Thursday is the Cubs penultimate off day of the regular season. And based on the last two games in Milwaukee, the entire team could use a breather. Even with dropping two in a row and becoming the final team to reach 50 losses on the season, the Cubs are 36-15 in the second half and have a 15 ½ game lead in the NL Central. The Cubs are seven games better than the Nationals for the best record in the National League.
The Cubs nine-game road trip continues Friday night in Houston.
Addison Russell made another sensational play in the field and added another clip to his highlight reel for the season.
Russell was the middle man on the 3-6-4 double play in the third inning of Wednesday’s game.
Addison Russell was recently named the Co-Defensive Player of the Month. And for as good as Russell has been in the field since day one of his big league career, the work he’s put in on his defense can be seen on a daily basis.
Justin Grimm had to leave Wednesday’s game after facing one batter. At the time it did not look good. Grimm walked off the field with Cubs’ trainer P.J. Mainville, which typically points to an injury of some sort and bad news from the team.
The Cubs quickly announced Grimm was not injured, just sick. Multiple reports indicated he left the game with flu-like symptoms and/or a stomach virus.
As it turns out, Grimm reported to Miller Park not feeling 100 percent. Something Grimm ate did not settle well with the Cubs’ reliever. Grimm admitted to the Tribune he should have told Maddon he “wasn’t capable of pitching.”
“What happened was I did not want him to soil himself on the mound,” Maddon said to the beat writers. “He’s telling me he can get through it. I said ‘We’re trying to win this game, I’m not trying to get you through this inning, or anything else through you at this particular moment.'”
Grimm is expected to be ready to pitch by Friday night’s opener with the Astros.
The Cubs begin a three-game series at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Friday night. The Cubs are 13-4 in Interleague play this season. The Cubs are sending Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Arrieta to the hill and Joe Maddon will be able to get another position player in his lineup for three games.
According to the Tribune, Maddon said that Jorge Soler and Miguel Montero are possibilities for designated hitter this weekend in Houston. Maddon used Soler as the Cubs DH for all three games in Oakland when he came off the DL in early August (Aug. 5-7).
Here are the probable pitching matchups for the series between the former NL Central Division foes:
- Friday, Sept. 9 (7:10pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. RHP Joe Musgrave
- Saturday, Sept. 10 (12:05pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Collin McHugh
- Sunday, Sept. 11 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. RHP Mike Fiers
The Cubs flipped John Lackey and Jake Arrieta for the Astros’ series. Arrieta was scheduled for Saturday, Lackey for Sunday. The Cubs wanted to give Arrieta another day. Maddon told Carrie Muskat the change was made because they wanted to “break up Lester and Jake” and “it was strategical because we could.”
Unless the Cubs change the rotation again, Kyle Hendricks (Monday), Jason Hammel (Tuesday) and Mike Montgomery (Wednesday) are lined up for the three games in St. Louis (Sept. 12-14).
News and Notes
• Paul Sullivan reported the lack of drama down the stretch won’t spoil Cubs’ division-clinching party.
• Mike Montgomery was sharp Wednesday night and could be this team’s version of Moe Drabowsky according to the Sun-Times when the playoffs start.
• The Tribune reported Anthony Rizzo talked his way into the lineup, and turned on the power in 2-1 Cubs loss. Despite loss to Brewers, Cubs magic number reaches single digits according to Comcast SportsNet. ESPN Chicago reported the Cubs and Dexter Fowler struggled at Milwaukee but took a step closer to the playoffs.
• Locked in MVP race, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant won’t let Cubs lose their competitive edge according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Anthony Rizzo became the fifth player to be robbed of two home runs this season when Keon Broxton took the second one away Wednesday night. Rizzo lost one in St. Louis that would have also tied a game the Cubs lost.
• The Cubs staff executes against baseball’s top hitters according to the Sun-Times.
• According to the Tribune, Jason Hammel is in search of his slider.
• The Mets signed Tim Tebow to a minor league contract, the announcement was made early Thursday morning.
• Derrick Goold confirmed the Cubs and Cardinals will open the 2017 season at Busch Stadium.
• Matt Holliday was cleared for baseball activities and he is shooting to return to the lineup in two to three weeks.
• Starlin Castro hit his 20th homer of the season Wednesday and reached a mark that many thought he was capable of on an annual basis with the Cubs. Castro has had an up and down season in the Bronx while putting up similar numbers this season to the ones he had a year ago. Castro is batting .265/.296/.429 with 24 doubles, a triples and 20 home runs for a .725 OPS. Castro became just the fourth Yankees’ second baseman in the history of the storied organization to hit 20 homers in a single season joining Robinson Cano (five times), Joe Gordon (four times) and Alfonso Soriano (two times).
• Brian McTaggart reported the Astros lost one of their top scouts to the Cubs. Spike Lundberg has left the Astros to be a special assignment scout for the Cubs.
And last, but not least, Manny Ramirez is not done with his playing career. According to Enrique Rojas, Ramirez plans to play for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League. Ramirez is training and will see if he can play or not. Ramirez is a special hitting consultant with the Cubs.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Darwin Barney set the National League record of 124 consecutive errorless games by a second baseman surpassing Ryne Sandberg,
1998 – Mark McGwire hit home run No. 62 off Steve Trachsel at Busch Stadium.
1987 – The Cubs dismissed manager Gene Michael and replaced him with Frank Lucchesi
1985 – Pete Rose collected two hits against Reggie Patterson at Wrigley Field and tied Ty Cobb’s career hit mark of 4,191. The game was suspended due to darkness which gave Rose a chance to become the All-Time Hits Leader in Cincinnati
1977 – Bruce Sutter struck out the first six batters he faced, including three men on nine pitches. Sutter posted his sixth win in seven decisions in a Cubs 3-2 victory over the Expos in 10 innings at Wrigley Field
1972 – Ferguson Jenkins beat the Phillies 4-3 for his 20th win of the season, the sixth straight year of 20 or more wins for the future Hall of Famer.
1954 – The New York Giants selected Joe Garagiola off waivers from the Cubs
1953 – The Cubs purchased the contract of Ernie Banks and Bill Dickey for $10,000 from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro America League.
1952 – Cubs signed free amateur free agent Casey Wise
1941 – Cubs purchased Walt Lanfranconi from the Philadelphia Athletics