On the same day the Cubs announced a five-year contract extension for Theo Epstein, the best team in baseball had a rough game in Pittsburgh with Jake Arrieta on the mound. The Cubs saw their three-game winning streak come to an end. The Cubs have not lost more than two games in a row in the second half and are 16-10 in their last 26 games.
Jake Arrieta had a bad night Wednesday in what ended up being his worst start since August 2014. Arrieta made over 100 pitches in five innings and struggled as much with his mechanics as he did with the homeplate umpire’s strike zone early in the game.
Miguel Montero thought Arrieta allowed the missed calls in the first inning to get to him. Both Montero and Maddon noted Arrieta’s stuff was good but he was just off.
Arrieta was obviously not happy with his last start of the regular season. Arrieta wore it according to ESPN Chicago. And Arrieta vowed he would be ready to go in the NLDS.
“I’ll throw sides, I’ll prepare, and whoever I face in the first round, they’re going to be in trouble,” Arrieta said. “I don’t like giving up seven runs. I’m pissed about that, but moving forward, everything is fine.”
Arrieta said he does not want to pitch this weekend in Cincinnati to reach any goals. Arrieta want to stay on schedule. Physically, though, he is in a better place than a year ago.
“Physically, much better than last year,” Arrieta said to ESPN Chicago. “I want to pitch on a schedule. I’m not trying to do anything different. I’m not trying to throw a bullpen in a game. I didn’t throw well, no way around it.”
According to multiple reports, the players are not thrilled with the plans to treat these games like Spring Training. Maddon has been emptying his bench in the sixth inning just as teams do in Spring Training as they prepare for the season.
Arrieta said Wednesday “felt like a Spring Training game from the get go” and he did not like the feeling of the game from the first pitch. Arrieta also pointed out that “switching catchers felt like we were trying to do a little too much instead of win a ballgame.”
Arrieta said that regardless of the plans for the game, he didn’t throw well.
Miguel Montero also noticed how Wednesday felt like a Spring Training game. Montero does not think that it is “a good feeling for a pitcher or a player to go into a game knowing you’re going to play four innings or five innings or whatever it is, because this game is still important for all of the players.”
The Sun-Times reported Montero “seemed irritated that because of the bullpen scripts being used this week, the Cubs didn’t have a closer available as they tried to hold a lead Tuesday.”
Joe Maddon pointed out to Gordon Wittenmyer that the Cubs have “performed well during the Spring Training stretch.” Maddon doesn’t think the Cubs “have any issues.”
- Report from The Tribune
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from The Sun-Times
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
Jorge Soler is expected to be with the Cubs this weekend in Cincinnati for the last series of the regular season. Joe Maddon said Wednesday that he expects Soler will be able to play in Friday’s opener against the Reds.
Soler has been slowed by a sore right side since Sept. 16. Soler had a second MRI in Chicago on Monday and did not travel with the team to Pittsburgh.
The MRI reportedly came back clean.
The Cubs have to get him up to game speed in three games. Soler looked off and rather rusty during last Saturday’s game against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Maddon would not say otherwise but according to the Tribune the Cubs skipper is not concerned about Soler at this point.
Albert Almora Jr.
According to the Sun-Times, Albert Almora Jr. appeared to be a longshot at making the Cubs postseason roster but injuries to Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan might have created an opportunity for the rookie outfielder.
The Cubs will know more about Chris Coghlan on Thursday. After he left Wednesday’s game with a mild left ankle sprain, Maddon said Coghlan was day-to-day.
Almora Jr. would give Maddon another option for a late-inning defense substitution. Almora Jr. has had a rough series defensively in Pittsburgh, but outside of Jason Heyward he is the best defensive outfielder on the team.
Almora Jr. replaced Coghlan in left field before Maddon emptied his bench in the sixth inning and moved him to center field.
Almora Jr. has looked good at the plate and even worked a walk Wednesday.
In 10 games this month, Almora Jr. is 9-for-25 with two doubles, a triple and a home run (.360/.385/.640) with a 1.025 OPS.
News and Notes
• ESPN Chicago reported on Travis Wood, the one Cub who shows up early to the office.
• Reluctant reliever Carl Edwards Jr. took off once he embraced new role according to the Tribune.
• ESPN reported when Anthony Rizzo was diagnosed with cancer, Jon Lester threw him a lifeline.
• FOX Sports asked who is the new face of the National League, Corey Seager or Kris Bryant?
• The White Sox have privately decided to keep Robin Ventura as manager if he wants to return according to Bob Nightengale. The Sox have denied the report and Ventura declined to comment on his future with the team until after the season.
• The Cardinals will bring back Mike Matheny for the 2017 season according to a report from Hardball Talk.
• Mark Gonzales pointed out the Cubs are one of three team to win 100 games within four years of losing 100 games … Cubs were 61-101 in 2012. The Mets went 100-62 in 1969 after finishing 61-101 in 1967 and the Indians were 100-44 in 1995 after winning just 57 games in 1991 (57-105).
And last, but not least, the great Christopher Kamka worked overtime digging up this one … Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are the first pair of Cubs to reach 60 RBI on the road in a single-season since Phil Cavarretta and Andy Pafko in 1945.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs granted Eli Whiteside free agency
2011 – Cubs granted Brad Snyder free agency
2001 – Cubs hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches from the Astros’ Dave Mlicki. Fred McGriff, Rondell White and Todd Hundley hit back-to-back-to-back jacks in Cubs 6-2 win over Houston.
1993 – Donnie Dewees, born
1991 – Cubs traded Damon Berryhill and Mike Bielecki to the Braves for Yorkis Perez and Turk Wendell
1988 – Cubs traded Jody Davis to the Braves for Kevin Blankenship and Kevin Coffman
1986 – Greg Maddux squared off against Mike Maddux in the first game in big league history started by brothers. Greg beat Mike and the Phillies 6-3.
1974 – Ron Santo played his final game in the big leagues. During his 15-year career, Santo hit .277/.362/.464 with 365 doubles, 67 triples, 342 home runs and a .826 OPS.
1960 – Rob Deer, born
1957 – Craig Lefferts, born
1945 – Paul Gillespie became the first of only two players in baseball history ever to hit home runs in their first and last big league at bat. The Cubs reserve catcher went deep against the Giants at the Polo Grounds on Sept. 11, 1942 and ended his career with a home run at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
1935 – Augie Galan played his 154th game of the season for the Cubs without hitting into a double play. Galan set the Major League record in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals at St. Louis.
1926 – Charlie Root limited the White Sox to four hits as the Cubs won the City Series opener, 6-0, at Wrigley Field.