September 1 comes Monday, and that means the Cubs can begin calling up minor-leaguers as rosters expand from 25 players.
Look for the Cubs to recall 3-4 players next week from Class AAA Iowa, a team that will be in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
The Cubs also are likely to activate pitcher Jon Lieber from the disabled list if today's rehab start for Class A Peoria goes well at Kane County. Lieber has been on the DL since July 18 with a strained right foot, but really, there has been no room for him on the roster.
Another "automatic" call-up, as one Cub put it, will be pitcher Angel Guzman, who has looked good in his rehab from elbow surgery.
The first position player to get the call will be hot-hitting first baseman-outfielder Micah Hoffpauir, who hit a grand slam Thursday for Iowa in an 8-3 win at Memphis.
Hoffpauir, who was with the big club earlier this year, had 99 RBI in 285 at-bats for Iowa entering Friday. His OPS (on-base plus slugging) at Iowa was 1.150.
Also excelling at Iowa of late has been pitcher Kevin Hart, whom the Cubs said hit 97 mph on his fastball five times Thursday. Hart will be a September call-up.
The Cubs will call players up from Iowa in a couple of different shifts so that Iowa has a chance in the playoffs. Look for center fielder Felix Pie (10th homer Thursday) and reliever Michael Wuertz to be back up. Veteran catcher Koyie Hill, who is not on the 40-man roster, also is expected to come up.
The Cubs aren't expected to make any call-ups from Class AA Tennessee. In all, the Cubs expect "32-33 players in the dugout, max," as one official put it.
Another first: Rookie reliever Jeff Samardzija earned his first big-league victory Friday by working 1 innings of relief.
"It feels great," said Samardzija, who said he may give the game ball to Carlos Marmol (1 innings, save). "A lot of the credit has to go to Marmol. He came in and pitched amazing. One out, I left two guys on, and (he got) 2 strikeouts."
Samardzija has an 0.96 ERA in 18 innings since his call-up from the minor leagues last month. His stuff wasn't great Friday - he walked two and gave up 2 hits - but he earned praise from his manager.
"He's fine," Lou Piniella said. "I thought he threw the ball OK. He really did. He's a young man pitching in a pennant race against some pretty good hitters. This is a learning curve for him, a learning experience. The more experience we can get him, the better he's going to be as the season goes on."
Samardzija said he was happy with his fastball but that his split-finger pitch was "staying flat."
The quote: Lou Piniella was asked if the Cubs were a "team of destiny" after equaling their victory total (85) of 2007.
"I don't believe in destiny," Piniella said. "I believe in good pitching and good defense and timely hitting. That's destiny. You do enough of that, you create your own destiny."
This and that: Starting pitcher Rich Harden reached 167 strikeouts, matching his career high, set in 2004 with the A's. ... The Cubs' 51 wins at home are their most since they won 51 in 1998. ... Cubs batters have walked at least once in 37 straight games.