August 2013

8/25 Minor matters

Saturday’s games

Mike Olt went 4-for-4, hitting a double, a home run, and driving in two runs in Iowa’s 8-5 win over Memphis. Dave Sappelt, Brad Nelson and Tim Torres each had two hits. Alberto Cabrera picked up the win in relief of Casey Coleman, who gave up three runs over five innings.

Dae-Eun Rhee gave up two runs, none earned, over 6 1/3 innings in Tennessee’s 4-3 loss to Mobile. Justin Bour and Rubi Silva each hit home runs.

Corey Black gave up three runs, two earned, over five innings in Daytona’s 7-3 win over Tampa. Kris Bryant had two hits and two RBIs.

Tayler Scott gave up three runs over six innings in Kane County’s 5-3 win over Wisconsin. Oliver Zapata had two hits, including a double and a triple. Trevor Gretzky had two hits, including a triple.

Duane Underwood gave up one run over five innings in Boise’s 2-1 win over Hillsboro, which moved the Hawks into a first-place tie. Jacob Rogers had three hits and one RBIs.

Ryan Sweeney was 0-for-2 in a rehab outing in Mesa’s 4-2 win over the Angels. Rafael Dolis, sidelined all season with a strained right forearm, walked one and struck out one in one inning. Jesse Hodges had two hits, as did Alex Sanchez.

8/24 Cubs 3, Padres 2

The best thing about the eighth inning Saturday night wasn’t that Jeff Samardzija escaped a bases-loaded, none out mess, giving up only one run, but that manager Dale Sveum left the right-hander alone to figure it out. Samardzija struck out seven over eight innings and Darwin Barney smacked a solo home run and a RBI double to lead the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Padres at PETCO Park and even the series.

Samardzija scattered seven hits and walked two. He now has totaled 176 innings this year, passing his personal high of 174 1/3 innings set last season, his first as a starter. The right-hander also is closing in on his single-season strikeout high of 180, set last season. He has fanned 175 this year.

His biggest K was his last one. Trailing 3-1, Padres pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay walked to open the eighth and Will Venable singled. Alexi Amarista then delivered what Sveum called “the most perfect bunt” toward third, with the ball just staying fair as catcher Dioner Navarro, third baseman DOnnie Murphy and Samardzija watched it roll. With the bases loaded, Yonder Alonso hit a sacrifice fly. One out later, the runners moved up on a passed ball. Chase Headley was then intentionally walked, but Samardzija struck out Forsythe to end the inning.

“That’s why you leave a guy like that in the game,” Sveum said of Samardzija. “Getting strike one for him is huge. When he gets that, those are usually all his good games.”

Neither Sveum nor pitching coach Chris Bosio went to the mound in the eighth to calm Samardzija down. They’ve had to do so a few times this season when he gets in what Sveum calls “gorilla” mode. Was Samardzija surprised Sveum left him in there?

“I wasn’t,” Samardzija said. “Me and Dale might have had a meeting down there in the dugout if he had taken me out. That’s what Dale is all about. Dale’s all about putting confidence in his players. He lets our hitters swing in bunt situations, he lets our pitchers hit.

“There are a lot of under the radar things that he does that puts confidence in the players and he did it for me there, too,” Samardzija said. “He didn’t come out and have a mound visit or anything. As a player, that says a lot. You’re out there understanding this is your inning, your game. You don’t want to waste that or give it back, and you want to say, ‘Hey, I appreciate that and I’m going to do good work for you.'”

Samardzija is one win shy of his career high of nine set last season, when he was shut down early after reaching his innings limit.

The Cubs have been trying to find a No. 4 hitter now that Alfonso Soriano is gone. What about Barney?

“No chance,” he said. “After I hit the homer, I told [Donnie Murphy],’ I ‘Murphied’ that ball. We’ll let him continue to do that, and I’ll take my singles.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/24 Old friends

On Sunday, Andrew Cashner will get the start against his former team, the Cubs.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a pitcher and a lot as a person,” Cashner said Saturday. “I was young [when he was with the Cubs], didn’t really know what was going on, and I feel like I have a lot better of an idea of what I want to do out there on the mound.

“I’ve got a lot of really good friends over there,” Cashner said. “I came up with a lot of those guys, and I’ve got a lot of good friends that you’ll never make again. It’s good seeing them, but I wouldn’t trade being in California for anything.”

Cashner has pitched well in two straight games, but has taken the loss in both. He’s 5-3 with a 2.38 ERA at PETCO Park compared to 3-5 with a 4.93 ERA on the road.

8/24 Castillo, Baez & more

* Welington Castillo has been nursing sore ribs but Dale Sveum said he expected the catcher back in the lineup on Sunday.

* Javier Baez has made the transition from high A ball to Double-A look relatively easy. Baez, the Cubs’ top prospect, batted .274 with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs in 76 games for Class A Daytona before he was promoted to Double-A Tennessee, and in 45 games, he was batting .310 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs. GM Jed Hoyer said they expected Baez to go through “more of a process.”

“He’s had more success than we expected,” Hoyer said of the Cubs’ 2011 first-round Draft pick. “He got over that initial Double-a hurdle quickly and he’s been on a hot streak. Good for him. It’s been impressive that he adjusted as quick as he did.”

The shortstop is finishing on a high note.

“Hopefully, he’ll carry that forward into next year, the confidence he had in Double-A,” Hoyer said. “I think when he made the jump from high A to Double-A, we felt giving him the challenge was the right thing to do and he’s responded.”

Baez will not play in the Arizona Fall League, but top prospects Jorge Soler and Albert Almora will. The official AFL rosters were expected to be released later this month, and Hoyer said the Cubs will have an impressive group.

* The Cubs have yet to finalize who will be called up to the big league roster in September but the team will likely add players who are not currently on the 40-man roster but expected to be added this offseason. The Cubs also hope to add Luis Valbuena (right oblique strain) and Ryan Sweeney (left rib fracture), who were both on the disabled list.

— Carrie Muskat

8/24 Jackson just needs to keep working

Edwin Jackson shouldered the blame for Friday’s 8-6 loss to the Padres in which the Cubs’ right-hander blew a six-run first inning lead. Pitching coach Chris Bosio said it wasn’t just Jackson.

“There’s one thing that we are as a team, we win together as a team, we lose together as a team,” Bosio said. “We could’ve helped him out, he could’ve helped himself out. Last night, we did not close the deal as a team.

“I know he had some issues with his offspeed pitches and he hung a couple and they got hit extremely hard,” Bosio said.

“That’s what we’ve seen of Edwin this year. … Yeah, we expect more out of Edwin, and I know he expects more out of himself. It’s a constant work in progress with him.”

Jackson is 7-13 with a 5.00 ERA in 25 starts, and this month, he’s 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts.

“The bottom line is yes, there are more expectations out of Edwin than what we’ve seen and he’s been pretty candid about it that he’s not lived up to that,” Bosio said of the right-hander, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason with the Cubs, his first multi-year deal.

“What can he do differently? Work harder and try to execute the pitches,” Bosio said. “In this game, it’s a game of results, and he’s got to give it done.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/24 Looking ahead …

After the Cubs complete their series against the Padres on Sunday, they head north up I-5 to Los Angeles to face the red-hot Dodgers. Here are the pitching matchups:

Monday: RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 3.71) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (12-3,2.91)
Tuesday: LHP Travis Wood (7-10, 3.22) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-7, 1.72)
Wednesday: RHP Edwin Jackson (7-13, 5.00) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (10-9, 3.42)

8/24 Cubs lineup

The Cubs face lefty Eric Stults on Saturday. This marks the end of a run in which the Cubs faced 15 consecutive right-handed starting pitchers, beginning Aug. 8 in Philadelphia. Overall this season, the Cubs are 16-19 (.457) vs. left-handed starters and 38-55 (.409) vs. right-handed starters.

Here’s the lineup:

Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Navarro C
Murphy 3B
Lake CF
McDonald LF
Gillespie RF
Barney 2B
Samardzija P

8/24 Extra bases

* Friday’s 8-6 loss was the Cubs’ first after scoring six runs in the first inning since April 17, 2002, at Montreal (15-8 loss).

* The first seven batters of the game reached base on Friday and the first six came around to score. The Cubs saw their first six batters of the game score a run for the first time since Sept. 8, 2009, at Pittsburgh when the first seven batters did so. That also was the last time the Cubs scored at least six runs in the first inning of a game (thanks to STATS, Inc. for the info).

* Padres starter Edinson Volquez became the first opposing pitcher for the Cubs to exit prior to the end of the first inning since Baltimore’s Matt Albers on June 25, 2008, at Wrigley Field. The Cubs last drove an opposing pitcher from a game in less than one inning in that pitcher’s home ballpark on April 21, 2004, (Pittsburgh’s Josh Fogg did not record an out in PNC Park).

* Jeff Samardzija enters Saturday’s game off a 11-1, complete-game victory against the Nationals last Monday at Wrigley Field. It was his second complete game of the season and the third of his career. He is one of 11 National League pitchers with two or more complete games this season, and six of those 11 pitchers are in the NL Central: Adam Wainwright (5), Bronson Arroyo (2), Homer Bailey (2), Wily Peralta (2), Francisco Liriano (2) and Samardzija.

Samardzija is one of three Cubs pitchers with two complete games in a campaign in the last seven seasons starting in 2007, joining Randy Wells (2 in 2011) and Matt Garza (2 in 2011). Greg Maddux is the last Cubs pitcher to record three complete games in a season (2005).

* Saturday’s game marks the end of a run in which the Cubs faced 15 consecutive right-handed starting pitchers, beginning Aug. 8 in Philadelphia. Overall this season, the Cubs are 16-19 (.457) vs. left-handed starters and 38-55 (.409) vs. right-handed starters.

8/24 Minor matters

Friday’s games

Kyle Hendricks threw seven shutout innings in Iowa’s 2-0 win over Memphis. Hendricks now has a quality start in three of his four outings with Iowa this season. He’s holding right-handed batters to a .197 average.

Javier Baez hit his 17th home run and Rubi Silva added his 14th but it wasn’t enough as Tennessee lost, 3-2 to Mobile. Baez had two hits, and was batting .404 in 22 games this month. He also hit 17 home runs at Daytona before he was promoted to Double-A. Brett Jackson reached base three times, hitting a triple and drawing two walks.

C.J. Edwards struck out eight over four shutout innings in Daytona’s 5-1 win over Tampa. Edwards now has struck out 28 batters over 18 2/3 innings. Chadd Krist had two hits, including a three-run homer in the second. Dustin Geiger drove in one run.

Scott Baker gave up one run on a solo home run over four innings in Kane County’s 5-2 win over Beloit. Baker, making his fourth rehab start with the Cougars, walked two and struck out three. Rock Shoulders hit his 18th home run, a two-run shot in the seventh. Trevor Gretzky had two hits.

Paul Blackburn gave up one hit over five scoreless innings in Boise’s 8-1 win over Salem-Keizer. Blackburn did walk six. Kevin Encarnacion was 5-for-5, hitting a home run and driving in two. Justin Marra hit a three-run homer in the first.

Mesa had Friday off and returns to action Saturday against the Angels.

8/23 Padres 8, Cubs 6

The Cubs scored a season-high six runs in the first inning, but it wasn’t enough for Edwin Jackson. Will Venable hit a two-run triple in the fifth and a tiebreaking solo home run in the seventh, and rookie Jedd Gyorko smacked two home runs to help the Padres rally from a six-run first inning deficit and post an 8-6 victory Friday night over the Cubs at Petco Park. It wsa the largest come-from-behind win of the season for the Padres.

“For me not to come out and hold a lead, that’s just disappointing, it’s a terrible job, flat out,” Jackson said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

The Cubs sent a dozen batters to the plate in the first and opened a 6-0 lead, thanks to a three-run homer by Nate Schierholtz, his 19th, and a two-run triple by Brian Bogusevic. But the Cubs’ offense for the night lasted just that two-thirds of an inning.

Jackson served up a three-run home run to Gyorko, the slugger’s 15th, with one out in the fourth. The Padres had two on and one out again in the fifth when Will Venable smacked a two-run triple. It is part of an unfortunate trend with Jackson. He holds batters to a .256 average the first time through the lineup, but they are hitting .313 the third time.

“To pretty much sum it up, I got beat on two breaking balls,” Jackson said. “I gave up a three-run homer [to Gyorko] on a hanging slider. I was throwing strikes, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t throwing strikes. I left too good of pitches in the zone for them to hit long balls with men on base. That pretty much sums it up.”

Was the problem pitch selection?

“It was just terrible location,” Jackson said. “[The pitches] were pretty much over the plate and hanging. It was just terrible, bad pitches. It wasn’t pitch selection, just location.”

Said Cubs manager Dale Sveum: “You can’t throw big league hitters balls down the middle.”

Said Navarro: “He missed his location and was pitching up in the zone a little bit, and when you pitch up in the zone, bad things happen.”

Yes, they do. With the game tied in the seventh, pinch-hitter Ronny Cedeno singled off Jackson, who was pulled in favor of James Russell. The lefty picked off Cedeno, but then served up Venable’s homer to let the Padres go ahead, 7-6.

“Once again, it was bad pitch selection,” Sveum said. “You’re not supposed to throw [Venable] a slider, and he threw him a slider.”

— Carrie Muskat