August 2013

8/26 Last man standing

If Sunday’s game hadn’t ended when it did, outfielder Brian Bogusevic would’ve switched from left field to the pitcher’s mound to finish things up because the Cubs had run out of relievers. Bogusevic was a pitcher early in his pro career, then converted to the outfield. He did fill in June 7, 2012, in an emergency situation for the Astros, pitching one inning in relief against the Cardinals.

“We were getting blown out and they knew it was coming,” Bogusevic said Monday of the 14-2 loss. “They told me at the end of the seventh, beginning of the eighth that I would throw the ninth, so I knew it was coming.”

The Cubs and Padres played 12 scoreless innings before both teams exchanged two runs in the 13th. The Padres eventually won, 3-2, in 15 innings.

“Yesterday was different because we weren’t getting blown out,” Bogusevic said. “If we would’ve gotten to that point [that he needed to pitch], it would’ve been a tie game. I don’t think I’d need much time to warm up, being loose for five hours.”

Does he want to pitch again in a big league game?

“I hope never,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/26 Rizzo back in No. 3 spot

Anthony Rizzo was back where he feels he belongs in the lineup, batting third for the Cubs, and hopes he is never inserted into the No. 2 spot again. Rizzo batted second for five games for the Cubs, and was 7-for-24, hitting two home runs in his first game there last Wednesday against the Nationals. Did it make a difference?

“No, it didn’t,” Rizzo said Monday. “It really didn’t, in my opinion. I was very uncomfortable there in the two-hole but it was what it was and hopefully, I never go back.”

What made it uncomfortable?

“It’s more an ego thing,” he said. “I’ve never hit second in my life. If you’re the second hitter, you’re someone who gets guys over and bunts and slaps and what not. I think our lineup doesn’t call for me hitting second. You see the Cardinals and [Carlos] Beltran hitting second but that’s because he has no where else to hit. I was there and I tried to make the best of it. Dale [Sveum] says it best, it’s just a spot in the lineup. I just didn’t like it much.”

When Sveum, the Cubs manager, made the switch, he said the change was not going to be long-term.

“Who knows if any of that stuff works,” Sveum said. “Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Rizzo was batting .177 with runners in scoring position, and part of the reason the move was made was to give him more at-bats without having to try to think about driving men in.

In December 2010, the Red Sox dealt Rizzo to the Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Rizzo was asked if he ever talked to Gonzalez about dealing with the ups and downs of the game.

“You can’t expect everyone to be Superman every day,” Rizzo said. “[Gonzalez] had a good year last year, just not an Adrian Gonzalez year. … You look at everyone’s career and they’ve had monster years and a down year.”

Does Rizzo feel he has to be Superman?

“I expect myself to be,” he said. “When the time is there, I’ll be where I need to be.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/26 Cubs lineup

Nate Schierholtz is apparently OK after tweaking his back on Sunday and he’s going to play Monday. And, Anthony Rizzo is back at No. 3 in the lineup after going 7-for-24 in the second spot. The Dodgers swept the series at Wrigley earlier this month. Here’s the lineup:

Castro SS
Lake CF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Bogusevic LF
Murphy 3B
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Arrieta P

8/26 Samardzija wins NL Pitcher of Week

Jeff Samardzija and Marlins starter Jose Fernandez shared NL Pitcher of the Week honors. Samardzija was 2-0, giving up three earned runs over 17 innings, while striking out 12 and walking just two. Last Monday, Samardzija tossed nine innings of one-run ball to earn the complete-game victory in an
11-1 drubbing of the Nationals, scattering six hits and fanning five to earn his seventh win. It wasthe third career complete-game performance of the 28-year-old’s career and his second this season. On Saturday, he held the Padres to two runs (both earned) over eight innings of work to earn the win in a 3-2 decision at PETCO Park. The hard-throwing right-hander fanned seven batters in the victory, giving him 175 strikeouts this season, fourth among
NL pitchers. The win marked Samardzija’s 16th quality start this season. This is his first career weekly award.

He’s the first Cubs pitcher to win the award since Ryan Dempster last June, and the third in the last 10 years, joining Carlos Zambrano, who was honored after throwing his no-hitter in September 2008.

8/26 About last night …

* Sunday’s game marked the second time the Cubs have lost a game in which they led by two or more runs in the 13th inning or later. The other was a 13-inning loss to the Reds on April 22. The Cubs lost only one other game in that fashion over the last 50 years (1964 to date) and that was a 6-5, 15-inning loss to the Phillies on Sept. 29, 1980.

* Sunday’s game also was the Cubs’ 99th game in franchise history that lasted at least 15 innings. They now are 47-42-10 in those 99 contests. Sunday’s game was the first of at least 15 innings since April 9, 2008, at Pittsburgh, a 6-4 victory.

* The Cubs and Padres played to a 0-0 tie through the 12th before each team scored twice in the 13th. It’s the first time the Cubs played in a scoreless game through at least 12 innings since defeating the Astros, 1-0, in 16 innings at Wrigley Field on May 31, 2003.

* The Cubs played to a 0-0 tie through 12 innings on the road for the first time in more than 100 years. They last did so on the road on June 17, 1910, when the Cubs and Brooklyn were 0-0 through 12, and the Cubs plated a run in the 13th to secure a 1-0 win. Thanks to Ed Hartig for his research assistance.

8/26 Minor matters

Sunday’s games

Dave Sappelt had two hits, including his fifth home run, but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost, 11-5, to Memphis. Brooks Raley gave up seven runs on seven hits over two innings. Raley had a blister on his pitching hand, but Iowa manager Marty Pevey thought the lefty would be OK. Iowa is six games behind first-place Omaha in the PCL’s Northern Division with eight games to play.

Nick Struck gave up two runs over six innings in Tennessee’s 2-0 loss to Mobile. Javier Baez had one hit, and now has hit safely in 19 of 24 games in August. Yeiper Castillo threw three innings of scoreless relief. The Smokies’ magic number to take the second-half title remains at two.

Ivan Pineyro gave upone run over six innings in Daytona’s 11-2 win over Tampa. Kris Bryant had two RBIs and two hits to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He’s batting .368. Ben Carhart and Wes Darvill also each had two hits and two RBIs.

Starling Peralta gave up three runs — two earned — over 5 1/3 innings in Kane County’s 3-1 loss to Wisconsin. Wilson Contreras had two hits and one RBIs. With the loss, the Cougars were officially eliminated from playoff contention with eight games remaining in the 2013 regular season.

Dillon Maples gave up four runs — none earned — over five innings in Boise’s 6-5, 10-inning loss to Hillsboro. Kevin Encarnacion hit a double and drove in two runs.

Kevin Brown hit his first pro home run in Mesa’s 5-1 loss to the Reds. Brown also hit a double. Jesse Hodges added a triple.

Final Padres 3, Cubs 2, 15 innings

This one was bizarre. The Cubs and Padres played 12 scoreless innings, then a wacky 13th when Nate Schierholtz escaped serious injury when a ball glanced off his batting helmet after an errant throw. And Cubs outfielder Brian Bogusevic was next in line to pitch.

“It was some of the weirdest baseball games I’ve seen,” said Padres starter Andrew Cashner.

Nick Hundley smacked a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the 15th Sunday to lift the Padres to a 3-2 victory over the Cubs, ending a long day.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 13th. Pinch-hitter Darnell McDonald singled to lead off against Brad Boxberger, and reached third on a hit-and-run single by Starlin Castro. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno had shifted toward second on the play. Anthony Rizzo walked to load the bases, and Schierholtz hit a ball to first baseman Jesus Guzman, who threw home, but the ball deflected off the left side of Schierholtz’s batting helmet and hit him on the shoulder. Schierholtz was safe on the fielder’s choice, and a run scored on the error. Bogusevic then lofted a sacrifice fly to right for a 2-0 lead.

“I’ve never seen that one before,” Sveum said of the Schierholtz play.

Schierholtz was lifted after that inning but it was because he tweaked his back on the swing, and not because of the ball. He stumbled out of the batter’s box because of his back, and that may have saved him because he put his head down as he ran.

“It was just a nightmare of a play, I guess,” Schierholtz said. “I think [my back] is the reason I fell in the box.”

In the bottom of the 13th, the Padres rallied against Kevin Gregg. Guzman doubled and scored one out later on Ronny Cedeno’s triple. On Gregg’s second pitch to Alexi Amarista, the ball skipped for a wild pitch, and Cedeno scored to tie the game at 2.

Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the 15th, but the Padres got Junior Lake and Donnie Murphy to both ground out. With one out in the San Diego 15th against Hector Rondon, Logan Forsythe singled and moved up on Cedeno’s groundout. Amarista was intentionally walked, and Hundley lined a 1-1 pitch to center for the game-winner.

This was the first time since April 18, 2011, that the Cubs have played an extra inning game after not scoring a run through nine innings, and that game also was against the Padres, but played at Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat

8/25 Rizzo stays in No. 2 spot

As of now, Anthony Rizzo will stay in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs’ batting order. Manager Dale Sveum doesn’t see any reason to change.

“We’ve scored six, four, six and three [runs] — that’s a plethora for us,” Sveum said of the Cubs’ offense since the switch.

Is there really a correlation?

“No, but I like to think there is,” Sveum said. “It’s not where you want things to be, obviously.”

That’s because the Cubs project Rizzo as their No. 3 batter, which is where he has hit for 100 games this season. In four games at the No. 2 spot, he’s 5-for-18 with four RBIs, and hit two home runs the first day he was inserted there.

“He had a big day [Wednesday], and the line drive two nights ago in the gap and I think the at-bats and the aggressiveness is better and the pitch selection,” Sveum said of Rizzo’s approach. “Where you hit in the lineup is irrelevant for the most part. Sometimes it does give you a little relaxation where you don’t have to worry about things. Everybody’s different.”

Part of the reason for the switch was because Rizzo has scuffled with runners in scoring position. He was batting .178 this season with runners in scoring position with 39 RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

8/25 Castillo returns

Catcher Welington Castillo was back in the Cubs’ lineup Sunday after missing a few days to rest sore ribs, injured Aug. 17 while making an awkward throw.

“We gave him enough days off and he’s feeling a lot better,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

Castillo said he’s still a little tender, but doesn’t want to go on the disabled list with so little time remaining in the season.

“I’m not 100 percent but I have to get through the season,” said the catcher, who feels it more when he’s hitting than when he’s making a throw from behind the plate.

Castillo, who has not played since Wednesday, went 3-for-26 in the last eight games, and was batting .265 overall.

— Carrie Muskat

8/25 Cubs lineup

Welington Castillo is back in the Cubs lineup Sunday for the series finale against the Padres. Castillo has been bothered by sore ribs, which he injured making an awkward throw last weekend in the Cardinals’ series. Castillo said he’s not 100 percent healthy but he can play.

Chris Rusin enters the game with a 3.08 ERA, tied with the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu for the third-lowest earned run average of any rookie left-handed starting pitcher this season. Rusin trails only Atlanta’s Alex Wood (2.50) and Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani (2.76).

A win Sunday, and the Cubs would secure their first season series win vs. the Padres since going 5-2 in 2008.

Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Bogusevic LF
Lake CF
Murphy 3B
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Rusin P