Results tagged ‘ Pirates ’

6/6 Up in the air

In a span of about 57 hours, give or take a few, the Cubs will play in three different ballparks, beginning Sunday in Houston at Minute Maid Park. They have a makeup game Monday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (11:35 a.m. CT) and then fly to Milwaukee to open a series Tuesday night against the Brewers at Miller Park.

* Last season, the Cubs played three games in three days in three different ballparks when they met the Indians at Wrigley on June 21, 2009; then play at Atlanta, then at Detroit.

* The last time the Cubs played three games in three days in three different road parks was 2004 when they faced Cincinnati on Sept. 19 (a 5-1 win), then played a doubleheader in Florida Sept. 20 (which they split), and then traveled to Pittsburgh Sept. 21 (a 10-inning win). Hurricane Francis in Miami forced that crazy itinerary.

— Carrie Muskat


1/4 Cotts to Pirates; Sheets to Cubs?

The Pirates agreed to terms Monday on a Minor League contract with Neal Cotts, who is coming off Tommy John surgery in July. Cotts appeared in 19 games with the Cubs in 2009, his third season with the team. He never did match his 2005 numbers when he posted a 1.94 ERA in 69 games with the White Sox. The left-hander was the only arbitration eligible player who was non-tendered by the Cubs.

Cotts blew a save May 25 against the Pirates, and was sent down to Triple-A Iowa after that. He appeared in 12 games and had a 2.84 ERA before he was sidelined. Cotts moved his family to Arizona so he could focus on his rehab.

“I enjoy it over here and I’ve enjoyed the organization,” Cotts told me in an interview in October in Mesa, Ariz. “I know in terms of performance and in terms of staying up there, it hasn’t been as planned for by either side. I’d like to be up there to help the team.”

Now, he’ll be trying to make the roster of one of the Cubs’ division rivals.

* Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports predicts the Cubs will sign free agent Ben Sheets, who missed all of last season recovering from elbow surgery. Rosenthal says teams may need to see Sheets throw before deciding whether to make an investment in the right-hander. He was 13-9 in 31 starts in 2008 with the Brewers.

— Carrie Muskat

12/13 Cubs consider Capps

The Pirates’ decision to not tender closer Matt Capps could benefit the Cubs. Capps is now a free agent and his rep, Paul Kinzer, told the Chicago Tribune that the right-hander is interested in the Cubs. Chicago does have Carlos Marmol as its closer but Capps could be the experienced right-handed set-up pitcher the Cubs are looking for. He made $2.4 million last season and the Pirates did not tender him because they felt Capps would receive a significant pay increase in arbitration.

— Carrie Muskat

9/29 A little trivia

Remember the last time the Cubs and Pirates played a doubleheader at Wrigley? It was Sept. 27, 2003, and Chicago swept the twinbill. Mark Prior and Matt Clement were the winning pitchers and the wins, plus the Astros’ loss to the Brewers that day, helped the Cubs clinch their first division title since 1989.

— Carrie Muskat

9/9 Hoffpauir's day

Micah Hoffpauir was able to smile after Wednesday’s game. He came into the Cubs’ series finale against the Pirates 1-for-9 on the road trip, and was batting .217 since he rejoined the big league club. In Wednesday’s 8-5 win, he hit a solo homer, a sacrifice fly, a double, and scored three runs.

Going down to the Minors for a stretch helped, Hoffpauir said.

“Getting away from it a little bit, kind of helps,” he said. “Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everything and being able to clear your head makes a difference for me.”

He broke camp with the Cubs and batted .314 in the first 28 games, but was .179 since May 22. His approach in the final month?

“I was going to have as much fun as I could in the last month and change,” Hoffpauir said.

So, he’s back. At least for one day.

“I felt really good at the beginning of the year and felt good today, nice and relaxed and slow,” he said. “Hopefuly, I can stick with that and remember how I did that today going forward.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/9 Lou & Big Z

Carlos Zambrano admits that Lou Piniella often looks angry when he’s talking to players, waving his arms and gesturing. But on Wednesday at PNC Park, when Piniella pulled Big Z from the game after he warmed up for the seventh, the two had a discussion, not a fight.

“I think he wanted to stay a little longer,” Piniella said of Zambrano, who had a 4-2 lead at that point over the Pirates, “but like I told him, ‘Let’s just build. Let’s get you stronger and stronger.’ That was the conversation we had on the mound.”

They continued talking in the dugout and the TV cameras caught a rather animated conversation.

“Everybody thought we were arguing,” Zambrano said. “We weren’t. We were talking normally. Every time Lou talks, it seems like he’s mad. The way he moves his hands, it looks like he’s mad.

“The way he talks to the players, he’s very professional,” Zambrano said. “It’s just like when Dusty [Baker] used to be here. Like I said, it’s [Piniella’s] decision and it was good enough for me — six innings. I’m OK with that.”

It may be way more than six next time.

“He told me, ‘Don’t get angry’ in Spanish,” Zambrano said. “I said, ‘I’m not angry, I just want to pitch one more inning.’ He told me next time I will pitch a complete game and he will let me pitch 200 pitches. Complete game, no matter what.”

That’s exactly what Piniella said.

“I told him, ‘Next time, if you want, I won’t warm anybody up and we’ll let you pitch nine innings,'” Piniella said. “I don’t think he liked that one.”

Could Zambrano throw 200 pitches in a game?

“Two hundred pitches is tough to do,” Zambrano siad. “It was kind of funny the way he told me.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/8 A little history …

The Cubs now have collected eight straight hits to start a game twice against the Pirates. Besides Tuesday’s game at PNC Park, the Cubs also did so on April 21, 1973, at Wrigley Field. Rick Monday homered to lead off the first against Nelson Briles. Glenn Beckert singled, Billy Williams singled, Joe Pepitone hit a RBI single, and Ron Santo hit a RBI double.

The Pirates then brought in Robert Johnson to replace Briles, and Jose Cardenal greeted him with a two-run double. Randy Hundley singled, Don Kessinger hit a RBI single and Fergie Jenkins struck out to end the streak. Rick Monday then picked it up again with a single and Beckert, in his second at-bat, grounded into a double play. The Cubs led 6-2 at that point, and the game was delayed 85 minutes because of rain.

The weather didn’t cooperate and the game was suspended at the end of the sixth with the Cubs leading, 10-8. It was completed July 26, 1973, with the Cubs winning, 10-9.

— Carrie Muskat

9/8 Behind the eight ball

The Cubs tied a Major League record Tuesday when they rattled off eight straight hits in the first inning, and it’s the second time in history that the Cubs have done so against the Pirates. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this has been done five other times (team with * is team that collected the eight hits):

Sept. 25, 1990: *New York Yankees vs. Baltimore

Sept. 27, 1981: *Oakland Athletics vs. White Sox

Aug. 26, 1975: *Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta

Aug. 5, 1975: *Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cubs

April 21, 1973: *Cubs vs. Pirates

Note: The last time the Cubs scored seven runs in the first inning was Sept. 17, 2006, when they did so against the Reds.

— Carrie Muskat


9/2 Grabbing an opportunity

Lefty John Grabow has made 16 consecutive scoreless appearances to begin his Cubs career. That’s a franchise record, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Before Grabow, the longest consecutive scoreless streak was 11 games, set by Neal Cotts April 2-May 6, 2007. Grabow is not alone. The Cubs bullpen entered Wednesday’s game with a 19 1/3 scoreless streak since Aug. 27.

“Everyone’s throwing the ball well,” Grabow said Wednesday. “We’re taking advantage of our starting pitching doing well.”

Grabow, acquired from the Pirates along with Tom Gorzelanny on July 30, will be a free agent at season’s end. Would he consider staying?

“So far, so good,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”

There’s no comparison between Chicago and Pittsburgh.

“The biggest difference is when you come to the field here, you expect to win and there [in Pittsburgh] you’re just hoping to win,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

8/20 Makeup date set for Aug. 16 game vs. Pirates

The Cubs will makeup the Aug. 16 game vs. the Pirates that was postponed by rain in a day-night, separate admission doubleheader on Sept. 30 at Wrigley Field. The regularly scheduled game will follow at 7:05 p.m. CT.

All tickets for the postponed game from Aug. 16 will be honored at the gates on Sept. 30 at 1:05 p.m. CT. There is no need for fans to exchange tickets. Fans unable to attend the Sept. 30 make-up game may request a refund by sending their tickets to the Wrigley Field Ticket Office at 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago, IL, 60613, or by visiting the Wrigley Field ticket windows during business hours. All refunds must be requested before Sept. 4.

Stub Hub tickets for Aug. 16 will be honored at the gates for the 1:05 p.m. CT game on Sept. 30. Anyone who purchased tickets through Stub Hub should contact Stub Hub if they are unable to attend on Sept. 30.

— Carrie Muskat