 27 earned runs on 58 hits and 32 walks over 69.0 innings pitched, striking out 60 batters and limiting opponents to a .223 average against him. Elvin Rodriguez will get the nod for the Mud Hens, set to pitch in his 23rd game of the year and make his 21st start this season for Toledo. Rodriguez enters the game with a 6-4 record and a 4.70 ERA, allowing 50 earned runs on 106 hits and 36 walks over 95.2 innings. He has struck out 87 batters over that span, while opponents have hit .283 against him. The righty allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks over 4.1 innings pitched in his lone start against Iowa this year.

A LOOK AT THE LEADERBOARDS: Matt Mervis went deep for his 15th Triple-A home run of the season last night, putting him just one shy of tying for third on the team. Should he hit one more, that third-place tie would be with Jared Young, who has played almost twice as many games for Iowa as Mervis has this season. In fact, all three of the I-Cubs ahead of Mervis on the home run list - rounded out by John Hicks (19) and Narciso Crook (19) - have played at least 40 more games for Iowa this season than Mervis himself has. That trend continues for multi-RBI performances, where Mervis (12) is also tied for third with Young and trails Hicks (14) and Crook (16). On top of the team leaderboards, Mervis' performance across levels has also boosted him to the top of all of Minor League in several categories. He is tied for fifth in doubles (39), ranks eighth in hits (156), and places fifth in slugging percentage (.610). When it comes to power and production, there's almost nobody better; Mervis ranks second in MiLB in home runs with 36 total this year and leads the pack in RBI (119), extra-base hits (77) and total bases (307).

GET TO 20: Iowa's catcher John Hicks went 2-for-5 with a double and a strikeout out of the cleanup spot last night, giving him 22 multi-hit games this year. Hicks has been a key part of Iowa's offensive production this year, playing in the second-most games of anybody on the active roster. He is also just one deep fly away from hitting 20 home runs this year, already surpassing that number with 24 doubles. The catcher is hitting .259 (91-for-352) with 24 doubles, two triples, 19 home runs, 54 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases in his 94 games for Iowa this year. His 24 doubles and 54 RBI are the second-most he has ever had in any season of his career, while his 19 home runs sets a career high.

TWO MORE SCORELESS: Kervin Castro spun two more scoreless innings last night, giving him 4.1 consecutive scoreless frames over his last two outings. The righty hasn't allowed a hit in either game, walking one batter in each contest while striking out five combined. He retired the first batter he faced again last night, making him a perfect eight-for-eight this year in retiring the first batter he faces entering the game. Castro's 1.32 ERA is tops on the active roster, allowing just two earned runs over his first eight games with the team.

SHORT'S START: Since joining the rotation on August 24, Wyatt Short has made six straight starts, pitched at least four innings in each, limited his opponents to three earned runs or less every time out, and in his most recent outing, logged his first professional quality start. Last Wednesday in Omaha, Short became the fourth Iowa starter to pitch six innings in a start this season, joining Brandon Leibrandt, Javier Assad and Caleb Kilian in that category. The outing marked a career high for the lefty, who had never pitched more than 3.1 innings in an outing prior to 2022. He limited the Storm Chasers to three runs, all of which came on a home run, and walked just one batter. He tied his career high with five strikeouts and earned his sixth win of the season, which puts him on top of Iowa's active roster and ties him with Matt Dermody for first on the 2022 season roster as well. Short holds a 2.12 ERA (8ER/34.0IP) out of the rotation, which compares to the 4.89 mark (19ER/35.0IP) he earned out of Iowa's bullpen. He has already set single-season career highs in starts (6) and innings pitched (69.0), while his six wins tie his career high and his 60 strikeouts put him six away from tying that high as well.

TWO BIG GAMES: Darius Hill enters today's game with 162 hits this year in his 131 games with Double-A Tennessee and Iowa. With two games left to play, the outfielder is just four hits away from leading all Minor League players in hits, four behind Will Brennan, an outfielder in the Cleveland Guardians system. Brennan recorded 166 hits in 129 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, but had his contract selected on September 21 by Cleveland. That being said, with five hits over the next two games, Hill would end the season as the hits leader among all Minor League players in 2022. Hill is collectively hitting .313 (162-for-518) over both levels this year, recording 35 doubles, five triples and nine home runs. He has driven in 53 runs and taken 34 walks over that time.

AGAINST TOLEDO: Iowa and Toledo will matchup for game two of their three-game series at Principal Park, with just two games left to play in the 2022 campaign. The Mud Hens took game one of the series last night with four runs in the 10th inning, moving their record against Iowa to 11-8 this year. The loss guaranteed Iowa to have a losing record against Toledo this year, even if they win the next two games. Iowa dropped to 7-6 against Toledo at Principal Park this year, while going 1-5 in their six games played at Fifth Third Field. Iowa is also 8-11 against the Mud Hens all-time here at Principal Park, while going just 11-20 overall all-time against Toledo. Including their last series in the beginning of August, Iowa has now lost three straight games to Toledo.

SHORT HOPS: With their loss last night, Iowa dropped to 10-12 in September, meaning they will not end up with a single winning month this season...the I-Cubs lost their 50th game of the year when wearing blue uniforms last night...with last night's loss, Iowa will finish the year at 15-11 in the first game of a series...last night marked Iowa's ninth loss of the year when tied after both seven and eight innings, moving to 7-9 when tied after seven innings and 5-9 when tied after eight innings...Narciso Crook is playing in his 100th game of the year with Iowa today, making him just the second player to reach 100 games with the I-Cubs.

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