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9/12 Cubs lineup

Jorge Soler will not be with the Cubs this weekend in Pittsburgh. He returned to Miami for the birth of his first child. Here is the lineup for Friday’s game against the Pirates:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Kalish RF
Olt 1B
Alcantara CF
Watkins 2B
Wada P

9/12 Kane County 2-0 in MWL series

Class A Kane County pitchers Duane Underwood and Tyler Ihrig combined for a two-hit shutout Thursday to defeat Lake County, 6-0, in Game 2 of the best of five Midwest League championship series. The Cougars are one win away from clinching the series and winning their first league title since 2001.

Underwood, the Cubs’ second round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, struck out eight and walked five in six hitless innings before Ihrig relieved him to start the seventh. Ihrig extended the no-hit bid for another inning, before Lake County catcher Richard Stock and third baseman Grant Stock opened the eighth with back-to-back singles. But the Captains would do no more damage, and Ihirg finished the game for his second save of the playoffs.

Underwood earned the victory in his second playoff start. The right-hander has a 2.79 ERA and has struck out 11 batters and walked eight in 9 2/3 innings. During the regular season, he went 6-4 with a 2.50 ERA. He struck out 84 batters and walked 36 in 100 2/3 innings.

Designated hitter Mark Zagunis, the Cubs’ third round pick in June’s Draft, went 3-for-5 with a double and a run to lead Kane County’s offense Thursday. Left fielder Shawon Dunston added two hits and three runs.

After a travel day, the championship series moves to Lake County on Saturday for Game 3. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.

9/11 Last 2014 homestand at Wrigley

The last homestand of the season at Wrigley Field begins Monday when the Cubs play host to the Reds. On Sept. 24, before the last regular season game, players will give away autographed baseballs in the stands. There will be fan appreciation giveaways on Cubs social media throughout the week as well. Tickets are available for the upcoming 10-game homestand at http://www.cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

* Security: Please note that beginning this homestand, the Cubs will begin metal detector screenings of fans entering Wrigley Field as part of a league-wide initiative to standardize security procedures at each Major League ballpark. These security screenings are in addition to the current bag checks in place and will be uniform throughout the league during the 2015 season.

* WGN Radio: On Sept. 19, the Cubs will pay tribute to longstanding radio partner WGN Radio before the game and during the seventh inning stretch. WGN Radio aired Chicago’s first professional game Oct. 1, 1924, when the Cubs and White Sox played the post-season City Series at then-Cubs Park.

On April 14, 1925, WGN broadcast its first regular season Cubs game when Chicago beat Pittsburgh by an 8-2 margin. WGN carried the Cubs from 1924-1943, then served as the exclusive radio home for the team from 1958-2014. The Cubs announced earlier this season that WBBM 780-AM will be the team’s new flagship radio station beginning with the 2015 season. WBBM Radio had previously covered Cubs games at Wrigley Field from 1929-1940.

* Time change: Fans with tickets to Cubs vs. Dodgers Sept. 20 game should note FOX TV has selected the game for their FOX Saturday Baseball “Game of the Week” broadcast. As a result, the game time has been moved from 3:05 p.m. CT to 12:05 p.m. CT. Gates will open two hours prior to first pitch.

* Donations needed: On Sept. 21, the Cubs and Baseball Tomorrow Fund encourage fans to donate new and gently used baseball and softball equipment for the 10th annual equipment day collection benefiting The Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club. To date, more than 100,000 pieces of equipment and approximately $1.6 million in total monetary donations from this league-wide program have benefited organizations in need. Fans can bring their equipment to Gate D at Wrigley Field beginning at 11 a.m. CT.

* Salute: On Sept. 18, recipients of more than $330,000 in Cubs Charities Diamond Project grants will be recognized pregame for their commitments to improving the quality and safety of local baseball fields throughout the Chicago area. These grants were announced last week in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago.

* Salute Part II: Cubs Charities and Bank of America will host a group of military members and their families for a pregame batting practice experience, player meet-and-greet and private dinner during the team’s final home game Sept. 24. Fans can help salute these troops during a Military Take the Field pregame ceremony that evening.

* Promotional Giveaways:
On Sept. 19, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs Travel Blanket, presented by United Airlines. On Sept. 20, the first 10,000 fans can collect a Cubs Tumbler presented by Pepsi. On Sept. 21, the first 5,000 children 13-and-under will receive a Lunch Tote presented by Jewel-Osco. The first 1,000 kids can run the bases postgame as well, weather permitting.

* Big Ten:
Big Ten Rivalry Week kicks off Sept. 15, and matches heated rivals against each other for bragging rights and access to a ceremonial first pitch. Attendees will receive a Cubs shirt in the colors of their favorite Big Ten team. The lineup of Big Ten Rivalry Week matchups follows:

9/15: Indiana vs. Purdue
9/16: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
9/17: Michigan vs. Ohio State
9/21: Maryland vs. Rutgers
9/22: Michigan State vs. Penn State
9/23: Iowa vs. Nebraska
9/24: Illinois vs. Northwestern

9/11 Minor matters – Wednesday’s games

Mark Zagunis hit a two-run homer in Kane County’s 4-3 win over Lake County in the first game of the Midwest League championship series. Jen-Ho Tseng struck out eight and gave up two earned runs over five innings for the win. Shawon Dunston Jr. had three hits, one RBIs and stole two bases. Jeimer Candelario had two hits. Duane Underwood is scheduled to start the second game of the best-of-five series on Thursday in Geneva, Ill.

9/10 Rizzo walk-a-thon Nov. 16

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will host his third walk-off for cancer on Nov. 16 at Pine Trails Park, Parkland, FL. Registration is $30, which includes a t-shirt and gift bag. You can walk individually or register as a team for the 5K walk around the park. For more information, send an email to info@rizzo44.com, or visit http://www.Rizzo44.com. The walk has raised more than $100,000 two years in a row.

9/10 Kane County playoff info

Class A Kane County opens the 2014 Midwest League Championship Series tonight vs. Lake County. Kane County is attempting to win the franchise’s first league title since 2001. The Cougars are unbeaten in postseason play, having swept Wisconsin in the quarterfinal round and Cedar Rapids in the division championship round.

Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-five series will take place at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark Wednesday and Thursday, with both games slated for a 6 p.m. CT start time. Following an off-day on Friday, the series shifts to eastern Ohio for Game 3 on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. If necessary, Games 4 and 5 would take place on Sunday and Monday, respectively, at Lake County. WBIG 1280 AM, as well as kccougars.com will carry the radio broadcasts of the games.

Playoff tickets are available by calling (630) 232-8811 or ordering online at kccougars.com.

This is the 14th playoff appearance in the Cougars’ 24-year history, and first trip to the postseason since 2011 and the first league championship series appearance since 2006. The Cougars won the Midwest League Championship in 2001 as the team featured present-day Major League stars such as Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez.

This season’s team, led by Midwest League Manager of the Year Mark Johnson, won 91 games during the regular season, which leads both Major League and Minor League Baseball, while setting a franchise record for most regular season wins. The Cougars clinched the Western Division first half championship in June with a 45-25 first half record and won the second half division championship with a 46-24 mark. Kane County also set a franchise best with 13 consecutive wins, 2.85 team ERA and 54-17 home record this season.

Scouting the Cougars:

The Cougars swept Lake County in a three-game series at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, April 11-13. Pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng will start Wednesday. Yasiel Balaguert went 8-for-12 during the April series against Lake County while pitchers Daury Torrez (expected Game 2 starter) and Duane Underwood (expected Game 3 starter) each made starts against the Captains. Jeimer Candelario is batting .444 in four playoff games while Mark Zagunis is batting .429 in the postseason. This is the fifth LCS appearance for the Cougars (1997, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2014). Probable starters for potential games 4 and 5 would be Paul Blackburn followed by Ben Wells.

Scouting the Captains:

Lake County, located in Eastlake, Ohio, is 4-0 in the playoffs as well, sweeping South Bend in the first round and Fort Wayne in the Eastern Division Championship Series. Lake County’s 27-43 first half record was the worst in the Midwest League’s first half. The team rebounded and went 38-31 in the second half to take the top playoff spot in the division. Lake County was 39-30 at home and 26-44 on the road this season. In four playoff games, Lake County’s team ERA is 1.50. First round pick Bradley Zimmer joined Lake County near the end of the regular season and is batting .375 in the playoffs. Zimmer’s older brother Kyle played with Kane County when the Cougars were affiliated with the Kansas City Royals in 2012. Lake County won the Midwest League championship in 2010 – their first season in the league. Probable starters for the Captains are Mitch Brown, Jordan Milbrath, Anderson Polanco and Luis Lugo for Games 1-4.

Midwest League Championship Round (Best-of-5 series)

Wednesday, Sept. 10 – Lake County at Kane County, 6 p.m. CT
Thursday, Sept. 11 – Lake County at Kane County, 6 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 13 – Kane County at Lake County, 6 p.m. CT
Sunday, Sept. 14 – Kane County at Lake County, 6 p.m. CT
Monday, Sept. 15 – Kane County at Lake County, 6 p.m. CT

9/10 Cubs lineup

Logan Watkins will be the 39th different player to be the designated hitter for the Cubs tonight as they wrap up their three-game series against the Blue Jays. Kyle Hendricks gets the start. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Valbuena 3B
Soler RF
Castillo C
Kalish CF
Alcantara 2B
Olt 1B
Watkins DH

Hendricks P

9/10 Extra bases

* The Cubs current five-game losing streak is one shy of their season-long six-game losing streak, July 5-9. The Cubs are one loss shy of guaranteeing a fifth-straight season below .500, which would be their first five-season stretch of sub .500 baseball since 1978-83. The Cubs also are three wins away from surpassing their win total from all of last season.

* There are 17 games remaining this season, with all but three of the games against teams in contention for the playoffs.

* Kyle Hendricks gets the start Wednesday. He has a 1.60 ERA (10 ER/56 1/3 IP) in nine starts since the All-Star Break, the fourth-best ERA among starting pitchers in all of baseball since the break and trailing only Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw (1.56 ERA) among all NL starters. Hendricks earned NL Rookie of the Month honors in August after going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in six starts … he is the first Cubs pitcher to ever be named a Rookie of the Month winner.

* Looking ahead to Cubs vs. Pirates this weekend:

Friday: LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2, 2.95) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (8-5, 3.89)
Saturday: LHP Felix Doubront (1-1, 2.25) vs. LHP Jeff Locke (7-4, 3.60)
Sunday: RHP Jacob Turner (5-9, 5.84) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.36)

* Also, Game 1 of the best-of-five Midwest League championship series between Kane County and Lake County will begin Wednesday night. The Cougars are looking to win their second league championship in franchise history (previously done, 2011).

9/9 Minor matters – Monday’s game

Daytona’s season is over after losing 4-2 in 11 innings Monday to Fort Myers in the Florida State League championship game. Jason Kanzler hit a tie-brekaing two-run homer in the 11th off Daytona’s Stephen Perakslis that was the difference. Dan Vogelbach scored in the fourth on an error, and doubled to lead off the sixth and scored on another error. Vogelbach, who will play in the Arizona Fall League, hit .273.

Kane County faces Lake County in the best of five Midwest League championship series, starting Wednesday at Fifth Third Bank ballpark in Geneva, IL.

9/8 Cubs lineup

Luis Valbuena will be the DH tonight for the Cubs as they open a three-game Interleague series against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Valbuena DH
Soler RF
Castillo C
Olt 1B
Alcantara CF
Watkins 2B
Valaika 3B

Turner P

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