The Cubs raised some eyebrows with the four-year contract the team signed Ben Zobrist to in the off-season. Zobrist’s numbers look a lot better than they did a month ago.
Zobrist took home the award for the top player in the NL last week and has not slowed down offensively. Over the last seven games, Zobrist is 11-for-22 with eight walks (.500/.633/.500). And in his last 21 plate appearances, Zobrist has 10 hits and six walks while making only five outs.
This month (13 games), Zobrist is batting .419/.526/.721 with one double, four home runs and a 1.247 OPS. Zobrist has 11 walks and five strikeouts in 43 at bats.
For the season, Ben Zobrist is hitting .319/.446/.491 with five doubles, five home runs and a .937 OPS. Zobrist has almost twice as many walks (28) as strikeouts (15) in 116 at bats.
Anthony Rizzo had another big game at the plate Saturday. Rizzo went 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI. Rizzo’s three-run shot, his 11th on the season, gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning. The Cubs responded to the two runs the Pirates scored in the top of the frame with a three-spot in the home half.
Rizzo reached base safely for the 26th consecutive game, which leads the majors.
In 35 games, Rizzo is batting .279/.419/.620 with nine doubles, one triple and 11 home runs for a 1.039 OPS. Rizzo has 26 walks and 19 strikeouts in 129 at bats, plus he leads the National League with 33 RBI.
The Cubs infield of Rizzo, Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant are all on pace to drive in more than 100 runs this season. Zobrist has 28 RBI. After his two run homer Saturday, Russell has 27 RBI and Bryant has 25.
Cubs Roster Moves
The Cubs made two roster moves Saturday and more are expected this week.
The Cubs decided to keep Tim Federowicz on the active roster instead of Kalish. And for now the Cubs will carry three catchers.
Joe Maddon said he likes the flexibility having three catchers gives him, especially late in games. The Cubs are not sure if Federowicz would pass through waivers at this point. But the Cubs might have to risk losing him when Matt Szczur is ready to come off the disabled list.
Szczur is “doing really well” recovering from the hamstring injury that landed him on the DL almost 15 days ago according to Mark Grote.
Cubs, Pirates and Hit Batsmen
The Cubs and Pirates wrap up the three-game series Sunday afternoon. And don’t be surprised if the Pirates retaliate for Jake Arrieta hitting Jung Ho Kang with a pitch in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game.
With two runs already in on a Francisco Cervelli single, one out and Cervelli at third following a wild pitch, Arrieta hit Jung Ho Kang. The Pirates, announcers and fans were very unhappy as Kang took his base. Arrieta got the double play he needed when he kicked a ball ticketed for center field to Ben Zobrist and he flipped to Addison Russell for the 1-4-6-3 inning ending double play.
As it turns out, the Pirates believe Arrieta threw at Kang. Clint Hurdle wasn’t able to retaliate Saturday when the game got out of hand because both benches were warned after Miguel Montero was grazed with a pitch in the sixth inning.
Jeff Locke said after the game he thought Arrieta hit Kang on purpose that the pitch “didn’t just get away.” Locke explained that Arrieta has “pinpoint accuracy” and pitchers like that “just doesn’t miss in.” While Locke was complaining about Arrieta, reports did not indicate if he brought up the four-pitch walk that put him on first base in the fifth inning as an example of the “pinpoint accuracy.”
Clint Hurdle said he is “not good on judging intent” and insinuated Arrieta hit Kang on purpose.
Arrieta took to Twitter to defend himself and simply said, “If I hit someone intentionally, you will know.”
The Pirates under Clint Hurdle have an eye-for-an-eye mentality, like the Cardinals. If you hit one of their players with the baseball, one of your guys is going to get hit. MLB should really step in and put an end to this archaic way of thinking. One of their pitchers is going to miss his spot and really hurt a player.
Clint Hurdle took over the Pirates in 2011. The Pirates have led baseball in hit batsmen in each of the last three seasons (2013 – 70; 2014 – 88; 2015 – 75) and are currently tied for fourth this season with 16 HBP.
The Pirates are frustrated with the way the first five games have gone against the Cubs. There is no reason to add injury to insult at this point.
- ESPN Chicago – Pirates upset by Jake Arrieta’s HBP; Cubs deny pitch was intentional
- Comcast SportsNet – Montero: Pirates would be ‘stupid’ to think Arrieta, Cubs hit Kang on purpose
News and Notes
• The Cubs 27-8 start to the season is the best start through 35 games since the 1984 Tigers won 30 of their first 35 games (30-5).
• With Jake Arrieta completing eight innings Saturday, the Cubs have had a starting pitcher complete at least five innings in each of the team’s first 35 games. According to ESPN Chicago, the streak actually dates back to the end of last season. A Cubs’ starting pitcher has completed at least five innings in 43 straight regular season games.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Jake Arrieta, Cubs continue to own the Pirates.
• The Cubs have outscored their opponent 213-103 through 35 games … a plus-110 run differential. The Cubs lead the NL in runs scored and trail only the Red Sox (219) for the most runs scored in baseball. The Red Sox have played two more games than the Cubs.
• Joel Sherman explained how the Cubs brass turned players into true believers with one move.
• The Braves are the old Cubs and the new Cubs are the old Braves according to Bob Nightengale.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs signed free agent Blake Parker
2013 – Jeff Samardzija posted his first win since Opening Day and hit a home run off Jon Garland in a 6-3 victory over the Rockies.
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Mike MacDougal
1998 – Diamondbacks claimed Amaury Telemaco off waivers from the Cubs
1997 – Brian McRae, Doug Glanville and Sammy Sosa tripled in the seventh inning off Padres’ right hander Tim Scott. Jose Hernandez tripled in the fourth inning in a 8-2 win over San Diego at Wrigley Field.
1987 – Cubs acquired Mike Mason from the Rangers for a PTBNL. Cubs sent Dave Pavlas to the Rangers on June 6, 1987 to complete the deal.
1985 – Jim Adduci, born
1971 – Billy Williams hit the 300th home run of his career in a 6-4 win over San Diego. Ferguson Jenkins led the way with a complete game, his seventh in eight starts, and hit a two-run homer.
1964 – Cubs purchased Jack Spring from the Angels
1960 – Don Cardwell no-hit the Cardinals in his Cubs debut. The Cubs acquired Cardwell from the Phillies along with Ed Bouchee for Cal Neeman and Tony Taylor. Cardwell became the first pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter in his first game with his new team.
1956 – Cubs purchased Jim Hughes from the Dodgers
1950 – Cubs purchased Dick Manville from the Boston Braves for $2,500
1948 – Red Sox returned Johnny Ostrowski to the Cubs
1948 – Bill North, born
1943 – Cubs purchased Hal Peck from the Dodgers
1934 – Cubs selected Jim Weaver off waivers from the Yankees for $12,500
1931 – Ben Johnson, born
1926 – Fred Baczewski, born
1911 – Cubs traded Jack Pfiester to Louisville (American Association) for Reggie Richter
1907 – Ed Baecht, born
1888 – Steve Yerkes, born
1856 – Fred Goldsmith, born