Once again, it’s good to be back at a ballpark. It’s a battle of the juggernauts tonight at Wrigley, with the 60-99 Cubs taking on the 53-106 Houston Astros. We’ll get to some info on two teams with 100 losses meeting in the final series of the season, courtesy of Marty Maciaszek, the Daily Herald’s former prep guru. But avoiding the dreaded century mark seems to be a big deal with these Cubs.
“I’m going to whatever it takes,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “I’ll bunt, I’ll hit-and-run. I’ll do whatever. If the first two guys get on, I’ll push a bunt or something.”
Starlin Castro will play in his 160th game of the season at shortstop tonight, tying him for the single-season franchise mark, set by Ivan DeJesus in 1978 and 1979. Tonight also will be Castro’s 159th start at short, surpassing the single-season franchise mark of 158, set by DeJesus (1978) and Don Kessinger (1968). Castro is aiming to be the first player in franchise history to play in all 162 games at shortstop.
Our old friend Marty Maciaszek emailed me the other day, saying he was wondering if two 100-loss teams had ever met in the final series of the year. Marty came up with four times, with the teams’ final records in parentheses:
1962: Mets (40-120) vs. Cubs (59-103). Cubs took two of three.
1961: Washington Senators vs. KC A's both 61-100. Washington won first two games of the series but couldn't complete sweep to avoid 100.
1923: Phillies (50-104) vs. Boston Braves (54-100). Boston won two of three but lost first for the 100th.
1905: Brooklyn Superbas (48-104) vs. Boston Beaneaters (51-103). Brooklyn won four of five.
So there you have it.
At the all-star break, manager Dale Sveum said relievers Shawn Camp and James Russell were his first-half MVPs of the club. For the season, he said he’ll go with Alfonso Soriano.
“It would have to be Sori just because we struggled for the most part to score runs, and he’s been, thank God, one entity to the puzzle that’s been pretty consistent all year long,” Sveum said. “Especially since May 15, it’s been off the charts, what he’s done since then.
“It’s too bad the wind was blowing in so many days or he’d have 40 home runs.”
Sveum said he’s been impressed with Soriano’s total approach.
“Soriano’s been the biggest everyday single all-season-long surprise defensively, offensively, the person he is,” Dale said. “The work ethic and everything has just been awesome for a new a manager to come in and see what he’s bringing to the table.”