Cubs

On The Farm: Iowa On Shaky Playoff Ground

On The Farm: Iowa On Shaky Playoff Ground

Friday Sept. 3, 2010
Posted: 8:40 a.m.
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com
CUBSIowa AAA
The I-Cubs have been in or around first place for much of the season in the Pacific Coast Leagues American North Division so falling back into a first-place tie with Memphis on Thursday night isnt putting them in an unfamiliar position.

Still, it left Iowa with the unenviable task of having to win three of four games from the red-hot Redbirds this weekend in regular season-ending series at Principal Park. The Cubs head into the final weekend of the season having gone 6-6 in their last 12 games while the defending PCL champion Redbirds have won nine of 10.

That Memphis owns the tiebreaker with the I-Cubs made Thursdays loss at Albuquerque of much greater import. So even though Iowa has held a share of the division lead for the last 47 days wont mean much if it get off to a slow start this weekend.

The I-Cubs didnt get off to a slow start Thursday night, taking a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning before Austin-Bibens-Dirkx 5-4 ran out of gas. He allowed four of his five runs in that inning and Iowa never recovered. Bibens-Dirkx has had as much to do with Iowas mediocre play over the last two weeks as any other I-Cub. After beginning his Triple-A career in fine fashion, hes slumped badly, losing his last four starts and pitching to an 8.71 ERA in those games.

Brad Snyder remained hot, though, connecting for his 24th homer and driving in his 102nd run.

In other action, Peoria dropped a 5-3 decision at Kane County and was eliminated from the playoff race in the Midwest League. Boise eked out a 1-0 victory over as four pitchers held the Indians to five hits. Brent Ebinger started and earned the win, going five innings and striking out eight. Arismendy Alcantara brought in the games lone run in the third with a two-out single to right. He was 3-for-4.
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
Mike Earley scored on a fifth-inning wild pitch and that was the difference Thursday night as Great Falls defeated host Helena, 2-1. Steve Upchurch allowed a run over six innings to pick up his first victory since Aug. 1.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Cubs' Twitter trolls Brewers, Christian Yelich after Yu Darvish's stellar start

Cubs' Twitter trolls Brewers, Christian Yelich after Yu Darvish's stellar start

The Cubs' Twitter account has been saving this one for nine months.

First, let us present you with this doozy of a tweet from the Cubs after Thursday's 4-2 win over Milwaukee.

If you recall, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich went at Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish on Twitter last November. A since-deleted tweet from Yelich's account to Darvish read "nobody needs help facing you."

A video circulated in November that showed Darvish step off the rubber while Yelich was in the batter's box during a 2019 Cubs-Brewers game. Some suggested Darvish stepped off because Yelich's eyes moved, also suggesting Yelich was looking for signs stolen via technology.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

In response to the video, Darvish explained his actions from that game, clarifying he wasn't accusing Milwaukee of stealing signs.

Here we are nearly a year later, the Cubs' Twitter playing off Yelich's tweet after Darvish dominated Milwaukee. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, allowing a hit (a solo homer) and two walks while striking out 11.

If you're wondering, Yelich went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch against Darvish on Thursday.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Cubs rotation weathers surprise break, shakeup to be as dominant as ever

Cubs rotation weathers surprise break, shakeup to be as dominant as ever

Hair flowing out from under his cap, Yu Darvish held his right leg up at a right angle and watched Brewers’ Omar Narvaez swing late on a high fastball.

If Darvish stuck an arm out, his body would be in the shape of a K, fitting for yet another strike out.

In the Cubs’ 4-2 win against the Brewers on Thursday, Darvish allowed just one hit and one run in seven innings. In fact, in the Cubs’ past three games no starter has given up more than a run, and all pitched at least six innings.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

“It makes my job really easy,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s fun to sit back and not have to worry about too much until the sixth or seventh inning.

The Cubs rotation has been a strength all season. Entering play Thursday, the Cubs starters had the third-best ERA in Major League Baseball (2.65). But this recent string of especially dominant performances came under unusual circumstances: right after a surprise four-day break.

Starting pitchers enjoy a consistent schedule through most of the season. They generally pitch every fifth or sixth day, with a bullpen in between starts.

But the postponement of the St. Louis series, due to more positive tests in the Cardinals organization, threw off that routine for the Cubs starters. The Cubs left St. Louis last Friday without having played a game.

The Cubs coaching staff had a decision to make: skip the pitchers scheduled to start in those un-played games, or shuffle the rotation? They did a little bit of both.

Jon Lester, who was originally scheduled to start last Friday, threw his regular in-between-starts bullpen on Saturday and drew the first start of the Cleveland series.

Then, the rotation picked up at the beginning. The Cubs’ first three games back had Lester, Kyle Hendricks and then Darvish taking the mound. All had dominant outings, despite the extra days rest.

"There have been so many things going on this whole year,” Hendricks said, “I think that nothing's going to faze us now.”

Having Mills and Lester swap places also split up the two most similar pitchers in the Cubs rotation. Hendricks and Mills are both soft-throwing, crafty right-handers. With Mills pitching fifth and Hendricks first, they threw on consecutive days as the rotation turned over.

Now, left-handed Lester will pitch in between the two, giving hitters a different look.

“We talked about it a little bit,” Hendricks said after his start Wednesday. “I think it's a little overblown, the effect of it. I think the last two games that I've pitched behind (Mills) I just haven't made a lot of good pitches, I was kind of off a little bit. Today I just made better pitches. ... And honestly, seeing how he attacks guys helps.”

Even so, Lester set the bar high out of the break and then Hendricks matched his one-run six innings.

“We’re not talking about it, but we’re putting pressure on each other,” Darvish said. “That’s a good pressure for us.”

On Thursday, Darvish said he stuck to mixing in his knuckle curve ball early in counts, as he’d begun to do against Pittsburgh two weeks before. He had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning Thursday but gave up a solo home run to Justin Smoak. Darvish recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts.

“I thought he had really good command of his off-speed stuff tonight,” Ross said after the game. “… Really kept them off balance. You really didn’t see a whole lot of good swings until that homer form Smoak.”

Next, the streak will be in the hands of Tyler Chatwood and Mills. Chatwood had a dud of an outing the last time he pitched, allowing eight runs on 11 hits at Kansas City. But he averaged over nine strikeouts in each of his first two outings.  And Alec Mills has a 1.38 ERA, the second best on the team, behind Lester (1.06).

Both have been integral parts of the rotation overperforming, after the Cubs front office was up front about its starting-pitching depth concerns ahead of the season.

After Thursday’s game, the Cubs rotation has improved to a 2.55 ERA, with a 12-3 record.

 

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.