Thursday was a real bum-mer for the Cubs. Not only did the Giants gain ground on the Cubs in the NL Wild Card race, but with the Pirates and Cardinals both winning as usual, the Cubs are four games back of Pittsburgh and 8 ½ games behind St. Louis in the division.
The Cubs open a three-game series Friday night at Dodger Stadium. The Cubs must get into the Dodgers’ bullpen early and often this weekend. Joe Maddon is sending his top three starters to the hill. Winning the series in Los Angeles is a must for the Cubs and would close out what has been a good month on a positive note.
The front office added a veteran reliever to the mix in the pen Thursday. The Cubs acquired Fernando Rodney from the Mariners for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Rodney is expected to be in Los Angeles and available on Friday night. LHP Zac Rosscup was optioned to Iowa and RHP Brian Schlitter was designated for assignment to make room for Rodney on the roster.
Rodney struggled with the Mariners and was designated for assignment. Rodney’s stuff has reportedly not been the problem and there is still life and velocity on his fastball.
Maddon talked to Rodney on Thursday and told the beat writers, “I know he had trouble or struggled a bit this year but I’m eager to see him in person and find out what’s going on.”
The Cubs have added two veteran relievers that had the best years of their careers under Joe Maddon. If Maddon and Chris Bosio can figure out a way to get both Rafael Soriano and Fernando Rodney going in the right direction they could play a big part in the Cubs success over the last six-plus weeks of the season.
Dexter Fowler is all banged up and not only what he brings to the Cubs offensive was missed the last two games in San Francisco, but the team could have really used him in center field. Fowler has shown steady improvement working with Dave Martinez this season. And two plays that changed two games in San Francisco might have gone a different way with Fowler in the field.
Fowler has received X-rays on his hand and right shin this week. The X-rays came back negative but according to Joe Maddon, it is the shin that is causing Fowler to miss time. Maddon said Fowler is questionable for Friday’s opener against the Dodgers. Fowler “is pretty sore” according to his skipper.
Fowler is listed as day-to-day and is not expected to land on the DL. Even if Fowler could use a week to get back, with the roster expanding Tuesday it would be better for the Cubs to try to make it through the weekend without putting him on the disabled list.
Fowler has gotten on base at better than a 40 percent clip in the second half and it’s no coincidence the Cubs are scoring more runs. Fowler is in the middle of his best stretch of the season. Over his last 23 games, Fowler is hitting .276/.396/.552 with six doubles, three triples and four home runs for a .948 OPS. Fowler has walked 15 times with 24 strikeouts in his last 87 at bats.
The Cubs are going to need Dexter Fowler has healthy as possible for the stretch run.
Dan Haren has not pitched to his expectations since he was dealt to the Cubs a month ago. Haren is 1-2 in five starts with a 6.31 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Haren has allowed 19 runs, 18 earned, on 31 hits with six walks and 20 strikeouts. Haren has also served up eight longballs. And it was the gopher ball that did him in Thursday, that and the two walks in the inning before the three-run shot.
According to Jesse Rogers, “Joe Maddon tried to find the positive with Haren’s day but Haren wasn’t having any of it.” Haren told ESPN Chicago, “I haven’t held up my end of the bargain.”
Haren explained to the beat writers, “I’ve been impressed and surprised how good it’s been. I’ll do anything for this team. I just want us to win. It’s been an amazing experience so far.”
It doesn’t appear the Cubs are contemplating a change in the rotation and will stick with Haren. As ESPN Chicago pointed out, things could change. The front office is looking for help and players can be acquired from outside the organization and added in September. Any players added after Aug. 31 would not be eligible for a post-season roster.
Dan Haren finished his outing Thursday with three-plus scoreless/homerless innings. Maybe the veteran right hander will be able to build off what ended up being his longest outing with the Cubs.
Javier Baez played second base Thursday in Iowa’s 3-1 victory over Sacramento. Baez extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a first inning single. Baez finished the night 1-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts.
Over his last 26 games, Baez is 36-for-109 with five doubles, two triples, three home runs, eight walks and 28 strikeouts (.330/.373/.495/.868).
News and Notes
• LHP Tsuyoshi Wada had a good start Thursday and earned a win. Wada retired 10 in a row at one point and ended up allowing one run on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Wada improved to 2-1 in his last six starts with a 5.40 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. Wada has allowed 19 runs on 40 hits with 13 walks and 19 strikeouts over his last 31 2/3 innings.
• The Sun-Times explained how RHP Corey Black shaped the NL Wild Card race.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs get playoff education in facing Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw.
• The Sun-Times reported the Cubs study Giants’ strategies for building homemade championships.
• According to Pedro Gomez, the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates have all lost on the same day two times this season … June 9 and July 3.
And last, but not least, from Christopher Kamka … Over the last 21 games, the Cubs are 2-3 in the five games Dan Haren has started, 13-3 in the other 16 games. Two of the three losses in games started by Haren have been to Chris Sale (White Sox) and Madison Bumgarner (Giants). The Cubs have scored a grand total of two runs in those two games.
This Day In Cubstory
2008 – The Cubs game with the Phillies at Wrigley Field became the first to be played with the use of video replay to umpires to make calls in regards to fair or foul home runs, balls in or out of the park and fan interference. The rest of baseball started using replay the next day.
2005 – Cubs retired Ryne Sandberg’s No. 23.
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 53 in a Cubs 10-5 victory over the Rockies
1990 – Ryne Sandberg became the first second baseman to hit 30 home runs in consecutive seasons when he led off the fourth inning with a homer off Bill Gullickson. The Cubs beat the Astros 5-2 at the Astrodome. Ryne Sandberg finished the year with 40 home runs.
1982 – Randy Wells, born
1971 – Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field. The Cubs honored Ron Santo and he went 1-for-3 and scored a run in a 4-3 loss behind Ferguson Jenkins to the Atlanta Braves.
1971 – Shane Andrews, born
1957 – Cubs traded Bob Alexander to the Indians for a PTBNL. Cubs received Dolan Nichols on Sept. 14, 1957 to complete the trade
1950 – Hank Sauer hit three home runs as the Cubs beat the Phillies 7-5 at Wrigley Field. Dutch Leonard made and won his only start of the season.
1943 – Lou Piniella, born
1940 – Cubs recalled Dizzy Dean and released Billy Rogell
1937 – Clay Bryant, pitching in relief of Charlie Root, hit a grand slam in the 10th inning as the Cubs beat the Braves 10-7 in Boston. Charlie Root homered earlier in the game.
1931 – Billy Herman made his Major League debut at second base and singled in his first at bat. Herman was struck over the right ear by a foul tip in his second at bat and carried off the field. The Cubs beat the Reds 14-5 at Wrigley on home runs by Hack Wilson, Charlie Grimm, Clarence Blair and Vince Barton. Charlie Root pitched a complete game for his 15th win and hit two doubles and a single at the plate.
1916 – Cubs purchased Vic Aldridge from Indianapolis of the American Association
1912 – Cubs traded Heinie Zimmerman to the New York Giants for Larry Doyle, Herb Hunter and Merwin Jacobson
1898 – Charlie Grimm, born