The Cubs dropped one to the Giants for the first time in six games Wednesday night. And the Cubs first loss in a week snapped the team’s six-game winning streak.
The Cubs lost ground in the NL Wild Card race and in the division. The Pirates had an easy time in South Florida and rolled over the Marlins 7-2. The Cardinals won in the desert again, a 3-1 victory over the D-Backs.
The Cubs are 6 ½ games ahead of the Giants, seven in the loss column, for the second NL Wild Card and will enter play Thursday afternoon three behind the Pirates and 7 ½ games back of the Cardinals for the top spot in the division.
The Cubs were a little sloppy Wednesday and lost a game they could have won with better defense and a clutch hit or two … or putting the ball in play with a runner on third base and less than two outs.
Joe Maddon said after Wednesday’s game, “Our young guys are being schooled a bit. And I love it. It’s a good training ground for down the road this year.” Maddon pointed out his roster has really inexperienced players that are “learning on the fly right now.”
Starlin Castro was back in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against Jake Peavy. And with left-handers on the schedule in three of the next four games, Castro figures to see a lot of playing time.
Maddon liked what he saw Tuesday from Castro and indicated Wednesday “there’s a chance Castro could become everyday player again, but at second base.” Maddon has also appreciated the way Castro has handled everything. Maddon said, “The way he’s handled this professionally speaks loudly to me and the whole group.”
Castro wants to play every day and be part of the team. Castro told ESPN Chicago he was surprised by his second straight start. And he believes this season has made him stronger according to a report from Comcast Sports Net.
Castro was 0-for-4 hitting out of the two-hole of the lineup Wednesday. A day after applying the changes he worked on with John Mallee, Castro appeared to slip back in to the habits that have led to his struggles this season.
Starlin Castro could give the lineup a boost, as ESPN Chicago pointed out, if he could get hot over the next six-plus weeks.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. had a big night at the plate in the Smokies 8-4 win over the Lookouts. Almora Jr. extended his hitting streak to seven games Wednesday with a first inning home run. And Almora Jr. hit a bases clearing three-run double to left in the top of the fourth.
Almora Jr. finished the game 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, four RBI and two runs scored.
Over his last 26 games, Almora Jr. is batting .346/.409/.500 with 13 doubles, a home run and a .909 OPS. Almora Jr. has nine walks and 11 strikeouts in 104 at bats.
Albert Almora Jr. has raised his season totals to .270/.323/.401 with 25 doubles, three triples and six home runs for a .724 OPS with his second-half surge.
Javier Baez returned to third base in Iowa’s 3-2 victory over Fresno on Wednesday night. Baez was 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI and a strikeout. Baez drove in two of Iowa’s three runs.
Baez extended hitting streak to 12 games with a RBI infield single plated John Andreoli and gave the I-Cubs a 2-1 lead in the third inning.
Over his last 25 games, Baez has hit .333/.377/.505 with five doubles, two triples and three home runs for a .882 OPS. Baez has eight walks and 26 strikeouts in 105 at bats.
Emilio Bonifacio started Wednesday in his first game with the I-Cubs. Bonifacio was 1-for-4 and scored a run in the eighth inning. Bonifacio reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on a Javier Baez knock.
RHP Rafael Soriano started a rehab assignment Wednesday. Soriano was assigned to Triple-A Iowa as he works his way back from right shoulder inflammation that landed him on the disabled list Aug. 5, retroactive to Aug. 4.
Rafael Soriano pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a strikeout. Soriano threw 12 pitches, seven for strikes.
Dan Vogelbach returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after leaving Tuesday’s game early. Vogelbach went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk and two runs scored in Double-A Tennessee’s 8-4 win over Chattanooga.
Vogelbach led off the fourth inning with a home run, his second longball since returning from the disabled list.
In the four games back from the DL, Dan Vogelbach is 3-for-12 with a double, two home runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
Cubs-Dodgers Pitching Match-Ups
The Dodgers posted the three starting pitchers the team will use against the Cubs for the weekend series.
Jason Hammel starts the opener Friday night at Dodger Stadium and will face Clayton Kershaw. Jon Lester opposes Mat Latos on Saturday night and the finale of the road trip is Jake Arrieta versus Alex Wood on Sunday Night Baseball.
News and Notes
• The Iowa Cubs announced Tuesday outfielder Rubi Silva had been released. Silva signed with the Cubs in 2011. The 26-year old was suspended twice by the Iowa Cubs this year and once by the Pacific Coast League. Details of those suspensions were not made public. Iowa manager Marty Pevey said Silva violated team rules and that resulted in his last suspension. Silva played in 98 games for the I-Cubs this season. Silva batted .282/.295/.487 with 16 doubles, six triples and 11 home runs for a .782 OPS.
• Jim Bowden posted a team-by-team look at how contenders are setting up rosters for the stretch run on ESPN.com. For the Cubs, Bowden also expects Javier Baez to be called up when the roster expands Tuesday. Bowden thinks Baez will make an impact for the Cubs down the stretch.
• Jason McLeod told Mark Grote that one of the reasons he is on the West Coast trip with the big league team in order to discuss the players with Joe Maddon that could be called up on Sept. 1. McLeod said there have not been any decisions made yet.
• Kyle Schwarber hit in the top spot of Maddon’s lineup for the first time Wednesday night. Schwarber went 2-for-4 with an infield double and a run scored. Both of Schwarber’s hits were actually of the infield variety. According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs went outside the box with Schwarber at leadoff.
• The Cubs did not give a timeframe on when David Ross could be activated from the Family Emergency List. Ross left the team to deal with a personal issue and was replaced on the active roster by Matt Szczur. Ross could return has soon as Saturday for Jon Lester’s next start. Ross has a minimum of three days (max. of seven days), which would make him eligible to be activated Saturday.
• Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday that plans for more protective netting is already in the works in Philadelphia. The Phillies are waiting on Major League Baseball “before proceeding with final plans.”
• RHP Trevor Cahill made his third appearance out of Iowa’s bullpen on Wednesday. Cahill did not allow a run in 1 2/3 innings. Cahill surrendered a hit, issued two free passes and struck out a batter on 30 pitches, 17 for strikes. In 5 2/3 innings, Cahill has given up four hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Jorge Soler made his Major League debut. Soler went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in a 7-5 loss in Cincinnati. Soler took Mat Latos deep in his first big league at bat.
2010 – The Reds Chris Valaika hit his first Major League home run off the Cubs Tom Gorzelanny
2005 – Cubs traded Matt Lawton to the Yankees for Justin Berg
2001 – Sammy Sosa tied Willie Mays’ NL mark for home runs in August with No. 17 of the month. Rudy York of the Tigers set the Major League record when he hit 18 home runs in 1937.
1999 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Ronny Cedeno
1989 – Josh Vitters, born
1988 – Mike Olt, born
1967 – Brian McRae, born
1960 – Ernie Banks drove in his 100th run with a groundout in the first inning. Banks ended his season with 117 RBI and was the last shortstop in the NL to drive in 100 runs until Hubie Brooks accomplished the feat in 1985 with the Expos.
1941 – Charlie Root became the first pitcher to win 200 games in a Cubs uniform. Root delivered a clutch single in the ninth inning as the Cubs scored three runs and beat the Boston Braves 6-4 at Braves Field. Root is the only pitcher to win 200 games in the history of the Chicago Cubs.
1935 – Ernie Broglio, born
1929 – Rogers Hornsby collected four hits and Sheriff Blake picked up the victory in the Cubs 4-1 win over the Reds. The Cubs increased its lead to 14 ½ games in the NL, the largest lead by a team in the National League at that stage of the season since the 1906 Cubs.
1917 – Peanuts Lowrey, born