Hendricks Beat By High Pitch Count

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The Cubs need their pitchers to go deep into games. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a must. Last night, Kyle Hendricks was ousted in the fifth even after he posted eight strikeouts. It wasn’t a bad outing by the Professor but his pitch count was way too high over a hundred and it wasn’t enough as the Cubs got beat by the Diamondbacks 5-1

“We’re talking about it with the whole staff in here — everybody, even the guys working behind the scenes — and trying to figure out if we’re falling into tendencies, patterns and what to do to get bad contact,” Hendricks said. “We have to do better in the 1-1 count. Just getting outs on three pitches — that has to be the focus. It’s frustrating and a slower process than we hoped.”

Times running out. I think one of the problems for Hendricks is batters are more patient with his style of throwing. He doesn’t have many pitches to choose from and perhaps during the off season, he might pick up a new pitch.

“I thought my stuff was good today, but it was the same story — I have to put guys away quicker, get quicker outs,” Hendricks said. “It’s a little frustrating. I felt I made one bad pitch, the 0-2 to Jon Jay was terrible. Otherwise, it was pretty good pitches they got some hits on. My stuff is there. My sinker feels good. I have to stick to what I’m doing.”

I thought for sure the Cubs would be able to gather momentum after the break, but it hasn’t been the case.

Although Kris Bryant is out with a sore shoulder, he hasn’t had the best season either and    that hasn’t helped the team either.

“He’s sore,” Maddon said. “I have to be proactive with that. I want to make sure that we’re not pushing him too hard right now.”

So the Cubs have a few spots where they’re inconsistent and perhaps they’re going to make something of it at the deadline but as of July 25th, they’re not quite ready for the post season. Don’t get me wrong, most pieces are there but pitching needs to rebound or they won’t get far.

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El Mago Opens Up His Trick Bag, Delivers Grand Slam

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The Chicago Cubs snapped their five game losing streak in style and with a little El Mago by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-4. Javier Baez was well, El Mago with two home runs, one including a grand slam.

“There’s a couple guys like that in Major League Baseball — [Francisco] Lindor is another guy like that, [Ozzie] Albies, the new kid in Atlanta,” Joe Maddon said. “There’s two things that set them apart beyond their abilities — they really enjoy playing, there’s a joy about them, and they’re absolutely fearless. Of course, you have to be good. Fearlessness and pure joy for the game stands out.”

BTW, my son’s #9 in Little League

So what caused the skid and what contributed to them fearlessly playing out of it without kris Bryant in the lineup? Hitting coach Chili Davis called a player meeting and discussed things that went wrong. Did that help?

“I want to believe (the meeting) had something to do with it,” Maddon said. “(Opposite-field) hits by Almora and Contreras I loved. And of course, Javy had a nice day. I’m still looking forward to, as we get more mature in the batter’s box, that we chase less. I love homers like everybody else does, but there are so many other ways to score.”

That’s the curse that still haunts the Cubs. Not being able to score with other opportunities. Runners In Scoring Position and really small ball play. They try to connect sometimes with the home run and then end up relying on it too much. We all have come to realize that that doesn’t always work out well. Perhaps in the American League, but not in the National League. As far as I’m concerned, they can keep their designated hitter.  I want to live in a world where a pitcher( Anthony DesClafani) can hit a grand slam.

The Cubs are hanging on with 2.5 half games behind the Brewers and St. Louis burning up their heels, this is going to make an interesting finish to the first half of the 2018 season.

As for the return of Kris Bryant?

“He’s not going to be ready for the next two or three days so why mess with it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant. “Let’s make sure he is well. The 10-day DL makes it more palatable, in a sense. We thought, let it calm down and cool down. The 10-day DL permits you to make decisions like this. The [15-day minimum under the previous rules], you might be a little more patient.”

Now here’s a little theory brewing, I believe once Yu Darvish returns to the lineup and gets his head on straight, the Cubs are going to tear up the standings and leave the Brewers in the dust.

Then again, I tend to Believe it

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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Cubs Give Dodgers a Splitting Headache

Kyle Schwarber

There’s a deadlock in the National League Central after the Chicago Cubs split a double header with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the first game, the Dodgers won 4-3 and in the second game, the Cubs downed the Dodgers 2-1.

Splits are tough, man. What’s even tougher occurs when a pitcher messes up his back while taking his pants off. Take Brandon Morrow;

“It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off,” Morrow said. “Getting hurt any time is frustrating, but when it’s not related to throwing a baseball, it’s even more frustrating.”

But as the Cubs were frustrated with the Dodgers in Game 1, Joe Maddon was frustrated with the outcome.

“We’ve just got to be able to drive in more runs,” Maddon said. “When you look at their left on base, it’s very similar to ours. It’s an industry-wide situational problem. We’ve got to do better. We had two good guys up there in Tommy La Stella and Albert Almora Jr. We liked both of those situations a lot. It just didn’t work out for us.”

Both scores were narrow margins and with the firepower that the Cubs have in their lineup, they need to get better in scoring more runs. Then there’s the case of Tyler Chatwood. The guy walks more than any other Cubs pitcher last season.

What?

He’s a dangerous dude to have in the rotation. I don’t like that combination, give me Jon Lester’s ball in glove to first base schtick anytime!

“I felt good,” Chatwood said. “I think any time you can keep your team in the game and leave with the lead, it’s successful. Obviously, you want to go deeper in the game.”

The night game was a little different. Albert Almora Jr. was the hero giving the Cubs the win in the 10th with the walk off single.

“I just wanted to get it done. First of all, I wanted to go home and sleep. I wanted to do it myself just because it’s a little payback from the first game.” Almora said.

This season’s been weird. The Cubs weren’t doing so well at first and now they’ve slowly gained some momentum by doing the little things. Kris Bryant getting the triple in the seventh and Almora with the walk off. There’s also Kyle Schwarber who’s putting together a quietly good season.

“They bring their best against us,” Almora said. “To be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

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Bryant Breaks Slump

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Nobody needs to explain the importance of divisional series in Major League Baseball.

Nobody.

Especially not Kris Bryant who busted out of his slump in a big way. In fact, he saved it for the St Louis Cardinals as the Cubs defeated the redbirds 13-5 in the opening of a three game series.

“When we come here and play the Cardinals and see the red and blue and the fans going crazy, it does make it a little different,” Bryant said. “We realize it’s going to be a dogfight from here on out with the Brewers and Cardinals. It’s nice to start off the series with a win.”

Says the guy who crushes a two run homer. His first since May 15th

“I know there’s going to be plenty more times in my career when [I have a homerless streak], and it’s all part of the journey,” Bryant said. “As much as we hate it as players, everybody goes through it at some point in their careers. It’s nothing new to me. On the surface it might look like everything has been peachy and pretty easy for me, but it never felt easy.”

There will be but I hope it’s not going to happen for the rest of the season. The Cubs are a game and a half out of first in the Central. It’s turning into a tough season. The Cubs have been there before. They’ve felt the losing and the winning. I’m never going to say that the Cubs winning last night was a corner turner but when they play the Cardinals and the Brewers, it’s always exciting.

“I think the biggest thing we can do is when stuff like [the losses] happens, these guys show up the next day like it never happened,” Jon Lester said. “I think that’s what’s key. You can dwell on it that day, that night, but the next day, when you show up to the field … it’s hard, but you try to leave it behind you and get after it on that particular day. We did that today. Guys had great at-bats. Obviously, when you’re able to hit the ball over the fence, that helps.”

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Cubs See Saw For First In NL Central

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It’s amazing how a day can change the course of the game. Last night, the Cubs fell to the Brewers 4-0 and it just seemed nothing went their way. For example, a hit that would have cleared Eric Thames’ glove, ended up being a leaping grab. Kris Bryant went 0 for 4 and let me be the one to tell you that when he ain’t hitting, the team’s not doing much. Wait a minute, I said that about Anthony Rizzo, didn’t I?

“It’s all about being patient, and that’s who I am,” Bryant said. “The last three, four games haven’t been great, but I think there’s a lot of people who would want to be in my shoes. Sometimes it’s all about perspective. My expectations are really high, and that’s the greatest and worst thing in the world. That’s how I look at it.”

Sometimes I think he’s been hanging around Joe Maddon too much.

It’s no secret that Bryant hasn’t been himself lately. Maddon’s been trying to mix things up by sticking him at leadoff but most importantly, just being patient with the Cubs’ third baseman.

“He hit that ball good to left field, but overall he’s been off his game,” Maddon said. “I am certain he’s going to be fine. There are some really good hitters who have gone through a little bit of a funk. It happens. You stay with the guy, and you know he’s good and he’ll come out of it. In the meantime, you make sure he’s OK because he’s going to beat himself up a little bit.”

It’s hard not to stay with the former ROY and MVP NL/ WSC, I was on a roll with the acronyms, but it’s true. He’ll get out of it and right back on track. Last night, it was all Brewers and they regained their top position, proving that this rivalry ain’t going nowhere.

“We just could not mount an attack,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Anderson has been difficult against us in the past and he was again tonight. There was not a whole lot going on. Two doubles beat us.”

Today’s game should be a wild affair with both teams battling for top dog and then it’s a day off for the Cubs. Will Bryant end his slump, will Rizzo continue his Rizzoing ways, or will the Cubs beat the Brewers, end up in first before heading out to St. Louis for the weekend? Tune in my friends.

“This is where you learn the most about yourself and what drives you and what are you going to do. I still have those feelings in my gut before the game and I know they’re there. I want to go out there and do well, and the day those aren’t there, I shouldn’t be playing. I come to the field excited every day that I can do something that nobody has ever done before, and that’s what keeps me going.” Bryant said

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Something Happ-ened in Chicago

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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?

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