It was a very good weekend on the field for the Chicago Cubs, and it started Thursday night when Joe Maddon set the tone for the weekend by managing a game in early August like it was early October.
Joe Maddon pushed the right buttons and his players responded with four wins over the defending World Series Champions.
The Cubs jumped over the Giants in the NL Wild Card standings and will spend Monday’s off day with a 3 ½ game advantage for the last spot in the National League Post-Season tournament. After taking all four from the Giants, the Cubs are 14 games over .500 for the first time in seven years.
Before Friday’s game, the team announced a change at shortstop. Addison Russell has replaced Starlin Castro, for now, at short. Russell had a very good three days in the field and at the plate. Castro did not appear in the final three games and it is unclear how Joe Maddon is going to use him moving forward.
Here are the headlines from the last three days, and several videos, with all the news, notes and a rumor from one of the Cubs best weekends in a decade.
Schwarber and Soler Deliver Early, Cubs Take Opener from Giants – Cubs 5, Giants 4
Joe Maddon set the tone for the weekend series with the Giants when he replaced Jason Hammel with Justin Grimm in the fifth inning. Maddon did not want the five-run lead the Cubs built in the first two innings to slip away.
Jorge Soler delivered a two-out, two-run single in the first inning and Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run homer in the second inning. And Maddon went to work, mixing and matching with his bullpen after the Giants made it a one-run game in the sixth inning.
The Cubs took game one and moved a half-game ahead of the Giants in the Wild Card standings.
Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/07/15
The end of the week down on the farm featured several walk-off wins for the Cubs affiliates. Willson Contreras and Jeffrey Baez, the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month for July, stayed locked in at the plate.
The Daily CCO: Joe Maddon Set the Tone and Other Cubs News and Notes
Joe Maddon created headlines Thursday and into Friday with the way he managed Thursday’s game. Maddon put his players in a position to succeed and they executed.
Updates on Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella plus news on Jacob Turner were included in the report … along with the news, notes, links and This Day in Cubs History.
From the Wire: Cubs Activate Miguel Montero from DL, Option Matt Szczur to Iowa
The Cubs activated Miguel Montero from the disabled list a day before the move was expected to be made. Matt Szczur was sent back to Triple-A and he continued his yearlong shuttle between Iowa and Chicago.
The Cubs active, 25-man roster stood at 13 pitchers (five relievers, eight relievers) and 12 position players.
Cubs Five-Run Fifth Backs Lester in Win Over Giants – Cubs 7, Giants 3
Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber delivered the big hits for the second day in a row. Schwarber and Soler drove in four of the five runs in the fifth inning. And Dexter Fowler added a jug run in the eighth.
Addison Russell took over at shortstop. Russell made two spectacular plays and showed why the front office and coaching staff view him as the Cubs’ shortstop.
Cubs Reportedly Interested in OF Sam Fuld
The front office is not done tweaking the roster. Chase Utley is on the Cubs’ radar as a possible addition. And so is veteran outfielder Sam Fuld.
One look at Fuld’s numbers will have the media and fan base complaining about the move if Fuld is added to the roster. Fuld is the kind of player Joe Maddon values, plus he trusts Fuld from their time together in Tampa. Fuld does those little things that helps win games that do not show up on a stat sheet.
The Daily CCO: Starlin Castro Left Out of Joe Maddon’s Lineup Shuffle and Other Cubs News
Multiple reports called it a benching, the Cubs said it was not a permanent move but Starlin Castro is not the team’s starting shortstop. And there are questions as how Maddon will use him the rest of the season.
Joe Maddon explained why the Cubs moved Addison Russell to shortstop. Maddon pointed to creating a spot for Kyle Schwarber in left field as one of the main reasons for the lineup changes. Maddon has been hinting a change was coming for a couple of weeks.
Theo Epstein backed his manager’s decision while telling the beat writers that Castro is still a big part of what the Cubs have going on.
Tommy La Stella keeps rehabbing and Javier Baez is working off the rust while playing only shortstop.
The Phillies activated Chase Utley. Jon Lester gave Kyle Schwarber a big compliment and down on the farm, Ian Happ went yard and Albert Almora Jr. has gotten on a roll for the Smokies.
Includes all the news, notes and links … plus This Day in Cubs History.
From the Wire: Cubs Place David Ross on Bereavement List, Recall OF Matt Szczur
The Cubs placed David Ross on the bereavement list prior to Saturday’s game after a death in his family. Matt Szczur, who was sent down Friday and likely did not make it to Principal Park, was recalled.
David Ross could return as soon as Tuesday.
Cubs Offense Keeps Rolling – Cubs 8, Giants 6
Kyle Hendricks was not squared up and really did not make any mistakes. The two-run homer off Hendricks barely left the yard. Travis Wood and Pedro Strop were excellent and Justin Grimm picked up the save.
The Daily CCO: Starlin Castro Handling Cubs Changes
Starlin Castro answered questions from the beat writers about the changes Joe Maddon made to his everyday lineup. Castro is handling the situation like a pro and gave all the right answers Saturday. Castro wants to help the Cubs win games in any way he can.
Pierce Johnson is having a very good year for Double-A Tennessee. Tommy La Stella, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and Christian Villanueva all part of the notes section. Report includes the news, links and This Day in Cubs History.
A Shut Out to Complete the Four-Game Sweep – Cubs 2, Giants 0
The Cubs completed the four-game sweep over the Giants behind another very good outing from Jake Arrieta. The Cubs managed only four hits and two runs but Arrieta and the pen kept the Giants off the scoreboard.
Arrieta tripled and scored in the seventh while Kris Bryant drove in another run at Wrigley.
Hector Rondon saved his third game of the series after a heart-pounding ninth inning.