The Cubs have yet to pick up a victory since I’ve been writing these news roundups. Any time they would like to start winning, that would be just swell.
Friday night was more of the same against the Pittsburgh Pirates: Sub-par pitching, sloppy defense and an anemic batting order did them in, as the Cubs lost 7-3.
Javier Baez launched a solo shot to left field in the fourth inning, his first home run since Aug. 23. Arismendy Alcantara added a home run of his own the next inning, but that was basically the extent of the highlights. After scoring one more run in the sixth, the Cubs loaded the bases but Alcantara fouled out on a 3-1 pitch to end the threat.
Help could be on the way, however. Carrie Muskat reported that Starlin Castro, who suffered an ankle injury sliding into home plate last week, was walking without a protective boot on Friday and expects to play before the end of the season. Anthony Rizzo was also able to run the bases for the first time as he tries to return from a back strain. Manager Rick Renteria said Rizzo could be back in the lineup on Monday when the Cubs face the Reds at Wrigley Field.
* The Cubs were without Jorge Soler on Friday, but for a good reason: He has traveled to Miami to be with his wife for the birth of their child. He will miss the entire weekend series and should be back Monday. With the possible returns of both Soler and Rizzo early next week, this team becomes a lot more watchable.
* Justin Grimm has been effective coming out of the ‘pen for the Cubs of late. Before Friday, he hadn’t given up a run since Aug. 21 (nine innings pitched). Grimm gave up three hits and two runs against the Pirates, but also wasn’t helped by some shaky defense and bloop hits. Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies discussed during the broadcast the possibility of Grimm being stretched out as a starter next year. Grimm started for the Rangers before being traded to Chicago, and if he can pitch with the good control displayed of late, he could be an interesting option in the rotation.
* Friday night’s starter, Tsuyoshi Wada, will not have his $5 million option picked up by the Cubs, according to a report from Gordon Wittenmyer. The Cubs won’t have to make a decision on the option until after the season, so we’ll have to wait and see if this is the approach they take. Wada gave up four runs in only 4.1 innings on Friday, but overall he has pitched well for the Cubs this season.
* Deadspin’s “Regressing” blog recently featured an interesting article by Z.W. Martin about Javier Baez’s swing. It’s a great breakdown and worth checking out. Martin points out that because of Baez’s insane bat speed, he basically gives up control of the bat head through the swing plane — and it makes it hard for him to decide when to swing.
* Remember Brett Jackson? The former Cubs prospect, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in August, has been recalled from Triple-A.