Tuesday was another rough game for the Cubs. For the second day in a row the offense found a way to score runs and build a lead against the Cardinals’ staff in their house just to see the pitching staff give the runs right back … and then some. In the last two days, the Cubs have given back leads of three runs, four runs and five runs.
The sixth inning has been a problem for the Cubs all season due to the lack of innings turned in from the starting staff. The Cubs have been outscored 20-8 in the sixth inning this year. And relying on a bullpen to get 10-12 outs a game over the course of a season will not happen, even the best bullpen will burn out.
After Tuesday’s loss, Joe Maddon told the beat writers, “We were doing real well and we just have to do a better job of holding leads. Effort … wonderful. Game playing … wonderful. At-bats … over the top. Baserunning … great. So many good things are going on. We’ve just got to get better at holding leads.”
There have been a lot of positives over the first month of the season. Joe Maddon and the front office are working on finding solutions for the pitching staff. And multiple changes were made Tuesday with the additions of James Russell and Anthony Varvaro while the team waits for Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez to return from the DL.
For as difficult as the last two days have been, when the series started splitting the four games in St. Louis against the best team in the National League would have been considered a success for the Cubs … and there are two games left for the Cubs to earn a passing grade in their first big test of the season.
When the Cubs claimed RHP Anthony Varvaro off waivers from the Red Sox last Sunday, the Cubs designated LHP Joseph Ortiz for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
According to a report from Mark Gonzales, Ortiz cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday.
Joseph Ortiz was 0-1 in eight appearances for Iowa with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP (one strikeout, five walks, eight hits in 10 2/3 innings) before he was DFA’d.
Javier Baez was ejected from Tuesday night’s game in the third inning.
According to a report from Randy Wehofer, Baez hit a deep drive that sailed over the foul pole and was called a home run. The call was reversed and Iowa’s manager, Marty Pevey was ejected for arguing the decision. When play resumed, Baez hit the next pitch to the wall and it stayed in the park. Baez was tossed from the game after the ball was caught for the out.
Iowa topped the Nashville Sounds (Oakland A’s) 4-0. Baez ended up 0-for-2 on the night after getting an early shower. Baez started at second base and hit third in Pevey’s lineup.
In six games with the Iowa Cubs, Javier Baez is 6-for-23 with two doubles, one home run, on walk and six strikeouts (.261/.320/.478) for a .798 OPS.
News, Notes and Rumors
• LHP James Russell is happy to be back with the Cubs. He told the beat writers he could tell the culture in the clubhouse “has kind of changed for the better” since he was traded to the Braves last July.
• According to ELIAS, when Kris Bryant walked four times in Monday’ game he became the youngest player since Andrew McCutchen (Sept. 1, 2009) to walk four time in the same game.
• Teams are not pitching to Kris Bryant the way most rookies would be pitched to. Joe Maddon said Bryant is being pitched to like a 10-year vet and that was one of the reasons he was moved up a spot in the lineup for Tuesday’s game. The Cubs are expecting Bryant to fuel the power surge according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• The Cubs have struck out 57 times over the last five games. The Cubs lead the NL in pitches per plate appearance (3.99 entering play Tuesday) but also lead the league in strikeouts. John Mallee said, “The byproduct of working counts is hitting a lot with two strikes. That means some strikeouts.”
• After Monday’s game, Anthony Rizzo was batting .293/.398/.528 with 107 runs, 32 doubles, two triples, 35 home runs, 89 RBI and 12 stolen bases in his previous 162 games.
• Addison Russell extended his hitting streak to eight games Tuesday. Russell is 10-for-28 with six extra basehits during that span. Maddon has not thought about moving him out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• According to a report from Bob Nightengale, the Cubs young core is envisioning a playoff run.
• Jim Bowden posted four potential trades of lefty Scott Kazmir … the Cubs are not one of the four teams Bowden thinks could be a fit of Kazmir. Bowden listed the Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox and Giants in his report and what he thinks will cost each team to acquire the southpaw.
And last, but not least, Tom posted photos from The Race to Wrigley on Facebook.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs released Cory Wade
2011 – Cubs released Max Ramirez
1998 – Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros in arguably the most dominating pitching performance in the history of the game. Wood one-hit the Astros in a 2-0 Cubs’ victory. The 20-year old Kerry Wood tied the Major League record of 20 strikeouts held by Roger Clemens and set a new National League mark for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
1986 – Cubs released Dick Ruthven
1958 – Cubs purchased Paul Smith from the Pirates
1941 – Cubs traded Billy Herman to the Dodgers for Johnny Hudson, Charlie Gilbert and $40,000.
1934 – Leo Burke, born
1934 – Tom Baker, born
1922 – Vic Aldridge collected five hits, most by a Cubs pitcher, in five trips to the plate and he drove in a run in an 11-7 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
1906 – At Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park, the Pirates became the first team to cover the grass to prevent it from getting wet during a rainstorm. A canvas tarp was used to keep the infield dry a day before the Cubs opened a series at the park.