Jake Buchanan wants to resume his big league career, but the Reno Aces pitcher is already playing with the house’s money. The right-hander is one of the few people on the planet with a Chicago Cubs World Series ring.
“I don’t really know where to put it because I move around a lot,” the 27 year old said. “I just keep it with me. Some people want to see it, but most don’t even know (that I was with the Cubs when they won it all).”
Buchanan made his case for a return to the majors on Tuesday, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing five hits, two walks and striking out three. He was the winning pitcher in Reno’s 3-1 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas.
The Aces (17-23) wrapped up a two-week home stand with a 7-5 mark. They have a rare day off Wednesday before a 13-game road trip. Right fielder Socrates Brito, who is batting .317, homered and center fielder Evan Marzilli, who led off the game with a triple, went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .348.
Relievers Jake Barrett and Silvino Bracho, both just sent down from the Aces’ parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, closed out the final two innings to preserve the win for Buchanan (2-3, 3.86 ERA).
“I was pounding the zone early and often and I got lucky because (El Paso) was hitting balls right to people,” Buchanan said.
When he pitches well, Buchanan entices a lot of ground balls. He uses a fastball, change-up, curve and cutter. He said the curve and cutter worked better as the game wore on.
Buchanan escaped a jam in the fifth inning when the bases were loaded and he was behind on the count 3-0. But he struck the hitter out to end the inning.
“He was very efficient,” Aces Manager Greg Gross said. “Guys like playing behind him because he works fast. But he has the ability to step back and slow it down. He does not get too amped. I thought (the umpire was) squeezing him a little bit.”
Gross said he could have sent Buchanan out to pitch the eighth inning but instead pinch hit Kevin Cron because it was a scoring situation. He added that it was a plus to get Barrett and Bracho out of the bullpen and into the game.
“Both were strong because they hadn’t pitched in a while,” Gross said. “It was good to get them in the game before our day off and to get them acclimated.”
Buchanan, who threw 80 pitches, takes well to the High Desert climate. Over the last two seasons, he’s 7-3 with the Aces and likes Greater Nevada Field “when the wind’s not howling.”
And he cherishes his time in Chicago, “The Windy City.” He was on the first Cubs World Series winning team in 108 years.
He fortuitously landed with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in 2016 after being released from the Houston Astros.
“The Cubs needed depth on their pitching staff,” Buchanan said. “I had a good year and was called up in September. I won a spot start in Cincinnati. I hadn’t pitched in 21 days and then I threw five shutout innings.
Buchanan has pitched in 29 big league games for the Cubs, Houston and last season with Cincinnati.
Although he wasn’t active for the Cubs postseason, he dressed for the home games in the opening series against the Giants. And his two games in September were enough for him to qualify for the World Series ring.
He’s had a long minor league career with 199 games, 155 of those as a starter. His record is 59-56.
The Diamondbacks’ pitching staff has struggled with injuries and five of its hurlers on the disabled list.
Are thoughts of returning to the majors a distraction for Buchanan?
“You can’t overthink that,” he said. “I have been around the game long enough to know not to spend time on things you can’t control.”
Notes: The game lasted 2 hours, 3 minutes, the fastest home game in Aces history. … The Aces next home game will be May 30 with the Las Vegas Area 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. … Chihuahuas catcher Brett Nicholas broke up the Aces shutout bid with a no-doubt-about-it home run to right in the eighth inning. It was his 11th homer of the year. … Aces right-hand pitcher Albert Suarez (groin) and outfielder Cesar Puello (knee) are on the disabled list.
Frequent flyer, Aces’ Walker recalled to Diamondbacks
On the recent Star Wars Night, someone called Reno’s first baseman Christian “Sky” Walker after he hit in the winning run. Today, Walker was in the sky, flying back to Arizona to join the Diamondbacks for their game against Milwaukee.
It was the second time this season that Arizona has called Walker up from the Triple-A Reno Aces. He was first promoted on April 8. After going 2 for 15 in 15 games with a home run and two RBIs, Walker was sent back to Reno on May 4.
A roster spot opened when the Diamondbacks placed outfielder A.J. Pollock on the 10-day disabled list with a broken thumb. Manager Torey Lovullo estimated Pollock might be on the shelf four-to-eight weeks. Pollock played with the Aces in 2012.
In 13 games with the Aces, Walker is batting .288 with 2 HRs, 4 doubles and 9 RBIs. The 27-year old is primarily a first baseman but can also play third base and outfield. He was the Pacific Coast League’s MVP in 2017, batting .309 with 32 HRs, 34 doubles and 114 RBIs for the Aces. He joined the organization in March 2017 when Arizona picked him off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.