The Cubs became the first in the majors to 17 wins with Friday’s 6-1 victory over the Braves. Joe Maddon’s team has scored 136 runs and allowed 57, a plus-79 run differential.
The Cubs are 17-5 after 22 games, the best start to a season for the franchise since 1907 (18-4). And the 17 wins equal the most victories for a Cubs team in the first month of a season. Lou Piniella and the 2008 Cubs were 17-10 after the first month (0-1 in March, 17-9 in April).
Lost in Friday’s headlines was David Ross delivered another big hit starting his third straight game. Ross went 1-for-4 and the one base knock, a single in the fifth drove in Javier Baez with the tying run.
Grandpa Rossy is batting .267/.351/.500 with a double and two home runs for a .851 OPS. Ross has six RBI and five walks in 10 games. When Ross homered onto Waveland on Thursday, he became the first player 39 years or older to hit a home run for the Cubs since Greg Maddux in 2005.
Ross will see even more playing time than expected when the season started with Kyle Schwarber out of the year and Miguel Montero on the disabled list. Tim Federowicz was called up Thursday and is supposed to start Saturday and catch John Lackey, if there is a game.
Will David Ross’ year-long retirement party include a trip to the All-Star Game? Jarrod Saltalamacchia would love to see Ross make the NL squad. And he recently told MLB Network that Ross’ role “is a lot bigger than a backup catcher.” Ross is one of the most respected players in the game.
Ross was asked about the campaign to vote him on the NL squad. Ross said to Bob Nightengale, “I don’t want anything I don’t deserve. I’m a backup catcher.”
Hardball Talk pointed out that if Ross was voted on to the All-Star team that “it’s difficult to imagine anyone making a fuss.”
David Ross has not played like a 39-year old backup catcher that decided to hang ‘em up at the end of the year. He had an excellent first month of the season … here’s to another six months just like April.
Jon Lester put together another good outing Friday. Lester allowed one run on seven hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts in seven innings. Lester made two mistakes. The Cubs’ southpaw served up a solo homer to Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning. Lester’s issues with throwing to bases popped back up in the seventh. Erick Aybar bunted back to Lester and reached first base with an infield single. Lester did not make a throw. He said he could not get a handle on the ball to try a throw. After Joe Maddon’s trip to the mound, Lester struck out Drew Stubbs and Jace Peterson for the first two outs. Nick Markakis grounded out to Anthony Rizzo to end the seventh.
Lester is 2-1 in five starts this season with a 1.83 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Lester has allowed seven runs on 25 hits (four home runs) with seven walks and 33 strikeouts. Lester has not walked more than two batters in a start this year. And the Cubs are 4-1 in the five games he’s gotten the ball.
Lester posted a quality start with the seven-inning, one-run effort on Friday. And for the first time in his career, Lester has started a season with five straight quality starts. The Cubs staff actually leads the NL with 17 quality starts.
Jon Lester has picked up this season, with one exception, where he left off in Spring Training.
- Comcast SportsNet – As Jake Arrieta garners all the fanfare, Jon Lester keeps cruising along in Cubs win.
- ESPN Chicago – Szczur’s slam powers Cubs after Lester’s strong start
- ESPN Chicago – Lester’s latest fielding failure doesn’t hamper Cubs against Braves
Kris Bryant is day-to-day with a mild right ankle sprain. An MRI confirmed the Cubs initial diagnosis. Reports early Friday indicated Bryant could be held out for the weekend series against the Braves. But that might not be the case.
Bryant received treatment Friday. Joe Maddon would not rule out using Bryant as a pinch-hitter before the game started. Whether or not that information was to keep Fredi Gonzalez on his toes is unknown. Bryant wasn’t needed after his teammates scored five runs in the eighth inning.
Maddon said after Friday’s game that Bryant was feeling better. Maddon left open the possibility of Bryant playing Saturday, if there is a game due to the weather. The Cubs are going to wait and see how he responds. The field conditions should also factor into the decision to play him.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. had to leave Friday night’s game in the fourth inning. Almora Jr. singled to left and Matt Murton replaced him on the bases. Almora went 1-for-2 in Iowa’s 1-0 victory over Colorado Springs before he was taken out.
Reports from the park suggested at first he was injured, but it turned out he was sick. The Des Moines Register reported Marty Pevey said Almora Jr. had “stomach issues” and “could be in the lineup tomorrow (Saturday).”
Albert Almora Jr. is hitting .366/.405/.549 with four doubles and three home runs for a .954 OPS in 19 games.
News and Notes
• Entering play Friday, the Cubs were on pace to walk 879 times this season, which would be the most walks in the Modern Era (since 1900). The ’49 Red Sox currently hold the record for the most walks in a single season with 835 base-on-balls. The Cubs worked seven more walks in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Braves.
• Joe Maddon said Friday his ‘Try Not to Suck’ T-shirts now have a kid friendly version … ‘Try Not to Stink.”
• Bruce Levine reported the Cubs credit Joe Maddon for record-tying win.
• Arismendy Alcantara tripled in the second inning of Friday’s game against the Sky Sox and put his name in the Iowa Cubs record book. Alcantara’s triple was the 23rd for the I-Cubs and tied Billy Hatcher and Chico Walker for the most triples in franchise history. Alcantara is batting .246/.310/.415 with four doubles, two triples and a home run for a .725 OPS in 17 games this season.
• Jason Hammel told the Tribune he didn’t have a future in hitting.
• According to Bruce Levine, A.J. Pierzynski is still grinding away and when asked if he thought he could be traded to the Cubs or White Sox this season, Pierzynski said, “I don’t think either one of those teams will be calling for me anytime soon. Trust me on that.”
• Comcast SportsNet reported on Stephen A. Smith and his defense of the comments he made about Jake Arrieta.
• Dexter Fowler is the Cubs’ lone representative on Jay Jaffe’s April All-Star team.
• Tony Andracki posted the Cubs top offensive performers based on OPS: Tommy La Stella (1.203), Dexter Fowler (1.087), Matt Szczur (.993).
• Former Cubs’ reliever RHP Tommy Hunter was activated from the 15-day DL. The Indians designated LHP Ross Detwiler to make room for Hunter on the roster.
• Peter Gammons tweeted very disturbing news late Friday. According to Gammons, “Some executive were told Dee Gordon was one of a few names on a list and there could be some more names out next week. Hope not, but nothing surprises.”
This Day in Cubstory
2008 – Cubs won a franchise best 17th game in April with a 19-5 victory over the Brewers at Wrigley Field.
2002 – Cubs released Winston Abreu
1990 – Cubs traded Frank Campos to the White Sox for Bill Long
1970 – Billy Williams played in his 1000th consecutive game. But the Cubs lost 9-2 to the Braves in Atlanta. Williams became the first National Leaguer to play in 1000 consecutive games. Williams played for a record 1,117 straight games before taking a day off. Williams’ record would be broken by Steve Garvey.
1962 – Cubs traded Bob Buhl to the Milwaukee Braves for Jack Curtis
1954 – Cubs purchased Steve Bilko from the Cardinals for $12,500
1954 – Joe Strain, born
1928 – Cubs purchased Danny Murphy from the Tigers
1907 – Jumbo Brown, born
1904 – Tony Murray, born
1899 – A paid crowd of 27,489, the largest in baseball history up to that time, packed into West Side Grounds to watch the Chicago National League Ball Club beat the St. Louis National League Ball Club (Cardinals) 4-0. Johnny Callahan pitched a 12-hit shutout.
1887 – In front of close to 10,000 at Recreation Park, the Alleghenys played their first game in the National League and beat the defending National League Champions, the Chicago White Stockings 6-2. The Alleghenys will be called the Pirates by 1891.
1852 – Charley Jones, born