Bryant-less Iowa Cubs fall 3-2 in home opener Friday


Despite the lack of star slugger Kris Bryant in the lineup for the first time this season, the Iowa Cubs played in front of a packed Principal Park on Friday night, falling to the Oklahoma City Dodgers by a 3-2 final in the club’s home opener.

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Oklahoma City (7-2) opened the scoring in the top of the fourth against Iowa starter Tsuyoshi Wada when Chris Heisey clubbed a line-drive solo blast to left field. The veteran’s homer marked the only blemish on the record of the Cubs left-hander, who struck out six in 4 2/3 innings of four-hit ball.

The Dodgers scored two more runs in the top of the sixth against Iowa reliever Yoanner Negrin, who battled some tough luck in the frame.

After retiring the leadoff man via a groundout, the right-hander hit O’Koyea Dickson to put a man on. Heisey, who was a thorn in the I-Cubs’ side all night-long, then lined a double. Iowa then opted to intentionally walk Buck Britton, setting up the potential inning-ending double play.

That plan backfired after Negrin recorded a strikeout, when pinch-hiter Matt Carson hit dribbler down the third-base line that the Cubs’ pitcher couldn’t make a play on, pushing the Oklahoma City lead to 2-0. A run-scoring single by former Cub Darnell Sweeney pushed the advantage to 3-0 before the inning finally came to a close.

Iowa (4-4) answered back with a run in the bottom of the frame thanks to a Chris Valaika RBI single. Valaika paced the Cubs’ offense, driving in two of the team’s three runs on the night. The only other Iowa rally came in the eighth when Valaika delivered a run-scoring sacrifice fly down the right-field line.

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Bryant, who was promoted to Chicago one day prior to the I-Cubs’ highly-anticipated opener in Des Moines, was replaced in the lineup by Christian Villanueva, who went 1-for-4 on Friday. Villanueva, who batted .211/.283/.372 in 64 games with the Cubs’ Triple-A team in 2014, opened the season with Double-A Tennessee, ranked as the 17th-best prospect in the organization according to

The reported attendance for the night was 12,669 and the large crowd may have contributed to the lengthy lines for some restrooms, but mainly concession stands, throughout the contest.

What Stood Out: 

Wada pitched well and was fairly effective minus the long-ball to Heisey. According to the Des Moines Register I-Cubs’ beat writer Tommy Birch, Iowa manager Marty Pevey said that Wada “wasn’t as sharp” as he’d seen him in the past, but nonetheless, he was still solid.

The other thing that really stood out was how unintimidating the Iowa lineup is without Bryant in it. Addison Russell batted third, but went 0-for-4 on the night. Even with Russell, the team lacks a major power bat now in the heart of the order. The Cubs will likely have to look to manufacture more runs than they have in the past year or so if they want to win.

What’s Next:

Iowa and Oklahoma City are set to square off in Des Moines on Saturday night, with first pitch slated for 7:08 p.m. CT. Rain is in the forecast, though, for essentially the entire day, so that could very well change.

Barret Loux (0-0, 4.91) is set to take the ball for Iowa and he will be opposed by Joe Wieland (1-0, 3.60) for the Dodgers.

Next: Cubs' Kris Bryant goes hitless in big league debut