Cubs set three-game series attendance mark
Weekend Interleague set vs. Yankees draws 126,283
CHICAGO -- Thanks for coming, everybody.
The Cubs set a record for home attendance for a three-game series this weekend at Wrigley Field, drawing 126,283 for the Interleague matchup against the Yankees.
The two teams drew 42,219 on Friday; 42,236 on Saturday; and 41,828 on Sunday. Saturday's crowd was the largest regular-season attendance since 45,777 jammed into the ballpark on April 7, 1978, for the home opener and watched the Cubs beat the Pirates, 1-0.
The previous three-game regular-season high was 124,810 for a series between the Cubs and Brewers, June 29-July 1, 2007.
This was the Yankees' first trip to Wrigley since 2003, when they played an Interleague series and drew 118,063, but that was before additional seats were added to the ballpark and the bleachers were expanded.
Wells encouraged by progress since DL stint
CHICAGO -- Randy Wells went six innings against the powerful Yankees' lineup Sunday, and though the Cubs could have used seven, it was good progress for Wells, who made his fifth start since returning from the disabled list May 28 after being out with a right forearm strain.
"He threw great," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He threw the ball real well, so that was encouraging."
Wells gave up four runs, five hits and four walks. He labored through a two-walk, two-run fourth inning that drove up his pitch count.
"I'm getting there. I'm getting better each time out," Wells said. "There's still some inconsistencies there. Obviously, you'd like to attack hitters more. The more tentative you are, you get yourself in tough spots, [I've] created a lot of tough jams [for myself] the last couple games. Especially against a team like this or the Phillies or the Cardinals, you can't really do that and expect to be successful."
After failing to go six innings in his first three starts back, Wells has pitched six in each of his past two starts. He said his arm strength is getting back to normal.
"There's a lot of things to work on, but on a positive note you've got to be happy with how I bounced back and how I feel after starts," he said.
Wells is 1-1 with a 5.70 ERA this season. He went 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA last season and 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA in 2009, his first full season as a starter for the Cubs.
MVP Dad makes 'poetic' return to Wrigley
CHICAGO -- Bill Fair can rattle off the names of Cubs from the 1960s and '70s like they're still playing today.
"Santo. Kessinger. Beckert. Banks. Hundley. Fergie Jenkins ..." Fair said while sitting in the Cubs dugout Sunday.
Although he's been a fan all these years, this Father's Day marks his first trip to Wrigley Field since the '70s. And this time he's a special guest.
Fair was nominated for Major League Baseball's inaugural "My Dad, My MVP" contest by his daughter, Heather. One dad for each of the 30 MLB clubs was selected by a celebrity panel of judges and online votes from fans, and Fair is the Cubs' winning dad. He received two tickets to Sunday's Cubs-Yankees game and was on the field before the game, wearing a white and blue-pinstriped Cubs jersey with "MVP DAD" written on the back, and a permanent smile.
Fair was hoping to meet one Cub in particular: Carlos Zambrano.
"He pitches with heart, emotion," Fair said. "And a pitcher who can hit? You can't beat it. It's a buy-one-get-one-free."
Fair opened an email around 11 a.m. Friday that told him he had been selected. On Saturday, Fair, Heather and her 10-year-old son, Chris, drove 11 hours from their home in Madison, Ala., near Huntsville, and arrived in Chicago around midnight Sunday.
Fair spent 22 years as a hospital corpsman and flight medic for the U.S. Army and Navy. He served with the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment), nicknamed the Night Stalkers, the same unit that flew in the operatives during the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in May.
But Fair has also served his daughter. Heather's husband, Mark, was deployed to Afghanistan more than two years ago. Heather and Chris struggled without him during the first six months, so Fair moved to Alabama to be with them.
"My son needed his grandfather," Heather said.
Nominating her dad for the contest was a way for Heather to show her appreciation.
"He's always been there for me, even when I didn't know it or I was too stubborn to see it," said Heather, who is watching her first game at Wrigley. "He's never been loud about it."
Fair has stepped onto the field at Wrigley once before. In 1969, he joined a Navy unit comprised of people from his hometown Gary, Ind., that was sponsored by the Cubs. Fair and the unit members marched from the right-field corner to center field, where they took their oath.
"I was 17 years old [then]," Fair said. "And now I'm standing out there as a grandfather and as a father. It's just absolutely poetic."
Soldier dad among Dempster's guests at game
CHICAGO -- Jamie Ellis had planned on taking her three children and her father-in-law to Sunday's Cubs game, courtesy of pitcher Ryan Dempster, who hosted some military families whose fathers were serving overseas. But on Tuesday, she got an unexpected phone call from her husband, Justin. He was coming home.
"I knew about this [trip to Wrigley Field]," said Justin, 34, who was serving in the Army in Iraq, "and I said, 'Man, I hope I make it home in time.'"
Their children didn't know Dad would be home for Father's Day until he walked in the door of their Eureka, Ill., home late Saturday night. After a 36-hour day of travel, he surprised his kids, Kristyn, 14; Jaxon, 10; and Olivia, 8.
Justin has been in Iraq since December and must go back on July 4. He's been following the team on Armed Forces Network television and said there are a lot of Cubs fans in his unit.
"We do have a couple [White] Sox fans," he said. "We just deal with them."
Jaramillo stresses prostate cancer awareness
CHICAGO -- Sunday's Cubs lineup card was blue and ballplayers were given bright blue wristbands to wear. It's all part of Major League Baseball's effort to raise awareness of prostate cancer and help raise money for prostate cancer research.
Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, 60, is more than aware; he's experienced it. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2006 and had surgery two months later. Jaramillo gets a checkup every six months but has had no issues.
"That's all you can do is take care of yourself, get some exercise and don't worry about it," Jaramillo said.
He is a proponent of increasing awareness.
"I think it's important to relay the message, but it's hard because if it didn't happen to you, you don't think about it or worry about it until it does happen," he said.
Jaramillo's surgery was done by one of the top experts in the country, Dr. Peter Scardino. The Cubs hitting coach knows ballplayers would rather talk about hitting mechanics than seeing a doctor.
"You just have to get it checked and go from there and not be embarrassed or not be scared to talk about it," Jaramillo said. "You have to be aware and take care of it."
Big Z, Cubs ready for return to South Side
CHICAGO -- The Cubs get to stay at home for their road trip as they travel eight miles south to U.S. Cellular Field on Monday for the first half of the Interleague series against the White Sox.
Cubs manager Mike Quade wouldn't name his designated hitter Sunday. In Boston in May, Aramis Ramirez was the designated hitter in the first game of the Interleague series against the Red Sox, and Alfonso Soriano was the DH in the next two games.
"We'll mix and match," Quade said. "[Ramirez] has been playing a lot. Maybe I can find a spot to give him a day where he [is the designated hitter]."
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
This will be Carlos Zambrano's first trip to U.S. Cellular Field since his dugout tantrum last June 25 after the first inning. He underwent anger management therapy and eventually returned to the rotation.
"I think he's well prepared," Quade said of Zambrano. "I've put all that behind me. I expect him to pitch well and be the guy he's been for three months, four months. He'll take the ball and pitch well, that's what I really care about."
The White Sox lead the series 41-37 and are 23-16 in games played on the South Side.
The pitching matchups will be Zambrano (5-4, 4.59 ERA) against Gavin Floyd (6-6, 3.94 ERA) on Monday; Matt Garza (3-6, 4.14 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (6-5, 3.75 ERA) on Tuesday; and Doug Davis (1-5, 4.95 ERA) against a starter to be determined on Wednesday. Jake Peavy may go for the White Sox in the series finale.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Alex Ruppenthal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.