Cubs give it a go, plus minor-league roundup

Cubs give it a go, plus minor-league roundup

Posted by Bruce on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 13:12

There were all kinds of stories of getting to Wrigley Field this morning through the rain and flooded streets. I thought two hours from the Northwest suburbs was a pretty good accomplishment. As of 12:40 p.m., the tarp was off the field, and we may be looking good for an on-time start.

Anyway, the cold and rain on this homestand have hampered the work of the Cubs – and their opponents.

“It’s getting a little too much now,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. “Hopefully, something happens here. It doesn’t look good. We’ve got a window right now anyway.”

It appeared we would wait a long time today anyway, as last night’s game was rained out and the Rangers are an American League team. No makeup has been scheduled for last night, and the teams are trying to avoid two makeups or a doubleheader.

Fans hoping to see Matt Garza pitch in Kane County Friday will be disappointed. Garza instead will pitch a simulated game in Milwaukee. The Cubs say they had concerns about the weather and field in Kane County. After Garza does the sim game, he’ll likely go to Class AA Tennessee.

The Cubs will go this way against righty Alexi Ogando:

DeJesus, CF
Castro, SS
Rizzo, 1B
Soriano, LF
Schierholtz, RF
Castillo, C
Valbuena, 3B
Barney, 2B
Villanueva, P

Carlos Villanueva is 0-0 with an 0.64 ERA. He has 2 of the Cubs’ 7 quality starts. In quality-start games, the Cubs are 4-3, and the starters have an ERA of 1.32 in those games. In non-quality-start games, the Cubs are 0-6, and the starters have an ERA of 6.39.

The Cubs rank 14th in the NL in batting (.221), ninth in ERA (4.09) and 14th in fielding percentage (.978). They are 13th in runs scored, 15th in hits15th in walks and 14th in on-base percentage.

Reliever James Russell has struck out six and walked none, turning in seven straight scoreless outings to open the season. He has stranded all five inherited runners. Cubs starting pitchers have recorded a 3.20 ERA, fourth lowest ERA in the NL. The starters have limited opposing hitters to a .216 batting average, second lowest in the NL and third lowest in the majors.

From the game notes: Carlos Marmol’s appearance Sunday was his 459th game pitched. He made his big-league debut in 2006. The 459 games pitched surpassed Lee Smith (458 with the Cubs) for second most all time in franchise history. Charlie Root holds the franchise record with 605 games pitched between 1926-41.

Starlin Castro has a nine-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 14-for-42 (.357). He has seven hitting streaks of 10 or more games since the start of the 2011 season. That’s tied for second most in the majors with Michael Young during that span. Robinson Cano leads with eight hitting streaks of at least 10 games since 2011.

MINOR-LEAGUE ROUNDUP

Both the Kane County Cougars and Iowa Cubs were rained out yesterday. That further delays third baseman Ian Stewart’s slow comeback at Iowa from a left-quad strain.

The Des Moines Register has a nice piece on veteran Ryan Sweeney, who is off to a good start for the Class AAA I-Cubs. The paper says Sweeney spent two weeks with Hall of Famer Rod Carew in Orange County, Calif. The paper said Carew worked with Sweeney on pitch selection and mechanics, moved his hands and eliminated a toe tap.

“Not like huge changes, but it’s stuff that’s helping me put better swings on the ball,” Sweeney told the paper.

Sweeney is batting .382 with 3 homers at Iowa.

“He’s got a real good approach to hitting,” Iowa Cubs hitting coach Brian Harper told the Register. “He’s a professional hitter.”

Another guy we blog about here a lot is Northwestern product Eric Jokisch, a lefty pitching for Class AA Tennessee. Jokisch, from downstate Illinois, was the winner Wednesday as Tennessee beat Huntsville 4-1. Jokisch worked 6 innings, giving up 3 hits and no runs while walking none and striking out seven. He’s 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA. He has 3 straight quality starts.

Christian Villanueva hit his first homer, going 1-for-3 with a walk. Arismendy Alcantara stole four bases.

Class A Daytona beat Clearwater 13-2. Javier Baez hit his third homer and Dustin Geiger his second. Baez homered for the second straight game. Geiger has a 10-game hitting streak, during which he’s gone 16-for-41. Stephen Bruno has an 11-game hitting streak, during which he’s 19-for-43. Austin Kirk got the win with 5 innings of relief.

Outfielder Jorge Soler will return for tonight’s game against Tampa. He was suspended five games for a bat-wielding incident against Clearwater. He also missed two games for which he was not suspended as the Cubs kept him away from Clearwater and had him working out in Arizona.

“Jorge will be there (tonight),” farm director Brandon Hyde told the Daytona Beach News-Journal in a phone interview. “It's time for him to get back to playing. He did go to Arizona to play in some extended-spring training games to stay sharp. From a baseball standpoint, we just kept him sharp for when he was ready to return and move on.”

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