Hawks at Wrigley, plus some all-star talk
Big weekend here at Wrigley. The first-place Pirates are in town to open a three-game series with the Cubs, and the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are making their presence felt. Brandon Bollig and Bryan Bickell were shagging flies in the outfield, and earlier in the day, Cubs manager Dale Sveum threw some batting practice to the Hawks. During the seventh inning stretch, Bollig, Bickell and Patrick Sharp will lead the crowd in “Take Me out to the Ballgame.” Should be a fun weekend.
Tomorrow, the Stanley Cup will make an appearance at Wrigley Field, along with coach Joel Quenneville. I’ve got a couple of pics up on Twitter, @BruceMiles2112.
The Cubs are in Chicago until the all-star break. After the Pirates series, they’ll go down to the Cell and play the White Sox in a makeup game Monday night. Then it’s the Angels for two at Wrigley and the Cardinals here next weekend, leading up to the break.
Speaking of the All-Star Game, it certainly seems right to me that Travis Wood should represent the Cubs. He’s 5-6 with a 2.69 ERA and a microscopic WHIP of 0.98. Selection day is tomorrow. Wood leads the major leagues with 16 quality starts, and that’s out of the 17 he’s made.
“He’s our all-star,” said manager Dale Sveum. “He’s been the most consistent. He hasn’t had a bad outing. Knock on wood (no pun intended). I don’t care who you are, it’s hard to go out there and whatever it’s been, 16-17 starts, and not have a hiccup along the way. He’s kept us in every ballgame and had a quality start in all but one and that was because of an unfortunate popup.”
The Cubs have used 41 players, matching their franchise record for players used before the all-star break. That was first done in 2000. Last year, the Cubs used 40 players before the break. They’ve set a franchise mark by using 23 pitchers before the break. The club previously had used 20 pitchers before the break in 2012, 2011, 2008 and 2005. I’m sure you remember names such as Kameron Loe and Alex Burnett and Zach Putnam.
Class AAA Iowa scored 2 in the top of the ninth Thursday and 4 in the 10th to beat Albuquerque 9-5. Nick Struck started and went 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 5 runs, 4 earned. The I-Cubs got homers from Junior Lake (No. 4) Luis Flores (3) and Tim Torres (1).
Class AA Tennessee won its third straight, beating Huntsville 4-1. Northwestern’s Eric Jokisch got the win, improving to 7-7 with a 3.21 ERA. He worked 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run while walking two and striking out nine. Justin Bour hit his seventh homer. Matt Szczur (304/.371/.409) extended a hit streak to 11 games, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a run. Christian Villanueva was 3-for-4 with a double. The Cubs got him from Texas last year in the Ryan Dempster trade. He’ll be a Southern League all-star
“It’s a huge honor,” Villanueva told Adam Greene of the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I feel privileged to represent the Tennessee Smokies and the Chicago Cubs. I’m really excited for my teammates. They deserve it too.”
Class A Daytona beat Brevard County 3-1. Ben Wells got the win, working 7 innings of 2-hit shutout ball. He’s 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA. Wells who threw 76 pitches, allowed only three Brevard County batters to reach base.
“My fastball was working well – I was able to get a lot of groundballs with it,” he told Chris Boyle of the Daytona Beach News Journal. “Our defense played a hell of a game behind me. You can't ask for anything more.”
Tim Saunders (3) and Dustin Geiger homered for the Cubs.
The Kane County Cougars (A) beat Quad Cities 7-4 behind 11 hits. Felix Pena started and worked 4.2 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs. Gioskar Amaya hit his fourth homer, going 3-for-4 and adding a double. Dan Vogelbach and Marco Hernandez added 2 hits each.
Boise (A) lost 7-5 to Tri-City. Duane Underwood worked 4.2 innings and gave up 2 hits and 5 runs, 2 earned. He got no decision. Dan Lockhart went 3-for-4.
Mesa (Rookie) won its fifth straight, beating the Angels 2-1. Zak Hermans gave up 2 hits in 1 inning. Jesse Hodges was 3-for-4 with a double.