Joe Maddon said he would have a normal lineup for Sunday’s finale with the Brewers as the Cubs look to get closer to nailing down the best record in the National League. Maddon planned to give his regulars two days off. Kris Bryant talked his way into Saturday’s lineup and Addison Russell was used in a pinch-hitting role both days.
The Cubs enter play Sunday with a Major League best record of 94-54, 40 games over .500, and six games better in the loss column than the Nationals (88-60). The Cubs remain the only team in baseball with 90 wins on the season.
Jake Arrieta struggled with his command Saturday in the loss to the Brewers. Arrieta was effective through the first five innings, just one unearned run and he appeared to repeat his mechanics well for the most part.
Arrieta ran into trouble again in the sixth inning. Arrieta labored through a 39-pitch inning and gave up three runs. The Cubs went from a 3-1 lead to being behind by one run by the time Arrieta recorded the third out. The big blow in the sixth was a two-run homer by Ryan Braun.
“We missed location on several pitches, and give them credit they did not miss the baseball. That’s what I saw,” Maddon said. “Jake did not have his typical command. And the first home run to Braun, you could see how badly he wanted to do one thing and ended up doing something different.”
“We have something we definitely have to get him more comfortable with,” Maddon said. “We’ve got to figure out exactly what’s going wrong. It’s fixable. We have some ideas. We’ll definitely go over it with him. In spite of that, look at what he’s done to this point. That’s the biggest thing. If we can get him to have better command of his fastball the next two starts, everything else will play off of that.”
Arrieta said he is not concerned and is working on correcting the problems. First pitch strikes and pitching ahead in the count is key for Arrieta and he just hasn’t done enough of that for a couple of months.
Jake Arrieta feels once he tightens up his command everything will be fine.
The Cubs did not provide much of an update on Jorge Soler prior to Saturday’s game. Soler said he was fine. And Joe Maddon decided to give him another day after he left Friday’s game before the fourth inning with tightness in his right side. Soler is believed to be day-to-day.
It was reported Soler’s side was sore but he was available to pinch-hit.
Maddon said, “I didn’t get anything awful. Just that his side was tight and whenever you hear that you probably overreact so we just out him out of there quickly. He played that one inning on defense because he didn’t say anything until afterwards and then we got him out. I saw him after the game, he seemed to be fine. Not going to play him today based off that. I don’t think it’s anything horrible
Jorge Soler could be back in the lineup Sunday, especially if Ben Zobrist gets another day.
Updated 10:44am CDT – Mark Grote spoke with Jorge Soler on Sunday morning. Soler said he had a MRI performed on his right oblique on Saturday. Soler has not received the results. He told Grote that he “feels great.”
Updated 11:35am CDT – Joe Maddon said the MRI on Jorge Soler came back clean. Cubs are looking for Soler to be able to play Monday “or in a couple of days after right side issue.”
Pedro Strop is expected to throw a bullpen prior to Sunday’s game. Strop is getting close to coming off the DL and pitching in a game again. The Cubs and Strop are not going to rush him back, but he will need to pitch in a few regular season games.
Joe Maddon said Strop was “bubbly” on Saturday and it getting close to returning
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs have 74 players set to report to Mesa on Sunday to prepare for the Fall Instructional League.
Mark Gonzales reported OF Donnie Dewees, OF D.J. Wilson, OF Eddy Julio Martinez, RHP Adbert Alzolay, RHP Dylan Cease, RHP Oscar De La Cruz, LHP Jose Paulino and INF Andruw Monasterio are among the prospects set to participate.
The league runs through Oct. 14.
News and Notes
• The Cubs are the best built team to win the World Series according to Nick Cafardo as he explained what he thinks the playoff contenders need to do.
• Bruce Levine reported the Cubs want to be the hot team in October. Maddon explained to Levine, “One of the things I want our guys to do is move the baseball with two strikes. Let’s be able to make adjustments. We must be able to move the baseball when it’s necessary. That is something we need to do better than we did last year.”
• According to the Tribune, the party’s over temporarily but the Cubs are content they did it up right.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Joe Maddon was jealous of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer being able to watch Friday’s game in the bleachers.
• Since July 27, 2015, the Cubs are 140-73 and 104-58 over their last 162 games as Andrew Belleson announced (on Twitter).
• And speaking of the Cubs’ record, included in Saturday’s game notes … this is the seventh season since the Cubs moved to Wrigley Field in 1916 that the team has won at least 52 games at home. The Cubs won 56 games at Wrigley in both 1933 and 1935, 55 in 2008, 53 in 1932 and 52 games in 1928, 1929 and 2016. The Cubs are 52-22 after Saturday’s loss.
• Ken Rosenthal thinks the Cubs will start Jorge Soler in right field against left-handers and not Jason Heyward in the postseason. Heyward would be brought in as a defensive replacement in games he does not start with southpaws on the hill.
• The injuries keep piling for the Mets. RHP Jacob deGrom is done for the season due to pain in the ulnar nerve in his right elbow. deGrom will need surgery to remove the built-up scar tissue in his right elbow.
And last, but not least, Stephen Colbert went incognito at Cubs game as a hot dog vendor.
This Day in Cubstory
1999 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 60 and became the first player in Major League history to hit 60 home runs in two different seasons.
1984 – Donnie Veal, born
1983 – Brent Lillibridge, born
1977 – Jody Gerut, born
1970 – The Cubs swept a doubleheader with the Expos. Ferguson Jenkins posted his 20th win of the season in the first game and Billy Williams cranked his 40th homer of the year. ‘The Vulture’ Phil Regan picked up the victory in game two.
1970 – Ozzie Timmons, born
1965 – Larry Jackson beat the Mets 4-3 for his 11th straight victory over the Metropolitans.
1960 – Ron Santo, Don Zimmer and George Altman homered in the sixth inning and Ernie Banks was intentionally walked for the 27th time in a Cubs 5-2 victory over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
1959 – Ryne Sandberg, born
1950 – Ron Northey hit a pinch-hit Grand Slam to lead the Cubs to a 9-7 victory over the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. It was Northey established a Major League record with his third pinch-hit Grand Slam of the season. Northey hit the first two in a Cardinals’ uniform.
1935 – In front of 30,000 at Wrigley Field, the Cubs collected 20 hits in a 15-3 victory over the Giants. Charlie Root was the beneficiary of the run support in the Cubs 15th straight win.
1929 – The Cubs clinched the National League Pennant despite losing 7-3 to Carl Hubbell and the New York Giants at Wrigley Field. The Pirates lost 5-4 to the Braves in the first game of a doubleheader giving the Cubs the pennant.
1928 – Cubs and Braves turned a combined NL record eight double plays in a Cubs 8-3 victory behind Sheriff Blake.
1904 – Jack McCarthy drove in both runs behind Buttons Briggs complete game in a 2-1 victory in 17 innings against the Reds at West Side Grounds