Cubs Take Plunge In Lake Michigan

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That was an ugly loss. The Cubs were put out of their Colorado Rockies misery 11-2. The Cubs high priced ace Yu Darvish, struggled and exited the game after the fifth inning. Although he struck out eight, like Kyle Hendricks before him, he gave up his fair share of home runs.

There seems to be a difference of opinion in the way the Cubs have played.

“Overall, our approach [at the plate] hasn’t been terrible. We had good ABs. We’re going up there with a good mindset,” right fielder Jason Heyward said. “Some days, you’re just going to get beat.”

Now that is true, but coming from another high salaried individual, it comes across more of an excuse than the truth.

Here is the truth;

“That game belongs in Lake Michigan with some cement shoes tied around it,” Joe Maddon said. “That was awful.”

He should know. Maddon spends the majority of the game studying the players and shuffling lineup cards. He can take a look at Darvish and know that his 5th inning output adds up to a whopping 31.50 ERA

No offence Darvish because it really is like apples to oranges but that was my ERA in my softball league I played in, for one season.

“I was throwing the ball high up in the zone where they would usually foul it off, but like Iannetta, he hit it pretty well,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “I think they were just hitting the ball in the higher zone well in general today.”

That’s an understatement. The Rockies connected with seven home runs in two days.

The Cubs need to do something fast. Whether it’s keeping Rizzo in leadoff spot for a few more games or continuing with the struggling Ian Happ, whom I think will eventually break his slump.

“When a guy like him is struggling, he really needs to be out there more often than not,” Maddon said. “So there’s this balancing act going on right now. … I’ve just got to keep getting him out there as often as possible trying to find the right spots.

“I do believe when he gets out there, one of these games, he’s going to click a couple and all of a sudden he’s just going to take off after that.”

We remember Javier Baez going through the same process. The Cubs are a great team. They’ll get it back on track but it starts with Darvish.

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Cubs Have Rough Outing At Wrigley

Rockies 3, Cubs 1

That was a tough game. Anthony Rizzo‘s leadoff home run couldn’t boost momentum for the Cubs after Kyle Hendricks watched back to back home runs soar into the stands. The Cubs took one on the chin last night 3-1

“It was all there and I felt good about it,” Joe Maddon said of having Rizzo in the leadoff spot. “We weren’t striking out, we were moving the ball. Gray got better, game in progress. He seemed to get sharper. The thing he did well today from the side was first-pitch breaking-ball strike, whether it was his slider or curve. It was uncanny getting the call on that pitch. That was the separator for me. Whenever you get a starter who continually throws his breaking-ball pitch [for] strike one, it really sets them up after that.”

The calls weren’t spectacular. I’m a little bit biased when it comes to Kyle Hendricks and there were quite a few calls that went unnoticed. Even after Hendricks gave up the home runs, he settled in and went deep into the game, which I think, if you’re not having a solid game, it’s great to settle down and get back to the basics.

“It was a bad pitch to Blackmon — I didn’t want to walk him — and the wrong pitch to Dahl but not a bad one,” Hendricks said. “Overall, I felt really good about [the outing]. The fastball command was good. I got quick outs, went deep into the game. I’ve got to take the positives from that one.”

Hey, didn’t Rizzo look awesome in the leadoff spot? Last year he joked that he was the best leadoff hitter in the game because he kept blasting the ball out there.

“I really thought we needed something like a 20-foot python, a magician or a break dancer in the clubhouse,” Maddon said of his reasoning. “Instead, I chose to hit Rizzo leadoff. I thought it might pick the boys up a little bit.”

Why not? Every Cubs fan appreciates the inventiveness and creativity of the outgoing manager. Sometimes, baseball can get methodical and if there’s no rule about doing something different, then Maddon will find it, try it out and if it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work.

“Leading off is leading off — you’re the first hitter in the game, you come up a lot, and I want all the at-bats I can get,” Rizzo said.

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Cubs Win Fifth, Sit On Top NL Central

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Well, the Chicago Cubs have won five in a row. After their 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs now stand alone on top of the National league Central. In a month that saw the Cubs get off to a shaky start and struggle with starting pitching, key injuries and extreme cold temperatures, your friendly northside neighbourhood blue cuddly bears have now broken out of their hibernation and have begun to roar.

“We made mistakes we normally don’t make,”Joe Maddon said. “You would think giving them all those extra outs would not turn out in our favor. Give our relievers a lot of credit.”

It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win. Jon Lester lasted 5 and some changeout they managed to squeak out the win. Perhaps it was the Cubs shortened inclement weather schedule that was to blame but now the Cubs are baseball’s hottest team and just before you can say, “Holy Cow!” the Cubs have a shot tonight at becoming the first team in the “Live ball” era to win six in a row while giving up fewer than three runs. Who better than to be on the mound than Kyle Hendricks.

Right?

Even though Lester left the game, Luke Farrell, the son of John Farrell (Toronto Blue Jays/Boston Red Sox) stepped up and sealed the deal. While lester didn’t go deep into the game, the positives were there with Farrell getting the win. It showed Maddon and the team that the bullpen can keep fresh and Farrell will hopefully be able to deliver some more opportunities this season.

“We’ve been going back and forth,” Farrell said. “He was pumped. Mom, too. Family, brothers — it’s something we can all share. This is my first time pitching as a Cub at Wrigley, and the adrenaline I felt pitching in front of fans like this on a Monday night is pretty amazing.”

Yeah it is pretty amazing and it was amazing that Kris Bryant was back in the game doing what Bryant does best and delivering key plays like in the sixth inning when he scored the tie breaking run.

“I thought he looked great at the plate the very first at-bat back,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant. “I think he looks fine. … I have not seen anything negative at the plate.”

So far, May’s proven to be quite positive.

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Cubs Bryant Leaves Game

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Even though the Chicago Cubs can’t go on much longer winning one game then losing the next, there have been unsung heroes in just about every game they’ve played so far this season. In yesterday’s 9-7 win over the Colorado Rockies, it was Albert Almora‘s defence skills that were on display.

Almora’s glove has been all over the outfield. He’s proven to be “The Guy” in the field and has come into his own with his acrobatics.

“I’m just trying to prevent some runs from scoring,” Almora said. “In this kind of field, you have a lot of room to run. I was just trying to be in the right spot at the right time. I just wanted to go get it. I was going to give it all I had. Even if I didn’t think I had a great chance, I was giving to give it my shot, and it just fell in the glove.”

Oh yeah, and he’s humble as well.

On the downside, Kris Bryant left the game after getting knocked in the head with the ball. He looked a little shaken and was helped to the clubhouse.

“Apparently, he’s fine, as good as could be expected,” manager Joe Maddon said after the game. “I’ve not heard anything awful, but they’re still watching him. I have not heard the word concussion yet, so hopefully very good.”

Hopefully, he’ll be all right and will be back in the Cubs’ lineup soon.

Today is an off day before the Cubs travel to Cleveland. The Cubs need the rest. April 2018 hasn’t been kind to them with a 10-9 record. There’s been plenty of ups and downs and “Strangeties” that have plagued the team. The signs are there for the Cubs to turn the corner and we know about last season’s catch up after the All Star break but unfortunately that tired the team out.  The Cubs inconsistencies will continue for a bit but they’ll find their groove and if Javier Baez continues the way he’s going, well it could end in an MVP season for El Mago.

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Cubs’ Darvish Was Good But Meltdown’s Continue

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There’s logic and science when a team wins one and loses the next game. At the end of the season, the record will always be .500. Numbers don’t lie. The good news in the Cubs 5-2 loss to the Rockies is Yu Darvish regained some of his game. The Cubs and Darvish looked good through the fifth inning.

“I treat every pitch every batter the same, regardless of how many outs I have,” Darvish said through translator Daichi Sekizaki. “Every game, it’s after the fifth inning when I get out of rhythm. I think that could be solved by using more off-speed pitches. In the last couple of games, I’ve been using fastball, slider, fastball, slider, so maybe more of the slower pitches such as the curveball to maybe overcome that problem.”

Because he’s my favourite player, Darvish should study Kyle Hendricks. They should travel together, hang out and study each other really well. Did the Cubs get a lemon of a deal with Darvish? His meltdowns have become common practice and in a game where pitchers are expected to get at least six innings of work in, Darvish has yet to make an impact this season.

“I expect him to pitch more deeply into games,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I wanted to give him a chance to pitch through that [the jam in the fifth], but the command escaped him. Command of his fastball was not what it needs to be.”

The Cubs signed Darvish to be their ace. He needs to improve if the Cubs want to be there in the fall.

Because baseball is like the comfort food of sports, yesterday’s game also featured an, “Aw shucks” moment when David Bote, a Denver native played his first big league game. Sure, he didn’t suit up for his hometown Rockies but he did receive applause when he hit a double.

“I was born two days before their Opening Day here in Colorado, so I grew up watching Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga, Troy Tulowitzki, Brad Hawpe, Todd Helton, all those guys,” Bote said. “It’s the same stadium, but it’s fun knowing you belong there, you’re going to work there, instead of going there for entertainment.”

If he’s going to get some more playing time, then he’s got Ben Zobrist‘s big shoes to fill.

“Because of his bat, he can play all over the place,” manager Joe Maddon said before the game. “He’s a second baseman by trade, but he played some really good third base for us in Spring Training. You can throw him at shortstop if you want, and outfield. Here’s the thing with a guy like him. We have a nice team, but if his bat’s ready and there’s a need, you want to be able to say, ‘Bring him on up.”

If my number’s are correct, then the Cubs are going to win today with Jose Quintana set to take the ball. They have a good team but they also can’t continue to win/lose every game. Good weather’s coming.

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Cubs Show That Everybody’s In

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Those folks in the Cubs front office sure know what they’re talking about when they thought up  #EverybodyIn and the Cubs go out and deliver a 16-5 beatdown on the Rockies last night. Kyle Hendricks got off to a shaky start but settled into a groove nicely.

“It was still a battle the whole way,” Hendricks said. “Deep counts, a lot of pitches, able to get through it, I guess. You saw a lot from our lineup today, really. That’s what won the game. They gave me two right away, I give three right back. For them to stay on those at-bats, come back and get that many runs for me, that was the ballgame.”

Yeah, it was. I’ve always said that Hendricks will never be that “Perfect Game” pitcher but his craftiness and techniques win him those ball games. Yesterday he proved that after giving up those runs, he stays calm and keeps his poise to get back into the game.

As for “El Mago”, give him the MVP all ready, why don’t you?

“I’m seeing the ball right when [the pitcher] releases it,” Javier Baez said of his recent tear that finds him hitting .400 (14-for-35) with three doubles, a triple, six homers, and 16 RBIs over his last eight games. “I’m not trying to go [opposite field], but a lot of hits are being hit that way. I’m just trying to stay to the middle, keep the same approach and keep doing my routine.”

His slide into second kept managers pumping more sunflower seeds into their mouths but sometimes, you just have to go for it. I don’t believe any manager is going to try and change Baez’s game.

“When the whole group adopts a method, and they feed off one another, and they’re capable …” manager Joe Maddon said, interrupting himself as he analyzed the offensive outburst over the last two games. “… These guys have been to the World Series, they’ve won one, they’ve been in the NLCS every year, they know what’s going on. But I’ve often talked about, the one area — we have not had mature at-bats. We can’t say we’re inexperienced anymore. We have experience, but we’re still young. We have to get rid of that youth involvement in the at-bat and we’ll play some really nice baseball.”

That’ll come. We’re all ready seeing guys like Kyle Schwarber settle down at the plate a bit. On the other side, Baez has got such a pure swing that patience won’t help him too much. He’s got to play the game he’s meant to play.

So, it’s finally so good to see Everybody In after their disastrous start to the season. Hopefully, this is a sign of the baseball to come.

“You are going to see everyone play,” Maddon said. “I hate to disappoint people, but everyone is going to play. And they’re all going to play well. I promise.”

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Cubs On Slippery Slope After Loss To Rockies

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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.”

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