Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’

5/18 Cubs 4, Brewers 2

Travis Wood settled down after a shaky first inning, rookie Mike Olt continued his hot home run pace, and Hector Rondon picked up his fifth save in as many chances to help the Cubs make a statement Sunday. Welington Castillo belted a two-run home run and Olt added his team-leading ninth blast to back Wood and lift the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the first-place Brewers.

“We were able to come through with big two-out hits,” Olt said. “That’s how you win ballgames.”

That, and having Wood recover from a first inning in which he walked the bases loaded with two outs. The lefty scattered two hits over seven innings to improve to 3-1 in five home starts with a 2.43 ERA. He’s now served up nine earned runs over 33 1/3 innings at Wrigley. The lefty is 1-3 with an 8.02 ERA in four road outings.

Wood walked the bases loaded in the first, then got Khris Davis to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

“It was a struggle in the first,” wood said. “We weren’t missing bad, but we were missing. It was a minor adjustment that we had to make.”

The trouble was that he was flying open in his mechanics, and once corrected, he shut down the Brewers. The lefty retired the next 10 batters he faced before Logan Schafer doubled with one out in the fifth. One out later, Rickie Weeks launched a 2-0 pitch from Wood over the bleachers in left-center field for his second home run.

“He didn’t make any mistakes really,” Weeks said of Wood. “The one mistake he made, I hit the ball out. Other than that, the cutter in, he was spotting it dead on under the hands. He was painting that little sinker away. You can’t do too much about that when a pitcher is going like that.”

The Cubs had the lead before Weeks’ blast, going ahead 2-0 in the second when Luis Valbuena walked to set up Castillo’s fifth home run, which landed in the first row of the left-field bleachers.

With two outs in the third, Starlin Castro and Valbuena hit back-to-back doubles to open a 3-0 lead. It’s an encouraging sign for the Cubs, who entered the game batting .190 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Olt made it 4-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his ninth, which leads the team and all National League rookies.

Olt is the first Cubs rookie to hit nine home runs before June 1 since Geovany Soto did so in 2008. Soto won the NL Rookie of the Year that season.

“I’ve just gotten some good pitches to hit,” Olt said. “As long as I’m doing that, I’m happy. The home runs come in bunches. Hopefully, I can keep it going.”

Rondon survived a scare in the ninth, too. He gave up a double to Ryan Braun, but locked down his fifth save in as many opportunities.

“Like I’ve said, I’ll be ready for any situation,” Rondon said. “If they want to put me the second inning, third inning, whatever situation, I’ll take it.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/14 Cubs vs. Cardinals

Whatever Cubs starter Jason Hammel did to prepare for Wednesday’s game, he’ll just have to repeat. Wednesday’s game between the Cubs and Cardinals was postponed because of inclement weather and will be made up as a day-night doubleheader on Aug. 30 at Busch Stadium.

Hammel (4-1, 2.45 ERA), who was scheduled for Wednesday, now will go Thursday in the series finale at Busch Stadium against Michael Wacha (2-3, 2.85 ERA). Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (0-3, 1.45 ERA) will get an extra day and start Friday at Wrigley Field against the Brewers.

The Cubs have another make-up doubleheader scheduled for July 8 against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Manager Rick Renteria had rookie Mike Olt in the lineup Wednesday, and most likely will stick with him on Thursday in the rain-shortened series finale. Renteria has been trying to find the right matchups for Olt, who leads all National League rookies with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. GM Jed Hoyer knows there’s some angst from Cubs fans when Olt isn’t in the lineup.

“I think Ricky has done a nice job with Mike,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “I get it — I think people are excited to see him and people love homers. It’s fun when he’s in the lineup.

“I want him to play, too, but I also think matching him up and finding the right matchups, you want to make sure there are days when [Luis] Valbuena is in the lineup,” Hoyer said. “There are days you really want [Darwin] Barney in the lineup because he’s our best defender. There are a lot of factors at play. Frankly, I think it’s helped Mike in the long haul adjusting to the big leagues and getting comfortable here.”

The Cubs’ third base platoon of Olt and Valbuena lead the National League with eight home runs and are tied for sixth with 24 RBIs. Hoyer said Valbuena is “underappreciated.”

“He’s got a low batting average but a really high on-base percentage,” Hoyer said of Valbuena, who has a .226/.351/.387 slash line. “Last year, I think we were among the top 10 in baseball in production at third base with valbuena and Donnie Murphy and [Cody] Ransom and those guys. The biggest part of the platoon was Valbuena.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/13 Cubs patient with Olt

Mike Olt leads the Cubs and all National League rookies with eight home runs. He’s the 13th Cubs rookie in the last 82 seasons to belt that many by the All-Star break. And on Tuesday, he was not in the lineup.

Manager Rick Renteria explained he was going with matchups against the Cardinals, starting Luis Valbuena at third because he’s 5-for-14 against Adam Wainwright, and four of those hits are doubles. Olt has never faced the right-hander.

It’s all part of the development process for Olt, who has platooned with Valbuena this year, facing more left-handed pitchers than right-handers.

“We’re still mixing and matching and will continue to do so until we see where they’re all at,” Renteria said of his roster. “The way we balance it out, everybody’s getting at-bats, everybody’s playing. To this point, it’s advantageous to us to get them in the lineup at some point and letting them play.”

Olt may be providing some thump in the lineup but he’s only batting .187 and has 32 strikeouts in 91 at-bats. Renteria said there will be a day when Olt is getting regular playing time.

“We’re growing to that point,” Renteria said. “His confidence level continues to grow, and once we all feel satisfied with where he’s at, then we’ll make that determination and adjustment. Right now, we’re happy with everything he’s doing.”

Only a week ago, Renteria was being asked if they were considering sending Olt to the Minor Leagues. Then, he homered in three straight games, May 7-9, including a grand slam on May 8 against the White Sox. He now has belted four homers in his last six games.

“The fans want to see everybody succeed, they want them all to do well, and rightfully so,” Renteria said. “As we continue to move forward and these guys continue to develop who they are as players, their spots in the lineup continue to increase and obviously their performances hopefully reflect that they’re playing more and hopefully their production is good.”

Told that fans just want to see more home runs, Renteria laughed.

“Everybody likes the long ball,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

5/13 Cubs lineup

Luis Valbuena is 5-for-14 with four doubles vs. Adam Wainwright, and gets the start Tuesday for the Cubs in the second game of their four-game series against the Cardinals. Here’s the lineup:

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

5/13 More from Monday’s win

* The Cubs’ 17 runs were the most in a game since a 17-2 win vs. the Pirates on Aug. 14, 2009, and the most runs on the road since a 17-4 victory on July 26, 1996, at Colorado.

* The 20 hits were their most since a 21-hit outburst on Aug. 2, 2011, at Pittsburgh.

* Mike Olt hit his team-leading eighth home run of the season on Monday. Olt is the 13th Cubs rookie in the last 82 seasons (starting in 1933) to reach eight home runs prior to the All-Star break.

* Anthony Rizzo is batting .295 (13-for-44) with a double, four homers, 11 RBI, 10 walks (compared to eight strikeouts) and a 1.009 OPS in his last 12 games dating to April 30. He has a .393 OBP in 37 games this season, 10th-best in the NL.

5/13 About last night …

The Cubs set season highs in runs scored and hits on Monday in their 17-5 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Here are some other highlights from the game:

* Travis Wood picked up his second win over the Cardinals this month. He is the first Cubs pitcher since Matt Garza to throw a non-quality start and get the win. Garza did so June 16, 2011.

* Emilio Bonifacio scored a career-high five runs, the most in MLB this season. He’s the first Cubs player since Jody Davis (June 3, 1987) to score five runs in a game. Bonifacio is the 14th Cubs player since 1900 to score five in a game. He leads the Cubs with 13 multi-hit games.

* Anthony Rizzo has hit safely in 11 of 13 games in May, including all three against the Cardinals. Rizzo had three RBIs and none came as a result of a hit.

* Mike Olt snapped an 0-for-7 streak with a two-run homer. It was his eighth of the season and he now has 19 RBIs. Both are tops among NL rookies.

* Junior Lake drove in a career-high six runs, tied for second most among an MLB player this year (Ryan Braun had a seven RBI game). The last Cubs player with six RBI was Ryan Sweeney on June 23, 2013. Lake has hit three of his four home runs against the Cardinals.

* The Cubs’ 17 runs against the Cardinals were the most since they scored 12 on Sept. 10, 2007. Each player in the Cubs starting lineup had a hit.

* The last time the Cubs scored 17 or more runs against the Cardinals in St. Louis was Sept. 21, 1974, at Busch Stadium II.

* Darwin Barney totaled a season-high three hits.

5/7 Extra bases – Part II

* The Cubs placed reliever Pedro Strop on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a moderate left groin strain and recalled lefty Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa. Strop was pulled from Tuesday’s game after facing five batters. He apparently injured his leg a few days ago while working out, but said he was ready to pitch. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Strop was available.

“I didn’t think [his leg] was an issue, quite frankly,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’d been working and did fine in his flat ground. All indications were that he was fine.”

* Mike Olt is trying to relax, and maybe being the designated hitter for one game will help. The third baseman was the DH Wednesday. He is 2-for-23 in his last nine games. Renteria has opted to platoon Olt with left-handed hitting Luis Valbuena at third base, so not playing every day has been new.

“It’s hard — you could be struggling a little bit and tend to put a little more pressure on yourself and that’s what’s been going on with me right now,” Olt said. “I’ve had some talks with guys on the team and coaches and am going to go back to being relaxed. There’s no excuse to say, ‘Hey, I’m not playing, this is why I’m struggling.’ It’s more me putting too much pressure on myself. I’m going to go back to having fun.”

He’s not worried about his hitting.

“I’ve been through way worse slumps than this,” he said.

* Maybe the Cubs should’ve let Travis Wood bat for himself?

“Everyone talks about it,” Renteria said. “Obviously, because he hit the grand slam against them before and because he swings the bat well, it’s an
outside thought but you wouldn’t do that.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/20 Extra bases: Baez, Riz, Olt & more

* Top prospect Javier Baez was activated from Triple-A Iowa’s disabled list on Sunday and in the lineup as the designated hitter. Baez had not played since April 10. He injured his left ankle taking ground balls on April 11. In eight games, Baez was 4-for-26 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts.

* Anthony Rizzo entered Sunday’s game batting .464 at Wrigley Field, while teammate Starlin Castro was hitting .424 at home. They rank among the National League leaders in home batting average.

“Their two-strike approaches are pretty good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Rizzo and Castro. “‘Riz’ in particular with two strikes is choking up a little now and trying not to be so pull conscious and takes what they give him. It’s more of a mindset. You have to make an adjustment and as you improve as big league players, you know there are things you have to work on.

“He’s come to a conclusion that some of the things he’s doing are helping him,” Renteria said. “With offense, there are peaks and valleys to them, but so far, he’s had a consistent approach.”

* Renteria abandoned his usual lefty-righty platoon on Sunday, and has Mike Olt starting at third base against righty Homer Bailey.

“I’ve been trying over time with all the guys to give them some days when they go back to back,” Renteria said. “It gives them a better view and a little more comfortable. The reality is they’re going to face lefties and righties, and you’ve got to give them an opportunity to use some games back to back to get some kind of comfort.”

* The Cubs will celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary on Wednesday. Sue Quigg, grand-niece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman, will throw the game’s ceremonial first pitch, and use the 100-year-old ball her grandmother Dessa Weeghman threw at a Chi-Feds game a century ago. The first 30,000 fans will receive replica Chi-Feds jerseys, and the first 10,000 fans will get a birthday cupcake.

– Carrie Muskat

4/20 Rizzo starts at 1B

* Mike Olt took grounders at first base early Sunday just in case Anthony Rizzo was still bothered by back spasms, which forced him out of Saturday’s game.

“I told him not to,” Rizzo said, joking. “That’s my position.”

Rizzo was in the Cubs’ lineup Sunday for the series finale against the Reds. He was pulled from Saturday’s game in the eighth inning because of the back problems, which he said started “barking” in the fifth or sixth innings.

“He felt he’d be fine [Sunday] and came in and said he felt good,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

– Carrie Muskat

4/10 Lineup shift

Rick Renteria abandoned his left-right platoon and started right-handed hitters Mike Olt and Junior Lake against Pirates righty Gerrit Cole on Thursday. Part of the reason is the splits against Cole are almost identical. Left-handed hitters have hit .252 against Cole, while right-handers have hit .250.

“These are two young players who we’re going to try to get them as much playing time as we can,” Renteria said of Olt and Lake. “We’re trying to find spots that can give them an opportunity to gain some confidence.

“Everybody on the squad, everybody, from [Darwin] Barney to [Ryan Sweeney] to [Nate] Schierholtz, every one of those guys has been working real hard and they all want to be in the lineup,” Renteria said. “We’re just trying to balance it all out and give us the best chance on a daily basis.”

Sweeney and Schierholtz have started against right-handed pitchers this year, but they are batting .174 and .118 respectively. Lake was hitting .273 while Olt has two home runs and was batting .158.

The Cubs have scored 21 runs in their last three games after scoring eight runs in the first five games. What gives?

“Their approaches are solid and they’re getting good pitches to hit,” Renteria said. “They’re feeling a little confident now, which is good.”

– Carrie Muskat

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