The Cubs won for the third time in as many games Wednesday. The Cubs are 76-43 on the season. And for the first time since the end of the 2008 season, the Cubs are 33 games over .500.
The Cubs are 17-3 over the last 20 games. After starting the season with 24 wins in the first 30 games (24-6), the Cubs were a .500 team for the next 58 games (29-29). Over the last 31 games, the Cubs are 23-8 that is a .742 winning percentage. And the 23-8 record since the All-Star break is tops in baseball followed by the Mariners (18-11), Reds (18-12), Blue Jays (18-12) and Dodgers (16-12)
The Cubs have scored 603 runs this season while allowing 397. The Cubs run differential of plus-206 is tops in the majors and best in franchise history since the end of the 1935 season.
And the Cubs have a 12 ½ game in the NL Central over the Cardinals while the words ‘magic number’ are starting to be said on a daily basis.
If the weather cooperates, the Cubs conclude the 10-game homestand on Thursday afternoon (1:20pm CDT) with Jake Arrieta opposing Zach Davies. The Cubs are 7-2 in the first nine games. Winning eight of 10 would be the best way to spend the flight to Denver for the start of a very difficult nine-game, three-city trip against the Rockies, Padres and Dodgers.
Joe Maddon is keeping his team focused because he knows the Cubs have a lot of work to do as September quickly approaches.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella decided to resume his baseball career and reported to Double-A Tennessee. The Cubs transferred La Stella to Double-A Tennessee from Triple-A Iowa. La Stella started, played second base and hit second for the Smokies on Wednesday.
La Stella got a hit in his first at bat. He was hit in the foot in his second plate appearance and left the game before the fifth inning. Danny Lockhart replaced him at second base. Updates on La Stella’s status have not been given.
When La Stella returns to the team, he will have work to do in the clubhouse. Joe Maddon said Wednesday there are “definitely some guys who want to talk to him.”
Jed Hoyer said La Stella wasn’t made any promises on when he would be recalled. The Cubs are hoping “he’s not too rusty.” Hoyer admitted that La Stella would have likely been back with the team and if he wasn’t, the injury to Chris Coghlan would have opened a spot on the roster. Hoyer pointed out La Stella has to “earn his way back.”
- Report from Bruce Levine
- Report from The Sun-Times
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from The Tribune
Cubs Roster Moves
The Cubs made two rounds of roster moves Wednesday. RHP Joe Smith was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. RHP Trevor Cahill stayed on the roster after being added Tuesday as the 26th man for the doubleheader.
Chris Coghlan was placed on the 15-day DL with a right rib contusion (bruise). The Cubs recalled RHP Spencer Patton from Triple-A Iowa to take his spot on the 25-man roster. The Cubs active roster consists of 13 pitchers (five starters, eight relievers) and 12 position players. The 40-man roster did not change and stands at 39 players.
Questions were raised about the validity of Smith landing on the DL a day after he struggled on the mound again. Smith spent time on the DL in June (June 7-July 1) with a left hamstring strain. And he admitted Wednesday he’s struggled with the hamstring injury since May and has tried to pitch through it. Smith said he hasn’t been himself and has to get healthy in order to help the Cubs.
The Cubs shifted the rotation and announced John Lackey was pushed back to the series in San Diego. Mike Montgomery will make a spot start at Coors Field on Saturday. The Cubs have not ruled out placing Lackey on the DL and will continue to monitor his right shoulder.
Multiple reports suggested Jonathan Papelbon would make a decision and sign with a team on Wednesday. Well, it’s Thursday and Papelbon remains a free agent.
Red Sox GM Mike Hazen said Wednesday there was no update on Papelbon and that the Red Sox are “just kind of in a wait and see.”
The Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Marlins and Rangers are the five possible landing spots for Papelbon according to Jay Jaffe.
Stephen Fife – Joe Thatcher
RHP Stephen Fife and LHP Joe Thatcher reported to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday and were added to the roster. Fife started his first game for Iowa since May 23 and completed four innings in a game the I-Cubs won 8-7 thanks to a six-run fifth inning.
Fife allowed three runs, all earned, on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Fife made 59 pitches, 35 for strikes.
Joe Thatcher did not pitch.
Dylan Cease started Wednesday for Short-Season Eugene. The Emeralds kept rolling with the 13th straight win with a 3-2 walk-off against Boise.
Cease dominated the game for the 3 2/3 innings he was on the mound. With a mid- to upper-90s fastball, Cease did not allow a hit while striking out eight of the 14 batters he faced. Cease walked three and made 77 pitches, 48 for strikes. Eight of the 11 outs he recorded were strikeouts.
Dylan Cease has allowed just 12 runs, 10 earned, on 23 hits with 19 walks and 41 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings this season (2.93 ERA, 1.37 WHIP).
News and Notes
• Jorge Soler destroyed another baseball Wednesday night. According to the Tribune, Jorge Soler provides length to the Cubs’ lineup. Comcast SportsNet reported Jorge Soler adds another dimension to Cubs lineup looking ahead to October.
• Jon Lester worked a walk against Jimmy Nelson in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game. According to Christopher Kamka, Lester became the first Cubs’ pitcher since Frank Castillo (July 31, 1994) to walk in the first inning of a game.
• ESPN explained how the Cubs won on Wednesday. Jorge Soler is thriving at the bottom of the strike zone.
• Jason Hammel topped the Sun-Times first Cubs rotation power rankings.
• Jason Hammel (0.95) has the best ERA since the break in all of baseball … followed by Kyle Hendricks (1.31), Jacob deGrom (1.56), Jake Odorizzi (1.66), Corey Kluber (1.76) and Jose Quintana (1.80).
• Before the team announced Mike Montgomery would be making a spot start Saturday at Coors Field, ESPN Chicago reported that he his settling into bullpen role just in time for the Cubs.
• Pedro Strop played catch in the outfield at Wrigley prior to Wednesday’s game. Strop also rode the stationary bike for 12 minutes and threw 30 pitches on flat ground from about 60 feet according to the Tribune. Strop admitted that he “is surprised about how rapidly he is progressing.” Strop is hoping to return sooner than the four to six weeks he is expected to miss.
• David Ross hit a booming homer in the third inning of Wednesday’s game. Grandpa Rossy (39 years, 151 days) became the oldest Cubs catcher to hit a home run since Jim Hegan (39 years, 301 days) on May 30, 1960.
• The Cubs sent RHP Duane Underwood Jr. to Low-A South Bend on Wednesday as he works his way back to Double-A Tennessee.
RIP our left field depth chart. pic.twitter.com/Bzv0MIx725
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 18, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs signed free agent Trevor Cahill
2010 – Cubs traded Derrek Lee to the Braves for Ty’Relle Harris, Robinson Lopez and Jeffrey Lorick
1995 – Cubs beat the Rockies 26-7 at new Coors Field. Luis Gonzalez drove in six runs, Sammy Sosa went 4-for-4 with four RBI and four runs scored. The Cubs tied several Major League records: Nine teammates scored two or more runs, 14 Cubs hit safely and 26 RBI tied a National League record. The Cubs extended their own record by scoring 20 or more runs 39 times in franchise history.
1989 – Jerome Walton extended his hitting streak to 28 games with a third inning single off Jim Clancy. The 24-year old rookie outfielder tied the Cubs modern day record for hitting safely in consecutive games established by Ron Santo in 1966.
1989 – Andre Dawson collected the 2000th hit of his career
1982 – In the second longest game in franchise history, at the time, the Cubs lost to the Dodgers 2-1 at Wrigley Field. The game took two days to complete, lasted 21 innings and the Cubs dropped the game after Dusty Baker hit a sac fly in the 21st inning.
1977 – Cubs traded Steve Renko to the White Sox for Larry Anderson
1972 – Cubs released Steve Hamilton
1952 – With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Phil Cavarretta hit a two-run pinch-hit homer and gave the Cubs a 4-3 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. It was Cavarretta’s last home run as a Cub.
1930 – Woody English scored five runs and Hack Wilson hit his 42nd home run of the season as the Cubs beat the Phillies 17-3 at Wrigley Field. Starter Pat Malone went the distance and hit a home run.
1911 – Cubs traded Cliff Curtis to the Phillies for Jack Rowan
1910 – Cubs purchased Jim Doyle from Louisville of the American Association
1909 – For the second time in eight days, Ed Reulbach won his 16th straight game against an opponent. Reulbach beat the Reds and extended a winning streak against the Redlegs that began on April 15, 1906.
1907 – Grandstand caught on fire during an exhibition game in Bridgeport, CT. Cubs players help put out the fire then beat Bridgeport 3-1.
1886 – John Clarkson set a franchise record, at the time, by striking out 16 batters in a 7-2 win over Kansas City at West Side Park.