The Cubs picked the right time to play their best baseball of the season. Joe Maddon’s team finished the week with a 5-1 record in the six games that were played and will spend the day off 3 ½ games ahead of the Giants for the second NL Wild Card after completing the four-game sweep over the defending champs.
The Cubs have won 10 of 11 and 11 of the last 13 dating back to July 27, the day after most said the season was over for the North Side Nine.
The Cubs will spend Monday’s off day with the fourth best record in baseball. Only the Cardinals (71-40), Royals (66-44) and Pirates (65-44) have won more games than the Cubs (62-48). And the Cubs have a slightly better winning percentage than the Dodgers.
The Cubs created space with the Giants in the NL Wild Card standings and the next goal is to catch the Pirates for the home field advantage in the one-game playoff. The Cubs are 3 ½ games behind Pittsburgh, who swept the Dodgers over the weekend.
Due to playing in the best division in baseball, the Cubs are in third place in the NL Central looking up at two of the best teams in the game.
The Cubs have a .564 winning percentage and would be in first place in any other division in baseball with the exception of the AL Central.
Joe Maddon has to make sure to keep the intensity when play resumes Tuesday with the first of three against the Brewers. The Cubs next 13 games are against the Brewers (Aug. 11-13), White Sox (Aug. 14-16), Tigers (Aug. 18-19), Braves (Aug. 20-23) and Indians (Aug. 24).
Buster’s Top 10
Buster Olney posted his ranking of the top 10 teams in the game prior to the Cubs completing the sweep of the Giants: Cardinals, Blue Jays, Royals, Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, Mets, Astros, Dodgers and Angels.
It is good to see the Cubs get the national recognition after the way they’ve played over the last two weeks.
Wrigley Field had to be evacuated Sunday when a bomb threat was received around an hour after the game ended. Employees, staff and members of the media were escorted out of the ballpark while bomb-sniffing dogs checked Wrigley.
After an hour, everyone was allowed back into Wrigley. And the Cubs issued the following statement around 7:45pm CDT.
“Following our game this afternoon, we received a bomb threat and took swift action to clear the few remaining fans, players, staff and media from the ballpark. After a thorough search by law enforcement, no evidence was found to suggest this threat was credible. We take safety at Wrigley Field seriously and are working with law enforcement authorities to pursue the person who initiated this threat.”
Kyle Schwarber vs. Jake Peavy
Jake Peavy was rather unhappy with Kyle Schwarber during the fifth inning Sunday. Other than Peavy being Peavy it was unclear at the time what was going on. Peavy shouted at Schwarber and the rookie just looked back at the veteran right hander.
Peavy explained after the game “he wanted Schwarber to get in the box like his other teammates did and not kick around dirt and listen to his intro song.”
Javier Baez lined up at shortstop for the I-Cubs and hit third in the 3-0 victory over Omaha. Baez was 1-for-3 with a walk, a RBI and a strikeout in four plate appearances.
In 13 games since returning from the DL, Baez is 13-for-56 with four doubles, a triple and three home runs. Baez has walked six times with 18 strikeouts.
Marty Pevey explained last week that Baez will see playing time at second base and third base, along with shortstop, while he is with the I-Cubs.
Jim Callis fielded a question about Baez during a question and answer session Sunday night on Twitter. And Callis thinks Baez has the ability to be a Gold Glove third baseman.
Unless the front office changes directions, when Baez starts playing second and third base again on a regular basis he is getting closer to a promotion. For now, Baez is expected to be one of the players called up when the roster expands on Sept. 1.
News and Notes
• The four-game series against the Giants drew 163,797, less than 2,000 short of the Cubs’ four-day record of 165,540 set against the Marlins in 2008.
• ESPN Chicago reported, even with a focus on today, Cubs-Giants was a series to remember.
• Jake Arrieta pitches like the ace he has become for the Cubs according to ESPN Chicago.
• Anthony Rizzo thinks Starlin Castro will be fine according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• According to Carrie Muskat, Joe Maddon plans to “pick his spots” when it comes to Kyle Schwarber catching. Schwarber has been working with pitchers in bullpen sessions and caught Dan Haren during the weekend. With Miguel Montero off the DL and David Ross possibly back by Tuesday, Schwarber is expected to see a majority of his playing time in the outfield.
• Kyle Schwarber has played his way in the conversation for Rookie of the Year according to Bruce Levine.
• Bruce Levine reported Addison Russell looks forward to the challenge of shortstop.
• Tommy La Stella was not in the Smokies’ lineup Sunday after playing Friday and Saturday. Jed Hoyer said that was the plan for La Stella, who was expected to be evaluated Sunday to determine the next step in his rehab process.
• From Christopher Kamka: The 12-pitch plate appearance by Dexter Fowler on Sunday was the longest plate appearance by a Cubs batter to leadoff a game since Alfonso Soriano’s 12-pitch walk vs. Paul Maholm on May 25, 2009.
• The Cubs fouled off 37 pitches against Jake Peavy on Sunday according to Andrew Baggarly. Dexter Fowler fouled off 13 while seeing 25 pitches in three at bats.
• The Red Sox designated RHP Justin Masterson for assignment on Sunday. The Cubs were reportedly one of the teams still in the mix to sign him before Masterson picked Boston. The 30-year old right hander was 4-2 in 17 games, nine starts, for the Red Sox with a 5.55 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 4.64 FIP. Masterson inked a one-year, $9.5 million contract with Boston.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Cubs released Dave Bush
2002 – Sammy Sosa hit home runs in consecutive at bats in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Sosa tied a Cubs’ record with nine RBI set in 1911 by Heine Zimmerman. Sosa’s sixth career three home run game tied the Major League record established by Johnny Mize and became only the fifth player in big league history to hit home runs in three straight innings. The Cubs beat the Rockies 15-1.
2001 – Cardinals selected Miguel Cairo off waivers from the Cubs
2001 – Pirates selected Gary Matthews Jr. off waiver from the Cubs
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Brandon Donnelly
1997 – Greg Maddux signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract with the Braves that made Maddux the highest paid player in the game.
1937 – Ripper Collins fractured his right leg sliding into home in a game against Pittsburgh
1934 – Phillies signed free agent Hack Wilson
1930 – In front of 45,000 at Wrigley Field, the Cubs swept two from the Boston Braves and moved within a game of Brooklyn. Hack Wilson drove in seven runs on three home runs.
1909 – Ed Reulbach won his 14th straight game when he held the Dodgers to six hits in an 8-1 Cubs victory at West Side Grounds.