Reds Sweep Cubs For First Time Since 1983

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Well, that was a disaster now, wasn’t it? Yesterday, the Cubs were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in a game that saw the Cubs with a five run lead heading into the sixth inning, but watched it dwindle and then downright disappear as the Reds went on to beat them 8-6.

The bullpen watched it all go wrong.

“I came in there to stop the bleeding and I wasn’t able to do it,” Pedro Strop said. “All the work my team did before to put those runs up there. … This is a tough one to swallow. Coming down the stretch we weren’t playing well. We lost three games and that one, we should have gotten that one, to start a new rhythm.”

Yes, it’s a tough one to swallow, especially yesterday’s loss.  Jason Heyward drove in two runs and you know, I’m excited for him this year. He’s been playing well and to see the sweep, all his hard work went for nothing really. The Cubs need to regroup as they head out to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. Do they change their game plan? Will we see Kris Bryant back in the lineup?

“He’s been battling it, but I really felt like giving him [Saturday] off would be fine for today,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I talked to him and [head athletic trainer] P.J. [Mainville] afterwards and it’s still a little ratty — it’s just not right. There’s no sense in pushing that. I don’t think it’s going to be for long. I also thought he might be fine for today, so it’s a day-to-day kind of thing.”

He’s the type of player you’d want to tread lightly with. This loss is the first series sweep by the Reds over the Cubs since 1983. This doesn’t bode well for Chicago’s Northside Heroes.

“We beat the Dodgers two out of three [last week], and we’re the best team since the 1927 Yankees,” Maddon said Sunday morning before the latest loss. “Then Cincinnati beats us for three days, and all of a sudden, it’s doom and gloom. I cannot live my life that way.”

No, that’s the truth. The Cubs have to definitely regroup and figure out what went wrong in Cincinnati because when it’s all said and done, this weekend series will either go on to bite them in the ass or make it’s way to Cooperstown and forever be known as,” Cincinnati Incident”

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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.

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Cubs Dominate In Extra Innings. First Place In National League

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The Cubs beat the Brewers 7-2 but not only did they beat Milwaukee, they captured first place in the NL Central division and first place in the National League. I’ve got to admit that I was a naysayer in April. “They were supposed to have the best rotation in baseball” and “They’re predicted to go all the way” but then April happened and the Cubs were losing fast. Last night was a hard fought win anchored by Anthony Rizzo in extra innings with a home run blasted in pretty much the same spot where another was considered a foul ball not a couple of innings before.

“It’s fun playing here,” Rizzo said. “They’re a good team. The fans are into it. They’re engaged. You’ve got the Cubs fans and Brewers fans going at it the whole game. These are tough games. We know they’re tough games. Which way is the ball going to fall? And for us, it’s fallen our way.”

These two teams have created in recent years one of the most dynamic rivalries in sports. It matters that they’re practically up the road from each other and most of the fans are Cubs fans in attendance. Much to the chagrin of Brewers fans, you can hear so much Cubs fans cheering in the stands.

So, let’s talk about Jason Heyward. He’s been on some kind of roll lately coming through in clutch situations and hitting really well off left handed pitchers.

“I just feel like I’m able to make adjustments on the fly and keep it simple and know I don’t have to think too much. I know what I’m trying to use, just trying to use my hands. After that, you’re able to focus on who you’re facing on the mound and that’s the thing at the end of the day. Good guy or good stuff or not, you’ve got to try to hit strikes and keep it simple.” Heyward said.

He’s batting .323 in his last seven outings. In fact he’s almost hit his total of triples from last year.

“He’s swinging the bat really well,” Maddon said. “His setup is entirely different, and with that, he’s making a better pass at the baseball, and that’s it. There’s nothing new or different from him. He’s just setting up better. You see how the ball is coming off the bat. It’s snapping and there’s no push in his swing. That’s the difference.”

The Cubs are on pace to put four in the All Star game. Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are all leaders in the balloting. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the voting system. It should all be done by merit only but it is what it is I guess.

The Cubs need to sweep the Brewers if they want to solidify their dominance. They’ve been playing extremely well and perhaps they needed the early season failures in order to reach this point in the season. #EverybodyIn

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Jason Heyward Hits Walk Off Grand Slam

Cubs 7, Phillies 5

What makes baseball the greatest game on the planet? At any given moment, someone will walk off a hero. See what I did there? Last night, Jason Heyward had a walk off grand slam to send the Cubs home with a 7-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Things do seem a little more clear,” Heyward said. “I keep saying it, but I’m trying to keep it simple, one at-bat, one pitch at a time, trying to make adjustments on the fly. It’s much easier said than done. I got a pitch to hit there and didn’t miss it. Pitchers don’t make many mistakes. I got one off a guy who’s really good and has good numbers and didn’t miss it.”

It couldn’t have been better. The guy’s had his share of struggles since signing a whopper of a contract with the Cubs a few years ago and after various stance changes and hitting adjustments, the guy’s been probably the Cubs most improved player even though they signed him because he’s such a good player, are you following?

“He’s a huge part of this team. He’s a guy who you can go up to and talk to. He’s going to give you his honest opinion. For him to be out there on the field and do what he does out there in the outfield and what he’s doing at the plate, it’s phenomenal. He’s a great human being.” Kyle Schwarber said.

Remember, Heyward was the guy in the dressing room with the famous speech that helped the Cubs win their first World Series yada yada yada.

That guy.

What makes this one so special was that Anthony Rizzo predicted it a few moments before.

“I asked Cory Mazzoni, ‘Have you ever had a Major League win?’ and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘You’re going to get your first one tonight,'” Maddon said. “Rizzo was better than me. He had talked, talked, talked on the bench. I’m saying, ‘C’mon, just a base hit or double down the line’ and he said, ‘No, how about a walk-off grand slam,’ like a nano-second before it occurred. That’s baseball.”

It’s the stuff of legends. Two outs, bottom of the ninth bases loaded and what the hell?

The Cubs are a game back of Milwaukee and playing well at the right time.

Baseball. The greatest game on earth.

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Zobrist is Turning Back Time With HR

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The Chicago Cubs opened their series with the New York Mets in style, grabbing a 5-1 victory with Jose Quintana on the mound. He went six scoreless innings but just ask Jason Heyward how good he was.

“He did an awesome job attacking the zone, making adjustments on the fly to the hitters,” right fielder Jason Heyward said. “He was able to mix and match stuff. It was pretty impressive to watch from behind.”

Then there’s Chicago’s aging veteran Ben Zobrist, who is vying for David Ross’s Grampa role on the team. Zobrist got another home run in the win. In limited play, Zobrist has three home runs in May.

This series against the Mets is an interesting one because the Mets aren’t that great this season. If the Cubs can sweep them, they’ll be in a good position to snag the Wild Card spot and be in a stronger position to stay afloat in the tough National League Central.

This season more than the last few has showcased great playing from guys like Jason Heyward and Tommy La Stella, who doesn’t get enough recognition for being there in the clutch. These guys are going to be the key to the Cubs reaching October because the top of the order hasn’t found their groove yet.

The Cubs need their pitching to get going and Tyler Chatwood will get his opportunity to shine tonight. It’s been a tough season for Chatwood and this series is so far, one of the more important series for the Cubs. Now’s the time for a sweep

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Cubs Have Tickle Fight With Marlins

Cubs 4, Marlins 3

 

It was all there last night in the Cubs 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. Kris Bryant‘s running skills (even some tickling ) Victor Caratini and David Bote got into the game and did a great job, oh and then there was Ben Zobrist’s throw from the corner that kinda started the faux bench clearing scrum.

“It was rather entertaining,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “There was no reason for it. I was surprised. There was no animosity. It wasn’t a dirty play, it was nothing. [Dietrich] is out by 52 feet, [Caratini] has got the ball. [Dietrich] bumps into him, play over. It was kind of surprising. I don’t think there was anyone who got heated. it probably required more tickling than punches.”

Ah baseball!

The Cubs have strung two in a row. Should we dust off the parade gear? Um, I’m going to wait until they do it against the Washington Nationals or St Louis Cardinals. No offence to Marlins fans but winning back to back games against them amounts to nothing. The Cubs should’t have a problem with them.

Bryant had the go ahead run in the eighth and man, is it good to see him back in business.

“He’s a great base-runner, he’s probably one of the best in the league,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “He shows that time and time again. It gets overshadowed because of everything else he does. But his base-running is something every young player should look at.”

For a tall guy, he moves real quickly.

So now the Cubs have got their hands full. Jason Heyward is on the concussion list and Bryant could see time out on the field. This is what’s going to test the Cubs patience and skills. Heyward is huge in the lineup (not his plate skills). We’ll see just how well the Cubs can weather the storm while he’s out.

“He popped it on that fly ball the other day in St. Louis on the home run by Dexter,” Maddon said. “I knew he was not feeling 100 percent. We just have to go through protocol and take our time with it.”

Jose Quintana gets the ball today. Here’s hoping the Cubs can sweep the Marlins. Right now, they’re 1.5 games out of first but yet it feels a lot more.

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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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