The Cubs were unable to dig out of an early deficit Saturday night and dropped the middle game of the series to the Giants, 5-3. Jon Lester had his worst start of the season, and the offense could not string together any hits with runners on base. Kyle Hendricks faces Madison Bumgarner in the rubber game Sunday night (7:05pm CDT) on ESPN.
Jorge Soler followed up his best game of the season by getting on base twice, scoring a run and playing solid defense in left field that included throwing out a runner at second base trying to stretch a single to a double. It took replay to change the call on the field, but Soler put himself in position to make the play. Soler went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored Saturday while appearing focused throughout the game.
Joe Maddon raved about Soler’s performance the night before. Maddon pointed out that Soler was focused on all phases of the game. And Soler responded with another complete game, which has not been the case with the incredibly talented outfielder.
“I’m more worried about what he’s thinking, I swear, because physically he’s got all the gifts that God could bestow on a baseball player,” Joe Maddon said to Comcast SportsNet. “So now if we could really just get him to process the day properly, work every at-bat, work every trip around the bases, be prepared for every pitch defensively, this guy could be really, really good.”
“It’s nice to see George play a complete game,” Maddon told Patrick Mooney. “That’s what we’re looking for from all of our guys. We just don’t want hitters. We want guys that play a complete game.”
With Henry Blanco as his translator, Soler told the beat writers Saturday that he understands the message from Maddon and the coaching staff and that he’s “working hard” to give all he has on the field.
As Jon Heyman pointed out Saturday morning, if Jorge Soler plays like he did, which is a big if, the Cubs “could be historically good.”
Jason Heyward said Saturday that he is “very, very lucky” and that God looked out for him on Friday night when he crashed into the base of the wall in right center. Heyward saw the replay and admitted he was “fortunate” that he was able to get up and walk off the field.
Heyward avoided serious injury as the MRI showed no structural damage. Heyward suffered only a contusion (bruise) to his right side after the violent crash into the wall. The Cubs think Heyward will be back in the lineup after resting for three-five days and avoid the disabled list.
The Cubs missed Heyward’s presence in the lineup Saturday and will continue to do so until he returns, which will likely be at Wrigley on Friday for the opener of the three-game weekend series with the Phillies.
The Cubs will not rush Heyward back. While the timetable is three-five days, Heyward said Saturday he will not push it just to get back in the lineup and risk the injury lingering longer than it should.
The Cubs designated RHP Neil Ramirez for assignment Saturday to make room on the active roster for Matt Szczur. The Cubs had to add a position player to the active roster with Jason Heyward out of the lineup for at least three-five days with a bruised right side.
The Cubs decided to keep Tim Federowicz over Ramirez. And the decision raised a lot of question from the media and fan base. Ramirez will be claimed by a team, and the Cubs will lose a right-handed reliever with a big upside.
Ramirez is out of options, which means the Cubs could not stash him in the minors. And it’s not like it used to be, a team cannot put a player on the DL anymore with ‘an injury’ just to keep from losing him. The player has to agree to be placed on the disabled list.
ESPN Chicago explained why the Cubs sent out Neil Ramirez instead of risk losing Tim Federowicz or keeping Ramirez and instead of another pitcher like Clayton Richard.
If Neil Ramirez can build up his right shoulder and increase his velocity back to the upper-90s he had during the 2014 season, the organization that picks him up will have one heck of a reliever for the back of its bullpen.
Cubs-Cardinals Probable Pitchers
The Cubs fly to St. Louis following Sunday night’s game against the Giants. Three games at Busch Stadium against the Redbirds to wrap-up the difficult nine-game, three-city road trip. The Cubs and Cardinals posted the pitching matchups for the series.
The Cardinals have lined up Mike Matheny’s three best starters for the Cubs.
- Monday, May 23 (7:15pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Adam Wainwright
- Tuesday, May 24 (6:10pm CDT) – RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Michael Wacha
- Wednesday, May 25 (12:45pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. RHP Carlos Martinez
Gerardo Concepcion completed 1 2/3 innings Saturday night in Tacoma in relief of Alex Sanabia. Concepcion gave up a hit, walked a batter and struck out one of the five he faced. Concepcion made 21 pitches, 11 for strikes. Willson Contreras threw out Boog Powell on the bases to end the sixth inning.
Concepcion has appeared in three games for the I-Cubs and has not allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings. Concepcion has surrendered two hits and walked three while striking out four with the I-Cubs.
In 13 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, the lefty has not given up a run this season. Concepcion has allowed seven hits and seven walks. And in 23 1/3 innings, Concepcion has 21 strikeouts.
News and Notes
• According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs learn what can happen when Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester each struggle.
• The Sun-Times reported the historic streak for Cubs rotation ends in 5-3 loss to Giants.
• ESPN Chicago reported Cubs fall to Giants as Jon Lester ends impressive starting streak.
• INF Andrew Ely had his second four-hit game in 10 days for the now first place Low-A South Bend Cubs on Saturday. Ely is batting .327/.390/.439 with six doubles and two home runs for a .829 OPS. Ely has a seven-game hitting streak and has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games.
• Three Cubs prospects (Bijan Rademacher, Chesny Young, P.J. Higgins) are among the top K% – BB% for minor league hitters. Rademacher and Young are at the top of list provided by Keith Law.
• Prior to Saturday’s games, the Cubs minor league system had the 10th highest winning percentage in baseball.
• Jeff Samardzija is a Bay Area guy now, but still is never far from home according to ESPN Chicago.
• Cubs players received Joe Maddon’s new t-shirt ‘If You Look Hot Wear It’ before Saturday night’s game.
This Day in Cubstory
2006 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Blake Lalli
1990 – Andre Dawson was walked five times intentionally in a 2-1 win over the Reds in 16 innings at Wrigley Field. Dawson set the Major League record for intentional walks in a single game surpassing Roger Maris’ record (4) set in on May 22, 1962 and tied by Garry Templeton in 1985.
1989 – Drake Britton, born
1987 – Jaye Chapman, born
1986 – Rebel Ridling, born
1985 – Pete Rose became the All-Time Leader in National League history for runs scored. Rose crossed the plate for the 2,108th time in a 7-4 Cubs win over the Reds at Wrigley Field
1983 – Cubs traded Willie Hernandez to the Phillies for Dick Ruthven and Bill Johnson
1980 – Chad Tracy, born
1973 – Julian Tavarez, born
1968 – At Wrigley Field, Willie Stargell hit three home runs and just missed a fourth in a 13-6 victory over the Cubs. Stargell also hit a single and a double that afternoon in the Pirates victory.
1967 – White Sox purchased Jimmy Stewart from the Cubs
1925 – Cubs traded a player to be named later to the Brooklyn Dodgers to Tommy Griffith. The Cubs sent Bob Barrett to the Robins as the PTBNL
1920 – The Brooklyn Robbins purchased Bill McCabe from the Cubs
1905 – The Reds purchased Shad Berry from the Cubs