#Cubs prospect Schwarber MVP of Futures Game

Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run triple to help the U.S. team beat the World team, 10-1, in the All-Star Futures Game Sunday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Schwarber was named MVP of the game.

It’s fitting for the Cubs top prospect. He grew up in nearby Middletown, Ohio, and became a catcher because his grandmother was a big fan of Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

#Cubs finish 1st half with win

Jake Arrieta threw a two-hit complete game and hit his first ML home run on Sunday to lead the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the White Sox and finish the first half, 47-40. That’s the best record at the break since 2008 (57-38). Arrieta struck out nine in his second complete game of the season. He also has now matched his career high in wins with 10. He joins Gerrit Cole, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha as one of four NL pitchers with at least 10 wins.

“His stuff is definitely in the elite level of all Major League pitchers,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Arrieta.

As for his homer, Arrieta fell behind 0-2 against the White Sox’s Jose Quintana in the fifth when he connected. It’s the first blast by a Cubs pitcher this season and first since Travis Wood hit one last July 25 against the Cardinals.

“I would’ve liked to have hit the first one knowing it was a homer instead of having to sprint to first,” Arrieta said. “It was cool to do it at home during a day game right before the break and finish the whole game. It’s a special day.”

How could it not be? The Cubs were all wearing No. 14 on throwback uniforms from 1958 to honor Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who passed away earlier this year.

“Everybody was wearing No. 14 today — you can’t lose, can you?” Maddon said.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs HR Derby: Riz vs. Bryant

So, who do you think will win the Home Run Derby on Monday in Cincinnati between Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo?

“I think Rizzo might have a slight advantage there — short porch in right, ball flies pretty well,” Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “He’s talking about going to the opposite field for a few. He’s more than capable of doing that. You can’t ever count Kris out because of the power he has. We’ll see how good his dad is at throwing BP.”

Maybe it will come down to their respective pitchers.

“They’re both in my hitting group and it depends on [coach Franklin] Font,” Dexter Fowler said. “If Font throws it where Riz wants – well, I don’t know. You know, ‘K.B.,’ he has familiarity with his pops. You never know.”

Mike Bryant will be pitching to Kris.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Maddon ready for break

During the All-Star break, Cubs manager Joe Maddon planned on heading to the same Florida hotel where he spent the mid-season time off in 2008. That year, the Rays reached the World Series.

“I’m going to hole up in a particular hotel that I holed up in 2008,” he said. “I’m using the same methods.”

First, though, he will go to Tampa Bay to check out wife Jaye’s new boxing and fitness center and also spend time at his restaurant, Ava.

“I just like to do nothing,” Maddon said of the break. “I’m good at doing nothing when I get that opportunity.”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs wait for Montero MRI results

Cubs catcher Miguel Montero arrived at Wrigley Field on Sunday with a wrap around his left hand, and was unavailable to play, so the team activated David Ross from the seven-day disabled list to be a backup.

Montero jammed his left thumb in the first inning Saturday, but stayed in the game for two innings before he had to exit. The Cubs did not have MRI results early Sunday. The All-Star break is coming at a good time so Montero has time to heal.

Manager Joe Maddon said they have not discussed promoting catcher Kyle Schwarber, who was called up for six Interleague games in American League ballparks to be the designated hitter.

“For right now, we have not gotten to that point,” Maddon said of Schwarber joining the team. “Schwarber’s always in consideration for what we’re doing in the future. I don’t know how he’s been playing or what we think of him as a catcher now.”

Schwarber was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa after his June stint with the big league team, and was to play in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday.

Maddon said he was fine using Taylor Teagarden and Ross for now.

Ross was eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday, and the Cubs had wanted to wait until after the All-Star break to activate him. Outfielder Mike Baxter was optioned to Iowa to make room on the roster for Ross.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs White Sox: Arrieta starts

Jake Arrieta takes the mound Sunday for the Cubs first half finale against the White Sox. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Soler RF

Denorfia LF

Castro SS

Teagarden C

Arrieta P

Russell 2B

* Arrieta will try to become the first Cubs starter to reach 10 wins prior to the All-Star Game since both Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano did so in 2008.

* The Cubs are batting  .212 (123-for-580) and averaging 2.4 runs per game (44 runs total) in the last 18 games since June 23.

* Today, the Cubs will wear No. 14 throwback uniforms from 1958 to honor Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. The White Sox will wear uniforms from the same era.

#Cubs Minor League report: Lake 2 HRs

Saturday’s games

Junior Lake hit a solo home run in both games as Iowa split a doubleheader against Omaha, losing the first game, 3-2, and winning the second by the same score. Tsuyoshi Wada started the second game and gave up one earned run on four hits and two walks over four innings. Lake went 3-for-5 for the day. In the second game, Arismendy Alcantara hit a triple in the first game and a double in the second.

Ryan Williams gave up one run on four hits over six innings in Tennessee’s 6-1 win over Biloxi. Eliot Soto had two RBIs.

Myrtle Beach’s game against Carolina was suspended in the fourth because of lightning. The game will resume Sunday with the Pelicans leading, 1-0.

Tyler Ihrig gave up five hits over 7 1/3 scoreless innings in South Bend’s 2-0 win over Lake County. Charcer Burks hit a solo homer in the sixth. Ihrig is now 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA.

Ian Happ had two hits and two stolen bases in Eugene’s 4-1 loss to Tri-City. Ryan Kellogg started and gave up one hit over two innings.

Mesa had Saturday off and returns to action Sunday against the White Sox.

#Cubs Lester loses 6th straight

This isn’t exactly how Jon Lester envisioned his first half with the Cubs. The left-hander dropped his career-high sixth-straight loss on Saturday in the Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the crosstown White Sox despite posting his 12th quality start of the season. Lester has not won in his last 10 starts, dating to May 16. It doesn’t help that the Cubs have scored three runs in his last six outings.

“I think there’s an overall team frustration,” Lester said of the Cubs, who lost their third straight game. “I don’t think you can point fingers at anybody. We all accept blame at different times.”

Lester served up five runs — four earned — on seven hits over seven innings in the loss, and took the time to watch video of the game, which he normally doesn’t do. After review, the lefty said he felt he made three mistakes, with two coming in the first on Adam Eaton’s lead off double followed by Tyler Saladino’s triple. The third was in the seventh when Tyler Flowers hit a two-run double.

“Somehow, you make three mistakes and give up five runs with no walks,” Lester said. “It’s a tough one.”

It’s been a tough first half. Lester, now 4-8 with a 3.59 ERA, wouldn’t use his huge contract or the adjustment to a new league or team as an excuse, even though manager Joe Maddon felt the lefty was finally looking more comfortable with the Cubs.

“The game doesn’t change whether you’re pitching in the [American League] or [National League],” Lester said. “Fastball down and away located does the same thing in the American League as it does in the National League.”

The Cubs were shut out on Friday, and scored one run Saturday.

“We’ve seen a lot of good pitching and have hit some balls well that have found leather as opposed to grass,” Maddon said. “We’ve seen good pitching, and that’s it. We are a swing and miss team, that’s part of our DNA now, and they’ve gotten the better of us, but I’m not discouraged in the least.”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Montero sidelined with thumb injury

Cubs catcher Miguel Montero underwent an MRI Saturday on his jammed left thumb, and was not expected to be able to play Sunday. Montero was injured in the first inning. After his at-bat in the second, Montero told Maddon that he had to come out.

Taylor Teagarden, promoted from Triple-A Iowa on July 4 when David Ross went on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion, took over as catcher on Saturday. Ross was eligible to come off the DL on Friday, and the Cubs said they wanted to wait until after the All-Star break to activate him but may be forced to have the veteran available.

“We have to figure out the backup,” Maddon said of Sunday’s game.

Teagarden will start at catcher Sunday against the White Sox in the final game before the All-Star break.

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Rizzo welcomes back Simon


On April 18, 6-year-old Simon Willis had just gotten to his seats along the right field line at Wrigley Field with his friend, Emmett Goldberg, and Emmett’s parents, Brandy and Todd. The four were eager to see the Cubs play the Padres, but their day ended in the first inning when Simon was struck on the left side of his face by a foul ball off Anthony Rizzo’s bat.

Brandy called Simon’s mother, Elise, who lived near Wrigley, and guesses she got to the ballpark in about seven minutes. Fortunately, Simon was OK and nothing was broken.

“He was a trooper,”  Brandy said. “He wanted to play hockey that night.”

On Saturday prior to the Cubs game against the White Sox, Simon got to meet Rizzo. The boy had the ball that hit him, and got Rizzo to autograph it. The Cubs treated the two families and their sons to the game. Simon likes to point out to anyone who asks that he has a connection with Rizzo.

“He says, ‘He hit me in the face with a ball,'” Elise said.

Simon has no hard feelings. He was wearing a Rizzo t-shirt on Saturday.

— Carrie Muskat


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