New Orleans 37-31 record is good enough for third in the PCL American Southern Division.
When last we checked in on the New Orleans Baby Cakes, they were sporting a 34-27 record and were five games back in the hunt for a postseason berth. Not much has changed in that regard in the past eight days for the Miami Marlins Triple-A affiliate. A 3-4 record during that time, and they’re still five games behind the division leading San Antonio Missions (Milwaukee Brewers). The Round Rock Express (Houston Astros) are also ahead of the Cakes in the standings, by 3.5 games. Only the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers) sit behind them.
The Cakes opened up a four-game home series at Shrine on Airline in Metairie, Louisiana last Friday, against the Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants). Hector Noesi (5-3, 2.64) started and surrendered five runs in six innings, striking out six but allowing 10 baserunners and three home runs.
On the other side of the equation, the Cakes could only get five base hits in the 10-0 drubbing. Rodrigo Vigil had two singles to lead the offense. Isan Diaz, Yadiel Rivera, and Billy Fleming all also hit safely. Cakes pitching surrendered a total of 13 hits, and nine of the 10 Sacramento runs were earned.
New Orleans evened their series with the baby-Giants in game two of the set, but a 4-3 final. The Cats outhit the Cakes, 11-to-9, but New Orleans came through where it counted with three late runs.
Magneuris Sierra hit two singles to boost his average to .316 since joining the PCL this season, also stealing a base. Isan Diaz hit a single and a two-run seventh inning homer, and Lewis Brinson added a single and a double.
Josh Roeder started for New Orleans, striking out five and allowing as many hits in 4 2/3 innings. He kept the RiverCats off the board, and was relieved by Kyle Keller (2-1, 4.06) after getting 51-of-74 pitches over the plate Keller also whiffed five, but in only 2 1/3 innings. R.J. Alvarez struck out two and allowed two runs on five hits in just one inning, then Parker Bugg struck out the side in the ninth for his first save of the season.
The Baby Cakes lost to the RiverCats in Game three, 4-3 in 10 innings despite going into the ninth with a 2-0 lead. New Orleans hitting collected just four hits and struck out 16 times in the game. Three of those four hits were for extra bases, including homers by Rivera (11) and Diaz (14). Brinson added a double, and Tyler Heineman had a single.
Zac Gallen struck out five and gave up three hits and a walk, but no runs in five innings for no decision. Joe Gunkel gave up two ninth-inning runs to send it to extras, and Mike Kickham (3-2, 3.76) took the loss, walking two in the extra frame.
New Orleans couldn’t eke out a series split in the finale, dropping a 7-2 decision to Sacramento. Rivera and Deven Marrero had two hits each, and Diaz hit a two-run single to account for all of the Cakes’ offensive output. Dustin Beggs (4-3, 5.27) gave up six runs and struck out as many in five innings, taking the loss. Jordan Milbrath whiffed two in two perfect innings of relief.
After dropping the series against Sacramento at home, the Baby Cakes flew into the westest part of West Texas to play three games against the El Paso Chihuahuas, the PCL Pacific South division leaders and the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
El Paso took the opener in a wild-and-wooly, back-and-forth 10-9 decision at Southwest University Park. The Baby Cakes touched El Paso starter Jerry Keel for 11 hits in just 4 2/3 innings, for six runs, but New Orleans pitching was weak in this one. Ben Meyer surrendered a pair of homers and five earned runs in four innings, Tommy Eveld allowed another four runs in one inning, and Bugg gave up the game winning solo home run in the eighth. Only Brian Moran had a better-than-average outing, striking out the side in a scoreless fifth.
There was no shortage of heroes on the offensive side of the diamond for New Orleans. Brinson had three hits including a double with two RBI. Heineman added three singles and two RBI, while Diaz and Sierra had a single, a double, and an RBI each.
New Orleans fought back to tie the series in game two with a 7-6 win behind a four-hit night from Gabriel Guerrero, who was a triple short of the cycle. Guerrero collected four RBI. Brinson added a double and a triple, Sierra hit safely twice, and Fleming was two-for-three with a walk and an RBI.
Noesi (6-3, 2.86) rebounded nicely from his less-than-standard start five days earlier. He lasted seven innings and earned the victory, although he fell short of a Quality Start by surrendering four runs, including three homers. Keller earned his fourth save of the season for New Orleans despite a shaky ninth, giving up two runs on three hits.
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Last night, the Cakes secured a 7-4 win for staff ace Zac Gallen (9-1, 1.77), who was shelved early due to a high pitch count (98 in 5 1/3). Gallen continues to lead the PCL and the entire minor leagues in a lot of pitching categories, including strikeouts. He now has 112 for the season in 91 1/3 innings. He’s walked 17 for a 0.71 WHIP, and even though he allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings last night, his ERA still tops the venerable Triple-A circuit. Jose Quijada, Gunkel, Bugg, and Alvarez pitched 3 2/3 scoreless relief innings, and Alvarez got his ninth save of 2019.
Offensively, Diaz hit a single and a triple, and Marrero hit a single and a double. Going deep were #3 Miami Marlins prospect Monte Harrison (8), Heineman (5), and Brinson (6). It was Harrison’s first game back after 20 games on the I.L.
This week, the Cakes will head to Albuquerque for a four-game set against the Isotopes (Colorado Rockies), then return home for a five-game set versus the Nashville Sounds (Texas Rangers).
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