In case you haven’t noticed, Jorge Soler has been playing really good ball. And he had a big game Friday in the Cubs 6-2 win over the Phillies. Soler knocked in the game’s first run with a two-out single in the first inning. With the game tied at one in the fourth, Soler unloaded on a 1-2 pitch from lefty Adam Morgan and hit the longest homer of the season to date by any player at Wrigley Field.
Soler dented the left field video board, joining Kris Bryant as only the second player to hit the video board during a game. The ball would have easily landed on Waveland if the video board did not stop its flight.
Jorge Soler’s home run was projected at 461 feet, the longest homer by a Cubs player this season by 20 feet according to Daren Willman, with an exit velocity of 108.3 mph. Soler’s shot was the longest at Wrigley Field this season, by any player, and was the longest homer he’s ever hit in the big leagues. ESPN Stats & Info indicated before Friday, Soler’s biggest blast traveled 438 feet.
Soler ended up 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Over his last seven games, Soler is 7-for-21 with three home runs and four walks for a .333/.462/.810 slash line. And in the last 14 days, Soler has hit .346/.452/.769 with two doubles and three home runs for a 1.221 OPS.
For the season, Soler is batting .214/.308/.384 with four doubles and five home runs for a .692 OPS.
Seven days after putting together his most-complete regular season game in the majors, Jorge Soler put on a power display at Wrigley. What does he have in store for the next week?
Kris Bryant made his second career start at first base on Friday afternoon. Joe Maddon used Bryant at first base to give Anthony Rizzo a majority of the day off. Bryant ended up finishing the game in left field when Rizzo entered the game at first base in the ninth inning.
Bryant has now started games this season at four different positions … third base, first base, left and right field.
Kris Bryant hit another towering, tape-measure blast Friday, a solo shot onto Waveland in the fifth inning. Bryant went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk in four plate appearances. And he’s quickly and quietly moving up the leaderboard in several offensive categories in the NL. Bryant is tied for seventh in home runs (11), tied for first in RBI (36).
Bruce Levine explained how Bryant is the man for all positions for the Cubs.
Ben Zobrist extended his hitting streak to 13 games on Friday afternoon. Zobrist doubled in the first inning and scored on a two-out single from Jorge Soler. Zobrist’s double was the 1,200th hit of his career, quite the achievement.
After a 2-for-4 day at the plate with a double and a run scored, Zobrist is now hitting .350/.454/.525 with 10 doubles, six home runs and a .979 OPS. Zobrist has 32 walks with 19 strikeouts in 160 at-bats.
Anthony Rizzo was not in the starting lineup Friday for the first time this season. Joe Maddon gave Rizzo a break, but not a full day off. Rizzo entered the game in the ninth inning at first base before the second rain delay. After play resumed, Rizzo started the 3-6-1 game ending double play.
Rizzo started each of the Cubs first 45 games and played 399 1/3 innings of a possible 407 1/3 innings according to Comcast SportsNet.
Rizzo needed a break and with the lefty on the hill for the Phillies, Maddon thought it would help get Rizzo back on track at the plate with a “mini All-Star break.” Rizzo basically got two days off with the Cubs not playing Thursday.
Rizzo was 3-for-35 during the nine-game road trip and he’s not hitting left-handed pitching this season. Rizzo’s last extra basehit was May 14.
Cubs Minor League Catchers
There was a lot of movement Friday with the catchers in the Cubs system.
An injury to Taylor Davis caused a flurry of moves. Davis was placed on the disabled list with an injury to his left hand. X-rays were negative and showed no fracture.
David Freitas was moved from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa and will slide into the role Davis had on the Iowa Cubs’ roster. Freitas will catch on days Willson Contreras is getting a breather behind the plate.
MLB Rules Changes
From the better late than never department, Jayson Stark reported last week the MLB competition committee agreed to make changes to the strike zone and intentional walks. And the changes could be in place by next season.
According to Stark, the competition committee “agreed on a motion to effectively raise the lower part of the strike zone to the top of the hitter’s knees.” Under the current rules, the strike zone is supposed to begin “at the hollow beneath the kneecap.” Stark explained the change in the rule “is in reaction to a trend by umpires to call strikes on an increasing number of pitches below the knees.”
The other significant change would be to the process of intentionally walking a batter. Instead of a pitcher throwing four balls out of the strike zone, typically to his catcher standing and receiving the ball in the opposite batter’s box, “a team could signify it wants to issue an intentional walk, and the hitter would be immediately sent to first base.” In other words, a pitcher could just point to the batter and signal to take first base.
The rules changes “can’t go into effect unless they are approved by baseball’s rules committee.” The changes would also be included in the negotiation with the MLBPA on the new CBA. The MLBPA, Stark explained, would not have to “sign off on the changes” for the rules changes to be put in place.
Commissioner Rob Manfred thinks removing the traditional intentional walk would help with pace of play and pace of action and help “eliminate dead time.” The change to the strike zone would be to increase offense and game action with more balls in play.
News and Notes
• Comcast SportsNet – ‘Yay me!’: Cubs celebrate David Ross’ 100th career homer
• According to CBS Chicago’s Chris Emma, David Ross will remember his 100th home run. Ross’ 100th homer was cause for celebration for all but the Phillies according to the Tribune. And hitting his 100th home run was special for David Ross and the Cubs according to ESPN Chicago.
• The Tribune reported on sports’ cruel injury and the long road back from an ACL tear.
And last, but not least, a must-read from Peter Gammons. The Hall of Famer looked back at the 2011 MLB Draft, five years later and the connection to the Chicago Cubs.
This Day in Cubstory
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Jason Dubois
2006 – The Braves set a new club record in an 11 inning game at Wrigley Field. Atlanta hit eight home runs in the 13-12 victory over the Cubs … Marcus Giles, Andruw Jones, Ryan Langerhans, Adam LaRoche (2), Brayan Pena and Edgar Renteria (2) hit the longballs.
2005 – Cubs traded LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants for David Aardsma and Jerome Williams
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Joey Dawley
2004 – Matt Clement became the 21st big league pitcher and the first Cubs pitcher in over a century to hit three batters in one inning. Clement hit Bobby Hill, Jason Kendall and Craig Wilson in the fifth inning. The Cubs lost the first game of a doubleheader to the Pirates 5-4 at PNC Park.
The doubleheader against the Pirates at PNC in 2004 is remembered as Rob Mackowiak day. His wife gave birth to their son in the morning, Mackowiak hit a walk-off grand slam in the first game of the doubleheader and he tied the second game in the ninth with a two-run homer.
1990 – Tigers signed free agent Jody Davis
1989 – Shane Farrell, born
1988 – Justin Bour, born
1985 – Cubs signed free agent Larry Gura
1983 – Cory Wade, born
1977 – Cubs traded Ramon Hernandez to the Red Sox for Bobby Darwin
1977 – Cubs moved into first place with a 6-3 victory over the Pirates. Bruce Sutter picked up the save after tossing three scoreless innings.
1969 – The day after Todd Hundley was born, Randy Hundley hit a grand slam and a double in the Cubs 9-8 victory over the Giants. ‘The Rebel’ drove in five runs at Candlestick Park.
1966 – Cubs traded Ted Abernathy to the Braves for Lee Thomas
1930 – Grover Cleveland Alexander called it a career after a relief appearance with the Phillies. ‘Old Pete’ was 128-83 in nine seasons with the Cubs (1918-1926) with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Alexander pitched 1884 1/3 innings in 242 games (224 starts) for the Cubs with 158 complete games … that is 7.78 innings per appearance during his nine seasons with the Cubs.
1925 – Cubs scored 12 runs in the seventh inning on 11 hits en route to a 13-3 win over the Reds in Cincinnati. In the 12-run inning, Barney Friberg doubled and tripled, Charlie Grimm singled and doubled and Wilbur Cooper, the Cubs pitcher, collected two singles.
1914 – Larry Cheney went 13 innings as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 4-3 in 16 innings in Chicago. George Pearce was the winning pitcher in relief of Cheney.
1892 – Jimmy Ryan walked five times and helped the Colts beat the Giants 10-4.