Jorge Soler hit a pair of two-run homers, including a game-tying shot in the eighth, and Arismendy Alcantara smacked a walk-off RBI single with one out in the 10th to lift the Cubs to a 7-6 victory Monday night over the Reds at Wrigley Field. Soler hit a two-run homer in the first and the game-tying shot in the eighth. Chris Coghlan had three hits, including a solo homer. He also played third base for the first time since 2013 because the Cubs were short-handed.
Soler set a career high with four RBIs. It was his second career multi-homer game and first at Wrigley Field.
Jon Lester did not get a decision, giving up six runs on 10 hits over six innings. The Cubs bullpen has been solid, combining for a 1.59 ERA over the first six games. For Alcantara, it was his first hit of the season.
“The big thing for me is the way we played,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Of course, you want to get off to a good start, of course. If you’re playing the game properly and well, and the unity and camaraderie is starting to exist, and of course the bullpen — those guys have been really wildly good.”
— Carrie Muskat
One of the first things Dexter Fowler did when he arrived at the Cubs complex Wednesday was to take a selfie with Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, a day after their back to back to back home runs. Anthony Rizzo snuck into the picture as well.
“It’s great and they’re all handling it very well,” Rizzo said of the buzz generated by the trio of homers in the fourth inning Tuesday against the Indians’ Trevor Bauer. “It’s exciting — everyone’s excited about it and so are we.”
Rizzo saw a teaser on television about the consecutive blasts, then watched video later.
“They were impressive swings,” Rizzo said. “Nothing amazes me with anyone in this camp and the talent, to be honest.”
Fowler was watching the game on MLB-TV, and figured Bryant had to connect after Soler and Baez did.
“I said, ‘He’s got to go deep right now,'” Fowler said.
And Bryant did, hitting his second spring home run to the opposite field in right.
“We didn’t make that big of a deal of it,” Bryant said. “I’ve never been a part of a back to back to back home runs. It was like any other home run. It’s a shame we didn’t win that game, if we would’ve won, it would’ve made it that much better. It’s a work in progress and we’re getting there. Get all the losses out in Spring Training and get ready for the season.”
— Carrie Muskat
Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant hit back to back to back home runs Tuesday in the fourth inning but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost, 10-6, to the Indians to fall to 0-6-1 in Cactus League play. Welington Castillo also homered in the sixth.
“I know people are concerned with that — I’m not at all concerned,” manager Joe Maddon said about the Cubs’ record. “I’d like to see us win often to get that lovin’ feeling going on right here. If you’re getting some wins, you’re probably doing some good things.”
Travis Wood started and gave up four runs, two earned, on seven hits over three innings.
“It’s still early in spring,” Wood said. “If it was the season and we were 0-4, we’d start to press. It’s spring and everybody is starting to get their feet under them, especially the young guys. Everything’s going to fall into place.”
* Up next: Jon Lester makes his second spring start Wednesday, taking the mound against the Dodgers and Zack Greinke at Sloan Park in Mesa. In his first Cactus League start, Lester struck out three of the first four batters he faced, then served up a broken-bat single before getting the next batter to ground into an inning ending double play. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. MT/3:05 p.m. CT.
— Carrie Muskat
Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant put on a home run derby in the fourth inning Tuesday that Cubs fans are hoping to see a lot in the regular season. Soler led off the power show against the Indians’ Trevor Bauer with a mammoth shot to left that landed on the concourse behind the grassy berm. Two pitches later, Baez followed with his first home run and the ball landed in the same area as Soler’s. Bryant, who led the Minor Leagues with 43 homers last season, then connected on a monster opposite field shot to right field off a 1-1 pitch from Bauer to pull the Cubs within 4-3.
“You’ve got to let the hitters have some fun in Spring Training, too, right?” Bauer said.
The homers were the first for Soler and Baez, while Bryant hit his second this spring. Baez’s blast was his first hit this spring, ending an 0-for-9 start. It was an improvement after Sunday when the infielder said he felt “lost” after striking out three times.
“I feel great today, by the way,” Baez said, smiling.
After Bryant’s homer, Baez said the Cubs were able to smile in the dugout.
“I was just laughing, like, no way this is happening,” Baez said.
“I don’t know any other way to say it than just ‘Wow,’ especially those three guys,” Cubs starter Travis Wood said. “That’s what they’re here to do and they’ve made a name for themselves doing it coming up. To see it start happening is amazing.”
Bryant wasn’t trying to copy Soler and Baez after watching the first two homers.
“[I wanted to] get a good pitch to hit and hit it, and I did,” Bryant said. “That’s all I can really do in that situation. It was kind of cool seeing their homers and mine kind of just scraped over the wall but it gets the job done.”
Bryant’s homer was no cheap shot as it sailed to right.
“I got a good pitch, middle away,” he said. “I thought [Bauer] was going to throw me some sliders — he was throwing a lot of them. I saw Javy hit one off the slider, so I didn’t know if he had enough confidence in it to go with it again. He stuck with the fastball and I got a good one to hit.”
Bryant also gave Soler and Baez points because their homers traveled so far.
“They had the distance,” Bryant said. “I can’t hang with them in terms of distance but I’ll go right center. It was cool to watch them two hit some homers and me get in the action. It was fun.”
There was some good-natured razzing as Welington Castillo followed Bryant with a single in the fourth. He made up for it with a home run with one out in the top of the sixth.
“He might have been a little bit late, but we got the fourth one,” Wood said.
— Carrie Muskat
Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant put on a home run derby in the Cubs fourth inning Tuesday.
Soler led off against the Indians’ Trevor Bauer with a mammoth shot to left that landed on the concourse behind the grassy berm. Two pitches later, Baez followed with his first home run and the ball landed in the same area as Soler’s.
Bryant, who led the Minor Leagues with 43 homers last season, then connected on a monster opposite field shot to right field off a 1-1 pitch from Bauer to pull the Cubs within 4-3.
The blasts were the first for Soler and Baez, and Bryant’s second this spring. Baez’s homer was his first hit this spring, ending an 0-for-9 start.
— Carrie Muskat
* Jorge Soler did not start Sunday, but that was part of the Cubs’ plan to help the rookie outfielder stay healthy in his return from leg injuries. Soler was pulled from Saturday’s game after five innings because rain had made the playing field slippery and the Cubs didn’t want to risk injury.
“The guys were talking about how it was getting a little softer,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday about the outfield. “For us, it was the right thing to do at that time [to pull Soler]. We have three [games] more against St. Louis, then a day off Thursday, and three more in Milwaukee, and he’ll finish off playing.”
Soler has played four, five days in a row, then gotten a breather in his comeback. He began the season with Double-A Tennessee, but suffered a leg injury after his first hit in his first game April 3. He went on the disabled list and returned in May, but needed to go on the DL again. After rehabbing in Mesa, he rejoined the Smokies in July, and batted .463 in 15 games before he was promoted to Triple-A.
* Renteria and GM Jed Hoyer are conducting exit interviews with players, and the discussion has turned to what the Cubs need for 2015. What’s on Renteria’s wish list?
“What we’d really like is to have a bunch of really good baserunners,” Renteria said Sunday. “One of the things we’re talking about is going into Spring Training and get some skill work done and a better of sense what we need to add.”
Isn’t base running instinctual?
“I’ve always thought that instincts are learned,” Renteria said. “If you take advantage of experiences, it teaches you something.”
* The Cubs have yet to finalize the rotation for the last series of the regular season next weekend in Milwaukee. Kyle Hendricks will start the season finale on Sept. 28. One of the options is to have Eric Jokisch start a game. He was 9-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A Iowa this season.
Looking ahead, the rotation for the three-game series against the Cardinals will be:
Monday: Travis Wood vs Adam Wainwright
Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks vs Shelby Miller
Wednesday: Jake Arrieta vs John Lackey
Wood and Arrieta will be making their final starts of the season.
— Carrie Muskat
Jacob Turner makes what is likely his last start of the season on Sunday as the Cubs close the series against the Dodgers. This will be the last day game at Wrigley Field this season. No Jorge Soler. He was pulled from Saturday’s game because of wet grounds, and not starting as part of his rehab program. Here is the lineup:
Jorge Soler was expected back in the lineup Monday when the Cubs opens their last homestand of the season but Anthony Rizzo was still questionable because of his low back strain. Soler, who was batting .356 in 12 games, missed the weekend series against the Pirates to be in Miami for the birth of his first child, a boy.
Rizzo has not played since his back tightened during a rain delay in the Aug. 26 game in Cincinnati. The Cubs had hoped the first baseman would return Monday against the Reds.
“That one I will reserve for [Monday],” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “We’re trying to get him out there running. I’d still look more ahead, and take anything sooner as a plus.”
The Cubs are taking a conservative approach with Rizzo, who was batting .278 and hit his 30th home run in his last game.
“I don’t want to put a date on [his return],” Renteria said. “Let’s hope that sometime in the coming week we’ll see something and go from there. If it happens to be much sooner than later, good for us.”
— Carrie Muskat
Jorge Soler will not be with the Cubs this weekend in Pittsburgh. He returned to Miami for the birth of his first child. Here is the lineup for Friday’s game against the Pirates: