Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’
Bill Mueller, who resigned as the Cubs hitting coach after one season, has taken a job as an assistant hitting coach with the Cardinals, St. Louis GM John Mozeliak announced Monday. Mueller left after the Cubs decided not to retain assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs are moving up the start of the 2015 season. The Cubs and ESPN announced that the 2015 opener at Wrigley Field will be played Sunday, April 5, to accommodate Major League Baseball’s Opening Night and an exclusive national television broadcast. The game versus the Cardinals now will start at 7:05 p.m. CT and air on ESPN2. This will mark the first Opening Night in Wrigley Field history.
Due to the shift, the Cubs-Cardinals opening series will be as follows:
Sunday, April 5: 7:05 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Monday, April 6: OFF DAY
Tuesday, April 7: 7:05 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Wednesday, April 8: 1:20 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Thursday, April 9: OFF DAY
— Carrie Muskat
On Friday, the Cardinals square off against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series. Two Major League scouts offered their take on two key players on Redbirds, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina:
Scout No. 1:
“He has superb command with all four of his pitches. His curveball is a big top to bottom spinning curve with great bite downward, and that makes it very tough for hitters to square up. He can locate his fastball on both sides of the plate. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball. He pitches at 88-92 mph with the fastball. I’ve seen him reach back and hit 95 mph but he mainly sits around 90 mph. Just when you think you are on his fastball, he will use his cut fastball and/or his slider to keep you guessing. He’s a great competitor who knows how to win and when the going gets tough, he has the plus curve he can use to escape damage.”
“Defensively, his game speaks for itself. He’s the best catcher in the game today in terms of calling the game for his pitcher. He knows how to get the most out of his pitcher, he knows the league well and how to pitch guys. The Brewers’ Maldonado is the only guy I know of who has better pure arm strength than Molina. Offensively, Molina looks like he might still be feeling the effects of his injured thumb. He doesn’t look like he is feeling for the ball, but it doesn’t look like he is/can fully let it fly just yet. He’s a smart hitter at the plate and will sit on a pitch if you fall into patterns with him. He’s an aggressive hitter, who is looking to swing the bat.”
“The Cardinals have pitching coming out of their ears and that is the strength of the team. Ellis is a professional hitter off the bench from the right side, with Descalso being the secret weapon off the bench hitting from the left side. Descalso has been swinging the bat well down the stretch, hitting .359 in August.”
Scout No. 2:
“A workhorse on the mound with a four-pitch mix. He’s a fast working strike thwoer who throws a fastball, curve, cutter and change up, and all with plus command and to both sides of the plate. He will move from different sides of the rubber to create different angles to the hitters. He’s one of the only pitchers doing that in today’s game. His 6-foot 7-inch frame offers a tremendous slot with high arm angle to the plate. He will throw any pitch at anytime and have confidence he will throw it for a strike. A true competitor who will also give you a quality at bat. Adam is not afraid to takes his swings at the plate. He is a good athlete for his size and moves around the mound very well. He fields his position very well and is a true professional. His curve and cutter combo make it tough for anybody to react. As a hitter, you have to go up there sitting on one pitch because if you are just going to react or wait for a mistake, the at-bat will be over quickly. Paired with Molina, these two guys make up a special battery.”
“Yadi is the game’s best catcher and arguably the best catcher in Major League history. Yadi offers so much more than meets the eye especiall when it comes to handling the staff. He does it with ease. Molina shuts down the running game with his arm and quick release times. His game calling ability and unbelievable feel offers things that can’t be taught. He is a truly professional hitter who uses the whole field. He is a very smart hitter and will know what the pitcher is going to do before the pitcher even knows. He has the ability to hit the ball in the seats but also be used as a hit and run guy hitting the ball behind the runner. He’s still not 100 percent from his thumb injury, he has not driven the ball like he is capable, but he’s such a fierce competitor that he wants to play. He makes this Cardinals team go. He’s a guy who can’t be replaced. Players like him come around once in a generation, if ever.”
— Carrie Muskat
* Felix Doubront picked up the win in his first game with the Cubs. The lefty gave up one run on seven hits over seven innings in an efficient outing, throwing 89 pitches. He will continue to start as the Cubs go with a six-man rotation.
* Logan Watkins hit his first career home run, and Chris Valaika followed with his second of the season. It’s the eighth time the Cubs have hit back to back homers, and fifth time this month.
* Starlin Castro hit his 14th home run, which matches his personal high set in 2012. He’s batting .379 this month.
The Cubs open a four-game series in St. Louis Monday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
Monday: LHP Travis Wood (2-4, 4.75) vs. LHP Tyler Lyons (0-2, 3.43)
Tuesday: RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 2.89) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (6-2, 2.02)
Wednesday: RHP Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.45) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (2-3, 2.85)
Thursday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-3, 1.45) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (4-2, 3.83)
* The Cubs’ 12-24 record is the slowest start through 36 games since they were 11-25 in 1997. That team lost its first 14 games of the season. This year, the Cubs have lost at least 24 of their first 36 games for the third time in the last 33 seasons (1994, ’97 and 2014).
* Cubs pitchers have 21 quality starts but only six individual wins from starters in those games. Cubs starters have as many wins as losses when recording a quality start (6-6) to go with nine no-decisions. The Cubs are 7-14 in those quality starts despite a 2.06 ERA from the starting pitchers.
* Samardzija and Hammel are tied for fourth in MLB in quality starts (seven each).
* Here’s a bizarre stat: The Cubs have not had a starting pitcher throw at least six innings and give up more than three earned runs and notch a win since Matt Garza on June 16, 2011 (six innings, five earned runs in a 12-7 win over the Brewers).
Edwin Jackson’s final start of the season ended sooner than expected. Jackson was pulled after 2 2/3 innings in the Cubs’ 6-2 loss Saturday to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium because of discomfort in his right side. The only good news is that he’ll have a few months to heal.
“It’s just a crazy year, man,” said Jackson, who will likely finish as the Major League leader in losses with 18. “If I had the answer, I would’ve changed a long time ago. It’s one of those years where you forget it but still learn from it. It was a [bad] year to sum it up. There’s a lot of things to take from it.”
The Cardinals continued to tune up for the postseason. Matt Holliday hit a two-run home run and Yadier Molina drove in two runs off Jackson to back Adam Wainwright in front of 42,520 fans. St. Louis clinched the National League Central title with a 7-0 win on Friday night, and now is battling Atlanta to determine the top seed in the NL playoffs.
The Cubs lost for the 13th time in their last 17 games, and are simply trying to wrap up a disappointing season in which they will finish last in the division.
“We only have nine innings left this year,” said Anthony Rizzo, who hit his 23rd home run leading off the ninth. “Hopefully, those nine innings get us going and we can go into the offseason on a high note.”
With one out in the St. Louis third, Jackson walked two batters, and both scored on Molina’s double. One out later, Pete Kozma hit a ground-rule double that bounced into the Cubs’ bullpen, and Jackson intentionally walked Adron Chambers to face Wainwright, who hit a RBI single. Cubs manager Dale Sveum and athletic trainer PJ Mainville then went to the mound, and Jackson was pulled after 65 pitches. The right-hander said the problem began when he was warming up and continued as the game progressed.
“He hasn’t had the year he wanted or anything like that but [Travis Wood] has pitched really good and [his record is] under .500,” Sveum said. “[Jackson] has kept us in some games. He’s been a .500 pitcher his whole career. Obviously, you don’t want losses, but at the same time, the games we’ve been in, we don’t seem to win or get a lead.”
Since Jackson reported to Mesa, Ariz., for Spring Training, he’s been asked about the four-year, $52 million contract he signed with the Cubs, his first long-term deal. Maybe his struggles were related to putting too much pressure on himself with a new team?
“He handles everything really well and he’s ready to come back next year and prove himself,” Sveum said. “I think a lot of things go into it pressure-wise — you get a contract like that, you’re with a new team. I think next year he’ll be a lot more comfortable and settle in and have a good year.”
That’s the goal, Jackson said.
“I don’t feel like I pressed as far as playing,” Jackson said. “There were times when I was over analyzing things and thinking too much and not allowing myself to go out and do what I’m capable of doing athletically. As far as pressure with the new contract and new team and all that, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of pressure.
“When you’re not pitching well, it’s easy to make excuses and point out things that could be happening,” he said. “It’s the craziest year I’ve had in baseball for a long time. You just look forward the working in the offseason and coming back and turning it around.”
The Cubs avoided being shutout for a second straight game when they tallied in the ninth against Edward Mujica. Rizzo led off with his first home run since Sept. 13 and second of the month. J.C. Boscan doubled and scored one out later on Donnie Murphy’s double.
On Sunday, the Cubs close the 2013 season. The players will head home, and Sveum will find out if he’s coming back next year on Monday.
“At the end of the day, the manager can’t play for us,” Jackson said. “The 25 guys who go on the field, we have to produce and play baseball like we know we can. I think we’re capable of doing that. It takes everyone to believe we can win games and go out and play like that.”
— Carrie Muskat
* Right-hander Daniel Bard, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, threw a second bullpen on Sunday. There is no timetable for him to get into a game, and he may not in the Cubs’ remaining 20 games.
“It’d be nice to see but it’s his timetable and we’ll evaluate and we’ll find out how he’s doing and how he’s feeling,” Sveum said.
Bard was sidelined most of the season with a strained abdominal muscle, and struggled with his consistency.
* Darwin Barney got a rare day off Sunday.
“His numbers against [Yovani] Gallardo aren’t staggering, so I figured it’d be a good day to give him a day going into the long road trip,” Sveum said. “We’ll get [Donnie] Murphy’s bat in there as well as [Luis] Valbuena’s left-handed bat.”
* The Cubs have a tough trip ahead as the Reds and Pirates are battling for position in the playoffs.
“You never want to be a spoiler, and not that there’s really any spoiling going on,” Sveum said since the Reds and Pirates appear set for posteason baseball. “Cincinnati is getting hot, and they’ve put themselves in the division race as well. It’ll be fun, the atmosphere in Pittsburgh as well as Cincinnati. You’re getting in that playoff type atmosphere when you’re trying to win a division, and later, it’ll be the same when we get to St. Louis. It’s good for everybody to see that and play in those atmospheres. It’s different.”
* The Cubs are one win away from matching their win total last year.
“Obviously, the difference between this year and last year is coming down the stretch, we have a lot better pitching going out there every day,” Sveum said. “Our starting pitching has been pretty good. There’s satisfaction but we’re still a long way away from where we want to be.”
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have scuffled vs. the NL Central this year, compiling an 18-35 record prior to Friday’s game against the Cardinals. They’ve also won more games against the Redbirds than any other team in the division, posting a 6-7 record so far.
“Every game right now is meaningful, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Dale Sveum said. “A weekend series with the Cardinals is great for the fans, great for us. We have pulled out some games and played pretty well against them and a lot better than some of the other teams in our division. They’re one of the better elite teams in the game and you have to be your best to beat them.”
Here are the pitching matchups:
Friday: RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Jake Westbrook (7-7, 4.11)
Saturday: LHP Travis Wood (7-9, 3.00) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (3-3, 3.14)
Sunday: RHP Edwin Jackson (7-12, 5.05) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (13-7, 2.71)
— Carrie Muskat
Time to both doublecheck and update your Cubs calendar. Remember, the Cubs’ games Friday and Saturday against the Cardinals will start at 3:05 p.m. CT. Sunday’s game will start at 1:20 p.m. CT.
The Cubs’ game Sept. 7 vs. the Brewers will start at 3:05 p.m. CT. It had originally been listed as a 12:05 p.m. CT start, but was changed at the request of national television.
The Sept. 1 start time vs. the Phillies is still to be determined.
The Cubs may be a sub .500 team, but they didn’t take kindly to having both the Dodgers and the Cardinals alter their rotations against Chicago to save their aces for upcoming series. The Dodgers moved Zack Greinke so he could face the Cardinals, who skipped Adam Wainright on Saturday, so he could face the Pirates this week.
“You take anything like that personal,” manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. “Obviously, they’re doing what they need to be doing, being in the pennant race. But the guys in that locker room take it to heart. They’re saying we’re not a very good team and we’re going to get by you with this guy or that guy. It’s the competitive nature in anybody to take that to heart.”
The Cubs got the last word on Saturday, winning 6-5 over the Cardinals.
Wainwright will start Tuesday, and could face the Cubs next Sunday at Wrigley Field.
— Carrie Muskat