Kyuji Fujikawa’s first stint as the Cubs’ closer didn’t last long due to a right forearm strain, but he could get another chance soon.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that Fujikawa threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session today, his second since he was placed on the disabled list earlier this month. While Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald that he didn’t look particularly “crisp,” he’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session Thursday and should begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Iowa. He’ll likely need a few appearances before he’s cleared to rejoin the Cubs’ bullpen.
Fujikawa, who came over from Japan this winter on a two-year, $9.5 million contract, allowed six runs on eight hits and one walk over 4 1/3 innings prior to the injury. The Cubs have relied on a closer-by-committee during his absence, with the dynamic duo of Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol notching saves in the past week.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.