by Steven Cabe, South Bend Cubs
SOUTH BEND, IN – Four Winds Field was filled with excitement as Chicago Cubs right fielder and 2016 World Series Champion, Jason Heyward joined the South Bend Cubs’ starting lineup for Thursday night’s ballgame as South Bend lost by a score of 5-1 to the Lansing Lugnuts.
South Bend played host to their second major league rehab assignment in as many years when Heyward joined the South Bend Cubs while rehabbing an injured finger that he sustained while diving for a ball in the outfield on May 12.
Heyward, who hit many hard balls to deep parts of the park in batting practice, started in the leadoff spot while handling the defensive duties in right field. In his first two at-bats, the 6’5″ lefty went 0-2 while making solid contact, but shattering his bat in the fourth inning.
In his sixith inning at-bat, with Vimael Machin on second base and one out, Heyward delivered an RBI-single to score the Cubs’ first and only run of the night. After three at-bats, Heyward left the game in eighth inning as Kevonte Mitchell filled in as a defensive replacement.
BIG LEAGUE REHAB ASSIGNMENTS: On July 8, 2016, Dexter Fowler played one game for the South Bend Cubs as a part of the first Chicago Cubs rehab assignment to take place in South Bend. Fowler went 0-2 with two walks in that game.
“We are thrilled that South Bend will now have two major league rehab assignments in back-to-back years,” said Andrew T. Berlin, Owner of the South Bend Cubs. “The Chicago Cubs know our commitment to player development with first-class facilities like the renovated clubhouse and locker rooms, the 1st Source Bank Performance Center, and the award winning natural grass playing surface installed by “The Sodfather” himself, Roger Bossard from the Chicago White Sox. The road back to the World Series starts in South Bend!”
INJURIES ON THE MOUND: In the loss, the Cubs had to deal with two pitching injuries, each of which forced a pitching change.
With a runner on second and one out in the second inning, Cubs top-pitching prospect, Dylan Cease sustained an apparent leg injury while hustling to cover third on a groundball hit to third baseman Wladimir Galindo. After the injury, Cease tried to get back up on the mound, but was forced to exit the game after one warm-up pitch proved to be too much to handle.
Though he only threw 1 and 2/3 innings, Cease was charged with the loss due to giving up two runs in the second inning before the leaving the game. He is now 0-1 and has given up five runs in 5 and 2/3 innings pitched in two starts against the Lugnuts this season.
In the top of the ninth inning, Cubs reliever Chad Hockin was struck in the leg by a hard hit line drive off the bat of Ryan Hissey. After a careful evaluation from Cubs Athletic Trainer, Logan Severson, Hockin left the game as a precautionary measure.
OFFENSIVE UPS & DOWNS: The Cubs offense had trouble getting anything going throughout the first five innings as Lugnuts pitcher, Patrick Murphy threw 5 and 1/3 perfect innings before allowing his first hit to Vimael Machin, a one-out double, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Heyward then delivered an RBI-single to bring South Bend within one run, but that was the only run scored for the Cubs in the loss.
Overall, South Bend only managed to earn four total hits while leaving nine runners on base. The Cubs are now hitting .258 as a team, good for the third best mark in the Midwest League, but the Lugnuts currently lead the league with a .271 team average.
Cubs: The quick working Jose Paulino is expected to take the mound for South Bend in game two of the four game series tomorrow. He is 2-0 with a 4.25 ERA in six games started this season.
Lugnuts: Denis Diaz will get the start for Lansing in tomorrow’s 7:35 p.m. game. He is 0-1 with a 5.95 ERA in 15 and 2/3 innings pitched for the Lugnuts,