#Cubs and Hammel face Cards

Jason Hammel gets the start on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field for the second game of the Cubs’ three-game series against the Cardinals. Willson Contreras will start at catcher for the second straight game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF

Heyward RF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Contreras C

Russell SS

Almora CF

Hammel P

The Cubs are 13-4 in their last 17 home games, and 25-9 at Wrigley Field this season.

Hammel is coming  off one of his best outings. He held the Nationals to one run on five hits over seven innings in his last start, striking out four. He has not walked a batter in his last two starts and has a 2.26 ERA.



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Was last night`s ninth inning an example of why it may be to the Cubs` advantage to have Heyward bat somewhere other than the two hole, as some have suggested?

I have been suggesting that since May 1st.
Looked forward all day to watching the Cubs score a bunch of Runs tonight. Disgusted in the 3rd Inning.
They gave one away last night and the Starters look like crap to begin both games.
I am venting, but this is no fun.

Aloha jasper- I understand! Maybe they are having their “melt-down,” now? I just hope it does not last long and they get back on track. I agree that they could have won last night’s game and tonight is not going well at the moment. But this is when the offense needs to use their heads not their muscles/emotions and approach their at bats. I was impressed with Zobrist in the 9th yesterday and his hit; was tough that Almora made that base-running mistake because with Zobrist hit you have a tie game. Anyhow, back to the hitting, the young folks need to make contact and now worry about hitting hr’s, the small-ball will drive the opposing teams crazy! Oh, I see the team got one of the runs back! Hang in there now. Mahalo!

Aloha jhosk- I think with all the moving around of the lineup and who plays on what day, why not try Heyward somewhere else, take the pressure off of him for at least a moment and let him thrive, gain his confidence back then put him towards the top. It is really amazing how well the team has done up to date and the majority of that has been the starting pitching. The RISP stat is still not the best, clutch hitting in key situations is sorely needed and not hitting into double-plays. As I mentioned on another one of Carrie’s post, with such a young team, it takes time to learn patience and placement of ones bat/ball. How to pull the pitch in certain situations and going opposite field other times, thus the term “situational-hitting.” I have to give Yaz of the RedSox credit how he always “reviewed” his ab’s and later in his career made some adjustments knowing that he might not have the power when he was younger but rather wanting to make contact and it allowed him to have a longer career. I am sure you read that the Cubs put Richard on the DL, sent Warren to AAA before coming back. The starting pitching has been so good but also put up many innings, I can see the rational in giving your main 5 a little extra break especially when the offense is still struggling in certain areas. Have to give credit to those teams in the past that basically did it (162 game season) with a 4-man rotation! I hope the team can get it together tonight and pick up the win going into tomorrow. They need to leave on a good note because they have a challenging road trip up ahead. Take care now. Mahalo!

I have been saying that Heyward does not belong in the #2 spot.
Season long slump, I have pointed out he has made two outs in one inning twice this year.
I have pointed out he never bunts to move a runner over or SAC a guy over.
He has hit into 7 or 8 DP’s, when he doesn’t K.
They had Fowler and Zobrist both Switch Hitters that should be 1 & 2.
Even tonight with two outs and a guy on 3rd, Heyward hitting #2 grounds out to end the inning. Get the run in, tie game.
Think about it Maddon, Heyward can still play defense batting 7th or 8th.

Any idea why Szczur doesn’t get a few starts? He seems to have a hotter bat than Heyward or Coghlan.

Don’t say that too loud. Someone is liable to come back and rant and rave about how you’re calling into question Maddon’s managing abilities and about how you think Szczur is the greatest Cub to ever put on the uniform and how you think players already on the DL need to be benched.

Aloha Herb, welcome to Carrie’s blog! There are varying arguments out there but one thing that has changed a lot in baseball the past decade is the use of stats/metrics to “better” predict match-ups/outcomes. Even for myself that was involved in ball through college and did a lot of stats, there comes a point when one can challenge the “computer/stats.” I feel in the case of Szczur he deserves a shot as he has done everything that has been asked of him. One of Szczur’s main supporters on this site went as far as to say, if Maddon and FO are not going to use him or do not see him as an asset that he should be traded to a team where he can get more playing time. Who knows with Warren going down to AAA to prepare to come back and start some games before the break, could there be a multi-player deal in the works for a left handed bullpen pitcher by chance? Who knows. Hopefully Szczur gets a start tomorrow. Hang in there. Mahalo!

Been a Cub Fan for 68 years and the omens and signs are back. Poor swings, bunches of strike outs, not caring at the plate, indefference to everything around them. The loveable losers are back on the field. They have quit playing great baseball and are now what we have lived with for 108 plus years. Will it ever end?
We need 2 quality starters and 2 or 3 relief pitchers. We also need hitters. One player on the entire team with a batting average above 300 and he will soon be with the rest of the team. What a shame for us fans who actually bought into this current plan. Winning is not part of our culture. Sad, Sad, Sad.

Michael, I’m in the same boat. First Cubs game: 1949. However, I still see much more good than bad with the 2016 team. Maddon has the right idea. I’m sure he’ll talk to the boys.

Fans are a little spoiled this year, no doubt there.
Like most I expect wins. If there is anything you hate worse, its losing to the Birdbrains in your home ballpark. Think of the Cub fans that spent hoards of money to go to these games, especially the one that was given away.
Lackey was not great his first few innings, Hammel likewise. Hammel has the second half history, so he needs to step it up every start.
The part that really irritates this fan, is Heyward batting second. He continues to be there in key situations and rarely delivers. He hits into DP’s, but worse, he cannot advance a runner.
Maddon has to know this, yet has done nothing about it.

There is a lot of soft contact with Heyward`s bat also, jasper. It`s is perplexing why the manager is hellbent on keeping Heyward in the two hole. Every other player has been moved in the lineup at some point this season, I believe. Jason was extended that $184M contract more for his potential than for anything he`s done offensively in the past. He was just 26 when signed this winter, and his 13 dingers and 60 rbi last season are modest numbers. Mad Dog Chris Russo on his Tuesday MLB Network broadcast called attention to Heyward`s lack of production in 2016, and suggested he has been given a pass by the critics because of the Cubs` outstanding W/L record. Mad Dog`s argument is that were the Cubs struggling, Jason`s anemic numbers would be attracting far more scrutiny, and I can`t disagree. There is still plenty of time for Heyward and his hitting coaches to get this turned around. One would think dropping Jason down in the order, at least temporarily, could solve two issues. It would relieve pressure on the young man, and lead to more offensive success for the club potentially.

Aloha jasper, I replied last night but see it did not post. I want to support your point and to say, I know where you are coming from; nothing disparaging against Maddon or the coaches. I felt that Nationals series really showed areas against better teams that need to be addressed. The Cardinals right at this moment are the better team, hard for me to say. They have capitalized on opportunities whereas the Cubs have squandered many. To this point, Heyward has been in effective in the #2 spot. I have been amazed at the lineups Maddon has put together and allowing the young folks opportunities to play. Now it is time to get serious; take the pressure off of Heyward and put him in the 6-9th slots. He has been one of the worst culprits when it comes to inning ending ko’s/hitting into dp’s or hitting pop-outs. Especially when runners are on base. This is nothing against Heyward and Maddon has to have the strength to go to the FO and say, putting aside his $184mil contract this is a team sport. As you said Heyward can still play great defense but hit lower down the order. I have to give the Cardinals credit, after giving Wong a nice extension this past off-season, they sent him down to AAA. Why, because he was not producing. He accepted the demotion and just tore it up, hitting wise and accepted a new position too. Now Wong is back up. I am not saying to send Heyward down but it is time to be bold. Team is not executing right now. Hang in there. Mahalo!

I have known not to get to excited about the Cubs since 1969, but I did it anyway, I got very excited. My bad.
Now I have to get over the depression of this series and find a hobby.

Speaking of sending people down to the minors, that`s exactly what Grimm deserves. This guy has been ineffective for several weeks, and yet the manager consistently sends him and his gas can out to the mound expecting a different result each time. Isn`t his ERA north of 6.00? I`ll wager Bob Costas thinks that`s atrocious. The pen is a weakness, as we`ve observed before, and apparently it`s not the only area which needs to be improved.

Aloha jhosk- gosh I was so looking forward to this time of year, no basketball-football-hockey just good ole baseball. The team is in a “valley” right now. And let me say, I do not expect them to win every game but as one who has played this game, understanding execution, the play has not been good. The one thing that has been pretty consistent though as jasper pointed out was not good in the Cardinals series was the starting pitching. Tonight Lester did well enough to win. Sure he gave up 2 dingers but they were solo’s. On the other side you had a pitcher with over a 5.00era and had given up many hrs’, limiting the offense to only 1 run in 7innings. The RISP tonight 0-5. Even Zobrist is having trouble. I have noticed when he and other are in a good place, they take a lot of pitches but right now he is swinging at a lot of first pitches and making outs. They had the bases loaded in the 9th with 1 out and cannot get one run in. Pedro had 2 outs when Stanton came up to the plate with one on (which he walked), then threw the wild-pitch and I thought to myself walk Stanton because you have first open! Nope and Stanton drives in a run, then another hit and another run. Before you know it, Miami is up 4-2. Maybe as jasper said, it might be good to take a break. 2-3yrs ago when I made the decision to follow the team I have loved for most of my life as well as to participate on this blog, I understood where the team/organization was at. The last couple of weeks have been hard and I have not wanted to say this because of my admiration for Maddon and the coaches but I think they are being out-coached/out-played. Jasper brings up a great point about Heyward who is in a season-long slump. Nothing against Heyward but this offense needs to score runs and see that it can manufacture runs and early in a game not taking themselves out of opportunities, why can’t Maddon now put Heyward in the 6-7-8 slot, just try it? Why can’t Szczur start some games and bat first and drop Zobrist to the #2 slot? The Giants who do not have the depth as the Cubs do are playing great ball ever since taking 2-3 from the NorthSiders and have as many wins as the Cubs. The Cardinals are now 9-9.5 games behind. I hope this “valley” does not last for very long. You take care now. Mahalo. PS: Your guy Ross amazed again tonight!

Yes, k.g., the Cubs are making us uneasy, to put it mildly. They`ve lost four straight, something only the Indians and Red Sox of all 30 major league clubs have not yet done this season, I`ve heard said. That`s revealing that the Giants now have as many wins as our Cubs. I had to check the standings in today`s newspaper to confirm you are correct. Cubs` fans need to prepare themselves for the real possibility our club will be overtaken for the best record in all of MLB. But that is not all that important in the grand scheme. What is important is that we win our division, and it does not matter if we win that division by twenty games or one-half game. Lester pitched well enough tonight to win that game. We are not scoring enough runs. One can make the case that Jon has been our most consistent hurler for several weeks. Along with the bats, the bullpen disappointed again. You and I discussed how Strop is not the answer back in April. We wanted to include him in a trade for the Brewers` Lecroy, as any serious observer of this blog will recall. This bullpen needs to be upgraded, if we are going to contend for a championship in 2016, and I`m confident the FO is very aware of that. It comes down to how to achieve that objective. The season is not even at the half-way point, and much has yet to transpire. It would have been a boring season if the Cubs ran away with the division, as it appeared they just might. It will be best for all the neutral observers of the game, (but not necessarily Cubs` fans), if other clubs like the dreaded Cardinals close the gap on our beloved Cubs, and eventually make it a race. That`s when the men will be separated from the boys, and, after all, isn`t that what we want to see, along with winning a championship? It won`t hurt if we can find our way to provide offense and score more runs.That alone will mask a multitude of shortcomings in the relief pitching department. Trust me.

Aloha jhosk, I hear you about the relief pitching. Well I see Heyward is leading off tonight, hope he comes through. What is also hard right now is that the starting pitching has gone flat except for Lester. I was so excited tonight to see the team put up 6 hits and 4 runs in the First then in the bottom, Hendricks cannot hold the lead and gives up a Grand Slam to a former Cub, Bour. It is going to take some real grit and drive for this team to work out of this difficult period but I believe they can do it. Take care now. Mahalo.

Aloha jhosk- not sure if you, jasper-White-Kenly-Bruce-Tom-Judson saw tonight’s game. I named you folks because I think you like me are out of the area so we have to watch our games on MLBTV. Towards the end of the game, I kept getting an error message and the game would go out, then have to get it to reload. Just wondering if any of you had this issue? Just glad the team got a win in this game, it is hard when you outhit the other team by a lot but they are right there in the game. RISP tonight was 2-8 and LOB 9. This is an area that needs much improvement. I have to give the Marlin hitters credit, they take pitches are patient. They picked up 5bb’s to 8ko’s whereas Cubs hitters were at 4bb’s to 11ko’s. Heyward hit some hard but right at someone, still do not know if he should be at the top of the lineup. The Marlin’s Ellington is impressive: throwing change-ups at 88 miles then a “heater” at 100mph! I think his slider was in the high 80’s too! Let’s hope Lackey can build on this win. Take care now. Mahalo!

The relievers were successful tonight, k.g. and the losing skid is over. Marlins had just two hits. Did not know Bour was originally drafted by Cubs in 2009 until you mentioned he was once property of the organization. Willson continues to impress with both the bat and arm. Rizzo would have caught that ball at first for which Rossy was charged an error. Hope we get Anthony back soon. {Coastal is still alive at the CWS after another complete game gem by Andrew Beckwith versus the best hitting team in the Big 12 this season, TCU, the school Jake Arrieta once pitched for.}

Aloha jhosk- that is true: Cahill, Wood and Rondon did their jobs even though there were some tense moments late in the game. Yes, the Marlins took Bour I think in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. I was surprised that they did not protect him but he had sustained an injury. Also, it is hard when you have Rizzo who is just as young as Bour. Too bad they did not hold onto him, he might have been a nice trading piece in a future trade but that is the risk an organization takes. The Marlins have quite a lineup right now and the pitching is going to have to stay on top of things, be ahead of the batters in the count, not giving in like Hendricks did in the first inning and then, bang a grand slam! The Marlins only had two hits but they had 5 walks and a hit-batter. The latter concerns me a little, recently as Cubs pitchers have hit quite a few batters; possibly due to the frustration all are feeling. Well, tomorrow is another day and Lackey needs to keep his emotions in check and go out there and pitch well. I say this in part because the ump behind home plate tonight had some questionable calls (eg: Rondon-should have been strikes) and that kind of calling could get Lackey in trouble. Have to have cool-heads. Great to learn that Coastal is still in it (CWS)! Take care now. Mahalo!

To answer your question about seeing the game, k.g., I experienced technical issues too. My screen froze in the ninth, and I settled for the audio with Pat and Ron. Fans will have another opportunity Saturday to see the Cubs` No.1 2016 draft selection, Thomas Hatch. He is scheduled to start for Oklahoma State versus Arizona at 2:00 PM CT for the right to advance to the CWS Finals beginning Monday. Coastal plays TCU at 7:00 PM CT to determine which of those schools qualifies for the final round.

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