Jeff Brigham gave up a home run to Iowa's Chris Coghlan on the game's first pitch. Brigham didn't give up another run until the sixth inning, and New Orleans banged 12 hits — including three home runs — in a 9-2 win over the Iowa Cubs on Saturday.
“That's (first-pitch homer) the first time that's ever happened (to him),” Brigham said. “I was glad my team got me back a run in the bottom of the first. With an 8-2 lead, it's pretty nice to attack hitters.”
The Baby Cakes (56-61) won for the sixth time in seven games in taking a 2-1 series lead with the final game Sunday.
The Cakes scored two runs in the second inning on an RBI double by Peter Mooney and Braxton Lee's run-scoring infield single in taking a 3-1 lead. They sealed the victory with a three-run fifth, as Tomas Telis singled in JB Struck and Mooney followed with a homer to right field for a 7-2 lead.
Austin Dean hit solo home runs in the sixth and eighth.
Brigham (4-0) allowed two runs on five hits in six innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.
Isan shows slick glove
Seven games into his Triple-A career, Isan Diaz dropped a sure double-play grounder, an error that opened the floodgates to a four-run 10th inning and a New Orleans Baby Cakes loss.
“I was just trying to be too quick, knowing the situation,” Diaz said. “I took my eyes off (the ball) just that one little second, and that took the rest of the play out of the way. That hurt us.
“But every since then, that was just for learning. Now, it's just about not letting that happen again.”
If anything, Diaz has shown to be a very good defensive infielder. In Friday's game against Iowa, he made a sliding catch of a hard grounder in the hole closer to first than second that seemed like a sure hit. He then made the throw to get the out.
In the previous series at Albuquerque, being “too quick” with the ball paid off. Diaz snagged a line shot then immediately threw to first base to get the baserunner, who had not taken much of a lead.
Diaz was drafted in the second round in 2014 by Arizona as a shortstop from Springfield (Mass.) Central High School. He has been playing second base for two years.
“Those plays like that, they just happen on their own,” he said. “It's just instinct. Whatever you have to do to get the out. Ever since I moved to the other side, I just try to get to the ball.”
Perhaps his most impressive play came against Reno when he made an over-the-shoulder grab of a blooper in shallow right field. He gives credit to often practicing that with his father.
Manager Arnie Beyeler said Diaz has instinct, range and more. Upon coming to the Cakes, Diaz made two diving plays against Oklahoma City that prevented runs from scoring.
“He's a young guy, so the inconsistencies are part of it,” Beyeler said. “But you see the highlights that come with that, so you realize when the consistency and all that really comes, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.”
Beyeler said Diaz, perhaps not surprisingly for a former shortstop, has a strong arm for a second baseman, that he's really good at making the back-handed running play over the second-base bag where he throws back across his body.
“That's a really tough play to make,” Beyeler said. “He continues to work on the double-play feeds and all the little stuff that he has to do. You want that sure out, the sure double play. But you really can't teach that other out of the box stuff and, he's pretty good at it.”
Outfielder Braxton Lee was promoted back to the Cakes after a month with Double-A Jacksonville. Lee hit .224 with six doubles, seven RBIs and 16 runs in his recent stint with the Jumbo Shrimp. He was with New Orleans from June 18-July 17 before being sent down. In two stints with the Cakes totaling 25 games, he hit .202 with two doubles, a triple, six RBIs and 10 runs. Lee, the 2017 Southern League batting champion with Montgomery and Jacksonville, gives New Orleans four true outfielders. The Cakes were down to three after the call-ups of Isaac Galloway on July 31 and Rafael Ortega on Friday, and first baseman Peter O'Brien was moved to the outfield.