Six hundred-twenty one days ago seems like a different lifetime ago – before life turned upside down. Fast forward to the present day. After a season bereft of Minor League Baseball, things have sure escalated quickly in an exciting way a week into the new minor league season.
The Iowa Cubs, Chicago’s longstanding Triple-A affiliate, has existed as the “Cubs” since the 1982 season. Before that, they were known as the Iowa Oaks. Known as the “I-Cubs,” to set themselves apart from the major league squad, they have had inspiring moments throughout their history. On Sunday, the club added another milestone to the hallowed history when they combined to throw a no-hitter.
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The feat was the first no-hitter for the ‘I-Cubs’ since 2014 when Chris Rusin tossed one. Combined, no-hitters are not always given the same credibility. It seems like a sole starting pitcher going the distance, however as a team effort, it is a joy, and Sunday was no different with the combined grit of Shelby Miller, Tommy Nance, Brad Wieck, and Ryan Meisinger.
Cubs: Strikeouts dominate afternoon
As if a no-hitter wasn’t the cream of the crop on Sunday, one thing almost more impressive was the 15 strikeouts Iowa’s arms combined for, all from just three arms. Miller, who the Cubs signed this past offseason, started the game. In three shutout innings, the veteran right-hander notched five strikeouts and a walk. In his first start with Iowa, Miller looked healthy and strong.
Tommy Nance followed Miller with the same line — three shutout innings, a walk, and five strikeouts. Nance has been with the Cubs organization his entire career, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2016. After a solid first year in which he posted a 2.82 ERA across all four levels of the minors, he missed the entire 2017 season before returning in 2018 and 2019.
Nance had the comparison to Brandon Webb at one point; however, inconsistencies have marred much chance at success. A strong showing still, however on Sunday was positive. Wieck relieved Nance and, in just two innings, finished with five strikeouts. Wieck was the return for Carl Edwards Jr. and performed admirably in a small sample size for the big league Cubs in 2019.
Finally, Meisinger shut the door to complete the historic moment, walking one in the final inning without allowing a hit. The 27-year-old is an interesting case as a pen option at any given point in the future. He dominated at ends in Baltimore’s system before St. Louis scooped him up on waivers. Last season he put up 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Cardinals with three strikeouts.
In a game that took a whopping two and a half hours, the squad felt it, and Nance helped his case with a sac-fly. Shortstop Abiatal Avelino finished the day 2-for-4 with the other RBI and is now batting .368 on the young season. Iowa is 3-2 entering into week two and will kick off their next series with the St. Paul Saints starting on Tuesday.