Sizzling Yadier Molina makes Edwin Jackson pay
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 19, 2013 11:11PM
Updated: June 20, 2013 12:36AM
ST. LOUIS — The good news for the Cubs is that Edwin Jackson continued to look a lot more like the $52 million free agent the Cubs touted last winter than the guy who struggled in his first two months with the team.
The bad news for the Cubs: Yadier Molina.
“He was right in the middle of it again,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who called Molina the league’s top MVP candidate so far — a few hours before Molina underscored the point with a game-changing home run off Jackson in the sixth in the Cardinals’ 4-1 victory Wednesday night.
Molina is 6-for-11 with five RBI in the first three games of this four-game series.
“He’s on fire,” Sveum said.
Until the sixth, Jackson — 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts even after the homer — had induced two of the four outs Molina had made in the series.
“Just that one pitch. He didn’t give up a whole lot of hard contact really besides that,” Sveum said. “It was a good outing up till then, against the best hitting team in the league.
“He’s pitching with more conviction. Tonight’s velocity wasn’t like it was in some of the other ones. … But everything’s going a heck of a lot better than it did the first half of his starts.”
The Cubs have reached agreements with all of their top 10 draft picks except first-rounder Kris Bryant, the slugging third baseman from the University of San Diego, team sources confirmed.
That included the 22-year-old BYU center fielder with only one year of college ball, Jacob Hanneman, a third-rounder who signed an over-slot $1 million deal.
The Cubs expect talks with Bryant, who’s represented by Scott Boras, to go to the July 12 deadline but don’t anticipate problems reaching a deal.
Sveum said he expects to have his bench back to full strength for Friday’s series opener against the Houston Astros, a move that means trimming a guy from the bullpen — and could mean the return of catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger.
The Cubs have carried an extra reliever since activating Shawn Camp from the disabled list when center fielder David DeJesus went on the DL on Saturday with a shoulder injury.
When Luis Valbuena singled in the third, he made him 5-for-12 with two walks since taking over for David DeJesus as the team’s leadoff man against right-handers. “That’s kind of what you were hoping for,” manager Dale Sveum said.
◆ The Cubs expect the timeline for DeJesus’ return from the shoulder sprain suffered Friday crashing into a wall to be about a month, Sveum said.