The Cubs entered play Monday ninth in ESPN’s latest power rankings. And the Cubs came out on the wrong end of another close game. The Cubs have played in 22 games decided by one-run, by far the most in baseball, and Joe Maddon’s team owns a 12-10 record in games decided by a single run.
Even with back-to-back losses to the Diamondbacks and Nationals, the Cubs are four games over .500 and 4 ½ back of the Cardinals in the division.
The Cubs looked flat Monday and generated virtually no offense for the second day in a row. And the lack of offense, and victories, in day games has become rather concerning.
The Cubs are 8-11 in day games this season and 16-9 in night games. And across the board, there is a noticeable difference with the way this team is playing at night compared to during the day.
The Cubs are last in the National League in just about every offensive category in day games. The Cubs are hitting .210/.292/.315 with a .607 in 19 day games with the team’s batting average, slugging percentage and OPS all at the bottom of the Senior Circuit. The Cubs are first in walks (64), first in strikeouts (190), eleventh in doubles (21) and tenth in home runs (13) in day games.
As a team, the Cubs are hitting .262/.340/.436 with a .775 OPS in 25 night games. The Cubs are fourth in walks (93), second in strikeouts (242), eleventh in doubles (49), tied for third in home runs (31), fifth in batting average (.262), second in OBP (.340), second in slugging (.436) and second in OPS (.775).
The Cubs have scored the eighth most runs (122) in the NL at night and the eighth most during the day (64).
There are not as many differences between the way the pitching staff is performing during the day compared to night games with ERA and WHIP. The Cubs are eighth in ERA (3.84) and sixth in WHIP (1.22) in day games … at night, eighth in ERA (3.74) and second in WHIP (1.18). There is a wide gap between the number of hits the pitching staff has allowed during day games (166, second in NL) compared to night games (203, fewest in NL).
Joe Maddon is happy with the way his team has played. Maddon told the beat writers Monday, “We’re as good as anybody we’ve played so far.” And Maddon is right. The Cubs have been in just about every game they’ve played in this year.
For obvious reasons, Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and the front office must address the way the team is playing at night compared to day games.
Dan Vogelbach led off the second inning of Monday’s game with a double off the wall in right. On his way to second base, according to reports from the park, Vogelbach grabbed his hamstring and “hobbled into second base.” Vogelbach left the game with what the Smokies called “an apparent injury.”
The Smokies did not update Vogelbach’s status after the game and they have Tuesday off, which could delay the team announcing the extent of the injury.
The Cubs have not provided an update on Dan Vogelbach.
The A’s activated INF/OF Ben Zobrist from the 15-day DL prior to Monday’s game, a day before his 34th birthday.
Zobrist told Susan Slusser that he is “happy how quickly he was able to return from knee surgery.” Zobrist returned earlier than expected, the “short end of the 4-6 week estimate.”
Ben Zobrist is expected to garner a lot of attention leading up to the trade deadline as Billy Beane will look to maximize the return on him. The extent of the Cubs interest in Ben Zobrist is unknown at this point but they have already been connected to him.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Joe Maddon was not thrilled about the start time of Monday’s game. Maddon did not like the fact the Cubs played a 3:10pm CDT game in Arizona on Sunday and had a day game with a 1:20pm CDT start time Monday. Day game followed by a day game two time zones away did not sit well with the Cubs’ skipper.
• RHP Dylan Cease pitched two innings in an extended Spring Training game on Monday, first multi-inning outing for Cease since Tommy Josh surgery. According to Bill Mitchell, Cease sat in the 95-98 range and topped out at 99 mph. Cease is dealing with command issues and having trouble throwing strikes. Cease is less than a year into his recovery from last season’s Tommy John surgery.
• Bill Mitchell watched a Cubs’ extended Spring Training game Monday. RHP Erling Montero sat in the 88-92 mph range with what Mitchell said was a “good changeup” in the 83-84 mph range.
• RHP Daniel Bard pitched in an extended spring game Monday and did not throw that many balls in the strike zone. Bard’s fastball was in the 91-92 range.
• 3B Joey Martarano played in an extended Spring Training game on Monday.
• Growing pains continue as Addison Russell adjusts to life in the big according to ESPN Chicago. Russell is batting .234/.286/.396 in 30 games in the majors, over his last 23 games Russell has a .253/.311/.434 slash line with a .745 OPS.
• Johnny Cueto was scheduled to have his elbow examined Monday.
• Mark Grace thinks the ’89 team can provide lessons to the 2015 version of the Cubs according to the Sun-Times.
• For the South Bend Cubs, it’s all about the hustle as players are asked to ‘Respect 90’ according to a report from The Elkhart Truth.
• Bryce Harper explained why Kris Bryant was called ‘Silk’ before Harper’s team took the first of three from Bryant’s Cubs.
• Despite showing his support of Kris Bryant in Spring Training, Bryce Harper said Monday that he would have done exactly what the Cubs did with Bryant and start his season in the minors to gain the extra year of control.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Cubs traded Ryan Buchter to the Braves for Rodrigo Lopez
1997 – Sammy Sosa hit an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning of a Cubs 2-1 victory at Wrigley Field. Tony Womack also hit an inside-the-park homer run in the sixth inning for the Pirates. And for the first time in 20 years two different players hit inside the park home runs in the same inning. Bump Wills and Toby Harrah accomplished the feat for the Rangers on consecutive pitches at Yankee Stadium in 1977.
1995 – The Red Sox selected Tuffy Rhodes off waivers from the Cubs
1986 – Jim Deshaies picked up his first big league win in an Astros’ 4-1 victory over the Cardinals. Deshaies struck out 10 batters in seven innings.
1971 – Jason Bere, born
1957 – Rookie pitcher Dick Drott struck out 15 batters (Hank Aaron four times) in a 7-5 victory over the Braves at Wrigley Field. The 20-year old right hander set the modern franchise mark (since 1900) in his seventh start. Burt Hooton (1971) and Rick Sutcliffe (1984) equaled his mark. Kerry Wood broke the record Drott set 41 years later.
1945 – Cubs selected Loyd Christopher off waivers from the Red Sox
1942 – Chuck Hartenstein, born
1935 – Eddie Haas, born
1931 – Jim Frey, born
1909 – Oval Overall pitched a complete game and beat George Bell and Brooklyn 2-0. Overall extended his winning streak over Brooklyn to 11 straight games, the streak began in 1906.