It’s the last Sunday in June and the Cubs will begin play with a double-digit lead in the division. The Cubs have 48 wins (48-25) on the season, tied with the Giants (48-28) and Rangers (48-27) for the most victories in the majors. The Cubs .658 winning percentage is still tops in the game. And for as ‘bad’ as Joe Maddon’s team has played, the Cubs are 13-10 this month.
Joe Maddon is not really concerned about his team and the Cubs losing five of the last six games after sweeping the Pirates. Maddon told the beat writers he would “have more concern if the team was at full strength and playing poorly.” According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs “are just trying to get through it now.”
Miguel Montero caught John Lackey on Saturday and he will reportedly catch Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta the next two days. If that is the case, the Cubs did not pair Willson Contreras with Lackey or Hammel for a second time. And the first game Contreras could be back behind the plate would be Wednesday (Kyle Hendricks).
The Cubs have not addressed whether or not the decision to have Contreras play other positions instead of catch is related to his development or Maddon trying to find ways to score runs while keeping his staff working with catchers they are familiar with at this point of the season.
Ben Zobrist pinch hit for Justin Grimm in the eighth inning and stayed in Saturday’s game at second base. Zobrist walked in his only plate appearance.
Zobrist was sore before the game after getting hit in the left ankle on Friday night. Zobrist is expected back in the starting lineup for Sunday’s finale against Jose Fernandez and the Marlins.
With Javier Baez hurting his hand and jaw Friday making the diving catch into the stands, Baez could probably use a breather with two lefties on the schedule in Cincinnati.
Adam Warren made what is supposed to be one of two starts for Triple-A Iowa on Saturday night. Warren made 59 pitches, 31 for strikes, in 3 2/3 innings. Warren allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Warren gave up both runs in the first inning on two hits and three walks. Warren’s line would have looked worse if not for Mark Zagunis and Logan Watkins throwing out Charlie Culberson at the plate.
According to Randy Wehofer, Warren settled in after the first inning. Warren pitched a perfect second inning with two strikeouts. Wehofer reported that Warren was “missing too low” in the first inning.
Warren is scheduled to make one more start for Iowa before he is recalled. Warren is supposed to start one of the games on the Cubs’ four-game homestand (July 4-7).
Jeimer Candelario had another good night at the plate Saturday for Triple-A Iowa. Candelario played the entire game at third base and was 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk. Candelario went yard (straight away center off Jose De Leon) for the second time with the I-Cubs.
In 17 games with Iowa, the switch-hitting Candelario is batting .357/.471/.61 with seven doubles, two triples and two home runs for a 1.132 OPS. Candelario has 20 hits in 56 at bats, 11 have gone for extra bases, and he’s walked 10 times with 13 strikeouts.
Dan Vogelbach picked up two more hits Saturday night, one left the park for his 13th longball of the season. Vogelbach fouled off four straight pitches before going deep on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Vogelbach has dipped below .300 for the season but still has a .297/.416/.525 slash line with 13 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs for a .942 OPS in 69 games.
Cubs-Reds Probable Pitchers
The next stop on the Cubs’ 11-game, three city road trip is Cincinnati. The Cubs have three games with the Reds starting Monday and actually play the Redlegs six times in the next 10 days.
The two teams posted the starters for the upcoming series at Great American Ball Park:
- Monday, June 27 (6:10pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. RHP Dan Straily
- Tuesday, June 28 (6:10pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. LHP John Lamb
- Wednesday, June 29 (11:35am CDT) – RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. LHP Cody Reed
The Cubs are 6-1 in seven games with the Reds this season. Joe Maddon’s offense will have its hands full with the Reds’ two lefties, John Lamb and Cody Reed.
Thomas Hatch started Saturday for Oklahoma State. Hatch was roughed up for the first time and Oklahoma State was eliminated from the College World Series.
Hatch allowed four runs on five hits with two walks and no strikeouts in two innings. Hatch was replaced by Trey Cobb, the Cubs 12th round pick.
With Oklahoma State’s season over, the Cubs can officially start negotiating with Thomas Hatch and Trey Cobb. Mark Gonzales thinks the Cubs will limit Hatch this summer after he signs. Hatch completed 130 1/3 innings and Gonzales reported “it wouldn’t be surprising to see him with a very light workload” in the Rookie League.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Clayton Richard has struggled this season and ended up on the DL with a blister on his pitching hand. ESPN Chicago questioned if Richard has also been unlucky this season.
• The Sun-Times reported the Cubs leave regular-season history to the Warriors and Mariners.
• ESPN Chicago asked where do the Cubs go when starting pitching and defense let them down.
• There is roster, playing time intrigue surrounding the Cubs according to the Tribune. Note: Justin Bour was taken in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Bour and Javier Baez were teammates at the Double-A level in 2013 with the Tennessee Smokies.
• Joel Sherman reported the trade market could become a lot more interesting if stars such as RHP Chris Archer (Rays), OF Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) and OF Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) are made available. Based on Marc Topkin’s report, it sounds like the Rays would at least listen on Archer. And rumors are already surrounding LHP Matt More and RHP Jake Odorizzi.
• Those that question the value and importance of catchers being good receivers and what they mean to their team and pitching staff should read this FanGraphs report.
• The season has not gone as planned for the Pirates. But if Pittsburgh is able to keep from burying itself before the All-Star break (36-39 entering play Sunday, 13 games behind the Cubs in the division, 4 ½ back in the Wild Card), as Buster Olney pointed out, almost half of their last 70 games are against the Brewers, Reds and Phillies.
• Buster Olney explained how Yunel Escobar would be a great fit with the Giants.
• A team is going to severely overpay to acquire Arodys Vizcaino. Red Sox senior VP of Baseball Operations, Frank Wren was in Atlanta to scout Vizcaino.
• The Cubs have four games with the Mets at Citi Field next weekend. After the Cubs finally get out of Miami, the Cubs have three games at Great American Ball Park and four with the Mets to wrap up the 11-game road trip. The Mets optioned a struggling Michael Conforto (.222/.296/.431/.727) to Triple-A and recalled Brandon Nimmo. The Mets also signed INF Jose Reyes to a minor league contract. Reyes will spend time (7-10 days) with Short-Season Class-A Brooklyn. The Mets begin an 11-game homestand on Thursday that leads into the All-Star break.
• Willson Contreras’ Topps card is pretty, well awesome …
And last, but not least, Christopher Kamka dropped this incredible fact … Brett Lawrie became the first White Sox player to hit an inside-the-park and over-the-fence home run in the same game since Ron Santo on June 9, 1974.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Ryne Sandberg resigned as manager of the Phillies
2005 – Cubs beat the White Sox 2-0. Mark Prior, Jerome Williams and Ryan Dempster combined on a one-hitter, the third one-hitter of the season for the Cubs staff
1991 – Cubs traded David Rosario to the Yankees for Steve Adkins
1985 – Cubs beat the Mets 7-3 and ended a club-record-tying losing streak of 13 games, the Cubs longest losing streak since 1944
1979 – Cubs traded Bobby Murcer to the Yankees for Paul Semall and cash
1978 – Cubs traded Paul Reuschel to the Indians for Dennis DeBarr
1978 – Dave Radar hit a pinch-hit Grand Slam and Rodney Scott stole home as the Cubs edged the Mets at Wrigley Field, 10-9
1974 – Jason Kendall, born
1972 – Rick Reuschel made his first big league start and the Cubs beat the Phillies 11-1 at Wrigley Field
1969 – Rodney Myers, born
1966 – Ron Santo was struck in the face by a pitch thrown by Mets’ starter Jack Fisher. Santo fractured his cheek and had it operated on the next day. Santo’s streak of 390 straight games at third base came to an end, but his 27-game hitting streak, one shy of the franchise mark, stayed intact with a first inning single.
1960 – Ron Santo made his Major League debut and went 3-for-7 with five RBI as the Cubs swept the Pirates in a doubleheader at Forbes Field. Cubs beat the Pirates 7-6 in game one, and 7-5 in game two.
1950 – Dave Rosello, born
1957 – Orioles signed amateur free agent Milt Pappas
1948 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Ed Winceniak
1903 – Babe Herman, born
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