With rain keeping things wet for most of the day Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa Cubs infielder Javier Baez did his part to keep fans happy, clubbing two home runs to lead the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate to a 7-4 win over the Tacoma Rainiers.
Baez is now batting .322/.404/.540 with Iowa this season, and has turned heads as he’s shown the ability to shorten his stroke that caused him to strike out some 41 percent of the time in his first big league action last year. On the season, he’s hit five home runs – but has struck out 24 times, walking just nine times.
Iowa right-hander Donn Roach, who had been lights-out all season long, was removed after recording just one out when he was hit in the leg by a hard-hit ground ball. Blake Cooper came on in relief of Roach, tossing 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out two and walking one.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
Tacoma scored first in the contest, when Jesus Montero launched a two-run shot off Cooper (3-1) in the top of the first inning. However, it wasn’t long before Iowa answered back with three runs in their half of the first, courtesy of a leadoff shot by Arismendy Alacantara, Baez’s first homer and a sac fly off the bat of Rafael Lopez.
Rainiers starter Sam Gaviglio struggled, allowing seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits in just five innings of work. Rubi Silva delivered a sac fly in the fourth against the Tacoma right-hander to push the Iowa lead to 4-2.
Iowa did not score after the fifth inning, when they tallied three runs. Baez connected for his second home run of the day during that frame, and a pair of RBI doubles from Chris Valaika and Taylor Davis accounted for the final two runs, making things 7-2 Cubs.
The Rainiers tried to make things interesting in the top of the ninth, with Patrick Kivlehan launching a two-run shot against Gonzalez Germen, but that was all they could manage as the Iowa right-hander closed things out for a three-inning save.
Villanueva, who replaced Kris Bryant early-on this season after his promotion, went 4-for-5 for the second time in three days, although his defense still leaves plenty to be desired as he’s pushing a dozen errors already on the year.