Let’s get this out of the way. The series with the Cardinals was really bad. The Cubs did not hit for three days and Wednesday’s game was horrible, without pulling any punches it sucked and was inexcusable. Now that’s been said, it’s a new day and that is exactly how the Cubs will approach Thursday … and the upcoming 11-game road trip.
The Cubs theme for the trip to Miami is “It’s The Anthony Rizzo Who Wears Short Shorts? Anthony Wears Short Shorts Road Trip.” Players and coaches are “required to wear shorts, a short-sleeved sport coat and either a tank top or no shirt and if they wanted to wear flip flops the players had to paint their toenails.”
The Cubs are 22-12 on the road this season and face a very challenging 11 games in 11 days with stops in Miami, Cincinnati and New York. The Cubs have four games with the Marlins (June 23-26), three with the Reds (June 27-29) and four with the Mets (June 30-July 3). The Cubs next game at Wrigley is not until July 4.
Joe Maddon will have his team ready to play. And a winning road trip in three tough parks would be the right way to end the third month of the season.
While the focus injury wise post-game Wednesday was on Miguel Montero, Joe Maddon announced Anthony Rizzo left the game with back stiffness and is day-to-day.
Maddon was not sure if Rizzo would start Thursday and said that with the Cubs facing lefty Wei-Yin Chen, it might be a good time to give Rizzo a breather. Maddon noticed Rizzo was not right when he wasn’t able to scoop Ben Zobrist’s low throw on what should have been an inning ending double play in the fifth inning.
Anthony Rizzo downplayed the injury and did not use his back as the reason for not making the play to end the fifth inning. Rizzo said he “just missed it.”
As the Sun-Times reported, the injuries are piling up. The Cubs already have five players that were on the Opening Day roster on the disabled list. And the loss of Dexter Fowler had a major impact on the offense throughout the series with the Cardinals.
Keep in mind, a player does not have to be producing to be effective in a Major League lineup. Teams still have to game plan for players that can impact a game. The deeper the lineup with less breaks for pitchers the higher the likelihood of mistakes being made throughout the course of a game.
The Cubs appear to have dodged a major injury to Miguel Montero.
Montero was forced to leave Wednesday’s game in the sixth inning when he twisted his right knee trying to tag Brandon Moss on a play at the plate. Montero limped off the field and was visibly frustrated in the dugout. It did not look good at all. And then the Cubs announced his right knee was being examined.
Joe Maddon said after the game that Montero was fine. The Cubs catcher passed all the tests and is not expected to miss any time. Maddon said that Montero thought he heard something pop in his knee during the play.
Montero tweeted Wednesday, “I feel ok. I really appreciate your messages and good vibes.”
Miguel Montero has struggled this season offensively and defensively. Montero calls a good game and knows the pitching staff. Losing Montero for any amount of time would be a significant loss to the Cubs even with the way Willson Contreras has played over the last week.
Cubs-Marlins Probable Starters
The Cubs open a four-game series in Miami on Thursday. The Cubs and Marlins posted the starting pitchers for the series. The Cubs offense will not get a breather whatsoever and get to face Jose Fernandez for the first time in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
- Thursday, June 23 (6:10pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen
- Friday, June 24 (6:10pm CDT) – RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. RHP Tom Koehler
- Saturday, June 25 (3:10pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Paul Clemens
- Sunday, June 26 (12:10pm CDT) – RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Jose Fernandez
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jake Arrieta will make adjustments after his second loss and he believes the ‘tweaks will be an easy fix’ according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Bruce Levine reported Wednesday was the fifth time this season Arrieta last only five innings. Jesse Rogers asked when will Jake Arrieta deliver his next signature moment.
• ESPN Chicago reported the first-place Cubs begin summer revamp of bullpen.
• Comcast SportsNet explained how the Cubs created the ideal environment for young talent.
• According to Bruce Levine, slowly but surely, Jason Heyward is becoming more comfortable.
• The Des Moines Register reported good news Wednesday … RHP Ryan Williams and C Taylor Davis have reported to Mesa to continue the rehab process.
• According to Maury Brown, Doc Emrick will join Bob Costas to call the Cubs and Pirates game from PNC Park on July 8 on MLB Network.
• The Cubs had a chance to create more space in the standings with the Cardinals. Maddon’s team did not take advantage of the opportunity and the Cardinals left Wrigley with no doubt they can compete with the Cubs according to Comcast SportsNet.
• After getting swept by the Cardinals, Cubs know they can’t take anything for granted according to Comcast SportsNet. The Sun-Times reported the Cardinals are trending upward after beating Arrieta to sweep the Cubs.
• The Cubs aren’t invincible as sweep by Cardinals at Wrigley suggests according to Paul Sullivan.
• The Cubs are working with Willson Contreras and his learning curve according to the Tribune. Contreras’ second home run had an exit velocity of 105.2 mph according to Daren Willman, the hardest hit ball of his young career. And according to ESPN Stats and Info, Contreras become the 19th player since 2000 to hit his first two career home runs in game he did not start.
• Matt Jones reported Cubs’ 31st round pick Brenden Heiss will turn down contract offer to turn pro and pitch for the Arkansas Razorbacks next season. Heiss was looking for a third or fourth round signing bonus to forgo college.
• The Orioles are interested in Drew Pomeranz and Francisco Liriano according to Jon Paul Morosi.
• The Marlins are looking at rotation and bullpen upgrades according to Jon Paul Morosi and are interested in Jake Odorizzi and Drew Pomeranz.
• Noah Syndergaard left Wednesday’s start against the Royals after complaining of discomfort in the back of his pitching elbow. According to multiple reports, including one from MLB.com, Syndergaard has no structural damage in his elbow and is expected to avoid the DL. The Mets also received good news on Zack Wheeler. Adam Rubin reported Wheeler “received a cortisone injection for sensory nerve irritation in his right elbow, but that his surgically repaired elbow is otherwise sound.”
• According to Scott Miller, the struggling Yankees may still have big say in playoffs.
• After Matt Szczur fell down for a second time in the outfield Wednesday, Mark Gonzales pointed out on Twitter that the Cubs “had private parties playing in outfield prior to Monday and Tuesday games.”
And last, but not least, a trend that can no longer be ignored … the Cubs are 0-5 in final games of a homestand this season.
This Day in Cubstory
1997 – Cubs traded Saul Bustos and Dave Jefferson to the Expos for Gil Heredia
1984 – The Sandberg Game … click here for details of one of the most important games in franchise history
1980 – Cubs traded a PTBNL and cash to the Indians for Cliff Johnson. Cubs sent Karl Pagel to the Indians on June 30 to complete the trade
1978 – Expos traded a Jerry White to the Cubs for Woodie Fryman.
1970 – Cubs purchased Milt Pappas from the Braves
1970 – Cubs purchased Roberto Rodriguez from the Padres
1961 – Ernie Banks consecutive games played streak ended at 717 games when he was sidelined with a knee injury. Banks began the streak on August 26, 1956.
1960 – Jim Deshaies, born
1946 – Eddie Waitkus and Marv Rickert hit back-to-back inside the park home runs in the fourth inning, the first time in Major League history as the Cubs lost to the Giants 15-10 at the Polo Grounds.
1945 – Cubs selected Ray Starr off waivers from the Pirates
1933 – Cubs swept the Phillies in a doubleheader. The Cubs won game one on Harvey Hendrick’s pinch hit grand slam in the 10th inning. It was the second pinch hit grand slam in Major League history and the second for the Cubs in three years. Cubs won game two 3-1
1930 – Hack Wilson hit for the cycle with two singles, a double, a triple and a homer, scored five runs and drove in six as the Cubs ripped the Phillies 21-8 at Wrigley Field. Pitcher Guy Busy chipped in with a triple and two singles
1895 – A pressure group called the “Sunday Observance League” led by Rev. W.W. Clark, held up play in the third inning and the entire Cubs team is arrested for aiding and abetting the forming of a noisy crowd on a Sunday. Cubs owner, Jim Hart posted bond, securing a warrant from Justice Cleveland of Norwood Park, and the game was resumed. The franchise that would be known as the Cubs 20-plus years later trounced Cleveland 13-4 behind Clark Griffith before 10,000 fans at West Side Grounds.