Night moves: Theo OK with Baez
It will be chilly here at Wrigley Field for the first of this year's scheduled 38 night games. That total is up from the 30 the Cubs had been playing in recent years. They were 12-18 in home night games last season. The Cubs’ Edwin Jackson will take on the Pirates’ Charlie Morton in a rematch of the second game of the season, which the Pirates won 4-3 in 16 innings last week at PNC Park.
We’ll get to a few things here on the blog and flesh them out more in the paper tomorrow. Manager Rick Renteria talked a little about lineup construction, and team president Theo Epstein talked briefly on a few topics. Epstein said he had no problem with top prospect Javier Baez getting tossed from a game the other day at Class AAA Iowa and then getting into a dugout confrontation with veteran catcher Eli Whiteside.
“I think it was a great development experience for him,” Theo said. “He started out not feeling really comfortable at the plate. He let that get him frustrated. He showed it on the field.”
Baez didn’t like a checked-swing call against him last Saturday, and he gestured toward the umpire. Whiteside and other teammates talked with Baez about the incident. Baez hit a pinch homer in Sunday’s game. He had begun the season 0-for-9 with 6 strikeouts.
The Cubs will go with lefties in their lineup tonight against righty Morton:
Bonifacio is a switch hitter while Castro and Castillo are the right-handed hitters among the position players. This is the second game in a row Castro has batted sixth.
“At this point, we’re still pretty much allowing these guys the opportunity to go ahead and use the splits that exist, righty-lefty,” Renteria said. “But at some point, again, these guys will end up playing against righties and lefties.”
From the game notes: Through six games, Cubs starting pitchers have combined for a 1.93 ERA (8 ER/37.1 IP), tied for third-lowest in baseball with Detroit, behind only Atlanta (1.63) and Milwaukee (1.64). The 1.93 ERA from starting pitchers is the team’s lowest through the first six games of a season since 1978. That year, Cubs starters had a 1.88 ERA in the team’s first six games (and a 2.16 ERA through the first seven). The Cubs credit STATS Inc. for the info … Emilio Bonifacio’s 4 stolen bases are tied for the big league lead with Philadelphia’s Ben Revere. Bonifacio’s 14 hits are tied for the major-league lead with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer. Bonifacio has a .548 on-base percentage, second in the NL behind Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman (.560). He has reached base safely in all six games played.
Here are a couple of charts from the game notes.
Most games by a left-handed pitcher since 2011:
James Russell (CUBS), 211
Javier Lopez, 213
Mike Dunn, 209
Tim Collins, 208
Boone Logan, 205
Most hits by shortstops since 2011
Starlin Castro (CUBS), 559
Michael Young, 527
Elvis Andrus, 521
Alexei Ramirez, 514
Jose Reyes, 478
Class AAA Iowa beat Nashville 4-1, with third baseman Christian Villanueva hitting a 3-run homer in the sixth inning. Tsuyoshi Wada earned the victory with 6.2 innings of 3-hit ball. He gave up the run while walking one and striking out eight.
Brett Jackson got his first 2 hits of the season, including a fifth-inning triple, finishing 2-for-2 with a run, a walk and a stolen base. Blake Parker earned the save, striking out two in a scoreless ninth. His 42 career saves are tops in the organization.
The Des Moines Register’s Tommy Birch had a nice story on Jackson, who is trying to keep his major-league dream alive.
"You have to find a way to keep coming back every day and keep working," Jackson told the paper. "No doubt that's a challenge. That's the challenge of this game and it's a challenge that I take on.
"I'd be lying to you if I didn't have negative thoughts about baseball, about my career, (and) about who I was becoming as a player. I regrouped this off-season and tried to change my perspective.
"Sometimes it (the game) breaks you and you just put yourself back together and do the best to build yourself up to not break again.
"If I take anything away from the game and what it's given me, it's given me a chance to work on myself as a human being and better myself as a man.”
Class AA Tennessee fell to 4-1 with a 3-2 loss at Pensacola. Matt Loosen suffered the loss, working 5 innings and giving up 6 hits and 3 runs while walking three and striking out two.
First baseman Dustin Geiger went 2-for-4 with his second solo home run in as many days. Jeudy Valdez went 2-for-3 including an eighth-inning double that drove in his first run of the season. Ryan Searle, Hunter Cervenka and Tony Zych combined for 5 strikeouts over 3 perfect innings of relief.
Class A Daytona committed 3 errors in a 5-4 loss to Brevard County.
“We let (Brevard County starter Jorge) Lopez off the hook,” Cubs manager Dave Keller told Sean Kernan of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “We had a chance to score more runs.”
Tim Saunders and Pin-Chieh Chen, the Cubs’ top two hitters in the order, went a combined 0 for 7 with 5 strikeouts.
Starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny got no decision as he worked 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs while walking two and striking out six.
Rock Shoulders went 2-for-4 with a run, a double, 2 RBI and 2 strikeouts. Jeimer Candelario went 2-for-4 with a run, a triple and one RBI.
The Kane County Cougars had the day off. They open at home tonight against Fort Wayne.