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#Cubs and Montgomery face Brewers

Lefty Mike Montgomery gets the start on Thursday when the Cubs open a four-game series against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. With a win, the Cubs can clinch the NL Central Division for the first time since 2008. If they do clinch, the Cubs would become the first team to do so on Sept. 15 or earlier since the 2008 Angels (Sept. 10). The last NL team to clinch a division title by this date was the 2005 Cardinals (Sept. 15).

First pitch from Wrigley Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet and also MLB Network. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Soler LF

Heyward RF

Montero C

Montgomery P

#Cubs honor prospects Jimenez, Clifton

The Cubs named outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-handed pitcher Trevor Clifton the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. The two prospects will be honored at Wrigley Field prior to the Sept. 23 game against the Cardinals.

Jimenez, 19, was named the Midwest League Most Valuable Player and Prospect of the Year after batting .329 with 40 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, 65 runs scored and 81 RBIs in 112 games with Class A South Bend. He led the league in doubles, slugging percentage (.532) and OPS (.901), ranked second in RBIs and total bases (230) and ranked third in batting average. He also led all Cubs’ Minor Leaguers in average and was second in RBIs.

Clifton, 21, went 7-7 with a 2.72 ERA in 23 starts with Class A Myrtle Beach, earning Carolina League Pitcher of the Year honors. He led all Cubs’ Minor Leaguers, and ranked third in the Carolina League, with 129 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched. He was named as both a Carolina League mid-season and post-season All-Star, leading the league in ERA and WHIP (1.16).

Clifton made two post-season starts with Myrtle Beach, allowing one run over 12 innings, including six scoreless innings in Game Three of the Mills Cup Championship Series on Tuesday.

A 12th round Draft pick in 2013, he is ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the Cubs organization by MLB Pipeline.

#Cubs Minor League playoff report

Myrtle Beach claimed its second straight Carolina League title on Wednesday night, beating Lynchburg, 5-3, to take the series 3-1. David Bote had two hits and scored two runs, and was named MVP of the playoffs after going 15-for-26 with five doubles, five walks, five runs scored and nine RBI. Donnie Dewees had three hits, and Eloy Jimenez had two hits and one RBI. James Pugliese picked up the win in relief, striking out seven over 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

#Cubs announce 2017 schedule

The Cubs announced the tentative 2017 regular season schedule. They will open in St. Louis on April 3, and the home opener will be April 10 against the Dodgers.

The Cubs will begin the 2017 campaign on the road for the 12th time in the last 16 seasons, and for the first time in St. Louis since 1986. The Cubs open their Wrigley Field campaign against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time since 1963.

After three games against the Cardinals (April 3, 5-6), the Cubs conclude their season-opening six-game, two-city road trip with three games at Milwaukee April 7-9. The Cubs begin their home schedule on April 10, the start of a 10-day, nine-game homestand that includes games vs. the Dodgers (April 10, 12-13), Pirates (April 14-16) and Brewers (April 17-19).

The 2017 schedule features Interleague play against the AL East and the annual home-and-home with the White Sox, which features a pair of two-game series over four days, July 24-25 (at Wrigley Field) and July 26-27 (at Guaranteed Rate Field).

The Cubs’ Interleague schedule includes games at Wrigley vs. the Yankees (May 5-7), the Rays (July 4-5) and the Blue Jays (Aug. 18-20). The Cubs travel to Boston (April 28-30), play at Baltimore (July 14-16) and play at Tampa Bay (Sept. 19-20).

The Cubs are scheduled to host one holiday game in 2017: the Fourth of July vs. Tampa Bay. The Cubs will be on the road for Mother’s Day in St. Louis on May 14, Memorial Day at San Diego on May 29; Father’s Day in Pittsburgh on June 18; and Labor Day in Pittsburgh on Sept. 4.

 

#Cubs Minor League playoff report

Tuesday’s games

Eugene defeated Everett 2-1 to win the Northwest League Championship. It’s Eugene’s first outright league championship since 1975. Manuel Rondon gave up one run over five innings and Kevonte Mitchell had two hits and one RBI. Yeiler Peguero delivered the game-winning RBI in the fifth inning.

Myrtle Beach took a 2-1 lead in the Mills Cup Championship series with a 7-0 win over Lynchburg. The Pelicans can clinch their second straight league championship with a win on Wednesday. Trevor Clifton gave up three hits over six scoreless innings, striking out five. Charcer Burks had two hits and one RBI. David Bote had two hits and two RBI. Clifton has given up one run over 12 innings in the postseason.

 

#Cubs and Lester face Cardinals

Jon Lester closes the Cubs’ series against the Cardinals on Wednesday in a day game at Busch Stadium. In his last eight starts, Lester is 6-0 with a 1.17 ERA and a complete game. He’s tied the Nationals’ Max Scherzer and the Tigers’ Justin Verlander for the ML lead with 23 quality starts. With a win,  Lester could join Jake Arrieta on top of the NL in Ws.

Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant LF

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Baez 3B

Ross C

Lester P

Looking ahead to the Cubs vs. Brewers at Wrigley Field, here are the pitching matchups:

Thursday: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-1, 3.67) vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson (7-14, 4.42)

Friday: RHP John Lackey (9-8, 3.35) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (8-11, 4.53)

Saturday: RHP Jake Arrieta (17-6, 2.91) vs. RHP Zach Davies (10-7, 3.87)

Sunday: RHP Kyle Hendricks (15-7, 2.03) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (6-10, 5.42)

 

#Cubs and Hammel face Cards

Jason Hammel gets the start Tuesday night in the second game of the Cubs’ three-game set against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Hammel is coming off a rough start in which he gave up nine runs and a career-high 13 hits over 5 2/3 innings. The Cubs have won 10 of their last 14 games. Hammel is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA in two starts at Busch Stadium.

Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soler LF

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Contreras C

Hammel P

#Cubs Minor League playoff report

*Myrtle Beach faces Lynchburg on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the best of five Mills Cup Championship. The series is tied at one win apiece. Right-hander Trevor Clifton is scheduled to start. Myrtle Beach is trying to become the first back to back outright league champion since Winston-Salem did so in 1984-85. David Bote is 11-for-18 in five playoff games, and has reached base 16 times.

“When you do what we’ve done over the past 40 something games, it’s not one area or one player, it’s a team game,” Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey said. “There are times when you have a short spurt of winning two or three, it might be one or two hot hitters, but when you’ve done what our players have done … it’s always somebody different and different guys contributing.”

*On Monday, Eugene totaled six hits in a 7-1 loss to Everett in the Northwest League Championship series. Tyson Miller gave up two earned runs over 3 1/3 innings and took the loss. Wladimir Galindo had three hits and scored a run. The two teams meet in a deciding game on Tuesday. Eugene is seeking its first league championship since 1980. Lefty Manuel Rondon is scheduled to start.

#Cubs and Hendricks face Cards

Kyle Hendricks gets the start Monday night for the Cubs in the first of three games against the Cardinals. Hendricks has given up three or fewer earned runs in each of his last 19 starts, dating to May 22. That’s the longest streak by any big league pitcher this season. Chicago’s magic number to clinch the division is now five. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Russell SS

Montero C

Heyward RF

Baez 2B

Hendricks P

#Cubs Minor League playoff report

Sunday’s games

Charcer Burks hit a solo home run and David Bote had two hits and three RBI in Myrtle Beach’s 8-3 win over Lynchburg in Game 2 of the Mills Cup Championship. The best of five series is tied at one win apiece, and will resume Tuesday at Lynchburg. Bote is batting 11-for-18 in five playoff games. Donnie Dewees, Jeffrey Baez and Eric Castillo each had two hits Sunday.

Eugene won Game 1 of its best of three Northwest League Championship series, beating Everett, 3-1. Yeiler Peguero, D.J. Wilson and Chris Pieters each hit solo home runs. Dylan Cease started, and did not get a decision, giving up two hits and striking out six over four scoreless innings. Michael Rucker picked up the win, pitching three hitless innings in relief. Game 2 will be played Monday, and Tyson Miller is scheduled to start.