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September 20 Game Notes: Iowa Cubs @ Louisville Bats

September 20, 2023

IOWA CUBS (80-62) @ LOUISVILLE BATS (72-71) Wednesday, September 20 • 11:05 AM CT • Louisville Slugger Field • Louisville, KY RHP Riley Thompson (3-8, 5.28) vs. RHP Alec Mills (0-3, 6.65)


Wednesday, September 20 • 11:05 AM CT • Louisville Slugger Field • Louisville, KY

RHP Riley Thompson (3-8, 5.28) vs. RHP Alec Mills (0-3, 6.65)

TODAY’S GAME: After taking the series opener last night, Iowa will look to make it seven straight wins with a victory today. They will send Riley Thompson to the mound, set to make his 19th start of the year in his 25th game this season with Iowa. Through his first 24 games, the right-hander is 3-8 with a 5.28 ERA, allowing 45 earned runs on 71 hits and 50 walks while striking out 74 batters in 76.2 innings pitched. Over that span, he has surrendered 14 home runs and opponents have hit .247 against him. Thompson has just one relief outing against the Bats this year in which he didn’t allow a single hit, walking one while striking out two over 2.0 scoreless frames. On the other side, it’ll be former Iowa Cub Alec Mills toeing the rubber for Louisville. Mills comes into today’s contest with an 0-3 record and a 6.65 ERA through nine games including six starts for the Bats. He has allowed 17 earned runs on 25 hits and 13 walks, striking out 15 batters over his 23.0 innings pitched. Opponents have hit .287 against Mills over that time, as four of the 25 hits he has allowed have left the park. Today will mark his first time playing against Iowa this season.

BOUNCE BACK: A win today would give Iowa seven straight victories, tying their longest winning streak of the year set back on August 8-16. Their seven wins in August was not only a season high mark, it was also the most since 2019, when Iowa won eight games straight from May 1-7. The I-Cubs have had a knack for bouncing back this year, as both of their long winning streaks (seven from August 8-16 and current six-game streak) have come on the tails of big losing skids. Back in August, Iowa lost eight of 10 before rattling off their seven-game winning streak, going from 60-46 to a season-high 21 games over .500, at 67-46. The current streak they are on comes off the worst losing skid of the season for the 2023 club. Iowa was in the hunt for a playoff berth as second-half champions and went on to lose 15 of their next 20 games including a season-high seven in a row from Sept. 1-8. Despite playing themselves out of contention, they have turned it around, winning eight of their last nine games including six straight entering play today.

RIDE THE WAVE: Matt Mervis found something over Iowa’s 12-game homestand, as the first basemen has been on a tear for the last two weeks. The 25-year-old comes into today’s game with the second highest batting average on Iowa’s active roster of players with at least 10 at-bats, hitting .287 in 96 games. In those 96 games with Iowa, he has hit 23 doubles and 20 home runs, driving in 74 batters and taken 64 walks compared to 95 strikeouts. Over his last 11 games, Mervis has at least one hit in nine of those contests and two or more in five. On this stretch, he is hitting .390 (16-for-41) with six doubles, two home runs, seven runs batted in, seven walks and nine strikeouts. He also had a seven-game hitting streak from Sept. 9-16 in which he hit .482. The first basemen will look to keep it going against Louisville after his 2-for-3 night last night, as he is hitting .320 with an OPS of .974 in 12 games against the Bats now this year.

DOING HIS PART: Cole Roederer went 2-for-4 with four runs scored, a triple, two runs batted in and a walk in last night’s 8-4 win. It marked the outfielder’s first multi-hit game at the Triple-A level in just his sixth game overall. Roederer is now hitting .250 so far this year with Iowa, adjusting to the new level nicely. He was one of four players to record a multi-hit game last night and one of eight in the starting lineup to register at least one hit.

LOUISVILLE SLUGGER: Outfielder Yonathan Perlaza has been one of the top offensive producers in the International League this season and he was at it again last night against Louisville. The Venezuelan went just 1-for-3 at the dish but drew a pair of walks and scored three runs. Of course, his lone hit in the contest was a double. Perlaza roped his double in the top of third inning last night to give him 40 on the year, which leads the International League. His 40 two-baggers this season are the fourth most at all levels of Minor League baseball this year and the second most by a player in franchise history. Steve Hammond owns the doubles record for the I-Cubs, which he set back in 1986 with 45. However, one category that Perlaza can claim all to himself is that he is the first player in I-Cubs history to hit 40 doubles and 20 homers in a single season. Perlaza has particularly been a thorn in the side of Louisville pitching over the course of the 2023 season as well. In 12 games against the Bats, the 24-year-old is slashing .367/.456/.694 with five doubles, a triple, and 13 RBI. These marks are some of the best Perlaza has put up against International League opponents that Iowa has faced multiple times this season.

SHUT ‘EM DOWN: In last night’s series opener against Louisville, Iowa jumped out to a 6-1 lead after four innings of play. The Bats then started to mount a bit of a comeback and pulled within two runs at 6-4 after seven innings. The decision was made with one out in the seventh to bring in relief pitcher Brendon Little. The 27-year-old dashed any hopes of Louisville completing their comeback effort as it was his ball the rest of the way. Little finished with a final line of 2.2 innings, one hit allowed, one walk, and a pair of strikeouts to secure the win. He was also credited with his third win of the season for his efforts. Little has been one of the main relievers on Iowa’s pitcher staff this season making 49 appearances and has had an impressive stretch of play recently. In seven outings this month, he has allowed just six hits, one earned run, and four walks compared to 10 strikeouts, good for an ERA of 0.74 and an opponent’s average of .158. Little also picked up his first save of the season last week versus the St. Paul Saints, striking out the lone batter he faced in Kyle Garlick on three pitches to secure a 7-5 victory.

AGAINST LOUISVILLE: Iowa and Louisville will continue their series with game two of six today, as Iowa currently leads the series 1-0. Their win last night gave them a three-game lead over the Bats in the season series, at 8-5. They went 7-5 in 12 games at Principal Park and are now 1-0 this year at Louisville Slugger Field. It also put them five games over the .500 mark against Louisville all-time, at 30-25, going 20-13 at home and now 10-12 on the road against the Bats.

SHORT HOPS: With their victory in the opener last night, Iowa won their 15th series opener of the season; they officially ended the year four games over the .500 mark in the first game of a series this year, going 15-11…Nelson Maldonado’s home run in the fourth inning last night was Iowa’s 200th of the season, which is 16 shy of the franchise record set during the 1998 season…Iowa earned their 80th win of the season last night, marking just the ninth time since 1969 in which they have won 80 games; the I-Cubs are also one of just four teams in the International League and one of seven teams in Triple-A to earn 80 or more wins this year…in his seventh game on his current major league rehab stint last night, Brandon Hughes spun a scoreless inning; the southpaw allowed one hit and hit one batter in his one inning of work.