Behind Jake Arrieta’s gem, excellent defense and just enough offense, the Cubs posted their second straight win Saturday over the Diamondbacks. The Cubs maintained the lead for the second NL Wild Card over the Nationals and gained ground on the Pirates.
The Cubs moved to within three games of Pittsburgh for the top Wild Card in the Senior Circuit. The Pirates lost 4-1 in St. Louis. The Nationals handled the Braves 8-2 while the Giants snapped their seven-game losing skid with a 7-3 victory over the Rockies.
The Cubs will begin play Sunday with a 7 ½ game lead over the Nationals (eight in the loss column) and eight games ahead of the Giants (nine in the loss column) for the second NL Wild Card.
Baseball’s regular season concludes four weeks from today.
Jake Arrieta pitched eight innings of shutout ball on Saturday. Arrieta limited the Diamondbacks to four hits, three singles and one double, and no walks. Arrieta struck out seven in route to his 18th win of the season (18-6, 2.03 ERA and 0.92 WHIP).
Jake Arrieta mixed in his change-up Saturday and threw it quite a bit in the middle innings to keep the Diamondbacks off balance.
For as impressive as Arrieta has been, Joe Maddon and the Cubs think he can get better. Arrieta admitted after the game he doesn’t know how good he can be.
Over his last 10 starts, Arrieta is 8-1 with a 0.91 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Arrieta has given up nine runs, seven earned, on 37 hits with 19 walks and 74 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. Arrieta has not given up an earned run in his last four starts (29 innings).
And over his last 15 starts, Jake Arrieta has a 0.99 ERA and 0.74 WHIP after allowing 58 hits with 23 walks and 108 strikeouts in 109 innings. Arrieta has hit a home run during that span, and allowed one home run.
- Report from Comcast SportsNet (1)
- Report from Comcast SportsNet (2)
- Report from Bruce Levine
- Report from ESPN Chicago
Dexter Fowler had another good game Saturday. Fowler went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk as he continued his excellent second half.
Fowler has raised his season slash line to .254/.351/.429 after batting .232/.308/.369 in his first 85 games of the year. In 45 games since the break, Fowler is hitting .298/.428/.548 with 12 doubles, three triples and eight home runs for a .976 OPS.
With a month left in the season, Fowler has set career highs in walks (71), home runs (16) and runs scored (89). Fowler is 10 hits (126) shy of his career mark of 136 set in 2012 and 10 doubles (25) away from the 35 he hit in 2011.
The Cubs had high expectations for the switch-hitting veteran centerfielder and he has met them over the last two-plus months.
According to multiple reports, the Cubs will make a qualifying offer to Dexter Fowler at the end of the season. Fowler turns 30 in March and has played his way to a multi-year contract. It will be interesting to see if he declines the offer and tests free agency or chooses to gamble on himself and the Cubs for one more year.
C Willson Contreras went 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a walk in the Smokies’ 7-3 win over the Shuckers on Saturday night. Contreras not only helped his team win, but he maintained his .327 batting average.
According to Andrew Green, Willson Contreras finished Saturday night with a .327 batting average, with two games left Contreras has a four point (.004) lead over Max Kepler (.323) for the Southern League batting title.
Willson Contreras is hitting .327/.408/.473 with 34 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a .881 OPS in 125 games.
Jeimer Candelario has been rather impressive since his promotion from High-A to Double-A Tennessee. Candelario hit his fifth Double-A homer Saturday night. Candelario went 1-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two RBI. Candelario also turned in another excellent play in the field.
The 21-year old switch-hitting third baseman is hitting .292/.375/.468/.843 in 44 games with the Smokies. In 154 at bats, Candelario has 10 doubles, a triple, five home runs, 20 walks and 21 strikeouts.
News and Notes
• The Cubs have homered in 14 straight games at Wrigley Field.
• The Brewers decided Saturday was Matt Garza’s last start of the season. Milwaukee wants to use his rotation spot to take a look at pitchers for next season, even with GM Doug Melvin stepping down. Garza declined the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen. Garza received a no decision Saturday and finished his second year in the Brewers’ rotation with a 6-14 record in 26 games, 25 starts, with a 5.63 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. Garza is owed $12.5 million for 2016 and 2017, plus there is a vesting/club option for 2018. Matt Garza is not happy about the Brewers decision. Maybe he should have pitched his way out of Milwaukee.
• The White Sox hope Mike Olt can fill a possible infield vacancy in 2016 according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• Dan Hirsch pointed out Saturday night, the Cubs “have used 21 different pitchers in relief this season. Every single one of them started their careers with a different organization.”
• According to John Manuel, the 2016 MLB Draft will start on Thursday, June 9.
And last, but not least, Joe Maddon told Bruce Miles prior to Saturday’s game, “A bunch of one-game winning streaks would be nice right now.”
This Day in Cubs History
2003 – Mark Prior won his seventh straight start in a 4-2 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee. Prior struck out seven batters in seven innings. Randall Simon hit a two-run homer in his first game back in Milwaukee since the infamous Sausage Race incident.
1999 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 58
1993 – Ryne Sandberg was held hitless for the first time in 17 games in a 7-6 Cubs win over the Phillies. Sandberg hit safely in 24 of his last 25 games of the season. Sandberg broke his finger Sept. 13 and ended his season early.
1991 – Cubs traded Steve Wilson to the Dodgers for Jeff Hartsock
1983 – Jerry Blevins, born
1975 – Derrek Lee, born
1963 – Cubs signed amateur free agent All Severinsen
1959 – The Cubs swept a doubleheader from the Dodgers in front of a record-setting crowd at the Coliseum. The Cubs beat Sandy Koufax in the first game on a three-run homer by Ernie Banks in the ninth inning.
1948 – After 2,423 at bats, infielder Dutch Verban finally hit the first, an only, home run of his career off Johnny Vander Meer.
1939 – Bill Nicholson, Rip Russell and Larry Frisch homered in the third inning as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 11-3 at Wrigley Field.
1930 – Cubs beat the Pirates 19-14 at Forbes Field after trailing 12-8 after seven innings. The Cubs scored four in the eighth and sixth in the ninth. Hack Wilson hit home run No. 47 and the Cubs stayed in the NL race with the comeback win.
1918 – In game two of the World Series, Lefty Tyler drove in two runs in the Cubs three-run second inning. Boston scored a run in the ninth as Tyler bead Joe Bush. The Cubs evened the series at a game apiece with a 3-1 win over the Red Sox.
1883 – Tom Burns and Ned Williamson both scored three runs in the seventh inning and established a Major League record that still stands in a 26-6 win over Detroit. The team scored 18 runs in the seventh inning.