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Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/22/14

Pitching powered Iowa, Tennessee won in walk-off fashion, and Mesa fought back to claim a victory Tuesday. Daytona and Boise both lost, while Kane County had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (55-48)
1st Place (+1.5)

RHP Dallas Beeler spun seven shutout innings in his fifth consecutive quality start, as the I-Cubs blanked visiting New Orleans 1-0.

  • CF Matt Szczur (.246) scored the game’s only run on a bases-loaded walk with SS Chris Valaika (.289, 48 RBI) batting.
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.49) and RHP Blake Parker (1.29) completed the shutout with a perfect inning each. Rosscup earned his eighth hold, and Parker earned his league-leading 21st save.

Tennessee Smokies (16-16)
T-2nd Place (-1.5)

Tennessee beat the Mississippi Braves 8-7 with a walk-off ground-rule double from CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) in the 10th inning.

  • 1B Charles Cutler (.333) had three hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBI (34).
  • C Luis Flores (.231) and PH Dustin Geiger (.224) each added homers of their own.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.415) went 2-for-4 with a run and his 22nd RBI before being promoted to Iowa after the game.
  • RHP Frank Batista (2-0, 0.89) tossed two scoreless frames to earn the win in relief.

Daytona Cubs (18-12)
1st Place (+1.5)

Daytona managed three runs on 10 hits, falling to host Palm Beach, 9-3.

  • RHP Juan Paniagua suffered the loss in his first start since joining Daytona from Kane County.
  • CF Albert Almora (.283) went 2-for-3 with a run, a solo homer (7) and three RBI (50). After the game, he was promoted to Tennessee.
  • 3B Wes Darvill (.278) went 3-for-4 with a run, his ninth double and his third stolen base.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.283) extended his hitting streak to five with his fourth multihit game in his last eight. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double.

Boise Hawks (0-1)
T-3rd Place (-1.0)

Everett AquaSox pitching shut down Hawks hitters, allowing just three hits, as Boise lost in Everett, 6-0.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.267), C Mark Zagunis (.341) and LF Charles White (.200) recorded Boise’s three hits, all singles. Jeffrey Baez was later called up to Daytona.
  • Hawks hitters recorded five walks, including two each from Zagunis and 2B Chesny Young (.354).

Mesa Cubs (12-11)
3rd Place (-2.5)

Mesa returned to action with a 7-6 comeback win over the visiting AZL Dodgers. The Cubs entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 6-1 and won on a walk-off RBI double from RF Eloy Jimenez (.286).

  • Jimenez paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with a solo homer to tie the game in the eighth and the walk-off double, bringing him to eight RBI on the season.
  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.286), 1B Roney Alcala (.188) and 3B Adonis Paula (.222) each added two hits.
  • RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-1, 6.52) surrendered four earned runs over three frames of relief to earn his second win.

 

From the Pages of Vine Line: Our July Q&A with Ernie Banks and Derek Jeter

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(Photo courtesy New York Yankees)

Mr. Cub and Mr. November. When it comes to playing shortstop in the major leagues, it’s hard to do better than Cubs legend Ernie Banks and all-time Yankees great Derek Jeter.

Between them, they have 28 All-Star appearances, two MVP Awards (with 10 top-10 finishes) and six Gold Gloves. They have also amassed nearly 6,000 hits and 800 home runs. Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. Assuming Jeter holds firm on his decision to retire after this season, he just needs the calendar to turn to 2019 for his certain enshrinement.

Both enjoyed long and distinguished careers with one organization; both spawned memorable moments and were the faces of their respective franchises; and both became great ambassadors for the game.

When Derek Jeter made a rare interleague appearance in Chicago this past May, Vine Line and Yankees Magazine couldn’t let the opportunity to get the two iconic players together slip away.

Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III spoke to the man affectionately known as Mr. Cub and the Yankees captain about playing a demanding defensive position, spending their entire careers with a single team, playing at the Friendly Confines and more.

For baseball fans, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Vine Line: First of all, it’s an honor to be here with two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen. Thank you both. Mr. Jeter, how did Mr. Banks, who is over 6 feet tall, impact the future of the position?

Derek Jeter: I’ve had the opportunity to meet Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, who were two of the other great shortstops from Mr. Banks’ era. Those guys epitomized who played that position back then—shorter guys without a lot of power. Mr. Banks redefined the position, and he really paved the way for taller players like me to get the opportunity to play shortstop.

Ernie Banks: Who were the shortstops you watched when you were growing up?

DJ: I was a big Cal Ripken Jr. fan. He’s 6 foot 4, and he played the position as well as anyone I had seen. I also liked watching Barry Larkin, who played his college ball in my home state of Michigan. Alan Trammell played for the Detroit Tigers, and they were on TV a lot in my house when I was growing up, so I got to see him play frequently.

EB: Why didn’t they ever move you to third base?

DJ: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.

VL: Mr. Banks, what are your thoughts on Mr. Jeter’s ability to play such a demanding position so well for nearly two decades?

EB: Well, he’s a remarkable player, and that’s proven by the fact that he is still playing shortstop. We all slow down a little as we get older. I moved to first base after about 10 seasons at shortstop. But Derek has done what no one else has, and that’s remarkable.

VL: How much does it mean to each of you to have played for one team your entire careers—and to be synonymous with those teams?

DJ: Playing my entire career in New York has always been important to me. I’ve been fortunate because in this day and age, it’s more difficult to stay with one team than when Mr. Banks was playing. With free agency, there is so much player movement, and teams get rid of players when there are younger players available who can play the same position a little better. But I can’t imagine playing anywhere else.

EB: It means the world to me. We played all day games in Chicago back then because they didn’t have lights at Wrigley Field until 1988. That was something I got used to and really enjoyed. The only night games we played were when we were on the road. Like Derek said, I couldn’t have imagined what it would have been like to play for another team. If I had played for another team and I had to play most of the games at night, it would have felt like every game was an away game for me.

VL: How would each of you describe your respective fan bases?

EB: The fans here are loyal. When I was playing, I got to meet a lot of fans, and that was a lot of fun. I signed autographs for as many kids as I could because I thought that one day I might be asking one of those kids for a job. Cubs fans aren’t as loud as Yankees fans though. The first time I met Derek, I asked him what it’s like playing in New York. He looked at me and said, “When you win, it’s loud.”

DJ: That’s a great story. Yankees fans follow the team closely, and there’s a lot of energy in Yankee Stadium every time we take the field. The expectation level is high, but there’s no better place to win than in New York.

VL: The enthusiasm that both of you have for the game is well documented. What makes playing baseball for a living so enjoyable?

DJ: Every day is a new day. It’s kind of like life in that you wake up and you never know what’s going to happen when you get to the ballpark. Regardless of how you played the day before, you come to the ballpark with a clean slate the next day. I like that about baseball. I have enjoyed competing and being around my teammates as well. That’s why I have played the game for as long as I have.

EB: It was fun being out there every day. That’s why I said, “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” I especially enjoyed playing the shortstop position. For me, making adjustments to where I was going to play in the field depending on who was on the mound and who was at the plate was part of the game I relished. I got as much fun out of the strategy of the game and making sure I was in the right place to turn double plays as I got out of hitting the ball out of the park.

VL: Mr. Banks, what were the most challenging aspects of going directly from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues to the Cubs at a time when there were very few African-Americans in the majors?

EB: As far as being discriminated against, that’s all I knew since the time I was growing up. But the hardest thing about leaving the Monarchs for the Cubs was saying goodbye to my teammates in Kansas City. I liked being around those guys, and I didn’t want to leave them. They were like my family.

VL: How did you adjust to life in the big leagues?

EB: I played for [legendary Negro Leagues player and manager] Buck O’Neil in Kansas City, and I played alongside Gene Baker and Tony Taylor, who knew a lot about the game. I learned how to play the game from those guys. They taught me about the intricacies of the game and the shortstop position. That along with some God-given ability made it so I was prepared to play in the big leagues when I arrived in Chicago.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how was your career impacted by what Mr. Banks and others did in breaking the color barrier in the early 1950s?

DJ: It’s unimaginable for me. Mr. Banks is one of the players who paved the way for all African-Americans to play the game. I’m grateful to him for what he did on the field, and I also appreciate the way he has treated me since I was a young player.

VL: Mr. Banks, what stands out about Mr. Jeter’s accomplishments and the way he has represented himself and his team over the years?

EB: I really admire him. He’s accomplished so many great things. He’s knowledgeable about every aspect of playing the game. He studies the opposing pitchers, and he learned how to hit the ball to all fields at a young age. He’s an amazing young player. When he got his 3,000th hit on a home run, that was really special for me to watch. What was that like for you, Derek?

DJ: Well, I appreciate you referring to me as a young player. Hitting that home run felt great. More than anything, I was happy that it happened in front of our fans in New York.

EB: How did you do that?

DJ: I closed my eyes and swung the bat.

VL: Mr. Banks, what makes Wrigley Field such a special baseball destination?

EB: It’s special because it has been here for 100 years, and we’ve had some great teams. It’s a beautiful place, and so much history has taken place on this field. Babe Ruth stood a few feet from where we are sitting, pointed to the seats and then hit the ball out of the park. More than 80 years later, Derek Jeter will come up to the plate in the same place. That’s an amazing thing. Also, the fans are very close to the field, and that makes it an intimate setting for baseball. There’s no better place to watch a game.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how exciting is it to visit Wrigley Field in your final season—and during the stadium’s centennial?

DJ: I like being a part of history and tradition, and I’m thrilled to get one last chance to play here—especially since I was on the disabled list when we played here in 2011. I drove here with my class on my last day of high school, and that is a great memory. If I could have written a script for my career back then, I would have included a trip to Wrigley Field during my final season.

EB: You’re not really going to quit, are you?

DJ: After this season.

EB: You can’t do that.

DJ: Yes, I can.

EB: I wish guys like you never had to quit.

DJ: Well, let’s just say I’m moving on.

—Alfred Santasiere III

ESPN’s Law says the Cubs have baseball’s top farm system

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Jorge Soler is one of the many reasons the Cubs have the top farm system in the game, according to ESPN’s Keith Law (Photo by Stephen Green)

ESPN insider Keith Law unveiled his midseason top five farm systems Tuesday, and, based off his prospect rankings from earlier this month, the baseball world shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs at the top of the list. The organization has three prospects in the top eight of Law’s individual rankings in Kris Bryant (No. 1), Addison Russell (No. 4) and Javier Baez (No. 8). And Cuban import Jorge Soler checks in at No. 38.

Along with that quartet, Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson have all generated buzz and graced various prospect lists in the past year. But the farm system goes even deeper than that.

Here’s some of what Law had to say about the Cubs system:

I know Cubs fans have heard this before, but just wait ’til next year, because this club is going to get good in a hurry, at least on the run-scoring side of the ledger. The system already had the minors’ best collection of high-end bats, and it added several more during the past seven weeks, including the fourth-best prospect in the minors in shortstop Addison Russell, who came over with promising left fielder Billy McKinney in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Athletics.

The Cubs also added catcher/left fielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. It’s a pick I think was an overdraft in part due to doubts he will stick at either position, but he has raked so far in limited at-bats, mostly against younger competition. They used the savings on Schwarber’s bonus to grab several high-upside high school arms later in the draft, including right-hander Dylan Cease, whose elbow ligament injury might require Tommy John surgery but who was seen as a top-15 pick talent before his injury. Cease has a fastball that can touch 100 mph and at times a plus breaking ball.

Most of the successful arms in the system this year have been pitchers at low-Class A Kane County, particularly undersized Taiwanese right-hander Tseng Jen-Ho and 2012 draftee Paul Blackburn, which means the Cubs probably won’t get the starting pitching help they need from their system in the next year or two. Fortunately for them and their fans, they have the bats to trade to acquire pitching from outside the organization.

Rounding out Law’s top five were the Twins, Astros, Mets and Pirates.

Now Playing: Stretching Out with Jeneane Lesko of the AAGPBL

Some say throwing a baseball “like a girl” is a bad thing; Jeneane Lesko begs to differ. Vine Line caught up with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League president and former left-handed pitcher when the AAGPBL was being honored during the 1940s celebration at Wrigley Field in early June. It’s worth noting the 79-year-old southpaw toed the major league rubber for her ceremonial first pitch and fired a heater right into the catcher’s mitt.

To read the complete interview with Lesko, pick up the August issue of Vine Line.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/21/14

Daytona’s offense was dominant Monday, while Boise won despite only four hits. Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County couldn’t get it done, and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (54-48)
1st Place (+0.5)

Iowa couldn’t overcome an early four-run deficit, falling at home against New Orleans, 5-4.

  • 2B Javier Baez (.251) extended his hitting streak to 15 games (.306/19-for-62), going 1-for-4.
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.277) went 1-for-4 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer.
  • In his first Triple-A rehab appearance, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (9.00) allowed a run on two hits in the eighth inning.

Tennessee Smokies (15-16)
3rd Place (-2.0)

Tennessee’s three runs in the bottom of the ninth weren’t enough, as they fell to Mississippi, 4-3.

  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) went 1-for-5 with a three-run homer in the ninth inning.
  • LF/RF Jonathan Mota (.243) posted his second-straight three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a run.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.410) recorded his seventh multihit game, going 2-for-3.
  • RHP Tony Zych (4.63) struck out three hitters in two scoreless innings of relief.

Daytona Cubs (18-11)
1st Place (+1.5)

Daytona recorded 11 hits in a 9-6 victory over host Palm Beach.

  • 3B Jordan Hankins (.254) went 1-for-3 with a fourth-inning, three-run blast.
  • LF Rock Shoulders (.222) reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks and a home run.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.271) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI (51).
  • RHP Michael Jensen (5-4, 2.56) earned the win, and RHP Starling Peralta (3.72) picked up the save.

Kane County Cougars (19-11)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County managed just five hits in a 3-1 loss at Great Lakes.

  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) went 1-for-4 with a fifth-inning, solo home run.
  • RF Kevin Brown (.265) went 3-for-4 with his second double of the campaign.
  • RHPs Zak Hermans (3.60) and Michael Wagner (3.19) combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief.

Boise Hawks (22-16)
T-1st Place (–)

Boise defeated visiting Salem-Keizer, 7-6, despite being outhit, 13-4.

  • DH Justin Marra (.318) went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning, solo blast.
  • PH/C Dan Canela (.304) went 1-for-3 with a double (9) and a game-high three RBI (23).
  • LHP Sam Wilson (2-0, 4.05) earned the win, and RHP David Garner (4.15) picked up the save.

1970s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 7/22/14-7/31/14

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Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam playing at Wrigley Field in 2013. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Starting Tuesday, July 22, the Cubs welcome the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies to town for a 1970s-themed celebration at historic Wrigley Field. Fans can relive the decade of decadence along with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Rick Sutcliffe, Pat Fitzgerald, ESPN’s Mike & Mike, and many more.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the 10-game set.

1970s Homestand Recap, July 22-31

Tuesday, July 22, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • First pitch: Brad Guzan, USA World Cup team and Chicago native
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Mark Grant, San Diego Padres broadcaster and Chicago native
  • Broadcast: CSN+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, July 23, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, July 24, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by StubHub (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Harry Kane of English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, July 25, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Jack Brickhouse Bobblehead with audio chip presented by Advocate Health Care (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Pat Brickhouse, widow of legendary broadcaster Jack Brickhouse
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, July 26, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Ernie Banks Replica Statue presented by Budweiser (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Rick Sutcliffe, former Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, July 27, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1978 road uniform
  • Promotion: ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball presented by Gonnella Baking Co. (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern University Head Football Coach
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, July 28, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Northwestern Football Magnet Schedule
  • Special Event: Girl Scout Night
  • First pitch: NPR’s Scott Simon
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, July 29, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Mobile Device Power Bank presented by The Private Bank (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic
  • Seventh-inning stretch: ESPN’s Colin Cowherd
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, July 30, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by Benjamin Moore (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Pete LaCock, former Cubs first baseman/outfielder from the 1970s
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Bill Madlock, former Cubs third baseman from the 1970s
  • Broadcast: CSN+, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, July 31, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:20 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Fitz & The Tantrums
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

Cubs set to host a 10-game, 1970s-themed homestand

Brickhouse

The Cubs kick off their first homestand of the second half with 10-games against the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies at Wrigley Field from July 22-31. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1970s as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

This homestand’s special event is Cubs Girl Scout Night on Monday, July 28. The team has worked with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to host the special event for Girl Scouts, family and friends, with attendees receiving a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout patch. In addition, $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 27, the Cubs will wear a popular throwback, light blue road uniform from 1978 to honor the Cubs of the late ’70s. The Cardinals will participate as well by wearing 1978-inspired throwback uniforms.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect unique promotional items at various games of the homestand, beginning with a special Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine for the first 10,000 adults 21-and-over on July 22. On July 24, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs T-shirt. On July 25, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jack Brickhouse bobblehead with an audio chip of Brickhouse calling Ernie Banks 500th home run. On July 26, the first 10,000 adults will receive an Ernie Banks replica statue. The first 5,000 children on Sunday, July 27, will receive a ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball. The following evening, 5,000 fans will receive a Northwestern football magnet schedule when they depart the ballpark, while attendees of the Cubs’ annual Girl Scout Night will receive a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout Patch. On July 29, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Mobile Device Power Bank, and the first 10,000 fans in the ballpark July 30, will receive a Cubs T-shirt.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1970s homestand features a Kraft Breaded Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with herb-breaded chicken breast, house-made marinara sauce and melted Kraft Provolone Cheese, served on a toasted hoagie roll. Fans can also try the Classic Tuna Melt homestand special, which includes Levy Restaurants’ signature tuna salad served on toasted rye bread with aged Kraft Cheddar Cheese and sliced tomatoes.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1970s Pulled Pork Dog, a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with pulled pork, barbeque sauce and coleslaw. The Pulled Pork Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a Cooperstown Iced Tea, made with Captain Morgan’s Ready-to-Drink Long Island Iced Tea Mix. The cocktail is a variation on Long Island Iced Tea, which surged to popularity during the ’70s.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted noteworthy baseball and non-baseball events during the 1970s, including Ernie Banks’ 500th home run and the Chicago Bears’ last game at Wrigley Field.

In 1970, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks connected for his 500th home run off Pat Jarvis to help beat the Braves, 4-3. He would end his career with a franchise-record 512 home runs.

Seven months later, in the Bears last game at Wrigley Field, Jack Concannon passed for four touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-17 victory over the rival Green Bay Packers.

On a frigid day in April 1972, Cubs rookie Burt Hooton threw a no-hitter in his fourth career start to beat the Phillies, 4-0. He was the first National League rookie in 60 years to throw a no-hitter. Five months later, Milt Pappas nearly threw a perfect game, as he retired the first 26 Padres batters. He ended up walking Larry Stahl with two outs in the ninth on a questionable ball-four call, but he retired the next batter to complete the impressive no-hitter and beat San Diego, 8-0.

On May 14, 1976, Dave Kingman of the New York Mets hit the longest home run in Wrigley Field history, driving the ball more than 500 feet. The ball traveled down Kenmore Avenue.

On July 28, 1977, the Cubs and Reds combined to tie the National League record for most home runs in a single game with 11. The Cubs beat the Reds, 16-15, in a 13-inning classic.

Tickets for the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Rizzo earns NL Player of the Week honors

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(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

July has been pretty good to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. For starters, fans voted the 24-year-old into his first career All-Star Game earlier this month. Then, despite getting swept by Arizona over the weekend, he was named the NL Player of the Week for the period ending July 20.

Over the three-game set, Rizzo hit three home runs, tallied 14 total bases and recorded a 1.273 slugging percentage to go along with four RBI and five runs scored. On the season, he’s hitting .281/.384/.522 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and is tied with the Marlins Giancarlo Stanton for the NL lead in homers with 23, already matching his career high.

The Cubs are off Monday before resuming action Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/20/14

Tennessee snapped a small losing streak, and Daytona piled on the hits to pick up a victory Sunday in a full slate of minor league action. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league games:

Iowa Cubs (54-47)
1st Place (+1.5)

Iowa had its three-game winning streak snapped, falling 4-3 in 12 innings at Round Rock.

  • LHP Chris Rusin pitched seven innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out five.
  • SS Javier Baez (.252) extended his hitting streak to 14 games (.310/18-for-58), going 3-for-6.
  • DH Chris Valaika (.291) and 1B Lars Anderson (.278) each had two hits.
  • RHPs Armando Rivero (1.29) and Arodys Vizcaino (13.50) combined to toss three scoreless innings.

Tennessee Smokies (15-15)
T-2nd Place (-1.0)

Tennessee snapped a two-game skid with a 10-3 win at Huntsville.

  • SS Addison Russell (.262) went 2-for-4 with two homers (including a fifth-inning grand slam) and a career-high six RBI (8).
  • Rehabbing 2B Emilio Bonifacio (.250) went 4-for-5 with a run scored.
  • RHP P.J. Francescon (9-5, 4.15) allowed a run in 2.1 innings of relief to earn the win.

Daytona Cubs (17-11)
1st Place (+0.5)

Daytona recorded 15 hits in a 9-1 victory at Palm Beach.

  • RHP Felix Pena picked up the win, going seven strong, giving up one earned run and striking out sevenl.
  • CF Albert Almora (.281) went 4-for-5 with two runs scored.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.350), SS Marco Hernandez (.285) and 1B Rock Shoulders (.215) all had two hits apiece.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.275) went 1-for-5 with a double (2) and a game-high three RBI (13).

Kane County Cougars (19-10)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County dropped its second-straight contest, falling 9-5 at Great Lakes.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.269) went 2-for-3 with a first-inning, two-run homer.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.315) went 2-for-4 with a double (7) and one RBI (29).
  • LHP Michael Heesch (2.66) struck out six hitters in 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Boise Hawks (21-16)
2nd Place (-1.0)

Boise recorded just three hits in a 6-1 loss against visiting Salem-Keizer.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.273) and SS Jason Vosler (.340) each had a hit.
  • 1B Dan Canela (.303) went 1-for-3 with a walk and one RBI (20).
  • RHP Ryan Williams (0.00) struck out three hitters over two scoreless innings of relief.

Mesa Cubs (11-11)
3rd Place (-3.0)

The Mesa Cubs fell by a score of 8-2 at home against the AZL Angels.

  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.263) and SS Bryant Flete (.298) had two hits apiece.
  • 2B Andrew Ely (.348) went 0-for-4 but picked up his third RBI of the season.

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 2000s—Carlos Zambrano

Carlos_Zambrano

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the final installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, we look at the eccentric and exciting Carlos Zambrano. Though it might come as a surprise to some to see Big Z on the list, he had very solid numbers throughout the 2000s.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson
1950 – Ernie Banks
1960s – Ron Santo
1970s – Rick Reuschel
1980s – Ryne Sandberg
1990s – Mark Grace

2000s – Carlos Zambrano, 26.5 WAR

Seasons: 2001-09
W-L: 105-68
G-GS: 259-238
IP: 1,549.0
K: 1,324
K/9: 7.70
ERA: 3.51

Say what you will about Carlos Zambrano’s time on the North Side. Sure, some of his most memorable moments in a Cubs uniform occurred inside the dugout, including a scuffle with teammate Michael Barrett in 2007 and a few notable run-ins with the beleaguered Gatorade dispenser.

But at the beginning of Big Z’s career, he was an animal on the bump as well. The hard-throwing Venezuelan made his debut in August 2001 and became a workhorse soon after, logging five consecutive seasons with 200-plus innings from 2003-07. During that time, he made three All-Star teams, finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three times, led the NL in wins in 2006 and earned MVP votes in 2004.

The right-hander was the only NL pitcher to win 13 or more games each year from 2003-08, and he served as the Cubs’ Opening Day starter from 2005-10.

Zambrano’s finest effort in a Cubs uniform came on Sept. 14, 2008, when he tossed the club’s first no-hitter in 36 years, striking out 10 batters and walking one in 110 pitches against the Astros. By the end of the 2000s, his numbers had slipped dramatically, and he was out of the game at age 31.

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