9/22 Last day game at Wrigley Field

0921Wrigley

Sunday was the last day game at Wrigley Field for 2014. The ballpark won’t look the same next year as the Cubs add a video scoreboard and other signs in the outfield and reconfigure the seating and bullpens. Here’s a last look from Sunday’s game.

9/22 Instructional League

The regular season may be winding down, but for 60 plus players, there’s more work to do as the Cubs three-week instructional league gets underway on Monday in Mesa, Ariz. The Cubs are changing the format this year, and will spend more time on drills and instruction than games, which won’t begin until Oct. 6. Camp ends Oct. 11. Among the players participating are first-round Draft pick Kyle Schwarber; catcher Victor Caratini, acquired from the Braves in the Bonifacio/Russell deal; Billy McKinney, acquired from the A’s in the Samardzija/Hammel deal; and Jonathan Martinez, acquired in the Darwin Barney trade.

Besides Schwarber, here are the other Cubs Draft picks scheduled to participate:

Jake Stinnett
Mark Zagunis
Carson Sands
Justin Steele
James Norwood
Tommy Thorpe
James Farris
Ryan Williams
Tanner Griggs
Kevonte Mitchell
Chesny Young
Jeremy Null
Jason Voster
Michael Knighton
Austyn Willis
Charles White
Zach Hedges
Jordan Minch

9/21 Dodgers 8, Cubs 5

Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer and a pair of RBI singles and Adrian Gonzalez raised his Major League leading RBI total to 112 with an RBI double to lift the Dodgers to an 8-5 victory over the Cubs Sunday in the last home day game at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers outscored the Cubs, 37-22, in the four games and collected 53 hits. Jacob Turner took the loss, giving up four earned runs over five innings. Welington Castillo hit his 12th home run of the season leading off the eighth.

“They’re trying to clinch a division, and we’re trying to show everybody who we are,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I think all things being equal, we fell behind early in a few games and we kept coming back and fighting. I think our guys are showing a little bit of heart and just fell short.”

The Cubs had two on and nobody out in the ninth against Kenley Jansen but he struck out Javier Baez, got Anthony Rizzo to ground out, and then struck out Luis Valbuena to end the game.

– Carrie Muskat

9/21 Extra bases

* Jorge Soler did not start Sunday, but that was part of the Cubs’ plan to help the rookie outfielder stay healthy in his return from leg injuries. Soler was pulled from Saturday’s game after five innings because rain had made the playing field slippery and the Cubs didn’t want to risk injury.

“The guys were talking about how it was getting a little softer,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday about the outfield. “For us, it was the right thing to do at that time [to pull Soler]. We have three [games] more against St. Louis, then a day off Thursday, and three more in Milwaukee, and he’ll finish off playing.”

Soler has played four, five days in a row, then gotten a breather in his comeback. He began the season with Double-A Tennessee, but suffered a leg injury after his first hit in his first game April 3. He went on the disabled list and returned in May, but needed to go on the DL again. After rehabbing in Mesa, he rejoined the Smokies in July, and batted .463 in 15 games before he was promoted to Triple-A.

* Renteria and GM Jed Hoyer are conducting exit interviews with players, and the discussion has turned to what the Cubs need for 2015. What’s on Renteria’s wish list?

“What we’d really like is to have a bunch of really good baserunners,” Renteria said Sunday. “One of the things we’re talking about is going into Spring Training and get some skill work done and a better of sense what we need to add.”

Isn’t base running instinctual?

“I’ve always thought that instincts are learned,” Renteria said. “If you take advantage of experiences, it teaches you something.”

* The Cubs have yet to finalize the rotation for the last series of the regular season next weekend in Milwaukee. Kyle Hendricks will start the season finale on Sept. 28. One of the options is to have Eric Jokisch start a game. He was 9-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A Iowa this season.

Looking ahead, the rotation for the three-game series against the Cardinals will be:

Monday: Travis Wood vs Adam Wainwright
Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks vs Shelby Miller
Wednesday: Jake Arrieta vs John Lackey

Wood and Arrieta will be making their final starts of the season.

– Carrie Muskat

9/21 Cubs lineup

Jacob Turner makes what is likely his last start of the season on Sunday as the Cubs close the series against the Dodgers. This will be the last day game at Wrigley Field this season. No Jorge Soler. He was pulled from Saturday’s game because of wet grounds, and not starting as part of his rehab program. Here is the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Alcantara CF
Valaika 2B
Szczur RF
Turner P

9/20 Extra bases

* The Cubs have set the rotation for the upcoming series against the Cardinals, which opens Monday at Wrigley Field, and is the last home series of the season. Travis Wood will start Monday night in what will be his last start of this year. He’ll be followed by Kyle Hendricks on Tuesday and Jake Arrieta on Wednesday. Hendricks also will start the season finale Sept. 28 at Milwaukee. No word from Cubs camp about whether Edwin Jackson will make another start.

* Welington Castillo, who had to leave Friday’s game with a rib contusion, was available Saturday but the Cubs wanted to give him at least one more day to heal. John Baker got the start.

* On this day in Cubs history, Ernie Banks hit his first career home run in 1953 off St. Louis’ Gerry Staley. Thanks for Christopher Kamka for the post.

9/20 Cubs lineup

The Cubs face the Dodgers Saturday at Wrigley Field. First pitch will be 12:05 p.m. CT to accomodate FOX TV. Here’s the lineup;

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Valbuena 3B
Alcantara CF
Watkins 2B
Baker C
Doubront P

9/20 Cubs sign with Eugene

The Cubs agreed with Eugene, Ore., on a new player development contract to be the host for the Class A Northwest League affiliate. The contract runs through the 2016 season and reunites the two organizations, as Eugene was previously a Cubs affiliate in 1999-2000.

The Eugene Emeralds were most recently an affiliate of the Padres, beginning in 2001. The club began play as an independent team in the inaugural Northwest League in 1955, and has since partnered with nine Major League organizations in its 60-year history. A three-time Northwest League champion, the Emeralds moved into their current ballpark, PK Park, in 2010.

So, the Cubs now have completed their Minor League assignments:

Triple-A Iowa
Double-A Tennessee
High Class A Myrtle Beach
Class A South Bend
Short-season Eugene

9/19 Cubs lineup vs Kershaw

Arismendy Alcantara is back, Edwin Jackson is on the mound, and manager Rick Renteria has loaded up the lineup with right-handed hitters against Clayton Kershaw, who aims for his 20th win Friday. It’s Cubs vs. Dodgers. Here’s the lineup:

Alcantara CF
Baez 2B
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Castillo C
Olt 3B
Valaika SS
Lake LF
Jackson P

9/18 Dodgers 8, Cubs 4

Cubs manager Rick Renteria said it was going to be a challenge to face the National League West-leading Dodgers, and it was. The Dodgers took advantage of an error by rookie Logan Watkins to score five runs in the seventh and post an 8-4 come-from-behind victory Thursday night over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, inching closer to securing a playoff berth. Los Angeles increased its lead over San Francisco to 2 1/2 games.

“They hit a couple balls hard, for sure,” Renteria said of the Dodgers, “but there were a couple plays we could’ve made.”

The Cubs had a 4-1 lead after six innings, but in the seventh, Los Angeles had two on and one out against Neil Ramirez and tallied on an error by Watkins, who couldn’t get a glove on Juan Uribe’s potential double-play ball. The miscue was costly. Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier followed with an RBI double, and another run scored on a ground out by pinch-hitter Justin Turner to tie the game at 4.

Dee Gordon then smacked an RBI double and scored on Yasiel Puig’s single to chase Ramirez for a 6-4 lead. Of the five runs off Ramirez that inning, only one was earned.

“Uribe hit a pretty hard ball, right up the middle and the first instinct was to knock it down and keep it in front of me and it kicked to the left,” Watkins said.

Watkins also was charged with an error on a throw in the ninth that led to another Dodgers run.

“I can honestly look back and say I wouldn’t have done anything different on both balls,” Watkins said. “That one there [in the seventh], I didn’t want it to go to the outfield. The other one, a diving play, just try to get it to first as fast as possible.

“It’s baseball,” he said. “I’ll make more. It did [stink] because I wanted to get Neil out of that inning right there because it was a possible double play. I wouldn’t have done anything different. … It always seems like that — you make an error and the wheels come off.”

The win snapped the Dodgers’ two-game losing streak, and was a rarity. Los Angeles now is 2-54 when trailing after six.

“All things being equal, we haven’t had a lot of games like that,” Renteria said. “The guys have been pretty good. This one just got away. It’s just baseball.”

While the Dodgers are preparing for postseason play, Chicago’s Tsuyoshi Wada made his last start. The Cubs want to get a look at rookie Eric Jokisch in one of their final nine games. Wada, 33, who was told Thursday was his final outing, struck out five and gave up five hits over five innings. The left-hander said his hamstring has been tender, and may have been a factor Thursday. He was grateful to the Cubs for the opportunity.

“If I look back personally, I feel it was a very good year in regards that the Cubs picked me up without me having any Major League numbers and gave me the opportunity to start in this big league atmosphere,” Wada said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “When I look back, it was a very good year.”

– Carrie Muskat

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