The Beavers came into the game on a three-game win streak, and winners of four of their last five, but starter Ryan O’Malley and the Cubs bullpen stifled the Beavers when it counted and came away winners.
Clay Hensley made his third rehab start for the Beavers. After posting a 1-3 record and 7.62 ERA with San Diego to start the season, Hensley suffered a groin injury and was placed on the disabled list on May 4th, opening up a spot for Justin Germano on the big league club, who has shined with a 3-0 record, thanks to allowing just four earned runs in 25 innings.
Hensley, on the other hand, has struggled on the scorecard, posting a 6.75 in his first two games, while giving up 14 hits in just eight innings of work. His third start proved no different, as Hensley allowed six runs and lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up seven hits and five walks. But, it’s not all about the statistics, according to pitching coach Gary Lance. Noting that it is difficult for a major league caliber pitcher to really focus when pitching at the Triple-A level, he pointed out when Woody Williams made some rehab starts a few seasons back. Lance said Williams didn’t look as good as Hensley has looked, and ended up shutting a team out on his first game back up.
“He looked better,” said Lance. “The body language, the execution and the delivery was superior to his last outing. And I thought his last outing was good enough to go back up. Definitely this one was better, he looked more like his old self.”
“Everything felt pretty good tonight,” said Hensley. “Mechanics felt a lot better, as far as where the ball is moving, we’re definitely where we need to be. You know, the boxscore reads a little bit different, but it is what it is and I just have to roll over it.”
After escaping trouble with some clutch double play balls in the first few innings, the Cubs capitalized on some Beaver woes with a three run fourth. Two singles and a walk came in order to start the inning, loading the bases. Buck Coats then hit a routine ground ball along the turf that skipped off the glove of Royce Huffman, went through his legs and all the way to the wall. The error cleared the bases and put Coats on second base to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. To his credit, Hensley, after a brief visit from Lance, was able to strand Coats on third base.
Vince Sinisi began the Beavers fourth by blasting a homer that squeezed inside the right field foul pole to bring the score to 3-1. The homerun increase a streak for the Beavers to 10 consecutive games with a homerun.
In the fifth, the Cubs kept rolling with another three runs. Felix Pie, who reached on an infield single, scored all the way from first base on a double by Mike Fontenot. The double careened off the wall in left-center and was played perfectly by Josh Howard. But, Pie was going full speed from the crack of the bat and was able to squeeze by Pete LaForest’s tag at the plate after a perfect relay throw from Ray Chang.
Fontenot would score on a single two batters later, and the Cubs would tack on one more with a bases loaded infield single. Fontenot, Coats, and Pie have led the way for an explosive Iowa ball club. The team’s .311 batting average in May is the best in the league. Fontenot leads the team with his .422 average and also has a .465 on-base percentage. Coats and Pie are both hitting above .360.
Chang singled up the middle to score Huffman from second base in the eighth inning. After going hitless in his first three games with the club, Chang has collected six hits and four RBI in the next three. With runners on first and second, Howard singled for the third time in the game to load the bases. Pinch hitter, Brian Myrow, followed with a broken bat sacrifice fly to right that scored Michael Johnson, bringing the score to 7-4.
Iowa’s starting pitcher Ryan O’Malley held a suddenly resurgent Beavers offense at bay in his 5.2 innings. The Beavers, who have scored over ten runs in two of their last three games, managed just two off O’Malley, with six hits. As well as pitching, O’Malley was 1-for-1 at the plate with two walks and a RBI, as he picked up his third win of the season.
Craig Stansberry, who went 1-for-5 in the game, has seen better days of late. In his last nine games, he has only had three hits fall in, which has dropped his average from .360 to a still very respectable .315. Stansberry looked frustrated in tonight’s game in the field and at the plate. After not agreeing with a strikeout call in the seventh, Stansberry stood at home plate arguing the call until he was settled down by manager Rick Renteria, who took over the argument for his second baseman. His one hit came in the last at bat. He looked considerably more relaxed in the box and worked a 3-0 count and then lined the 3-1 pitch into left field for a single.