The Iowa Cubs jumped on New Orleans All-Star right-hander Zac Gallen for three runs in the first inning, and catcher Victor Caratini homered leading off the third as the visiting Cubs came away with a 5-3 win over the Baby Cakes on Thursday in Metairie.
The Cubs (29-49) won the series three games to one by scoring at least three runs in the first inning of every game they won. Four runs Thursday came with two out, including all three in the first inning, in taking a 5-1 lead into the seventh.
All-Star second baseman Eric Campbell hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to bring the Cakes to 5-3.
The Baby Cakes (37-42) lost for the sixth time in seven games. Gallen, who made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team on Thursday, allowed five runs on eight hits in 5⅔ innings.
The series win is only the third of the season for Iowa and the first since it won four of five at home against New Orleans on May 25-29.
In Monday's opening game of New Orleans' home series against the Iowa Cubs, Braxton Lee didn't look anything like a hitter who won the Double A Southern League batting championship last season.
Lee went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, grounded into a double play and left six baserunners stranded in a 4-3 loss. The Baby Cakes didn't score after the third inning. Lee grounded into a double play in the fourth, struck out in the sixth with a runner at second and struck out weakly on an outside pitch in the eighth with runners on first and third and one out.
Baby Cakes manager Arnie Beyeler and hitting coach Tommy Gregg said Lee mostly needs time. Lee, who is on the Marlins' 40-man roster, spent May 1-June 2 on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and has been up and down the Miami Marlins' system this season. However, he is hitting .197 in 18 games with the Cakes. After going 2-for-5 on Wednesday, he has hit .217 in the six games since returning.
“We're going to get him going again,” Beyeler said. “He's been up and down all year. When you go to the big leagues and you come back, there's not been a lot of stability in his season. For a young guy, that's tough. He's learning to deal with that, also.”
After going on the DL, Lee appeared in 11 rehabilitation games between Advanced A Jupiter and Double A Jacksonville between June 2-15. He was assigned to the Cakes on June 18.
Gregg said Lee is simply adjusting to Triple A pitching.
“His timing's off, obviously,” Gregg said. “He's been out a while. Just seeing velocity and pitching is the main thing. Right now, he's got to go up (to the plate) with a better plan. I don't think it's mechanical. It's a matter of what he's trying to swing at and what he's looking at.”
However, a scout from a National League Central Division team who was at the Shrine on Airline for the series said Lee is holding his hands much higher than when he played at Ole Miss. Gregg said he'd also like to see Lee squat more in his stance instead of standing upright.
An adjustment might not come easy, the scout said, noting that Lee has a reputation for being “hard-headed.”
“Well, he's had some success,” Gregg said. “I'm not going to throw anything at him right now, because he just got back. If you start making him think about his mechanics and trying to see the ball and focus and concentrate and all that, it's just going to snowball into more frustration.”
Second baseman Eric Campbell and right-hander Zac Gallen were voted to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team. The PCL will play against the International League All-Stars on July 18 at Hungtington Park in Columbus, Ohio. Campbell is ninth in the league in batting at .333 and has had 25 multi-hit games. Gallen, who was obtained from the St. Louis Cardinals' organization in the Marcel Ozuna trade, is in his first season in Triple A. He was a Southern League All-Star last season. This season, he is 4-3 with a 3.13 earned-run average, which is sixth in the PCL. … Right-hander Sandy Alcantara (5-3, 3.71) was called up to the Marlins and will start Friday against the New York Mets. … The Cakes begin a six-game series against American North Division leader Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers) on Friday.