As the calendar turns to September, it seems odd that a fan base of a last-place team could be so excited.
But Chicago Cubs fans have reason to be jazzed.
On Friday, rookie outfielder Jorge Soler hit two homers and helped Chicago knock off rival St. Louis 7-2.
Soler hit three homers in his first two games, and was the third player to accomplish that feat since 1900. The others: the Cardinals’ Joe Cunningham in 1954 and Soler’s teammate Javier Baez earlier this month.
“They have some studs,” Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller said Friday. “They’ve done a good job of rebuilding that offense. They’re tough, man. They have a lot of power in that lineup, and even have guys who are a little scrappy and can run. They’re definitely a tough lineup to face.”
Soler and Baez, a second baseman, are part of the Cubs’ “Core Four” prospects. Third baseman Kris Bryant, Baseball America’s No. 8 prospect before the season, and outfielder Albert Almora, ranked No. 18 by MLB.com, are still in the minors.
As Royals fans can attest, putting too much hope on young players can break your heart. But Cubs fans have to like what they’ve seen this month.
On Friday, the Cardinals brought on Pat Neshek in the eighth inning to keep the game tied at 2-2.
Baez hit a two-run double and later scored on Soler’s shot.
Neshek entered the game having allowed five runs this season in 55 1/3 innings. He gave up four in two-thirds of an inning Friday.
“Soler got me pretty good,” Neshek said afterward. “Especially for a right-handed guy, I haven’t seen too many guys hit a ball like that off me. That was a no-doubter. At first, I thought it might be going foul because it was such a hack. It was impressive.”
Impressive indeed. And while the Cubs won’t be in the playoffs this year, their young guys may keep beating up on the Cardinals and keep them out of the postseason.
For many Chicago fans, that’d be a win right there.
Since starting the season 20-7, the Milwaukee Brewers were 53-54 since then heading into Saturday, but they still have the lead in the NL Central.
Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton could become the first National League player and third overall to lead his league in home runs, RBIs, walks and intentional walks in the same season. Heading into the weekend, he led the four categories with 33 homers, 97 ribbies and 87 bases on balls of which 23 were intentional. The other players: Harmon Killebrew (1959) and Frank Howard (1970).
Detroit’s David Price leads the AL in strikeouts, but he gave up nine hits in the third inning against the Yankees on Wednesday. None of the batters he faced swung and missed.
On Monday night, for only the 11th time in major-league history, a team hit back-to-back and back-to-back-to-back homers in the same game when the Orioles accomplished the feat against the Rays.
The Mariners won their 72nd game Tuesday, besting their win total for all of last year.
Words of wisdom
“My life’s over now. I can’t rest on my laurels anymore.”
| Former Giants pitcher Jim Barr, whose NL record for consecutive batters retired (41) was topped by current Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, who set the major-league record with 46
Compiled with help of baseball reporters around the country