May 2013

5/31 Minor matters

Brooks Raley gave up two runs over six innings in Iowa’s 6-1 loss to Nashville. Logan Watkins had two hits. Blake Parker struck out three in the ninth. He has a 2.04 ERA in 16 relief appearances.

Alberto Cabrera gave up one run and struck out seven over six innings in Tennessee’s 5-1 win over Birmingham. Anthony Giansanti, Ty Wright, Matt Szczur, Chad Noble and Rubi Silva each had two hits. Wright and Noble had two RBIs each.

Javier Baez and Ben Carhart each homered in Daytona’s 5-4 loss to Tampa. Carhart finished with two RBIs, and Baez homered for the second time in three games. Ben Wells took the loss, giving up three runs over six innings.

Kane County’s game vs. Quad Cities was cancelled because of unplayable field conditions. They will not make up the game.

5/31 Celebrating the crosstown cup

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5/31 Cubs lineup

Matt Garza makes his third start since coming off the disabled list on Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Diamondbacks. Lefty Wade Miley starts for Arizona. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Hairston RF
Castillo C
Ransom 3B
Barney 2B
Garza P

* Garza needs to drive in one run to tie the Major League record for most RBIs by pitchers in a calendar month. The 1940 Tigers totaled 20 RBIs in August. The Cubs pitchers set the National League record on Thursday, thanks to Travis Wood’s grand slam. The Cubs pitchers have 19 RBIs in May.

* Catcher Welington Castillo appears to be fine after taking a bat on the knuckles of his left hand in Thursday’s game. The back swing caught his hand, and he was called for catcher’s interference.

* Garza has surrendered three or fewer earned runs in 18-consecutive home starts dating to June 27, 2011. That’s the longest stretch by a Cub since Kerry Wood allowed three or fewer earned runs in 22-straight home starts from July 7, 2000-April 20, 2002. In his last 18 starts at Wrigley Field since June 27, 2011, Garza is 7-4 with two complete games and a 1.97 ERA.

* Cubs pitchers not only have the most RBIs, they lead all Major League staffs with six doubles and four home runs. The homers have come in the last 13 games dating to May 15.

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Cubs 8, White Sox 3

Who needs a DH?

Travis Wood smacked a grand slam, the first by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley since 1972, and Luis Valbuena and Nate Schierholtz each hit solo home runs to power the Cubs to a 8-3 Interleague victory over the White Sox.

The Cubs could claim the crosstown cup with the win. They lead the intracity series, 3-0, and the two teams will meet once more at U.S. Cellular Field this summer to make up Tuesday’s game, which was interrupted by rain. That date has not been announced. The Cubs may want to want to abandon the designated hitter if it’s Wood’s turn to pitch.

The Cubs led 2-1 when they loaded the bases in the fourth. Welington Castillo was safe on a pop up single that dropped near the pitcher’s mound, Luis Valbuena singled off the right field wall, and Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch to set up Wood, who launched a 2-1 pitch from Jake Peavy into the left field bleachers. It was Wood’s second homer of the season and the first grand slam by a Cubs player since Anthony Rizzo connected Sept. 16, 2012, against the Pirates. The last Cubs pitcher to hit one was Jason Marquis on Sept. 22, 2008, at Shea Stadium against the Mets.

The last Cubs pitcher to hit a slam at Wrigley was Burt Hooton on Sept. 16, 1972. Wood began this season with three home runs in 120 at-bats.

It was Wood’s 10th quality start in 11 games.

The Cubs players were happy to celebrate bragging rights in the city.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” Wood said. “We were in there a minute ago, holding the cup up. It’s nice and brings a good feeling to the clubhouse. Hopefully, we can build off that and keep rolling.”

The Cubs secured their first series win against the White Sox since going 5-1 in 2007.

“Since the cup’s been around, it’s the first time the Cubs have won it, and it came at a good time for our ballclub,” Dale Sveum said. “They were hot coming in and playing real well and we weren’t except for that final game in Cincinnati. Hopefully that’s a springboard to keep things going.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Record-setting day

With Travis Wood’s grand slam, the Cubs pitchers now have 19 RBIs for the month, a Major League record for most RBIs by pitchers in a calendar month by a National League team. The Major League record is 20 set in August 1940 by the Tigers pitchers, who, obviously, did not play with the DH at that time. The Cubs have one more day to break the mark.

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Travis Wood hits slam

It’s a good thing Travis Wood started in the Cubs’ Interleague game at Wrigley Field, and not on the South Side. He didn’t want to miss a chance to hit. Wood smacked a grand slam, the first by a Cubs pitcher since Jason Marquis in 2008, in the Cubs’ game against the White Sox. The Cubs led 2-1 when they loaded the bases in the fourth as Welington Castillo was safe on a pop up single that dropped near the pitcher’s mound, Luis Valbuena singled off the right field wall, and Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch. Wood launched a 2-1 pitch from Jake Peavy into the left field bleachers for his second home run of the season.

It’s the first grand slam by a Cubs player since Anthony Rizzo connected Sept. 16, 2012, against the Pirates, and the first by a Cubs pitcher since Marquis did so Sept. 22, 2008, at Shea Stadium against the Mets. The last Cubs pitcher to hit a grand slam at Wrigley? Not Carlos Zambrano but Burt Hooton, who did so Sept. 16, 1972. Wood began this season with three home runs in 120 at-bats.

Cubs pitchers have provided most of the offense this month, totaling 19 RBIs. The next closest team? The Giants pitchers with eight RBIs for the season.

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Go Blackhawks

Jeff Samardzija may have beaten the White Sox on Monday but he lost to Paul Konerko in the shoot out between periods of Wednesday’s Blackhawks playoff game. Samardzija joined some of his teammates at Game 7 between the Blackhawks and Red Wings, which Chicago won in overtime, 2-1. Samardzija wore a Bob Probert No. 24 Blackhawks jersey. He was a big fan of the forward, known as an enforcer.

“He’s one of the guys I remember growing up,” Samardzija said. “I used to watch the games with my dad. I don’t think my dad was the best stick handler or skater either, and he had his buddies on the team and they were goal scorers. You breathe on them the wrong way, and I think [my dad's] job was to go straighten them out. I think that’s why he liked Probert which is why I like Probert.”

Between the second and third period, Samardzija and Konerko took part in the shootout. The Cubs pitcher missed all three shots. Konerko did much better.

“I was walking down there and they told me Paulie was shooting the puck,” Samardzija said. “I said, ‘He’s going to make me feel like an idiot.’ It’s the first time I’ve been on the ice with a packed house.”

The Cubs pitcher knows who’s the better hockey player among the two of them.

“He knows where [he is on] the totem pole on that,” Samardzija said. “He’s up top. He’s got a nice little wrister there. I was trying to finesse it.”

The Blackhawks may want to keep Samardzija and Konerko on call.

“I have a whole year to get ready for my next one,” Samardzija said. “They won, so if they have another Game 7, I’m pretty sure me and Paulie have to shoot the puck again at the second intermission.”

Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and James Russell joined Samardzija and Dale Sveum at the game at the United Center. They saw how excited Chicago fans can be when the team is successful. Samardzija feels that buzz now for the Cubs-White Sox series.

“To be honest with you, we haven’t had that many games where guys can see what the Chicago fans and big games are like,” Samardzija said. “They’re totally different when you’re playing big games and everyone’s coming out and fighting for tickets and there’s a madhouse in the streets. It’s a different feel than when you’re playing another team on a weekday here.

“To see that excitement and see how people react to situations and how bad they want to be at those games and how bad they want the playoff games, it makes you realize this stuff needs to happen now [with the Cubs] and as soon as possible.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Bullpen moves

The Cubs shuffled their bullpen Thursday, promoting right-hander Zach Putnam from Triple-A Iowa and optioning right-hander Alex Burnett to the Minor League team. To make room on the 40-man roster, Kyuji Fujikawa, who needs Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Putnam was 1-1 with four saves and a 3.26 ERA in 17 games with Iowa. He had 22 strikeouts over 19 1/3 innings. The right-hander, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Rockies, was one of the last players cut in Spring Training. He appeared in 11 Cactus League games, and gave up four runs on 14 hits over 10 innings while striking out six. He and Blake Parker were sharing the closer’s role at Iowa.

“I’ve always loved pitching in the back of the bullpen,” Putnam said.

Burnett was claimed off waivers from the Orioles and arrived about a half hour before the Cubs’ Interleague game against the White Sox. He made his first appearance Wednesday, and gave up one hit in one inning.

– Carrie Muskat

5/30 Cubs lineup

The Cubs face Jake Peavy on Thursday at Wrigley Field in the last game of the abbreviated intracity series. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
T. Wood P

5/30 Looking ahead

Following the Interleague series against the White Sox, the Cubs play host to the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: RHP Matt Garza (0-0, 4.00) vs. LHP Wade Miley (3-4, 4.53)
Saturday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (3-6, 2.85) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (2-3, 4.70)
Sunday: RHP Edwin Jackson (1-7, 6.11) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (8-0, 1.71)

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