Maybe Ernie will help Cubs win at Wrigley
A lot going on here at cool Wrigley Field on a Tuesday evening. The Cubs are honoring Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, for his upcoming reception of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We talked with Ernie on the field during batting practice.
“Is this a great country or what?” Ernie said, cheerful as ever. “It’s amazing. It means everything to me. It just means life is just wonderful. When you do things to try to help people and share things, it really comes back to you. I just tried to work hard and love the players and love Wrigley Field, love all the players.
“This award means a lot to me. It really does. It’s almost like the Nobel Peace Prize, to me.”
Of more urgency is the Cubs needing to score a run at Wrigley Field. They’ve been shut out three consecutive times here for the first time since 1924, when the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers blanked the Cubs in three straight.
“I would rather have seen the wind blowing out, maybe,” said manager Dale Sveum.
The Cubs are 23-34 at home and 29-32 on the road. What Sveum says he doesn’t want happen is the Cubs thinking they can’t win or can’t score at Wrigley Field.
“You put up stats, you do things,” he said. “Last year, we had the trouble of winning on the road. You want to say it for whatever reason, we fixed that a little bit. We have like the fourth-best road record in the National League. Obviously, we’ve got one of the worst home records in a place where we should take advantage of being here and playing day games and all that. Obviously, it’s not worked out too well. You don’t want anything to get into anybody’s head. There are certain things in this game you want to figure out, but it just doesn’t work that way.”
On other fronts, Cubs president Theo Epstein said initial medical reports on outfielder Jorge Soler show that Soler’s leg still needs to heal and that he’d likely remain in the walking boot. Soler has been out since June with a stress fracture in his left leg. The rest of the minor-league season at Class A Daytona looks doubtful, but Theo said the plan still is to send Soler to the Arizona Fall League.
Theo also addressed the promotions of third baseman Kris Bryant to Daytona from short-season Boise (A) and of Dan Vogelbach from The Kane County Cougars (A) to Daytona.
“In Bryant’s case, we just wanted him to shake the rust off in short-season ball and get him adjusted to what life in pro baseball is like,” Theo said. “We were looking to get somewhere in 50-75 at-bats or so.
“For the last two weeks or so, he’s been really locked in. The strikeouts were down. He started to have real consistent at-bats, elevating the ball.
“He got nothing much left to do at that level, so it made sense to move him up. We really want to keep (Jeimer) Candelario getting everyday at-bats at third base. He’s an outstanding prospect and a couple of years younger than Bryant, so it made sense to leave Candy where he is and challenge Bryant at Daytona.
“Vogelbach’s had another outstanding offensive season, pretty consistent, driving the baseball, taking his walks, getting on base. He’s worked really hard on his defense. We think it made sense of him to move up at this time.”
Theo added he feels it important that Bryant and Vogelbach experience minor-league postseason baseball, which they’re on track to do at Daytona.
Class AAA Iowa got home runs from third baseman Josh Vitters and DH Mike Olt (a third baseman by trade) in a 2-1 victory over Sacramento. Vitters, who has been plagued by injuries since early in spring training, played in his first game since July 25. Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register has story about Vitters keeping a diary about his injuries and trying to overcome them:
Here are a couple of quotes:
“I think it’s really been an invaluable season to me,” Vitters told Birch. “Regardless of the struggles and everything that I’ve been through, I’m coming out of it with a positive attitude and I feel that I’m stronger and more prepared than I’ve ever been.”
Birch wrote that: “Vitters went looking for ways to prevent future injuries from happening. He changed his nutrition and added different stretching techniques.
“Each of the moves was chronicled in a journal that he updates at home and brings to the park.”
“If anything seems like it’s important to write down, I’ll write it down,” Vitters said in the story.
Theo Epstein said both players put good swings on their home runs last night. Vitters will see some time at third base but also play first base and the outfield at Iowa over the final weeks of the season. It’s possible either or both could be called up in September.
“It’s a possibility,” Theo said. “It depends. It depends how they’re playing. We want to make sure we put them in a position to succeed. We want to get those guys swinging the bat well. Last night, they both took one good swing each. Vitters crushed a home run into a tough wind in left field. Olt got a slider and hit it out the opposite way. It’s a good sign.”
In Monday’s game, Justin Grimm got the win, working 5.1 innings and giving up 4 hits and 1 run. He is 1.2 with a 6.87 ERA. He came to the Cubs from Texas in the Matt Garza trade. Park Ridge’s Brian Schlitter earned his 16th save, working 1.1 innings.
Class AA Tennessee took two from Montgomery, winning Sunday’s suspended game 3-2 and winning the regularly scheduled game 9-4. Matt Loosen started the first game and got finishing help from Eric Jokisch, who worked 6.1 innings of relief and gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, 1 earned. Jokisch was the Southern League pitcher of the week for Aug. 5-11, during which he threw a 9-inning no-hitter. Tony Zych, from south suburban Hazelcrest and St. Rita High School, go this second save. Javier Baez hit his 12th homer in the first game.
In Game 2, Christian Villanueva hit his 16th homer, and Jonathan Mota added his sixth. Yeiper Castillo pitched and lasted 3 innings, giving up 4 hits and 4 runs.
Class A Daytona won its fourth straight, beating Tampa 5-4. Ivan Pineyro, obtained from Washington for Scott Hairston, got the win and improved to 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA. He worked 6 innings and gave up 1 run while walking one and striking out two. Anthony Giansanti was 2-for-4 with a double. Pin-Chieh Chen and Ben Carhart got 2 hits apiece. Zeke DeVoss was on base three times and has reached in 29 straight.
The Kane County Cougars (A) beat Cedar Rapids 4-3 to snap a three-game losing streak. Lefty Michael Heesch got no decision, working 5 innings and giving up 2 hits and 1 unearned run. Dan Vogelbach was 2-for-4 with a run as he extended a hit streak to seven games.
Boise (A) had the day off. Mesas (Rookie) beat the Mariners 7-0. Erick Leal got the win, working 5 innings and giving up 1 hit while walking none and striking out six. Leal came to the Cubs from Arizona in the Tony Campana trade. He is 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA. Brian Bogusevic was 1-for-4 with a double in the fourth game of his rehab stint. Jeffrey Baez was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and an RBI. Mark Malave and Jesse Hodges each had 2 hits.