Sunday brunch blog: Baker, Ransom and the minors
Even with the Bears playing at noon today, we’ll do our usual Sunday brunch blog as we delve into several topics. The Cubs made more roster moves today. They activated pitcher Scott Baker off the 60-day disabled list and designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment. Baker is making his season debut after a long comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Ransom played in 62 games for the Cubs after being picked up off waivers in April. He put up a line of .189/.286/.420 with 9 homers and 20 RBI. All of Ransom’s home runs came before the all-star break. Since the break, he went 5-for-61.
“Unfortunately, Ransom’s been here all year,” manager Dale Sveum said about cutting him. “It’s kind of a weird time to designate somebody. One of those unfortunate things, but it’s part of the business.”
Baker will be the 55th player used by the Cubs this year, extending the team record. The Cubs used a then-record 53 last season. Baker also will become the 33rd player to make his Cubs debut this season, extending the franchise record that topped the former mark of 30 players to make their Cubs debut in 1902.
The Cubs are in the early stages of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. If Baker does well, it is possible they could go with a six-man rotation.
“He can have more starts,” Sveum said. “Obviously, today, I don’t want to call it an evaluation, but find out where he is right now against major-league hitters and see how he feels after the game and how things go and we’ll cross that bridge, I guess, after the game and tomorrow, as well.
“There’s no way we would move anybody. We could go to a six-man. We don’t have any days off, so you could go to a six-man-type thing or maybe give somebody a blow. We’ll see how it all works out.”
From the game notes: Catchers Welington Castillo (885.1 innings) and Dioner Navarro (383 innings) have combined to catch every inning for the Cubs this season. They make up one of just three pairs of major-league catchers to play every inning of every game for their teams. The Angels have done it, with Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger as have the Rays with Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. The Cubs used six catchers last year: Castillo, Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill, Blake Lalli, Steve Clevenger and Anthony Recker. Castillo and Navarro have combined to hit .281 (143-for-508) while behind the plate, the third-highest average among teams’ catchers this season. The Twins are at .304, and the Cardinals are at .289.
Class AA Tennessee stayed alive in the Southern League playoffs with a 9-2 victory over Birmingham. The Smokies scored 6 runs in the eighth inning and now trail the best-of-five series two games to one. Northwestern’s Eric Jokisch picked up the victory, working 7.2 innings and giving up 5 hits and 2 runs while walking two and striking out four.
“Jokisch set the tone,” manager Buddy Bailey told Adam Greene of the Knoxville News Sentinel. “We made some nice plays in the outfield and (third baseman Rubi) Silva got one in the gap and one right on the line to help him out. It was nice to start out with the lead for once.”
Javier Baez hit a 2-run homer in the first inning. Matt Szczur was 2-for-4 with 2 runs and an RBI. John Andreoli was 2-for-4. He had a pair of doubles and 2 RBI. Christian Villanueva was the DH, and he was 2-for-4 with an RBI. The two teams go at it again today, with Eduardo Figueroa taking the mound for Tennessee.
“We’re not getting on airplanes or in cars and heading home,” Bailey told the News Sentinel. “We’ve got another game to play. We can’t win the series (Sunday), but it’s like a boxing match. We’ve been knocked into the corner and all we have to do is out-point them in the next round. They’re ahead on points, but we’ve got a chance.”
Daytona (A) moved within one game of the Florida State League championship with a 2-0 victory over visiting Charlotte. Ivan Pineyro got the win, working 7 shutout innings and giving up 3 hits while walking one and striking out seven. Pin-Chieh Chen and Zeke DeVoss each recorded 2 hits. Kris Bryant was 1-for-4 with a double. Dan Vogelbach had an RBI single. Chadd Krist was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Pineyro struck out the first five batters of the game. Frank Del Valle picked up the save. Daytona has won 11 straight home games and 15 of 16 overall. The two teams play today. The Cubs’ scheduled starter is TBA.
“I don't know how we're pitching this well, and I don't care,” Daytona manager Dave Keller told Tyler Stover of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “At any level, when you reach the playoffs, it's all about pitching and defense. Zeke DeVoss made an incredible play in center field tonight, and we came up with a couple of huge double plays to help out our pitchers.”
“It's beautiful what we've been able to do as a team,” Pineyro said in the story. "The entire team is playing hard in the field and making great plays behind us. That fires you up as a pitcher.”
Boise (A) had Saturday off in its Northwest League championship series with Vancouver. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is today, with Jose Rosario going for Boise.