June 2013

6/27 Cubs lineup

The Cubs and Brewers square off in the rubber game of their three-game series on Thursday at Miller Park. Matt Garza gets the start, and yes, he’s matched up with catcher Dioner Navarro. Brian Bogusevic will make his second straight start in left field for the Cubs. He was 2-for-4 on Wednesday, but on base four times, reaching on an error, walk and two singles. He also stole a base. Dale Sveum has said Alfonso Soriano will be the DH in the Cubs’ upcoming games at AL West ballparks.

Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney CF
Rizzo 1B
Bogusevic LF
Navarro C
Barney 2B
Garza P

* The Cubs will try to win their first series at Miller Park since taking two of three from the Brewers, Sept. 10-12, 2010.

6/26 Post-game notes

* The Cubs have 247 extra-base hits, second most in the NL behind the Rockies.

* Cubs pitchers have 46 quality starts, fourth-most in the NL.

* Scott Feldman picked up his 500th career strikeout when he fanned Jonathan Lucroy in the third. Nine of his 12 starts have been quality starts.

* Kevin Gregg is now 12-for-12 in save opportunities.

* Anthony Rizzo had a double, a single, a walk and two RBIs. This year, 36 of his 72 hits have gone for extra bases, and his 22 doubles rank among the NL leaders.

6/26 Cubs 5, Brewers 4

Anthony Rizzo celebrated the one-year anniversary of his call-up to the Cubs by hitting a two-run single, Ryan Sweeney added a solo home run and Kevin Gregg registered his 12th save in 12 tries to post a 5-4 victory against the Brewers, ending a nine-game losing streak at Miller Park.

Milwaukee made it interesting in the ninth. Chicago led 5-3 but Juan Francisco homered for the second time in as many nights, going deep off Gregg. Rickie Weeks doubled and moved up on a sacrifice but was forced at home, despite charging into catcher Welington Castillo like a linebacker. The Cubs were happy to take that out. Gennett then launched a ball to right, and Nate Schierholtz caught it in front of the warning track.

“What an ending,” Cubs starter Scott Feldman said. “It was nice to put that one away and keep everyone on their toes.”

“I’ll have to start shaving my head and face completely so you don’t see the gray [hair],” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “When that ball left [Gennett's] bat, I ain’t lying, I thought it was a homer, especially in this ballpark. I like that kid. He’s going to be a good Major League player. … I’ve seen him hit some bombs. That little guy can hit the ball a long way.”

Not this time.

“In this park, you never know,” Gregg said. “I knew it wasn’t hit well and that it wasn’t a no doubter. It plays pretty short over there [in right] at times. Luckily, it stayed in.”

Gregg, who the Cubs pitchers say is the calmest person on the planet, didn’t get rattled by Francisco’s homer.

“If we win by one every time, great, we win,” he said. “As a closer, you don’t want to give up any runs, but you want to win, first and foremost.”

Gregg has been a vast improvement over Carlos Marmol, who began the season as the Cubs closer but was designated for assignment on Tuesday.

“You have a calm [with Gregg] because you know he’s not going to implode with walks and stuff like that,” Sveum said. “They’re going to have to get their hits to beat him. The times that he’s given up a run, they’ve hit the ball. He doesn’t walk guys. He knows how to pitch. He knows, ‘If I throw stirkes, they have to get hits to beat me.’ We’ve seen many many closers over the years do a nice job just because they don’t walk anybody.”

Released by the Dodgers after a solid Spring Training, Gregg has filled the vacancy created by Marmol’s ineffectiveness and a season-ending injury to Kyuji Fujikawa.

“We’re pretty fortunate to have him,” Feldman said. “He brings a lot of stability to the back end of the bullpen and also just having a veteran like that who’s been through so much adversity and overcome it and is having one of the better seasons in his career right now. You can learn a lot from guys like that.”

The Cubs are lucky to have Feldman, who is drawing interest from playoff-bound teams.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Feldman said of the trade rumors. “I’d love to stay on this team. I love the guys here. I think we’re headed in the right direction. You never know what’s going to happen but it’s kind of out of my control at htis point. I hope I’m pitching well and I hope I stay here but it’s really out of my control.”

– Carrie Muskat

6/26 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano did not start Wednesday, and will likely be the Cubs designated hitter when they play six Interleague games in American League West ballparks, starting Friday in Seattle. Brian Bogusevic, called up from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, started in left field Wednesday against the Brewers, and will do so against the Mariners and Athletics, manager Dale Sveum said.

“You want to keep that bat going, and you don’t want him to sit too long,” Sveum said of Bogusevic, who was batting .319 with 14 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs and 16 stolen bases with Iowa.

* The Cubs have yet to sign their first-round pick, third baseman Kris Bryant, but Sveum is eager to see the infielder play as soon as possible. Of course, fans want to know how quick Bryant will be in the Major Leagues.

“You can’t put a timetable on kids like that getting to the big leagues,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, everything goes well and you get those kind of players with that kind of power and leverage in their swing, you want to get them here early but you don’t want to do anything to wreck his development either.”

The Cubs are counting on the young prospects in their system to take the team to a World Championship. That’s a lot of pressure.

“You hope people don’t get too anxious,” Sveum said, “and say, ‘Man, there’s openings here, there’s openings there. Man, I’ve got to do this to get to the big leagues soon.’ You try to do too much and can wreck your own development.”

* Class A Daytona outfielder Jorge Soler was to be examined in Chicago. He’s been sidelined with a sore left shin, injured when he fouled a ball off his leg. Soler went on the seven-day disabled list, which ended on Saturday, and has yet to play. He was to see the Cubs medical staff this week.

– Carrie Muskat

6/26 Castro: “I know I can hit”

Starlin Castro was back in the Cubs lineup Wednesday, and ready to begin what he’s considering to be a new season. Castro, who sat Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 22, 2011, ending a streak of 269 consecutive games played, was batting .228, which prompted the day off.

“Hopefully, he had the opportunity to kick back and enjoy the day,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Hopefully, he gets back to the player he is.”

“I know I can hit,” Castro said. “I just have to go out there and do the best I can and play hard every day.”

Sveum’s message to the two-time All-Star shortstop: Don’t try to get four hits every at-bat.

“He told me, ‘Be you. I know you can hit. Be the Starlin Castro you always are. Don’t try to do too much, don’t try to hit .300 in one at-bat. That’s not going to happen,'” Castro said. “That’s the situation I’m in right now. It happens to every player. He doesn’t care who you are — it happens to everybody. I’m going to finish my year good.”

So, a new season starts Wednesday?

“Believe it,” Castro said.

– Carrie Muskat

6/26 Happy anniversary

There was no cake or balloons in the clubhouse, but Wednesday was a milestone day, marking the one-year anniversary of when Anthony Rizzo was called up from the Minor Leagues to the Cubs. In his Cubs debut, the first baseman was 2-for-4 with a game-winning RBI double in the fourth against the Mets.

“There was a lot of uncertainty, to be honest, because of what happened to me in San Diego, and that was fresh in my mind,” said Rizzo, who batted .141 in 49 games with the Padres in 2011 in his first Major League action.

“Coming up and doing well at first was the best thing to ever happen to me, to get that whole San Diego thing out of my head completely,” he said. “I can finally say it’s way in the past.”

Since June 26, 2012, Rizzo has appeared in 161 games, hit 27 home runs, and driven in 92 runs. His 65 extra-base hits in that span are second most among National League first baseman, trailing Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (70).

“When he got here, he took off right away and had a great first six weeks, and then tailed off and finished up pretty well,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Rizzo, who batted .330 last July to be named NL Rookie of the Month.

“He’s one of those guys who is all in to his defense and his work ethic and trying to make himself a better player every day,” Sveum said. “The rest falls into place when you have that kind of mentality. The hands are there, the ability to hit is there. He’s already produced at the big league level. The power numbers — they only get better when you have that kind of work ethic and mindset.”

Rizzo is sporting the same cropped hair cut he did when called up last year.

“I got sick of my hair — I had long hair last year in Triple-A,” Rizzo said. “I cut it two days before I got called up. [This year] I cut it three days ago.”

So, could he win NL Player of the Month honors again?

“Yeah, let’s repeat that,” Rizzo said, smiling.

– Carrie Muskat

6/26 Alcantara, Soler named to Futures Game

Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler were named to the World Team for the 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, to be played July 14 at Citi Field. The game features the top Minor League prospects, and will begin at 2:00 p.m. 1 p.m. CT and can be viewed live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and MLB.com.

For the first time, fans will determine the final player on both the U.S. and World Team rosters by casting their votes in the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists (#FuturesFinalists) ballot, available exclusively on MLB.com/futuresfinalists and the Club sites. Fans may begin voting immediately and cast their ballots until Sunday at 10:59 p.m. CT.

Cubs top prospect Javier Baez is among the candidates for the final spot on the World Team. You can vote for the shortstop, who is playing for Class A Daytona. #VoteBaez

In addition to voting on the web, fans also may use their mobile phones to cast votes via text message. To receive the All-Star Sunday Futures Finalists ballot, text the word “VOTE” to 89269. Individual player votes may be cast directly via text by sending a player’s code to 89269. For example, Text “w1” to vote for Baez. All votes are final.

6/26 Cubs lineup

Starlin Castro is back, and Alfonso Soriano is getting a breather on Wednesday in Game 2 of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Brewers. Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney CF
Rizzo 1B
Bogusevic LF
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Feldman P

6/26 Minor matters

Tuesday’s games

Yoanner Negrin gave up six runs (four earned) on four hits over two-thirds of an inning in Iowa’s 7-0 loss to Memphis. The I-Cubs were held to one hit in the game, a single by Jae-Hoon Ha.

Matt Szczur had three hits, including a walkoff RBI double in the 14th, and Christian Villanueva and Elliot Soto each hit home runs to lift Tennessee to a 7-6 extra inning victory over Jackson. Justin Bour had two hits, and one RBI.

Matt Loosen gave up one run on one hit and one walk over seven innings in Daytona’s 5-2 win over Lakeland. Loosen struck out eight, and retired the last 18 batters faced. Wes Darvill had two hits and three RBIs.

Albert Almora had two hits, both doubles, and scored two runs in Kane County’s 9-5 loss to Beloit. The Cougars are 0-5 in the second half. Dan Vogelbach had two hits and stole a base, his fourth. Jeimer Candelario and Rock Shoulders had two hits each.

Boise’s game against Hillsboro was postponed becasue of rain. On Monday, Paul Blackburn was named Northwest League Pitcher of the Week. He gave up one unearned run over 10 innings in two starts and struck out 12.

Anthony Prieto gave up five runs on thre hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings in Mesa’s 14-4 loss to the Giants. Erick Castillo had two hits.

6/25 Brewers 9, Cubs 3

Rickie Weeks belted a two-run homer, a solo shot, and and RBI double, and Juan Francisco added a solo homer to power the Brewers to a 9-3 victory over Edwin Jackson and the Cubs Tuesday night. Jackson served up six runs over 4 2/3 innings, his third outing in the last 10 in which he failed to finish the fifth.

Francisco got things started with his home run with one out in the second off a 3-1 pitch. But Jackson singled to open the third, and one out later, Darwin Barney singled to set up Nate Schierholtz’s home run, his 11th, and go-ahead 3-1.

Francisco walked to lead off the fifth and scored on Weeks’ double. One out later, Francisco scored on Caleb Gindl’s single, his first Major League RBI, to tie the game at 3. Gindl moved up on Kyle Lohse’s sacrifice, Norichika Aoki then walked and Segura hit a go-ahead RBI double. It was Segura’s 100th hit of the season, most in the National League.

Lucroy followed with a two-run single to open a 6-3 lead, and chase Jackson. Weeks belted a two-run home run off Hector Rondon in the sixth, and added a solo shot off Shawn Camp in the eighth.

The Cubs went 1-for-10 with RISP.

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