Cubs Come Roaring Back With Brave Win

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Leave it to the veteran superstar Ben Zobrist to provide the fireworks in the Chicago Cubs thrilling 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves last night. This is an important series for the Cubs to win and they truly did it in that classic “Cubs Way”

“It was pretty nice in the fashion that we did it, too,” Addison Russell said. “I feel like there were opportunities there that it could have gone either way, but we capitalized. It was huge tonight.”

The game also marked the return of the Cubs’ offseason  acquisition Yu Darvish. He threw four innings with five strikeouts. It’s no surprise he was pulled after four innings of work. Whether it was his cramping or just coming back, Darvish had a decent game.

“He came up and talked to me and wanted to go back out, but I said, ‘No, I don’t think that’s wise,'” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “And that’s why I went and talked to the umpire to grab more time for [reliever Mike] Montgomery. I had to get Monty up quickly because of that, because I anticipated him going back out, but the guy, having been ill recently … He did a great job today, and that’s why I did what I did.”

I know we’ve been hard on the guy and most of it has been justified, but I think he’ll find his groove soon enough. My only concern about the deal was the Cubs could have got a couple more decent guys out thereon the market but they’re in the “Win now” mode with the team, so in that case it made sense. Last night was one of his better games.

“Definitely the worst I’ve ever experienced,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “Even after 10 days. I was coughing and even going upstairs made me tired … I thought I was 100 percent coming in. Once I started pitching I wasn’t 100 percent. Next four days I’ll eat a lot, train a lot and become 100 percent again.”

I hope so. Perhaps this is a new beginning?

“Dehydration is such a nasty little thing,” Maddon stated. “A lot of times it’s not given enough credit. People say ‘Eh, it’s not a big deal.’ But it is. It was something I didn’t want to press or push and it worked out well.”

With the win, the Cubs are one win behind Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. This series is big.

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Cubs Lose Make Up Game

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It was the makeup Jackie Robinson Day game and despite the long ball display, the Cubs lost the first game in a four game set with the Atlanta Braves 6-5.

Jose Quintana got roughed after giving up three home runs.

“Today we made a lot of mistakes — I consider them more mental than physical … just a mentally lethargic game early on.” Maddon said.

Even though the Cubs lost the game, the day belonged to Jackie Robinson.

“If you have [courage], if that’s part of your makeup, you can be a lot of different things,” Maddon said before Monday’s Braves-Cubs game, a makeup from April 15 when Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated around the Major Leagues. “But if you’re lacking that one quality, it’s very difficult to include the rest of the better qualities in life. [Robinson] is all of that — he speaks to courage and I’ve always respected that about him.”

Although before my time, his fearlessness was felt not just through sports but all walks of life. An important day.

Atlanta is one of those teams to beat. The Cubs had a difficult time yesterday but came through in the slugfest even though it wasn’t enough. The team moves to Atlanta for the next three games.

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Cubs/Braves Deliver a Baseball Classic

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Admitting this is the hard part; I was wrong. A crazy, unusual and a downright filthy game. When the score reached an abysmal 10-2, I believed that it was over. C’mon now, so did the rest of you. It was brutal and it didn’t look like there was much hope for the Cubs. I thought, “Great, it’s just another game of missed opportunities and this season is shot.”

Man, was I wrong.

The Cubs fought back, I wouldn’t say fought back, but were lucky. There were some really bad walks happening that the Cubs took advantage of and loaded the bases. Then, Javier “El Mago” Baez performed his tricks and the Cubs staged a monumental comeback win 14-10

“It was one of the craziest wins I have been a part of,” Kris Bryant said. “It was just a crazy turn of events. Windy, wet, cold, sideways rain, and we were able to overcome that. It says a lot about us and who we are. We don’t let the scoreboard dictate how we’re going to go out there and play, and that [game] was a prime example of that.”

I mean the temperature was 38 Fahrenheit( 4 degrees Celsius) not exactly baseball weather and to add insult to injury, it was 85 in Washington!

The Cubs literally, and for those of you who are just casual fans, you have to understand that the Cubs scored 9 runs on three hits! A 10-5 deficit at the bottom of the eighth?

Holy Cow!!!

“Baseball is not necessarily designed for this,” Joe Maddon said. “I don’t know to what extent in the future, maybe, they can talk about when even if it’s not actually physically snowing or raining, there might be elements that are not conducive to playing a legitimate game of baseball.”

Yeah, it really wasn’t baseball weather, but then again the weather wasn’t all that Aprilish anywhere. So, if yesterday’s game was any indication of things to come for the Cubs, then yeah, it was a real character building game that shouldn’t of been played in the first place. The Cubs are back to playing .500 ball and their comeback win was the most since 2008 when they came from behind to beat the Colorado Rockies 13-12, a deficit of eight runs.

“[It would have been] easy to pack that game in,” Maddon said. “[The win] obviously can be impactful, but you have to wait until tomorrow or the next day to find that out. I do know the guys are definitely going to go home feeling better about themselves. But I don’t get carried away yet by things like this — I really don’t.”

Maybe these Cubs are for real or maybe it was just a fluky game that according to Fangraphs, the Cubs had a 1.3% chance of winning. Hey Anthony Rizzo returns Monday. The best is yet to come!

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Cubs’ Darvish Struggles Continue

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There’s something really going wrong with the 2018 edition of the Chicago Cubs. Yesterday’s 4-0 shutout loss to the Atlanta Braves proved that without a doubt. The blame can no longer be put on cold conditions or April. Now, I’m not going to say that nothing can’t be fixed but the pessimism is starting to creep in a little bit.

The balk.

Was it a balk in the fifth inning or not? It didn’t look like a balk to me or perhaps a borderline balk at best.

“Obviously, everything went south after the balk, which was not a balk. It was not a balk, but it was called a balk,” Joe Maddon said. “It seemed to create a little bit of awkwardness. [Darvish] was doing well up to that point … then it came apart really quickly.”

It all came apart after that and the Cubs sure aren’t looking like they’re going to roar in the face of the competition this year. They’re below .500 and most importantly, they’ve lost 3 of 4 at Wrigley Field. Even the most casual of baseball fan knows those aren’t good numbers. What’s more, the most casualist(I think I made that word up but it works)  of casual fans realize that at $126 million big ones, Yu Darvish must perform at the top of the food chain in order for him to succeed at Chicago’s hallowed grounds. Cubs fans can easily forgive Jason Heyward‘s base blunders because his defence is aces. Darvish won’t be that lucky.

“[I was] frustrated,” Darvish said. “Again, because it had never occurred before. It was in a critical situation, and then it happened. So that’s frustrating.”

Of course it’s frustrating but it’s frustrating to us, the fans that we’re watching a Chicago Cubs team that isn’t playing up to their potential, has been shut out three times this season and their star first baseman is out with a back injury.

“It never helps to not have Rizzo. We have to win games like that. We’re not getting anything going. A couple good at-bats, couple well-struck balls but nothing with real consistency. Their pitcher had us off balance the entire game. He doesn’t throw as hard as he used to but he really knows how to pitch. He pitched well but we have to do a better job offensively.” Maddon said.

If Darvish was honest in his own assessment of his performance, then Maddon is quietly, in his own Maddon way, losing his patience with how the team is performing.

Today, Jose Quintana gets the ball and arguably, is the Cubs most effective thrower. He got a shutout on April 8th so perhaps he’s the guy who will turn the Cub’s performance around?

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Cubs’ Baez And Lackey Roar In Victory

I’m going to get a lot of flack for saying this, but John Lackey is not a great pitcher.

Anymore.

The one thing he is good at, in fact he’s down right awesome at is coming through when it counts. He’s a tough Texan and we all know how tough those Texans are, that he probably sat in the dugout or the locker room or in rush hour traffic and thought to himself, because he would never, ever give one of those locker room speeches a la J Hey. No, Lackey would simply say a four letter expletive tied in with a “If I have to carry these SOB’s on my back to win another trophy, damn it that’s what I’ll do”

Even the Umpire’s reconsidered an outside pitch after Big John shook his head at them because they fear him too.

Yesterday, the Cubs beat the Braves 2-0, they’ve won five straight and are 9-1 when Lackey starts.

“You definitely feel that what you’ve been working for is around the corner, but you have to keep working, keep pushing,” Lackey said. “It’s not there yet.”

What? This is exactly the reason the Cubs brass brought Lackey into the fold. When it counts, he wins ballgames.

So does Javier Baez. He got off to a rough start early in his career but has matured every season. Take yesterday’s dash to home after a Kyle Schwarber hit; it’s those kind of plays that are going to help the Cubs a lot going down the stretch. Baez has turned into one of the most dynamic players in the league.

“To be a good baserunner, you have to anticipate in advance,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You have to see things. I’ve compared it to a good running back in football. They talk about how he sees his blocking schemes, he sees his holes. [Baez] sees things that most other guys don’t see in advance of the moment. He just has that quickness about his mind when it comes to a lot of things on the field.”

He sees things and acts quickly. It’s a gift that is a refreshing change from the hitter’s game of about 15 years ago. I’ve always stressed that in the playoffs, small ball reigns supreme. Baez’s ability to move on the bag will someday earn him accolades.

“He’s got all of that in his bag of tricks,” Kyle Schwarber said. “It’s fun to watch — you see him make the backhand in the hole or steal home or whatever it is. It’s a lot of fun. I know it’s fun for everyone else to watch. We’re wowed as well.”

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Cubs Win Fourth Straight. Bryant Sets Franchise Record

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I don’t know what it is about the Atlanta Braves that I find so unappealing. I guess there’s one team that every sports fan doesn’t like. In the NFL, it’s the New England Patriots and in the NHL, it’s the Anaheim Ducks. So, it gives me great pleasure to see Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs defeat the Braves 6-2 but most importantly, Kris Bryant is now the first Chicago Cub to hit 25 homers in his first three seasons.

“He’s been playing through all kinds of nagging injuries,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant, who has dealt with ankle, wrist and hand injuries this season. “Give him credit. He’s an everyday player and he comes to play. Even if there’s no hits on a particular day, there’s been good defense, great base running, all the other stuff he can do to help you win a baseball game. That ball was really killed [for his homer] — that wind was firm.”

That’s the kind of player Bryant is. He plays through the pain and has quietly become a co leader with Anthony Rizzo to be the faces of the team.

The thing that was so impressive with the victory was that the Cubs didn’t feel like they were playing their best ball. Take Hendricks for instance, his last victory was that 17-2 shredding of the Phillies, but last night he felt a little “Weird”

“From the start today it was one of those days,” Hendricks said. “Uncomfortable. Felt weird. Command was terrible. My timing was off. I wasn’t staying over the rubber well. Today really the guys just made the plays behind me and scored enough runs.”

That’s what the game is about too. Sometimes it’s the pitcher doing all the work and other times it’s the team backing them up or in the rare cases, it’s both working together to pull out perfection. One of the cool things that Hendricks has in his repertoire is his ability to throw to first. He’s quick and accurate. I like that a lot about his style.

“He’s one of those guys who’s able to hold the ball and throw accurately to first base with quick feet,” Maddon said. “It might sound simple, but it’s not. It’s hard to get pitchers to hold the baseball sometimes.”

The Cubs are in a good spot right now with their fourth straight victory. Will we see the Champs cruise to another World Series?

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Cubs Sweep Braves, Head Home To Face Cardinals

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So, there’s been a dramatic change in the second half and the Chicago Cubs have been leading the way. Yesterday, the Cubs swept the Atlanta Braves in an 8-2 victory. Yeah, the Cubs are feeling pretty darn good about themselves after sweep. It’s six games in a row and have become baseball’s hottest team next to the Dodgers, who by the way have extended their streak to 11 games.

What?

“We won six in row, and we have this momentum,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I guess, synonymously, the vibe has been different. The vibe and energy has been great, and I want to see that continue.”

Of course you want it to continue. As fans, we want it to continue. If this were say like four years ago, this would be an amazing season, we’d be rejoicing that they’re four games over .500 and 1 1/2 games back of first in the Central Division, but this is the Cubs circa 2017, World Series Champs, so no, we’re not settling for that mediocre first half. Right now, at this time, the Cubs are playing like champs.

All right, so Mike Montgomery hit his first home run. I love it when the pitcher goes yard.   It validates the importance of pitchers hitting in the National League and adds that extra excitement to the game.

“I was happy about that. I got done pitching and came back in here and the ball was at my locker,” Montgomery said with a smile before getting serious. “The All-Star break was great for us. Since we’ve been back, there is a great vibe around here. We’re not too worried where we are in the standings, but we’ve been playing really good baseball.”

On a down note, the Cubs are worried about Kris Bryant after he left the first inning with a strained pinky finger sliding into third base. The good news is he’s listed Day-To -Day so he’ll be back in no time.

“I was kind of scared to look at my finger, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh,’ as this never ends up good,” Bryant said. “I don’t think anyone slides into someone’s foot and walks away from it. That was my initial reaction.”

The Cubs have an off day today but head home tomorrow to play heated rivals, the Cardinals. It’ll be their first home series since the break and a chance to unwind. They have momentum going into the series.

“We’re all on the same page,” Addison Russell said. “We’re all-in. We’re back to playing some Cubby baseball. Aggressive, having some fun and winning some ballgames.”

Perhaps that was the problem of the first half, they were missing the “Fun” part of the game.

“It is going to be great to get back home, and it is probably going to be hot,” Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber said. “It is going to be a lot of fun, as the bleachers are going to be packed, I’m sure.”

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