#Cubs and Lester face Mets

Jon Lester gets the start Monday night when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Mets. First pitch will be at 6:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

Baez 2B

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Contreras LF

Russell SS

Szczur RF

Almora Jr. CF

Ross C

Lester P

The Mets swept the Cubs in New York June 30-July 3. They have not won a regular season game at Wrigley Field since May 19, 2013.

Anthony Rizzo is batting .380 and slugging .717 in his last 24 games.

The Cubs have lost Lester’s last four starts. He’s 0-1 with a 7.58 ERA (16 earned runs over 19 IP) in that stretch, including a loss to the Mets on July 3 when he gave up eight runs over 1 1/3 innings in shortest outing of his career.

Ben Zobrist is not starting for the second straight game. It’s part of Joe Maddon’s plan to give the veteran a breather. Zobrist didn’t get much of a break during All-Star week.



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The game is on TV tonight in Brazil — choice of narration in English or Portuguese. Think I’ll go with Karl Ravech. I hope we’re not developing a “thing” when it comes to the Mets. Let’s go get ’em.

Aloha Bruce, give Rizzo credit for staying alive against Mats. Amazing how many pitches he fouled off til he hit one out. I am not sure why Contreras was sent on Szczur’s shallow hit to Cespedes who has a cannon for an arm. Remember some of his great throws for the A’s. Hopefully the Cubs can add onto their lead and Lester give a strong outing today. Hope your recovery continues to go well. Mahalo!

Well, I’m feeling pretty good about being a Szczur fan these days.

Aloha Mat, you beat me to the punch! Szczur first 3hit game! He looked great all night at the plate, I really loved his gusty ab against Goodell(sp?) I’m the 8th. He ran well on the bases and played a very good right field tonight! I wish we could see him play more. Take care now! Mahalo!

I agree Szczur excelled tonight. It`s refreshing for this long-time Cubs` fan to observe a speedy runner do his thing, after all the station-to-station base running we`ve had to tolerate across the decades. Others like Baez and Russell are fast runners, and contribute to team speed, but Matt is the best. Lester obviously benefited from the extra rest over the All- Star break etc., (I realize he pitched to two batters in the ASG, but that`s neither here nor there. He was well rested before tonight`s start.) I think, similarly, Jake Arrieta may very well accrue positive results from his extra rest, and it will be evident Tuesday, I suggest. Keep in mind his opponent, Noah Syndergaard (Thor), left his final start before the All-Star break, telling his manager, Terry Collins, his arm was “dead.” Also,Thor, along with Steven Matz, have both been pitching with bone spurs in their elbows for a while, it has been revealed.

Aloha jhosk- I see a comment I posted in regard to your did not take so I just wanted to say good points about the rest during the ASG break. The team needed a big game from Lester and after he settled down they got it! You brought up Szczur, I think he and Zobrist are some of the best base runners on this team. Their heads are in the game, they are aware of their surroundings. Szczur was patient at the plate. Some may say that he was in the lineup because Matz was a lefty; that is fine he went 2-3 against him. When Goeddel came into the game, a righty, he pretty quickly took care of the first two batters/outs. But it was Szczur that hung in there/fought and started that 8th inning rally with a double! You also made good points about the Met’s pitchers; I still think Noah is formidable even in this state and the Cubs batters will have to be patient against and get his pitch count up high quickly. I am looking forward to the match-up against two of the most underrated pitchers right now, “father-time” Colon and “the student” Hendricks! That should be a great game! Let us hope the defense continues its good play and Arrieta is on today! Mahalo!

The ESPN guys, especially Eduardo Perez, had only good things to say about Baez, unlike some Cubs fans on ths blog. I tend to agree. What’s not to like? He’s good on defense. He runs. He has shortened his swing and is striking out less. I’m more worried about Soler than Baez. Thoughts?

I saw Soler play in Peoria. We sat directly behind home plate. It was embarrassing to watch him flail helplessly at breaking pitches. It was only one game, but it seems to be the case in the majors, too. I don’t know why any pitcher ever throws him anything other than junk.

I`m not impressed with Soler. He`s way too vulnerable to injuries, and he seems to take forever to recover when he goes on the DL, which is far too often. His outfield defense is inconsistent. His plate discipline was excellent in the playoffs in 2015, but in 2016 he has regressed to flailing at pitches outside the zone which Mat B describes. I found it revealing that the manager excluded Jorge from the lineup in the playoffs with the Mets last October at Citi Field in the second game played there. The reason: the cold temps. Soler played the night before under similar conditions and he underperformed because he could not deal with the cold. There are outfielders on the current roster I want to see in the lineup before Soler. I do not miss him all these weeks he`s been unavailable. Am hoping Jorge is included in one of the anticipated trades for pitching these next two weeks.

Aloha Bruce- I know I have been critical of Baez at times, nothing personal. I was concerned before the break because for someone that is gifted defensively I saw some “bone-headed” plays that made no sense then he makes tremendous ones. Some of that I am sure is because he is young, somewhat “flashy” and takes for granted his own skills set in regard to certain plays. But since the ASG break, he looks more stable and is getting the job done. I have a feeling someone had a very good/productive talk with him. And yes, I hope he continues to be patient at the plate, get more walks and less strikeouts. In regard to Soler, he has been one that I wanted to excel but the “writing maybe on the wall” with him now. I am sure he is on a shorter leash since Szczur has proven he can fill in just fine, plays better defense then Soler (though Jorge has a good arm) and contributes at the plate on a regular basis. Soler has not shown for a supposed “5-tool-player,” that he can consistently go out there and give his best, grow and get better and as many have said, stay injury free. I know the FO says no to Schwarber being traded and I can see why. If he can be an average to good outfielder and a good backstop then Maddon can have him in the outfield, provided you have a strong CF (like how the Cardinals compensated for Brock’s average fielding with Flood next to him) paired with him. Then on days when he is catching, Contreras can be in LF. I think Contreras can become a very good backstop so this tandem could work well for the team and they are both so young. Now, if the FO sticks with the no Schwarber (who Cashman “covets”) would the Yankees consider Baez along with Soler or Voglebach for Miller? I know Baez is versatile and the organization has 3 SS’s right now but if the Yankees would budge does a Miller help to put the team in contention mode? I would say a bp highlighted by Wood/Edwards/Miller/Rondon is pretty darn good. Thank goodness down the stretch the team has LaStella and Kawasaki so if Baez is moved, they have coverage. Let us also not forget that Fowler/Soler and possibly Nathan are on their way up so players will have to be either sent down, dfa or traded. Should be interesting! Take care now! Mahalo!

I’m traveling for work & the game was not available at my hotel last night. I can’t seem to find video of Szczur’s doubles anywhere. If anyone else has seen them, please share the link.

Aloha Mat, do you have MLBTV? I bet it does not make sense for you if you live in IL or close to Chicago because you would have “blackouts” all the time but if you do, you can see his 8th inning ab! Peoria, wow! That brings up some memories for this island guy that remembers traveling on I74, getting a sandwich at Avanti’s when looking at the Bradley University campus! Take care now. Mahalo!

Avanti’s has spread out. There are at least three in Peoria alone. I live in East Peoria & there is one there, too. There’s one in Pekin near the domed athletic facility known as the Avanti Done.

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