The Cubs played a good, clean game Saturday. Jason Hammel pitched into the ninth inning and the Cubs scored just enough to beat a very good Nationals’ team in their house. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera drove in runs, with three of the four scoring on two out hits.
The storyline for the day quickly changed in the ninth inning when Joe Maddon removed Hector Rondon, the Cubs’ closer, after he walked the only batter he faced.
Maddon explained after the game he wasn’t comfortable with what he saw from Rondon and the nine straight fastballs. Maddon decided to make the switch to Pedro Strop because he fit the situation better than Rondon with Wilson Ramos due up. Strop induces more groundouts than Rondon.
According to the reports, Maddon stopped short of saying Rondon wouldn’t be closing games. Maddon did say Rondon may pitch in non-save situations in order to work on things. The situation and match ups could dictate who gets the ball in the ninth.
Hector Rondon admitted he was caught off guard and was a little surprised when he was removed from the game but he understood Maddon’s decision. Rondon said his job is to get batters out and will continue to do so regardless of his role.
Maddon made the same points about Rondon that he has been saying for a while. Rondon needs to be more aggressive, assertive and confident on the mound.
The Cubs have been linked rather heavily to free agent RHP Rafael Soriano. And Jason Motte could be an option according to Jesse Rogers. One thing is certain, Joe Maddon is keeping his options open for the end of the game.
Jorge Soler spoke with the beat writers Saturday morning with help from interpreter Franklin Font and he thinks he will be ready to come off the disabled list around the time his 15 days on the DL are over.
Soler said he feels good. He is currently in a walking boot but expects it to be off soon. According to the Sun-Times, Soler has to stay in the boot for 12 days. Soler was placed on the DL four days ago (June 3).
Anthony Rizzo extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games on Saturday with a 2-for-4 day at the plate that included a double and a RBI. Rizzo has really taken his game, offensively, to the next level this season.
Joe Maddon thinks he should be in the All-Star Game and lobbied for his first baseman following Friday night’s two-home run performance. And not only does David Ross believe Rizzo has the best two-strike approach he has ever seen, Ross said he is the “heart and soul” of the Cubs. Ross and Rizzo have a very good relationship. Rizzo picks Ross’ brain every day and he thinks Ross is exactly the type of leader the Cubs needed.
Over his last six games, Rizzo is 9-for-22 with four doubles, two home runs, four walks and one strikeout (.409/.500/.864) for a 1.364 OPS.
In 54 games this season, Anthony Rizzo is batting .328/.446/.605 with 17 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, 30 walks and 26 strikeouts for a 1.051 OPS. Rizzo also has 10 stolen bases and has been hit 13 times.
And the player that doesn’t hit with runners in scoring position, Rizzo is 16-for-42 in that department this season with 23 RBI (.381/.517/.762/1.279).
A little over two months into the season, Anthony Rizzo has excelled on a team with an improved roster that is expected to win ballgames.
Chris Denorfia and Matt Szczur
Chris Denorfia appears to be on his way back to the big leagues. After two straight days in the Smokies’ starting lineup, Denorfia did not play Saturday. It had been reported that Denorfia would be activated from the DL prior to Tuesday’s opener in Detroit if he did not suffer a setback in his rehab with Double-A Tennessee.
The transactions page on Cubs.com posted late Saturday with a date of June 7 that Matt Szczur had been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs have not announced any roster moves yet.
RHP Corey Black made his second relief appearance Saturday. Black threw 31 pitches, 15 for strikes, over two scoreless innings. Black gave up a hit with two walks and two strikeouts.
As a reliever, Black has completed four innings over two games and allowed one hit with two walks and five strikeouts (0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP).
News, Notes and Rumors
• Starlin Castro received his first day off of the season Saturday. Maddon thought Castro could really use a day off, something the Cubs’ skipper has been looking to do for a while. Maddon used the early start following a night game as the main reason for Castro getting a breather.
• Comcast SportsNet reported why the Cubs passed on Addison Russell in the draft … Russell was out of shape and there were concerns about him being able to stick at shortstop.
• From the ‘Been Holding to Post the Link Dept.’ … this is a must read for all Cubs fans as to why Joe Maddon bats the pitcher eighth in the lineup. Whether you agree or not with Maddon’s reasons, he spells it out to Jayson Stark and the stats show the one, two and three spots in his lineup are producing above-average results. Click here for Stark’s report.
And if you have not taken the time to watch OTL on Wrigley Field, this is must see TV
• RHP Joe Ross became the first pitcher to make his Major League debut against the Cubs and begin his start with three perfect innings since the Mets’ Jason Isringhausen on July 17, 1995.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Starlin Castro became the 28th player to collect 500 hits before the age of 23 with a two-out single off A.J. Burnett in the fifth inning of a Cubs 12-2 victory over the Pirates at PNC. The 22-year, 167 day old Cubs shortstop reached the milestone in his 421st game.
2011 – Cubs selected Rafael Lopez in the 16th round of the draft
2010 – Carlos Silva improved to 8-0 on the season, best start to a year for a Cubs pitcher since Ken Holtzman went 9-0 in 1967
2007 – Cubs selected Josh Vitters in the first round (third overall pick) of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Josh Donaldson in the sandwich round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Darwin Barney in the fourth round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Brandon Guyer in the fifth round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected James Russell in the 14th round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Andrew Cashner in the 29th round of the draft, player did not sign
2005 – Cubs selected Donald Veal in the second round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Mitch Atkins in the seventh round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Eric Patterson in the eighth round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Sam Fuld in the 10th round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Sean Gallagher in the 12th round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Jerry Blevins in the 17th round of the draft
2003 – Kerry Wood beat Rogers Clemens and the Yankees at Wrigley Field
2002 – Cubs signed Ryan O’Malley
2001 – Cubs completed three-game sweep of the Cardinals and posted their 15th win in 16 games for the first time since 1945. The Cubs took a five-game lead in the division.
1998 – After winning six in a row over Atlanta (three games) and Florida (three games), the Cubs completed a three-game sweep over the White Sox. First time since 1918 the Cubs swept three straight series.
1985 – Cubs move into first place with a 1-0 victory over the Pirates. Rick Sutcliffe picked up the win. Jody Davis hit a solo home run.
1984 – Justin Berg, born
1982 – Cubs selected Shawon Dunston in the first round (first overall pick) of the draft
1982 – Cubs selected Gary Varsho in the fifth round of the draft
1980 – Cubs signed Henry Cotto
1977 – Cubs selected Randy Martz in the first round (12th overall pick) of the draft
1977 – Cubs selected Terry Francona in the second round of the draft, player did not sign
1977 – Cubs selected Dan Rohn in the fourth round of the draft
1968 – Cubs selected Paul Reuschel in the fourth round of the draft
1968 – Cubs selected Oscar Gamble in the 16th round of the draft
1966 – Heathcliff Slocumb, born
1966 – Cubs selected Joe Niekro in the third round of the draft
1966 – Cubs selected Rich Nye in the 14th round of the draft
1966 – Cubs selected Bill Stoneman in the 31st round of the draft
1950 – Cubs acquired Ron Northey from the Reds for Bob Scheffing
1948 – Cubs selected Gene Mauch off waivers from the Dodgers
1945 – George Mitterwald, born
1944 – Frank Reberger, born
1926 – The Cubs traded outfielder Joe Munson, infielder Maurice Shannon and cash to Indianapolis for infielder Henry Schreiber and outfielder Riggs Stephenson.
1911 – Heinie Zimmerman and Al Kaiser stole home in the seventh inning against the Dodgers. Cubs stole home 17 times in 1911, a Major League record
1906 – The Cubs scored 11 runs in the first inning off Christy Mathewson and Joe ‘Iron Man’ McGinnity and beat the Giants 19-0 at the Polo Grounds. Jack ‘The Giant Killer’ Pfiester threw a three-hitter for the Cubs.