August 2012

8/29 Minor League report

Alfredo Amezaga hit his sixth home run in Iowa’s 7-3 loss to Nashville on Tuesday night. Horacio Ramirez took the loss, giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. Tony Campana had two hits.

Logan Watkins hit a walkoff home run in the 10th to lift Tennessee to a 6-5 win over Mobile. Michael Brenly had three hits, including his sixth home run. Watkins also hit a double and was batting .280. Frank Batista picked up the win, despite blowing a save in the top of the ninth.

Daytona’s doubleheader against Clearwater on Tuesday was postponed because of rain. The teams were going to try to play two games on Wednesday.

Wisconsin scored three runs in the ninth to beat Peoria, 4-1. Jacob Rogers had a hit, and now has hit safely in five of his last six games.

Stephen Bruno had three hits in Boise’s 7-3 win over Everett. Wilson Contreras had two hits and two RBIs. Brian Smith picked up the win in relief.

Garrett Schlecht was 4-for-4 and scored three runs in Mesa’s 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks.

— Carrie Muskat

8/29 Cubs lineup

Anthony Rizzo was not in the Cubs lineup Wednesday for Game 3 against the Brewers. Rizzo was batting .211 (8-for-38) in his last 11 games with one double, three RBIs, and 14 strikeouts. Here’s the lineup:
DeJesus RF
Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Soriano LF
LaHair 1B
Castillo C
Jackson CF
Barney 2B
Samardzija P

8/29 Cubs name Hyde new farm director

The Cubs named Brandon Hyde as the new director of player development, promoting him from his role as the club’s Minor League field coordinator.  He replaces Oneri Fleita, who was dismissed. Hyde, 38, joined the Cubs last offseason after spending the previous nine seasons in the Marlins organization, most recently as the club’s Major League bench coach from June 23, 2010, through the end of the 2011 season. Before working at the big league level, Hyde was the Marlins’ Minor League infield coordinator to begin 2010 and spent the previous seven seasons as a Minor League manager and coach in the Marlins system.

 — Carrie Muskat

8/29 AZ Fall League roster

Javier Baez, Matt Szczur and Rubi Silva are among the Cubs prospects who will play in the Arizona Fall League. Baez was the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2011. The trio will be joined on the Mesa Solar Sox by pitchers Dae-Eun Rhee, Nick Struck, Tony Zych, and Zach Rosscup. Kevin Rhoderick will be on the taxi squad.

The Arizona Fall League celebrates its 20th anniversary season in 2012. Opening Day is Oct. 9. The six-team league, owned and operated by MLB, plays six days per week (Monday-Saturday) in six Cactus League stadiums in the Phoenix area, including the Cubs’ facility in Mesa, Hohokam Stadium.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Wood, Cubs comes up short

Travis Wood did everything he could to beat the Brewers. He just didn’t get much help. He hit his third career home run but also served up a three-run shot to rookie Jeff Bianchi as the Brewers beat the Cubs, 4-1, on Tuesday night. The announced crowd was 30,017, the smallest of the season at Wrigley Field.

It was Wood’s eighth straight loss, which is a career-high, and the Cubs fell to a season-low 30-games under .500 (49-79). He’s now 0-8 with a 6.66 ERA in his last nine starts. Wood (4-11) gave up three runs, on Bianchi’s homer, over seven innings. Asked to sum up his season so far, the lefty shrugged.

“With tonight, I’m 4-11, so not very good,” he said.

On Monday night, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart each homered for Milwaukee. That’s to be expected. On Tuesday, the Brewers got their power from an unlikely source. With one out in the Milwaukee second, Hart doubled, but was caught in a rundown by Wood. Martin Maldonado was safe on a fielder’s choice on the play, and Carlos Gomez then singled. Both scored on Bianchi’s first Major League home run off a 3-0 pitch.

“It was 3-0 [in the count] and I should’ve known better,” Wood said. “The pitcher was on deck. I didn’t, and I made the pitch I did, and he hit it out.”

Wood did that as well when he led off the Cubs’ third with his third career home run, although he hit an 0-2 pitch from Yovani Gallardo into the left-field bleachers. The lefty is the second Cubs pitcher to connect this year, as Paul Maholm also did so for the Cubs on June 23 against the D-backs. It was Wood’s first blast since May 9, 2011.

“He’s been swinging pretty good,” Gallardo said of Wood. “I saw that my last start. I just tried to overthrow it and it came back over the plate, and he hit it out.”

Wood didn’t celebrate his blast.

“It’s a moot point when you still lose the ballgame,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Barney ties NL mark – UPDATED

Darwin Barney tied the National League record of 113-straight errorless games at second base, set by the Padres’ David Eckstein in 2010. The AL single-season errorless streak record for a second baseman is held by Placido Polanco, who went 141 games without a miscue in 2007 for the Tigers. Barney’s 113-game errorless streak at second base spans 910 1/3 innings since his only 2012 miscue at second base, April 17 in Miami. Ryne Sandberg held the previous single-season mark of 90-straight games without a miscue at second from June 21, 1989, through the end of the season. That was part of Sandberg’s franchise record 123-game errorless streak that ran through May 17, 1990.

“When I was younger, I always thought that defense was my weakness, so I put a lot of effort into working on it and getting as solid as I could,” Barney said.

This is his second full season as a second baseman, and he’s worked on making the transition from shortstop.

“We came in with a plan to fix some things and the plays I had trouble with, and we’ve secured that up,” Barney said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Minor League report

Greg Rohan and Dave Sappelt each homered in Iowa’s 4-3 loss to Nashville on Monday night. Seth McClung took the loss, giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks over five innings. Esmailin Caridad, Jaye Chapman and Marcus Hatley each threw a scoreless inning of relief.

Jae-Hoon Ha hit a three-run homer in the first to back Dae-Eun Rhee and lift Tennessee to a 5-3 win over Mobile. Rhee gave up one earned run over five innings, striking out six. Junior Lake and Logan Watkins each had two hits.

Daytona’s game against Clearwater was postponed because of the weather.

Starling Peralta gave up two runs over six innings inpeoria’s 7-3 win over Wisconsin. Jacob Rogers hit his second home run in as many days and Jorge Soler scored two runs, hit a double and stole a base. It was Peralta’s eighth quality start.

Boise, which has secured a post-season spot, opens its final regular season home stand on Tuesday against Everett.

Yasiel Balaguert hit a three-run home run in the second inning to help Mesa beat the Giants, 3-1.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Cubs lineup

Travis Wood takes the mound Tuesday night as the Cubs face the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus RF

Valbuena 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soriano LF

Castro SS

Castillo C

Jackson CF

Barney 2B

T. Wood P

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Cubs sign Castro

The Cubs signed shortstop Starlin Castro to a seven-year, $60 million contract extension on Tuesday. The deal reportedly includes a $6 million signing bonus with salaries of $5 million for 2013 and 2014; $6 million in 2015; $7 million in 2016; $9 million in 2017; $10 million in 2018; and $11 million in 2019. There also is a reported club option for 2020 of $16 million, or a $1 million buyout. If Castro wins the Most Valuable Player award, or finishes first through fifth twice, the final year of the deal and the option year each escalate by $2 million. The deal would cover all four years of arbitration plus his first three free agent seasons. The contract at a minimum covers all of Castro’s playing time throughout the rest of his 20s, as the 22-year-old will not turn 30 until after completing the seventh season of this deal.

A two-time National League All-Star, Castro leads the National League with 486 hits since making his Major League debut on May 7, 2010, at the age of 20. Last season, he was the youngest player to lead the National League in hits with 207. Castro has finished each of his first two seasons batting .300 or better. This season, he has set a career high with 12 home runs, has tied his career mark with nine triples, is three RBIs shy of his career-best 66 from a season ago, and has recorded his second-straight season with more than 20 stolen bases. This season, he was batting .276 with 12 home runs, 18 doubles, nine triples and 63 RBIs. However, he also leads all Major League shortstops with 21 errors, including two Monday night.

— Carrie Muskat

8/28 Pitching in

What other position players have pitched in for the Cubs when needed? Joe Mather did so in the ninth inning on Monday night against the Brewers, facing two batters and giving up a hit then a ground out to end the inning. Mather’s only other pitching appearance was April 17, 2010, for the Cardinals when he entered in the 20th inning against the Mets. The game was tied at 1, but he gave up back to back singles, and the game-winning run scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes. Mather did have an at-bat in the Cardinals ninth but flew out to right for the second out.

Who else?

* On July 3, 1999, Gary Gaetti switched from third base to pitcher in the eighth inning against the Phillies with the Cubs trailing 19-8, and retired the first batter he faced. But Marlon Anderson then homered and Gaetti walked the next batter. One out later, Doug Glanville hit a RBI triple to make it 21-8.

* Doug Dascenzo exchanged his outfielder’s glove for a pitcher’s glove in four games for the Cubs from 1990-91, giving up three hits, two walks and striking out two over five innings. He did not give up a run. His first appearance was June 12, 1990, against the Mets in the eighth inning of what would be a 19-8 loss. He threw eight pitches, six for strikes. He threw two shutout innings June 10, 1991, against the Dodgers, and made another appearance 17 days later — obviously, plenty of rest — on June 28 against the Cardinals. He also pitched July 2 against the Pirates, and had to face Bobby Bonilla, who singled, and Barry Bonds, who flew out. Dascenzo did get Bonds to swing and miss at a change-up. In 1992, Dascenzo said his pitching days were over.

“Any time I go out and touch the mound, we’re getting beat by 10 or 15 runs and we’re losing a game in the standings,” Dascenzo said. “I don’t want any part of that. I want us to be beating someone else’s brains in.”

His three relief appearances were the most by a position player since infielder Jim Morrison appeared in three games for the Braves in 1988.

* Larry Biittner didn’t have the same success as Dascenzo. On July 4, 1977, in the first game of a doubleheader, Biittner took over with one on and two outs in the eighth with the Cubs trailing the Expos, 11-2, and served up a home run to pinch-hitter Larry Parrish. In the ninth, he gave up a two-run homer to Ellis Valentine and a three-run shot to Andre Dawson. His final line: 1 1/3 innings pitched, six runs, five hits, one walk, one strikeout, three home runs.

* On Aug. 27, 1968, outfielder Willie Smith helped the Cubs in a game against the Giants. He started the game in left field, then replaced Bill Stoneman on the mound in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, but settled down to strikeout Dick Dietz, and get a groundout. Smith finished the game, and helped in the ninth, hitting a two-run home run off Bobby Bolin, but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost, 8-4. Smith faced eight batters over 2 2/3 innings and struck out two. He did not give up a run or a hit. Smith had some experience. He was a pitcher in 1963-64.

— Carrie Muskat