September 2015

#Cubs Schwarber leads off for 2nd time

Jon Lester gets the start Wednesday night for the Cubs as they face the Reds in Cincinnati. Here’s the lineup:

Schwarber LF

Jackson CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro 2B

Soler RF

Russell SS

Ross C

Lester P

This will be the second time this season Kyle Schwarber has led off for the Cubs. He also did so on Aug. 26 in San Francisco, and went 2-for-4 with a stolen base.

#Cubs Haren starts vs Reds in Cincy

Dan Haren is slated to start Tuesday night for the Cubs in the first of three against the Reds in Cincinnati. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber LF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

La Stella 2B

Montero C

Baez SS

Haren P

Coghlan RF

The Reds have had more than 24 hours of rain delays this season, and there is rain in the forecast. If you’re coming to Great American Ball Park, all I can tell you is they will try to play.

The Cubs have held their opponents scoreless for 21 consecutive innings in winning the last two games. They have 20 shutouts this season, the most since 1969. The last time the Cubs posted three straight shutouts was July 1992.

The Cubs are 40-19 since late July.

Haren is competing for a spot in the Cubs postseason rotation. The right-hander was skipped the last time through the rotation because of an off-day. He allowed three runs (one earned) over 4 1/3 innings in his most recent start, a no-decision against the Cardinals.

#Cubs Hendricks to start vs Royals

Kyle Hendricks gets the start and Anthony Rizzo gets a day off on Monday when the Cubs play host to the Royals in a make-up Interleague game at Wrigley Field. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Coghlan LF

Bryant 1B

La Stella 3B

Castro 2B

Montero C

Soler RF

Russell SS

Hendricks P

#Cubs Arrieta nearly perfect vs Pirates

Jake Arrieta won his Major League-leading 21st game on Sunday night, giving up one hit over seven scoreless innings in the Cubs’ 4-0 win over the Pirates. The right-hander had a perfect game over six innings. Gregory Polanco ended that with a leadoff single in the seventh.

*This was Arrieta’s 19th consecutive quality start, a franchise record. He is 15-1 with a 0.89 ERA in that stretch with 140 strikeouts.

*His 0.80 ERA in 14 starts since the All-Star break is the lowest mark in Major League history. Arrieta has given up nine earned runs over 101 1/3 innings in that span.

*Arrieta improved to 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA in five starts against the Pirates this season, and is 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA in nine career starts.

*And, he topped off the win by hitting his second homer of the season, a solo shot in the second.

“He’s impressive,” Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. “He’s from another planet. This guy, there’s no doubt in my mind, he’s the best right-handed pitcher in the game right now. He showed it. He keeps on showing everybody what he brings to the table every time he takes the mound.”

— Carrie Muskat

Clap along to #Cubs Castro’s lively music

Starlin Castro began the season with a different walk-up song. He also started this year as the Cubs shortstop. Now, he’s got the crowd at Wrigley Field, his teammates and coaches all clapping along to “Ando En La Versace” by Omega. And he’s playing well, too.

Castro hit a two-run double Sunday night in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory over the Pirates, and is batting .398 in his last 30 games. That’s an improvement from the .236 he was batting on Aug. 7 when manager Joe Maddon benched him.

“I’ve just been confident and kept my head up and my mind strong,” Castro said Sunday. “I’ve been through a lot of bad things that make me think too much sometimes. I never put my head down. I know my talent, I can trust my talent. I always have confidence that good things are coming up.”

He’s gotten starts now at second base as rookie Addison Russell has taken over at shortstop. And now Castro and the Cubs are headed to the postseason, having secured one of the Wild Card spots.

As soon as he heads to the plate, his walk-up music starts. And everyone in Wrigley Field, from the ushers to bullpen catcher Chad Noble, starts to clap.

“It’s awesome,” Castro said.

Castro had actually wanted to mix it up and use a different song.

“[They] told me, ‘That’s the song the fans love,'” Castro said. “Now, it’s the most emotional thing I’ve ever been through.”

And it’s not just the Cubs who like it.

“Today, the catcher told me, ‘I want to clap, too,'” Castro said of Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. “He said, ‘Every time you come and hit, I almost take my glove off and start clapping.'”

— Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Arrieta faces Pirates

Jake Arrieta goes for his 21st win on Sunday night when the Cubs play host to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Schwarber LF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro 2B

Soler RF

Montero C

Russell SS

Arrieta P

Arrieta leads the Majors with 20 wins. He has posted 18-straight quality starts, dating to June 21, which is a franchise record. The right-hander is 14-1 with a 0.94 ERA and 131 strikeouts in those 18 games.

His 1.88 ERA and .191 opponent batting average rank second-lowest in the Majors behind the Dodgers Zack Greinke (1.65
and .189). Arrieta has a 0.86 ERA since the All-Star break, which would be the lowest ERA after the break in MLB histsory.

Arrieta looks to become the first Cubs pitcher to win more than 20 games in a season since Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins went 24-13 in 1971.

#Cubs Rizzo wins Heart & Hustle award

On Monday, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be presented the Heart and Hustle Award, presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, which honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game and best embody the values, spirit and tradition. Rizzo also won the award in 2013. A player is nominated from each team. The final winner will be announced Nov. 10.

In case you missed the #Cubs party …

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#Cubs lineup vs Pirates

Jason Hammel gets the start Saturday as the Cubs face the Pirates in the second game of their three-game  series. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Jackson LF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Castro 2B

Soler RF

Ross C

Hammel P

Russell SS

In case you missed it, the Cubs did clinch a postseason berth late Friday thanks to the Giants losing to the A’s. The Giants now are mathematically eliminated.

#Cubs secure 1st playoff berth since ’08

The Cubs are back in the playoffs. Despite losing to the Pirates earlier Friday, the Cubs secured a postseason berth because of the Giants’ loss to the Athletics. That game ended about midnight Friday, and that’s when the party started. Some of the Cubs players stayed awake and posted messages on Twitter:

Jason Motte: “This is what you work all offseason, spring training and season for. #PostseasonBaseball here we come!!! #GoCubsGo”

Dexter Fowler: “I’ve never been happier for the @Athletics! #playoffbound”

If the season ended today, the Cubs would play the Pirates in the National League Wild Card game on Oct. 7 at PNC Park. Does home field advantage matter?

“It’s not, in my mind,” Chicago catcher David Ross said Friday. “That’s my personal opinion. We play good at their place.
We’ve played pretty strong in Pittsburgh.”

This is the first time the Cubs have reached the playoffs since 2008.

— Carrie Muskat