ST. LOUIS -- People can look at the record if they want and say, "Same old Cubs," and might be right. In a stacked National League Central, no one expects Chicago to be anything more than a spoiler by August and September anyway.
But to hear the players of first-year manager Rick Renteria talk, these aren't the same old Cubs. And they say it's because of him.
"It starts with him," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo after Sunday's 6-4 loss to St. Louis at Busch Stadium. "He's very upbeat, very positive. We're in games and we know we're good. We've just got to start winning games."
The big difference between Renteria's first Cubs team and the two that lost 197 games under Dale Sveum might be offense. After starting 1-4 and scoring only eight runs, Chicago is averaging 5.6 runs in its last seven games.
Young players like Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro are showing signs of being more consistent. Utility man Emilio Bonifacio has 20 hits in the first 12 games and seven steals, giving the team a leadoff spark it's often lacked. If the bullpen were better, the 4-8 record could easily be 7-5.
"We've had some good acquisitions, but I think it's guys developing," Rizzo said of the offense's marked improvement.
STREAK: Lost two
NEXT: Doubleheader -- Cubs (RHP Jason Hammel, 2-0, 2.63 ERA) at Yankees (RHP Masahiro Tanaka, 1-0, 3.21 ERA); Cubs (LHP Travis Wood, 0-1, 2.92 ERA) at Yankees (RHP Michael Pineda, 1-1, 1.50 ERA)
--RHP Edwin Jackson got a quick 2-0 lead but gave it back an inning later and eventually suffered his seventh loss in nine decisions against St. Louis Sunday. Jackson gave up eight hits and four runs over six innings, throwing 114 pitches as he had trouble finding the sweet spots in the tight zone of plate umpire Jerry Layne. Jackson has allowed a whopping 30 baserunners over 16 innings this year.
--RHP Jason Hammel looks for his third straight win Wednesday when Chicago plays in the new Yankee Stadium for the first time. Hammel could become the first Cub pitcher to win his first three decisions since Carlos Silva rattled off eight consecutive wins to start 2010. Hammel has allowed just five hits and two walks over 13 2/3 innings in two victories over Pittsburgh, fanning 11.
--RHP Blake Parker was recalled from Triple-A Iowa Sunday to give the team a fresh arm in the bullpen, which has been taxed by extra-inning games the first two weeks. Parker worked three scoreless innings at Iowa to start the season, notching a save. He had an effective stint to end 2013 with Chicago, pitching to a 2.72 earned run average in 46 appearances and going 1-2 with a save. But Parker was touched for three hits and two runs Sunday in two-thirds of an inning.
--LHP Chris Rusin was optioned to Iowa after giving the Cubs five innings of relief in Saturday's 10-4 loss. He allowed only one run and allowed manager Rick Renteria to rest a tired bullpen. Rusin made two starts earlier this month for Iowa, giving up seven runs over 9 2/3 innings.
--2B Emilio Bonifacio went 0-for-5 on Sunday, grounding out to end the game and a forgettable series. One of the hottest hitters in baseball coming into St. Louis, the speedy leadoff man went just 1-for-9 against Cardinals pitching, dropping him below .400 at .392.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We had him scuffling around a little bit, but we just came up short. We've been scoring some runs, but we need to convert some of those into wins." -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, after losing to the St Louis Cardinals and Michael Wacha 6-4 on Sunday.
--RHP Jake Arrieta (right shoulder tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21. He made a rehab start April 5 with Double-A Tennessee, throwing 42 pitches. He will make at least one more rehab start for Tennessee before he gets the call back to Chicago.
--RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (Tommy John surgery in June 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21. The Cubs hope he can return to major league action sometime during the summer.
--RHP James McDonald (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 60-day disabled list March 30. There is no timetable for his return.
RHP Jeff Samardzija
LHP Travis Wood
RHP Edwin Jackson
RHP Jason Hammel
RHP Carlos Villanueva
RHP Jose Veras (closer)
LHP James Russell
LHP Wesley Wright
RHP Justin Grimm
RHP Hector Rondon
RHP Pedro Strop
RHP Blake Parker
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Darwin Barney
SS Starlin Castro
3B Mike Olt
INF Emilio Bonifacio
INF Luis Valbuena
LF Junior Lake
CF Ryan Sweeney
RF Nate Schierholtz
OF Justin Ruggiano
OF Ryan Kalish
- Sports & Recreation
- Anthony Rizzo
- Jason Hammel
- Rick Renteria
- Emilio Bonifacio