The Cubs face another left-hander Wednesday in Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano. Julio Borbon gets another start in center as well. Here’s the lineup:
Darwin Barney matched a career high with four hits on Tuesday. He also did so Aug. 13, 2011, against the Braves. Barney batted .333 (7-for-21) on the last homestand, and now is batting .371 (13-for-35) with four doubles, a home run, three RBIs, a triple and two walks in his last 10 games. He does have two three-hit games this year.
– Carrie Muskat
It’s not a good sign when the players with the most RBIs for the month are the pitchers. So far, Cubs pitchers have combined for 13 RBIs in May, and were batting .316 (12-for-38) with two home runs for the month. Outfielder Alfonso Soriano also has driven in 13 runs in May with three home runs.
Among the rest of the Cubs’ batters this month, Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz each have 10 RBIs in May, Starlin Castro has nine, David DeJesus has eight, catchers Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro have three each, and the third base combo of Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom three total.
In 2011, Cubs pitchers collected five RBIs for the season. Last year, they drove in 11. These pitchers take hitting seriously.
Here’s the pitcher-by-pitcher breakdown and their performance with runners in scoring position. The team is batting .218 with RISP; the pitchers are batting .286 (8-for-28):
Matt Garza 1-for-1 RISP, 2 RBIs
Scott Feldman 3-for-9 RISP, 4 RBIs
Edwin Jackson 1-for-2 RISP, 2 RBIs
Jeff Samardzija 1-for-5 RISP, 2 RBI, 1 HR
Travis Wood 2-for-4 RISP, 3 RBI, 1 HR
Carlos Villanueva 0-for-7 RISP, 0 RBI
– Carrie Muskat
Brian Bogusevic hit a game-tying solo home run in the seventh and Donnie Murphy hit a walkoff RBI single to lift Iowa to a 2-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday over Las Vegas. In the second game, Barret Loux did not give up a hit over five innings, retiring 12 in a row. Bogusevic delivered a game-winning home run in the sixth to give Iowa a 6-5 victory and complete the sweep.
Chattanooga scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch in the 11th to beat Tennessee, 5-4. Rubi Silva had two RBIs.
Jorge Soler was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in Daytona’s 7-2, 10 inning win over Jupiter. Ben Carhart had three hits, and Javier Baez, Chad Noble and Chadd Krist each had two hits.
Matt Garza had a solid debut but it wasn’t enough. Travis Snider spoiled Garza’s return with a pinch-hit grand slam in the sixth off Shawn Camp to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night.
In his first start since July 21, Garza walked three, struck out five, and gave up one hit, a soft single to right by Clint Barmes with one out in the fifth. The plan was to limit Garza to 80-90 pitches, and he was lifted afer 82. He had missed the second half of 2012 because of right elbow problems and strained his left lat Feb. 17. After having his patience tested, Garza finally made his season debut.
“It’s nice to have that kind of caliber starter back in your rotation,” Dale Sveum said.
Garza is the most animated player in the dugout on days he’s not pitching but tends to keep to himself before his starts, watching videos on his iPad.
“I think the first inning will be the key as to how things will go,” Sveum said. “There’s no question in all of our minds he’ll be pumped up out there.”
The right-hander threw 22 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the first and was saved by Julio Borbon, who snared Andrew McCutchen’s fly ball on the run, then slammed into the fence.
Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo each singled in the second, and with two outs, Darwin Barney delivered a RBI single. Garza then doubled into the gap in right center to drive in two more and open a 3-0 lead. Cubs pitchers now have 13 RBIs this month, tops in the Major Leagues. It was Garza’s second career double.
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the sixth against Hector Rondon, and James Russell took over and walked Pedro Alvarez to force in a run. Camp replaced Russell, and one out later, Snider launched a 2-1 pitch into the center field bleachers for his first career grand slam.
Before the game, Sveum was asked about the importance of having Garza back in the rotation.
“To have the ability to have guys who have no-hitter type stuff going out there is always a nice asset to have,” Sveum said.
Garza nearly pulled it off.
– Carrie Muskat
Ian Stewart was projected as the Cubs regular third baseman this season before he was injured in Spring Training and now he is playing for Triple-A Iowa. However, Stewart is not high on the organization’s depth chart at third base. Stewart said Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, told him that Josh Vitters, the team’s No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, would be getting most of the at-bats.
“[Vitters] is the priority, put it that way,” Dale Sveum said Tuesday. “Who knows about third baseman of the future, but he’s a priority to develop as that guy. The guy was a first-round pick and the guy can swing the bat. We still have to develop him with the thought of him being our third baseman some day. He’s got power, he can swing, he can hit a fastball. But there’s a lot of development left in him.”
Where does that leave Luis Valbuena, who is getting the majority of at-bats at third with the big league team? Vitters is 23 years old, Valbuena is 27, and Stewart is 28.
“If Valbuena keeps playing the way he is, he’s our third baseman,” Sveum said. “He’s doing a very nice job. That’s just what you do in the Minor Leagues, you develop people to be in that spot. Whether it happens [with Vitters], who knows? That’s usually up to the individual who you’re trying to develop. They’ll force your hand, one way or the other.”
Vitters, who has been battling a sore quad, was batting .259 for Iowa with two home runs and seven RBIs.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the Cardinals. Sanchez, 24, will be assigned to Triple-A Iowa. He had one save and a 3.72 ERA in nine relief appearances for Triple-A Memphis, giving up four earned runs over 9 2/3 innings. He has spent part of the last two seasons in the big leagues with the Cardinals, combining to go 3-2 with five saves and a 3.40 ERA in 43 relief appearances. He has 48 strikeouts over 45 innings, and held opponents to a .166 batting average against. The right-hander made his Major League debut in 2011, and went 3-1 with five saves and a 1.80 ERA in 26 relief appearances.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs open a three-game series against the Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park. Here’s the lineup:
* Right-handed reliever Michael Bowden was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Matt Garza, who will be making his first start in the big leagues since last July. He missed the second half of last season because of elbow problems, and has been sidelined this year because of a strained left lat, suffered in Spring Training.
* Also, the Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the Cardinals. He will report to Iowa.
– Carrie Muskat
Ian Stewart had two hits and scored a run in Iowa’s 4-2 loss to Tucson on Saturday. Chris Rusin took the loss, giving up three earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. On Friday, Logan Watkins hit his third hom erun and Brett Jackson was 4-for-5 in Iowa’s 9-8 loss to Tucson. Josh Vitters had two hits.
Dallas Beeler gave up two earned runs over six innings in Tennessee’s 7-5 win over Chattanooga on Saturday. Arismendy Alcantara hit his fifth home run. On Friday, Kyle Hendricks gave up three runs over seven innings in Tennessee’s 4-3 win over Chattanooga. Matt Szczur had two hits and Christian Villanueva had three hits, including two doubles, and one RBIs. It was Hendricks’ fifth quality start.
Zach Cates gave up three runs over 5 2/3 innings and Ben Carhart hit his first home run in Daytona’s 6-5 victory over Lakeland. On Friday, Jorge Soler and Dustin Geiger were a combined 8-for-8 and Yeiper Castillo gave up one run over seven innings in Daytona’s 5-1 victory over Lakeland in the first game of a doubleheader. Soler hit his sixth home run and posted his first four-hit game of the season. Geiger hit three doubles among his four hits and had four RBIs.
In the second game, Daytona won, 7-4, for the sweep. Soler was 3-for-6 with a double, and batting .297 for the season. Geiger went 3-for-4 with a double and RBIs. Javier Baez was 2-for-5 with a triple and scored three runs.
Pierce Johnson threw six shutout innings and struck out nine in Kane County’s 4-0 win over Cedar Rapids. Rock Shoulders and Oliver Zapata both homered, with Zapata finishing with three hits. On Friday, Dillon Maples gave up two runs over five hits in Kane County’s 4-3, 12-inning loss to Cedar Rapids.
Matt Garza picked up the win Thursday in Iowa’s 1-0 victory over Tucson. Donnie Murphy drove in the only run with a sacrifice fly in the second. Brooks Raley gave up two hits over three innings in relief for the save.
Ty Wright hit two home runs and drove in four runs to power Tennesseeto a 6-4 victory over Jackson. Arismendy Alcantara, Jonathan Mota and Rafael Lopez each had two hits. A.J. Morris picked up the win in relief.
Dustin Geiger went 3-for-5 and hit his fourth home run but it wasn’t enough as Daytona lost, 12-7, to Charlotte. P.J. Francescon gave up 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits and five walks over five innings. Geiger now has 30 RBIs, tops on the team.
Kane County scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat Peoria, 5-0, in the first game of a doubleheader. Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez each had three hits, and Amaya drove in three runs. In the second game, Hernandez hit his first home run but Peoria scored six in the third to win, 6-2. Jeimer Candelario had two hits, both doubles. Kane County committed six errors in the second game.