July 2013

7/29 Cubs lineup

Jeff Samardzija takes the mound Monday when the Cubs open an eight-game, seven day homestand, beginning with the Brewers. Samardzija (6-9, 3.94 ERA) is one of only seven pitchers in baseball with nine losses despite a sub-4.00 ERA, joining Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey (5-10, 3.77), Atlanta’s Kris Medlen (7-10, 3.74), the White Sox Chris Sale (6-10, 2.69), the Dodgers Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.72), Houston’s Bud Norris (6-9, 3.93) and San Diego’s Eric Stults (8-9, 3.65). Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Lake LF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Barney 2B
Castillo C
Samardzija P

7/29 Minor matters – early edition

Sunday’s games

Javier Baez hit two home runs but it wasn’t enough as Tennessee lost 8-5 to Birmingham on Sunday. Baez hit a two-run homer in the first and a two-run shot in the ninth. After batting .274 with 17 home runs at Class A Daytona this year, Baez now is batting .232 with 10 home runs with the Double-A Smokies.

C.J. Edwards had quite a debut Sunday at Daytona. The right-hander struck out the first seven batters he faced, and finished with eight Ks over five scoreless innings, giving up one hit and walking one in a 2-1 win over Palm Beach. The Cubs acquired Edwards in the Matt Garza deal with the Rangers.

7/28 Cubs 2, Giants 1

Travis Wood picked up another quality start and a quality at-bat. Wood notched his 18th quality start and belted his third home run to lift the Cubs to a 2-1 victory Sunday over the Giants and complete a sweep of the defending World Series champs. Welington Castillo smacked a tiebreaking home run with two outs in the seventh, his third of the year, to give Chicago its first series sweep in San Francisco since Sept. 13-15, 1993.

The Cubs concluded a 10-game West Coast swing through Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco 6-4, and picked up their 26th road win, three more than their total last season. Last year, the Cubs went 1-18 on the road against the NL West.

“I can’t remember ever as a player or anything having this kind of trip on the West Coast,” Dale Sveum said. “To win six out of 10 on the West Coast, no matter how good a team you are, it’s one of the harder things to do in baseball.”

They did it without Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano, both traded during the trip. On Sunday, Soriano had four hits, including a two-run homer and walk-off RBI single for the Yankees, which prompted loud cheers in the Cubs clubhouse. The high socks on Starlin Castro, Junior Lake and Luis Valbuena on Sunday? That’s Soriano style.

“We said we wanted to do it for Sori,” Castillo said of the socks switch.

Wood was in the trainer’s room and heard all the ruckus. The lefty was on the Cubs last year when they also overhauled the roster, dealing Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and others. This time, it’s different.

“It’s always a little different, especially when you lose a guy like Soriano,” Wood said. “He was one of our hottest bats, probably the hottest bat at the time. He’s the leader on the team and he’s been here the longest. It was sad to see him go, but I think he had a pretty solid day today. We just have to pull together and string some wins.”

The pitchers ruled. Wood singled to lead off the third and then homered off Tim Lincecum with two outs in the fifth, his third of the year, and the most by a Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano hit four in 2009. It’s the first time Lincecum has ever served up a home run to a pitcher.

“I’m always surprised,” Wood said of his power. “I’m not up there trying to hit homers. I’m just trying to put good swings on it. I was able to get two hits today and fortunately one of them went over the fence. Unfortunately, I gave it up the next inning.”

Lincecum got a little payback with two hits off Wood, both singles.

The Giants loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth, and Buster Posey hit into a bizarre double play, forcing the runners at third and at home. But Pablo Sandoval delivered an RBI double to tie the game. Castillo’s home run was all Wood needed, and ticked Lincecum off.

All three games were decided by one run. Winning those close games in front of sellout crowds can only help, Sveum said.

“A lot of these young guys have to get a feeling for that in the big leagues, and the feeling of the last three games here, how close every out was and how every pitch here meant everything, and the situations [Saturday night],” Sveum said. “These guys, some of them anyway, that multiplies by 10 when you’re in a pennant race, those kind of games. It’s always a learning process.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Baker to start Monday

Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will make his fourth Minor League start on Monday, moving up to Class A Daytona. Baker gave up three runs on five hits over three innings in his third rehab start for Class A Kane County last Wednesday. In three outings with Class A Kane County, he’s been charged with 13 runs on 17 hits and six walks over 8 2/3 innings.

7/28 Welcome home

The Cubs return home Monday without Matt Garza (traded to Rangers on 7/22) and without Alfonso Soriano (traded to NYY 7/26). They’ve also dealt Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston and Carlos Marmol this month. Is it more challenging now for Dale Sveum with all the turnover?

“It’s not as much of a challenge for me as always making sure you have the depth to fill the voids that happen someitmes,” Sveum said. “[Chris] Rusin has filled in with two great starts and we have [Carlos] Villanueva. We have a lot more depth than we did last year. Losing Soriano is a big blow on a lot of different scales than losing your four hitter.”

On Tuesday in the makeup doubleheader, Jake Arrieta will make his Cubs debut. It’ll be Sveum’s first look at him. He was acquired from the Orioles in the Feldman deal.

“You’re curious to get your eyes on him yourself,” Sveum said. “It’s stuff, it’s 95 to 97 [mph], and a guy who can throw a 91 mph slider or cutter, whatever you want to call it, as well as a changeup and curveball. You’ve got plus arm and plus stuff who can strike people out and do things that way.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/28 Cubs lineup

The Cubs will try for a sweep of the Giants on Sunday, sending Travis Wood to the mound. Here’s the lineup:

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

7/28 Sing along

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field on Monday to play the Brewers. Here’s the lineup for seventh inning stretch singers:

Monday: journalist Bill Kurtis
Tuesday (day): Former Cub Rich Nye
Tuesday (night): WWE superstar CM Punk
Wednesday: Members of the Chicago Fire TV show
Thursday: actor and Chicago native Jim Belushi, whose daughter, Jami will sing the anthem
Friday: Actor Michael Shannon
Saturday: TBD
Sunday: Former Cubs catcher Jody Davis

7/28 Early extra bases

Early notes before Sunday’s game:

* The Cubs are 25-29 on the road through 54 games after going 23-58 on the road all last season.

* Including a series win this weekend in San Francisco, the Cubs are 3-1-3 in their last seven series. They will try for their first series sweep in San Francisco since Sept. 13-15, 1993

* Alfonso Soriano was the last player remaining from the 2007 Cubs team that won the NL Central. Jeff Samardzija is the only player remaining from the ’08 team that won 97 games. Samardzija is the only player on the roster to have made his Cubs debut prior to 2010 (not including Kevin Gregg, who departed after 2009 and returned in 2013).

* Only five players on the current 25-man roster were on the 2012 Opening Day roster: Luis Valbuena, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, James Russell and Samardzija.

* Nearly half of the players on the current 25-man roster (12) have joined the Cubs since the end of the 2012 campaign.

* Also, 10 players on the current 25-man roster were not on the Cubs 2013 Opening Day roster: pitchers Chris Rusin, Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Matt Guerrier, Kevin Gregg and Eduardo Sanchez; infielder Cody Ransom; and outfielders Cole Gillespie, Pedro Borbon and Junior Lake.

7/28 About last night …

In case you dozed off and couldn’t stay awake for the Cubs’ 1-0 win over the Giants on Saturday night, here’s a video recap. It’s one of the best games they’ve played this season.


7/28 Cubs vs. Brewers

The Cubs open an eight-game, seven-day homestand on Monday, beginning with the Brewers. They play a makeup doubleheader on Tuesday. Here are the pitching matchups vs. Milwaukee:

Monday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-9, 3.94) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7, 3.37)
Tuesday (First Game): RHP Carlos Villanueva (2-7, 4.23) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-9, 4.88)
Tuesday (Second game): RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 0.00) vs. TBD
Wednesday: RHP Edwin Jackson (6-11, 4.89) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (7-10, 4.54)