For the first time this season, the Cubs lost their fourth straight game Thursday night. As was the case in two of the three games in the previous series, the Cubs had the tying and go ahead runs on base in the ninth inning. The Cubs have not been able to come up with the clutch hits that were seemingly so easy early in the season.
Anyone that has watched this team found out in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game just how bad Anthony Rizzo’s back is bothering him.
After David Ross walked to load the bases with one out, Joe Maddon sent up Chris Coghlan and not Anthony Rizzo to hit for Pedro Strop. Coghlan put together a good at bat before he struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. If Rizzo could have swung a bat, that’s a spot he would have been used.
Anthony Rizzo left Wednesday’s game after Joe Maddon noticed he was favoring his back on two plays in the field. Rizzo downplayed the injury after the game and said he would have stayed in had the score been a little closer than it was at the time. Maddon said Rizzo was day-to-day. Rizzo did not think he would miss any time.
Rizzo talked to Maddon on Thursday morning and said his back wasn’t any better and that he would be getting treatment. Rizzo told the beat writers Thursday that his “back problem is different than what he felt earlier this year.”
According to the Sun-Times, Rizzo is trying to be “smart and cautious” with the back injury and “doesn’t anticipate lengthy absence.” Rizzo did not give a timeline on when he thought he would return to the lineup.
Joe Maddon maintained Thursday that Rizzo is day-to-day and he doesn’t believe the injury is anything significant “other than stiffness.”
Anthony Rizzo is putting up MVP-caliber numbers this season and over his last 19 games he has a .391/.474/.750 slash line with five doubles and six home runs for a 1.224 OPS.
While the tightness Rizzo is dealing with in his back is impacting games right now, the Cubs must get him right. The Cubs have a nine-game lead in the division and it would be better for him to miss games now than in August or September.
The Cubs dropped their fourth straight game Thursday night, the first time since the NLCS the Cubs lost four in a row. The Cubs are 2-for-22 with RISP and have left 26 runners on base in the last four games. And not only is the offense struggling, the bullpen is not holding up their end of the deal. Over the last eight games, the pen has an ERA of 5.40 and has given up 20 hits with 10 walks in the last 25 innings.
The Cubs are not blaming injuries or the inexperienced lineup for first four-game losing streak of the season. Anyone watching the games can tell there is big difference and without Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler and with Ben Zobrist in a slump. Right now, the lineup is far from the days of being ‘relentless.’
Here are the post-game reports and recap from Thursday …
- CCO – Cubs Offense Stuck in a Funk
- The Sun-Times – As injuries pile up, so do losses for scoring sapped Cubs
- The Tribune – Growing pains catching up to Cubs in fourth consecutive loss
- ESPN Chicago – The end result is the same lately no matter where you watch the Cubs
- Comcast SportsNet – Cubs fall to Marlins late, lose fourth straight for first time this season
Jon Lester told the Sun-Times, “We’ve got to grind through this tough time. This is … I don’t want to say make or break. It’s definitely not going to make or break our season. But at the same time, we’ve got to get through this point and get these guys back healthy because these are the guys that have gotten us here and these are the guys that are going to get us where we want to go.”
RHP Adam Warren reported to Triple-A Iowa and will make his first start Saturday in Oklahoma City. Iowa begins nine-game road trip Saturday with the first of five against the Oklahoma City Dodgers
Warren is supposed to make two starts for the I-Cubs. According to the Sun-Times, Warren will be recalled and start one of the games on the next homestand (July 4-7) against either the Reds or Braves. Warren could also make another start after the break. The Cubs will use a six-man rotation at least once before the break in order to give the starting five an extra day during a stretch of 24 games in 24 days.
The Cubs have not worked out the specifics for the rotation out of the break. Based on Joe Maddon’s comments, the Cubs are leaning toward starting Warren at least one time through the rotation.
Adam Warren told the Des Moines Register he had “mixed feelings” about being sent to Iowa. Warren said he felt like it was a demotion, which it was, but there is a purpose for him going back to the minors and he knows he will be back up soon.
The Cubs have given him specific things to work on, mostly his fastball command, while he is being stretched out so he can be used in a starting role.
Pierce Johnson was placed on the disabled list Thursday. Johnson was forced to leave his last start with a blister on his pitching hand. Johnson landed on the DL with a blister issue and another non-arm related injury.
This is the third trip to the disabled list for Johnson this season.
Iowa skipper Marty Pevey talked to the Des Moines Register about the bad luck Johnson is dealing with this season and seemingly throughout his career.
Johnson is 1-3 in six starts this season with a 5.63 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. Johnson has allowed 16 runs, 15 earned, on 26 hits with 13 walks and 23 strikeouts in 24 innings.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to the Sun-Times, Justin Grimm will not be used in high-leverage situations for a little while. Joe Maddon said Thursday that Grimm will get “a little breathing room right now and just try to get him back at the right time.” Grimm’s velocity is down two-three mph and Maddon said they are working on his command of the breaking ball.
• Comcast SportsNet reported that while waiting for buy-or-sell signals from the Yankees, the Cubs will get a look at Gerardo Concepcion. According to the Sun-Times, Concepcion made strong first impression. And Gerardo Concepcion provided promise in his Major League debut according to the Tribune.
• The Tribune reported veterans David Ross and Joe Nathan provide hope for Cubs’ second-half surge.
• A little Cubs losing streak? The Sun-Times reported it’s no big deal … probably.
• Tommy La Stella made the trip to Miami with the Cubs and will continue his rehab with the team through the weekend. According to Mark Gonzales, La Stella “could be sent to an affiliate on rehab assignment as soon as Monday if he progresses.”
• ESPN Chicago explained what we learned about the Cubs from the three series with the Nationals, Pirates and Cardinals.
• Comcast SportsNet reported John Lackey’s presence could be x-factor in Cubs-Cardinals battle.
• RHP Aaron Brooks had a good outing Thursday for Iowa. After struggling in his first two rehab starts, Brooks tossed three scoreless innings and allowed two hits and did not walk a batter. Brooks struck out one. In three games with the I-Cubs, Brooks has allowed 11 runs, 10 earned, on 13 hits with four walks and five strikeouts in nine innings (10.00 ERA, 1.89 WHIP).
• According to Jon Heyman, former Cubs’ reliever and Braves’ closer Arodys Vizcaino is “drawing intense interest.” With all due respect to Mr. Heyman and the excellent job he does on a daily basis, the package of players he proposed the Cubs should trade to Atlanta to reacquire Vizcaino and Alexi Ogando would be a horrible deal and one this front office would hopefully not even consider. Heyman posted eight dream trade scenarios and one of the eight was the Cubs sending Jorge Soler, Dan Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario to the Braves for Vizcaino and Ogando. That deal would be a dream for the Braves … and one that would turn out to be a nightmare for the Cubs.
• Andy Sonnanstine, a one-time Cubs option in Spring Training, is attempting a comeback as a knuckleballer according to Hardball Talk.
• The Indians are interested in trading for the Reds’ Jay Bruce. But the veteran outfielder added the Tribe to his no-trade list in the off-season. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Indians have an obstacle to clear if they want Jay Bruce.
• Major League Baseball announced Thursday the All-Star Selection Show is set for Tuesday, July 5 at 6:00pm CDT and will be carried on ESPN.
This Day in Cubstory
2003 – Cubs pounded six home runs in a 9-1 win over the Brewers. Kerry Wood, Mark Grudzielanek and Alex Gonzalez went back-to-back-to-back in the sixth inning. It was the ninth time in team history the Cubs hit three home runs in a row.
1983 – Jeremy Papelbon, born
1980 – Cubs released Steve Ontiveros
1951 – Ken Reitz, born
1930 – In the Cubs 6-1 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field, Hack Wilson fouled a pitch into the stands. The ball was caught by 17-year old Arthur Porto. Porto was confronted by an usher who told him the Cubs could not “afford to let the customers walk off with their baseballs” and demanded the return of the baseball. Porto and two friends argued and were arrested by stadium security and charged with disorderly conduct. In court the next day, the judge issued a landmark decision and ruled that a ball hit into the stands belongs “to the boy who grabs it.” The charges were dismissed.
1915 – Heine Zimmerman stole home with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 14-13 at West Side Grounds. The Cubs trailed 13-10 going into the ninth. Zimmerman drove in the tying runs with a pinch-hit double.
1907 – The Cubs traded Newt Randall and Bill Sweeney to the Boston Doves for Del Howard
1905 – Ed Reulbach went the distance in a Cubs 2-1 victory over the Cardinals and Jack Taylor 2-1 in 18 innings. Frank Chance had 27 putouts and two assists for the Cubs in St. Louis
1885 – John Clarkson won his 13th game in a row and the Cubs won their 18th straight with a 12-2 victory over the Phillies at West Side Park.