The Cubs are spending Monday’s off day in Pittsburgh, getting a short break before opening a four-game series in three days with Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader. The Cubs are 4-3 on the current 11-game, 11-day, three-city road trip after a disappointing weekend in Philadelphia.
Typically a winning road trip is viewed as a positive, but in all three losses, as ESPN Chicago pointed out, the Cubs have led or been tied in the seventh inning or later. The Cubs were not happy with the way the last two games played out after sweeping Friday’s doubleheader.
Joe Maddon made light of the series with the Phillies and joked with the beat writers that he is glad the Phillies are not in the Cubs division. Maddon thinks the Cubs are in “good shape” moving forward.
With just under three weeks and 20 games left in the regular season, the Cubs have a 7 ½ game lead over the Giants (eight in the loss column) for the second Wild Card and trail the Pirates by four games for home field advantage in the one-game playoff. The Cubs are 6 ½ behind the Cardinals in the division.
Soler went 1-for-4 with a double, a walk, a RBI, a run scored and three strikeouts. Soler tied the game with a double in the sixth and scored the go ahead run on a Mark Zagunis single.
Joe Maddon said Sunday that Jorge Soler will stay with the Pelicans for the duration of the best-of-five Championship series. Game five is scheduled for Friday in Myrtle Beach.
The Cubs want Soler to get as much playing time as possible so he won’t be rusty when he is activated from the disabled list.
There were good performances from the relievers over the weekend and those that were not-so-good.
Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Pedro Strop and Clayton Richard did their jobs but Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon and Carl Edwards Jr. could not record the third out of an inning without giving up multiple runs following a two-out walk.
Joe Maddon told the Tribune he is “really confident” with Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm and Fernando Rodney in the back of his bullpen. Maddon also likes Clayton Richard as the lefty out of his pen even though he might be a better option for the rotation.
The Tribune reported that Jason Motte is likely out for the season based on Maddon’s comments Sunday.
Maddon plans on using Edwards Jr. more but has not given any indication on where Neil Ramirez is and if he will be able to help the backend of the pen.
The innings logged by the bullpen this season are catching up with the relievers. Maddon appears to be looking for options and the opportunity is there for pitchers like Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Carl Edwards Jr. and Tommy Hunter to earn more playing time.
The Cubs must have a reliever or two step up or there will be more games lost in the final three innings. Maddon said Sunday, “You’re not going to win everything without a real consistent and strong bullpen.” Maddon admitted he thinks about ways to get the most out of his relievers on a daily basis.
Buster’s Top 10
The Cubs went 4-3 in seven road games through St. Louis and Philadelphia and ended up seventh in Buster Olney’s weekly power rankings.
Buster Olney’s top 10: Cardinals, Pirates, Royals, Jays, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Astros, Rangers and Yankees.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon said Sunday that right now Justin Grimm might be the “best lefty in the National League right now.” Lefties are hitting .132/.246/.180 against Grimm this season with a .398 OPS while right handers are batting .210/.294/.294 with a .557 OPS.
• The Cubs and Pirates finalized the starting pitchers for the upcoming series at PNC Park … Jason Hammel and Gerrit Cole in game one Tuesday, Jon Lester and J.A. Happ in game two on Tuesday, Jake Arrieta and A.J. Burnett on Wednesday night, Kyle Hendricks and Charlie Morton on Thursday afternoon.
• Chris Coghlan went 4-for-5 with a home run, two triples and a run scored on Sunday. According to Christopher Kamka, Coghlan became the first Cubs’ player with two triples and a home run in the same game since Roy Smalley on June 20, 1950.
• Kris Bryant went 1-for-4 with a RBI and a strikeout on Sunday afternoon … and the strikeout put the rookie in the Cubs’ record book. Bryant broke Sammy Sosa’s All-Time record for strikeouts in a single season. Sosa struck out 174 times in 1997. Bryant has struck out 175 times this year with 20 games left to play.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, Starlin Castro is focused on winning now, not his future with the Cubs.
• There is drama in the National League Central according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
• LHP Rich Hill started for the Red Sox on Sunday, his first start in the big leagues since 2009. Hill pitched seven innings of shutout ball and allowed just one hit with a walk, two HBP and 10 strikeouts. Hill threw 106 pitches, 68 for strikes, in Boston’s 2-0 victory over the Rays. The now 35-year old lefty pitched in independent ball this season.
This Day In Cubstory
2008 – Carlos Zambrano pitched a no-hitter against the Houston Astros at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Zambrano became the first Cubs pitcher to toss a no-hitter since Milt Pappas in 1972. The Cubs were playing the Astros, the home team, in Milwaukee as a result of Hurricane Ike. It was the first no-hitter pitched at a neutral site in big league history.
2006 – The Marlins sent James Adduci to the Cubs as part of a conditional deal
1965 – Bob Hendley beat Sandy Koufax 2-1 at Wrigley Field in the first match-up after Koufax’s perfect game. Hendley allowed four hits and a Billy Williams’ homer was the difference in the game.
1957 – Ernie Banks hit three consecutive solo home runs in a Cubs 7-3 victory over the Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field.
1953 – Ernie Banks and Gene Baker joined the Cubs, but Banks would not make his big league debut for four more days. Banks and Baker watched the Cubs post their 10th straight win in a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Banks participated in batting practice and hit the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers.
1935 – Cubs move into first place in the NL with an 18-14 victory over the Dodgers. The Cubs posted their 11th straight win and the Cubs used a relief pitcher for the first time in 11 games.
1913 – Larry Chesney allowed 14 hits, the most ever given up in a shutout, as the Cubs beat the Giants 7-0 at West Side Grounds.
1907 – Solly Hoffman collected five hits and the Cubs totaled 12 runs on 19 hits off the Reds Andy Coakley in a 12-5 win at West Side Grounds. The two teams combined for 29 hits, all singles.
1905 – Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, previously on good terms, engaged in a fist fight on the field during an exhibition game at Washington, Indiana after arguing over Evers taking a taxi to the park while leaving the other players in the hotel lobby. The two did not speak for the rest of their Cubs careers, despite playing brilliantly on the field together.