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September 14 Game Notes: Iowa Cubs vs. St. Paul Saints

September 14, 2023

IOWA CUBS (75-62) vs. ST. PAUL SAINTS (80-59) Thursday, September 14 • 12:08 PM • Principal Park • Des Moines, IA RHP Riley Thompson (2-8, 5.53) vs. RHP Randy Dobnak (5-8, 5.10)

IOWA CUBS (75-62) vs. ST. PAUL SAINTS (80-59)

Thursday, September 14 • 12:08 PM • Principal Park • Des Moines, IA

RHP Riley Thompson (2-8, 5.53) vs. RHP Randy Dobnak (5-8, 5.10)

TODAY’S GAME: With the series even at one game apiece, Iowa and St. Paul will play game three of their six-game series. Iowa will send Riley Thompson to the mound looking for his first win since June 16 against Indianapolis. The right-hander is 2-8 with a 5.53 ERA in 23 games this year, allowing 44 earned runs on 67 hits and 49 walks while striking out 69 batters over his 71.2 innings pitched. Over those 71.2 innings, opponents are hitting .250 against him. Thompson has started three games against the Saints this year and has pitched well. He doesn’t have a win or loss, but has an ERA of 2.45, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits and five walks while striking out 16 batters over 14.2 innings. The righty has limited St. Paul to a batting average of just .204 against him in those starts. Opposite of Thompson will be Randy Dobnak toeing the rubber for St. Paul. Dobnak comes into today’s game with a 5-8 record and a 5.10 ERA in 29 games including 24 starts. The right-hander has surrendered 65 earned runs on 136 hits and 55 walks while striking out 104 batters in his 114.2 innings pitched this year. His inning total leads the Saints and is also the most of either team playing today. In four games (three starts) against Iowa this year, Dobnak is 0-2 with a 13.97 ERA, allowing 15 earned runs on 19 hits and eight walks, striking out six batters in 9.2 innings. Over those 9.2 innings, Iowa has hit .404 as a team against the 28-year-old.

TOP TO BOTTOM: Coming into yesterday’s game, Iowa’s lineup production had been very top-heavy. They had gotten a ton of production from the top five hitters in their lineup, but after that it dropped off. Over Iowa’s last three games entering yesterday, the top half of the order had gone 23-for-60 (.383) with 17 RBI and five home runs. Yesterday, in their 4-3 win, Iowa got four hits and three RBI out of their six through nine hitters. P.J. Higgins went 1-for-4 with a run scored while Darius Hill went 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double and an RBI and Levi Jordan delivered the eventual game winning two-run single, going 1-for-3 with two runs batted in. If the I-Cubs can get that type of production out of the bottom of their lineup with the way the top five hitters have been swinging the bat, their offense could become unstoppable during the final 10 games of the year.

PICKED HIM UP: Yesterday’s starter Nick Neidert left after just 1.0 innings pitched with an apparent injury after allowing one earned run on two hits and one strikeout. Trailing 1-0 with eight innings to cover, the I-Cubs bullpen stepped up in a big way. First, they got three scoreless innings from Michael Rucker, who allowed just two hits. The righty needed just 31 pitches to get through his three frames before handing the ball off to Shane Greene. Greene allowed one earned run on three hits including a solo home run while also striking out a batter over his 2.0 innings. Brendon Little also allowed one earned run in his 2.1 innings of work, giving up two hits while striking out two batters. Despite walking two batters in the ninth, Cam Sanders used a strikeout to close out the game over a scoreless 0.2 innings pitched. The two-out save was Sanders’ fifth of the year, leading the active roster. It was the bullpen’s 48th win of the season, moving to 48-29 while the starters hold a record of 27-33 entering play today.

DOUBLE OR NOTHIN’: After recording three doubles in game one against St. Paul on Tuesday, Iowa recorded three more yesterday afternoon. For the second straight game, Yonathan Perlaza led the game off with a double down the right field line. For Perlaza, it marked his 39th double of the season, good for first in the International League and second in all of Triple-A. The switch hitter’s 39 doubles also rank third all-time among single season record holder in Iowa’s history behind just Steven Hammond who hit 45 in 1986 and Jason Maxwell who had 40 in 1998. To go along with his 39 doubles, Perlaza is hitting .287 (123-for-429) in 113 games this year, recording three triples, 20 home runs, 78 RBI and 69 walks. He has also stolen 11 bases, showing off the ability to hit for average, power and the speed he possesses. As a team this year, Iowa now has 285 doubles, ranking third in the International League and sixth in all of Triple-A. The all-time record of doubles in a single season from an I-Cubs team was set back in 2004 with 315 doubles. Iowa is 30 shy of tying that mark with 10 games left to play, meaning they would need to continue hitting three a game like they have for the past two games to tie the franchise record.

AGAINST ST. PAUL: Iowa not only evened the current series but also the season series with their victory yesterday afternoon. The season series now sits at 10-10 through the first 20 games between the I-Cubs and Saints, going 4-4 here at Principal Park and 6-6 in their 12 games at CHS Field. Iowa now trails the all-time series against St. Paul by 13 games, going 33-46 overall including 13-19 at Principal Park and 20-27 at CHS Field. Yesterday’s win snapped their four-game losing streak to St. Paul dating back to July 7.

SHORT HOPS: Iowa’s offense struck out 10 times in yesterday’s one-run win, making it six times in their last seven games they have had double-digit strikeouts…after recording their 75th win yesterday, a win today would be the most for an I-Cubs team since recording 80 victories in 2015…the I-Cubs improved to 23-13 in one-run games this year with yesterday’s win, breaking a streak of four straight one-run losses dating back to August 27; since August 3, Iowa is now just 2-10 in one-run games, a category in which they were 21-3 going into August 3.