Happy Father’s Day
Joe Maddon’s team posted win No. 46 on the season with Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Pirates. The Cubs are a season-high 26 games over .500 (46-20). And the lead in the NL Central is up to 11 ½ games over the Cardinals, 15 in the loss column ahead of the Pirates.
The Cubs are 20-6 against the NL Central, and 7-1 in eight games with the Pirates. The Cubs look to complete the three-game sweep over the Pirates on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
The Cubs’ run differential went up a notch and is plus-166 on the season, and more than the Nationals (plus-80) and Red Sox (plus-82) combined.
According to ELIAS, the Cubs lead their division/league by at least 11 games for the first time since the franchise had an 11 ½ game lead on the National League on October 5, 1929.
Dexter Fowler left Saturday night’s game after the first inning with discomfort in his right hamstring. Albert Almora Jr. replaced him in center field before the second inning. Fowler hit a grounder to third and felt something hustling down the line just before touching the bag.
Joe Maddon addressed the injury after the game and said Dexter Fowler is sore. Maddon downplayed the injury and said it is “not bad, not awful, just sore.” The Cubs do not believe it’s a serious injury. Fowler will undergo an MRI on Sunday. He is expected to be day-to-day but not placed on the DL.
Maddon joked that Fowler wanted to make sure that even though he left the game early he still wanted the fans to vote for him for the All-Star Game.
The Cubs’ first pick (third round) in last week’s draft had a very good outing Saturday in the College World Series. Thomas Hatch threw a complete game shutout in Oklahoma State’s 1-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara.
Hatch threw the first shutout in the College World Series for Oklahoma State since 1986 according to the report from ESPN.
Thomas Hatch allowed five hits with a walk and struck out seven on 112 pitches. Hatch struggled early. He made 39 pitches in the first two innings before he settled in after the fourth inning.
According to Kendall Rogers, Thomas Hatch has not allowed a run in 23 innings and has walked five with 19 strikeouts in the NCAA postseason.
Joe Maddon was not sure Saturday when Willson Contreras would make his first big league start. Maddon would like to get Contreras a start and said he would likely catch either Kyle Hendricks (Sunday) or John Lackey (Monday).
According to the report from MLB.com, Maddon was not sure if pairing Contreras with Hendricks would be a good combination. Maddon said that Hendricks is a “pitcher who works on the edges of the plate, so it’s important to have a catcher who can frame pitches well.” Maddon thinks Contreras may be a better fit with Lackey but is confident he will be able handle himself behind the plate.
Contreras caught Jason Hammel’s bullpen session on Saturday. Hammel told Comcast SportsNet he was impressed with Contreras. Jason Hammel was supposed to be paired with Kyle Schwarber for the season.
The Cubs plan to bring Contreras along slowly as he learns how to be a big league catcher and receiver.
Cubs-Cardinals and Probable Starters
The Cubs and Cardinals begin a three-game series on Monday night. The Cardinals have stated publicly they feel the Cubs can be caught and overtaken in the division. Mike Matheny will have his team ready to go on Monday for the first of three at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs and Cardinals posted the pitching matchups Saturday.
- Monday, June 20 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. LHP Jaime Garcia
- Tuesday, June 21 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Adam Wainwright
- Wednesday, June 22 (1:20pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. RHP Michael Wacha
In a rather surprising move just before the Cubs-Cardinals series, the Cardinals optioned OF Randal Grichuk to Triple-A Memphis on Saturday. The Cardinals recalled OF Tommy Pham. Kolten Wong is expected to see a majority of the playing time in center field. Grichuk has struggled this season. The player the St. Louis media and fan base thought should win Rookie of the Year over Kris Bryant last season is batting only .206/.276/.392 with 10 doubles, two triples and eight home runs for a .668 OPS. What makes the timing of the move rather strange is that he torches Cubs pitching.
In five games against the Cubs this season, Grichuk was 7-for-20 with a double and two home runs, plus he robbed Rizzo of a blast in St. Louis. That’s a .350/.381/.700 slash line with a 1.081 OPS. And for his career, Grichuk has a .284/.321/.554 line with five doubles, three triples and three home runs for a .875 OPS in 26 games. By far, his best numbers than against any other team.
The Cardinals will enter play Sunday 11 ½ games back (12 in loss column) of the Cubs in the NL Central. The Cardinals have spent too much time focusing on the Cubs for months, and it hasn’t stopped.
Matt Carpenter thinks the Cardinals will make a run at the Cubs for the division race. The Cubs haven’t struggled yet this season according to Carpenter, while the Cardinals haven’t had their good streak yet.
Carpenter recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “We’ve played some of the toughest part of our schedule and they haven’t. My guess? I bet we can get it down to four games before the All-Star break. And if you’re four games back at the All-Star break, that’s right where you want to be. If we get it to four, they’ll be thinking about it. That’s all you can ask for.”
The Cubs will have a chance starting Monday to make it very difficult for the Cardinals to reach Matt Carpenter’s goal.
The Ems improved to 2-0 on the season Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Boise in 11 innings. Chris Pieters had three hits, Andruw Monasterio reached base three times and scored the winning run. And Matt Rose delivered the game winner.
Bryan Hudson got the start Saturday. Hudson allowed one run on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts in five innings. Hudson did not give up a hit until the fourth inning, a one out double by Luis Castro.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jorge Soler is eligible to come off the DL on June 22 (Wednesday). The Cubs have not given a timetable for his return. From all indications he will not be activated from the disabled list in the near future. Soler was seen Saturday performing running drills in the outfield. Joe Maddon said Soler is “progressing well” but he does not have an idea “on the finish line” according to Mark Grote.
• Jay Bruce is trying to play his way out of Cincinnati. Bruce is batting .274/.328/.574 with 14 doubles, six triples and 15 home runs for a .902 OPS. According to Buster Olney, Bruce should be a big name on the trade market.
• Managers and coaches were named for the Triple-A All-Star Game. Wally Backman will call the shots for the PCL and Chris Tremie will manage the International League. The 29th annual Triple-A All-Star Game will take place at BB&T Ballpark, home of the IL’s Charlotte Knights, on Wednesday, July 13 at 6:00pm CDT on MLB Network.
• James Shields had another rough outing for the White Sox. The Sox thought they found the problem with Shields and believed he was tipping his pitches. Shields lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Indians on Saturday night and gave up eight runs, all earned, on seven hits (one home run) with three walks and two strikeouts. In three starts with the Sox, Shields is 0-2 with a 21.81 ERA and 3.81 WHIP (22 runs, 21 earned runs, 24 hits, five home runs, nine walks, five strikeouts, 8 2/3 innings). WGN News had a little fun with numbers, one is glaringly low, but still.
• Starlin Castro is having a tough time in the Bronx. After an excellent start to his Yankees’ career, Castro had a .214/.241/.351 line in 33 games leading up to Saturday’s game. Castro pinch hit and finished the game at second base. Castro has a .254/.289/.413 slash line after 66 games with 11 doubles, a triple and nine home runs for a .702 OPS.
• Former Cubs’ catcher, infielder Casey McGehee is back in the majors. The Tigers selected his contract from Triple-A Toledo on Saturday.
• RHP Alex Cobb threw live batting practice for the first time Saturday at the Trop.
And last, but not least, after Saturday’s game David Ross said that Javier Baez “is maybe one of the best defensive players I’ve ever played with.”
This Day in Cubstory
2003 – Reds pitcher Paul Wilson took exception to a pitch inside from Kyle Farnsworth while he was trying to lay down a bunt. Wilson charged the mound and was pummeled by Farnsworth.
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Tony Fossas
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Brad Arnsberg
1991 – Christian Villanueva, born
1985 – Blake Parker, born
1978 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Bill Earley
1967 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Jim Colburn
1964 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Don Kessinger
1913 – Wilbur Good hit the first pinch-hit home run in Cubs’ history in the eighth inning. The Cubs lost the game 2-1 to Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Phillies at West Side Grounds.
1900 – Pitcher Clark Griffith drove in the winning run while tossing a complete game as the Cubs topped Rube Waddell and the Pirates 1-0 in 14 innings at West Side Grounds. This was the longest shutout win, inning wise, in Cubs history at the time.