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 End Winning Streak But Face Tough Week

Image result for chicago cubs

Yesterday’s game was a tough loss. It could have been the foggy conditions but the 7-1 loss was taken on the chin. Kyle Hendricks pitched decent but gave up a home run to Josh Harrison. It was one of the shortest games for Hendricks this season.

The Cubs took Hendricks out of the game in the fifth for a chance to get some runs on the board. It didn’t quite work out the way they wanted too but that’s baseball.

“Got a chance to get on the board and you’ve got to take it,” Hendricks said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but nine times out of 10 with Tommy that’s going to work.”

“It was all set up,” Maddon said. “We’ve got the best pinch-hitter in the league coming up, and he just happens to hit into a double play, which is going to happen on occasion. Kyle did his job, everything was right there, we just did not get the hit.

“National League, baby. He was taken out of the game on a National League move. American League, he’s going back out.”

The Cubs open up a series in Milwaukee tonight and it won’t be pretty. Everyone says that this is the most important series of the season, or at least I do, but in this case it has to be true for the Cubs. They’re half a game behind the Brewers for the National league Central, they’re in a heated rivalry this season with them and it’s in Milwaukee.

“I think the best way to approach when you’re playing really good teams within your division is to not get too farsighted,” Joe Maddon said. “This is the micro time, man. It’s about Monday. Then it will be about Tuesday. Then it will be about Wednesday.”

As much as I think Joe Maddon is the most awesome manager in the game, his grasp of the obvious is just too, well, obvious. It’s going to be a tough week because after the Brewers series, the Cubs will have a day off before heading to St. Louis to face the Cardinals. This will be the week that will define the rest of the Cubs’ season.

“Maybe that they might be coming for us a little harder. They know the outcomes of this season so far,” he said. “But again, being in our division, regardless of what’s happened, it’s going to be thrilling, competitive [games] no matter what. We know we’re going to get their best, and we’ve just got to go up there and keep playing good baseball.”

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Cubs Lose, But Arrieta wins

 

Phillies 6, Cubs 1

Even the best in the game can have off nights, that’s what happened to Kyle Hendricks in last night’s 6-1 defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Obviously, Kyle was not on top of his game, missing the plate, the home run early,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We still had plenty of time to get back into it. We worked some good at-bats. We had guys out there, but we could not get the hit to get back into the game. It was kind of a lazy game in a sense, and the engine never turned over.”

No, nothing really quite clicked but to give Hendricks credit, he lasted five innings in a sub par performance but even at that, he had five strikeouts. Not bad but of course, not good enough for the victory.

“I was inconsistent,” Hendricks said. “I wasn’t repeating my mechanics. I just have to get back to work this week and really dial everything in. It starts with fastball command, it wasn’t great. The first inning I felt good, and the second and third, I just wasn’t repeating my mechanics. The focus was there. I’ve just got to lock everything in and get to work this week.”

Which is kind of good news because Hendricks we know, is the type of guy who’ll hunker down and get back to the basics or in his case, the mechanics of the game.

The Cubs paid tribute to former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.

“It’s really nice to come back here,” Arrieta said. “I spent a nice day off walking around in Millennium Park. I went to one of our favorite dinner spots, spent some time with people we used to see quite often. I look forward to a great series. Just being in this ballpark is really special.”

Without a doubt, his legacy is forever enshrined in the Cubs organization. He’s part of the Cubs history and 2016.

“All the way around the organization, everybody was here to win. That was the ultimate goal. To have achieved that goal, and looking back on how much hard work it took from everybody involved, it’s just exceptional what we were able to create. I’m looking forward to reliving some of those memories through the players, through my former teammates — just memories that come up from past experiences I was able to have here.”

The only problem Jake is you’re wearing a Phillies Uni.

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Kyle Hendricks Delivers Master Class In Velocity

Cubs 6, Giants 2

Kyle Hendricks isn’t a hard thrower. I’ve established this throughout the years here at the Canuck Cubbie. His stuff is legendary with his sub 90 MPH pitches and calm demeanour, he quietly takes to the mound and goes about his business. In yesterday’s 6-2  win over the San Francisco Giants, Hendricks found a way to win.

“He’s so steady,” Maddon said. “He’s just the same guy. Right now, Kyle is throwing the ball as well as I’ve seen him throw the ball. The numbers are good. That high 86-87 [mph], occasionally 88 [mph fastball], because off of that, here comes that magnificent changeup. I’m a curveball fan. I still like that activated a couple more times. But, he just knows what he’s doing.”

The Cubs were in a slump and it was up to “The Professor” to get them back on track and he did just that by going seven innings and seven strikeouts.

“I made better pitches today,” Hendricks said. “In the past, I was throwing about the same, but too many bad pitches. The only [bad] one was 0-2 to Hernandez, I didn’t bury it enough down and in. Other than that, I executed what I was trying to do. In that sense, it was the best-executed game for me.”

The Cubs were in a badly need of a win after getting swept by Cleveland. For a team that’s not playing as well as anticipated, they’re still playing above .500 on both the road and at home. They’d be in second place in the west and right up there in the east. This is the danger I guess of us weird Cubs fans. I’m guilty of it. I get so excited about the least bit of happenings surrounding the team, “Oh My God, Joe Maddon got new specs!!!”

Yeah, that’s how bad I get with this team sometimes. This is still a good team and nothing stops me more than seeing Hendricks pitch. So, with the Cubs struggles at getting extra base hits and capitalizing with Runners In Scoring Position, I hope they can fix things and get back to the dominating team they once were.

“We’re not getting the bang for our buck,” Theo Epstein said before the game. “A lot of our extra-base hits and home runs are with nobody on base. We’re not performing at the same level with guys in scoring position. It should all even out.”

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.

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Willson!!!! Cubs Pull Up White Sox in Win

City Series Game 2: White Sox at Cubs

I’ve been looking at the standings and came to the realization that the Cubs aren’t in a bad spot. With their 8-4 win over the White Sox yesterday, the Cubs have now won five in a row and sit 1/2 game out of first in the Central Division. Whatever happened in April was just a hiccup in the season. They’re not out of any danger yet but everything’s clicking well and how about Willson Contreras? He connected on his third home run of the series as well as adding three RBI’s.

“It’s no surprise to me — I think that’s who he is,” Joe Maddon said of Contreras, who is 10-for-15 with three doubles, two triples, three homers and 11 RBIs in his last three games. “When he’s right, he hits better pitching, he hits better pitching hard, he puts balls in gaps and over walls. He’ll move the baseball with two strikes. That’s what I’m seeing, and on top of that, his catching is very good, too.”

What’s interesting with this win streak is the Cubs are feeling loose. I’m hesitant to say having fun but the whole team is feeling the looseness and getting warm. There’s also Javier Baez, whom I said should hit lead off, was practically a one man show. He had a triple, a single and stole a base.

“He’s just so smart and so athletic that he can make up for mistakes,”Jon Lester said. “That’s where you see the swim move [at second] today and running the bases. The game just looks easy to him. He has the potential to be that guy.”

Not only will Baez be an All Star this year, he very well could wind up an MVP candidate.

Today is Mother’s Day. Bring out the pink bats because Kyle Hendricks takes to the mound going for his second straight win. He’s an inning eater going seven innings in his last three games. He’s that guy that goes under the radar, gets the job done and spares the bullpen.

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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.”

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