The Cubs won for the 11th time in 13 games Monday night behind Jon Lester. The Cubs built, what appeared to be a comfortable lead, and held on for a 6-4 win over the Phillies. The Cubs improved to 40-16 on the season, 24 games over .500. And the Cubs became the first team to 40 wins this year.
The Cubs are actually the fastest team to reach 40 wins since Lou Piniella’s Mariners. The Cubs are on pace for 116 wins, which would tie them for the all-time record. The 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners hold the record. The 1906 Cubs posted a 116-36 record and the 2001 Mariners were 116-46.
The Cubs are 40-16 after 56 games and have a 10-game lead in the division over the Pirates, 10 ½ games in front of the third place Cardinals. Joe Maddon’s team has scored 303 runs and allowed 160, that’s a plus-143 run differential.
Post-Game Reports and Recap
The Cubs started the nine-game, three-city road trip with a win. With that said the ninth inning was a little uncomfortable but proved once again that a team has to play all nine innings in hitter friendly ballparks.
Here are the post-game reports and recap from Monday:
- CCO – Lester Tosses Eight Shutout Innings, Cubs Hang On to Beat the Phillies
- The Sun-Times – Lester bottles up Phillies, quiets hostile crown as Cubs win
- The Tribune – Jon Lester brilliant as Cubs win but face prospect of losing Jorge Soler
- Comcast SportsNet – Jon Lester, the right Cubs free agent at the right time, takes care of business against the Phillies
- ESPN – Cubs lefty Jon Lester knows not to argue with Joe Maddon
Jon Lester turned in another excellent start Monday night and had enough left in the tank to at least start the ninth inning. Lester had a four-hit shutout and needed only 95 pitches, 63 for strikes, to complete eight innings. Lester was fine with going back out for the ninth.
Joe Maddon decided to go to his bullpen with a 6-0 lead. Maddon thought it was a good time to shorten up Lester after the lefty made 113 pitches against the Dodgers.
“There’s two things you’re looking at there,” Maddon said. “Is the shutout that important? That would be a personal goal as opposed to a team goal. The team goal for me was to not have Jon throw many more pitches after 113 his last time out … and have him spiffy the next time he goes out. It was really an easy decision there.”
“I told Joe I was fine. But I also told him that he’s the manager,” Lester said. “I’ve tried before with him, but I think I’ve won maybe once in two years. When he shakes my hand, I know it’s pretty much done, so there’s no point in arguing. Like I’ve always said, the manager makes those decisions. The players don’t.”
Jon Lester, according to Christopher Kamka, became the first Cubs’ left-hander to “strikeout nine without a walk in consecutive starts in the Modern era (since 1900).”
Lester improved to 7-3 with a 2.06 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. In 12 starts, 78 2/3 innings, Lester has allowed 19 runs, 18 earned, on 59 hits with 17 walks and 78 strikeouts.
Jorge Soler had to leave Monday’s game after a single to left, his second hit of the game. Soler made an excellent catch in the first inning at the wall to take at least extra bases away from Tommy Joseph.
Soler said he injured his left hamstring two steps before first base. The injury was noticeable as he rounded the bag. P.J. Mainville and Joe Maddon checked on Soler. As soon as Maddon heard it was his hamstring he was coming out of the game.
This is the latest in a series of leg injuries for Soler. Soler missed significant time last season with a left ankle sprain (around five weeks) and left oblique strain (four weeks).
With Henry Blanco as his translator, Soler said “It’s not too serious compared with the other before, but I want to wait for the MRI.” Soler is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine severity of injury.
If Soler has to be placed on the DL, Matt Murton and Albert Almora Jr. are candidates to replace him on the active roster according to multiple reports.
The Cubs would have to add Murton or Almora Jr. to the 40-man roster. The Cubs do not have another true outfielder on the 40-man roster.
Albert Almora Jr.
According to multiple reports, if the Cubs have to place Jorge Soler on the disabled list, Albert Almora Jr. is a candidate to replace him on the active roster.
Comcast SportsNet reported the Cubs are not in a hurry to promote Almora Jr. Joe Maddon said following Monday’s game that Almora Jr. should be in the conversation if the Cubs need to add an outfielder.
The Des Moines Register reported it “sounds like Albert Almora Jr. is a pretty legit candidate to go up if Chicago has to make a move.” Late Monday night, the Des Moines Register added “look for Albert Almora Jr. to be the guy to go up” if Soler is placed on the DL.
Almora Jr. has been ready for the big leagues defensively and he has seen time in the corner outfield spots this season. Offensively, Almora Jr. is hitting .318/.335/.444 with 12 doubles, three triples and three home runs for a .779 OPS. Almora Jr. walked Sunday for the first time since the end of April. And questions remain if he is ready to handle big league pitching.
Updated 8:32am CDT – According to the Des Moines Register, Albert Almora Jr. will not be with the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday. The Des Moines Register is unclear if Almora Jr. has been called up or not and explained “if Soler goes on the DL, Almora Jr. will be there and ready.” If Soler is not placed on the disabled list, Almora Jr. will return to Des Moines.
There was good news and not-so-good news out of Principal Park on Monday night.
Willson Contreras extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Contreras went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in Iowa’s 6-2 loss to Memphis. Contreras had a rough night behind the plate. The Redbirds stole three bases, two against Contreras. And Contreras committed a throwing error and had a passed ball.
Contreras had to leave the game due to injury in the eighth inning.
Iowa manager Marty Pevey told the Des Moines Register after the game that Contreras was being examined for a foot injury. Pevey hoped it was just a cramp.
“It’s an instep, it’s the arch in his foot,” Pevey said to the Des Moines Register. “He had the same thing last year at the All-Star Game and it was better the next day. So, hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
Willson Contreras will see a doctor Tuesday morning according to the report.
Iowa has an early start Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 12:08pm CDT. There will be a lot of interest in the I-Cubs’ starting lineup.
Updated 9:41am CDT – According to the Des Moines Register, the Cubs received good news on Willson Contreras on Tuesday morning. Marty Pevey does not expect Contreras to be placed on the DL. Contreras will get Tuesday off and will benefit from the extra time with Wednesday’s off-day. Contreras is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday.
News and Notes
• FanGraphs examined Jake Arrieta’s dominant, dreadful start.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Charles Barkley and Joe Maddon understand Ryan Howard’s frustration with Philly fans.
• The Sun-Times reported Kris Bryant moved on from grievance to bigger and better things. According to the report the grievance is still pending.
• ESPN Chicago took a look at the Cubs’ record pace and some surprising reasons for it.
• Ben Zobrist has only swung and missed 138 times since the start of last season according to Daren Willman.
• Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are the third pair of Cubs’ teammates to reach 40 RBI through 55 games since 1980 joining Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace (1995) and Leon Durham and Jody Davis (1984).
• The Cubs have been hit by the most pitches in the majors this season. According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs have been plunked 39 times … the Pirates are second with 36 HBP.
• According to Joel Sherman, Theo Epstein is a Hall-caliber Executive, but even he makes mistakes and two of his biggest made news this week. The Marlins released RHP Edwin Jackson and the Dodgers designated OF Carl Crawford for assignment.
• Neil Ramirez’s second appearance with the Brewers did not go as well as the first. Neil Ramirez was charged with two runs on two hits (two home runs) with no walks and one strikeout in two-thirds of an inning. Jimmy Paredes and Cameron Rupp took Ramirez deep in an 8-1 loss to the Phillies. Ramirez has allowed two runs on two hits with no walks and three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings with the Brewers (10.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
• RHP Daniel Bard signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals according to Baseball America.
• The Nationals optioned INF Trea Turner to Triple-A Syracuse and reinstated 1B Ryan Zimmerman from the paternity list. Dusty Baker started Turner in one game and used him off the bench in a second game during the call-up. Turner went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk in his first game up on Friday. Baker used him as a pinch-runner the next day and not at all on Sunday. Turner was optioned out Monday … and unless there is an injury, the Cubs will not have to deal with the dynamic player next week thanks to Baker’s unwillingness to play him at short over Danny Espinosa.
• The Cardinals optioned 2B Kolten Wong to Triple-A Memphis on Monday. Wong has struggled at the plate and the Cardinals decided it was a better for him to be in the minors right now. Jhonny Peralta will be activated Tuesday and play third base. Aledmys Diaz will play short and Matt Carpenter will play second base for now. Wong was hitting .222/.306/.286 with a double, two triples and a home run for a .591 OPS. The Cardinals offense might be better but their defense just took big steps backward. The decision weakened two positions significantly (second and third base).
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs released Daniel Schlereth
2012 – Starlin Castro became the 28th player to collect 500 hits before the age of 23 with a two-out single off A.J. Burnett in the fifth inning of a Cubs 12-2 victory over the Pirates at PNC. The 22-year, 167 day old Cubs shortstop reached the milestone in his 421st game.
2011 – Cubs selected Rafael Lopez in the 16th round of the draft
2010 – Carlos Silva improved to 8-0 on the season, best start to a year for a Cubs pitcher since Ken Holtzman went 9-0 in 1967
2007 – Cubs selected Josh Vitters in the first round (third overall pick) of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Josh Donaldson in the sandwich round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Darwin Barney in the fourth round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Brandon Guyer in the fifth round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected James Russell in the 14th round of the draft
2007 – Cubs selected Andrew Cashner in the 29th round of the draft, player did not sign
2005 – Cubs selected Donnie Veal in the second round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Mitch Atkins in the seventh round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Eric Patterson in the eighth round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Sam Fuld in the 10th round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Sean Gallagher in the 12th round of the draft
2004 – Cubs selected Jerry Blevins in the 17th round of the draft
2003 – Kerry Wood beat Rogers Clemens and the Yankees at Wrigley Field
2002 – Cubs signed Ryan O’Malley
2001 – Cubs completed three-game sweep of the Cardinals and posted their 15th win in 16 games for the first time since 1945. The Cubs took a five-game lead in the division.
1998 – After winning six in a row over Atlanta (three games) and Florida (three games), the Cubs completed a three-game sweep over the White Sox. First time since 1918 the Cubs swept three straight series.
1985 – Cubs move into first place with a 1-0 victory over the Pirates. Rick Sutcliffe picked up the win. Jody Davis hit a solo home run
1984 – Justin Berg, born
1982 – Cubs selected Shawon Dunston in the first round (first overall pick) of the draft
1982 – Cubs selected Gary Varsho in the fifth round of the draft
1980 – Cubs signed Henry Cotto
1977 – Cubs selected Randy Martz in the first round (12th overall pick) of the draft
1977 – Cubs selected Terry Francona in the second round of the draft, player did not sign
1977 – Cubs selected Dan Rohn in the fourth round of the draft
1968 – Cubs selected Paul Reuschel in the fourth round of the draft
1968 – Cubs selected Oscar Gamble in the 16th round of the draft
1966 – Heathcliff Slocumb, born
1966 – Cubs selected Joe Niekro in the third round of the draft
1966 – Cubs selected Rich Nye in the 14th round of the draft
1966 – Cubs selected Bill Stoneman in the 31st round of the draft
1950 – Cubs acquired Ron Northey from the Reds for Bob Scheffing
1948 – Cubs selected Gene Mauch off waivers from the Dodgers
1945 – George Mitterwald, born
1944 – Frank Reberger, born
1926 – The Cubs traded outfielder Joe Munson, infielder Maurice Shannon and cash to Indianapolis for infielder Henry Schreiber and outfielder Riggs Stephenson.
1911 – Heinie Zimmerman and Al Kaiser stole home in the seventh inning against the Dodgers. Cubs stole home 17 times in 1911, a Major League record
1906 – The Cubs scored 11 runs in the first inning off Christy Mathewson and Joe ‘Iron Man’ McGinnity and beat the Giants 19-0 at the Polo Grounds. Jack ‘The Giant Killer’ Pfiester threw a three-hitter for the Cubs.