Cubs notes: It’s not the abode, but road bodes well
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
The Cubs will play only nine more home games before the All-Star break. But as stellar as their 22-8 home record is, they’re playing nearly as well on the road (17-8).
And the fan following outside Chicago has made it feel like home away from Wrigley Field.
“The approach [on the road] is no different,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. “This park can be tough to hit in, too. And sometimes guys don’t mind getting away from the wind blowing in their face.
“We love being here, don’t get me wrong. But we’ve learned how to do this at home and on the road.’’
The number of Cubs fans in other cities surprised Maddon at first last season but no longer.
“It’s something you’re accustomed to now,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘It’s like the thing about NFL teams that travel well. I’ve seen other teams travel well when I was in Tampa.
“But [this] is nice, to see the Cubbie gear everywhere — at the games, in hotels. They’re truly invested.
“I know it goes beyond the U.S., the brand. It’s nice to be a part of.’’
Since last Monday, the Cubs are in an eight-game stretch in which they’ll face six left-handed starters, including Arizona’s Patrick Corbin on Sunday and Philadelphia’s Adam Morgan on Monday.
Corbin’s success against left-handed hitters (.211 in 2015 and .235 this season) had Maddon turning to a right-handed-heavy starting lineup, with Kris Bryant playing first base in place of Anthony Rizzo and Matt Szczur in right field for Jason Heyward.
“It’s the perfect day to do it,’’ he said of resting Rizzo and Heyward.
It also continues the practice Maddon believes in of using his full roster, not just to rest regulars but to keep bench players at the ready when called on to pinch-hit or play later in the season.
“I was the 26th man on a 25-man roster in the minors, and it’s demoralizing when you’re not used,’’ Maddon said. “But beyond that, these guys are good.
“If you keep [the regulars] out there because you feel you have to, you reach a point of diminishing returns. You want everyone involved, and I want everyone to feel part of the ownership.’’
Maddon was ejected for the first time this season in the seventh inning when he disputed first-base umpire Tripp Gibson’s ruling that Paul Goldschmidt checked his swing, drawing a walk.
“I thought he swung, and I was upset because it affected how you use the bullpen,’’ Maddon said.
Instead of the inning ending, the Cubs made a pitching change to have Jason Grimm face one batter, Jake Lamb, who hit a grounder to second for the third out.
Willson Contreras, Arismendy Alcantara and Albert Almora continue their impressive play at Class AAA Iowa. Catcher Contreras is hitting .335 with 39 RBI and four stolen bases. Infielder Alcantara is hitting .268 and leads the Pacific Coast League with 20 stolen bases, including four in the team’s 4-0 victory Saturday against Memphis. Outfielder Almora is hitting .322 overall and .417 (10-for-24) in his last six games.
Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.