Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup Friday and immediately made an impact. Fowler launched a home run to center to leadoff the game. And in his second bat, Fowler came through with the bases loaded. Fowler doubled to left and drove in two more runs. Fowler scored the Cubs’ fourth run, third of the second inning on a sac fly from Anthony Rizzo. Fowler equaled his season-high in RBI by the second inning.
The Cubs leadoff man and centerfielder finished the night 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk, two runs scored and three RBI.
Think the Cubs missed Dexter Fowler?
Fowler worked hard for the three weeks leading up to Friday night according to his wife to get back to help his team. Joe Maddon greeted Fowler with “You go, we go” when he saw him Friday. And Maddon had a big smile on his face after Fowler went yard in his first at-bat in more than a month.
Maddon talked to Fowler before the game. Maddon asked Fowler to communicate with him and the coaching staff to let him know how he’s feeling. The Cubs do not want to aggravate the hamstring lose Fowler for any amount of time again.
The Cubs are 44-18 when Fowler starts and 14-19 when he’s not in the starting lineup.
The Cubs lineup just looked better with Fowler at the top of it as Joe Maddon pointed out. Fowler is very important to the team.
Dexter Fowler said he felt like he was back home and was just “happy to be back around the boys.”
Carl Edwards Jr.
Carl Edwards Jr. was called on in the sixth inning Friday night with the Cubs leading 4-2, runner on second and Ryan Braun due up. Edwards Jr. retired Braun on a grounder to short. With Scooter Gennett at third base, Edwards Jr. struck out Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter to end the inning.
Edwards Jr. had another impressive outing out of the bullpen. In 13 games (14 innings), Edwards Jr. has allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and 16 strikeouts (1.93 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 2.64 FIP). And he’s now stranded six of the 10 runners he’s inherited.
Edwards Jr. has earned Maddon’s trust and since the extra innings game in Cincinnati (The Maddon Game) has found himself in high leverage situations. He has electric stuff and has thrown strikes.
Maddon plans on being careful with Edwards Jr. and not overwork him.
“I believe he can sustain what he’s been doing to this point,” Maddon said to the beat writers. “You have to be prudent. If you got to the well too often, eventually in September he’s going to be dragging, and we just can’t have that. For as much as you like to play with that toy, sometimes you got to leave it in the toy box and not leave it out there as often.”
Carl Edwards Jr. told the beat writers his goal was to work his way back up and stay up.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. got married on Thursday and after a trip to Milwaukee, the Cubs decided to send him to Iowa.
Almora Jr. was optioned to Triple-A Iowa before Friday’s game. Sending Almora Jr. down to Iowa was the logical move with Dexter Fowler coming off the DL. Almora Jr. needs regular at-bats. He showed he can play in the majors, especially in the field. Almora Jr. could use the time with Iowa to work on his approach at the plate and learn how to accept a walk.
In 34 games, Almora Jr. batted .265/.291/.422 with seven doubles and two home runs for a .712 OPS.
Albert Almora Jr. will be back later in the season. Almora Jr. could find his way on a post-season roster and be a valuable defensive replacement for Joe Maddon.
Joe Nathan – Iowa Cubs
The I-Cubs game in Memphis on Friday night was cancelled and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Memphis Redbirds had travel issues and could not get back in time for the opener of the series with Iowa.
Joe Nathan was scheduled to pitch Friday in what could have been his last rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa.
Nathan’s 30-day minor league rehab assignment expired Friday. The Tribune reported the Cubs are “expected to make a decision Saturday” on Nathan without any further explanation. According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs may have Nathan throw a simulated inning Saturday before deciding to activate him from the DL.
Jed Hoyer and Chris Bosio said Thursday that Nathan needed a little more time, with the Cubs’ GM stating he was going to pitch in one more game in the minors before he was possibly called up.
Joe Maddon was asked about Nathan before Friday’s game and could not provide an update.
Jorge Soler – Chris Coghlan
Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan were assigned to Double-A Tennessee on Friday. With Iowa on the road for 12 games, the Cubs moved Soler to the Smokies to continue his rehab assignment. Soler did not play Friday but is expected in the lineup Saturday.
Jed Hoyer said Friday that Soler could be back in a week or so. Coghlan has been on the DL since July 3 with a right rib cage strain. The Cubs have not given a timeframe on Coghlan, but he should be ready to come off the DL after a few games.
Chris Coghlan started and hit leadoff for the Smokies on Friday night. Coghlan played left field and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout in five innings. Coghlan was replaced in left by Kelly Dugan for the sixth inning.
Coghlan struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) in his first at-bat against Manny Banuelos. Coghlan worked a full count in his second at-bat before grounding out to second. And in his third and final at-bat, Coghlan went from 0-2 to 3-2 to a single to right.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Newcomer Mike Montgomery can’t avoid comparisons with Andrew Miller according to the Tribune. Comcast SportsNet reported Mike Montgomery wants to show what he can do for the Cubs’ bullpen. ESPN Chicago posted video of Montgomery talking about being traded to the Cubs … click here and here.
• The Tribune pointed out Willson Contreras did not start at catcher for the fourth straight game but according to Joe Maddon he is still part of the Cubs’ catching plans. Jed Hoyer said Friday on MLB Network Radio that Contreras will still be used in the same way as he has. Contreras will still see time in left field and behind the plate. The Cubs will continue carrying three catchers and will find time for Contreras to catch as players return from the DL that will impact his playing time in the outfield.
• Since the All-Star break, the Cubs starting rotation has a 1.76 ERA and 0.95 WHIP … and the relievers have a 1.59 ERA and 0.76 WHIP.
• Jason Hammel no longer dwells on the past according to the Tribune.
• Cubs career leadoff home run leaders: Alfonso Soriano (22), Jimmy Ryan (20), Rick Monday (17), Dexter Fowler (9).
• According to Mark Gonzales, Anthony Rizzo became the first player to have a multi-home run game after striking out four times in the previous game.
• Jack Leathersich was officially assigned to Double-A Tennessee on Friday. The lefty made his Smokies debut in the seventh inning. According to Justin Rocke, Leathersich pitched in and out of trouble with a fastball that sat in the 90-92 mph range. Leathersich surrendered back-to-back bloop singles to start the seventh. After a sac bunt, Leathersich got the strikeout he needed and the inning ended with a flyout to center. Leathersich made 18 pitches, 10 for strikes, and faced five batters.
• The Rangers are making a serious effort to trade for Chris Sale. The White Sox would obviously want a ton for Sale. T.R. Sullivan reported that Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar are two of the players the Sox would ask for as part of a return for the best left-handed starter in the American League. The Red Sox are another team very interested in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. And Boston has the prospects to matchup in a deal for Sale.
• Aroldis Chapman is the Nationals top target before the deadline according to Bill Ladson. The Yankees and Nationals continue to talk but the Nats are “not willing to give up top prospects such as Trea Turner, Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez.” The Yankees have been scouting the Nationals’ system and Major League team and a player like outfielder Michael Taylor could be of interest. Chapman’s fastball averaged 102.8 mph on Friday night. According to ESPN that’s the highest average by any pitcher in a game the last eight seasons.
• And the Yankees return for Aroldis Chapman “could be substantial.” According to Jeff Passan, the Yankees are “targeting high-end pitching prospects” in return for Chapman. That was believed to be the case weeks ago. If the Yankees are looking for pitching in return for Chapman, the Cubs will not matchup on a deal for him.
• The Padres started telling teams they were close to trading Melvin Upton Jr. Jeff Passan broke the story late Friday. The Padres and Orioles are talking about swapping Upton Jr. and Ubaldo Jimenez but the Padres would like a prospect from Baltimore’s thin system included in the deal.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles are pursuing Melvin Upton Jr. and Andrew Cashner in separate deals.
• The D-Backs are apparently blaming the horrible season on Chip Hale and are thinking about making a change. With it being Hall of Fame weekend and Tony LaRussa busy in Cooperstown, it would not be until next week until a change is made. Former Cub Phil Nevin is the favorite to replace Hale as the skipper of the Diamondbacks.
• The Rangers are among the teams interested in Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.
• The Giants and Indians are among the potential fits for Steve Pearce according to Jerry Crasnick.
• Jim Bowden posted trade deadline objectives for all 30 teams. Bowden believes it’s going to be a very active and fun 10 days leading up to the deadline. And he thinks the Rays could win the week because “they’re gonna move pitching and get a great return of prospects and rebuild that franchise.”
• Jason McLeod has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Twins’ GM opening. Jon Heyman has heard Alex Anthopoulos, Josh Byrnes, Ben Cherington, Kim Ng, Wayne Krivsky, Peter Woodfork and Rob Anthony could also be candidates.
• Dan Vogelbach announced his presence with authority. Vogelbach homered in his first at bat and double in a run in his second plate appearance with Triple-A Tacoma. In his first game in the Mariners’ system, Vogelbach went 3-for-3 with a double, a home run, a walk, two RBI and seven total bases.
• Matt Carpenter has been cleared to resume limited baseball activities. Carpenter could return the first of August from the oblique injury that landed him on the DL. A likely timeframe is the middle of August. But it is the Cardinals, so he could be back a lot earlier than expected.
• Danny Ecker reported the Cubs are opening a pop-up store along Clark Street next week that will be there for the remainder of the season.
• The Tribune ranked all 19 years of Cubs-White Sox City Series with the Crosstown Classic getting underway Monday on the South Side.
• The Tribune posted the top five best and worst trades in Cubs history.
• Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant could be neck-and-neck in MVP race according to the Tribune.
And last, but not least, David Ross’ weekly spot on the Mully and Hanley Show (670 The Score) was especially good on Friday. Click here to read a recap about how his light-hearted approach has helped Kyle Schwarber deal with the trade rumors, link includes an audio link.
This Day in Cubstory
2003 – Cubs acquired Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and cash from the Pirates for Matt Bruback, Jose Hernandez and a PTBNL. Bobby Hill was sent to Pittsburgh and the PTNBL on Aug. 15.
1993 – Alberto Mineo, born
1987 – Red Sox released Bill Buckner
1982 – Joe Mather, born
1979 – The Cubs beat the Reds 9-8 in 18 innings at Wrigley Field. The first nine innings of the game was actually played on May 10. The game was suspended because the Cubs had to catch a plane. Steve Ontiveros drove in the tying run with two outs in the 11th inning and the winning run in the 18th inning. The Cubs won the regularly scheduled game 2-1 on Dave Kingman’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
1973 – Nomar Garciaparra, born
1970 – Milt Pappas shutout the Reds 1-0 at Wrigley Field. It was the only time during the 1970 season the Reds did not score a run.
1957 – Dick Drott struck out 14 batters, Bob Speake homered and Moose Moryn hit a two-run double in the Cubs 4-0 victory over the Giants at Wrigley Field.
1944 – After hitting one homer in the first game and three in the second game, Giants’ manager Mel Ott intentionally walked Bill Nicholson intentionally with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. The New Yorkers won the game 12-10 after the Cubs took the first game 7-4.
1923 – The Cubs exploded for nine runs in the top of the 12th inning, with the Otto Vogel delivering a three-run triple and beat the Pirates 12-3 in Pittsburgh. The nine runs in a Cubs record for the most runs scored in an extra inning.
1922 – 1B Ray Grimes homers in the Cubs 4-1 over the Robins. The homer gave Grimes at least one RBI in 17 straight games, a Major League record. Grimes would go onto drive in at least one run in 24 straight games.
1912 – Cubs purchased Tom Downey from the Phillies