RIDING THE K TRAIN
The Cubs struck out 77 times in seven games during the home-stand, including 15 times Saturday, 17 Sunday and 16 Thursday (the team record for nine innings is 20). The leaderboard:
*Javy Baez 14
Luis Valbuena 10
Chris Coghlan 9
*Arismendy Alcantara 7
Anthony Rizzo 7
Pitching staff 7
Starlin Castro 5
Justin Ruggiano 5
*Made major-league debut within last 31 games.
Updated: August 15, 2014 12:09AM
Just a few days after setting a franchise record for most strikeouts (44) in a three-game series, the Cubs threatened for six innings Thursday against Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers to challenge the single-game club mark of 20.
They stopped at 16 — including 14 in six innings against Fiers, a 29-year-old right-hander who was pitching for Class AAA Nashville until this month.
It was the third time during a seven-game homestand the Cubs struck out at least 15 times and put their seven-game total at 77.
“No,” manager Rick Renteria said without elaborating until being asked why and being reminded how many different pitchers feasted on his hitters this week.
“I would have to go back and tally all the K’s and who has sustained them and evaluate those particular at-bats, [for] what might have been the process or the approach at that particular time for certain individuals,” he said. “Today you had to tip your cap to a guy who had great angle, great deception.”
Left unsaid is the obvious youthful bent to the total, including 14 by big-swinging, second-week big-leaguer Javy Baez (four on Thursday) and seven more by Arismendy Alcantara, who made his debut last month.
But the Cubs have been striking out all year. Junior Lake, who leads the team with 102, struck out only once in rare playing time during the homestand.
It’s something general manager Jed Hoyer said on Wednesday the Cubs have to improve on, calling the record-setting weekend series against Tampa Bay “humbling.”
Renteria seemed less concerned, possibly trying to sugarcoat it to keep from focusing on the kids.
“In terms of the totality of strikeouts through the homestand, some of them might be more linked to approaches,” he said with a straight face. “So those are things that we’ll continue to work on.
“But alarming? No. They’re just little signals. Things that we have to work on.”
NOTES: Since slumping in July (.221 with only four extra-base hits), All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro is hitting .423 with a home run and three doubles. He has hit safely in all 13 games this month, one short of his career-high hitting streak (once each of the last two seasons).
◆ The Cubs announced after the game that right-hander Dan Straily — acquired from the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija deal July 4 — will be called up from Class AAA Iowa to make his Cubs debut in a spot start Saturday against the Mets in New York.