Friday, August 28th, 2015
1. Game Notes (Cubs lose, 9-1)
I think we all knew that this was going to be our toughest matchup of the series. Madison Bumgarner is about as challenging of competition as you’ll get in the National League, so the Cubs needed to strike early and strike often. They did strike early, on a Starlin Castro RBI base hit, but then they went ahead and stopped after that. The sad reality is that this means we dropped the series against the Giants, but it still leaves us in a fairly comfortable lead for the second wild card spot at 5.5 games ahead of the Giants. The Dodgers won’t be much easier to face, so grabbing two games from them this weekend would really be nice.
After seeing Castro do so well on Wednesday night, it was nice to see him get another hit yesterday afternoon. He drove in the team’s only run in the top of the 2nd inning and was one of the just 3 hits the Cubs mustered, along with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
Defensively, I thought it was interesting to see Bryant start the game in RF and then move to CF and for Jonathan Herrera to get a start at 3B. Castro also seems to be sticking at 2B ever since being benched, and so far he’s handled it pretty well.
Lastly, I think objectively you have to just appreciate Bumgarner’s performance. Similar to getting bested by Chris Sale not that long ago, when Bumgarner gets 12 strikeouts, you have to appreciate something about that.
2. About Haren…
I will be blunt and say that I had very little expectation about the Dan Haren trade when it happened, other than solidifying the back end of the rotation, but after watching his starts since coming to Chicago, I’m beginning to feel disappointed. No trade is foolproof, but this is not going well. Yesterday’s start was at least the first time he’s pitched 6 innings since becoming a Cub, but up until then, he’s proven to be a bit of a burden on the bullpen, averaging closer to 4.2 innings in his first 4 starts here. I’d rather see the back of the rotation starters strive to eat innings, and even if they give up a few more runs than Jon Lester or Jake Arrieta do, at least they are keeping our bullpen from being overused, especially down the stretch. If I can glean a positive from yesterday’s start, it’s that he at least crested 6 innings and managed 4 strikeouts. If he can replicate this kind of performance with regularity, I’ll be much happier, because it was really James Russell who put the nails in the coffin in the 8th inning.
3. Cubs trade for Rodney
Pedro Strop hat critics be on high alert, Fernando Rodney was acquired for cash considerations yesterday. To me, this is about as low risk, high possible reward of a trade in late August that you can hope for. Sure, Rodney has had a very rough 2015 (I won’t scare you with the specifics), but there’s hope for redemption with a new team, and with Jason Motte likely done for the year, especially after this trade, it’s good to have another arm that might, just might work out. I’m not even sure how you form an opinion liking or disliking this move at this point, because if he pitches badly, they’ll be done with him, but if he pitches well, the Cubs have successfully bolstered their bullpen in a time when that’s especially important.
4. Down on the farm
These seasons are soon ending, and a few of these players will be joining the Cubs with roster expansion next week, but there’s still plenty to follow. In Iowa, the AAA Cubs are 6 games behind Oklahoma City, so their season is essentially done. In Wednesday’s game, Javier Baez played third base and went 2 for 4 and drove in 2 runs. Baez was back at second yesterday.
In high A Myrtle Beach, the Pelicans are in a tight race with Salem and benefited mightily from an excellent pitching performance from Jen-Ho Tseng on Tuesday night, in which he went 7 innings. He gave up just 2 runs and struck out 9 that night.
The South Bend Cubs are long out of their race, but a roster that features Ian Happ and Gleyber Torres is fun to watch no matter what. The short season Eugene Emeralds are also worth keeping an eye on, with both Eloy Jimenez and Donnie Dewees hitting well lately.
5. What’s on tap?
The Cubs start their weekend series tonight (9:10 pm central start time) with another very tough matchup. They’ll face Clayton Kershaw who, despite losing his last 2 starts, has still pitched phenomenally. Like Bumgarner, try to strike early, but get more runs on the board as early in the game as you can. At the very least, long at bats are a good thing here.
The Cubs will send Jason Hammel to the mound, who looked much better in his most recent start against the Braves on August 23.
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
1971: The Cubs honor their longtime fan favorite with ‘Ron Santo Day’ at Wrigley Field. With 34‚988 there to honor the veteran third baseman, he goes 1-for-3 and scores a run, but it isn’t enough when Atlanta spoils the special day, beating Ferguson Jenkins and the hometown team‚ 4-3.
1990: Ryne Sandberg becomes the first second baseman to hit 30 home runs in consecutive seasons when he homers to deep left field off Bill Gullickson leading off the fourth inning in the Cubs’ 5-2 victory over Houston at the Astrodome. ‘Ryno’ will finish the season with 40 round-trippers, the most in the National League.
2001: Alex Rodriguez becomes the ninth player, and the second shortstop, in major league history to hit 40 home runs in four consecutive seasons. The first shortstop to reach the plateau was Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who accomplished the feat from 1957-60 for the Cubs.
2008: The Cubs game against the Phillies at Wrigley Field becomes the first contest to be played with the use of video replay available to umpires to make calls in regards to fair or foul home runs, balls in or out of the ballpark, and fan interference determinations. The new technology, which doesn’t need to be employed in any of the three ballparks going online today, will be used used by all major league clubs starting tomorrow.
2012: Starlin Castro agrees to a seven-year contract extension with the Cubs, which includes a club option for an eighth season in 2020. The 22 year-old shortstop, already a two-time All-Star, became the youngest player in National League history to lead the circuit in hits when he collected 207 last season.
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