For the second time in three games, Anthony Rizzo came through for his team with a big at-bat and delivered the game winning hit. Rizzo stepped in with two on and one out in the third inning on Monday night. Rizzo put together an excellent at-bat that ended with a three-run homer on the 10th pitch from lefty Steven Matz.
The Cubs went on to beat the Mets 5-1 behind an excellent outing from Jon Lester. It was Rizzo’s home run and at bat that changed the game. And Rizzo absolutely crushed the baseball. Rizzo hit the ball 423 feet with an exit velocity of 106.9 mph. Rizzo’s blast off Matz marked the first time in his career he hit a home run on the 10th pitch, or later, of an at bat. 33 of Rizzo’s 124 career home runs have now been hit off a left-handed pitcher.
Anthony Rizzo began the season as an MVP Candidate. He’s put up the numbers while being the leader of a team with a ton of hype and expectations. And there is no doubt for those that cover the Cubs, this is Anthony Rizzo’s team.
“He’s the anchor of the whole group,” Joe Maddon said following Monday’s game. “There’s no question about it.”
“This guy is doing MVP-caliber stuff on a daily basis for us,” David Ross said. “Even when he goes in the tank a little bit, it doesn’t affect the game as much. He still has great at-bats, he takes his walks. He comes right back and two four-hit games and suddenly he’s batting .300 again. He’s our staple. KB [Kris Bryant] is a stud, too, and there’s a lot of these guys that are great, but for me, Rizz is the catalyst, the leader and the guy that is just as consistent as it gets.”
David Ross reiterated Monday that Rizzo might be the best young players he’s ever played with.
For the season, Rizzo is batting .293/.406/.586 with 25 doubles, two triples and 22 home runs for a .993 OPS. Since June 1, Rizzo has a .363/.444/.705 slash line with 15 doubles and 11 home runs.
And with a couple of weeks to go before his 27th birthday, Anthony Rizzo is 17th on the Cubs All-Time Home Run list with 123 dingers, three behind Andy Pafko (126), 15 behind Leon Durham (138) and 25 back of Mark Grace (148).
Ben Zobrist was out of the starting lineup for the second day on Monday. Zobrist is expected back in the lineup Tuesday and will play again Wednesday ahead of the Cubs off day.
Zobrist said he needed more time after playing in the first two games back from the break. The 24 games in 24 days took its toll. Zobrist admitted he did not feel rested enough that he could help his team.
Trevor Cahill was officially sent on a rehab assignment with Iowa Cubs. Cahill reported to Principal Park a couple of days ago but not officially until Monday. Cahill was placed on 15-day DL on July 15, retroactive to July 9, with right knee patellar tendinitis.
Cahill started Monday for Iowa in a game the I-Cubs would eventually lose 12-7 to Salt Lake. Cahill gave up three runs on four hits and three walks. Cahill had three strikeouts and made 57 pitches, 30 for strikes, in 2 2/3 innings.
According to Randy Wehofer, three of the singles were soft contact and in the first inning. All three runs Cahill gave up were in the first inning.
Oscar De La Cruz
Oscar De La Cruz reported to Short-Season Class-A Eugene on Monday and he turned in a dominating performance.
In his second start of the season, De La Cruz struck out seven in four innings. Six of the first nine outs he recorded Monday night were strikeouts. De La Cruz allowed one unearned run on two hits, a walk and a HBP. De La Cruz faced 17 batters in his return to Eugene.
The Yankees have not decided to buy or sell as the non-waiver trade deadline quickly approaches. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees appear to be doing the same as the Tigers a year ago. The Yankees are preparing to go either direction a couple of days before the deadline.
The Cubs have talked to the Yankees about Andrew Miller. Heyman reported Monday that while the Cubs’ system is deep, their offer for Miller and possibly Aroldis Chapman are said to not be among the best.
The Indians are also on the long list of contenders interested in Miller, and he could be their top target. The Indians likely do not have the players to meet the Yankees asking price. According to Ken Rosenthal, Miller is an ideal fit for the Indians because of his willingness to accept any role in a bullpen.
Teams are lining up for Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. And it’s going to be very expensive for a team to acquire either lefty reliever.
Cardinals Hacking Scandal, Chris Correa
Former Cardinals’ scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced Monday to 46 months in jail for his role in the organization hacking the Astros’ computer system and accessing their data on multiple occasions.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has been waiting for the punishment to be handed out to Chris Correa before disciplining the Cardinals. Manfred is supposed to gather more information before issuing the punishment to the organization.
Major League Baseball must come down hard on the Cardinals and not allow the organization to get away with breaking the law.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Comcast SportsNet reported Hector Rondon understands why the Cubs would make big trade with the Yankees. “If they bring in a Chapman or a Miller, if they put him in my spot, whatever, s— happens. I can’t control that. The most important thing for me is to come into the game, pitch my inning … whatever inning they put me in … and do my job.”
• Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester led the charge as Cubs finally found a way to beat the Mets according to Comcast SportsNet. The Sun-Times reported the Cubs beat the Mets 5-1 to open three-game – wait, what? Bruce Levine reported Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo set the tone as Cubs break through against the Mets.
• Comcast SportsNet posted a theory on Jake Arrieta’s downturn and why the Cubs are optimistic about another comeback.
• Joe Maddon admitted before Monday’s game that he met with Terry Ryan and the Twins about their managerial job before the Cubs hired him almost two years ago. The Twins fired Terry Ryan, the team’s long-time GM on Monday.
• Matt Szczur shows his value to the Cubs according to the Tribune.
• On the same day the Cubs announced Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler would begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, Chris Coghlan was on the field playing catch and running as he works his way back from an oblique strain that landed him on the DL on July 3.
• Joe Nathan is “getting closer” to joining the Cubs’ bullpen. Joe Maddon said Nathan is “willing to do anything for us.” Nathan was expected to be added to the mix in the pen early this week. According to Carrie Muskat, Nathan will pitch Wednesday for Iowa and could be with the Cubs by the Brewers series in Milwaukee this weekend (July 22-24). The Sun-Times explained why it’s important for the Cubs to get a look at Nathan soon.
• According to the Tribune, the Cubs’ homework on 2015 draft pick Ian Rice is paying off.
• Dakota Mekkes made his pro debut Monday night. Mekkes retired all three batters he faced in an inning of work the AZL Cubs. Mekkes fastball was in the 92-94 mph range according to Bill Mitchell.
• The Rangers are willing to trade Joey Gallo for pitching according to Jeff Passan. And the Cubs were one of the teams that talked to the Diamondbacks about Brad Ziegler before he was dealt to the Red Sox.
• The Dodgers and Rays are talking … and Evan Longoria is part of the conversations according to Jon Paul Morosi.
• The Marlins released LHP Craig Breslow.
• The Giants signed Kyle Drabek to a minor league contract. According to Matt Eddy, the Giants are looking at him as a shortstop but have not ruled out trying to get what was once one of the top pitching prospects in the game right on the mound.
• According to Baseball-Reference, teams are averaging eight strikeouts per game, the highest mark in MLB history.
• Geovany Soto landed back on the 15-day DL. The Angels placed the veteran catcher on the disabled list with inflammation in his left knee. Soto was expected to be traded before the deadline.
• Kyle Schwarber doesn’t believe Cubs-Mets is a statement series according to Comcast SportsNet.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs purchased Justin Germano from the Boston Red Sox
2009 – Cubs signed free agent B.J. Ryan
2007 – Pirates purchased Cesar Izturis from the Cubs
2000 – Ed Lynch stepped down as General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. Lynch was replaced by Team President Andy MacPhail.
1990 – Jonathan Pettibone, born
1982 – Phil Coke, born
1978 – Yorvit Torrealba, born
1940 – Hank Leiber hit a grand slam in the first inning and Bill Nicholson hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the Cubs pounded the Dodgers 11-4 at Wrigley Field. A bench clearing brawl erupted in the eighth inning after Cubs pitcher Claude Passeau threw his bat at Dodgers pitcher Hugh Casey after Casey hit Passeau in between his shoulder blades. Passeau was ejected from the game but still picked up the win.
1916 – Phil Cavarretta, born