A Loss Only a Mother Can Love

White Sox 5, Cubs 3

When the Cubs lost yesterday, it wasn’t due to the pitching, although I’m biased. Kyle Hendricks pitched well in the 5-3 defeat.

“I felt I threw better,” Hendricks said. “It was better than my last start — fastball command was better, good changeups. A couple bad pitches today, and they got hit. It’s just the nature of the game. You just have to stick with it and stick with the routine.”

The thing I’ve found with Hendricks’ pitching is when he gets caught, there’s no way out of it but when he’s on, then then he’s unbeatable. The Cubs are one game back of Milwaukee but they take the series against the White Sox. Tonight, they start an important series against Atlanta who are red hot.

“Regardless of the results, even during the losing streak, we were locked in and putting together good at-bats. It’s one of those things where it just has to come together. It’s the nature of the game, and sometimes you just get beat. I think we just run into some teams that get the best of us. We’re playing good baseball now. If we stick with it, we’ll end up where we need to be.” Hendricks said.

They will. They are playing good baseball right now so if they stick to the plan, the team will gel. Guys like Javier Baez and Willson Contreras have stepped it up a few and are having banner seasons.

The thing is that they can’t continue to be streaky. Yesterday’s game was about missed opportunities. Addison Russell let one slip away on an Ian Happ double.

“Just a bad read,” Russell admitted on getting thrown out. “Just overaggressive, just wanting to score. Hard-hit by Kyle. It’s either you go one way or you go the other way. I chose the wrong way.”

The good news is that the Cubs know what they have to do to fix these costly mistakes and they can do it.

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Willson!!!! Cubs Pull Up White Sox in Win

City Series Game 2: White Sox at Cubs

I’ve been looking at the standings and came to the realization that the Cubs aren’t in a bad spot. With their 8-4 win over the White Sox yesterday, the Cubs have now won five in a row and sit 1/2 game out of first in the Central Division. Whatever happened in April was just a hiccup in the season. They’re not out of any danger yet but everything’s clicking well and how about Willson Contreras? He connected on his third home run of the series as well as adding three RBI’s.

“It’s no surprise to me — I think that’s who he is,” Joe Maddon said of Contreras, who is 10-for-15 with three doubles, two triples, three homers and 11 RBIs in his last three games. “When he’s right, he hits better pitching, he hits better pitching hard, he puts balls in gaps and over walls. He’ll move the baseball with two strikes. That’s what I’m seeing, and on top of that, his catching is very good, too.”

What’s interesting with this win streak is the Cubs are feeling loose. I’m hesitant to say having fun but the whole team is feeling the looseness and getting warm. There’s also Javier Baez, whom I said should hit lead off, was practically a one man show. He had a triple, a single and stole a base.

“He’s just so smart and so athletic that he can make up for mistakes,”Jon Lester said. “That’s where you see the swim move [at second] today and running the bases. The game just looks easy to him. He has the potential to be that guy.”

Not only will Baez be an All Star this year, he very well could wind up an MVP candidate.

Today is Mother’s Day. Bring out the pink bats because Kyle Hendricks takes to the mound going for his second straight win. He’s an inning eater going seven innings in his last three games. He’s that guy that goes under the radar, gets the job done and spares the bullpen.

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Cubs’ Willson Contreras Keeps Everything Grand

Cubs 11, White Sox 2

The Cubs are on a roll and when they beat the White Sox, that roll is like an avalanche. Yesterday, Willson Contreras and the Chicago Cubs downed the White Sox 11-2 but that wasn’t the best part; Contreras connected with a grand slam and finished the game with seven RBI’s.

“I love when he hits the ball to left-center, and when it goes out, it’s even better,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Contreras. “My take on him is when he’s driving the ball in the gap, he’s on top of his game. That’s what I saw last year. That’s what I saw today.”

Of any teams, beating their crosstown rivals is always a milestone of the season and could help the team turn things around. The Cubs are 1.5 games back and see no signs of slowing down. They’ve won four in a row as well as Kris Bryant hitting his fourth home run in five games. It was a banner game.

“I’m really happy to be part of this team. I’m really happy with everything that’s going on. I’m happy to have my family here in Chicago and happy to have my wife here,” Contreras said. “I’m just happy about everything that’s going on.”

The rivalry between the two clubs brings out the fierce competitiveness. It’s great for the city because few teams have that honour of crosstown rivalry. Mets/Yankees? Angels/Dodgers. It doesn’t have nor will it ever bring out that competitiveness with the teams. Families are split, friendships divided when it comes down to it. What if they played in the World Series?

“I’d love to be there for that,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Friday prior to the start of the intracity Interleague series between the two teams. “That probably is the epitome. When we got here, of course, the goal was to get there and win it, and we have [in 2016], and we’re looking to get back. To do it intracity like that would be pretty spectacular. Talk about energy — oh, my God. I hope I’m around for that moment to occur. I think it would be pretty spectacular.”

For now, these games are what matters. It’s about friendship, family and the love of baseball.

“It’s always fun. Any time you have a legitimate rivalry, it’s good, and it’s good for the fan bases on both sides, and it’s good for baseball. It’s entertaining. It’s interesting. I have not been here long enough, but I’m starting to catch the vibe. Even though the one team is not not doing so well, they’ll be ready to play.”

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Cubs Postpone Opener, White Sox Did Not

Snowy home opening day at Wrigley

Well that was the strangest Cubs home opener that I can remember. We booked the time off work to watch the big game only to realize that the game was being delayed by an hour. No big deal, Mary Beth went out for a few groceries and we’d be set.

Wrong.

She sent me a text to say that she read that the snow was too much and they’d cancel the game until today. Here’s the kicker;

The White Sox played. What?

“On the way out [to the ballpark], I had no idea if I was going to the Cubs Convention or Opening Day, so I think it was the right thing to do,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said of the postponement. “I woke up and saw everything going on, and you look at the [weather] map and you look at Tuesday being an open day and a much better forecast and I thought it would be a prudent thing and we did it.”

Of course today would be a much better day. The day we have to go back to work. I’m not mad, just frustrated.

“I’m glad it was them and not me,” said Bossard (The Sodfather), who communicated with Spillman throughout Monday morning. “Justin Spillman is one of the better young groundskeepers in baseball and used the water procedure too. But if you have more than two inches of snow, you’re not going to be able to do it. They made the right call. They had more snow.”

It’s an 11 mile difference, right?

“What snow? We’re from Chicago, where the hell is the snow?” Cubs fan Anita Lopez said. “If the South Side can play ball, the North Side should play ball; there’s no crying in baseball.”

Hey, we had our Opening Day celebration despite watching a White Sox game.

Anyways, today is the Cubs Home Opener, Anthony Rizzo is on the disabled list and I’ll miss it all.

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Cubs Take Over First Place In Central

Image result for anthony rizzo

There’s no denying the Cubs are on a roll. After last night’s 8-3 victory over the White Sox, the Cubs took over first place in the National league Central, and may I say that is where they belong. Six games over .500 and 10-2 since the break, it seems like everything is going according to plan.

“When we traded for [Jose Quintana], that’s a huge addition to our ballclub as we’ve seen in his past couple starts,” Arrieta said. “Just seeing how he carries himself in between starts is a really good sign.

“That trade right there is one that is going to pay huge dividends for this ballclub, and not only for this year but the next couple years,” Jake Arrieta said. “We’re a great team right now.”

Whether the trade bolstered their rotation or not, the difference in the halves of the season is astonishing. Although, they have a long way to go before catching the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs are feeling more confident as the season wears on.

“We’re feeling it,” Arrieta said about being in first place again. “We expect to remain in first place throughout the rest of the way. We know it will be a tough task, but that’s what you deal with at the highest level of sports. You expect to have really good competition from teams that are either equal with you or close behind.

“We feel we’ve got the group that can separate ourselves at this point in time and remain in first place for the rest of the way,” he said.

With the captain Anthony Rizzo leading the way with a 4 RBI night, the Cubs certainly looked like the Cubs of last year, I was going to say old, but we know what that was like. In a weird way, I’d like a do over of the All Star game and invite a few more Cubs to the party but let’s face it, there weren’t many Cubs All Stars in the lineup.

“It’s always a good feeling to wake up that way. I’ll get to the coffee shop in the morning [on Thursday], I’ll have the headset on, write the lineup, read the New York newspapers and get ready for my day.” Maddon said.

Their next series against the Brewers should prove whether they stay in first place for the rest of the season or not.

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Chicago’s Crosstown Cup Is a Hit

Image result for chicago cubs kris bryant

Kris Bryant got mad yesterday. Real mad. In the Chicago Cubs 7-2 dismantling of their Crosstown rivals, Bryant was thrown out of the game after a questionable call from the umpire that the ball was many inches off of the plate.

“[I’m] actually kind of surprised [I was ejected]. It was a disagreement, but I don’t think it was too animated,” Bryant said. “It’s frustrating. I know he’s trying to do the best job he can. I’m trying to do the best job I can. … I don’t want to be that guy that gets thrown out of games. I try to be professional on the field, but like I said, I have to stick up for myself sometimes.”

Bryant can barely remember being thrown out of a game let alone this being the first time in a major league appearance.

Let’s get back to that White Sox/Cubs rivalry. There were some errant pitches which connected with the batters and I feel really bad for John Lackey. There’s only so much an arm can take and I’m afraid he’s going to be dealt at the deadline.

“John’s the guy who normally challenges anybody and everybody,” Maddon said. “I think the wind was probably aiding the ball to left field today, and that was probably in his thought process.”

The tough Texan is if the word “expendable” is associated with Lackey, is exactly what he is. The Cubs are fighting for playoff contention and Lackey understands that. He’s not quite ready for reliever status but not exactly starting material anymore, so what are the Cubs going to do?

“If you were to bring somebody else in, there’s really a lot of moving parts [that] would have to occur for something like that [to happen],” Maddon said. “That has not been a part of my discussions with Theo and Jed.”

Not yet.

Yu Darvish’s name has been brought into the fold but is that who the Cubs need or will the Cubs go after another bat?

“I really think what we need is right here, and I mean that sincerely,” Maddon said. “I think the guys have been trending in the right direction.”

The Cubs have been fighting with the Brewers for first place in the Central and like a see saw, which wasn’t the scenario the Cubs thought they’d be in at this time of the year, the Cubs will face more ups and downs before the season is over.

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Cubs Lose But Welcome The Professor Back

Image result for kyle hendricks

Kyle Hendricks is always hard on himself. He was even harder on himself after the Cubs 3-1 loss to crosstown rivals, Chicago White Sox. While his comeback lasted only 4 1/2 innings, the road to recovery will take a few more games to get his sync back with the team.

“Just too many innings today for the bullpen to cover, really. That’s my fault,” Hendricks said of the loss. “I think that’s just a factor of me getting in my routine, getting in my bullpen routine, throwing again every day, just getting my legs back underneath me.

“Being on five days [moving forward] I think suits me a lot better. It’s just more normalcy in a way.”

Baseball is a game built on rhythm. To find that groove where pitchers can throw their best pitches at will, takes time. Sure, it takes a lot of skill and practice but timing and rhythm is everything.

“He was not what you would call ‘on.’ He’d be the first one to tell you that,” Maddon said. “But he threw [92] pitches, which is good to get him stretched out moving into the next start. The fact that he got out of there with one run — I was really pleased with that, too. It’s just a good outing to build off of.”

A 92 pitch outing is decent enough and even better when coming off the DL. If it were up to me and I suspect in a perfect world, pitcher’s would show at least 100 pitches and last 7 1/2 innings minimum. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, but for me, the ideal outing would be those benchmarks.

So let’s talk about the trade deadline coming up. The Cubs are playing good ball and I don’t have to tell you about the success of Jose Quintana who is all ready 2-0 since joining the Northsiders but what else is there for the Cubs to acquire? Catching? I think that’s a safe bet because as we know, Willson Contreras might get a little burnt out before the end of the season if he keeps playing the way he’s been doing.

“We have a couple more days to put it all together,” Maddon said of the Deadline. “Of course, that makes sense [to get a veteran backup] — I can’t deny that. I don’t know if that will happen or not. That’s not denigrating Victor. Victor is at a point in his development that you don’t want him sitting around much.”

The “Victor” is rookie Victor Caratini who’s been doing fine as a back up but is he up to the grind of a potential playoff run or should they go with a veteran?

The Cubs are 8-2 since the break and are finally finding their rhythm can they keep it up?

“We all understand in this clubhouse it’s an exciting time,” Jason Heyward said. “It’s the second half, we’re playing for the playoffs and the division race is close. It’s exciting. It’s where you want to be. … It’s fun. Embrace that.”

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