9/3 Extra bases
Alfonso Soriano is batting .316 with seven runs, five doubles, a homer and six RBIs in his last 10 home games, dating to Aug. 16. Although his season totals don’t match the numbers Soriano has posted in the past, he’s happy with the year. “It’s more important for me to stay healthy,” he said.
* Starlin Castro has hit safely in his last five games and 10 of his last 12. He’s batting .385 with seven doubles and three RBIs in those dozen games and has 35 multi-hit games, third most amongst NL rookies. That’s the most by a Cubs rookie since Kosuke Fukudome had 39 multi-hit games in 2008. Castro is hitting .358 at Wrigley this year.
* James Russell became the fifth Cubs pitcher to pick up his first Major League win this season. His dad, Jeff Russell, a former big league pitcher, had sent a congratulatory text message after the game. “I hope it isn’t his last,” Mike Quade said of Russell.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” Russell said of the season, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
* Randy Wells now is 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in his last seven starts. He’s 0-6 when he lasts less than six innings. The right-hander has tried to dismiss a sophomore jinx since the Cubs Convention in January.
“This whole year’s been a battle,” said Wells, who was 12-10 in 2009. “You put yourself in a mindset coming into Spring Training that this ‘sophomore jinx’ or whatever you guys call it isn’t real and you can work through it.
“The truth of the matter is, the biggest part of the sophomore jinx is mental and learning how to work through the bad times and work through the struggles,” he said. “A game like today, give up three in the first and you gather yourself and give your team a chance to come back and then you have two outs and the tying run on first or second, you have to bear down and I think that’s where I’ve been lacking throughout the year.”
Quade said there are reasons a player struggles in his second season. It could be teams have better scouting reports or opposing players know what to expect. Wells just needs to be more consistent.
“It’s a command thing with [Wells] and he has to keep working on that,” Quade said. “You have to remember he’s a converted catcher and he’s still learning.”
* The Cubs have yet to announce their starting rotation for Monday and Tuesday, but expect either Casey Coleman or Carlos Silva to start the two games vs. the Astros.
– Carrie Muskat