Monday in the minors: Brickhouse, Ventura toss gems

For Cubs fans of a certain age, the enduring image of the team’s collapse down the stretch in 1969 was a black cat running on the field and past Ron Santo in the on-deck circle.

Class A Lexington Alec Mills tweeted this on Monday night: “Black cat ran on the field for the start of the 9th #firsttimethatshappened #novoodoohere”

No worries though, as the Legends won 2-0 on Lakewood thanks to a strong start by Bryan Brickhouse, who threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out nine. Brickhouse, a third-round draft pick in 2011, tossed five no-hit innings.

“He’s got a tremendous arm,” said J.J. Picollo, the Royals’ Assistant General Manager for Scouting and Player Development. “It comes down to throwing enough strikes with his fastball, and last night, by the accounts I got from their manager, pitching coach and our local pitching coordinator, he was really throwing a ton of strikes, was real aggressive and down in the zone with his fastball, which obviously made his breaking ball and his change-up that much better, because the hitters were on the defensive a lot, because they were more pitcher’s counts than hitter’s counts.

“It was his best outing of the year. He’s had good innings, but this was collectively his best outing. He’s a guy we think very highly of.”

Alec Mills got the save after giving up just one hit in 2 1/3 innings. Mills has a 1.89 ERA this season, while Brickhouse’s ERA dropped to 2.41.

Lexington scored its first run when Humberto Arteaga and Bubba Starling each singled to open the fourth. Both moved up on a wild pitch, and Arteaga scored on a groundout.

In the ninth inning, Fred Ford tripled with two outs and scored on a single by Nicholas Cuckovich.

Class AA Northwest Arkansas

Naturals starter Yordano Ventura struck out 10 for the second straight start and helped Northwest Arkansas to a 6-1 win over Arkansas in Springdale, Ark.

Ventura, 3-0, allowed just two hits and two walks in six innings. He has thrown 11 straight shutout innings, giving up just two three hits and his ERA has dropped to 1.84.

“We’ve got him right at 90 pitches right now,” Picollo said. “He’s gotten through five innings his last two games and last night he got through six. He’s been more efficient with his pitches, getting further into games, pitching to contact a little more, which sounds like a contradiction when he struck out 10.

“But the reason why he’s able to get further into games is because he got to strike one a lot last night. With Yordano, it’s really a matter of controlling his delivery. He’ll get into that mode where he really wants to throw hard and throw fastballs by guys. He may be able to do that at the Double-A level, but at the major league level, certainly is fastball is going to play, but he needs to have his breaking ball and his change-up working to be a successful starter and that’s what he’s done the last two times.”Third baseman Angel Franco was four for five with two runs scored and pushed his average up to .320. Left fielder Roman Hernandez was two for four with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Every Naturals player had at least one hit and they finished with 13.

Class AAA Omaha

Memphis scored seven runs in the top of the 12th and won 11-4 in Omaha.

First baseman Max Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning that tied the game 4-4 after the Cardinals had scored a pair in the top half against George Sherrill.

It stayed tied until Memphis scored its runs against Donnie Joseph and Dan Wheeler. Starter Ryan Verdugo gave up two runs on seven hits and four walks in six innings and struck out two.

Ramirez and Irving Falu, who started in right field before moving to third base, each had two hits. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella was zero for three, but he walked three times and scored twice.