Cubs Get Shut Out On Father’s Day

Cardinals 5, Cubs 0

How great would it have been if the Cubs completed the sweep on Father’s Day of the St. Louis Cardinals? Two rivals, one on the way up, and the other, just being there. The Cubs lost 5-0 and remain a half game back of the Brewers.

A scary incident occurred when Javier Baez left the game after being hit by a pitch.

“I’m fine,” Baez said. “It’s just really sore. It got me really good right on the elbow. I thought the pain was going to go away right away, but it kind of numbed my whole arm and even my ribs. We’ve been icing it. It feels pretty sore, but I know I’m good.”

There was nothing funny about that. The Cubs haven’t hit as many home runs as they have in the past but they’ve made contact more. Home Runs are exciting but give me guys on base any day then going yard. Now, don’t get me wrong; going yard is incredible to see it’s not everything.

“I think it’s something we have to evaluate over a little bit of a longer period of time,” general manager Jed Hoyer said regarding the Cubs’ reduced power. “We haven’t hit as many home runs, and in theory that’s concerning, but it’s a small sample. Let’s look later on and see where we’re at.”

It’s not the Cubs biggest worry. You can spin any cliche you want but a win is a win. Last night, the Cubs couldn’t manage a run and that happens from time to time. They’re stringing together the wins when it counts and staying with the pack.

“We’re all out there trying to do our jobs and put ourselves in the best position to win a baseball game,” Kyle Schwarber said. “Getting on base is the simplest form of that.”

If the Cubs go on to compete this fall, it’ll be a more well balanced team than the 2016 World Series guys.

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Heyward Hits Back

Cubs 6, Cardinals 3

Jason Heyward launched his fourth home run of the season as the Cubs won the series from the Cardinals last night with a score of 6-3. it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Cubs did it.

“Love it,” Joe Maddon said of the clutch hitting. “Listen, that is my No. 1 priority offensively. Homers will come. Pitchers throw homers. When hitters try to hit homers on all the pitches thrown to them, the results are normally bad. Let pitchers throw you home runs. Be in position to hit the ball hard with two strikes. Understand they’re not giving you that pitch to drive out of the ballpark. Why not adapt? That’s where the action will come back into the game, that’s where you’ll get more movement, that’s where you’ll get the entertainment you’re looking for.”

On the pitching side of things, Kyle Hendricks snapped a  three game losing streak. He’s had problems giving up home runs but also has never let it get to him too much, he’s been able to bounce back and deliver solid outings, which is his MO.

“A couple years in the big leagues has helped that,” Hendricks said. “If it was early in my career, I might have a different thought process. It’s one of those things. I’m battling and getting really hurt when I make a bad pitch. There’s nothing I can do, I can’t get it back. That’s where my focus is now — the next pitch.”

But last night’s game was all really Heyward. He’s settled in this season and finally been able to quiet the naysayers. It’s been a rough go for Heyward since joining the Cubs a few seasons ago.

“What was that a 99, 100 mile an hour fastball? He got to it easily,” Maddon said. “He’s the guy that’s really ascended among the group. He’s made all the difference by hitting second and providing some big hits in the latter part of the game. He’s really good as the game gets in progress.”

So, the two big names were Hendricks and Heyward. The run support was there for Hendricks and Heyward came through in the clutch. A couple of other heroes were Ian Happ and Willson Contreras with two out RBI’s. Folks, those are the kind of plays that win ballgames in October.

The Cubs close out the series tonight on Father’s Day which I know most baseball loving Dad’s will be watching tonight. Bring out the blue bats and enjoy.

I’m going golfing today.

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Bryant Breaks Slump

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Nobody needs to explain the importance of divisional series in Major League Baseball.

Nobody.

Especially not Kris Bryant who busted out of his slump in a big way. In fact, he saved it for the St Louis Cardinals as the Cubs defeated the redbirds 13-5 in the opening of a three game series.

“When we come here and play the Cardinals and see the red and blue and the fans going crazy, it does make it a little different,” Bryant said. “We realize it’s going to be a dogfight from here on out with the Brewers and Cardinals. It’s nice to start off the series with a win.”

Says the guy who crushes a two run homer. His first since May 15th

“I know there’s going to be plenty more times in my career when [I have a homerless streak], and it’s all part of the journey,” Bryant said. “As much as we hate it as players, everybody goes through it at some point in their careers. It’s nothing new to me. On the surface it might look like everything has been peachy and pretty easy for me, but it never felt easy.”

There will be but I hope it’s not going to happen for the rest of the season. The Cubs are a game and a half out of first in the Central. It’s turning into a tough season. The Cubs have been there before. They’ve felt the losing and the winning. I’m never going to say that the Cubs winning last night was a corner turner but when they play the Cardinals and the Brewers, it’s always exciting.

“I think the biggest thing we can do is when stuff like [the losses] happens, these guys show up the next day like it never happened,” Jon Lester said. “I think that’s what’s key. You can dwell on it that day, that night, but the next day, when you show up to the field … it’s hard, but you try to leave it behind you and get after it on that particular day. We did that today. Guys had great at-bats. Obviously, when you’re able to hit the ball over the fence, that helps.”

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Cubs See Saw For First In NL Central

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It’s amazing how a day can change the course of the game. Last night, the Cubs fell to the Brewers 4-0 and it just seemed nothing went their way. For example, a hit that would have cleared Eric Thames’ glove, ended up being a leaping grab. Kris Bryant went 0 for 4 and let me be the one to tell you that when he ain’t hitting, the team’s not doing much. Wait a minute, I said that about Anthony Rizzo, didn’t I?

“It’s all about being patient, and that’s who I am,” Bryant said. “The last three, four games haven’t been great, but I think there’s a lot of people who would want to be in my shoes. Sometimes it’s all about perspective. My expectations are really high, and that’s the greatest and worst thing in the world. That’s how I look at it.”

Sometimes I think he’s been hanging around Joe Maddon too much.

It’s no secret that Bryant hasn’t been himself lately. Maddon’s been trying to mix things up by sticking him at leadoff but most importantly, just being patient with the Cubs’ third baseman.

“He hit that ball good to left field, but overall he’s been off his game,” Maddon said. “I am certain he’s going to be fine. There are some really good hitters who have gone through a little bit of a funk. It happens. You stay with the guy, and you know he’s good and he’ll come out of it. In the meantime, you make sure he’s OK because he’s going to beat himself up a little bit.”

It’s hard not to stay with the former ROY and MVP NL/ WSC, I was on a roll with the acronyms, but it’s true. He’ll get out of it and right back on track. Last night, it was all Brewers and they regained their top position, proving that this rivalry ain’t going nowhere.

“We just could not mount an attack,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Anderson has been difficult against us in the past and he was again tonight. There was not a whole lot going on. Two doubles beat us.”

Today’s game should be a wild affair with both teams battling for top dog and then it’s a day off for the Cubs. Will Bryant end his slump, will Rizzo continue his Rizzoing ways, or will the Cubs beat the Brewers, end up in first before heading out to St. Louis for the weekend? Tune in my friends.

“This is where you learn the most about yourself and what drives you and what are you going to do. I still have those feelings in my gut before the game and I know they’re there. I want to go out there and do well, and the day those aren’t there, I shouldn’t be playing. I come to the field excited every day that I can do something that nobody has ever done before, and that’s what keeps me going.” Bryant said

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Cubs Dominate In Extra Innings. First Place In National League

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The Cubs beat the Brewers 7-2 but not only did they beat Milwaukee, they captured first place in the NL Central division and first place in the National League. I’ve got to admit that I was a naysayer in April. “They were supposed to have the best rotation in baseball” and “They’re predicted to go all the way” but then April happened and the Cubs were losing fast. Last night was a hard fought win anchored by Anthony Rizzo in extra innings with a home run blasted in pretty much the same spot where another was considered a foul ball not a couple of innings before.

“It’s fun playing here,” Rizzo said. “They’re a good team. The fans are into it. They’re engaged. You’ve got the Cubs fans and Brewers fans going at it the whole game. These are tough games. We know they’re tough games. Which way is the ball going to fall? And for us, it’s fallen our way.”

These two teams have created in recent years one of the most dynamic rivalries in sports. It matters that they’re practically up the road from each other and most of the fans are Cubs fans in attendance. Much to the chagrin of Brewers fans, you can hear so much Cubs fans cheering in the stands.

So, let’s talk about Jason Heyward. He’s been on some kind of roll lately coming through in clutch situations and hitting really well off left handed pitchers.

“I just feel like I’m able to make adjustments on the fly and keep it simple and know I don’t have to think too much. I know what I’m trying to use, just trying to use my hands. After that, you’re able to focus on who you’re facing on the mound and that’s the thing at the end of the day. Good guy or good stuff or not, you’ve got to try to hit strikes and keep it simple.” Heyward said.

He’s batting .323 in his last seven outings. In fact he’s almost hit his total of triples from last year.

“He’s swinging the bat really well,” Maddon said. “His setup is entirely different, and with that, he’s making a better pass at the baseball, and that’s it. There’s nothing new or different from him. He’s just setting up better. You see how the ball is coming off the bat. It’s snapping and there’s no push in his swing. That’s the difference.”

The Cubs are on pace to put four in the All Star game. Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are all leaders in the balloting. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the voting system. It should all be done by merit only but it is what it is I guess.

The Cubs need to sweep the Brewers if they want to solidify their dominance. They’ve been playing extremely well and perhaps they needed the early season failures in order to reach this point in the season. #EverybodyIn

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Cubs End Winning Streak But Face Tough Week

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Yesterday’s game was a tough loss. It could have been the foggy conditions but the 7-1 loss was taken on the chin. Kyle Hendricks pitched decent but gave up a home run to Josh Harrison. It was one of the shortest games for Hendricks this season.

The Cubs took Hendricks out of the game in the fifth for a chance to get some runs on the board. It didn’t quite work out the way they wanted too but that’s baseball.

“Got a chance to get on the board and you’ve got to take it,” Hendricks said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but nine times out of 10 with Tommy that’s going to work.”

“It was all set up,” Maddon said. “We’ve got the best pinch-hitter in the league coming up, and he just happens to hit into a double play, which is going to happen on occasion. Kyle did his job, everything was right there, we just did not get the hit.

“National League, baby. He was taken out of the game on a National League move. American League, he’s going back out.”

The Cubs open up a series in Milwaukee tonight and it won’t be pretty. Everyone says that this is the most important series of the season, or at least I do, but in this case it has to be true for the Cubs. They’re half a game behind the Brewers for the National league Central, they’re in a heated rivalry this season with them and it’s in Milwaukee.

“I think the best way to approach when you’re playing really good teams within your division is to not get too farsighted,” Joe Maddon said. “This is the micro time, man. It’s about Monday. Then it will be about Tuesday. Then it will be about Wednesday.”

As much as I think Joe Maddon is the most awesome manager in the game, his grasp of the obvious is just too, well, obvious. It’s going to be a tough week because after the Brewers series, the Cubs will have a day off before heading to St. Louis to face the Cardinals. This will be the week that will define the rest of the Cubs’ season.

“Maybe that they might be coming for us a little harder. They know the outcomes of this season so far,” he said. “But again, being in our division, regardless of what’s happened, it’s going to be thrilling, competitive [games] no matter what. We know we’re going to get their best, and we’ve just got to go up there and keep playing good baseball.”

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Something Happ-ened in Chicago

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Um, Ian Happ was incredible in yesterday’s 3-1 win over the Pirates and Kris Bryant was next to awesome in the leadoff. Bryant has been in a little bit of a slump lately and Joe Maddon being Joe Maddon decided to mix things up and try the other half of the Bryzzo team in the leadoff position. It was Bryant’s first time in the spot and it worked. He went 3 for 4 and of course, the Cubs won.

“My expectations of myself are high and I get frustrated with myself easily, because I expect a lot of myself and my teammates expect a lot of me and I want to give it all I’ve got,” Bryant said. “Sometimes, when you don’t feel right in terms of mechanics and stuff like that, it’s frustrating. That’s kind of where I’ve been at. I think there are a lot of people who would love to trade what I’m doing this year, and that’s my perspective now.”

Another guy in a slump is Ian Happ but yesterday his glove was on display catching three amazing grabs out in the field.

“I was kind of fueled by being told I couldn’t play a bunch of defensive spots and being labeled as a hitter only and a minus defender,” Happ said. “Being able to make the plays and help the guys is all that matters.

In the end that’s all that matters. The Cubs are still a half game back of Milwaukee and slowly catching their second wind in the standings.

So, we know that Anthony Rizzo has had a slow start this season but lately he’s been on a tear and appropriately, a few years ago Joe Maddon stated that “When Dexter Fowler goes, we go” Now that Fowler is no longer a Chicago Cub, Anthony Rizzo, their fearless clubhouse leader has graciously stepped up into that role on the team. In an article by Cubbie’s Crib, they talk about that phenomenon with the Cubs that they’re winning when Rizzo is hitting. It’s true, moments before Jason Heyward hit his grand slam the other day, Rizzo predicted it would happen.

The Cubs are playing great ball at the right time. It was after the All Star game last year when they put on the jets to turn the season around but doing it this time gives them a great cushion. There’s no doubt the Cubs are going places but the key to a successful run now is Yu Darvish. Or do they really need him?

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