August 2011

8/30 Cubs Minor League report

Bryan LaHair hit his 37th home run to tie the franchise record and Brad Snyder hit a go-ahead RBI single to help Iowa beat Nashville, 8-5, on Monday night. Chris Rusin gave up five runs on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings but Hung-Wen Chen picked up the win in relief. Brett Jackson scored three runs and Lou Montanez had three hits and three RBIs. LaHair now is tied with Joe Hicks for the single-season Iowa home run mark.

Josh Vitters, Nate Samson and Trey McNutt each homered in Tennessee’s 7-2 win over Jacksonville. McNutt picked up the win in relief, giving up one run on six hits over six innings. The homer was his first pro hit. Vitters had two hits, including his 13th homer, and two RBIs. Rebel Ridling extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Andrew Cashner started in his third rehab outing, and struck out the three batters he faced. He now heads to Triple-A Iowa to finish his rehab.

“The ball comes out of his hand real easy and smooth,” Smokies manager Brian Harper said of Cashner. “It kind of jumps on the hitter. He obviously looks healthy.”

Jake Optiz hit two home runs to pace an 18-hit attack and lead Daytona to a 9-6 win over Dunedin. Matt Loosen picked up the win, giving up two earned runs on four hits over five innings. Also, Evan Crawford, Frank Batista, Justin Bour and manager Buddy Bailey were named Florida State League All-Stars. Batista now has 26 saves.

Rafael Valdes had two hits and scored a run in Peoria’s 5-4 loss to Kane County. Anthony Giansanti had two hits and a stolen base.

Boise had Monday off and opens its final homestand of the season Tuesday against Vancouver. The Mesa club ended its season on Sunday, finishing 28-28.

— Carrie Muskat

8/29 Wells gets 1st CG, shutout

The Cubs had scuffled offensively in their last series, were facing two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum on a cool night, and the Giants were fighting to stay in the playoff race. Who would’ve figured Randy Wells would end up with a shaving cream pie to celebrate his first complete game shutout or that Lincecum would serve up three homers?

Blake DeWitt belted a three-run homer and Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Carlos Pena each hit solo shots to help Wells finish August unbeaten as the Cubs roughed the Giants, 7-0, on Monday night in San Francisco. Lincecum had given up three home runs in his 14 previous outings combined, so when Soriano connected to lead off the fifth, that appeared to be it.

“At 1-0, you figure that’s the way it’s going to end,” Mike Quade said.

Wells (6-4) delivered a strong counter. He gave up two hits — a double by Andres Torres with two outs in the third and a single by pinch-hitter Mike Fontenot with one out in the eighth — and struck out seven. It’s a good finish for the right-hander, 29, who had to go on the disabled list after his first start April 4 because of a strained right forearm. Being healthy makes a difference.

He received a celebratory shaving cream pie, his first since his first win.

“It’s pretty fun,” Wells said.

Some other highlights:

* They hit three homers in one inning for the first time since June 9, 2010, when they did so in the fifth against the Brewers.

* Starlin Castro tied a career high with two doubles while Carlos Pena tied a personal best with three walks.

* This was the first time Blake DeWitt tripled and homered in the same game. Soto’s homer ended an 0-for-25 skid.

* Besides being his first shutout ever, it was Wells’ longest career start. His previous high was 8 1/3 innings on May 22, 2010, at Texas.

— Carrie Muskat


8/29 Extra bases

Iowa’s Bryan LaHair belted his 37th home run on Monday to tie the Triple-A team’s single-season mark, set by Joe Hicks in 1984. LaHair was named to the All-Pacific Coast League team earlier in the day.

* This season could be Aramis Ramirez’s last with the Cubs. His contract includes a club option for $16 million for next season.
What is Ramirez’s legacy?

“This year speaks for itself,” Mike Quade said of the third baseman, who entered Monday’s game against the Giants batting .309 with 24 homers and 83 RBIs.

“He’s always been — since the first time I saw him in Double-A a long time ago — a guy you looked at who you said would be a productive RBI guy,” Quade said. “His approach lends itself to being really good in RBI situations. Even as a young kid coming in the Pirates system, he looked like that kind of guy.”

Ramirez had a 16-game hitting streak end on Sunday. He batted .508 in that stretch, and is one home run shy of joining Billy Williams as the only players in Cubs history with 30 doubles and 25 homers six times.

* On Friday, Quade, interim GM Randy Bush and player development director Oneri Fleita will meet to discuss who will be called up from the Minor Leagues. Brett Jackson’s name will certainly come up. The Cubs’ No. 1 pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Jackson was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa in mid July. In 42 games at Iowa, the outfielder has hit .319 with 12 doubles, two triples, nine homers and six stolen bases. He got off to a slow start, hitting .233 in his first 17 games, but was batting .369 in August. If called up, Jackson’s service time clock would start ticking. Do the Cubs feel he’s ready? Is it worth it to call him up now or wait?

“I want to do what’s right for the organization and the kid, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” Quade said Monday. “He’s a fine-looking young player. People who are watching him and see him every day are in a good a position to make a decision as to whether we should bring him up here.”

* Andrew Cashner struck out all three batters he faced in his third rehab outing on Monday for Double-A Tennessee. He threw 16 pitches, 11 for strikes. The right-hander, who has been on the disabled list since April 6 with a strained right rotator cuff, was expected to move up to Triple-A Iowa next for at least two more appearances. If all goes well, Cashner will join the big league team when it returns Friday for a six-game homestand. In his three rehab outings, Cashner has struck out six, giving up three hits and not walked a batter over 2 2/3 innings.

— Carrie Muskat

8/29 Cubs Minor League report

Lou Montanez hit his seventh home run in Iowa’s 2-1 loss to Oklahoma City. Alberto Cabrera took the loss, giving up two runs on eight hits over six innings.

Congrats to Iowa’s Bryan LaHair who was named to the All-Pacific Coast League team. This is LaHair’s second post-season honor. He leads all Minor League baseball with 36 home runs and is one homer shy of tying Iowa’s franchise record for home runs in a single season, set by Joe Hicks in 1984.

Also, Blake Parker has agreed to play for the Hermosillo Naranjeros in the Mexican League. The Arizona Fall League was expected to announce its rosters on Tuesday.

Ryan Searle gave up six runs — three earned — on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings in Tennessee’s 6-2 loss to Jacksonville. Rebel Ridling extended his hitting streak to 13 games, going 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Ridling was named Hitter of the Week by the Southern League for the week Aug. 22-28. He batted .520 in that stretch with one homer and 11 RBIs.

Evan Crawford had three hits in Daytona’s 10-5 loss to Dunedin. Casey Harman gave up five earned runs on seven hits over five innings and took the loss. Michael Brenly had two hits and one RBI.

Luis Liria threw 6 2/3 shutout innings, giving up one hit and walking three, in Peoria’s 2-0 shutout over Kane County. Rafael Valdes and Kenny Socorro each had two hits.

Ben Wells gave up two runs, none earned, on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in Boise’s 9-2 win over Salem-Keizer. Oliver Zapata, Reggie Golden and Paul Hoilman each homered. Kyler Burke converted his first save, giving up three hits and striking out five over 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

Gioskar Amayar had three hits, extending his hitting streak to eight games, in Mesa’s 5-4 win over the D-Backs.

— Carrie Muskat

8/29 Cubs lineup

Blake DeWitt is starting at second base for the Cubs Monday night when they open a three-game series against the Giants. He’s one of the few players to have some success against Tim Lincecum, going 8-for-18. The Cubs and Giants are 3-3 so far this season. Here’s the lineup:

SS Castro

2B DeWitt

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

CF Byrd

RF Colvin

LF Soriano

C Soto

P Wells

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Callups, Campy & Barney, and Ramy

Interim GM Randy Bush, Mike Quade and player development director Oneri Fleita will meet Friday in Chicago to discuss which players will be added when rosters expand Sept. 1. The Cubs’ Minor League teams wrap up their seasons next weekend. Among the players expected to be added are first baseman Bryan LaHair, who was batting .330 with 36 homers and 105 RBIs for Triple-A Iowa.

* One thing Quade would like to see by both Tony Campana and Darwin Barney is to be more selective at the plate and take advantage of their speed. That means they have to get on base.

“I think a huge thing for ‘Campy’ down the road is to get stronger,” Quade said Sunday. “Don’t touch his legs but if he can get stronger, he can drive the ball a little more. If he can get the outfield to respect his swing and do some things, that will be huge.”

Quade also told Barney in Spring Training that the second baseman will thrive if he can lay off the high fastballs.

“His swing is good enough,” Quade said of Barney. “If he can add that discipline on a regular basis, it will put him in favorable counts and keep the ball out of the air. He’s such a good mid-thigh, low-ball hitting guy.”

* Aramis Ramirez leads the Major Leagues with a .427 batting average in August while teammate Reed Johnson is fifth at .400. Ramirez is tied for tops among any Cubs player in the month of August, dating to 1946. Shawon Dunston batted .427 in August 1991; Bill Madlock hit .425 in August 1975; and Manny Trillo hit .409 in august 1986.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Cashner update

Andrew Cashner will make his third rehab start on Monday for Double-A Tennessee and then the team will decide if he’s ready to move up to Triple-A Iowa. Cashner, who has been on the disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff since April 6, will be limited to one inning in Monday’s outing. After that, Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins and the medical staff will determine whether the right-hander is ready to pitch out of the Iowa bullpen or if it’s better to have him start at Triple-A. By starting, they can give him enough time to warm up before his outing. If all goes well, Cashner, who turns 25 on Sept. 11, will join the Cubs when they return from a three-game trip to San Francisco, which starts Monday. Cashner, who won the fifth spot in the rotation this year, only to be sidelined after his only start with the shoulder injury, was expected to start in the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 4.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Cubs lineup

The Cubs will try to avoid a sweep Sunday against the Brewers. Here’s the lineup:

SS Castro

2B Barney

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

RF Colvin

CF Byrd

LF Soriano

C Hill

P Coleman

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Extra bases

The Cubs close out their series against the Brewers on Sunday, sending Casey Coleman against Zack Greinke, who is the first of two Cy Young winners the team will face in back to back games. On Monday, Randy Wells will have to deal with the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, who won the award in 2008 and ’09. Looking ahead, here’s the pitching matchups for the three-game series against the defending World Champs:

Monday: Randy Wells (5-4, 5.53) vs. Tim Lincecum (12-10, 2.46)

Tuesday: Matt Garza (6-10, 3.68) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (10-4, 2.54)

Wednesday: Rodrigo Lopez (4-5, 4.80) vs. Madison Bumgarner (8-12, 3.59)

* After hitting .270 with runners in scoring position in July, the Cubs are batting .179 (42-for-234) this month. That includes a .157 mark in the last 13 games.

* Tony Campana and Starlin Castro are tied for the team lead with 17 stolen bases each. The last time the Cubs had a pair with at least 17 steals was 2008 when Ryan theriot swiped 22 and Alfonso Soriano stole 19.

* Aramis Ramirez enters Sunday’s game with a 16-game hitting streak. He’s batting .508 in that stretch. It’s his longest streak since a 22-game stretch May 14-June 11, 2003. Ramirez also is one home run away from tying Billy Williams as the only Cubs players to hit at least 30 doubles and 25 homers six times. Williams did so 1963-65, 1968, 1970 and 1972.

* Starlin Castro leads the National League and is third in the Majors with 169 hits. He’s on pace for 206 hits this year.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Cubs Minor League report

Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up one unearned run on six hits over six innings in Iowa’s 2-1 loss to Oklahoma City. Alberto Cabrera starts for the I-Cubs Sunday.

Eric Jokisch gave up two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in Tennessee’s 5-4 win over Jacksonville. Blake Lalli, Nate Samson and Jae-Hoon Ha each had two hits. Rafael Dolis converted his 16th save.

Michael Burgess hit his 19th homer and Logan Watkins hit his fifth in Daytona’s 7-4 win over Dunedin. Jeffry Antigua gave up three runs on six hits over five innings and did not get a decision. He’s 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA. Evan Crawford had three hits and Watkins finished with three RBIs.

Starling Peralta threw six shutout innings in Peoria’s 4-3 win over Kane County. Peralta gave up two hits and struck out four. Taiwan Easterling had two hits and three RBIs. Seven members of the Chiefs were scheduled to participate in fall instructional league in Mesa. The list includes Rubi Silva, Easterling, Dustin Geiger, Micah Gibbs, Peralta, Luis Liria and Frank Del Valle.

Dustin Harrington had three hits in Boise’s 6-1 loss to Salem-Keizer. Jean Sandoval gave up one unearned run on one hit and two walks over three innings while striking out six.

Mesa lost 6-3 to the Giants. Brian Smith gave up one earned run on five hits over four innings.

— Carrie Muskat