Cubs recall Madrigal, snap losing streak after another strong Stroman start

After getting swept in Anaheim, the Cubs could have made Death Valley their next stop, considering how lifeless the offense has been.

But they were in San Francisco on Friday, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak. While Marcus Stroman delivered his 12th quality start in 14 outings, the Cubs finally broke through with 3 runs in the seventh inning to win 3-2.

Before the game, the Cubs made a move that was probably overdue. They recalled Nick Madrigal from Triple A Iowa and sent down Miles Mastrobuoni.

During 11 games with Iowa, Madrigal hit a jaw-dropping .488. He went 20-for-41 at the plate with 10 extra base hits.

Making contact is what Madrigal has always been known for. Madrigal hit .340 and .305 in his first two big-league seasons with the White Sox, while picking up the nickname, "Nicky Two Strikes," for his tendency to get two-strike hits.

Before Friday's game, he told reporters in San Francisco he was caught by surprise when sent down, but grew to appreciate the consistent playing time at Iowa.

"It's just coming off the bench is pretty hard to do, and pinch-hitting, it's one of the toughest things to do," Madrigal told the Des Moines Register this week. "I felt like from the first game I got here, my swing felt really good, and I've just tried to show that I'm ready to play."

Madrigal started at second base Friday as Nico Hoerner was supposed to get a night off. Hoerner pinch-hit in the seventh and delivered a 2-run single that put the Cubs ahead 2-1. Tucker Barnhart added an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-1. The Giants scored in the bottom of the seventh, but Mark Leiter Jr. and Adbert Alzolay finished it off.

It might make sense to try Madrigal as the full-time designated hitter. The Cubs were hitting just .192 from the DH position heading into Friday's action

Miguel Amaya has been the best-performing Cubs DH this season at .444 and all of his DH at-bats have happened on this road trip. Patrick Wisdom is second on the list with a .313 average, so the Cubs could also rotate Wisdom and Madrigal between DH and third base.

The two most frequent designated hitters this season are Trey Mancini, who is hitting .140 as a DH, and Eric Hosmer, who's been released after hitting .200 as a DH.

Last year, Cubs designated hitters logged a .236 average with 16 home runs, as Willson Contreras, Franmil Reyes and Frank Schwindel got most of the work.

Madrigal stepped into the leadoff spot Friday, with Palatine native Mike Tauchman batting second. Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ hit third and fourth, while Dansby Swanson moved down to fifth. Happ was the DH and Christopher Morel played left field.

"Trying to just shake things up," Cubs manager David Ross said before the game. "Fresh lineup, something different, new. Hopefully we can create a spark.

"Nico, he's grinding and trying to put the weight of the world on his shoulders. Just give him a breath here. I feel like Tauch's been having some great at-bats."

Madrigal led off the game with a walk, but the Cubs had a strange first inning. Madrigal attempted to steal second, was called out, but the pitch was ball four to Suzuki, so it shouldn't have mattered.

Except, as Madrigal slid into second, his foot touched the base, then lost contact during his slide and was tagged. So after a replay review, he was ruled out. And Suzuki was caught stealing for the third out of the inning. Madrigal and Tauchman went a combined 0-for-7 Friday, with the one walk in the first inning.

The Cubs had just 2 hits off Giants starter Anthony DeSclafini heading into the seventh inning. Suzuki led off with a single, Happ walked, the runners moved up on a deep fly out to center, then Matt Mervis was hit by a pitch to load the bases, setting up Hoerner's clutch pinch hit. Stroman (7-4) went 6⅔ innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

Palatine native Mike Tauchman made his presence known during Wrigley Field debut

Cubs manager Ross ejected in 5-0 loss to Padres

Wesneski delivers for 4 innings, but Cubs fall apart in 7-4 loss to Angels

Taillon finds success using 4-seam fastball more, but big inning dooms Cubs in 6-2 loss to Angels

Cubs Morel and Mervis are mired in slumps. Should manager David Ross do anything to help?

Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning Friday in San Francisco. Associated Press
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.