It took 12 innings and over four hours Wednesday night for the Cubs to beat the Pirates for the second game in a row. The Cubs moved to within three games of the Pirates in the NL Wild Card race while holding off the Giants.
The Giants topped the Reds 5-3 late Wednesday and the Cardinals rode a pair of two run homers from Tommy Pham for a 5-4 win at Miller Park.
The Cubs will begin play Thursday three behind the Pirates in the standings and seven back of the Cardinals in the division. The Cubs have a 7 ½ game lead over the Giants for the second Wild Card with 17 games left on the schedule.
According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs have the best record in the NL Central since the break. Gordon Wittenmyer pointed out “if there were second half standings, the NL Central would be: Cubs 37-21, Cardinals 35-21, Pirates 34-23.” The Cardinals would be one game behind the Cubs, and the Pirates would be 2 ½ games back.
The Cubs announced Wednesday the plans for the starting rotation. Dan Haren will start the opener of the Cardinals series on Friday. Saturday will be another bullpen day. Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard are options to start the game. Jon Lester will pitch Sunday in the finale with the Cardinals.
Unless weather changes the Cubs plans again, Jason Hammel (Monday) and Jake Arrieta (Tuesday) will take the hill for the first two games of the Brewers series.
Prior to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans taking game three of the Mills Cup Championship Series and becoming the 2015 Carolina League Champions, Comcast SportsNet reported Jorge Soler would be back with the Cubs by the weekend for the series with the Cardinals.
With the Pelicans season over, Soler should be activated from the DL prior to Friday’s opener with the Cardinals. Soler has been on the DL since Aug. 24 with an oblique strain.
Cubs-Pirates Game – Sept. 26
The Cubs announced Wednesday that the Saturday, Sept. 26 game versus the Pirates at Wrigley Field, originally listed as “TBD” has been scheduled to start at 12:05pm CDT.
The second of the three-game series with the Pirates will be broadcast on FOX.
News and Notes
• According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Jason Motte is only throwing from flat ground. Motte has not thrown off a mound. Motte has been on the DL since Aug. 24 with a right shoulder strain. Joe Maddon said earlier in the week that Motte is likely done for the season.
• Jesse Rogers reported Wednesday the Cubs are keeping LHP Eric Jokisch and C Taylor Teagarden ready at the team’s facility in Arizona just in case either player is needed. Rogers indicated Jokisch could start a game for the Cubs after a playoff spot is clinched. Jokisch is on the 40-man and can just be added to the active roster. The Cubs would have to open a spot on the 40-man for Teagarden. Rogers also reported that RHP Dallas Beeler is not an option for the Cubs. Beeler is hurt and in Arizona rehabbing. But according to Carrie Muskat, Beeler is also staying ready in Arizona in case he’s needed.
• When Starlin Castro squeezed in Kris Bryant on Wednesday night, Castro was credited with a sacrifice bunt … his first sac bunt since 2013 and only the second sac bunt for Castro since 2010 when he had four sac bunts.
• Speaking of firsts since … Miguel Montero stole his first base since June 26, 2011 during the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game.
• 1B Carlos Pena is going to re-sign with the Rays on Friday and then retire from the game according to a report from Marc Topkin. Pena is currently an analyst on the MLB Network. Pena played for the Cubs in 2011 and batted .225/.357/.462 with 27 doubles, three triples and 28 home runs in 153 games with a .819 OPS. Pena spent one season with the Cubs and re-signed with Joe Maddon’s Rays the following off-season. The Cubs selected RHP Paul Blackburn in the 2012 draft with the pick received as compensation for Pena signing with the Rays.
• Ken Rosenthal used the Dodgers-Rockies game from Tuesday night as the latest reason rosters should be limited in September.
• Bob Nightengale explained why the third-place Cubs have the Pirates and Cardinals on edge.
• According to a report from the Sun-Times, Jake Arrieta said he will be ready if his next trip to Pittsburgh is to face Gerrit Cole in the Wild Card game. Arrieta gives the Cubs confidence to beat the Pirates in October according to Comcast SportsNet. And ESPN Chicago reported, Arrieta did not win No. 20 but the Cubs passed the playoff test.
This Day In Cubstory
1980 – Dan Haren, born
1953 – Ernie Banks made his Major League debut and went 0-for-3 with a run scored and committed an error in a 16-4 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field. Banks went on to set an all-time record for most consecutive games played to start a career (424). Banks was the first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs.
1945 – Bill Nicholson made 10 putouts and set a record for right fielders in a 4-0 loss to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
1938 – Bill Lee surrendered 13 hits, but pitched the third straight shutout as the Cubs beat the Giants 4-0 in the Polo Grounds.
1938 – Ripper Collins hit the last of his 135 career home runs during his nine years with the Cubs. Collins remained the all-time home run leader among switch hitters until Mickey Mantle topped his mark in 1956.
1928 – Gabby Harnett hit a two-run homer and Kiki Cuyler, Hack Wilson and Charlie Grimm collected two doubles each in a 15-5 victory over the Braves in Boston. Pitcher Ray Boggs hit three batters (Woody English, Kiki Cuyler and Riggs Stephenson) and threw two wild pitches in the ninth inning.