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#Cubs and Lackey vs. Cards in finale

John Lackey will close the Cubs’ series against the Cardinals on Sunday night at Wrigley Field vs. Mike Leake. Lackey is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA (5 ER/21 innings) in his last three starts. He was 0-5 with a 6.12 ERA in seven prior to that. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Coghlan LF

Heyward RF

Contreras C

Lackey P

The Cubs have not lost back to back games since July 25-26 vs White Sox.

Addison Russell has 71 RBI, tied for sixth most by a Cubs player age 22 or younger with Howard Freigau (1925). Vic Saier leads that category with 92 RBI at age 22 in 1913.

*Looking ahead to Cubs vs. Brewers, here are the pitching matchups:

Tue: Game 1, TBD vs. RHP Matt Garza (4-4, 4.83)
Tue: Game 2, RHP Jason Hammel (12-5, 2.90) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (7-10, 4.93)
Wed: LHP Jon Lester (12-4, 2.93) vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson (6-12, 4.07)
Thu: RHP Jake Arrieta (14-5, 2.55) vs. RHP Zach Davies (9-5, 3.80)

*Just for fun: The Sun-Times’ Dan McGrath referenced the Cubs’ lineup from 2013. I wanted to see how many changes there have been since 2011 (before Rizzo). Here you go:

Aug. 14, 2015 at White Sox: Fowler CF, Schwarber DH, Coghlan LF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Denorfia RF, Castro 2B, Russell SS

Aug. 14, 2014 vs Brewers: Coghlan LF, Baez 2B, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Alcantara CF, Ruggiano RF, Castillo C, E. Jackson P

Aug. 14, 2013 vs Reds: DeJesus CF, McDonald LF, Rizzo 1B, Castillo C, Schierholtz RF, Murphy SS, Watkins 2B, Ransom 3B, Rusin P

Aug. 14, 2012 vs Astros: DeJesus RF, Vitters 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, B. Jackson CF, Barney 2B, Volstad P

Aug. 14, 2011 at Atlanta: Castro SS, Barney 2B, Ramirez 3B, Pena 1B, Byrd CF, Soriano LF, Colvin RF, Soto C, Garza P

#Cubs Minor League report

Saturday’s games

Rob Zastryzny gave up five runs over five innings and struck out nine in Iowa’s 9-5 win over Fresno. Iowa pitchers combined to strike out 18 in the game. Tim Federowicz had two hits, including a two-run homer. Jeimer Candelario had three hits and three RBI.

Tennessee lost, 4-2, to Pensacola. Michael Wagner gave up four runs over six innings. Ian Happ had two hits and one RBI.

Myrtle Beach scored runs in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings in a 7-6 win over Carolina. Jeremy Null started, and gave up one run over six innings. Donnie Dewees had four hits and two RBI.

South Bend gave up eight runs in the first inning in a 13-0 loss to Dayton. Justin Steele served up the runs on eight hits and one walk over two-thirds of an inning. Matt Rose singled, and now has hit in 11 straight games.

Eugene beat Spokane, 9-3. Wladimir Galindo had three hits and four RBI. Kevonte Mitchell had three hits and one RBI. Pedro Silverio gave up one run over 3 2/3 innings.

Mesa scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Giants, 3-2. Jhonny Pereda had three hits, including a game-tying two-run homer. Yohan Matos had two hits, including a walk-off RBI single.

#Cubs and Hendricks face Cards

Kyle Hendricks will start Saturday in Game 3 of the Cubs’ four-game set against the Cardinals. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist LF

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Contreras C

Baez 2B

Hendricks P

The Cubs enter Saturday’s game with a 14-game lead in the NL Central Division. The last time the Cubs held this large of a lead in their division or (pre-1969) in their league was in 1929. Their last lead this large over 114 decisions or fewer was through the games of Aug. 25, 1907, when they held a 15 1/2-game lead in the NL

The Cubs have a plus 200 run differential for the first time since the completion of the 1945 regular season when the Cubs finished with a plus 203 differential (735 runs scored, 532 runs allowed).

#Cubs Minor League report

Friday’s games

Brian Matusz gave up three runs over two innings in Iowa’s 8-4 loss to Fresno. Tim Federowicz had two hits, including a home run, and three RBI. Juan Perez had three hits.

Tennessee lost a doubleheader to Pensacola. In the first game, Kelly Dugan and Victor Caratini both homered. Jen-Ho Tseng gave up five runs over 4 1/3 innings in the second game.

Myrtle Beach beat Carolina, 7-5. Jonathan Martinez gave up four runs over five innings and struck out six. Donnie Dewees had three hits, including a solo home run. Ian Rice had two hits.

South Bend won its sixth straight, beating Dayton, 10-1. Adbert Alzolay threw five shutout innings, striking out six. Alberto Mineo hit a three-run homer. Eloy Jimenez had two hits and four RBI.

Manuel Rondon gave up three hits over five scoreless innings in Eugene’s 1-0 win over Spokane. Wladimir Galindo drove in the only run with a single.

Mesas lost, 5-0, to the Rangers. Pablo Ochoa gave up five runs over three innings. The Cubs totaled two hits — singles by Luis Ayala and Isaac Paredes.

#Cubs and Arrieta face Cards

Jake Arrieta gets the start Friday when the Cubs play Game 2 of their four-game series against the Cardinals. First pitch is 1:20 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

Szczur CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Soler RF

Russell SS

Contreras LF

Montero C

Baez 2B

Arrieta P

The Cubs have opened August with a 9-0 record, the best start to a calendar month since they were 9-0 in August 1909. The only month with a better start was June 1885 (18-0).

Anthony Rizzo, who drew the walk-off walk on Thursday in the win, has recorded the game-winning RBI in each of the team’s last two contests, and he now leads the Majors with 16 game-winning RBI this season (the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy is second with 15).

#Cubs Minor League report

Thursday’s games

Iowa had the day off and opens a four-game series at Fresno on Friday.

Tennessee’s game at Pensacola was suspended in the bottom of the second because of rain. The two teams will complete that game on Friday, and then play the second game of the series.

Preston Morrison gave up one run over 6 2/3 innings in Myrtle Beach’s 3-2 win over Salem. Yasiel Balaguert hit his 18th home run, a solo shot. Andrew Ely had two hits. In nine starts since June 16, Morrison is 6-1 with a 0.61 ERA, and has struck out 58 and walked nine over 59 2/3 innings.

Oscar De La Cruz struck out six over five no-hit innings in South Bend’s 7-4 win over DAyton. De La Cruz had thrown 76 pitches before he was lifted. Connor Myers and Andruw Monasterio both had two hits and two RBI.

Eugene posted a 7-4 win over Salem-Keizer. Marcus Mastrobuoni, Chris Pieters and Kevonte Mitchell all homered. Mastrobuoni finished with three hits and three RBI.

Mesa had the day off and will play host to the Rangers on Friday.

#Cubs Strop out 4-6 weeks; Grimm back

Cubs reliever Pedro Strop has a torn meniscus in his left knee, and will be sidelined four to six weeks. Who takes his job as primary set-up pitcher? Manager Joe Maddon could call on newcomer Joe Smith to fill in the gap.

“It could’ve been worse — we’re going to get him back and that’s a good thing,” Maddon said of Strop, who will have arthroscopic surgery on Friday. An MRI on Thursday revealed that the ligaments in the knee were intact, which is good news.

Said Strop: “I almost cried just thinking that I might be out for the season. This is a special group and I want to be part of the playoffs and the World Series if we get there.”

The Cubs did recall right-hander Justin Grimm from Triple-A Iowa but they are short-handed in the bullpen with Hector Rondon sidelined because of tightness in his triceps. Rondon was not available Thursday and was to throw a bullpen on Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs and Lester face Cardinals

Jon Lester opens the Cubs’ four-game series against their division rivals, the Cardinals, on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Coghlan LF

Ross C

Lester P

Lester is 6-3 with a 2.04 ERA (17 ER/75 IP) in his last 11 starts at Wrigley Field dating to last Sept. 25. At 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, he’s the only National League left-hander to record at least 12 victories and an ERA under 3.00, and just one of three lefties in the Majors to do so.

This is the second time since 1954 that Chicago has won at least nine-straight games in August or later.

The Cubs are 8-0 to start this month. Their best August start ever is 9-0 in 1908, and we all know what happened that year.

 

#Cubs Minor League report

Wednesday’s games

Iowa lost, 7-0, to Oklahoma City. Trevor Cahill started, and gave up three runs on two hits — both home runs — over two innings. It was an abbreviated start as Cahill is expected to start one of the Cubs’ doubleheader games Tuesday against the Brewers. Jeimer Candelario had three hits. Albert Almora Jr. bruised his left thumb after he fell chasing a ball. His status was day to day.

Tennessee had the day off, and opens a five-game series at Pensacola on Thursday.

Myrtle Beach lost, 2-1, in 10 innings to Salem to end a 10-game winning streak. Trevor Clifton gave up one unearned run over six innings. Clifton has not given up an earned run in back to back starts. Jeffrey Baez hit a solo homer.

South Bend had the day off, and opens a four-game series at Dayton on Thursday.

Trent Giambrone had four hits, including a home run and two doubles, and two RBI in Eugene’s 12-4 win over Salem-Keizer. Kevonte Mitchell also homered. Baily Clark gave up one run over four innings.

Mesa lost, 10-8, to the Padres. Rafael Mejia hit a three-run homer. Eugenio Palma gave up two earned runs over 4 2/3 innings.

#Cubs and Hammel face Angels

Jason Hammel starts Wednesday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs close their brief two-game Interleague series against the Angels. Hammel is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last four starts. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant LF

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Contreras C

Baez 3B

Hammel P
The Cubs are 7-0 to begin August, marking the first time they’ve begun a calendar month with seven straight wins since June 1998. The last time the Cubs started a month better than 7-0 was in August of 1927 (8-0).

The Cubs’ starting pitchers are 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA in their last eight games.

 

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