Tagged in: cubs

Ian Happ gets 3 hits as Cubs beat Brewers 5-4 on opening day

Ian Happ offered Nico Hoerner some friendly advice after he hit the majors’ first homer of 2022.

“Keep hitting more,” Happ cracked. “Yeah, try not to get cold after that.”

It was that type of opening day for the Chicago Cubs.

Happ had three hits, including a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Thursday.

Hoerner hit a two-run homer and Kyle Hendricks pitched neatly into the sixth, leading Chicago to the triumph on a chilly, overcast afternoon at Wrigley Field. Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki reached three times and scored in his first big league game.

“Who had Nico in the first homer pool?” Cubs manager David Ross joked after the win.

On a day stuffed full of firsts and debuts, Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes and catcher Omar Narváez became the first battery to use baseball’s new electronic pitch-calling system in a regular-season game. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner permitted three runs and four hits in five innings.

“Never really actually found the command of the cutter,” Burnes said. “Kind of one of those things, I found it a little bit in the third, but then I just kind of lost it.”

Suzuki singled in the fifth for his first big league hit and walked twice. The 27-year-old finalized an $85 million, five-year contract with Chicago in March in the Cubs’ biggest move of the offseason.

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“In all my at-bats I was able to be myself,” Suzuki said through a translator, “so just enjoyed the game today.”

Andrew McCutchen, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez each had two hits for Milwaukee, and Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs. McCutchen served as the designated hitter in his first game with his new team after agreeing to a one-year deal last month.

The Brewers erased a 3-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh, but the Cubs went ahead to stay in the bottom half.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Happ hit a drive off Jake Cousins that caromed off the wall in center. Clint Frazier and Willson Contreras scored on Happ’s second double of the day.

Happ, who homered on baseball’s first pitch of the 2018 season, had elbow surgery in February, but he is feeling pretty good now — about himself and his team.

“Burnes starting Game 1, to be able to kind of put up some runs there and then get a few more and tack on, that says a lot for where we’re at as a team,” Happ said.

The reigning NL Central champions got one back on Cain’s sacrifice fly in the eighth, but David Robertson worked the ninth for his first save since 2018 and No. 138 for his career.

Milwaukee went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

“It felt like a game, we didn’t time our hits very well,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Aaron Ashby (0-1) got the loss. He was charged with one run and three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Making his third consecutive opening-day start, Hendricks permitted one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who had a career-high 4.77 ERA last year, struck out seven and walked three.

Chris Martin (1-0) got two outs for the win in his Cubs debut.

The Brewers jumped in front when McCutchen singled and scored the majors’ first run on Cain’s groundout in the fourth. But the Cubs responded with three in the fifth.

Patrick Wisdom hit a sacrifice fly before Hoerner drove a 1-1 pitch from Burnes into the bleachers in left for a tiebreaking two-run shot. It was Hoerner’s first big league homer since Sept. 21, 2019, against St. Louis.

“Sometimes it just lines up,” a smiling Hoerner said.

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1B Anthony Rizzo agrees to two-year, $32 million contract with New York Yankees

First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who concluded last season with the Yankees after a trade from the Chicago Cubs, agreed to a multiyear contract Tuesday night to return to New York, pending a physical, a source told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

The contract for is two years and $32 million with an opt-out clause after one season, a source said.

During his decade-long career with the Cubs, Rizzo was as reliable as anyone in the batter’s box and in the field. He was a consistent All-Star and Gold Glove winner and garnered MVP votes in five consecutive seasons. But his numbers dropped over the past two seasons, culminating in the trade to New York.

Rizzo got off to a hot start with his new team but a bout with COVID-19 interrupted his second half. He still managed 22 home runs split between the Cubs and Yankees but his .783 OPS was his lowest since 2013.

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Rizzo’s defense hasn’t suffered as he’s aged and a perennial back ailment hasn’t kept him out of the lineup for more than a few days at a time. He’s still a reliable left-handed bat but may never again be an MVP-caliber player.

Rizzo is just one of five left-handed hitters in the long history of the Cubs to hit 30 or more home runs in a season.

And he’s just one of two players to do it multiple times. He averaged 29 home runs over a seven-year span, helping the Cubs to the postseason from 2015 to 2018.

He was also the de facto leader of the team, signing a long-term contract with the Cubs in 2013. That ended last year after the Cubs picked up two team option years in 2020 and 2021.

The sides discussed another deal as recently as this past spring but after an agreement couldn’t be reached, Rizzo was traded to the Yankees the day before the trade deadline this past summer.

New York, after a slow start, rallied with Rizzo and Co. to make the postseason, where the Yankees were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox, another team that was mentioned prominently in trade rumors once Rizzo became available.

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Chicago White Sox considering Craig Kimbrel trade after picking up reliever’s option

The Chicago White Sox are open to moving reliever Craig Kimbrel days after picking up his $16 million contract option for 2022.

“We view him as a potentially impactful reliever as he’s been for the vast majority of his career,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stated Tuesday on Day 1 of the GM meetings in Southern California. “We’re not alone in that opinion.

“What we have to figure out is if it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot and him perhaps via trade.”

Kimbrel, 33, stands ninth all-time with 372 career saves but was asked to pitch in the eighth inning for the White Sox after he was acquired in a midseason trade with the crosstown Cubs.

The move backfired as Kimbrel’s ERA ballooned from 0.49 with the Cubs to 5.09 with the White Sox.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted last year so perhaps there’s a better use of his skills than how we were doing it,” Hahn said. “So we have to reconsider his usage with us versus a potential trade.”

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The White Sox had an all-star closer in Liam Hendriks when they gave up injured second baseman Nick Madrigal along with reliever Codi Heuer to get Kimbrel at the end of July. At the time, Kimbrel said he had no problem pitching in the eighth inning and blamed his struggles on mechanical issues.

Hahn said Kimbrel continues to express the desire to do what’s best for the team.

However, his return to the White Sox is in doubt and he’s more than likely to pitch back in the ninth inning for another team in 2022.

“He’s as good as gone,” one rival executive said Tuesday.

Hahn admitted Kimbrel’s performance wasn’t great but said he doesn’t regret the decision to trade for him. White Sox brass decided he was the best reliever on the market, and they went out and got him.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to have an exact answer why he didn’t work out over those eight weeks but certainly if we’re going to include him in our plans for the future we have to find a way to maximize his abilities,” he said.

“It’s easy to look at the results and work your way backwards for an explanation and say, ‘Well the role wasn’t what he was used to, so it must be the role.’ He approached it the same way he would approach closing opportunities.”

If, by chance, the White Sox don’t move him, Hahn is confident the White Sox will get a team-first player in whatever role they put him in. “I’ve had multiple conversations with him since the season ended,” Hahn said. “He wants to win.”

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New York Yankees acquire All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo from Chicago Cubs

The New York Yankees obtained All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, it was revealed.

Right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara, both minor leaguers, will head from New York to Chicago in the trade.

The Yankees also announced they acquired cash considerations from the Cubs but didn’t specify the amount. A source told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers that it is $5.5 million, which is the remaining balance of Rizzo’s $16.5 million salary this season.

Rizzo wasn’t in the lineup for the Cubs’ series finale versus the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. The three-time All-Star is batting .248 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 92 games this season.

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Rizzo, who will turn 32 on Aug. 8, can become a free agent after the season.

He has spent the past 10 seasons with Chicago. The slugger went over in a trade with the San Diego Padres in 2012 and is considered one of the iconic Cubs after helping break a 108-year championship drought in 2016.

The move to get Rizzo comes after New York also got All-Star outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. Both Rizzo and Gallo are left-handed hitters, which the Yankees had sought to add to a lineup that was predominantly right-handed — not a good mix at Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field.

New York started the day fourth in the American League wild-card chase for two spots and then lost 14-0 at Tampa Bay. The Yankees had been using a mix at first base this year with DJ LeMahieu getting a lot of time. 

Luke Voit led the majors in home runs last year during the pandemic-shortened season, but the big first baseman has been injured for much of the year.

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Miller hits 3 HRs, Phillies rout reeling Cubs 8-0

Brad Miller hit three home runs in a match for the first time in his career, and the Philadelphia Phillies routed the sinking Chicago Cubs 8-0 on Thursday night.

Miller hit a solo drive in the third inning and added two-run homers in the fifth and seventh innings.

With a chance at joining the other 18 players who have hit a record four home runs in a game, Miller popped up in the ninth. He grounded out in his first at-bat.

Manager Joe Girardi wanted to get the left-handed batting Miller, a utility man and pinch-hitting specialist, in the lineup versus Cubs right-handed starter Adbert Alzolay. Miller started at first base while Rhys Hoskins got the night off.

“We just liked the matchup and he came up really big for us,” Girardi said. Miller hadn’t homered since June 6 and began the day with six home runs this season. The 31-year-old infielder broke out with his 14th career multi-homer game and his parents in the stands at Wrigley Field — he now has 104 homers in nine big league seasons.

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“It was really special,” Miller said. “I felt like I was dreaming.”

Miller has been working with the Phillies hitting coaches after a tough June when he had just two hits and walked nine times in 43 plate appearances over 20 games.

“To turn the page and being able to contribute was really nice,” Miller said. “I need to take that mindset in there to do damage and drive the ball.”

And drive the ball Miller did.

“None were cheap shots,” Phillies starter Zach Eflin said. “He crushed all of them.”

Eflin (4-6) settled into pitch six solid innings as the Phillies took three of four games at Wrigley. Didi Gregorius added a two-run shot and All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto scored on a double steal.

The Cubs lost for the 12th time in 13 and dropped to 43-45 as they struggled at the plate without injured stars Kris Bryant and Javier Báez.

It was 24th time a Phillies batter hit three homers in a contest and the first since Jayson Werth tagged Toronto for three in May 2008.

Miller homered early to left-center off Alzolay (4-9), who lost his fifth consecutive start.

Cubs manager David Ross said Alzolay’s lack of execution, not lack of stuff did in the righty — especially against Miller.

“A little bit of command issues, especially fastball command from my view,” Ross said.

Miller turned on Alzolay’s 0-2 pitch the next time up for a drive deep down right field line that made it 4-0. Miller launched the first pitch he saw from reliever Cory Abbott in the seventh off Wrigley’s right-field message board.

Eflin scattered five hits while striking out five and walking one.

Chicago couldn’t muster much against Eflin after ending an 11-game losing streak, its longest since 2012, on Wednesday with an 8-3 win. The Cubs were in a first-place tie in the NL Central on June 24 when starter Zach Davies front-ended a combined no-hitter over the Dodgers.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second when Realmuto plowed home on a double steal.

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Rookie Gutierrez wins again as Reds beat Brewers 7-3

Vladimir Gutierrez pitched seven effective innings, Tyler Stephenson drove in three runs and the Cincinnati Reds stopped Milwaukee’s five-game win streak with a 7-3 triumph over the Brewers on Wednesday night.

Gutierrez (2-1) permitted two runs and six hits in the longest of his three big league starts. The right-hander struck out seven and walked three in his second consecutive win.

Cincinnati backed its rookie pitcher with five runs in the first two innings. Stephenson doubled home Jesse Winker in the first, and Nick Castellanos hit a two-run double in the second.

Stephenson made it 7-1 with a two-run double off Eric Lauer in the fourth, driving in Winker and Castellanos.

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Willy Adames had four hits for Milwaukee. Brett Anderson (2-4) labored through three innings, allowing five runs and five hits.

Daniel Vogelbach hit a towering homer to right against Heath Hembree in the ninth. Christian Yelich then doubled, but Hembree struck out Avisaíl García and retired Manny Piña on a fly ball to right to end the match.

The Brewers dropped into second in the NL Central, a half-game back of the Cubs.

Gutierrez got off to a tough start, plunking Luis Urías with the first pitch of the game. Urías advanced to third on García’s two-out single and scored on a balk.

But Gutierrez settled down from there. He got a standing ovation after inducing an inning-ending ground ball from García in the seventh.

RHP Sonny Gray was put on the 10-day injured list after straining a groin muscle while warming up for the fourth inning Tuesday night. Manager David Bell said Gray likely will miss at least his next two starts.

Right-hander Freddy Peralta, who came within five outs of a no-hitter in his last outing, starts against the Reds in the series finale on Thursday. Right-hander Luis Castillo gets the call for the Reds.

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Cubs’ Trevor Williams Out Indefinitely After Emergency Appendectomy

Cubs hurler Trevor Williams will be out indefinitely after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, per Jared Wyllus of the Chicago Sun-Times. Williams was initially slated to start Monday’s game versus the Padres. It’s looking like Keegan Thompson will step in for a spot start.

The 26-year-old made his first career start in the second game of a doubleheader against the vaunted Dodgers back on May the 4th, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Thompson has yet to surrender an earned run in his young career with 15 scoreless innings over his first nine appearances.

He’s done a tremendous job of keeping the ball on the ground so far with a 58.3 percent groundball rate, though that’s not a tendency he displayed as a minor leaguer.

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Despite a rash of injuries, the Cubs won 12 of 16 heading into the series with San Diego.

Williams, Jason Heyward, Jake Marisnick, Nico Hoerner, Matt Duffy, Alec Mills and Justin Steele have gone on the IL since May 10.

“You want to cry uncle sometimes,” manager David Ross said with a chuckle. “But it is what we’re dealing with and guys have done a nice job of coming up and helping us win ballgames.”

As for Williams, the situation might seem more dire than it is, given the “indefinite” designation of his injury status. Likely, this is simply a matter of wait-and-see, assuming there were no further complications to the surgery.

They will need to replace his production in the meantime. Williams hasn’t exactly been a revelation since joining the rotation from the Pirates – 5.36 ERA/4.76 FIP while averaging less than five innings per start – but if nothing else, he’s striking out batters at a career-best rate of 24.9 percent. He’s also walking more batters than usual with a 10.2 percent walk rate.

To his credit, Williams has permitted two or less earned runs in seven of his ten starts, and he’s coming off his best outing of the year, a six-inning, one-earned-run effort against his former club in Pittsburgh.

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