Rusin looks to keep progress going vs. Phils

Rusin looks to keep progress going vs. Phils

Posted by Bruce on Sat, 08/31/2013 - 14:35

After a rainy Saturday morning, it looks like we’ll be OK for baseball at Wrigley Field and one of those not-so-great 3:05 p.m. starts. Nobody seems to like that starting time, but on some Saturdays, there’s not much that can be done about it. It’s a battle of lefties as the Cubs’ Chris Rusin takes on the Phillies’ Cliff Lee. Rusin is 2-3 with a 2.64 ERA.

In 8 starts, Rusin has given up 41 hits and 16 walks in 44.1 innings for a 1.29 WHIP. Last year, Rusin came up from Class AAA Iowa and went 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.65. Manager Dale Sveum thinks experience has played a big role in Rusin’s improvement over last year.

“When guys get their feet wet like he did last year, I think it comes into play a lot,” Dale said. “To understand there’s a young man who was here last year and obviously had some struggles and understanding that, ‘OK, this is how and what I’ve got to do to get big-league hitters out that doesn’t fly so much in the minor leagues. He’s been able to do that.

“I think the biggest thing for him, maturity wise, is making the pitches when he has to make them. That’s been the difference. He gets a guy 2-0, he gets back with a strike down in the strike zone. If he’s getting into a little trouble, he keeps the ball down and gets a groundball, a lot of double plays, to get him out of some jams. I think he’s been able to calm down. The biggest factor is the experience that he had last year.”

Outfielder Ryan Sweeney headed out the door and on his way to Kane County, where he’ll play for the Cougars today before coming off the disabled list tomorrow. He is on the 60-day DL, meaning he’s not a part of the 40-man roster, so somebody will have to come off. Sveum said third baseman Luis Valbuena may or may not rejoin the big club tomorrow after playing at Kane County. He has been on the 15-day DL since early August with a right-oblique strain. The Cubs may want to give him one more day.

As we’ve been pointing out, the Cubs are on pace for 51 losses at Wrigley Field, which would break the team record (1962, 1966, 1974) by 2 games. The Cubs are 25-42 at home and 31-36 on the road. I asked Dale if he could find any reason for the disparity.

“I don’t think anything contributed to it,” he said. “For whatever reason, at home, I think we’ve struggled late in the innings as much as anything at home. Obviously, we’ve been shut out quite a few times lately. Even that, we struggle late in the innings to score any runs and to add on is the big thing here. We seem to do (that) a little bit more on the road and add on runs and do some better things on the road this year.

“Random? Who knows? Last year, it was flip-flopped, completely flip-flopped. For whatever reasons, they’re hard to put a finger on. Those are things you just don’t understand sometimes but there’s no rhyme or reason to it.”

I took at look at the wind trends at Wrigley this year and last, when the Cubs had a record of 38-43 at home.

2012:

Wind blowing in: 45 times
Wind blowing out: 18 times
Crosswind: 18 times
Cubs homers: 65
Opponents homers: 88

2013:
Wind blowing in: 45 times
Wind blowing out: 16 times
Crosswind: 6 times
Cubs homers: 88
Opponents homers: 57

From the game notes: Anthony Rizzo (21 homers) and Nate Schierholtz (20) form one of three left-handed hitting duos with 20 homers apiece this season, joining the Reds’ Jay Bruce (26) and Joey Votto (20) and Seattle’s Raul Ibanez (25) and Kyle Seager (21). The Cubs previously had two left-handed 20-homer hitters in a season in 1973, when Rick Monday hit 26 and Billy Williams hit 20. Before that, it was 1962, when Williams and George Altman hit 22 each.

Outfielder Junior Lake has 49 hits in his first 40 games with the Cubs. He leads all major-league rookies in hits since the all-star break and is tied for ninth among all major-league players.

MINOR-LEAGUE ROUNDUP

We’ll start with Class A Daytona, which extended its winning streak to 10 games with an 11-6 victory over Brevard County. The Cubs hit five home runs. Kris Bryant, this year’s top draft pick, hit his fifth. Dustin Geiger hit No. 17. Bijan Rademacher and Pin-Chieh Chen each hit his second, and Zeke DeVoss hit his sixth.

Starting pitcher Ivan Pineyro got no decision as he worked 5 innings and gave up 5 hits and 4 runs while walking two and striking out five.

Class AA Tennessee scored 8 runs in the first two innings on the way to routing Chattanooga 12-1. Justin Bour singled, double and homered. The home run was his 18th. He has 9 RBI in his last two games. Brett Jackson (.200) was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and a triple. Christian Villanueva was 2-for-5 with his Southern League-leading 41st double. Pitcher Eduardo Figueroa got the win, working 6 innings of shutout ball, giving up only 1 hit while walking one and striking out five. He is 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA.

Class AAA Iowa was officially eliminated from the playoffs with a 3-2 loss to Nashville. Starter Brooks Raley got no decision as he worked 5 innings and gave up 1 hit and 1 run. He walked two and struck out three. Brad Nelson hit his 20th homer. Mike Olt (.202) was 3-for-4.

The Kane County Cougars (A) lost 8-2 to Cedar Rapids. Starling Peralta took the loss, pitching 4 innings and giving up 8 hits and 8 runs, all earned. Peralta is 2-3 with a 6.06 ERA. Carlos Escobar was 3-for-4 with a double. Reggie Golden was 2-for-4.

Boise (A) fell out of first place with a 10-6 loss to Salem-Keizer. Duane Underwood started and worked 3 innings and giving up 6 hits and 8 runs, 4 earned. He walked three and struck out four. Underwood fell to 3-4 with a 4.97 ERA. Kevin Encarnacion has a 12-game hitting streak after going 1-for-5 with a steal. He is 23-for-56 (.411) during the streak. Dan Lockhart was 2-for-5.

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