Pitching Solid

You may have noticed the Cubs' solid pitching on Saturday night in spite of their 2-1 loss to the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Apparently, it runs in the organization -- at least at the upper echelons of the farm system.

In Round Rock, Texas, Iowa's strong pitching continued on Saturday in a 3-1 victory. Holding his opponents to four hits, starter Rich Hill struck out 10 and walked one in seven innings for his first win of the season at Triple-A. Hill has struck out a league high 16 and walked only one in his first two outings.

Pitching in relief, right-hander David Aardsma extended his scoreless streak to seven innings to open the year. He picked up his second save and has allowed just two hits in his first five games.

The I-Cubs pitching staff is tied with a league-low 27 walks and three home runs allowed. Their combined 2.77 staff ERA ranks third in the Pacific Coast League.

Batting .350 on the year, OF Felix Pie picked up his fifth multi-hit game of the season with two doubles and two driven in to bring his RBI total to a team-high 13. With a .348 average to start the year, OF Buck Coats finished with two hits and has reached base safely in each of his first six games with hits in five of those contests.

In Sevierville, Tenn., pitching continued to dominate at the Cubs Double-A level on Saturday as well. While West Tenn dropped another pitching duel (2-1 to Tennessee), they allowed just four hits as starter Juan Mateo gave up a pair of runs in five innings.

Left-hander Paul Schappert then hurled three shutout innings in his longest outing of the year. The Jaxx' 1.66 staff ERA ranks first in the Southern League through their first 10 games, as does their 7-3 record.

Starter Carlos Marmol and left-handed reliever Clay Rapada are among five active Southern League pitchers who have yet to give up a run with a minimum .8 IP/per team game. Marmol also sits atop the league leaderboard with 14 strikeouts.

OF Adam Greenberg picked up his first two-hit game of the year to raise his average above the Mendoza Line for the first time this season. In spite of his .235 clip, Greenberg has still hit safely in seven of nine contests.

First baseman Micah Hoffpauir launched his second home run of the season and catcher Jose Reyes, limited with a thumb injury for over a week, made his first start since Opening Night and was anxious to swing the bat with two hits.

In Daytona Beach, Grant Johnson won his first of the season by virtue of his offense pounding out 14 hits in a 10-4 win over Palm Beach on Saturday. Johnson still gave up eight hits and four runs (two unearned) as Daytona's pitching staff (minus Sean Gallagher's 12 shutout innings) continues to struggle with a 5.04 ERA -- second to last in the Florida State League -- in their first eight contests, in which they are just 2-8.

Johnson picked up some help from Daytona veterans Jemel Spearman and Issmael Salas. The two each recorded three hits as Salas upped his average to .438 through his first six games in an effort to prove he's beyond a third year at the High Class A level.

In Peoria, right-hander Mitch Atkins tossed five shutout innings and struck out six while allowing four hits in a 2-1 loss to Quad Cities on Saturday. Opponents are batting .176 off the right-hander in his first two starts after a .291 average against in 15 games at Boise a season ago.

As with Daytona, Peoria pitching also ranks near the bottom of their respective league early into the season. The Chiefs combined ERA of 4.03 is 11th in the 14-team Midwest League. Left-hander Donald Veal's nine walks are tied for most in the league after two starts.

OF Davy Gregg combined for three of his team's five hits. With his first multi-hit game of the year, Gregg has now hit safely in seven straight contests.

E-mail Steve Holley: staff@insidetheivy.com.

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