CHICAGO — If the Chicago Cubs were looking for a glimmer of hope
in an otherwise forgettable road trip, a seven-run seventh inning
provided a spark.
A day before the Cubs open a nine-game homestand on Friday against
the Minnesota Twins, Thursday’s seven-spot helped deliver an 11-5
win over the Los Angeles Dodgers that helped the Cubs earn a split
of the four-game series.
The Cubs lost six of the eight games on that road trip, but that
victory in Thursday’s series finale may have been just what the
Cubs needed. Despite their recent struggles, the Cubs won’t get too
wrapped up in their recent skid.
“We’re in June,” center fielder Albert Almora Jr., told reporters.
“Obviously, we want to get on a roll and start playing good
baseball and this is a good way to move into our home (stand) now.
“We’re not where we want to be obviously, but this is a step in the
Thursday’s outcome was better than the news that came earlier in
Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish experienced pain in his right triceps
during a bullpen session Thursday, which will prevent him from
returning to the starting rotation this weekend.
“It didn’t go that well and he wasn’t able to cut it loose,” Cubs
manager Joe Maddon told reporters, according to the Cubs’ official
website. “We’ll re-evaluate once we go back to Chicago and let you
know the next step. For right now, he’s not going to be able to
pitch on Saturday.”
Darvish’s injury has opened the door of opportunity for Mike
Montgomery, who will open the series against the Twins. Montgomery
(2-2, 3.39 ERA) transitioned into the rotation from the bullpen in
late May and has been effective. But after allowing no more than
one earned run in each of his first five starts, Montgomery
struggled in his last outing when he allowed four runs over six
innings against the Cincinnati Reds.
Montgomery is 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two career appearances,
including one start, against the Twins. The lone start came in
2015, when he allowed one run and four hits over six innings, but
did not get a decision.
The Twins enter this weekend’s series off a marathon 13-inning, 2-1
victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Minnesota avoided a
sweep while playing the third of six games they will play in
Chicago this week.
After Fernando Rodney allowed the tying run to score in the ninth
inning, the Twins pulled out the victory with a bases-loaded walk
to Max Kepler. The Twins will face the Cubs having lost five of
their past seven games.
Like the Cubs, the Twins hope a win can build momentum after
Minnesota’s recent slide erased any positive energy that came
earlier this month in series wins over the Cleveland Indians and
Boston Red Sox.
“Obviously, this series and the last series have been unfortunate
coming off two huge series wins,” second baseman Brian Dozier told
reporters Thursday. “But that’s kind of how we’ve played the first
few months of the season, which is not good. But I keep saying this
team has potential to catch fire and do good things. I know we keep
waiting on that and waiting on that, and in a perfect world, it
would start today. But I think the mindset is where it needs to be.
We just have to start winning more games.”
Jose Berrios will start for the Twins. Berrios (8-5, 3.15) has not
lost since May 27 and is coming off a strong seven-inning effort
against the Texas Rangers in which he allowed no runs and two hits
and struck out 12.
Berrios will face the Cubs for the first time in his career on