Thursday is an off-day for the Cubs, one of three left on the baseball calendar for Joe Maddon’s team. And the Cubs could use the break to regroup after the rough series against Cincinnati.
The Cubs did not lose ground in the NL Wild Card race or in the division Wednesday. The Giants, Pirates and Cardinals all lost Wednesday night. The Dodgers completed the three-game sweep over the Giants. The Pirates lost their third in a row at Miller Park and Washington outlasted St. Louis.
The Cubs maintained the 6 ½ game lead over the Giants for the second NL Wild Card. And with 30 games remaining on the schedule, the Cubs are 4 ½ back of the Pirates for home field advantage in the NL Wild Card game and 10 ½ games behind the Cardinals in the division.
The Cubs have a lot of work to do. Even with dropping three straight series, the Cubs have a strong hold on the second Wild Card spot in the Senior Circuit.
Jorge Soler spoke with the beat writers prior to Wednesday’s game. Soler is looking to swing a bat Friday for the first time since he landed on the disabled list Aug. 24.
Soler said he is feeling “much better” and he does not think he will miss the remainder of the season. Soler plans on playing again. While the team has missed him and need him in the lineup, the Cubs did not give a timetable on when Soler could return.
Jorge Soler lengthens the lineup, plus teams will not run on him. Soler has put together a good first year in the majors, despite sections of the media and fan base saying otherwise.
In a single-season career high 90 games, Jorge Soler has hit .265/.325/.385 with 18 doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a .710 OPS. Soler was starting to lift the ball before landing on the DL. Over 19 games in August, Soler had a .284/.372/.388 slash line with a double, two home runs and a .760 OPS. Plus, Soler walked nine times with 17 strikeouts.
Joe Maddon was asked about Soler’s health issues. Maddon would not label him “accident of injury prone.” The Cubs will continue to work with Soler to keep him on the field as much as possible for a full season.
Kyle Schwarber was a late scratch from Wednesday’s game with right rib soreness. Schwarber felt something during batting practice and had what was labeled “a precautionary MRI.” Joe Maddon did not have an update after the game. Maddon said due to Thursday’s day off, it would likely be Friday before the results from the MRI are released.
The Cubs downplayed the injury prior to first pitch. And after the game, Maddon sounded more concerned about not having a third catcher than not having Schwarber for an extended period of time.
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs do not think Schwarber suffered a long-term injury. The team is hoping Schwarber will be able to play Friday according to multiple reports.
Joe Maddon liked what he saw from Austin Jackson at the plate and in the field Wednesday. Jackson could see more playing time according to ESPN Chicago if Schwarber is sidelined with an oblique injury. And Jackson said prior to the Schwarber injury that he is excited to be with the Cubs and is ready to contribute in any way he can to help the team.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon has not named a starting second baseman. Addison Russell is his everyday shortstop and he has Starlin Castro, Tommy La Stella and Javier Baez to choose from at second base. Maddon told Carrie Muskat on Wednesday he will play the matchups with his second basemen. Maddon added, “Even if guys don’t start, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll be involved.”
• Over the last eight games, the only quality start turned in by the Cubs’ staff is Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter.
• Anthony Rizzo hit the 97th homer of his Cubs career on Wednesday. Rizzo is tied with Cap Anson and Jim Hickman for 22nd on the Cubs home run list.
• According to a report from Bruce Levine, Joe Maddon’s aversion to batting practice is paying off.
• Wednesday was just the third time all season the Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals all lost on the same day.
This Day In Cubstory
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Bobby Ayala
1991 – Carl Edwards Jr., born
1971 – Owner P.K. Wrigley took out advertisements in the newspapers that criticized the players in the “Dump Durocher Clique.” While praising Durocher, Wrigley added a post-script to the ads that he wished the Cubs could find more team players like Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub played his last game on Sept. 26.
1970 – Billy Williams asked to sit out and ended his National League record of playing in 1,117 straight games. Steve Garvey topped Williams’ record in 1983 after beginning his streak of 1,207 consecutive games five years later (Sept. 3, 1975).
1970 – Chad Fox, born
1967 – Luis Gonzalez, born
1963 – Ced Landrum, born
1925 – George Gibson replaced Rabbit Maranville as Cubs manager after team president Bill Veeck Sr. learned Maranville raced through the Pullman (a train) anointing players with water from a spittoon.
1908 – Cubs lost 1-0 to the Pirates in 10 innings at Pittsburgh. Johnny Evers argued that the Pirates’ Warren Gill failed to touch second base on the game-winning hit, but his plea was ignored by umpire Hank O’Day. This game was a forerunner to the Fred Merkle incident on Sept. 23 that also involved Evers and O’Day.