Notes: Renyel Pinto Solid Again

Renyel Pinto upped his record to 9-2 at West Tenn on Tuesday night, making some wonder if the left-hander can not only duplicate but transcend his solid 2004 Double-A season, which earned him Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors.

Iowa beats Albuquerque, 6-4

Iowa returned to the cold, lonely place where months ago their season began with a sour note. Only this time the numbers were reversed, as Iowa pulled out the victory, and the temperature was 84 degrees at game time; not 48.

Scott McClain hit his 27th home run and now has five hits and six RBI in his last two games. Many will remember the 33-year-old from his upstart Spring Training with the Cubs in 2004. Hoping to win a spot on the 25-man roster at the time, McClain opted for a familiar home -- the Seibu Lions of the Japanese Pacific League -- after not making the final cut. He hit .184 in 35 games with the Lions. This season, he is tied for second in the Pacific Coast League in home runs, and first in the Cubs' farm system.

John Koronka got his eighth win, allowing a run and four hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out three for his first win since July 5, snapping a string of five straight starts without a victory. He has gone seven innings in four of his last five outings.

Jaxx shutout Mobile, 3-0

When the dust settles, can Renyel Pinto put together an even better showing at West Tenn in 2005 than he did in 2004? He won his fourth straight decision on Tuesday and upped his record to 9-2 since joining the team from Triple-A. He allowed just four hits and three walks to go with nine strikeouts in six innings, lowering his league-best ERA to 2.34 in 19 starts.

"Tonight I had good command of my fastball," Pinto said afterward. "I missed a couple of pitches and I had a couple of walks, but I thought I looked pretty good tonight."

Pinto has notched 110 strikeouts this season in 111.2 innings, compared to 179 K's in 141.2 innings a season ago. He is two wins shy of his 2004 total with the Jaxx.

In relief, David Aardsma faced eight batters, walking two and striking out two without allowing a hit in two innings. He gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning on Saturday against Jacksonville in the team's 6-1 loss.

"I had the outing in Jacksonville where I gave up a couple of runs. I didn't have it that night, but tonight I came right back and showed them I wasn't falling apart," Aardsma said afterward. From the bullpen, he is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 26 innings.

Buck Coats hit his 30th double in a 2-for-3 effort and now has 10 hits in his last seven starts after going three weeks without a two-hit game. He was back in center field for the second straight start after getting the day off on Sunday. It's the 12th game he has started in center with Felix Pie now on the DL for two full months and counting. Coats spent his entire 2002 season with Class-A Lansing as an outfielder.

While there's no official word yet on when exactly he will resurface, Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita told Inside The Ivy recently that Pie should play "within the next week."

Daytona beats Vero Beach, 7-4, on Grand Slam

Issmael Salas couldn't have picked a better time to hit his first career grand slam. It was a game-winning walkoff shot that capped off a six-run Daytona ninth inning. The homer was Salas' eighth of the year, giving him a new career-high in home runs for one season. He is one of three Daytona players batting over .400 for the month, joining Chris Walker (.400) and Jeff Culpepper (.429).

Juan Mateo, tied for the team lead in wins with eight, gave up four runs on six hits in seven innings for a no-decision. He got off to a slow start, but retired 16 of the last 17 he faced. He has gone six innings or more in five consecutive starts. Jordan Gerk picked up the win, allowing one hit in two innings to even his record at 4-4. All four of his wins this season have come at home, where he has a 1.75 ERA (3.88 overall).

Peoria loses 10-3 at South Bend

Sean Gallagher gave up five runs in only 4.1 innings as his bid to win four straight starts ended quickly. It was the third shortest outing by the right-hander this season, and only the second time he coughed up five runs or more in a start. Gallagher had won five of his last six starts entering the night. For the first time all year, he does not lead the Midwest League in ERA as he is tied with Andy Sonnanstine of Southwest Michigan with a 2.55 mark. Sonnanstine has not pitched since July 10, however.

Drew Larsen led the offense with three hits as Ryan Harvey had another night off, his fourth in a row, to nurse a tight hamstring. Harvey, who earlier this year missed playing time with back spasms, retained the Midwest League home run lead with 21. Eric Patterson made his way around the bases with an RBI and a run scored. He leads all Chiefs players with 130 hits. Aside from Larsen, Sam Fuld was the only Chiefs player to collect two hits, becoming the third player to record over 100 hits with the team this season. Fuld continues to battle back from a slow start, as he has hit over .300 since June began.

Boise beats Salem-Keizer, 8-2

After getting their clocks cleaned four nights in a row, the Hawks began flapping their wings again on Tuesday. Left-hander Jesus Yepez headlined the night, upping his record to 4-0 and throwing 6.1 innings of scoreless ball. He has given up just three earned runs over his last three starts to lower his ERA to 2.94, second only to Darin Downs' 2.89 mark for any Hawks starter. Yepez struck out six, one shy of his season-high total of seven in his Boise debut earlier this year.

Davy Gregg stole his first base in five games, an almost unheard of drought. He also picked up a hit in five at-bats, one night after totaling four hits in one game. His 32 stolen bases are more than double that of the Northwest League's runner-up.

Hawks manager Trey Forkerway admits it didn't take him long to notice Gregg's lightning-fast speed.

"One day," Forkerway said. "That's all it took. A lot of times when players come to our organization, some things are said about them prior to their arrivals, such as what their game is. He happened to play in an exhibition game before we left Mesa, and one of the things we saw immediately was his speed and his ability."

Angel Guzman in Arizona Summer League

We thought Angel Guzman wasn't supposed to pitch again until 2006. We were wrong.

The former No. 1 pitching prospect in the organization made his second start in the Arizona Summer League on Monday. He faced 11 batters and surrendered three hits in three innings, but no runs.

Guzman has amassed seven strikeouts in two starts, a sum of five innings total. You may recall he struck out an even 40 batters without allowing a single walk in seven starts at Daytona last season.

"We're taking things one day at a time," said Oneri Fleita. "The only thing I can report is that he is progressing and looks great."

As for the rest of the squad in Mesa, first round draft pick Mark Pawelek is widely reported to be the most impressive of the Cubs' rookie pack. He is winless in 10 starts, but boasts a 2.11 ERA and 45 strikeouts.

From the bullpen, Justin Rayborn and Chad Underwood currently stand out. Rayborn, a right-hander from South Alabama, has a 0.56 ERA through his first eight appearances to complement 27 strikeouts to only one walk in 16 innings. Underwood, a right-hander from TCU, has a 1.73 ERA with 23 strikeouts to four walks in 12 relief appearances.


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