Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’

7/8 Red hot Soriano

Alfonso Soriano is on a roll. He led off the sixth with his 13th home run on Monday against the White Sox in an 8-2 Cubs win, marking the first time since 2006 he has homered and swiped two bases in one game. He’s batting .381 in his last 10 games.

“It’s been the ‘Sori’ show the last 10 days or so,” Dale Sveum said. “We’re playing real well without [Starlin] Castro and [Anthony] Rizzo doing a whole lot. Hopefully, they can get going real quick.”

Soriano, who matched his career high by scoring four runs in a game for the first time since Sept. 6, 2008, has been the subject of trade rumors. American League teams looking for a DH might be interested.

“Every year, it’s like less pressure,” Soriano said. “I don’t try to think about those trade rumors. Every year it’s something new. If it happens, it happens, and if not, I enjoy playing the game.

“My mind right now is to play one day at a time here and see what happens,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

7/8 Cubs 8, White Sox 2

If this was Matt Garza’s last start with the Cubs, he gave some teams plenty to think about. Alfonso Soriano hit solo home run, a double and stole two bases, and Luis Valbuena drove in three runs to back Garza and lift the Cubs to an 8-2 Interleague victory Monday over the White Sox to complete a sweep of the rain-delayed intracity series.

The Cubs had already won the first three games of this crosstown series, and this was a makeup game of the May 28 rained out contest. They posted their first winning season series over the White Sox since going 5-1 in 2007. It’s the first sweep by either the Cubs or White Sox since the teams began a home-and-away format in 1999.

Garza, the subject of trade rumors since Spring Training, scattered five hits over seven innings while striking out six. The right-hander has given up just four earned runs over 37 innings in his last five starts for an 0.97 ERA. He made a grand entrance, delaying the game briefly in the first as he walked from the bullpen to the dugout. There were at least eight scouts who waited out the 29-minute rain delay to see Garza as well as others.

There were reports Monday that the Cubs were talking to Garza about a possible long-term contract but it’s more likely that the right-hander will be dealt by the July 31 Trade Deadline. The key will be whether the Cubs get the top prospects they want in return. The Cubs have already been busy, trading Scott Feldman, Carlos Marmol, Steve Clevenger, and Scott Hairston. Who’s next?

“You can’t really worry about that,” Anthony Rizzo said. “I’m sure it’s in guys’ heads. Whoever is here, whoever is in the lineup has to play that day. We have to continue to grow and get better and win.”

Dave Sappelt had a career high four hits, including two RBI singles. The Cubs scored five runs in the eighth, and outscored the White Sox, 32-8, in the four games, to improve to 12-6 in Interleague play.

– Carrie Muskat

7/7 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano will likely have one more game as the designated hitter on Monday when the Cubs finish their crosstown Interleague series against the White Sox with a makeup game at U.S. Cellular Field. Soriano was batting .353 with three doubles, five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.235 OPS in his last eight games since June 28. He pickedu up his 32nd career multi-homer game on Saturday, which is tied for eighth-most in baseball with Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones. Jim Thome is seventh on the list with 33 multi-homer efforts.

“The one thing you notice is he’s hitting the fastball,” Dale Sveum said of Soriano. “When you have the confidence when you’re hitting fastballs and you lay off hitting breaking balls, or whatever it might be, and the bat speed is there, and you feel that good, you start doing a lot of good things because you’re laying off a lot of bad pitches.”

Soriano, 37, is 8-for-17 (.471) in four games this year as the designated hitter with two home runs and six RBIs. He has a career .379 average in 26 games as the DH.

* Starlin Castro has scuffled this season at the plate, including a .167 June, and Sveum said they’ve shown their support by letting the shortstop play.

“Part of it is putting him in the lineup every day, that’s the confidence you have in guys like that,” Sveum said Sunday. “Just put him in there, and it’s up to him to come out of it and start swinging the bat and start playing better.”

Castro began this season with a career .297 average in the big leagues. A two-time All-Star, he entered Sunday’s game batting .234.

“I haven’t seen him hanging his head or losing his confidence,” Sveum said.

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena has played better than his stats.

“On a whole, from last year to this year, he’s been so consistent, even though you’re not seeing a .300 batting average,” Sveum said of Valbuena, who was batting .247. “The on-base percentage and the walks seem to always be there on a consistent basis and the defense he’s played has been as good as anybody at third base.”

* Javier Baez, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, made quite an impression in his Double-A Tennessee debut Saturday, hitting a home run in his first at-bat on his first swing.

“It’s always nice for anybody to go to another league and your first swing is a home run,” Sveum said. “This guy still has to develop. It’s not just home runs we’re talking about, it’s getting ready and getting completely developed to play at this level.”

Baez led the Florida State League with 17 home runs while at Class A Daytona before he was promoted.

Meanwhile, Albert Almora, the Cubs’ 2012 top Draft pick had to leave Saturday’s game with Class A Kane County because of hemorrhoids. Almora was listed as day to day.

– Carrie Muskat

7/6 Cubs 4, Pirates 1

Alfonso Soriano hit a pair of two-run home runs to lead the Cubs to a 4-1 victory Saturday over the Pirates in front of 36,590 at Wrigley Field. Soriano recorded home runs No. 175 and 176 for the Cubs, and moved past Andre Dawson for sole possession of 12th place on the team’s all-time list. He now has 384 career home runs, tied with Harold Baines for 59th on MLB’s all-time list.

Edwin Jackson picked up the win, and now is 6-2 in 10 career starts against the Pirates.

* Javier Baez was promoted to Double-A Tennessee, and in his first game Saturday, he hit the first pitch for a home run.

“He owns that league,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum quipped.

* Before Saturday’s game at Wrigley, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville brought the Stanley Cup to the ballpark. Coach Q met with Sveum and the players.

“Just to touch the Cup was pretty special,” Sveum said. “We got to see it a couple years ago when we were in Boston and they had the parade. To actually be next to it and take pictures, it was pretty special to be part of something like that. The guys can understand, it’s such a special trophy. It’s one of a kind and the tradition behind that Cup is off the charts.”

* Travis Wood was thrilled by his All-Star selection.

“I feel amazing,” Wood said. “It’s a goal you set as a player to try to play like an All-Star, be an All-Star and to be selected, it’s outstanding.”

* The Cubs have homered in their last eight home games, and in 17 of their last 19 games since May 18.

– Carrie Muskat

6/29 Cubs 5, Mariners 3 (11 innings)

For the second straight game, the bullpen imploded, but this time the Cubs overcame the breakdown and may have found a new closer candidate. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning to beat the pesky Mariners, 5-3, on Saturday night, with Blake Parker picking up his first Major League save.
With the game tied at 3 in the 11th, Nate Schierholtz reached on a bunt single against Oliver Perez, and Soriano followed with his ninth home run. Soriano also hit a RBI single in the sixth, is now batting .386 in 25 career games as the designated hitter with nine home runs and 24 RBIs.

“The DH thing is working,” Dale Sveum said. “A couple days off hopefully helped him get to that form he was doing this time last year when he took off, too.”

Perez struck Soriano out in the ninth inning on Friday in the Mariners’ 5-4, 10-inning victory. Saturday was different. Perez threw two fastballs, then a breaking ball.

“When I saw the breaking ball, it gave me more confidence at home plate,” Soriano said. “I wanted to try to swing at a strike and make good contact, and he threw me a fastball in the middle and I had a good swing.”

At 37, Soriano may be a better suited to be a designated hitter. His name was bantered about last year prior to the Trade Deadline.

“Who knows? I just come to the ballpark every day and just try to do my job,” Soriano said. “I don’t want to put anything in my mind. The last couple years, always trade rumors and nothing happens. I just want to focus day by day and see what happens.”

The Cubs were wearing replica uniforms from the 1909 season, when they won 104 games under manager Frank Chance and finished second in the National League. That year, they were coming off their second straight World Championship, which, at this point, is the last one. They could’ve used Mordecai Brown on Saturday.

Seattle trailed 3-2 in the ninth and rallied with one out against Kevin Gregg as Henry Blanco walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Michael Saunders, who moved up on Nick Franklin’s groundout. Endy Chavez then lined a single to center to tie the game. It was Gregg’s first blown save in 13 opportunities.

“I got the ball up a little bit and he fought it off to get it over second base,” Gregg said of Chavez.

“It wasn’t the greatest pitch selection,” Sveum said.

That left Parker, who totaled seven saves at Triple-A Iowa this year. He had pitched 1 1/3 innings on Friday, but looked fresh and retired the side in order.

“He showed me a lot today,” Sveum said of the right-hander. “That’s a nice asset to know it wasn’t a deer in the headlights in that situation in the big leagues.”

“It’s a position I’m comfortable in for sure,” Parker said. “Going out there in tight situations is where any competitor wants to be. When it’s a close game and for all the marbles and everything’s on the line, usually that’s when most people are at their best. Gregg’s done a great job all year and I’ll go out and compete no matter what role I’m in.”

Before the game, Sveum hinted he may turn to Parker, who admitted he’s still learning how to pitch in the big leagues.

“You’re expected to pitch every day and that’s the approach I took and I got myself ready to pitch and I was ready when my number was called,” Parker said.

– Carrie Muskat

6/29 Cubs lineup

Alfonso Soriano is the DH Saturday in Game 2 of the Cubs’ three-game Interleague series against the Mariners. On Saturday, the teams will wear uniforms from the turn of the century. The Cubs are 5-1 all-time when wearing throwback uniforms, and previously wore throwbacks June 2 of last year at San Francisco, in a 2-1 setback.

* Ryan Sweeney is batting .429 in 10 Interleague games, third highest mark among NL players. Anthony Rizzo is batting .391, and his 17 RBIs in Interleague play lead the Majors.

* Cubs DH’s are batting .400 (6-for-15) with one double, one home run and three RBIs in four games. Soriano hit his fifth home run as a DH on Friday, extending his franchise record. He’s batting .372 (29-for-78) with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 24 career games as the DH.

* Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Soriano DH
Rizzo 1B
Sweeney CF
Bogusevic LF
Barney 2B
Castillo C

Samardzija P

6/28 Mariners 5, Cubs 4 (10 innings)

Once again, the Cubs wasted a quality outing by Travis Wood. Alfonso Soriano and Dioner Navarro each hit solo home runs but the Mariners rallied for two runs in the eighth and Mike Zunino hit a walkoff RBI single with one out in the 10th to post a 5-4 Interleague win over the Cubs Friday night.

“It’s a tough one today,” said Soriano, who connected in the seventh. “You just try to forget this game today and come back and win tomorrow.”

Carlos Marmol is gone but the Cubs bullpen continues to struggle. Chicago led 4-2 when Jason Bay walked to open the Seattle seventh and one out later, Wood was pulled for Carlos Villanueva. Zunino singled, and was forced at second on Brad Miller’s grounder, allowing Bay to score.

Nick Franklin doubled in the Mariners’ eighth against James Russell, and one out later, scored on Kendrys Morales’ double to close to 4-3. Raul Ibanez tripled to left past a diving Brian Bogusevic and Morales scored the tying run. Russell now is 0-for-5 in save opportunities.

“It was all set up for him against the lefties, turning the guys around, and he obviously, couldn’t get the ball down tonight,” Dale Sveum said.

With the game tied at 4 in the 10th, Blake Parker walked both Michael Saunders and Ibanez, and then exited. Shawn Camp entered, and the runners moved up on Bay’s sacrifice. Justin Smoak was intentionally walked to load the bases and Zunino lined a 3-2 pitch to center for the game-winning hit.

“I was just looking for something I could get up and elevate to the middle of the field,” Zunino said. “[Camp] usually throws a bunch of sliders so I was looking for one of those early. But he kept coming with the fastball, so with a 3-2 count I knew I had to stay aggressive. … With the infield playing in, I knew I got enough of it to get it through.”

Wood struck out six and walked two over 6 1/3 innings but did not get a decision. He is winless in his last five starts despite posting a quality start in each.

“Travis pitched a heck of a ballgame,” Sveum said. “It’s about as snakebit as you can get, getting him wins.”

The lefty ranks among the Major League leaders in quality starts, and has topped his 2012 season total, when he collected 14 of 26 outings.

“Things are going good in that aspect,” Wood said. “I feel I’m more advanced as a pitcher. I’m not just up there throwing. I have a game plan and how I want to attack hitters and the offspeed stuff is better and command is better. The arm side wasn’t there, and it made me battle.”

– Carrie Muskat

6/28 Extra bases

* Since his one-day “breather,” Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is 4-for-10, which is encouraging. Has manager Dale Sveum seen changes since Tuesday’s day off, Castro’s first of the year?

“Maybe a little attitude change,” Sveum said Friday. “I think the mechanics of his swing are probably the same. He’s mixed in some hits which are nice. That’s usually what gets you going sometimes.

“He’s still struggling a little bit with the fastball,” Sveum said of Castro, who was batting .234 overall. “The mechanics are the same. Hopefully, he keeps gradually understanding what he has to do.”

* Alfonso Soriano was the designated hitter for Friday’s Interleague game, and will likely handle that role in the Cubs’ six-game West Coast swing against the Mariners and Athletics. That means Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic will be getting the action in the outfield for the Cubs. The Cubs will have to figure out how to get everyone at-bats when David DeJesus returns from a sprained right shoulder. DeJesus was in Chicago, continuing his rehab.

“A couple of them might be part of our future, left-hand hitters who are better athletes, two-way players,” manager Dale Sveum said of Sweeney and Bogusevic. “We’ll work it out to figure out the playing time.”

Sveum will talk to Soriano about playing time if there’s a significant change for the 37-year-old outfielder.

“You’re not going to just do something like that to a guy who’s had that kind of career,” Sveum said. “I’ll have to figure out how to get these guys their at-bats with matchups, or whoever’s the hottest. A lot of times those things work themselves out.”

* Dioner Navarro has caught Matt Garza’s last three starts, and the right-hander has given up two earned runs in those games, but Navarro isn’t the pitcher’s personal catcher.

“It’s just how it all works out sometimes,” Sveum said Friday. “[Welington Castillo] has caught them all and everybody has had really good games. If you have that kind of fastball command — [on Thursday], Garza had his slider and his command. When you have that kind of outing, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the plate.”

Castillo is the Cubs’ regular catcher, and has started 57 games compared to Navarro’s 21.

* Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, will throw his second simulated game on Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. His first outing was 20 pitches, and went well.

“Everything went good and the velocity was up there,” Sveum said of Baker. “We hope he keeps going in the right direction.”

The right-hander could be pitching for the Cubs by late August.

“He’s basically starting his Spring Training right now,” Sveum said. “The first day pitchers throw live, it’s basically like that [for Baker].”

* Steve Clevenger, sidelined since April 14 with a left oblique strain, was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Zach Putnam (bone spur) was transferred to the 60-day DL.

– Carrie Muskat

6/28 Cubs lineup

Alfonso Soriano is the DH tonight for the Cubs and Dioner Navarro gets a second straight start in the first game of an Interleague series against the Mariners in beautiful Seattle. Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Soriano DH
Rizzo 1B
Sweeney CF
Navarro C
Bogusevic LF
Barney 2B

Travis Wood P

6/27 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano will play all six games on the Cubs’ West Coast Interleague trip to Seattle and Oakland, most likely as the DH.

“I like it, especially in a stadium when I can have a batting cage behind the clubhouse and the dugout, that’s good,” Soriano said Thursday. “Between innings, I can work on my swing and be ready with my at-bats.”

Soriano did not start Thursday against the Brewers, getting a second straight day off. The veteran outfielder was batting .245 overall, and .191 in 22 games in June with one home run and seven doubles.

“At my age, now I’m 37, I just hit for one week, it’s good,” Soriano said. “[Being the DH] the whole season, that’s totally different. But for six games, it’s not bad.”

* Starlin Castro was 2-for-5 on Wednesday in his first game back after a one-day breather, and could’ve had a third hit if Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez wasn’t hugging the line.

“Hopefully, that kind of game propels you moving forward and he can be the kid we all know he is,” manager Dale Sveum said of Castro.

* Reliever Blake Parker is experimenting with a new split change pitch.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Parker said. “I like it as a third pitch.”

Something’s working for the right-hander, who has thrown scoreless relief in seven of eight appearances.

– Carrie Muskat

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers