The Cubs are looking to play in the post-season for the first time in seven years and Joe Maddon managed Thursday’s game like it was the playoffs. After jumping out to an early lead, the Cubs held off the Giants and won the opener of four-game series.
Joe Maddon sent a message during the fifth inning of Thursday’s game without saying a word when he went to the bullpen with two on and no outs in the fifth inning. Maddon felt the game slipping away as Bruce Bochy went to his bench to pinch hit for Chris Heston.
Maddon’s decision did not sit well with a visibly upset Jason Hammel, but it was the right call. Maddon explained after the game he did not want to let the Giants back into the game.
“As we get into this particular juncture of the season, you don’t want to just give anything away, especially when you have a lead like that. They’re a very experienced team. You could feel or sense that they were feeling pretty good about where they were at. I thought we had to do something differently, just based on how I thought ‘Hammer’ had great velocity and stuff, but the command was not there tonight.”
The Giants made it a one-run game in the sixth inning when Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer off Tommy Hunter. But the move to go to the bullpen in the fifth inning kept the Giants from grabbing the momentum after scoring two runs with two outs in the fourth.
Jason Hammel met with Maddon after the game to talk about what happened. Hammel understood why Maddon removed him from the game but he wanted a chance to clean up his mess. Hammel said that he is on the same page with Maddon and pointed out the bottom line is that the Cubs won the game.
Joe Maddon’s team took a half-game lead for the second NL Wild Card with Thursday’s win. And based on the opener of the four-game series, playoff baseball has returned to Wrigley Field a couple of months early.
Miguel Montero hit third and was the Smokies’ DH on Thursday in the 7-6 loss to the Barons in 10 innings. Montero contributed at the plate and gave Double-A Tennessee a lead in the bottom of the seventh with a Grand Slam.
Montero finished the night 1-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. And in four games with the Smokies, Montero is 3-for-16 with a home run and three strikeouts.
According to multiple reports, Montero is expected in Chicago by Saturday and could be activated from the DL prior to the game. Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to pitch what will be game three of the series with the Giants. With Jon Lester starting Friday it would not make any sense to activate Montero for the game.
The Smokies have a night game with Jackson on the schedule for Friday. If Montero is in the starting lineup, the longer he plays will give an indication on when Montero might come off the DL. It’s not likely the Cubs would ask Miguel Montero to play a majority of a rehab game and travel all night for an afternoon game Saturday at Wrigley.
Javier Baez played shortstop and batted third for Iowa in Thursday’s 5-4 walk-off win over Omaha. Baez was 0-for-4 with a RBI and two strikeouts. Baez is 12-for-47 in 10 games since returning from the DL with four doubles, a triple, three home runs, three walks and 17 strikeouts (.255/.327/.574).
Jed Hoyer discussed the plans for Baez prior to Thursday’s game with the beat writers. Hoyer echoed what Joe Maddon said earlier in the week.
Baez will spend more time with Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are not in a rush to promote him. Hoyer explained they would like him to “keep getting better at Triple-A” and “to find some normalcy for a season that’s been weird for him.”
The Cubs would like to see Baez be productive at the plate for longer than just a seven to 10 day hot streak.
Unless an injury creates a need, it sounds like the Cubs would like to see Javier Baez play the rest of the month with Iowa which would make him part of the September call-ups when the roster expands.
Javier Baez told the Des Moines Register he is happy to still be with the Cubs after the trade deadline. Baez heard the rumors that he could be traded and not only was he part of talks but other teams asked about him. Baez said his hand is doing fine and he is focused on getting better every day.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella did not play Thursday but he is scheduled to play Friday and Saturday. Jed Hoyer said La Stella will be reevaluated after Saturday’s game and the next step in his rehab process will be determined at that point.
RHP Jacob Turner’s season appears to be over. Sahadev Sharma reported last month Jacob Turner had surgery on his elbow and screws were inserted. The recovery was four months at the time of Sharma’s report. Several attempts to confirm the report were unsuccessful. Sahadev Sharma is a credible reporter and there is no doubt his information is accurate.
The Cubs shut Turner down at the end of June after he suffered a setback while on a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee. Turner’s elbow flared up and it wasn’t known at the time how long he would be sidelined.
This has been a lost and injury plagued season for the 24-year old right hander.
Turner appeared in one Cactus League game before he was shut down in the spring. Turner was placed on the 15-day DL on April 5, retroactive to March 27, with right shoulder inflammation. Turner was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 19.
Reports in March indicated Turner was shut down with a flexor strain and a bone bruise in his right elbow. An MRI did not show any structural damage.
Jacob Turner is on the 60-day DL and does not count against the 40-man roster during the season. He will have to be reinstated in order to spend the off-season with the Cubs. Turner is not eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season. With the upside Turner has it would be hard to see the Cubs not wait until next spring before making a decision on his future with the team.
News and Notes
• ESPN Chicago reported Kyle Schwarber’s blast was the difference in the Cubs’ win Thursday.
• According to Buster Olney, the qualifying offer for this year’s free agent class is expected to be between $15.7 million and $16 million. Last year’s qualifying offer was $15.3 million.
• The Phillies are expected to reinstate 2B Chase Utley from the 15-day DL on Friday prior to the opener of a three-game series in San Diego.
• Bruce Levine reported on the Cubs big series with the Giants and said the overachieving team will be tested throughout the weekend.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, Kris Bryant is trying to see the big picture in the middle of a mental grind.
And last, but not least, according to the Sun-Times, Kyle Schwarber’s walk-up songs may be as good as his hitting.
This Day In Cubstory
2009 – Mets purchased Jason Dubois from the Cubs
2008 – Cubs traded Scott Eyre to the Phillies for Brian Schlitter
2005 – Victor beat Carlos in the ‘Battle of the Zambranos’ at Shea Stadium. The Mets topped the Cubs 6-1.
2004 – Greg Maddux won the 300th game of his career. Maddux and the Cubs topped the Giants 8-4 and became the 22nd pitcher in MLB history to win 300 career games.
2001 – Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez ejected Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael from Wrigley Field. McMichael disputed a call made in the previous half inning and said he would speak to the umpire about the call before he sang ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’ Hernandez had McMichael removed from the old ballyard
1984 – Cubs swept a doubleheader against the Mets at Wrigley Field. Rick Sutcliffe beat Ron Darling in the opener 8-6 behind a three-run homer by Keith Moreland and a two-run homer from Ron Cey. Cubs won game two 8-4 behind Tim Stoddard and Lee Smith’s 25th save of the season.
1967 – Angels purchased Curt Simmons from the Cubs
1921 – Cubs replaced manager Johnny Evers with Bill Killefer
1911 – Joe Tinker was one of the few players that hit Christy Mathewson and he had his best day against Mathewson with a 4-for-4 performance that includes two singles, a double and a triple. Tinker scored three runs, stole home and helped turn two double plays. Mordecai Brown beat the Giants 8-6 at West Side Grounds.
1906 – Under orders from Giants manager John McGraw, umpire James Johnson is refused admittance to the Polo Grounds and the scheduled game was forfeited to the Cubs, 9-0. The Giants owner, John Bush allowed Johnson to enter the park the next day and the Cubs beat the Giants 3-2 behind Mordecai Brown and Ed Reulbach.