Cubs On Slippery Slope After Loss To Rockies

Canuck Cubbie

Despite their fourth loss in a row, the Cubs are sitting in second place in the National League Central division. You know what that means? It’s not a very good division, is it? Yesterday, the Cubs fell to the Rockies in a 9-1 disaster.

“We can’t panic. If we’re panicking, we’re not going to be playing the way we can. You’re going to start gripping the bat tighter, gripping the ball tighter, and then that’s when you really mess up. It’s OK for the fans to worry and all that. I mean, it’s just natural. Some people don’t have control over what we do. But we have the control, and it’s just up to us to kind of work harder.” Kris Bryant said.

It’s a case of two teams going in the opposite direction. I mean, the Rockies are becoming the team to beat this year with a seven game win streak and are second in baseball.

What?

So, I have an idea. Why not insert Jason Heyward into the lead off spot. Arguably, he’s the Cubs most improved player and through 48 games has an OBP of .314 and SLG of .394 The Cubs had five hits yesterday.

Five hits!

Does anyone have an answer for the Cubs woes?

“It happens to everybody. I’m sure if you ask every other team, they’re going to tell you the same thing,” Joe Maddon said. “Of course it happens. To the extent that it’s happening with some guys is a little more difficult. … It’s just collectively a bad moment for us.”

We could use the excuse of the Cubs being banged up but Addison Russell‘s head isn’t there this season and Kyle Hendricks is on the DL for a bit but for a team that we know can do great things, something is amiss in the locker room.

Scoring is essential to winning. We know that and here’s where the difference is with the Cubs this season. The Rockies are first overall with 325 RBI’s while the Cubs are a paltry 259. Not overly terrible numbers for the North Siders but then again, yeah, they’re bad. The Cubs need to hit more. They’re in second last place overall with 477 hits. The Cubs aren’t seeing the ball. That has to change. Wether it’s trying more to do little things like laying down the bunt or being more patient at the plate, they must find a way to change it up.

“You go through things like this. You go through spells where you don’t feel good, and this is probably — I guess as a team — probably the lowest point that I’ve been here,” Bryant said. “But it’s really not that bad when you look at it in context in terms of the division. Nobody’s really taken advantage of it, like some of the other divisions out there or like we did last year. So you’ve just got to keep your head up. Good times are ahead.”

Believe it

Cubs’ Addison Russell Accused of Domestic Violence

Canuck Cubbie

The Colorado Rockies are a dangerous team. After defeating the Chicago Cubs 4-1, they’ve got five wins in a row. This is an important series for the Cubs, the Rockies are really good and the Cubs must get by them if we want a glimpse of a possible NLCS matchup.

“I was just informed that’s his second homer in four years off a left-handed fastball,” Jon Lester said. “At the end of the day, I’ll take me throwing my fastball down and away and a guy hitting an ‘oppo’ homer. It sucks. We got the loss. We got beat. Tip your hat.”

Despite a home run by Kris Bryant, here’s how Joe Maddon sums up the game.

“Good game, well played on both sides. They hit a three-run homer and we didn’t.” Maddon said.

It’s that type of attitude about moving on that the Cubs will need to employ more as star shortstop, Addison Russell is facing domestic violence allegations.

“Last night, we were made aware of a serious claim posted on social media about Addison Russell. We reached out to Major League Baseball, and following the protocol established by MLB, will fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office as it gathers pertinent facts. Addison will not be in uniform tonight to allow him to work through this matter,” the Cubs wrote in a statement.

Wether these accusations are true or not, isn’t the issue. Domestic violence is wrong and should not be considered lightly in any regards. If these accusations are untrue, then I hope everyone can move past it and continue to play ball but if they’re true, then I hope that Addison will get the counselling he needs to be a better husband, father and role model for the next generation. My son’s an Addison Russell fan, if only because Addy is a big Pokemon fan and for these athletes, the ramifications of their actions can be felt to the kids. Of course they don’t quite understand, as we don’t either but it’s a huge responsibility to be in the public eye and athletes should conduct themselves in a responsible manner. Children look up to sports figures because they can do awesome things. It’s not always an awesome world.

“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful. For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment,” Russell said in his own statement.

 

 

Cubs Have Finger Hovering Over Panic Button

Kyle Hendricks

You know I’m going to write about the positive takeaways in the Cubs 3-0 loss to the Rockies. You know that I’m going to send raves Kyle Hendricks way even though he was charged with three earned runs.

“Just one of those days for us,” Hendricks said.

That about sums up the Cubs woes this season. In fact, it’s been an up and down year for the North Siders. It could be the World Series hangover affecting their season or other teams have caught on to their system. I don’t know.

“You saw the more awkward swings against Kyle today,” Maddon said. “You saw the taken strike, the swing and miss, so he was looking a lot more normal today than he has in a while, and especially here against this team. I thought he was outstanding.”

For the most part he was but in the end, the Cubs are 17-17. I can’t help but feel frustrated for Maddon and the Cubs. For the players that are struggling, he puts them in the leadoff. Last year they had Dexter Fowler. Yesterday, they switched up Kyle Schwarber for Jon Jay and the result was less than stellar. Jon Jay went 0-4. I feel they should just stick with one batter but the problem is that the batter in question is Schwarber. He’s not a lead off hitter. I like the guy and he struck playoff magic after almost a year off from the game. He’s destined for the American League.

“[Ben] Zobrist would be the likely candidate,” Maddon said. “Then you start stacking lefties, which is what I don’t want to do. It feels good this way. It’s not about Schwarber hitting leadoff, he’s just not hitting like Schwarber yet. That’s all.”

Will the real Schwarber show up? Listen, I’m not trying to be hard on the team but their .500 showing so far is not indicative of the kind of numbers this team is capable of putting up. We all know that. Or is it?

There’s a new kid in town Jeimer Candelario and he’s hitting cleanup. The kid went 0-4 which is to be expected until he finds his legs.

“He was playing that well in Triple-A,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s not an anomaly. We’ve seen him in Spring Training, we saw him last year. He can be a very, very good player. I’m very comfortable with him in the cleanup spot. Switch-hitter; his OPS is 1.000 on both sides, or better. He’s off to a good start in the season, so why not?”

Why not? The Cubs might have to mix it up and be unpredictable. Sure, I’d love for them to head back to the big game but I’d love even more to see them just as competitive as last year and provide the kind of awesome baseball that they’re capable of playing.

“This is our worst baseball right now,” Kris Bryant said. “Not hitting the panic button at all. We know the talent we have here. It’s exciting. We’ve had a tough schedule here, long games, rain delays, that can affect you, but excited to have an off day and get back to it.”

Believe it

Cubs Rockie Road in First Game. Lackey Dominates Second Game

John Lackey

The Chicago Cubs played a double header yesterday and despite the win in the second game, it was the first game that struck the ire of me. The Cubs lost game one by a score of  10-4. It was a mess. Before I go into detail, the Rockies are really good this season which hasn’t been that way in a long while. That being no excuse, the Cubs are in a whack load of trouble in 2017.

“They hit some balls really well, others they dropped it in front [of the outfielder],” Joe Maddon said. “You have to play such a big outfield here, it’s so large. They just have good at-bats. They’re really good offensively.”

The Cubs lost four in a row after that first game. They’re no strangers to slumps but their dominance is showing cracks in that World Series winning machine. The normally sure footed Javier Baez threw the ball away during one play and Jake Arrieta got lit up.

“They’ve got one of the better offenses in all of baseball, especially at Coors Field,” Arrieta said. “They hit for a significantly higher average here. That’s just a testament to their ability to play to their home park and have a good approach. I wanted to come into this game and establish strikes with all my pitches. I did it pretty well — almost too well with too many hittable pitches, really.”

Then there was the second game…

John Lackey looked like John Lackey in the game. It was almost cringe worthy having Lackey follow Arrieta’s performance but Lackey rolled back the clock, dug his heels into the mound and delivered one of his finest performances. He struck out 10 and had seven goose egg innings in a Cubs rout 8-1 over the Rockies.

“That was outstanding,” Maddon said. “He really picked us up. We needed that kind of a start. We’re used to getting that kind of starting performance from our entire staff, so hopefully he’s going to set the tone moving forward. It was really fun to watch. He had a really, really good breaking ball, slider today and commanded everything.”

The one thing I’ve learned is that pitching is everything. It’s my favourite part of the game and yesterday’s double header showcased the best and the worst of the craft. Yeah that’s right, pitching isn’t a sport, it’s a craft. A goaltender can stop pucks on sheer will and reflects but a pitcher can control a game based on the history of each individual standing before them.

The two games were polar opposites of each other. No matter what kind of positive spin Joe Maddon can put on the Cubs this year, there’s no “We don’t quit” or “You go, we go” anymore. The honeymoon phase is over for the Chicago Cubs. They need to win the World Series this season and have to right the ship or both Epstein and Maddon will not see the end of their contracts. I’m not being cynical or anything but there might be a new curse on the horizon, “The Chicago Cubs will never win back to back World Series again”

Believe it

 

Cubs Stumble Against Rockies

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell follows through with his swing after connecting for a solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa in the seventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A baseball season is filled with its fair share of peaks and valleys. Yesterday, the Cubs fell to the Rockies 11-4. Hey, it happens to the best of us. There was a bright spot in the loss; Addison Russell. He notched two home runs in the loss and at the ripe old age of 22, arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game, has been the secret weapon of the Cubs all season long.

“If Addison played here right now, he’d probably have at least 25 homers, quite frankly, and be approaching 100 RBIs,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “From what I’ve seen all summer in Wrigley Field, there’s such an amazing advantage offensively here. What you saw today, he’s done that a lot with the wind bringing the ball back in. In his brief Major League career, he’s playing at the top of his game right now.”

The thing I’ve always noticed about the Colorado Rockies which I’m sure some of you will dispute, is that they are one of the toughest teams to play against. When they’re bad, they have a tendency to find ways to spoil the party for other teams. Those rare occasions when they’re awesome, they discover new ways to suck. If I were a betting man, I’d stay far away from the Colorado Rockies.

Do you agree?

This was the first series that the Cubs lost since the All Star Break, I don’t think it’s too much cause for concern especially heading into San Diego and facing baseball’s most travelled pitcher and five inning specialist Edwin Jackson where hopefully the Cubs can get back on track but it’s those west coast trips that can mess everything up just ask the Griswolds.

“That’s the kind of game I don’t dwell on for very long,” manager Joe Maddon said afterward from his office. “Once you guys leave here, I promise you I’m going to crack open a Miller Lite, grab something to eat and look on Trip Advisor to find somewhere for us to eat tonight in San Diego.”

Jason Hammel who has been the darling pitcher of the Cubs in the second half did not enjoy the same day that Addison Russell did. He got lit up really badly which raised his ERA from 0.95 to 2.17 which proves that baseball can’t always be the marathon long season. Things can change with one game.

“We gave them too many opportunities,” Maddon said. “They had to get six outs, Jason did, in the first inning, and that’ll wear you down a bit. Had we just caught the ball today, he could’ve had a different view about it early in the game. We came out first and third, popout, homer, but then we started making too many mistakes. That really put Jason behind the proverbial eight ball.”

Tonight’s a new series in a new town and a fresh start. Ah, baseball is a forgiving game.

Really Joe,  Miller Lite?

Believe it.

Cubs Peaking Over Rockies

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Mike Montgomery delivers to Colorado Rockies’ David Dahl in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Chicago Cubs dominated the Rockies in a 9-2 victory while trying to make a case for the accolades to continue in Kris Bryant‘s career after he took the cover off of the ball for his league leading 31st home run of the season.

“There’s still a lot of season left, but for me, I just kind of went into this year working on making a little more contact, and I think having that approach has allowed me to tap into more power,” Bryant said. “I’ve always been the type to hit the ball in the air and hit home runs, so if I’m going to be able to make more contact, I just think more home runs are going to result from that.”

But like every win, it starts with pitching. Mike Montgomery, who was placed in the rotation after John Lackey went to the DL, did 4 1/3 innings of work with 5 strikeouts. The Cubs need this kind of pitching when their regulars go down to injury. Although he did’t get the win, Joe Maddon is confident Montgomery can step in again.

“He has great command of his off-speed pitches, and the fastball has been located really well. A very good curveball, and a nice changeup off that and with that a two-seam fastball that runs and gets the ball on the ground and a four-seam fastball that he can strike you out with. He’s got really good command of everything right now, but the thing that’s impressive is the ability to throw a breaking ball for a strike.” Maddon said.

If the Cubs are peaking, then they’ve certainly have it going at a good time. The MVP race is picking up steam and there’s no shortage of Cubs in the mix. The Cubs have a lot of depth and they could wind up with their first 100+ wins since 1935 but in the end the only thing that matters is the World Series.

Today, Jason Hammel takes to the mound with hopes that the Cubs will win this series against the always tough Colorado Rockies. Game time is 4:10 EST

Believe it.

 

Despite Loss to Rockies, Cubs Look Forward to Cardinals

Jon Lester

There are some games where no matter the things you do right, it seems like it’s just not enough to get the job done. Under normal circumstances, Jon Lester‘s 10 strikeout effort and recording a double after hitting a rocket of a ball, would have seemed enough to put the Colorado Rockies away but instead, Lester and the Cubs stumbled  in their 2-0 loss yesterday.

“We pitched extremely well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Except for one game, we’ve caught the ball extremely well. We’re working some good at-bats. Some guys have not hit their stride on the offensive side, but they will.”

The fact that Lester notched a double is an achievement. A pitcher not known for hitting or throwing to first base, had an all star calibre game.

It was the offence that couldn’t get things going. They’re going to have these games for sure. The other caveat to remember is these “softer” teams like the Rockies should be a practice instead of taking them lightly. On the other hand, when they run into a hot pitcher like Tyler Chatwood, it’s very difficult to get the job done.

“We’re capable of putting up multiple runs in the blink of an eye,” Jason Heyward said. “You just got to hang in there until the end of the game until the last out is made. We want to be in a spot to help the team to win, and we were right there in one.”

Tonight is the night though that Cubs fans have been waiting for.  It’s the first of the season in good ol’ fashioned rivalries between the Cubs and the Cardinals. John Lackey gets the ball against his old squad and Jason Heyward’s first meeting against the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s going to be an interesting matchup considering Hayward’s departure was met with a lot of scorn including the burning of his jersey?

“They paid for it, so they can do whatever they want with it,” Heyward joked.

Bad blood runs through this rivalry is an historic one and with two former Redbirds now with the Cubs it’s going to get a lot more challenging and interesting. For years, the Cubs were the underdogs but with the onset of tonight’s rivalry made anew, the tides have shifted and the Cubs now have the upper hand.

“Just another series,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said. “That’s how we treat every series, playing a nameless, faceless opponent. That’s how we always try to approach things and not really worry about who we’re playing.”

Believe it.