9/25 The Wright way


On Wednesday, Cubs pitcher Wesley Wright stopped by the Pablo Casals School of Excellence to visit a third grade class. He read “A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis” to the class, and then spoke to the students about the importance of perseverance and working hard.

9/24 Cubs 3, Cardinals 1

In three starts this season, Jake Arrieta has taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning. In his last start of the year on Wednesday, the right-hander flirted briefly with a no-no and, more importantly, helped himself with his bat.

Arrieta smacked a two-run triple to spark the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals, and take the series against the National League Central leaders. St. Louis maintained a 1 1/2 game lead in the division over Pittsburgh, which also lost Wednesday.

Arrieta struck out 10 over seven innings, giving up one unearned run on two hits. He’s had the edge against the Cardinals, holding them to three earned runs over 22 1/3 innings for a 1.21 ERA.

Luis Valbuena doubled to lead off the Chicago fourth against John Lackey, and two outs later, Logan Watkins was intentionally walked. Arrieta then delivered, lining the ball into the gap in right center for the first triple by a Cubs pitcher since Chris Rusin did so, Aug. 21, 2012. It was Arrieta’s 10th career hit in 64 at-bats.

The Cardinals had runners at first and third with one out in the fifth, and tallied on a throwing error by catcher Welington Castillo.

A crowd of 33,292 attended the Cubs last home game of the season at Wrigley Field.

9/24 Renteria: “We’ll be better next year”

Wednesday was the Cubs last home game at Wrigley Field, and manager Rick Renteria was already looking ahead to next year.

“This was certainly a great experience for me in my first year,” Renteria said. “More than anything, it’s been awesome to see a lot of those young guys show up here in the big leagues and everybody gets to see them.

“Being with them the whole year has given me an advantage because we have a basis now to establish how we’re going to continue to move forward and things we need to work on to become a better ballclub. We’ve been thinking about that for two or three weeks already.”

The Cubs will finish with a sub .500 record and Renteria knows that won’t be acceptable in years to come.

“We all know what this is about — it’s about ultimately winning,” he said. “There’s nobody who takes this [job] who thinks otherwise. I just happened to be in a unique position this year where I had a lot of young players and new players for me, and got to know them and their personalities and tried to help them in any way we could through the coaching staff and communication we’ve had throughout the season to help them become better big league baseball players.”

Can the Cubs win?

“My expectation is that we can,” Renteria said. “I’m not going to shy away from that. Do I expect we’ll be better next year? Absolutely.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/24 Saying goodbye


Firefighters from Engine 78 located on Waveland Avenue near Wrigley Field posed their fire truck near the left field bleachers on Wednesday prior to the Cubs last home game. That part of the bleachers will be torn down, with work scheduled to begin Thursday, as the renovation gets underway. The plan is to install a video scoreboard behind the left field bleachers in addition to six other signs.

9/24 Cubs lineup

It’s the last home game at Wrigley Field Wednesday, and Jake Arrieta makes his final start of the 2014 season. Here’s the lineup:

Coghlan LF
Baez SS
Rizzo 1B
Soler RF
Valbuena 3B
Castillo C
Lake CF
Watkins 2B
Arrieta P

If you’re coming to the game, you might want to arrive early. Players will be giving fans autographed baseballs during pre-game ceremonies.

9/24 Last Cubs home game

If you’re coming to Wednesday’s last Cubs home game, make sure you get there early. Players will give away autographed baseballs in the stands before the final home game.

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 before the game as well. Fans can help salute these troops during a Military Take the Field pregame ceremony.

And, it’s my favorite seventh inning stretch as members of the Wrigley Field grounds crew lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” If you’re coming, bring your camera. Wrigley Field won’t look the same in 2015. The Cubs start renovation work this weekend.

* On this date in Cubs history:

1976: Bill Madlock suffers bruises and a slight concussion when he is mugged in New York City. The Cubs then get mugged by the Mets, 4-3.

1984: Rick Sutcliffe pitched a two-hitter in a 4-1 win over the Pirates to help the Cubs clinch the NL East title and secure the first postseason berth since 1945.

1985: Andre Dawson hit three home runs, including a pair of three-run blasts in a 12-run fifth inning, to lead the Expos to a 17-15 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 Cubs 4, Cardinals 3, 10 innings

Welington Castillo hit a two-run homer in the second inning and a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the 10th to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday night.

With the game tied at 3 and one out in the 10th, Anthony Rizzo doubled off Pat Neshek, lining the ball to the right-center gap. The ball bounced into the ivy. Rizzo moved up on Jorge Soler’s groundout and Luis Valbuena was intentionally walked to set up Castillo, who line the ball into right for the game-winner.

Castillo hit his 13th home run of the season in the second, and rookie Matt Szczur made it 3-0 with a leadoff home run in the fifth, his second big league blast and first at Wrigley Field.

Hendricks did not get a decision, and will make one more start Sunday at Miller Park against the Brewers. He posted a 1.99 ERA in seven starts at Wrigley Field this season.

The Cubs are 40-40 at Wrigley Field with one home game remaining on Wednesday.

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 Kerry Wood fundraiser on Oct. 22

Kerry Wood will team up with country music artist Chris Young to host Woody’s Western Roundup on Oct. 22 at Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed Street, in Chicago. There will be live music plus cocktails and food stations from some of Chicago’s top restaurants. Proceeds will benefit the Wood Family Foundation which has raised over $4 million for Chicago’s kids. Young’s last four singles have all hit No. 1 on the charts, including the smash hit “Gettin’ You Home,” which earned him his first-ever Grammy nomination.

The Wood Family Foundation and its volunteers completed a resource room and renovated the library at Lawndale Community Academy as well as preparing for “Pitch In,” the first after-school mentoring program.

Tickets for Woody’s Western Roundup are $125 per person for general admission (includes concert and open bar) and $250 per person for VIP (includes early entry, open bar and food stations) and can be purchased at TicketWeb.com. For additional information, please visit http://www.woodfamliyfoundation.org.

9/23 Jokisch, Wada, Hendricks to start

Edwin Jackson will go to the bullpen, and rookie Eric Jokisch, lefty Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyle Hendricks will start the final three games of the Cubs season against the Brewers, beginning Friday.

Jackson (6-15, 6.38 ERA) has made one start since Aug. 20 and that was Friday when he lasted just two-thirds of an inning against the Dodgers. The right-hander, who was sidelined with a right lat strain, has made 30 relief appearances in his 292 games.

“He’s a professional, he knows where he stands,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “He says, ‘I see what’s happening, I get it.’ He’s been in this game a long time. He just wants to do his best for the club.”

Being a reliever may be an odd switch. Jackson, who led the National League in losses last season with 18, has a 10.46 ERA in the first inning of his starts this year, giving up 31 earned runs over 26 2/3 innings.

“It’s just a different scenario,” Renteria said. “It’s not necessarily a situation where he’s thinking about his start for three or four days. It’s more of a ‘Hey, we need you in this moment, get up, get loose and get in there.’ At least we have an opportunity in the next few days to see how he does and go from there.”

Jokisch has made three relief appearances since he was called up to the big league team in early September. The lefty was 9-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 26 games at Triple-A Iowa. Wada thought his season was done after Sept. 18 when he started against the Dodgers.

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 Wrigley renovation update

The Cubs will begin work this weekend on the Wrigley Field renovation plan, which starts with the expansion of the bleachers and installation of a video scoreboard in left field. The Cubs play their last home game of the season on Wednesday night. Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Tuesday the bleachers, the scoreboard and a Budweiser see-through sign in right field will be in place for the start of the 2015 season. The center field area of the bleachers, which includes the manually operated scoreboard, will not be changed.

Construction work will begin on the home clubhouse, but that will not be finished until Opening Day 2016. Work will continue on that area throughout the 2015 season. The bullpens will be moved underneath the bleachers in 2016 as well as upgraded batting cages. Sheffield and Waveland avenues, which border the Wrigley Field bleachers, will be closed to traffic once construction begins.

– Carrie Muskat


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