We'll get to a lot of stuff today, including a mini "Farm and Fleita" minor-league report below. We'll also talk about the Cubs' hitting, or lack thereof, with runners in scoring position. Starlin Castro is back in the lineup tonight after getting his “mental day off” for not being fully into a sequence Sunday night. A lot of the same questions were asked today, and the answers were pretty much the same.
“We always talk about the physical nature of this game,” said manager Mike Quade. “We don’t need to talk about his talent. His experience and the development he needs, absolutely. The mental part of the game matters. Sometimes that gets left behind. We’re here to help people and help people get better. I was disappointed because we’ve spent a ton of time and emphasis on this part of his game. Ultimately, he’s responsible.”
“If it was for lack of paying attention to his part of his game, I would feel like we had let him down. But it hasn’t been. It doesn’t take away from the progress that we’ve seen from him, and it doesn’t mean he’s on Mike Quade or anybody else’s time schedule.”
Lineup vs. lefty Mike Minor:
Last night, the Cubs stranded 15 runners and were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. In July, they batted .270 as a team with runners in scoring position, going 51-for-189. In August, however, the Cubs are 36-for-191 (.188) with RISP, including a .167 (14-for-84) mark in the last eight games. For the season, the Cubs are batting .236 with runners in scoring position and .228 with RISP and two outs. Here is a look at some of the key individuals and their averages with RISP:
Hill: .000 (0-for-28)
'FARM AND FLEITA' MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT
We'll get to some comments from farm director Oneri Fleita in this section and have some notes on a recent draftee or two. Let's start at Class AA Tennessee. The Smokies collected 17 hits and beat Chattanooga 9-2. Northwestern's Eric Jokisch, in his second Double-A start, got the win, working 6 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 run. He walked two and struck out 10.
First baseman Rebel Ridling (.302) reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a homer. He also drove in 4 runs, extending a hitting streak to seven.
"That was a little more like it," Smokies manager Brian Harper told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "Last night we had trouble getting the big hit. We got a few today. Rebel Ridling has been hot and that was a big home run there. The kid is putting together a good year and he's been real clutch for us lately."
Jim Adduci was 4-for-5. Josh Vitters (.287) was 3-for-3 with a double. Andrew Cashner makes a rehab start for Tennessee tonight.
Class AAA Iowa beat Oklahoma City 4-0 behind Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who went 7 shutout innings, giving up 4 hits while walking one and striking out four. Brett Jackson (.313) was 2-for-4 with a double, 2 runs and his sixth stolen base.
I had a chance to ask Oneri the other day about lefty Chris Rusin, promoted in-season from Tennessee. Rusin, a product of the University of Kentucky and a fourth-rounder in 2009, is a combined 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA. His groundout/flyball out ratio is 1.93. His WHIP at Iowa is 1.18.
"He got off to a little bit of a slow start," Oneri said. "He had some blisters, kind of like Trey McNutt. I thought it was something with the baseballs, honestly (laughing). It turned out it wasn't. He's put that behind him. He's an older guy, 24 years old, a college kid. He knows how to pitch. He's not afraid of contact. He pitches to contact and gets groundballs. He's one of those crafty lefties, and you've got to give him a chance. I think he's a tough kid. He's a guy who can always pitch above his stuff. He's got really good command, and he'll have to have good command. There's no reason not to challenge him."
Daytona (A) had the day off. Peoria (A) fell 6-2 to Cedar Rapids. Starling Peralta took the loss, working 4 innings and giving up 9 hits and 6 runs, 3 earned. He's 2-5 with a 6.85 ERA. Rubi Silva went 2-for-4 and has hit safely in 18 of 19 games. Richard Jones was 2-for-4 with his team-leading 88th RBI.
Boise (A) got 14 hits and 5 stolen bases but lost 9-8 in 10 innings to Yakima. Willengton Cruz worked just one-third of an inning, giving up 2 hits and 3 runs. Zeke DeVoss, drafted this year in the third round, went 4-for-6 with a double, 2 RBI and a stolen base, his 13th. Ryan Cuneo extended a hit streak to six games, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a homer. He has 5 homers in his last 8 games.
Mesa (Rookie) lost 7-1 to the Diamondbacks. Brian Smith worked 3 shutout innings, giving up 2 hits. Second-rounder Daniel Vogelbach, making his professional debut, was 1-for-4. Second baseman Gioskar Amaya, whom some here have asked about, was 2-for-4.
"We signed him last year as one of our bigger signings internationally, he and Marco Hernandez, out of Venezuela," Oneri said. "He's a switch hitter, a really good baseball player. They did a really nice job when they signed this kid. He can play short, second or third. He just knows how to play the game of baseball. He does a lot of things right. He can really catch a ball. He always throws to the right base and understands the bunt situations and really handles the bat."