Published July 20, 2013
| Sports Network
As trade rumors hover around the Chicago Cubs, they did see part of their future have an impact right out of the gate following the All- Star break.
After an exciting major league debut, Junior Lake aims to lead the Cubs to a series victory on Saturday night against the Colorado Rockies in the second contest of a three-game series.
With outfielders David DeJesus, Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic all on the disabled list, the Cubs on Friday recalled Lake from Triple-A Iowa, where the 23-year-old was hitting .295 with four homers, 18 RBI and 14 steals in 40 games.
Rated the ninth-best prospect in the Cubs' organization by MLB.com, Lake made his debut in center field and hit sixth in Friday's 3-1 victory over the Rockies, going 3-for-4 with a double and stolen base.
"Since I've been here, that's the first kid that's come up and really looked like a Major Leaguer," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "(He) was aggressive on the bases, did a great job. Swung the bat really nice."
As did Anthony Rizzo, who hit the go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning. That allowed Jeff Samardzija to earn his first victory since June 23 as he allowed just one run over 7 1/3 innings.
Chicago has won seven of its last 10 overall and three of four versus Colorado this season. The Cubs' victory in the opener was just its fourth in its last 18 games at Colorado.
"We've been doing pretty good on the road, we've been winning on the West Coast, we've been beating good teams, we've been pitching good against really good offenses," Sveum said. "It brings a light to your team and gives everyone confidence."
However, the Cubs are still eight games under .500 and 15 games back of first place in the NL Central and will likely be sellers ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline. In fact, starter Matt Garza figures to be dealt within the next few days.
The Rockies are a bit closer in their chase for first in the NL West, sitting 4 1/2 games off the pace despite having alternated wins and losses over their last nine games. They have not won consecutive games since June 28-29.
Dexter Fowler homered in Friday's loss and Jorge De La Rosa allowed one run over six innings of a no-decision.
Colorado, which only recently got Fowler and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki back in the lineup from injury, has been held to three runs or fewer in five straight and in nine of its last 11 games.
"I'm not overly concerned about our offense," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Getting back to full strength here, I think our offense will get rolling."
Juan Nicasio opens up his second half for the Rockies looking to stay in the strike zone.
A lack of command earned Nicasio a brief trip to Triple-A, but he returned to the Rockies and won for the first time in eight starts last Friday versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. He snapped a six-game slide by holding the division rivals to just three hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings.
Nicasio, making his first start with Colorado since June 25, won for the first time since May 19.
The 26-year-old righty is 5-4 with a 4.89 earned run average in 17 starts this season.
Nicasio faced the Cubs for the first time in his career on May 13 and lost 9-1. He yielded five runs -- all over the first two innings -- over a six- frame outing.
Taking the mound for the Cubs on Saturday will be Carlos Villanueva, who makes his third start since returning to the rotation.
The right-hander is 2-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 26 games this season, going 1-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 10 starts. He rejoined the rotation following the trade of Scott Feldman.
Villanueva kept his club in Friday's meeting with St. Louis, but ended up taking a 3-2 loss. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings of work.
"I thought I came out well," Villanueva said. "I just couldn't put those guys away. I had a couple of them with two strikes. We did exactly what we wanted to do, just didn't execute the pitches."
The 29-year-old is 0-2 with a 10.71 ERA in 12 career meetings with the Rockies. Only one of those was a start and that came on May 14, when Villanueva was tagged for seven runs in five innings of work. He allowed home runs in the second and third inning.