9/8/2013 9:15 P.M. ET
Castillo, Navarro face tough test with Reds' speed
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro will likely be tested in the next three days as they face the Reds and speedster Billy Hamilton.
"There's one thing you learn about speed like that is the more you try to stop it, the more bad pitches you throw," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said about dealing with someone like Hamilton. "You don't really stop that kind of speed, otherwise people would've stopped it. If you want to keep slide stepping or if you want to keep holding or if you want to keep throwing over, the next thing you know, you give up the two-run homer or three-run homer because you're so worried about something that's 99 percent chance going to happen anyway."
Castillo ranks 23rd in the National League in caught stealing percentage combined with the pitchers, but he is fifth in the NL in runners caught stealing (19). Navarro is tied for 15th, having thrown out nine base stealers.
While Hamilton will try to aggravate the pitchers, it's up to Castillo and Navarro to keep them focused. The two catchers have combined to catch every inning for the Cubs this year, and they are one of three pairs of Major League backstops to do that this year. The Angels' duo of Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger and the Rays' Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton also have caught all of their respective team's games.
Last season, the Cubs used six catchers: Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Koyie Hill, Blake Lalli, Anthony Recker and Geovany Soto.
Minor League affiliates face must-win games
CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Double-A Tennessee, Class A Daytona and Class A Boise teams all face must win situations on Monday.
Tennessee beat Birmingham, 10-7, on Sunday to even the best-of-five Southern League North Division Championship Series at two wins apiece. The deciding Game 5 will be on Monday.
The Smokies totaled 11 hits. Matt Szczur and Jonathan Mota each had three RBIs and Arismendy Alcantara hit a two-run single in the third and Taylor Davis hit a two-run double in the sixth. Szczur hit a two-run double with two outs in the fourth and added a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Mota hit an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run triple in the eighth.
On Saturday, Tennessee scored six runs in the eighth to beat Birmingham, 9-2, and avoid elimination. Javier Baez hit a two-run homer in the first to back Eric Jokisch, who gave up two runs over 7 2/3 innings. John Andreoli had two doubles and two RBIs, and Szczur had an RBI.
Jonathan Quinonez delivered a pinch-hit solo home run in the eighth and a walkoff RBI single in the ninth to lead Charlotte over Daytona, 3-2, in the Florida State League Championship. The two teams will meet on Monday in Game 4 in the best-of-five series.
Corey Black gave up one hit over six scoreless innings, and Dan Vogelbach and Chadd Krist each drove in a run. Vogelbach hit an RBI single in the first, and Krist hit an RBI double in the seventh. Pin-Chieh Chen also had three hits. Charlotte then scored in the eighth on Quinonez's solo home run, and rain stopped play for 1 hour 33 minutes.
When play resumed, Charlotte had Ryan McChesney at second with one out in the eighth, and McChesney tried to score on Jake Hager's single. But center fielder Zeke DeVoss threw McChesney out at home. Charlotte manager Brady Williams argued the call, and was ejected. Willie Argo then grounded out to end the inning.
Jeff Malm hit a game-tying RBI single with one out in the Charlotte ninth off Zach Cates, and Quinonez, who stayed in the game in left, delivered the game-winning RBI single.
On Saturday, Daytona beat Charlotte, 2-0, as Ivan Pineyro threw seven shutout innings. Kris Bryant hit a double, Vogelbach hit an RBI single in the first, and Krist had an RBI.
Vancouver beat Boise, 4-2, on Sunday to force a third and decisive game Monday for the Northwest League championship in the best-of-three series. Corbin Hoffner took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings in front of 4,655. Boise starter Paul Blackburn struck out nine over five innings, and gave up one run on three hits. Jordan Hankins hit an RBI double in the second for Boise to tie the game at 1. The Hawks didn't score again until the eighth when pinch-hitter Jesse Hodges doubled and eventually scored on Danny Lockhart's single.
Boise is seeking its first Northwest League title since 2004.
• Infielder Cody Ransom was designated for assignment on Sunday to make room on the Cubs' 40-man roster for pitcher Scott Baker, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list to start in the series finale against the Brewers.
Ransom batted .189 in 62 games with nine home runs, 10 doubles and 20 RBIs. He was used primarily against left-handed pitchers, batting .220 against southpaws.
"It's a weird time to designate somebody, Sept. 8," Sveum said. "It's an unfortunate thing, but it's part of the business."
Baker has been rehabbing all season from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, which he had in April 2012.
• Right-hander Daniel Bard, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, threw a second bullpen on Sunday. There is no timetable for him to get into a game, and he may not appear in the Cubs' remaining 20 games.
"It'd be nice to see, but it's his timetable and we'll evaluate and we'll find out how he's doing and how he's feeling," Sveum said.
Bard was sidelined most of the season with a strained abdominal muscle and struggled with his consistency.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.