It’s the last Sunday in August and the Cubs will spend it at Dodger Stadium. Joe Maddon’s team has a chance of turning what has been a good trip to the left coast into a very good three-city, nine-game West Coast trip with a win in the finale with the Dodgers.
The Cubs are 5-3 in the first eight games. And even with the one-run loss on Saturday, the Cubs did not lose any ground to the Cardinals or Nationals. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to the A’s at Busch Stadium and the Rockies beat the Nationals 9-4 in 11 innings.
The Cubs are 19-5 in the last 24 games and 82-46 on the season, 14 games in front of the Cardinals in the NL Central and eight games ahead of the Nationals (75-54) in the loss column for the best record in the Senior Circuit.
The Cubs have a lot of work to do. And with that said, 36 games above .500 entering play on the last Sunday in August is pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Jason Hammel was not happy with Joe Maddon after he was taken out of Saturday’s game in the third inning. Hammel made only 39 pitches, 28 for strikes, and completed 2 1/3 innings. Hammel gave up three runs on five hits to the 12 batters he faced. Hammel’s command was off for the second straight start. Maddon made the decision early to go to Rob Zastryzny.
Maddon met with Hammel after Saturday’s game to discuss the decision that was made to pull him in the third inning. Hammel was visibly upset as Maddon approached the mound and was described as still being irate after the game.
“He didn’t like what I told him, but I had to tell him. It was the right thing to do today, based on what I saw and what their lineup looked like,” Maddon said to the beat writers after the game.
Maddon did not think Hammel had it and did not want to let the game get away on Saturday after several hard hit balls by the left-handed heavy Dodgers’ lineup led to three runs. Maddon thought lefty Rob Zastryzny matched up better than Hammel and could give the Cubs a better chance at winning the game.
Neither Hammel nor Maddon would share details of the conversation.
Hammel did tell the beat writers what he thought about being taken out of the game in the third inning.
“I didn’t even pitch today,” Hammel said. “I barely threw even 40 pitches, so it’s a side day today. Two balls hit hard. Other than that, I feel like their hits found holes.”
Joe Maddon said he did not have a problem with Jason Hammel or his reaction because he wants his pitchers to vent.
Last season it was understandable when Maddon pulled Hammel early in games because he was hurt. Hammel’s had a handful of poor starts this season, two should be classified as bad outings (Mets, Rockies). It was obvious Saturday that Hammel was struggling and was on the verge of letting the game getaway.
Maddon and Hammel have worked together for a long time. There’s little doubt Maddon will get on the same page with him. The Cubs need for Jason Hammel to be right and pitch like he did leading up to the start at Coors Field for the remainder of the year.
- Report from The Tribune
- Report from The Tribune
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from The Sun-Times
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
Cubs Rotation – John Lackey – Mike Montgomery
The Cubs announced Saturday that Mike Montgomery will get another start. Montgomery will get the ball in the series finale with the Pirates on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. According to multiple reports, Montgomery had a wrap on his right calf on Saturday after taking a comebacker from Josh Reddick during Friday’s game.
John Lackey is scheduled to throw a bullpen Monday at Wrigley. Lackey is expected to come off the DL after the roster expands on Sept. 1.
Zobrist and the First Inning Bunt
Joe Maddon admitted Saturday that he actually called for Ben Zobrist to bunt in the first inning with two on and no outs and the Cubs already leading 1-0. Maddon wanted Zobrist to bunt for a hit, not a sacrifice. Zobrist did not execute. Instead of the bases being loaded with no outs and Addison Russell stepping to the plate, the bunt changed the game. The Cubs let the rookie off the ropes after he struck out Russell and Jorge Soler with runners on second and third.
Maddon said the reason he called for the bunt “was that Zobrist could be vulnerable to grounding into a double play and that Russell has been one of the Cubs best run producers” according to The Tribune.
It was a surprising move and a bad decision by Joe Maddon to bunt with Zobrist in the first inning of a game. Maddon has stayed away from bunting and giving outs away for a majority of his tenure with the Cubs. There are only 27 outs. Don’t give the other team one … especially in the first inning of a game on the road with a rookie struggling in a game his team needed a long start and a win.
Albert Almora Jr.
In what was a rehab game for Omaha as Jason Vargas, Wade Davis and Kris Medlen pitched for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, Almora Jr. went 1-for-4 with a strikeout in his first game since Aug. 10.
The Cubs are expected to call up Albert Almora Jr. when the roster expands on Sept. 1.
Joe Smith made his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday night. Smith pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced … the third out was on the ground which is a good sign for the veteran reliever.
Joe Smith made 15 pitches, 10 for strikes.
The Cubs begin a seven-game homestand Monday with the first of three against the Pirates. The Giants make their annual trip to Wrigley for a four-game series beginning Thursday.
The Pirates have not announced beyond the opener the starters for the series at Wrigley. Lefty Steven Brault will face Jake Arrieta on Monday night and not Gerrit Cole.
The Pirates said Saturday that Cole will not start Monday at Wrigley. The Pirates decided to send Cole to Los Angeles on Monday to have his right elbow examined. According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pirates “are not concerned Cole has ligament damage.”
The Cubs posted Jake Arrieta (Monday), Kyle Hendricks (Tuesday) and Mike Montgomery (Wednesday) will start against the Pirates. That would lineup Jason Hammel, Jon Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks for the Giants series.
Here are the probable starting pitchers for the three-game series …
- Monday, Aug. 29 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. LHP Steven Brault
- Tuesday, Aug. 30 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. TBA
- Wednesday, Aug. 31 (7:05pm CDT) – LHP Mike Montgomery vs. TBA
News and Notes
• Comcast SportsNet explained why Kris Bryant wants to be like Jason Heyward and what it means for the Cubs. The Sun-Times reported teammates tout Jason Heyward’s everyday impact despite slumping bat.
• According to ESPN Chicago, rookie Rob Zastryzny is piling up quality outings out of the bullpen.
• According to the Tribune, Kris Bryant’s Friday bash brought back Barry Bonds memories for Dave Martinez.
• Joe Maddon downplayed the importance of this Cubs-Dodgers series according to ESPN Chicago.
• Jake Arrieta talked about the Cubs’ first onesie trip with Carrie Muskat.
• According to John Shea, the Giants are lined up to start Jeff Samardzija (Sept. 1), Matt Cain (Sept. 2), Madison Bumgarner (Sept. 3) and Johnny Cueto (Sept. 4) in the four-game series with the Cubs.
• The Reds selected the contract of former Cubs’ catcher Rafael Lopez from Triple-A Louisville. Lopez was called up Saturday. Lopez did not play in the Reds’ 13-0 thumping of the D-Backs at Chase Field.
And last, but not least, just watch …
When the game is more than just a game. Here's to you, Michael Lorenzen pic.twitter.com/mkdppfeVkk
— A Baseball Mind (@abaseballmind) August 27, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2008 – The Cubs game with the Phillies at Wrigley Field became the first to be played with the use of video replay to umpires to make calls in regards to fair or foul home runs, balls in or out of the park and fan interference. The rest of baseball started using replay the next day.
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 53 in a Cubs 10-5 victory over the Rockies
1990 – Ryne Sandberg became the first second baseman to hit 30 home runs in consecutive seasons when he led off the fourth inning with a homer off Bill Gullickson. The Cubs beat the Astros 5-2 at the Astrodome. Ryne Sandberg finished the year with 40 home runs.
1982 – Randy Wells, born
1971 – Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field. The Cubs honored Ron Santo and he went 1-for-3 and scored a run in a 4-3 loss behind Ferguson Jenkins to the Atlanta Braves.
1971 – Shane Andrews, born
1957 – Cubs traded Bob Alexander to the Indians for a PTBNL. Cubs received Dolan Nichols on Sept. 14, 1957 to complete the trade
1950 – Hank Sauer hit three home runs as the Cubs beat the Phillies 7-5 at Wrigley Field. Dutch Leonard made and won his only start of the season.
1943 – Lou Piniella, born
1940 – Cubs recalled Dizzy Dean and released Billy Rogell
1937 – Clay Bryant, pitching in relief of Charlie Root, hit a grand slam in the 10th inning as the Cubs beat the Braves 10-7 in Boston. Charlie Root homered earlier in the game.
1931 – Billy Herman made his Major League debut at second base and singled in his first at bat. Herman was struck over the right ear by a foul tip in his second at bat and carried off the field. The Cubs beat the Reds 14-5 at Wrigley on home runs by Hack Wilson, Charlie Grimm, Clarence Blair and Vince Barton. Charlie Root pitched a complete game for his 15th win and hit two doubles and a single at the plate.
1916 – Cubs purchased Vic Aldridge from Indianapolis of the American Association
1912 – Cubs traded Heinie Zimmerman to the New York Giants for Larry Doyle, Herb Hunter and Merwin Jacobson
1898 – Charlie Grimm, born