With the Cubs winning the opener against the Diamondbacks in the first big league game of the day, Friday night became all about scoreboard watching. And the Cubs have a new team looking up at them in the NL Wild Card race.
The Nationals jumped over the Giants with a 5-2 win over the Braves. The Giants dropped their seventh game in a row, a 2-1 loss to the Rockies. The Cubs have a 7 ½ game lead for the second NL Wild Card over the Nationals, eight in the loss column, and San Francisco is now eight games back, nine in the loss column, of the Cubs.
The Pirates topped the Cardinals in game one of the weekend series in St. Louis. The Cubs are still four back of Pittsburgh but picked up a game on the Redbirds in the division. With 29 games remaining, the Cubs are 9 ½ back of the Cardinals in the Central.
The Cubs announced good news of sorts Friday in regards to Kyle Schwarber and the right rib cage soreness that forced him out of Wednesday’s lineup.
Schwarber has a mild right rib cage strain and is expected to be out three to five days. Schwarber will be re-evaluated once the injury has had a chance to cool down. Schwarber will miss the weekend series with the Diamondbacks but he thinks he will be ready to return Monday for the opener in St. Louis.
The Cubs are being cautious with Schwarber for the right reasons. Schwarber said Friday he would have been in the lineup if it were the playoffs.
Javier Baez had a very good game Friday, both offensively and defensively. Baez started at second base and moved to third in the sixth inning when Maddon started emptying his bench. Baez made the plays at second and third while showing an approach at the plate that was missing last season. Baez went 3-for-4 with a home run, a walk, three RBI and three runs scored.
Baez started his day by taking a bases loaded walk and forcing in Chris Coghlan with the second run. Baez singled to center in the third, led off the fifth with a single to right and capped the scoring in the eight-run fifth inning with a two-run shot to left, his first homer of the season in the big leagues. Baez was thrown out trying to steal second in the fifth on a bang-bang play. Baez fouled out in the eighth.
Maddon thought Baez “did a lot of things really well” on Friday and pointed out he “had a tension-free kind of game.” Baez said he is “seeing the ball really well and letting it get deep into the zone.”
Maddon plans on starting Baez when he thinks the pitching match-up benefits him the most. Maddon figures to use Tommy La Stella, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez at second base for the remainder of the season. La Stella and Baez will also see time at third base.
With the Diamondbacks sending lefty Robbie Ray to the hill on Saturday afternoon, Baez is expected to start at third base with Addison Russell at short and Starlin Castro at second base. If Baez is at third, Kris Bryant will shift to one of the corner spots in the outfield with Austin Jackson in the other.
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Full Report from the Sun-Times
- Full Report from ESPN Chicago
Jim Bowden thinks Javier Baez could be the Cubs’ X factor down the stretch. If he can put together more games like Friday, Baez will play a big role for a team looking for its first trip to the post-season in seven years.
A Third Catcher
Joe Maddon likes to have three catchers on his active roster during September. And a move could be made to add a third catcher to the active roster in the coming days. CBS Chicago reported Friday the Cubs are “considering calling up a third catcher.”
Kyle Schwarber is out for at least two more games. Once he returns, the Cubs are not expected to use him behind the plate, even as an emergency catcher. With the injury to his right rib cage, Schwarber could further aggravate it and turn what was labeled a mild strain into a more severe oblique injury according to a report from Bruce Levine.
If the Cubs bring up a catcher from the minors it will likely be Taylor Teagarden. A spot on the 40-man roster will have to be opened for him to be added to the roster.
Cubs Bullpen, Fernando Rodney and Carl Edwards Jr.
According to multiple reports Friday, Fernando Rodney is now “part of late-inning mix” in the pen. Joe Maddon also said Friday that Carl Edwards Jr. “will be part of bullpen mix at some point, too.”
With Tommy Hunter and Travis Wood struggling, Maddon must have another reliever step up that he can depend on to go along with Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.
Fernando Rodney has thrown the ball well. Rodney gave up a wind-blown homer to Eugenio Suarez on Tuesday night. Rodney has appeared in three games for the Cubs. Rodney has allowed one run on one hit with a HBP, no walks and three strikeouts in three innings (3.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP).
Carl Edwards Jr. is expected to be called-up during the Cardinals’ series next week after Iowa’s season ends Monday. Edwards Jr. was activated from the DL on Thursday and pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout in his first game action since Aug. 17.
The 24-year old right hander is 3-1 in 22 games out of Iowa’s bullpen this season with a 2.93 ERA and 1.24 WHIP (14 hits, 24 walks, 38 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings).
The Cubs released RHP Rafael Soriano on Friday. Soriano was designated for assignment Tuesday, along with LHP James Russell, to open spots on the 40-man roster for RHP Trevor Cahill and OF Quintin Berry. James Russell reported to Iowa after he was outrighted to Triple-A.
The Cubs rolled the dice on Soriano and tried to fill a need in the bullpen with a reliever Joe Maddon would be comfortable using late in games. Soriano was ineffective as the Cubs tried to build his arm strength and increase his velocity.
Soriano appeared in 10 games over two levels of the Cubs minor league system (Double-A Tennessee, Triple-A Iowa) and made six appearances in the big leagues. Soriano was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 5 2/3 innings (eight hits, a walk, four strikeouts, two home runs).
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs will honor Aramis Ramirez during the Pirates last series of the regular season at Wrigley Field (Sept. 25-27).
Ramirez had his best years in the big leagues with the Cubs (2003-11) and played on three NL Central Division Champion teams. Aramis Ramirez and Ron Santo are considered the best third basemen to play for the Cubs.
Aramis Ramirez batted .294/.356/.531 in nine years with the Cubs. Ramirez had 256 doubles, 14 triples and 239 home runs for a .887 OPS. Ramirez drove in 806 runs in 1124 games and provided one of the most memorable walk off home runs in Cubs’ history.
Aramis Ramirez is set to retire at the end of the season.
News and Notes
• The Cubs took on-field batting practice at Wrigley Field prior to Friday’s game for the first time since the Tigers’ series according to Bruce Miles.
• Bruce Miles posted an updated photo of the Triangle property Friday and reported the “area will be capped by Thursday” so work can begin underneath on the Cubs’ new clubhouse. The last official update from the team is that the clubhouse is on schedule to be ready for Opening Day 2016.
• According to Bruce Levine, Ryne Sandberg and his family were expected to attend Friday’s game at Wrigley as guests of the Cubs. Levine’s report came three days after Sandberg had lunch with Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein.
• Jon Heyman confirmed Patrick Mooney’s report the Cubs will make a qualifying offer to Dexter Fowler. Heyman also pointed out the Cubs are glad Jeff Samardzija turned down the five-year, and close to $85 million offer. The Cubs moved Samardzija to Oakland for Addison Russell and Billy McKinney in a deal with Jason Hammel that included Dan Straily. And Straily was shipped with Luis Valbuena to Houston for Dexter Fowler.
• Anthony Rizzo hit the second Grand Slam of his career Friday. The first was Sept. 16, 2012 against the Pirates.
• Joe Maddon is managing around lineup challenges according to a report from CBS Chicago.
• Bruce Levine reported the Cubs’ new infield rotation could leave Starlin Castro on the bench.
• Scott Boras told ESPN Chicago the Cubs really let Jake Arrieta be himself.
• Friday was the third time this season the Cubs worked a bases loaded walk in the first inning … June 4, Aug. 4 and Sept. 4. The Cubs walked twice (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez) in the first inning of Friday’s game.
And last, but not least, from Christopher Kamka: With four homers Friday, the Cubs have hit home runs in 13 straight games at Wrigley with four-plus home runs in four of the last 12 games at Wrigley.
This Day In Cubstory
2006 – Oakland selected Jerome Williams off waivers from the Cubs
2000 – Cubs released Matt Karchner
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 58 in Cubs 8-4 victory over the Pirates
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Orlando Merced
1985 – Tyler Colvin, born
1983 – Jeff Stevens, born
1969 – Billy Williams collected all four Cubs hits in a 9-2 loss to the Pirates, Pittsburgh’s first win at Wrigley Field since July 5, 1968 (13 straight losses). Williams set the National League record and tied the All-Time record for the most hits in a single game without any other hits. Williams hit a pair of doubles and two home runs.
1964 – Ernie Banks doubled and homered in the same inning of a 8-5 win over the Cardinals
1962 – Ken Hubbs broke Bobby Doerr’s Major League record by handling 418 chances in 78 games without an error at second base. Hubbs made a wild throw in the fourth inning of the game in Cincinnati that the Cubs lost 7-5.
1931 – The Cubs lost a 10-inning game to the Reds 4-3 in 10 innings. Hack Wilson was in the doghouse for drinking and not hitting and spent his time warming up pitchers in the bullpen while manager Rogers Hornsby, short of outfielders, used pitcher Bud Teachout in left field. On the train back to Chicago that night, Wilson got into an argument with two writers and punched both of the reporters out with the encouragement of Pat Malone. The Cubs fined Malone $500.00 and suspended Wilson without pay for the rest of the season before trading him to the Cardinals in the off-season.
1918 – Babe Ruth outdueled Hippo Vaughn in game one of the World Series at Comiskey Park. The Red Sox beat the Cubs 1-0. The Cubs used Comiskey Park for the Series due to the larger seating capacity.
1908 – Ed Reulbach allowed four hits as the Cubs beat the Pirates 11-0.