The Cubs found a way to win a game Wednesday that Joe Maddon’s team might have lost earlier in the season. The Cubs won their sixth game in a row and the 12th victory in 13 games increased their lead over the Giants in the NL Wild Card race.
The Cubs have a 4 ½ game lead over San Francisco for the second NL Wild Card and with the Pirates losing, moved to within 1 ½ games of Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Wild Card race.
The team is extremely confident right now. And Miguel Montero admitted after the game “the feeling in the clubhouse is we’re pretty unbeatable.”
The Cubs improved to 26-17 in one-run games Wednesday night with their Major League leading 11th walk-off win of the season. The Cubs own the third best record (64-48) in the National League and fourth best record in baseball. Maddon’s men would be in first place in all but one other division (AL Central).
For the second start in a row, Joe Maddon had a quick hook on Jason Hammel. And he was still unhappy with his manager after the game.
After Anthony Rizzo made the incredible catch in the stands for the second out in the sixth, the Brewers put the tying run on second base with Adam Lind due up. Lind has mashed right handers this season to the tune of a .299/.380/.530 slash line with 18 doubles, 17 home runs and a .910 OPS. Joe Maddon did not like the match-up with Hammel and went to his bullpen for lefty Clayton Richard. Lind has hit .221/.284/.294 with five doubles and no home runs for a .578 OPS against southpaws this year.
Hammel gave short answers in his post-game meeting about Maddon’s decision while pointing out the most important thing was that the team won the game.
Maddon knows the frustration is mounting for Hammel. But he had to make the decision he felt was best for the team at that particular time.
Joe Maddon and Jason Hammel have a good relationship and there is no doubt the two will get past Wednesday.
The second round of the Crosstown Series with the Sox begins Friday afternoon on the South Side. The Cubs pulled out a win in the finale of the three-game series at Wrigley last month before the break.
The pitching match-ups for the weekend series were posted Wednesday.
Kyle Hendricks takes on Jeff Samardzija in the opener Friday. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face lefty Jose Quintana on Saturday night. The final game of the year with the Sox, Sunday afternoon, has Dan Haren taking on Chris Sale.
The White Sox have slipped in the standings to 4 ½ games behind the Angels for the second AL Wild Card behind the Rays, Orioles, Twins, Rangers and Tigers. The Sox will treat the three games against the Cubs as their World Series.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella was activated from the 60-day DL on Tuesday and optioned to Triple-A Iowa. La Stella had been rehabbing with Double-A Tennessee. La Stella has played in a grand total of 12 games this season, two in the majors and 10 for Double-A Tennessee.
Theo Epstein said Wednesday that La Stella would definitely be recalled by Sept. 1 when the roster expands, if not sooner.
There were discussions about La Stella being added to the big league roster when he was activated. The Cubs decided it would be better for La Stella to get regular at bats and playing time at Triple-A Iowa.
Tommy La Stella has not played for Iowa yet but is listed as active on the I-Cubs’ roster.
News and Notes
• Tuesday night’s game on Comcast SportsNet received the highest rating on the channel for a Cubs telecast in exactly six years, a 5.1 rating. The Cubs telecast on Aug. 11, 2009 received a 6.1 rating.
• Dexter Fowler entered play Wednesday tops in baseball with 24 walks leading off an inning, there is not another player in the majors with as many as 20 walks to start an inning.
• The Cubs offense is picking away at opposing starters according to Jon Greenberg. The Cubs began play Wednesday leading the NL in 3.98 pitches per plate appearance, league average is 3.78. Wednesday, Matt Garza became the first starting pitcher to complete six innings against the Cubs since, well, Matt Garza on Aug. 1.
• Joe Maddon is happy with the progress Kyle Schwarber has made as a catcher. Schwarber has been catching bullpens while playing games in left field. Maddon is looking for spots to have him catch a game, which could come this weekend at The Cell. And Theo Epstein explained to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs still view Schwarber as a catcher.
• Bob Nightengale reported, new kid on the block Kyle Schwarber has put a jolt into the Cubs offense.
• According to Jim Bowden, Kris Bryant is leading the race for the National League Rookie of the Year … and Kyle Schwarber is a late entrant. In the American League, the Astros’ Carlos Correa has all but clinched the award.
• Jesse Rogers posted answers to five non-pressing questions.
And last, but not least, the Sun-Times reported Anthony Rizzo’s catch could become signature moment for the steaking Cubs. Joe Maddon, Jason Hammel and Rizzo talked about the play that deserves another look.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs released Nate Schierholtz
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Seth McClung
2004 – Cubs acquired Jon Connolly and Eric Eckenstahler from the Tigers for Felix Sanchez
1990 – Joe Ortiz, born
1987 – Billy Williams joined Ernie Banks as the only two players to have their uniform number retired by the Cubs … No. 26. Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams played 16 of the 18 seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Cubs.
1986 – Cubs traded George Frazier, Ray Fontenot and Julius McDougal to the Twins for Ron Davis and Dewayne Coleman
1985 – Cubs released Larry Bowa
1979 – Lou Brock collected the 3,000th hit of his career off the Cubs Dennis Lamp
1979 – Corey Patterson, born
1977 – Will Ohman, born
1973 – Cubs purchased Rico Carty from the Rangers
1959 – Cubs and Giants set a record, at the time, for the longest nine-inning game played, three hours and 50 minutes. The Cubs beat the Giants 20-9 at Wrigley after pounding out 19 hits that included five home runs. Rookie George Altman had five hits in six at bats, Al Dark hit a grand slam, Dale Lang a pinch-hit homer and Tony Taylor went deep as well.
1922 – Charlie Hollocher hit three triples in the Cubs 16-5 win over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field
1913 – Cubs traded Lew Richie to Kansas City for Hippo Vaughn