The Cubs rough weekend ended with a positive vibe thanks to Addison Russell, David Ross and Kyle Schwarber. But this is the first Monday the Cubs are looking up at a team for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. The Cubs struggles have coincided with a Giants surge and Joe Maddon’s team will enter play Monday 2 ½ games back of San Francisco for the final spot in the playoffs.
When David Ross took over on the mound for the ninth inning of Sunday’s game, Joe Maddon left Taylor Teagarden in to catch Ross and moved Kyle Schwarber to left field.
The Cubs’ plans for Schwarber seem to change slightly on a daily basis. Schwarber is expected to catch three out of five games. Maddon said last week he was thinking of ways to get Schwarber in the lineup when he is not catching. But Maddon backed off a little from that stance the next day.
Joe Maddon said Sunday, “When somebody comes up and they’re doing extremely well everybody wants a taste of that on a daily basis. When he came up we talked to him about specifically how he’s going to play here and that’s what we’ve been doing. I’ve always thought why don’t you consider the fact that maybe the way that we’re playing him bleeds into the fact that he’s playing so well too. Be careful what you ask for sometimes, folks. He’s got two more months plus to play yet. Just keep him healthy, keep him well, keep his mind and body good and then he can help you when it really matters too. You can’t take a young guy like that and just wring him out dry. I’m telling you that it goes away.”
Kyle Schwarber is 11-for-26 (.423/.500/.731) in 10 games since he was recalled with two doubles, two home runs, four walks and six strikeouts for a 1.231 OPS. And in his first 16 games in the big leagues, Schwarber has put together a .396/.453/.667 line with two doubles, a triple and three home runs for a 1.120 OPS.
Javier Baez played in his fourth rehab game for the AZL Cubs at Sloan Park. Baez batted third and played shortstop Sunday. Baez went 1-for-3 with a stolen base without a walk or a strikeout.
Baez has played two games at short, one at second and the fourth he was the DH for the day. Baez is 5-for-12 with a double, a walk and a stolen base without any strikeouts.
Javier Baez is expected to report to Iowa at some point this week. The Cubs have not said when or given a specific day he will be back with the I-Cubs. Iowa is on the road and finish a four-game series with the Redbirds on Monday before playing the Sounds for four games (Tuesday-Friday). Following the series in Nashville, the I-Cubs have four games against Colorado Springs prior to returning to Principal Park on Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Dexter Fowler went 1-for-2 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored on Sunday. In the nine games since the break, Fowler is 9-for-32 (.281/.465/.406) with a double, a home run, four strikeouts and 11 walks for a .871 OPS. Fowler also has four stolen bases in five attempts.
Addison Russell launched his first home run Sunday since June 17 in Cleveland and has really shown a lot of improvement at the plate since returning from the four-day break. Plus, Russell turned in two sensational plays at shortstop behind David Ross in the ninth inning of Sunday’s blowout.
Russell is 8-for-29 (.276/.364/.414/.777) in his last nine games with a double, a home run, four walks and seven strikeouts.
Starlin Castro continues to look lost at the plate. Castro said he would be better after the break but the numbers and at bats have actually gotten worse.
Castro has four hits and a walk in his last 38 plate appearances (.108/.132/.135) with a double and 10 strikeouts.
Joe Maddon has supported Castro throughout the season but if the Cubs are trying to get into the tournament, Maddon might have to change course and give him less playing time. Castro is not producing or showing any signs of improvement.
For the season, Starlin Castro is batting .233/.268/.302 with nine doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .571 OPS.
Mike Olt has really turned it on of late. After struggling at the plate early in the month, Olt has quietly put together better at bats and results. Olt went 2-for-4 with a home run and a strikeout on Sunday, the second straight day Olt hit a home run.
Olt has hit .268/.339/.464/.803 in 28 games for the I-Cubs this season. Olt has seven doubles, four home runs, 10 walks and 30 strikeouts in 97 at bats.
Over his last 21 games, Olt is batting .278/.361/.458 with four doubles and three home runs for a .820 OPS. Olt has walked nine times with 22 strikeouts in 72 at bats.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Ken Rosenthal broke down the top storylines of the non-waiver trade deadline.
• Jim Bowden updated the trade deadline objectives for all 30 teams … for the Cubs, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for at least one starter, a late-inning reliever and a utility player. Ben Zobrist remains high on the Cubs’ wish list.
• Jeff Passan posted an updated trade deadline primer.
• Billy Beane is expected to trade INF/OF Ben Zobrist prior to Friday’s deadline. According to Susan Slusser, RHP Tyler Clippard will be the next player Beane trades. Clippard could be dealt as soon as Monday. The Cubs are a possibility. The Nationals are a fit and so are the Yankees for Clippard.
• The Cubs have been connected to RHP Tyson Ross, RHP James Shields, RHP Andrew Cashner, RHP Ian Kennedy and OF Will Venable and mentioned as a possibility for RHP Craig Kimbrel and according to Jon Heyman, the Padres are pushing hard to trade big names and contracts.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, David Ross had a ‘Babe Ruth’ moment against the Phillies.
• According to ELIAS, David Ross became the first pitcher to throw a 1-2-3 ninth inning and hit a home run in the ninth inning since the Mets’ Sid Fernandez on Sept. 21, 1989.
• From Christopher Kamka: David Ross hit his first career home run off a position player pitcher (Mark Grace, Sept. 2, 2002). Ross hit his first longball of the season in a game in which he pitched.
• David Ross made his second appearance of the season Sunday on the mound. The Cubs won eight of the 11 games after Ross pitched in the blowout in Milwaukee on May 9.
• Bruce Levine reported Joe Maddon stays positive through bad times.
• Buster Olney’s weekly top 10: Cardinals, Royals, Pirates, Yankees, Angels, Astros, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals and Twins.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Greg Maddux was inducted in the Hall of Fame
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Jeff Frazier
2005 – Cubs released Enrique Wilson
2001 – Cubs acquired Fred McGriff from the Devil Rays for Manny Aybar and a PTBNL. Cubs sent Jason Smith to Tampa to complete the trade on Aug. 6
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit the first grand slam of his career. Sosa established the mark of the most career home runs (246) before hitting a grand slam.
1992 – In his first start at Wrigley since announcing he would be leaving the Cubs at the end of the season, Greg Maddux beat the Pirates 3-2 and received a standing ovation as he walked off the field in the eighth inning.
1988 – Yoervis Medina, born
1986 – Ryan Flaherty, born
1979 – Cubs beat the Mets 4-2 at Shea Stadium behind a pair of home runs by Dave Kingman
1969 – Manager Leo Durocher went AWOL, visiting his stepson at Camp Objiwa at Eagle River, Wisconsin and created a furor that simmered all summer
1968 – Tom Goodwin, born
1952 – Bump Wills, born
1945 – Larry Bittner, born
1945 – Cubs purchased Hank Borowy from the Yankees for $97,500. Borowy went 11-2, with three wins against the Cardinals, down the stretch and helped lead the Cubs to the National League Pennant.
1905 – Leo Durocher, born
1885 – John Clarkson pitched a no-hitter against Providence
1880 – Joe Tinker, born