Cubs try to recover from disastrous road trip, while White Sox are trying to ‘play fast’ – Boston Herald

The Chicago Cubs get a day off Monday to try to regroup from a disastrous road trip against the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.

They are setting themselves up to need help over the final two weeks to get into the playoffs.

The White Sox have their final road trip of the season, visiting the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox.

Every Monday throughout the season, Tribune baseball writers will provide an update on what happened — and what’s ahead for the Cubs and Sox.

Michael Fulmer in wait-and-see mode on severity of his injury

Michael Fulmer felt 100% ready to come off the injured list.

When the Cubs activated him before Monday’s series opener against the Rockies, Fulmer thought he had been good to go in the days leading up to the move.

“I mean, I’d been begging to get activated for a few days by then,” Fulmer said Sunday.

He was supposed to throw a live batting practice pregame Monday, but the Rockies wouldn’t remove the tarp because of the rainy forecast. So when the Cubs needed to put Adbert Alzolay on the 15-day injured list, Fulmer confirmed he was still ready to rejoin the team. He recorded the save Monday night at Coors Field, but Fulmer’s forearm again bothered him the next day.

“Everything felt good throwing, I think partially being in Colorado and obviously in that situation you try to grip the ball a little harder and maybe try to do a little more than you usually do,” Fulmer said Sunday.

The swelling and tenderness returned, and knowing he couldn’t pitch through, Fulmer went back on the IL on Saturday with the same injury — a right forearm strain. Fulmer said Sunday he is awaiting the results from an MRI. As far as Fulmer knows, his UCL is OK and that something in his forearm hurts, adding, “I don’t know what’s going on with it yet.”

“Anytime this happens, you’re always concerned,” Fulmer said. “But I’ve viewed my whole career, especially out of the bullpen, it’s either you’re good enough to pitch or you’re not good enough to pitch. … Obviously right now I’m not OK to pitch. I can’t really throw the ball at all so I’m just going to let the swelling calm down, let the inflammation calm down a little and attack it however the doctor sees fit.”

‘Playing fast’ is part of the Sox vision

Chris Getz has said one of his important first steps as general manager would be the conversations with manager Pedro Grifol as the Sox look to the future.

Grifol said the conversations have been “great.”

“It’s constant communication,” Grifol said Saturday. “We share the same vision. He sees the game really, really well. He was a part of a good front office in Kansas City (in 2015-16) and he saw the teams that were built over there and how they were built, based on pitching, defense, athletes.

“He’s got a good vision, and I know that he’s not going to hesitate to carry out that vision in any way, shape or form.”

Grifol didn’t want to dive too deeply into what the vision is, but said, “We want to see our club play fast. We’ve got to play defense. We’ve got to pitch.”

Grifol expanded on the “playing fast” portion Sunday.

“We have to take advantage of the rules that have been put in place that allow free passes to turn into doubles and turn base hits into doubles or triples at times,” Grifol said. “We’ve got to play that game.”

The Sox are tied for 23rd in the majors with 81 stolen bases.

What we’re reading this morning

Week ahead: Cubs

Three of the relievers to pitch in extra innings during the Cubs’ 13-inning loss Saturday started the year in the rotation. The usage of Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly and Hayden Wesneski highlights how the bullpen has evolved over the season due to both performance and injuries.

Wesneski has been slotted into the ’pen since mid-June but largely hasn’t been used in high-leverage spots. That changed Saturday when manager David Ross went to him to try to record the final two outs in a save situation. Wesneski was one strike away from ending the game when the Diamondbacks came through with a pair of singles to walk off the Cubs.

It was another learning moment for the 25-year-old right-hander, but he was frustrated by his performance given the magnitude of the game as they try to get to the postseason. It did not go unnoticed, though, how Stroman and Smyly, despite their starter track records, have been willing to fill any role during this critical stretch.

“Eventually you’d like to be in their spot and you just try to pick out little minor details that they do,” Wesneski said Sunday. “You just take little stuff from the veteran guys and you try to figure out how to digest it and use it for yourself so then when that moment does come you will have a better result.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Wesneski added. “There’s little things I’m not seeing that I’ll look back on. I need to be able to read swings a little bit in those moments. I’m slowing it down better, like, the moments are coming slower, but obviously I’m still nervous. I still haven’t been through a lot of them and all these guys have been relievers.”

  • Monday: off
  • Tuesday: vs. Pirates, 6:40 p.m., Marquee
  • Wednesday: vs. Pirates, 6:40 p.m., Marquee
  • Thursday: vs. Pirates, 6:40 p.m., Marquee
  • Friday: vs. Rockies, 1:20 p.m., Marquee
  • Saturday: vs. Rockies, 1:20 p.m., Marquee
  • Sunday: vs. Rockies, 1:20 p.m., Marquee

Week ahead: White Sox

Over the last couple of weeks of the season, the Sox will continue to test relievers in roles they might not be all that familiar with.

“These guys might be a little uncomfortable at times, pitching in those parts of the game,” Grifol said after Saturday’s 7-6 victory against the Minnesota Twins. “But it’s good experience for them.”

Saturday, Tanner Banks earned the first save of his career.

“I had a feeling today that I would pitch,” Banks said after the game. “I didn’t think it would be for the save. Whenever I can help my team, I’m happy to do so.”

The Twins loaded the bases with two outs when Banks got Willi Castro to pop out to first baseman Andrew Vaughn to secure the win.

“Ultimately we got it done and couldn’t be happier,” said Banks, who has not allowed a run in seven straight appearances (10 2/3 innings).

  • Monday: at Nationals, 6:05 p.m., NBCSCH
  • Tuesday: at Nationals, 6:05 p.m., NBCSCH
  • Wednesday: at Nationals, 12:05 p.m., NBCSCH
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: at Red Sox, 6:10 p.m., NBCSCH
  • Saturday: at Red Sox, 3:10 p.m., NBCSCH
  • Sunday: at Red Sox, 12:35 p.m., NBCSCH

This week in Chicago baseball

Sept. 20, 1908: Frank Smith becomes the first White Sox pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters.

Smith pitched the White Sox to a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Athletics to earn the accolade.

“All the more credit goes with Smith’s feat because it was performed with a partially disabled pitching fist, the little finger of his right hand still being stiff and sore from the blow received during the last game he pitched when he tried to stop a hot shot from a Cleveland slugger,” I.E. Sanborn wrote in the Tribune.

“Smith had not worked since that game and the injury was painful, yet apparently improved both his control and his effectiveness. Which led numerous friends of his to suggest breaking a couple more of Smith’s digits.”

Smith’s first no-hitter on Sept. 6, 1905, was the most lopsided one in the modern era — a 15-0 win over the Detroit Tigers — until former Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta no-hit the Cincinnati Reds 16-0 in 2016

Sept. 20, 1934: A crowd of 35,265 packed Wrigley Field to watch Jim Londos successfully defend his world heavyweight title by winning his one-fall match over Ed “Strangler” Lewis in 49 minutes, 27 seconds.

It was believed to be the largest crowd ever to watch a wrestling match in the U.S. at that time

Lewis had beaten Londos 14 times without a loss in previous matches, but the most recent meeting was 10 years earlier. The crowd at the ballpark included about 10,000 walk-ups who were caught up in the hype surrounding the match.

Sept. 22, 1959: The “Go-Go Sox” win a pennant — the team’s first since the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

They fittingly clinched the pennant in Cleveland against a team they owned all season, beating the Indians 15 times.

The pennant came “with the bases filled with Cleveland Indians, only one out, and the White Sox in danger of losing a two-run lead,” the Tribune reported. Manager Al Lopez brought in Gerry Staley to stem the bleeding.

The Tribune’s Edward Prell provided the historic play-by-play in the next morning’s edition: “Staley pitched one ball — a sinker low and outside. Vic Power swung and Luis Aparicio glided to his left, spearing the ball. For a split second, it seemed he thought of making the toss to Nellie Fox. But he flashed three or four steps, hit the base with his spikes, and rifled the ball to Ted Kluszewski at first base.”

The drama wasn’t over.

Back in Chicago, at 10:30 p.m., the air raid sirens jumped to life. For five minutes they screamed, blaring the terrifying warning of incoming Soviet bombers. In the middle of the Cold War, that’s what many residents thought.

Many residents — especially Sox fans watching the game on WGN-TV — immediately understood that the sirens were part of the celebration, an official recognition of the Sox ending a four-decade drought.

Bell Telephone switchboards and the Tribune newsroom were flooded with calls from confused and scared residents who turned angry when told, yes, the Sox had won, and, no, the end of the world wasn’t nigh.

The anger didn’t abate the next day. The Tribune reported City Hall received calls at a rate of 1,100 an hour to protest the sirens. Mayor Richard J. Daley showed off his Sox allegiance when he explained the sirens were sounded “in the hilarity and exuberance of the evening.”

“I regret if anyone was inconvenienced,” Daley said, “but after 40 years of waiting for a pennant in the American League, I assume that everyone who was watching the telecast was happy about the White Sox victory.”

Robert M. Woodward, the state’s civil defense director, said the siren’s misuse was “shocking” and called for an official investigation.

That sentiment was echoed by angry letter writers to the Tribune who asked which “nincompoop” was responsible and demanded “anyone so stupid as to sound the air raid alarm simply to celebrate a baseball victory should immediately be removed from his post.”

The Sox flew into Midway Airport at about 2 a.m. to find a huge, raucous crowd, not knowing they were wading into an odd mix of joy and anger. “The din lasted into the break of dawn and appeared to have enough steam to last until the opening of the World Series,” the Tribune reported.

The team later paraded down State Street, which was “packed from curbs to store fronts with fans, wildly cheering.” Thousands more jammed windows and showered the parade route with ticker tape and confetti. The festivities were led, of course, by Daley, “self-styled No. 1 Sox fan, along with Chuck Comiskey and (owner Bill) Veeck.”

The Go-Go Sox eventually ran out of gas in the World Series, losing in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sept. 23, 1908: Merkle’s “boner” vs. the Cubs

New York Giants infielder Fred Merkle was an early version of Steve Bartman, a young man vilified for supposedly costing his team a pennant.

With the season winding down in a tight pennant race, the Cubs and Giants were tied 1-1 in the ninth inning at the Polo Grounds.

Merkle, 19, was on first base after hitting a single, and teammate Moose McCormick was on third. With two outs, Al Bridwell singled to center to drive in McCormick with the apparent winning run.

As Giants fans mobbed the field, Merkle headed for the safety of the clubhouse. But Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers noticed Merkle had left the field without touching second base. And amid the chaos, Evers persuaded umpire Hank O’Day to call Merkle out on a force play, nullifying the winning run.

Then the scene got really crazy, with fans all over the field, and the game couldn’t go on. After failing to restore order, the umpires declared the game a 1-1 tie, and National League President Henry Pulliam upheld the ruling.

The Cubs and Giants wound up tied for first place at the end of the season, and the Cubs defeated the Giants in a one-game playoff for the NL pennant. They went on to beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 in the World Series.

David Stalker, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, is among those who believe Merkle got a bad rap. Stalker, of Watertown, Wis., helped erect a monument in Merkle’s honor. Merkle was born in Watertown, 50 miles west of Milwaukee, but lived there only a year before his family moved to Toledo, Ohio.

The monument makes no mention of the play that relegated Merkle to baseball infamy. Instead it notes that Merkle, a first baseman with a .273 lifetime batting average, had a decent 16-year career, which included four years with the Cubs.

Sept. 24, 1984: Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe pitched a two-hitter to clinch the NL East title.

A mere 5,472 fans were in attendance at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh as the Cubs beat the Pirates 4-1.

When Sutcliffe nipped the outside corner for a called third strike on the Pirates’ Joe Orsulak to end the game, he set off a chain of celebration felt from Chicago to Central America, thanks to the universal appeal of WGN and cable TV.

“This ballclub has suffered for 39 years, and that’s long enough,” proclaimed Cubs manager Jim Frey, who was named NL Manager of the Year.

“This is only perfect; it doesn’t get any better than this,” center fielder Bobby Dernier said. “This surpasses everything. I didn’t have a crystal ball when I came to the Cubs. But I’m a dreamer. We have a bunch of guys on this team who were just hungry for an opportunity to play this season and prove themselves in the big leagues.”

The signature of the 1984 Cubs was consistency. They were 12-8 in April, 15-12 in May, 15-14 in June, 18-10 in July, 20-10 in August and 15-11 in September.


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