Results tagged ‘ Carlos Villanueva ’

7/20 Cubs lineup

Junior Lake gets his second start in center field Saturday night when the Cubs face the Rockies. Here’s the lineup:

Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Schierholtz RF
Lake CF
Barney 2B
Castillo C
Villanueva P

7/12 Cardinals 3, Cubs 2

A year ago, Starlin Castro was preparing for his second All-Star Game. On Friday, he was focused on his swing. Castro hit a solo home run in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough as Carlos Beltran smacked an RBI triple and scored on Allen Craig’s single in the first inning to help Joe Kelly pick up his first win of the season in the Cardinals’ 3-2 triumph over the Cubs in front of 37,322 at Wrigley Field.

This was a battle of two swingmen, Kelly and Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs starter did his job, lasting six innings and keeping it close, but Villanueva still took the loss in his 10th start and 26th outing. The right-hander began the year in the rotation, then shifted to the bullpen when Matt Garza returned from the disabled list, and was making his second start since shifting back to starting after Scott Feldman was traded.

“I just couldn’t put those guys away,” Villanueva said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do but didn’t execute the pitches. It just comes down to that. I have to give a lot of credit to [catcher Welington] Castillo. We’ve been working real hard and talking about our game plan and communicating better. Our last two games, we’ve done a good job and doing exactly what we want.”

St. Louis struck quickly as Matt Carpenter singled to lead off the game and scored one out later on Beltran’s triple to right, the first of three hits by the outfielder. Craig followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

Alfonso Soriano hit a RBI dinble in the third but with two outs in the Cardinals’ seventh, pinch-hitter Rob Johnson tripled to right past a diving Nate Schierholtz — who probably shouldn’t have dove — and then scored on Carpenter’s double into the gap in left center.

Castro saw the ball fine in the eighth when he led off against Kevin Siegrist with his sixth home run to close the deficit to 3-2. In his last 16 games since June 26, Castro was batting .299. On June 23, he was batting .228, and Sveum decided to sit the shortstop.

“I feel aggressive and feel like I trust myself and good things will be happening,” Castro said. “You just let your talent do its job and keep working. It’s frustrating sometimes because you’re working hard and the things that are supposed to happen don’t happen. It’s hard.”

The Cubs now are 11-20 in one-run decisions, and 4-9 at Wrigley Field in those games. Castro’s homer was the 100th by the team; last year, they did not hit No. 100 until Aug. 16.

– Carrie Muskat

7/12 Cubs lineup

In case you need it, here’s the Cubs lineup for Friday. Sorry for delay. I was busy following Kris Bryant on his first day with the Cubs.

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

7/10 Cubs vs. Cardinals

The Cubs close out the first half with a four-game series against the Cardinals, starting Thursday. Here are the pitching matchups and game times. Please note the strange times:

Thursday, 7:05 p.m. CT: RHP Edwin Jackson (5-10, 5.50) vs. RHP Jake Westbrook (5-3, 2.78)
Friday, 3:05 p.m. CT: RHP Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.39) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (0-3, 4.15)
Saturday, 6:15 p.m. CT: RHP Matt Garza (5-1, 3.22) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (11-3, 3.67)
Sunday, 7:05 p.m. CT: LHP Travis Wood (6-6, 2.69) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (12-5, 2.30)

7/7 Cubs 4, Pirates 3, 11 innings

Dioner Navarro hit a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Pirates and take the series on Sunday. Kevin Gregg served up a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth to Starling Marte, but the Cubs rallied, loading the bases in the 11th before Navarro delivered. They’ve now won five of their last seven series.

“We’re playing the best team in the National League with the best record,” Dale Sveum said. “To come off a loss like we did [on Friday] and win two out of
three, it was nice beating the best team in baseball. Holding them down, our pitching did a good job. We had some timely hits and caught the ball and did a good job.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/4 Villanueva to start

Carlos Villanueva will be back in the Cubs rotation, starting on Sunday in the series finale against the Pirates. Villanueva was 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA in eight starts, and then moved to the bullpen when Matt Garza was activated off the disabled list. He has compiled a 2.04 ERA in 16 relief appearances.

Because the right-hander hasn’t started since May 14, he’ll be limited to 60-70 pitches on Sunday, and the rest of the Cubs bullpen will back him up. Manager Dale Sveum said Thursday they may make a roster move if the bullpen gets overworked in three games leading up to Sunday.

“If it’s fresh and no stress out there, we’ll just wing it,” Sveum said.

Villanueva won a spot in the rotation this spring, and five of his eight starts were quality starts, including 7 1/3 shutout innings April 12 against the Giants at Wrigley Field.

“When he starts, he’s going to have to have fastball command,” Sveum said. “Coming out of the bullpen, he can get through with his trickey, but when you start, you have to have fastball command and get some outs with your fastball.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/3 Extra bases

* The Cubs have reached the halfway point in the season, posting a 35-46 record in the first 81 games, a slight improvement over last year’s 31-50 record at the midpoint. They have hit 20 more home runs at this point compared to last year (87 vs. 67) and have scored 39 more runs (337 to 298). The team ERA of 3.97 is nearly a half run lower than last year’s 4.37 ERA through 81 games. Cubs starting pitchers have a 3.82 ERA through 81 games this season after posting a 4.32 ERA at this point last year, while the bullpen has a 4.32 ERA through 81 games this year, lower than the 4.47 ERA through 81 games last year.

How does manager Dale Sveum assess the team at the midway point?

“The two areas most glaring are obviously, the bullpen and closing games out after having all these leads fater the sixth, seventh, eighth innings,” Sveum said. “We’ve got to clean that up somehow and win those ballgames that we put ourselves in a position to win.

“The offense is coming around a little bit and we’re getting a little better with men in scoring position,” he said. “Our two biggest problems have been men in scoring position and closing things with the bullpen.”

The Cubs are tied for third lowest batting average in the Major Leagues with runners in scoring position.

* Carlos Villanueva began the season in the Cubs rotation and could find himself back there by the All-Star break. The right-hander pitched 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday, and will continue to be stretched out. The Cubs do not have a starter set for Sunday against the Pirates, and could have Villanueva start and then get support from the bullpen. If the Cubs need Villanueva before Sunday, then they’ll likely have to make a roster move and call someone up from the Minor Leagues. Villanueva, whose last start was May 14, has posted a 2.04 ERA in 16 games in relief.

* Wednesday was a tough day for Sveum who had to tell Shawn Camp that he was designated for assignment. Sveum called the right-hander the MVP of the first half last year when Camp compiled a 2.80 ERA in 43 games.

“Unfortunately, we had to outright Camp, which obviously wasn’t my finest day as a manager,” Sveum said. “It was tough because Camp did so much for me my first year as manager and God knows where we would’ve been last year without him. Those days are tough when a guy’s a great guy and obviously done a lot for you. He did a lot for me when I was managing in Double-A. We go way back. It was a tough day today.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/2 Extra bases

* With Scott Feldman gone via trade, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Carlos Villanueva will be stretched out to get back in the rotation. Feldman was scheduled to start on Tuesday but lefty Chris Rusin was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take his spot. Villanueva began the season in the rotation and made eight starts before he was moved to the bullpen to make room for Matt Garza. Villanueva was 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA in eight starts, and has a 2.40 ERA in 15 relief appearances. Villanueva will need time to get stretched out, and most likely won’t be ready to start until mid July, Sveum said. Feldman, by the way, will make his first start for the Orioles on Wednesday against the White Sox.

* GM Jed Hoyer was asked about whether the trades on Tuesday tell the players the season is over.

“Unfortunately, we’re 10 games under .500 at this stage in the season,” Hoyer said. “We have three teams in our division with the three best records in the National League, or close to it. I think realistically, our chances of playing in October are small. We need to add a lot of talent to get better for the future. Players should be trying to win every single game, that’s the nature of their job. I would expect the players to look at it that way.”

Is Sveum worried about a change in attitude?

“I’m not concerned about that,” Sveum said. “We’re still viable and able to fill those roles now. If you start getting more thinner, then things change. I’m not worried — they’re professional players and they have to go out and perform.”

* Starlin Castro batted .167 in June, the worst month of his young career. The shortstop has gotten into some bad habits, Sveum said.

“He’s just got to slow things down and get in a better position to hit like he did when he first got here,” Sveum said.

* Rusin was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team on Tuesday. The game will be played July 17 in Reno. The lefty compiled a 7-7 record and 3.27 ERA in 17 games (16 starts), and leads the PCL in innings pitched.

– Carrie Muskat

6/4 Angels 4, Cubs 3

The Cubs have watched Albert Pujols hit home runs over 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He came back to haunt them Tuesday night. Pujols launched a two-run homer with one out in the eighth inning to lift the Angels to a 4-3 Interleague victory over the Cubs, who have had games end this way too many times this season.

The slugger began the night with more home runs against the Cubs than any other opponent, and notched No. 54 in the eighth. The Angels trailed 3-2 when Erick Aybar singled to lead off against Carlos Villanueva, and one out later, Pujols drove the first pitch — an 89 mph fastball — into the left-field seats.

“It got too much plate, it’s as simple as that,” Villanueva said. “Pujols is a great hitter — I don’t really have to say that. If I make a better pitch there, maybe it’s different results. With a hitter like that, you can’t miss over the plate that much. He did what he’s supposed to do, put it in the seats.”

It was Pujols’ ninth home run of the season, and first since May 23. It was his first go-ahead homer in the sixth inning or later since joining the Angels. He had 41 with the Cardinals, and a few of those were against the Cubs as well.

“Sometimes [pitchers] let go of the ball and that’s what happens,” Pujols said. “Sometimes we put good swings and don’t get the success that we want, but it goes the same way for [pitchers]. I’m pretty sure he wanted to paint it inside, or I don’t know where he was going, but he left it up in the middle, and I was able to just be aggressive and put a good swing.”

Villanueva said he wanted to throw a fastball in, but the pitch caught too much of the plate and it was a little flat.

“It was a perfect pitch for him to hit, pull down left field, and it was probably exactly what he was looking for,” Villanueva said. “If I throw the pitch and it does what it’s supposed to do, maybe he hits a foul ball. It got too much of the plate and he hit it hard.”

This was Villanueva’s sixth relief appearance after eight starts, but the right-hander didn’t use that as an excuse.

“I was ready to go,” he said. “I actually felt pretty good.”

The trouble is, Villanueva’s pitch was not what the Cubs scouting report called for.

“We were not supposed to even come close to calling or throwing that pitch in that situation,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s the human factor. Somewhere along the line, we lose the scouting report from the bullpen to the mound.”

This isn’t the first time the Cubs have had a late lead and blown it. Unfortunately, it’s the 19th game they’ve lost in which they’ve had a lead, most in the National League.

“We seem to beat a lot of people through seven innings,” Sveum said. “It tends to be a broken record. Our starters have been great all year.”

How do you fix it?

“That’s the million dollar question,” Sveum said. “Obviously, we’re having trouble fixing it.”

Sveum didn’t consider walking Pujols in that situation.

“[Mark] Trumbo could’ve done the same thing with the same pitch,” Sveum said of the Angels’ No. 4 hitter who followed Pujols in the lineup. “He’s been a little bit hotter than Pujols has been.”

Nate Schierholtz, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Sweeney each hit RBI singles for the Cubs, who were in line for their sixth straight Interleague win.

– Carrie Muskat

5/14 When Garza is ready, who gets bumped?

Matt Garza’s next rehab start is Thursday, and it could be his last, which will create a problem for the Cubs who have a pretty good rotation right now. Chicago’s starters rank third in the National League with a 3.40 ERA behind the Cardinals and Nationals, and they have posted 23 quality starts with a 1.90 ERA in those games. Garza, on the disabled list because of a strained left lat suffered in a Spring Training workout Feb. 17, will make his fourth Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa.

“I’m just going for the next one,” Garza said Tuesday. I’m looking forward to Thursday and after Thursday, we’ll make a decision. They want me to get stretched out and get deeper into games, and I guess that’s what I have to do now.”

He threw 66 pitches in his last outing for Double-A Tennessee but it was over 3 1/3 innings. The Cubs want him to go deeper in the game.

“I’ve been throwing strikes, I’ve been working on things I need to work on,” Garza said. “It’s all piecing together. I feel fine and am excited about Thursday.”

But who gets bumped when Garza is ready? Over the weekend, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said they weren’t considering a six-man rotation but on Monday, he said it could be a possibility.

“It’s a tough decision because everybody has pitched pretty well,” Sveum said. “It’s going to be one of those things that will be unfortunate for somebody but it’s a reality and it’s going to happen.”

Carlos Villanueva, who started Tuesday, has the most experience as a swingman.

“It might lean to who we’re playing that series, the matchups,” Sveum said. “Maybe you go to a six-man rotation for a week because of matchups. You never know what the bullpen is like. A lot of things come into play. We’ll make that decision — and I know you guys are going to keep asking this question every day. It’s not going to change.”

Travis Wood posted his eighth straight quality start on Monday, and has a 2.03 ERA. Scott Feldman has a 2.53 ERA in his seven starts, which include a complete game win.

“I guess that’s the best problem to have,” Garza said about everyone doing well. “I want to pitch. I’m not getting ready for no reason. The guys are doing great. I’ve got to really step into it and gear up for it. I’m excited to come back and chomping. I’m not looking forward to anything past Thursday.”

– Carrie Muskat


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