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.

Believe it

 

Something Happ-ened in Chicago

Image result for ian happ

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?

Believe it

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.

Believe it

Cubs Catch Marlins, End Losing Streak

Cubs 14, Marlins 2

 

Last night, the Chicago Cubs sure did look like the team that won the big one almost two years ago. The Cubs snagged the Miami Marlins 14-2 in the series opener at Wrigley Field.

In an almost marketing move, the Cubs took the #EverybodyIn campaign and put it on display. Ian Happ collected two home runs and Kris Bryant almost had the cycle minus a triple but the real hero of the day was Kyle Hendricks.

The Cubs needed him to go deep into the game and he delivered eight solid, workmanlike innings that padded his legend and put the bronze in place at Cooperstown.

“It’s just been a tough skid,” Hendricks said. “Guys are putting together the [at-bats], swinging at good pitches, taking the bad ones. On the mound, we’re making the right pitches. We just haven’t had plays go our ways. Things weren’t going well for us. We’ve been sticking with our plan, come in here every day, get our work in and we know it will turn around.”

If last night’s win was any indication, then the Cubs have pulled a 360. Even though Javier Baez is listed day to day after what appeared to be a hamstring tightness, he left in the seventh inning but should be back. Also, Yu Darvish is on the 10 day DL listed with a virus.

But the real promise was Ian Happ getting those long balls. The Cubs need him to perform desperatly

“Happ’s got all kinds of tools. He’s dripping with ability. He’s one of the best throwing arms we have. If you had a contest from center field and put a gun out there, he might win it. Speed wise, he might clock as the fastest guy on the team. If you did a little home run derby before the game, he’d probably hit the ball farther than anyone else. His exit velocity might be as good as anybody else’s. He can play the infield and the outfield and he’s a switch-hitter and he’s very bright. He’s really a great conversation and he loves wine. There’s really nothing to not like about this guy.” Joe Maddon said.

Yup, he had a huge game and if the Cubs broke out of their spiral, then Ian Happ’s return could signal, and I do mean could because his play , I think is the most important area for the Cubs to return to form.

“Baseball is designed to torture you,” Theo Epstein said . “And then it makes it that much better when things go your way.”

Believe it

Cubs Take Plunge In Lake Michigan

Image result for chicago cubs

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.

Believe It

Cubs Get Happ-y in Milwaukee

 

Cubs 5, Brewers 2

“We never quit” has been an ongoing saying within the Cubs organization for a couple of years now, well, since they won the World Series. In yesterday afternoon’s 5-2 9th inning heroics over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs looked like that team that doesn’t quit. Jon Lester hit a sacrifice bunt, now that’s a true non-quitter!

Ian Happ strikes out a lot. He also comes through when it counts, yesterday was no different.

“You’ve just got to keep working,” Happ said. “It’s the reason why we play this many games and it’s a game of averages, because there’s going to be some ups and downs. Hopefully this is going to be the biggest of the downs and I’ll get back going on a normal pace.”

He was the big reason the Cubs turned the corner. Yeah, I’m liking this rivalry a lot. Rivalries over time and situation, the Milwaukee/Cubs rivalry is getting exciting and we’re going to see a good one today.

“We always fight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve been unable to get the big hit. It was nice for ‘Happy’ to get off the schneid there. Big at-bat. Loved that it went to left center, that’s a good sign as opposed to being pulled. That’s a huge at-bat right there. And of course, Jonny Lester. That could not have been placed more perfectly. We’re playing well. We’re just not getting hits when we need it.”

They are playing well. Whether it’s a miscue or just an unlucky break, the Cubs have managed to claw their way through the month and manage to stay within the pack. It’s great news that Yu Darvish bounced back in this game from his Cubs debut as well.

“Darvish was tremendous,”  Maddon said after the game. “He hit a groove in his delivery. Once he gets to that point, heads up, because he’s going to throw strikes exactly where he wants to. That’s exactly where he was at by the time we had to take him out.”

Also, Brandon Morrow picked up his first save with the club. You know what? It felt like yesterday’s game was the game that dusted off the regular season dust and got them into a sync for the months ahead–I hope. So, what was with the umpire picking on Victor Caratini? There were more than a few missed calls with the guy, I don’t know I’m going to keep my eye on that in the future, it could be the Milwaukee crowd or just a coincidence. Another thing I’ve been meaning to ask is what’s with the foggy atmosphere in Milwaukee?

So, with the series finally today(I’ll be keeping an eye on the Masters as well)the Cubs are gearing up for their home opener tomorrow. What’s on the menu and how do you celebrate it?

Believe it

 

Cubs Shut Out Brewers In Style

Cubs 8, Brewers 0

Nobody can say that, “It’s only April” anymore, the Chicago Cubs and the rest of the league are well into the 2018 season. Even though the Cubs/ Brewers series seemed a little lopsided on paper, the Cubs weren’t going to take anything for granted, especially their newish arch rivals. Last night, the Cubs opened the series with an 8-0 destruction of the Brewers.

“When you make mistakes on defense and the other team takes advantage, it normally does hit you in the solar plexus a bit,” Maddon said. “Javy’s had that kind of experience on the bases. He’s always heads up. If you watch him, he’ll look behind as he’s running to see what’s going on. Going back in the day, you’d see [Willie] Mays do that a lot. [Baez] has got extraordinary instincts on the bases.”

There were a lot of miscues and mistakes that the Cubs took advantage of especially Javier Baez who can read plays like very few can in the MLB. It helped a bit when the Brewers committed error after error. I’m not saying they played poorly but the Cubs capitalized on just about every opportunity brought their way.

“Javy never ceases to amaze people with what he’s able to do on the basepaths, let alone everything else,” Jon Lester said. “He’s always going to play the game aggressively, and it’s always going to work out for us. I think the slide was more impressive than him reading that ball and getting home. That’s always a nice thing to have on your side.”

The run for home is something Cubs fans would love to see more of this season.

“I had a good jump and the ball took a little bit to get to him and he speeded up a little bit,” Baez said. “Right before I stepped on third base, I turned and [Cain] bobbled the ball, so I kept going. They let me run the bases how I want to. I obviously have fun out there. If you pay attention to where you need to be and wherever the sign’s coming from, you know everything. At that moment, I was reacting to the play and hustling down the line.”

Last night’s win was an excellent chance to dust the dirt from the pants and get back in form. I loved the lineup last night and seeing Ian Happ back at lead off was a welcome return. The other player that looked really good was Ben Zobrist. Maddon has a thing for Zobrist and last night showed why.

“He’s been seeing pitches,” Maddon said. “He’s been hitting the ball hard. Putting him and (Ian) Happ in front of KB and (Anthony) Rizzo, I thought it might help a little bit to feed those two. And then you move everybody else down, which isn’t a bad thing. Zobrist has really looked good at the plate so I thought it was wise to get him back up near the top.”

It was a very wise decision. The other decision is what to do with Jason Heyward?

Believe it