8/15 Straily to make spot start

Dan Straily feels like himself, and that’s a good thing for the Cubs. The right-hander, acquired from the Athletics on July 4, will make a spot start for the Cubs on Saturday in the second game of their series against the Mets. In his last outing for Triple-A Iowa, Straily gave up two hits over six innings and picked up the win. He has not given up an earned run in his last three starts.

“I got out of the little funk I was in, some mechanical flaws if you will that had taken over my game,” he said Friday. “You have one good game, and it’s like, ‘OK, I had a good game.’ Two in a row, OK. Three in a row, OK, hopefully, we got it.

“I definitely feel more like the pitcher I know I am, not the guy I had been this year,” he said. “It’s a real good feeling to go out there and throw the baseball and feel like I was in command.”

What’s been a surprise for Straily is that his velocity has increased since Spring Training. At the beginning of the year, his fastball was clocked in the mid 80s. Now, it’s 87-92 mph.

“It’s nice to know I have it back there again,” he said of his velocity.

He was 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts with the Athletics last season, but was 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA this season. He also has made 10 starts at Triple-A Sacramento.

Iowa pitching coach Bruce Walton, Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and others have studied Straily’s mechanics, and combined to make some minor changes. The right-hander feels good about where he’s at.

“Maybe this whole change of scenery thing is what it’s made out to be,” he said. “Maybe that’s all it is.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/15 Cubs lineup

Travis Wood makes the start Friday night for the Cubs against the Mets. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez 2B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Castillo C
Alcantara CF
Sweeney RF
Valaika 3B
Wood P

8/15 Minor matters – Thursday’s games

Kris Bryant hit a walk-off, two-run homer in the 12th to lift Iowa to a 6-5 win over Las Vegas. It was Bryant’s 40th homer of the season (Tennessee and Iowa combined) and he leads all Minor Leaguers. Mike Olt also homered for the second straight game. He has seven homers and 18 RBIs since July 31, tops in the PCL.

Dustin Geiger delivered a walk-off RBI single to give Tennessee a 1-0 win over Huntsville. C.J. Edwards started the game, and threw six shutout innings, giving up four hits, one walk and striking out one. Albert Almora and Taylor Davis each had two hits.

Jose Rosario gave up two runs over five innings in Daytona’s 6-2 win over Brevard County in the first game of a doubleheader. Billy McKinney had four RBIs. Brevard County posted a 2-1 win in the second game. Justin Amlung took the loss, giving up two runs — none earned — on seven hits over five innings.

Trey Martin hit a three-run homer to help Kane County beat Quad Cities, 4-1. Duane Underwood did not get a decision, giving up three hits and walking four over five scoreless innings.

Rashad Crawford hit his first professional home run, a three-run shot, in Boise’s 7-2 win over Hillsboro. Jesse Hodges was 4-for-4, and David Bote had two RBI.

Tyler Pearson hit a solo home run in Mesa’s 6-2 loss to the D-Backs. Jake Stinnett took the loss, giving up four runs on six hits over two innings.

8/15 Cubs deal Jackson to D-Backs

The Cubs dealt 2009 first-round pick Brett Jackson to the Diamondbacks late Thursday for Minor League right-handed pitcher Blake Cooper.

Cooper, 26, was 4-2 with a 3.57 ERA in 41 relief appearances combined for Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno this year. He was named to the 2014 Southern League All-Star team, posting a 1.85 ERA in 24 games with Mobile. However, he had a 6.00 ERA in 17 games at Reno, giving up 16 earned runs on 25 hits and 17 walks over 24 innings at Reno. A 12th-round pick in 2010, Cooper was 16-15 with 16 saves and a 3.27 ERA in five Minor League seasons.

Jackson, who turned 26 on Aug. 2, was the 31st player taken overall in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Injuries slowed the outfielder, limiting him to 61 games last season at Triple-A Iowa.

In 81 games at Iowa this year, he was batting .210 with eight doubles, four triples, five homers and 20 RBIs. Jackson was called up to the big leagues in August 2012, but batted .175 in 44 games. His strikeout totals were high; in 2012, he fanned 158 times over 106 games at Iowa.

The move opens a spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. According to the Arizona Republic, Jackson will be assigned to Triple-A Reno.

– Carrie Muskat

8/15 Bryant walk-off

Kris Bryant hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning Thursday to lead Triple-A Iowa to a 6-5 win over Las Vegas. It was Bryant’s 40th home run of the season, tops in the Minor Leagues. He is the second player in the last five years to reach the mark, joining the Rangers’ No. 1 prospect Joey Gallo, who did so last year. Bryant is also the first Cubs’ Minor Leaguer to hit that many home runs in at least 40 years, according to Baseball-Reference.

Bryant had been hitless in his four at-bats Thursday before coming to the plate in the bottom of the 12th to face Las Vegas reliever Chase Bradford. He had struck out three times and had only reached base when he was intentionally walked in the ninth.

Bryant belted a fly ball over the center field fence for a two-run blast, and finished the game 1-for-5.

Ranked No. 3 on MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, Bryant began the season with Double-A Tennessee. After a dominating first half (he was winning the Southern League’s Triple Crown at the All-Star break), he was promoted to Iowa. In 122 games between the two levels, he is hitting .336/.442/.684 with 40 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He has scored 108 runs and driven in 103.

8/14 Probable pitchers

Because the Cubs are in a stretch in which they play 21 straight days, they are tweaking the rotation to give the starting pitchers a breather. Dan Straily will be called up from Triple-A Iowa to start Saturday against the Mets. Here’s the updated probables:

Friday: LHP Travis Wood (7-9, 4.86) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (7-8, 3.53)
Saturday: RHP Dan Strailey vs. LHP Jonathon Niese (6-8, 3.46)
Sunday: RHP Jake Arrieta (6-4, 2.77) vs. vs. RHP Rafael Montero (0-3, 6.12)
Monday: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-1, 1.73) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85)

8/14 Cubs (heart) JRW

JRW0814

8/14 Cubs cheer on Little Leaguers

Wesley Wright didn’t play Little League growing up in Montgomery, Ala., but the Cubs reliever did play what was called Dixie Ball. He remembers his parents driving him to games and tournaments all over the state.

Which is why Wright didn’t hesitate to chip in money to help parents and friends of the Jackie Robinson West players go to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.

Wright, 29, joined the Rockies’ LaTroy Hawkins, the Braves’ B.J. and Justin Upton, and the Tigers’ Torii Hunter in donating money to cover travel expenses for many of the families.

“I felt that the kids worked so hard to get to that moment, the people they deserve to share it with is their family and friends,” Wright said Thursday. “It was an easy sell for me. I’m glad they’ll have their mom and dad and brothers and sisters there to cheer them on.”

The Chicago Little League team will be the Great Lakes representative in the Little League World Series, which gets underway Thursday.

“They sent a ‘thank you’ video to us and some of the guys,” Wright said. “It was pretty cool. I’m glad to be able to help. Hopefully, they enjoy their time in Williamsport. Even if they don’t win a game, I just hope they have a good time and it’s lasting memories.”

Wright said he was happy to see the community and the city rally in support of the team.

“It’s a good thing for the community to see these young guys — and in some cases girls — playing ball and being a motivational tool on national TV for the rest of the kids back home to see they can do something positive,” Wright said. “I think it’s a great story overall. I’m sure that part of the city is excited and hoping they’ll bring home a title.”

Cubs players showed their support pre-game by wearing T-shirts that said, “Cubs (heart) JRW.”

Wright was in the weight room at Wrigley Field when the Jackie Robinson West team rallied to beat Indiana and advance to the World Series in the regional final. Rob Bufford, whose son, Cameron, hit a grand slam in that game, told the Chicago Tribune that if it weren’t for last-minute donations from the pro players, they would have to watch the games from Chicago.

“It brought back a lot of memories for myself,” Wright said of watching the kids.

– Carrie Muskat

8/14 Cubs lineup

Edwin Jackson gets the start Thursday as the Cubs close their four-game series against the Central Division leading Brewers. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez 2B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Valbuena 3B
Alcantara CF
Ruggiano RF
Castillo C
E. Jackson P

8/13 Cubs 4, Brewers 2

* Starlin Castro went 3-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to a team-high 12 games. He and the Braves’ Freddie Freeman are the only two players in the National League with 15 three-hit games. Castro’s 135 hits are tops among NL shortstops.

* Anthony Rizzo hit his second home run in as many games in the third. It’s the sixth time this season in which he’s homered in consecutive games (most previously done, July 20-22 at Arizona and vs. San Diego).

* The Javier Baez and Rizzo hit back to back homers in the third, the fifth time the Cubs have done that this year.

* Tsuyoshi Wada earned his second consecutive win, throwing 6 2/3 innings of five-hit, two-run ball. He walked one and struck out five. He is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his last four starts.

* Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 2.09 ERA in their last seven games and recorded quality starts in each game.

* Chris Coghlan posted his third game with three or more hits. He batted .202 average in his first 44 games of the season, and now is batting .366 (48-for-131) with 16 doubles, four home runs and 19 RBI in his last 38 contests since June 30.

* Javier Baez hit his first-career homer at Wrigley Field, a solo shot onto Waveland Avenue in the third inning. Baez has hit safely in six of his last seven games, going 10-for-31 (.323) during the stretch.

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