Jake Arrieta found a groove and started an incredible run while Jon Lester also settled in with his new team. Balls started leaving the park on a regular basis, but the offense still lacked a bat.
The front office made the call and Kyle Schwarber made his Major League debut in June. Schwarber was optioned down to Iowa after making a rather big impression.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber spent the All-Star break in Cincinnati and Schwarber was back in the big leagues by the time the second half started in Atlanta.
Two big home runs sent the Cubs in the right direction after most thought the season ended over a long weekend in late July at Wrigley.
- Record – 14-13
- Month in Review – June 2015
June 1 – Hammel Time – Cubs 5, Marlins 1
Jason Hammel struck out a career-high 11 batters and continued his sensational first half. Hammel ended up an out short of completing his fifth start of at least seven innings. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler drove in runs.
The Cubs started the third month of the season with a solid win in Miami.
June 3 – Javier Baez Starting at Third Base for the Iowa Cubs
Javier Baez made his first start at the hot corner after taking grounders there in practice. The Cubs were priming Baez for a call-up that was delayed when he broke his finger sliding into second base. Baez made adjustments at the plate and appeared ready for the big leagues.
As it turns out, Baez breaking his finger likely forced the Cubs to keep Starlin Castro at the deadline instead of trading him. Baez wasn’t ready to be recalled at that point and Castro lost his starting job in early August. Without Castro turning his season around, the Cubs do not play the way they did over the last two months of the season.
June 5 – Cubs Pick Off the Nationals – Cubs 2, Nationals 1
It’s not every day a runner gets picked off first base to end a game, but that is exactly what happened in early June. David Ross bailed out a struggling bullpen by picking off Clint Robinson at first base. The Cubs won the first of four games at Nationals Park in dramatic fashion.
Report includes video of the memorable ending.
June 7 – Cubs Bust Out the Bats, Take Three of Four from the Nationals – Cubs 6, Nationals 3
Kyle Hendricks had a good outing and picked up the win after he outpitched Jordan Zimmermann. The Cubs exploded for 14 hits with Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant combining for half (7) of the knocks. Bryant ended up a homer short of the cycle and Rizzo extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
The Cubs won the series (3-1) and season series (4-3) against the pre-season World Series favorites.
June 10 – Arrieta and the Cubs Offense Fire on All Cylinders and Blow Out the Tigers – Cubs 12, Tigers 3
The Cubs hit two, three-run homers one each by Chris Coghlan and Miguel Montero. Six different Cubs drove in runs and Jake Arrieta improved to 6-4 on the season. The Cubs ended a nine-game, three city road trip with a 5-4 record and won in Detroit for the first time in 14 years (July 7, 2001).
June 15 – Clutch Castro Comes Through Again – Cubs 2, Reds 1
For the second time in as many days Starlin Castro delivered the game winning hit. The Cubs beat the Reds in 11 innings and the Cubs won their first four game series against the Reds at Wrigley since April 14-17, 2003.
June 15 – Cubs Call Up Top Prospect Kyle Schwarber
Joe Maddon needed a bat for the upcoming road trip through American League parks, so the front office made another call and this time it was for Kyle Schwarber.
No one expected Schwarber to be up in mid-June when the season started, not even Jed Hoyer. Schwarber was told it would be a week in the majors and that was all it was. Schwarber was optioned down to Iowa after before the Cubs returned to Wrigley.
Schwarber showed he could hit big league pitching and would prove to be a valuable addition just over a month later.
Kyle Schwarber made his big league debut on the night Jake Arrieta had his worst start of the season. Schwarber went 0-for-1 and caught the ninth inning.
June 17 – Cubs Offense Rocks Cleveland – Cubs 17, Indians 0
Tsuyoshi Wada was a badass but not quite to the extent the offense was that Wednesday night in Cleveland. Kyle Schwarber had quite the first start in the majors. Schwarber tripled for his first hit, which he did every time he was promoted. Schwarber went 4-for-5 and was credited with the game winning RBI in the blowout.
Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Chris Denorfia hit home runs and Kris Bryant launched the first Grand Slam of his career, off position-player turned pitcher David Murphy.
The 17 runs ended up being the high-watermark for the Cubs on the season.
June 20 – Starlin Castro Delivers in Extras, Cubs Win in Ten – Cubs 4, Twins 1
The Cubs took game two from the Twins on a two-run single by Starlin Castro in the 10th inning. And Castro made a leaping catch for the final out. The Cubs improved to 7-3 in extra innings at the time. The defense had one of their best games of the season behind Jon Lester.
June 21 – Arrieta Goes the Distance, Cubs Win Series with Twins in Grand Fashion – Cubs 8, Twins 0
Jake Arrieta pitched his first complete game shutout of the season and gave a little preview of things to come. Arrieta bounced back from his worst start of the year and began what would be an historic stretch. Arrieta allowed just four hits in a game the Cubs blew open in the eighth.
Starlin Castro had three hits, drove in the game winner, and Anthony Rizzo went yard. Kyle Schwarber had a two-run single. Dexter Fowler delivered the knockout blow with a Grand Slam in the eighth inning.
June 22 – Bryant, Szczur Supply the Thunder in Cubs Win over Kershaw – Cubs 4, Dodgers 2
Kris Bryant hit two home runs, one off Clayton Kershaw into the bleachers in right field. Matt Szczur took Kershaw deep and Joe Maddon messed with Kershaw after light banks went out at Wrigley.
Travis Wood stepped in for an injured Tsuyoshi Wada and gave Maddon exactly what he needed, 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.
Includes video of Bryant hitting the first home run off a Clayton Kershaw curveball in over a year (May 11, 2014).
June 23 – Pitching, Defense and Deno – Cubs 1, Dodgers 0
The Cubs found a way to beat the Dodgers in a game started by Zack Greinke. It took 10 innings before Chris Denorfia drove in the only run of the game, a sac fly to left center that plated Matt Szczur.
Jason Hammel outpitched Greinke that night in late June.
Includes video of Denorfia’s walk-off, in what would end up being the first of two games the Cubs won 1-0 in extra innings with Denorfia delivering the winner.
By the end of June, the Cubs were 40-35 in third place in the division and 10 ½ games back of the Cardinals while holding off the Reds.
- Record – 15-12
- Month in Review – July 2015
July 1 – Cubs Pull a Win Out of Their Caps – Cubs 2, Mets 0
Joe Maddon brought a magician into the clubhouse in New York, the Cubs created a little magic at Citi Field. The Cubs beat the Mets in 11 innings on the first day of the month behind singles from Starlin Castro and Miguel Montero.
Jon Lester pitched seven shutout innings and Jason Motte picked up the win.
July 2 – Cubs Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple, Complete Season Series Sweep over the Mets – Cubs 6, Mets 1
Jake Arrieta dominated the Mets for eight innings and the Cubs beat Jacob deGrom for the second time. Jonathan Herrera drove in three runs with a safety squeeze and a two-run homer. Miguel Montero also went yard with a two-run Miggy Mash.
Arrieta actually allowed the only run of the series, a ground rule double by Curtis Granderson.
The Cubs completed the seven-game series sweep over the Mets and ended a difficult 10-game stretch against the Dodgers, Cardinals and Mets with a 5-5 record.
July 3 – Cubs Acquire LHP Clayton Richard from the Pirates
What was viewed as a desperation deal for a team starving for pitching turned out to be one of the best pickups for the Cubs in the second half. The Cubs acquired Clayton Richard from the Pirates for $1 due to a clause in his contract that made him available to teams willing to give him a spot on the active roster. The Cubs announced the deal on a Friday afternoon and Richard was on the mound the next night, July 4, making the start at Wrigley Field.
July 4 – Kris Bryant’s Grand Night – Cubs 7, Marlins 2
Kris Bryant launched a two-run homer in the first inning and a Grand Slam in the second. Bryant gave Clayton Richard plenty of run support and allowed the lefty to settle in on the mound. Bryant entered the Cubs history book as one of only three rookies in franchise history with two slams in the same season (Billy Williams, Howard Earl).
Bryant supplied the fireworks on the Fourth of July before the fans stuck around Wrigley for the first ever post-game display.
Includes video of Bryant’s two homers.
July 7 – Cubs Take Two from the Cardinals – Cubs 5, Cardinals 3
The Cubs swept a day-night doubleheader from the Cardinals, the first doubleheader sweep of the Redbirds at Wrigley since Oct. 5, 1991. And the first doubleheader sweep at Wrigley since 2003.
- Arrieta and the Cubs Knock Off the Cardinals – Cubs 7, Cardinals 4
- Cubs Take Two from the Cardinals – Cubs 5, Cardinals 3
July 12 – Jake Arrieta Pitches, Jake Arrieta Hits, Cubs Win – Cubs 3, White Sox 1
Jake Arrieta put the Cubs on his back in the final game before the break. The Cubs were limping to the end of the first half and needed a good outing from Arrieta. The Cubs salvaged the finale against the Sox in what would be one of Arrieta’s best starts of the season.
Arrieta pitched a complete game gem and tied a career-high with his 10th win. Arrieta hit the first home run of his career on a 0-2 pitch from Jose Quintana. Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler drove in the first two runs of the game.
The Cubs paid tribute to Ernie Banks with throwback jerseys and it was Arrieta that put one where Mr. Cub used to hit ‘em.
Includes video of Arrieta going yard.
July 12 – Kyle Schwarber Named Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Futures Game
Kyle Schwarber spent his All-Star break in Cincinnati and was named the MVP of the Futures Game due to a two run triple in the third inning.
Schwarber had a good homecoming and would be back in the majors before he had a chance to return to Iowa.
July 16 – Cubs Call-Up Kyle Schwarber to Replace Injured Miguel Montero
The Cubs recalled Kyle Schwarber once again earlier than expected. Miguel Montero jammed his left thumb during the first inning of the game against the White Sox five days earlier. David Ross was activated from the 7-day DL early in order to get the Cubs to the break.
The injury to Montero ended up working out for the Cubs. Montero was not on the shelf near as long as initially thought. By the time he returned, the Cubs could not send Schwarber back down. Schwarber’s bat had become too valuable and actually forced Joe Maddon to make changes to his infield to keep Schwarber and Chris Coghlan in the lineup.
- Cubs Call-Up Kyle Schwarber to Replace Injured Miguel Montero
- Cubs Recall Kyle Schwarber from Triple-A Iowa, Place Miguel Montero on 15-Day DL
July 18 – Lester Flirts with a No-No, Cubs Shutout the Braves – Cubs 4, Braves 0
Jon Lester took a no-hitter into the eighth inning after the official scorer changed his mind in the seventh inning. A.J. Pierzynski recorded the Braves first hit. Lester had an excellent outing as the Cubs won their first game of the second half. The Cubs posted the franchise’s first win in eight games in Atlanta (July 5, 2012).
Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro drove in three of the four runs.
July 19 – Arrieta Stays Hot, Cubs Win Two of Three in Atlanta – Cubs 4, Braves 1
Jake Arrieta started his historic second half run with a win in Atlanta. The Cubs won their first post-break series. Jorge Soler homered, Chris Coghlan doubled in a run and it was meat loaf for the first time in the second half.
July 19 – Cubs Designate Edwin Jackson for Assignment
Far from a highlight, actually a low point in the clubhouse as the front office cut ties with Edwin Jackson. This was a significant move at that point in the season. The Cubs needed the roster space and Jackson wasn’t able to help the team on the field except for in blowout games. The front office admitted the mistake and Jackson handled it as a pro.
July 21 – The Schwarber Game – Cubs 5, Reds 4
Kyle Schwarber drove in four of the Cubs five runs against his childhood team. Schwarber tied the game at four with a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth. Schwarber hit the game winner, a solo shot to right in the 13th inning and the Cubs won for the 50th time on the season.
Jason Hammel had a solid outing in his return to the mound, but it was obvious then he was not right.
Kyle Schwarber cemented his spot on the big league roster that Tuesday night in late July.
Includes video of Schwarber’s homers.
July 22 – Maddon Pushes the Right Buttons, Cubs Split Doubleheader with Comeback Win – Cubs 6, Reds 5
The Cubs were blown out in game one of the twin bill in Cincinnati and were down by 5-0 in the second inning of game two. Joe Maddon went to work and used his bullpen to perfection in relief of Dallas Beeler. Taylor Teagarden supplied the game winner, a pinch-hit two-out single in the ninth off a shocked Aroldis Chapman.
July 26 – Cubs Flat in Finale with Phillies – Phillies 11, Cubs 5
A miserable weekend at Wrigley that included the end of The Streak ended with the Cubs being swept by the last place Phillies. The sky was falling and the season was over. The fan base called for a selloff. The media piled on and attacked The Plan.
David Ross made his second appearance on the mound. Maddon and the Cubs laughed off the criticism and went 46-19 over the last 65 games over the season.
The weekend with the Phillies was far from the end of what had already been a very good season.
July 27 – Bryant’s Big Fly Walks Off the Rockies – Cubs 9, Rockies 8
The Cubs bullpen had a bad top of the ninth, allowed the Rockies to score four runs and take the lead. The Cubs did not quit. Dexter Fowler reached in the ninth and represented the tying run. The fan base was in panic mode after the previous three days. And it was a 23-year old that sent Wrigley into a frenzy.
Kris Bryant provided one of the biggest moments of the season. Bryant launched a 1-0 pitch from John Axford into the bleachers in left center.
Includes video of the first walk-off home run of Bryant’s career.
July 29 – Javier Baez Has Big Night in Return to Iowa Cubs Lineup
Javier Baez launched two homers in his first game back from the DL. And put himself right back on the map to make an impact in the majors later in the season.
Video of Baez’s blasts are included.
July 30 – Rizzo Rocks the Three-Run Homer – Cubs 5, Brewers 2
The Cubs started the final series of July on a Thursday night at Miller Park. The young Cubs were struggling to score runs as July came to an end. The Brewers were in control of the opener behind a very excited Jimmy Nelson. But that was before Rizzo turned the score around.
With two on and two out in the eighth and the Cubs trailing 2-0, Anthony Rizzo hit an upper deck shot off lefty Will Smith and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. The Cubs added two runs in the ninth and went on to sweep the four-game series.
July 31 – Cubs Acquire Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter
The Cubs pulled off deals with the Marlins and Orioles to add pitching to the roster. Dan Haren made a difference for the Cubs over the last two months. After a sensational Cubs’ debut, Tommy Hunter could not get on track and was a non-factor out of the bullpen.
- Cubs Acquire Dan Haren from the Marlins
- Cubs Acquire RHP Dan Haren and RHP Tommy Hunter, Trade OF Junior Lake, DFA RHP Ben Rowen
At the end of July, the Cubs were 55-47, 10 ½ back and in third place in the NL Central … and no one had any idea what was on the horizon.