The Cubs improved to a Major League best 18-6 record on Monday night with the 7-2 victory over the Pirates. The Cubs are one of three teams in the majors with 18 wins on the season, the .750 winning percentage is tops in baseball.
This is the first time the Cubs have been 18-6 or better after 24 games since 1907 (20-4). The Cubs run differential through 24 games is plus-83, the fourth highest run differential after 24 games in the Modern era (since 1900). And with Monday night’s win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs are now 20-3 over the last 23 road games dating back to second game of doubleheader with the Pirates on Sept. 15.
Joe Maddon has his team playing good ball. Players are stepping up when called on. With that said, the Cubs depth is being tested and injuries to Jason Heyward and Matt Szczur could force a roster move or two before Tuesday’s game.
With Miguel Montero out until at least May 10, the Cubs found out Sunday that Jason Heyward has been dealing with a sore right wrist since the first week of the season. Heyward said he felt something in his wrist during the series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks (April 7-10). Heyward tried to play through it but decided to say something to Joe Maddon on Sunday night. Heyward was in Monday’s starting lineup before Maddon went a different direction.
Heyward is expected to sit out Tuesday’s game. The Cubs are targeting his return for Wednesday and are hoping the rest and treatment will get him past the nagging injury. Heyward is officially listed as day-to-day. Heyward will be available off the bench Tuesday.
Matt Szczur has excelled in a backup role this season. Szczur is batting .367/.441/.600 with a double and two home runs for a 1.041 OPS in 30 at bats over 21 games. Szczur started Monday in right field in place of Heyward.
Szczur left Monday’s game with a tight right hamstring. Szczur felt the discomfort running the bases in the fifth inning, specifically running down the third baseline on a play he eventually scored on. Szczur is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. According to the Sun-Times, Szczur doesn’t feel the injury is significant but the Cubs were exploring options to bring in a player.
If a roster move is made, Munenori Kawasaki will likely be recalled for now from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs do not have another outfielder on the 40-man roster and would have to clear a spot to call up a non-roster player from the minors.
The Cubs are showing up on a daily basis focused on the task at hand and the results have been there through 24 games. With that said, injuries are an unfortunate part of the game and even the best teams can only absorb so much. The Cubs could really use a breather from the injuries and get the roster back to as close to 100 percent as possible.
Monday’s Post-Game Reports
The opener of the series with the Pirates picked up where the two teams left off last season. The Pirates took exception to Jason Hammel hitting Starling Marte and went after Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning. The Pirates are a very good team and will be in the thick of the division race and for a spot in the post-season all year. Chances are, Monday is just the first time the division rivals will exchange pleasantries this season.
Here are the recaps and post-game reports from Monday:
- CCO Recap – Cubs Keep the Pressure On, Take Opener from Pirates
- Comcast SportsNet – Joe Maddon Vents Frustrations with Tensions Already Rising in Cubs vs. Pirates
- ESPN Chicago – Cubs chase Gerrit Cole with timely hits in series-opening win
- ESPN Chicago – Cubs, Pirates pick up heated rivalry where it left off last season
- The Sun-Times – Cubs in Pirates’ heads? Come on, it’s only May
- The Tribune – Tension continues in Cubs’ rivalry with Pirates during 7-2 victory
- The Tribune – As next big thing, Cubs in shoes that Pirates once wore
The Cubs have not announced the makeup date with the Brewers from the rainout last Wednesday (April 27) at Wrigley Field. But according to the Brewers, the game will be made up on Aug. 16.
The Brewers posted Monday the game from April 27 will be played as a split, day-night doubleheader on Aug. 16. Game one is scheduled for 12:20pm CDT first pitch, and the night cap has a 7:05pm CDT scheduled first pitch.
The Cubs had a nine-game homestand scheduled with the Angels (Aug. 9-10), Cardinals (Aug. 11-14) and Brewers (Aug. 16-18) before a difficult West Coast trip to Colorado (Aug. 19-21), San Diego (Aug. 22-24) and Los Angeles (Aug. 26-28).
Making up the Brewers game on Aug. 16 would allow the Cubs to bring up a starting pitcher for one of the games and would turn the nine-game homestand into 10 games in 10 days. Monday, Aug. 15 is a scheduled off-day.
The Cubs are expected to make up the rainout with the Braves from April 30 on July 7.
Again, the Cubs have not announced either make-up date.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon called the zany suit trip one of his best according to ESPN Chicago.
• Jake Arrieta is a wild card in budding Cubs-Pirates rivalry according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Len Kasper answered questions from Twitter for ESPN Chicago. And Kasper pointed out before Monday’s game, the Cubs are the top defensive team in baseball according to FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.
• Jason Hammel gave up his first home run of the season on Monday night, an opposite field shot by Andrew McCutchen in the first inning. Hammel faced 94 batters without allowing a home run, which was the highest in the National League according to Christopher Kamka.
• Dexter Fowler has reached base three of more times in 41 of the 179 games he’s played with the Cubs.
• Cubs starting pitchers have allowed 43 runs, 40 earned, on 112 hits with 40 walks and 138 strikeouts for a 2.31 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Cubs rotation is second in NL in ERA (2.31), first in WHIP (0.98), first in hits allowed (112), second in runs allowed (43), tied for second in walks (40) and tied for fifth in strikeouts (138).
• The Indians signed C Luke Carlin to a minor league contract according to Baseball America.
• Dodgers’ relief pitcher Josh Ravin was suspended 80 games Monday for testing positive for PEDs. And more names could surface this week according to a report from Peter Gammons.
• Major League Baseball won’t investigate the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez according to the Score.
• The Atlanta Braves made a ton of roster moves before Monday’s game … well, actually it was seven roster moves that included designating OF Drew Stubbs for assignment.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs signed free agent Felipe Paulino
2015 – Cubs selected Anthony Varvaro off waivers from the Red Sox
2014 – Jon Lester set a career-high in strikeouts in a 6-3 victory over Oakland. Lester struck out 15 batters in route to the win.
2012 – Ryan Dempster and Homer Bailey squared off against one another in Cincinnati. It’s believed to be the first time in Major League history that opposing starting pitchers are born on the same day. Dempster pitched eight shutout innings, but the Cubs lost 4-3.
2009 – Cubs released Luis Vizcanio
2008 – Cubs released Jesse Garcia
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Travis Phelps
2002 – Rockies purchased Jorge Piedra from the Cubs
1986 – Ron Cey hit his 300th and 301st homers of his career in a 6-5 Cubs victory over the Giants. The Cubs scored four runs in the top of the ninth.
1979 – Cubs acquired Doug Capilla from the Reds for a PTBNL. Cubs sent Mark Gilbert to the Reds on Oct. 12, 1979 to complete the trade.
1977 – Ryan Dempster, born
1963 – Joe Kmak, born
1945 – Davey Lopes, born
1938 – Chris Cannizzaro, born
1931 – Billy Jurges made his Major League debut. Jurges replaced Les Bell at third base late in the game and went 0-for-1 at the plate. The Cubs beat the Reds 13-1 behind home runs by Les Bell and Hack Wilson. Kiki Cuyler and Rogers Hornsby each collected three hits.
1902 – Ralph Michaels, born
1896 – Chicago National League Ball Club hit nine triples in the same dame … Bill Dahlen collected three of the nine three baggers in a 16-7 win over St. Louis. An overflow crowd of 17,231 at West Side Grounds caused the umpire to rule any ball hit into the crowd would be a ground rule triple.
1876 – Frank Morrissey, born
1870 – John Hollison, born
1854 – George Gore, born