The Cubs started the six-game West Coast trip with a win in San Francisco and improved to a season-high 22 games over .500. The Cubs are 18-4 in August have the best road record in baseball (34-25) after winning 15 of the last 20 games outside of Wrigley Field.
With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs created a little more space in the NL Wild Card race with the Giants and gained ground on the Pirates. The Cubs are 7 ½ games, eight in the loss column, in front of San Francisco for the second Wild Card and moved to within two games of the Pirates for second in the division and the top spot in the NL Wild Card. The Cubs kept pace with the Cardinals and remain 6 ½ back of St. Louis in the division.
The Cubs are in the middle of the best stretch for the franchise in almost 80 years. The Cubs are 21-4 in the last 25 games, the best record in a 25-game stretch since 1936. The Cubs were 21-4-2 during a 27-game stretch in 1938.
Starlin Castro was in the starting lineup and back at shortstop subbing for Addison Russell. And he had a big night at the plate and was very good in the field.
Starlin Castro had three hits in four at bats Tuesday night. Castro doubled and hit one of the longest homers he’s hit in the big leagues in the sixth inning. Castro was also strong in the field and worked well with Tommy La Stella for the second straight day.
Joe Maddon told ESPN Chicago that Tuesday was arguably Castro’s “best day of the year.” And his performance Tuesday is a good sign for the Cubs and Castro.
Cubs’ hitting coach John Mallee has been working with Castro on his balance at the plate. Castro applied the adjustments Tuesday that included moving closer to the plate and produced his best offensive game since April.
Over his last 19 games, Castro is batting .300/.327/.440 with four doubles and a home run with a .767 OPS. The five extra basehits in 19 games is more than he had total in 25 games in July. Castro managed only three doubles before he lost his everyday job.
- Full Report from ESPN Chicago
- John Mallee Talks Hitting and the Cubs on Inside the Clubhouse [Aug. 23]
- Full Report from the Sun-Times
Starlin Castro hit the 57th home run of his career on Tuesday night. Castro is now tied with Stan Hack for the second most homers in franchise history for a player that played only for the Cubs in his entire career. Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks is No. 1 on the list with 512 home runs.
Tuesday night/early Wednesday’s victory over the Giants did not end up the blowout it should have been. Due to a bad eighth inning, Joe Maddon had to use Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon on a night neither reliever should have gotten hot, much less entered the game.
The long sixth inning forced Maddon to use Justin Grimm in the seventh, which was the right call at the time. After Tommy Hunter and Clayton Richard allowed four runs in the eighth and with the tying run in the on-deck circle, Maddon called on Strop for the last out then used Rondon in the ninth.
Maddon was not thrilled about using his three best relievers in a game the Cubs had an 8-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.
“Under the circumstances, to have certain people participate that you prefer not having participate, that’s the part that detracts a little bit,” Maddon told ESPN Chicago. “With all of the wonderful things that happened in that game, the fact Strop and Rondon had to pitch is the negative. With an 8-1 lead you would like to stay away from those two guys, but we were unable to do that.”
With Jason Motte likely out a month, the Cubs have to get Tommy Hunter right. After his first appearance with the team, Hunter has not pitched well.
Hunter has appeared in 11 games and allowed six runs on 10 hits with two walks and nine strikeouts in nine innings. Hunter has struggled with his command and is reportedly working on his mechanics with Chris Bosio.
The pen will have a couple of arms added to it next week when the roster expands. It is imperative the Cubs get Tommy Hunter on track so Maddon has another reliever he trusts in high-leverage situations.
Javier Baez played in both games of Iowa’s doubleheader Tuesday. Baez started at third base in game one and lined up at shortstop in the night cap. Iowa edged Fresno 3-2 in the first game and dropped game two 7-3.
Baez collected hits in both games and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Baez was 1-for-3 with a run scored and 1-for-4 with a RBI and two strikeouts in the two games. Baez was also charged with two more errors at shortstop (throw, missed catch) in the second game. Baez has 21 errors this season.
Javier Baez is batting .327/.373/.505 over his last 24 games with five doubles, two triples and three home runs for a .878 OPS.
Eloy Jimenez had an impressive day at the plate and ran his hitting streak to seven games. The Emeralds completed Monday’s suspended game, one in which Jimenez homered in the first inning. Jimenez went yard again in the seventh inning, giving him his first multi-homer game of the season.
Jimenez smacked a two-run homer in the third inning of the second game. Jimenez ended up 3-for-7 with three home runs and five RBI in the two games.
For the season, the 18-year old outfielder is batting .286/.332/.439 with eight doubles, seven home runs and a .771 OPS. Eloy Jimenez has walked 14 times with 33 strikeouts in 46 games with Short-Season Eugene.
News and Notes
• Jake Arrieta recorded his 13th straight quality start Tuesday night. Arrieta has the most consecutive quality starts since Greg Maddux in 1992. Maddux made 14 quality starts in a row.
• Rick Sutcliffe is in San Francisco to call Wednesday’s Cubs-Giants on ESPN. Sutcliff tweeted that Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo met Barry Bonds prior to Tuesday’s game.
• According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are the No. 1 road draw in Major League Baseball. The Cubs play to 81.1 percent capacity and are averaging 34,570 per road game.
• Dexter Fowler is unsung key to Cubs’ second-half surge according to the Sun-Times.
• ESPN Chicago reported, the Cubs’ power surge continues, this time on the road.
• According to Elias Sports, Kyle Schwarber is the first Cubs player in the modern era (since 1900) to his 12 home runs in his first 42 career games. And Schwarber’s whirlwind year has pushed the Cubs to another level according to Comcast SportsNet.
• The Cubs made the regional cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated … click here to view the excellent photo and cover. While the mainstream media focuses on cover jinxes and curses, just a reminder … there are no such things as curses, only bad management and bad decisions.
• The Cubs took care of business in the opener of the important road trip according to the Sun-Times.
• A Cubs coach dressed for ‘battle versus the Giants’ according to report from Carrie Muskat.
• Tommy La Stella drove in his first run of the season Tuesday night. And he told ESPN Chicago prior to the game he is healthy and ready for the big challenge.
• The Blue Jays claimed RHP Donn Roach off waivers from the Reds.
• Click here for a .GIF that shows the evolution of every MLB team’s logo throughout league history.
And last, but not least, here is a fun video, even with the typo, for the last Wednesday in August.
This Day In Cubstory
2001 – Sammy Sosa hit homers No. 50 and 51 in a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals. Sosa joined Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire as the only three players in MLB history to hit 50 or more home runs in four seasons.
1999 – Sammy Sosa hit his 53rd homer of the season in an 11-10 win over the Giants.
1980 – Brendan Harris, born
1972 – Ron Santo collected the 2,000th hit of his career, a three-run home run, in a 10-9 victory over the Giants in 10 innings at Wrigley Field. The three-run shot also gave Santo 1,200 RBI for his career. Billy Williams went 5-for-6 with two home runs and four RBI.
1966 – Leo Durocher ripped the phone out of the Cubs dugout in Houston and tossed it onto the field after the Astrodome Message Board began harassing him in the ninth inning with various cartoon. Durocher received a bill for the damages and the Cubs lost the game 7-4.
1951 – Chuck Connors, later TV’s The Rifleman, hit his second and last Major League home run, a three-run shot in the top of the ninth off Sal Maglie. Connor’s home run tied the game at four but the Cubs lost in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off homer.
1948 – A near riot erupted at Wrigley when umpire Jocko Conlan credited Phil Cavarretta with a ground rule double instead of an inside the park home run in the third inning of a doubleheader. Braves left fielder Jeff Heath pretended to lose the ball in the ivy when it was actually by his foot. Play was held up for 20 minutes as the field was showered with straw hats and beer bottles. Conlan got very upset with a Chicago policeman for not taking any action to stop fans from throwing things on the field. The Cubs won the game 5-2 after Andy Pafko walked and Peanuts Lowrey hit a three-run homer. Cubs won the first games, 5-1.
1941 – Cubs traded Augie Galan to the Dodgers for Mace Brown
1930 – Hack Wilson hit his 44th homer of the season and broke Chuck Klein’s National League record. Wilson drove in four runs in a 7-5 win over the Pirates
1894 – Catcher Billy Schriver, on the first try, caught a ball dropped 500 feet from atop of the Washington Monument.