IOWA: Matt Szczur hit a two-run homer in the seventh to help Iowa beat Memphis, 6-3, on Sunday. Luis Flores had two hits. Alberto Cabrera threw three scoreless innings in relief for the win.
Javier Baez, placed on the seven-day disabled list Sunday with a sprained left ankle, assured fans he’ll be OK. Baez posted: “I’ll be back soon people. Promise. RT” on his Twitter account.
TENNESSEE: Zeke DeVoss and Stephen Bruno hit back to back home runs to help Tennessee beat Chattanooga, 8-2. Matt Loosen picked up the win, giving up two runs on four hits and four walks over five innings. Wes Darvill was 3-for-3 with three RBI. Kris Bryant reached base three times and scored two runs.
DAYTONA: Bijan Rademacher had two hits and two RBIs in Daytona’s 7-3 loss to Tampa. Ben Wells took the loss, giving up two runs over four innings. Tim Saunders had two hits and one RBI.
KANE COUNTY: Top prospect Duane Underwood gave up one run on three hits over three innings in Kane County’s rain-shortened 6-1 win over Lake County. Underwood struck out five. Yasiel Balaguert had two hits and scored two runs.
* The addition of Blake Parker gives the Cubs another option for save situations, joining Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm. The Cubs are trying to fill in for Jose Veras, who will be used in a different role after his struggles in his first four games. Parker is the career saves leader at Iowa, and knows how hard it is to get the last three outs.
“It’s an unbelievably hard role, especially in the big leagues with the crowd involved and the umpires are a little bit tighter and the quality of the hitters is way better,” Parker said. “It’s the hardest job for a pitcher to get those last three outs. To just be able to come in and get outs is my thing, whether it’s the ninth or the sixth.”
The Cubs have seen two pitchers – Strop and Rondon – each record a save within the first 11 games of the season. Last April, the Cubs had three different pitchers record a save within the month of April for the first time since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969.
“They give me various options,” Renteria said of Strop, Parker, Rondon and Grimm. “You still have to put them in situations where they feel comfortable.”
* The Cubs have two off days this week but will not tweak their rotation, which means Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson will start next weekend against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Villanueva will stay in the rotation despite lasting three innings Saturday against the Cardinals.
* After an off day Monday, the Cubs play the Yankees in the first of eight Interleague series this season at Yankee Stadium. This will be the Cubs’ first-ever regular season games at the new Yankee Stadium, which will be the 122nd different ballpark in which the team will have played. After Tuesday, the Cubs will have played a regular-season game in every current Major League city and a game in every active ballpark.
“It was a little more traditional, and it was more of a pitcher’s ballpark,” Jose Veras said of the old Yankee Stadium. “The [new one] is a hitters ballpark now. It’s way different now.”
The Cubs did play the first two games in the history of new Yankee Stadium, however, when the teams met in exhibition action prior to 2009. The Yankees won both games.
* Top prospect Javier Baez was placed on the seven-day disabled list with Triple-A Iowa because of a sprained left ankle, injured while taking ground balls on Friday. Baez was 4-for-26 (.154) with two home runs in eight games this season.
* This weekend was manager Rick Renteria’s first exposure to the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.
“I noticed, looking outside my hotel room, that there were a lot of people waiting to get into [Busch] stadium and that was early in the morning,” Renteria said. “It’s neat. I think the fan base here and in Chicago are unique. I like my fan base.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Javier Baez was placed on Iowa’s seven-day disabled list because of a sprained left ankle, suffered Friday while taking ground balls during batting practice. He was 4-for-26 with a double, two home runs and three RBIs in eight games so far.
* Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha has been transferred to Tennessee from Triple-A Iowa. Ha has played for Tennessee in each of the last three seasons. In a corresponding move, infielder Giuseppe Papaccio has been transferred from Tennessee to Extended Spring Training. He was hitless in two pinch-hit appearances. Left-hander Austin Kirk has been transferred from High-A Daytona to Tennessee. In two relief outings for Daytona, Kirk gave up four earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. Right-handed reliever Frank Batista has been transferred to Extended Spring Training from Tennessee.
* Pitcher Duane Underwood has joined Kane County from the Cubs’ spring training complex in Arizona while pitcher Scott Frazier has been transferred to Arizona. Underwood is active and scheduled to start Sunday’s game. Underwood, a second round pick in 2012, went 3-4 with a 4.97 ERA at Short-A Boise in 2013. Underwood is one of three 19 year olds on the roster, joining fellow starting pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng and infielder Carlos Penalver.
As expected, Blake Parker joined the Cubs on Sunday. The right-hander was recalled from Iowa and took Chris Rusin’s spot. Rusin threw five innings in relief on Saturday, and was optioned back to Iowa.
The rain is gone, and it looks like the Cubs and Cardinals will finish their series on Sunday. Emilio Bonifacio is back at the top of the order as the Cubs try to win the series, facing Michael Wacha. Here’s the lineup:
Tsuyoshi Wada struck out 10 over 6 2/3 innings in Iowa’s 5-0 win over Memphis. Wada retired the first six batters he faced. Brian Schlitter, optined to Iowa earlier in the day, threw a scoreless ninth. Brett Jackson had one RBI and Matt Szczur delivered a two-run pinch-single in the ninth.
Kris Bryant hit his third home run and Zeke DeVoss hit a two-run triple to lead Tennessee to a 5-1 victory over Chattanooga. Bryant and Dustin Geiger are tied for the Southern League lead with three homers each. Ryan Searle picked up the win in relief.
Albert Almora drove in three runs in Daytona’s 7-1 win over Tampa. Rob Zastryzny gave up one run on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Almora hit his first home run of the season and also hit a double. Dan Vogelbach had two RBI.
Jacob Rogers had four RBI in Kane County’s 9-8 win over Lake County. Rogers hit a two-run homer and a double. David Bote also homered and drove in two runs.
Chris Rusin was recalled from Iowa prior to Saturday’s game, and headed back after throwing five innings in relief of Carlos Villanueva. Rusin was needed to give the bullpen a breather, and he did just that. The Cubs didn’t have to use anyone else in the 10-4 loss to the Cardinals at Busch. No corresponding move was made immediately but Blake Parker was expected to be added to the 25-man roster.
Chris Valaika hit a three-run homer but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost 8-5 to Memphis. Eric Jokisch gave up seven runs on eight hits over five innings.
Corey Black walked three but did not give up a hit over five innings in Tennessee’s 6-5 win over Chattanooga. Stephen Bruno delivered a walk off RBI single in the ninth for the win. Dustin Geiger and Jeudy Valdez each homered.
Bijan Rademacher had two hits in Daytona’s 5-1 loss to Tampa. Yao-Lin Wang started and gave up two runs on four hits over five innings.
Daury Torrez gave up four runs over 5 1/3 innings in Kane County’s 6-4 win over Lake County. Carlos Penalver and Yasiel Balaguert each had three hits.
Manager Rick Renteria had a long talk Saturday morning with Jose Veras, and told him that as of now, the right-hander is no longer the Cubs closer and will be used in other situations to try to get back on track. Veras blew a two-run lead on Friday against the Cardinals and is 0-2 in save situations so far.
“I was just telling him we believe in him and we’ll try to find spots where he can continue to work through things he needs to work to get better,” Renteria said.
Veras knows there’s a problem.
“I don’t have an answer,” Veras said. “I can’t find myself. It’s kind of tough. I feel I’m good, my body feels good. I’m not hurt, I’m 100 percent healthy, thank God. For some reason, I can’t get three down. I’ve got to get going. Today is a new day and find a way to get out of there.
“Everybody has been in that position. … I know how to handle it, I’m not going to put my head down,” he said. “A couple bad outings, hopefully it’s going to stop. If it doesn’t, I’m going to keep fighting, keep working. I’ll never give up, brother. My stuff is there. For some reason, I can’t get it done. I try to pitch inside, hit a guy, try to throw front door breaking ball, hit a guy. Make good pitches, and they don’t swing at them. Make good pitches, and I don’t receive a call by the guy behind home plate. There’s too much stuff at the same time. It’s no excuse. I’ve got to get the job done.”
Who will be the Cubs closer? That’s to be determined on a game by game situation. Among the Cubs options are Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm.
“Right now what we’re going to do is see who emerges,” Renteria said. “We’ll use some of our other guys. We need to help [Veras] work through some things right now. I told him I have all the confidence in the world in him and I think he’ll be back.”
Renteria made the decision after talking with Veras.
“You have to be able to talk to your players and kind of get a feel where they’re at before you make decisions,” Renteria said.
– Carrie Muskat
Emilio Bonifacio gets Saturday off as the Cubs play the Cardinals in Game 2 of their three-game series at Busch Stadium. Here’s the lineup: