Cubs Get Stymied By Pirates

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I’m going to blame it on the cold weather. but in the Chicago Cubs’ 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the obscenely mighty Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs just couldn’t get it done. Well, at least I’m sticking to my cold weather theory. I think it must be hard for a guy like Kyle Hendricks to deliver the control that he’s so accustomed to in the cold weather. Then again, the Cubs do miss Anthony Rizzo.

“It’s definitely early,” Kyle Schwarber said. “I think we’d like to piece some wins together. We’re not going out there and pressing for that. We know if we go out there and do what we need to do, things will happen. It’s just been an unfortunate series of events with everything that’s going on. We’ll keep going out there and playing our ballgame.”

The problem is that in baseball, unlike other sports, a team can’t win one, then lose one and keep up the pace. In football, a team still has a chance to make the post season if they keep that pace or in hockey, they can rely on points but baseball, man, that’s a different breed altogether. It’s almost like pinpointed accuracy in the standings. Teams have to win April and August if they want an outside chance of competing.

“In the snap of the fingers, it went from balmy to embalming, I guess,” Joe Maddon said. “It got cold very quickly. You could see the wind came on. It did impact. The ball still carried, it seemed. It was two different ballparks completely. That’s the beauty of the place.”

So there you have it. It’s got to be the cold. Then again, Hendricks style of pitching has to be bang on, if he’s off just a little bit, it’s harder for him to get his game back. We’ll have to wait and see when Rizzo gets back. Pittsburgh is good and I’m a little scared in the standings on how they’ll be this season. The weather’s been funky and so has the Cubs’ game.

“We were making good pitches, putting together good [at-bats], but so are they,” Hendricks said of the Pirates. “They’re really good right now and putting together good quality at-bats. They’re a tough team.”

Up next is the Atlanta Braves and man, do I hate that team. Their records are similar and I hope the Cubs stick it to them. Yu Darvish gets the ball in his Wrigley debut. This is the series, the Cubs get it back.

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Cubs Commit Costly Errors In Milwaukee

Brewers 5, Cubs 4

So, it wasn’t the outcome the Chicago Cubs had hoped for in their 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers but it sure was a fun game for the most part. I mean, c’mon Javier Baez‘s Little League Home Run. I know he’s the player that causes headaches for managers and third base coaches but, man if there’s a spark plug in the Cubs’ offence, it’s got to be him.

Whatever is wrong with the Cubs so far in this young season, I believe is slowly getting fixed. Let’s forget the fact that Kyle Hendricks wasn’t his usually stoic self. After all, he did give up two homers which, in fact, was only the second time he’s done that in his career. I know it’s hard for me to pick on the guy when he doesn’t play as well as he usually does, but in this case it looked like the Brewers finally figured him out. I think too the problem with a pitcher who doesn’t throw hard, it becomes much more problematic when they make mistakes.

“They capitalized on two bad pitches,” Hendricks said. “That was definitely two bad pitches, and you don’t get away with either one of them. I thought [I was] making really good pitches early, getting some quick outs, a few hits but they were soft-contact hits. It was a couple bad pitches, and I didn’t get away with it.”

Hey, it happens to the best of us(If the rest of us could throw 90MPH with pinpoint accuracy)

It also happens to the best Rookie of The Year/NLMVP/World Series Champion/All around decent guy, Kris Bryant when he bobbles a throw to first baseman Victor Caratini, I mean  they can’t be Bryzzo everyday especially when the other half is out with back stiffness.

“I honestly shouldn’t have thrown it,” Bryant said. “[Perez] was safe all the way. I was trying to make a play there. It didn’t work out. Sometimes that’s how it is. It’s a little frustrating.”

Yeah, it’s frustrating. This April has been frustrating but with Yu Darvish getting the ball today, things will get better. They have to get better, right? Problem is , Anthony Rizzo will probably be out day to day. Look on the bright side, if you’re feeling frustrated about the Cubs, turn it over to the Masters.

“We played really well,”Joe Maddon said. “We did a lot of things well. We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed it, but we worked good at-bats, pitched really well. We did a lot of things well. We should’ve won that game and we didn’t. Give them credit. They got the two two-run homers and then punched the last one across. But I’m here to tell you, man, we play that game consistently, I’ll take it.”

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Cubs In Tough Spot After Loss To Reds

Reds 1, Cubs 0

If Managers pushed panic buttons this early in the season, then there might not always be great teams down the road. The other reminder that I keep telling myself is that the season is nearly a week old, but man, the Cincinnati Reds? The Cubs lost 1-0 and have struck out 58 times this season, that my friends is a National League record.

Not good, but April has only just begun.

“We’re not going to ride the rollercoaster as hard as everyone else outside,” Anthony Rizzo said. “We have a good group. If you look at back of the bubblegum card, it kind of speaks for itself. The more you get in those situations, the better off you are.”

I do look at baseball cards, love em and my Kyle Hendricks rookie card sits proudly on display down in the man cave. Numbers don’t lie and striking out 58 times is not a good thing when the season isn’t a week old. I know, I know I just said that but it kind of needs repeating. The old adage of leaving scorers on base and of course, not hitting is probably the main reason why teams don’t always make the playoffs.

“Contact,” hitting coach Chili Davis said afterward with a half-smile. “We’d like to see a lot of good contact. There’s some guys, you’re not just going to turn them into contact-type hitters. I don’t want them to lose their aggressiveness at the plate. We have too good of hitters for me to panic at all.”

He’s right and Anthony Rizzo is right. Ahem, Kyle Schwarber? These guys are decent hitters, if not some of the best in the game; so who knows what the problem is this early in the season?

“I’ve talked about it for how many years now?” manager Joe Maddon asked rhetorically. “We have struck out a lot. It has been exacerbated by the 17-inning game but we have struck out a lot. We have to do better. We have to move the baseball. We talked about it all camp. We talked about it the last two years. I believe that we will, but right now, we’re not.”

There’s those pesky late inning games last weekend that tore the exhaust pipe off of the Cubs, so it’s no wonder that they’re out of sorts.

‘‘We’ve been shut out pretty much three out of six games,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘We’re going to hit. We’re a very good offensive club. It’s just what’s going on right now. I’m not going to make any excuses. We should have done better, but we’re going to do better.’’

They will. They’re going to get better, if there’s any team that has the talent to turn things around, it’s these Cubs.

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Butler is a Hero in Loss To Marlins

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Well, if last night’s performance was any indication on how Eddie Butler‘s season will shape up to be, then hand him a Cy Young because man, did he ever bail out the Cubs in last night’s epic 2-1 loss against the Miami Marlins in 17 innings!

“I knew it from the get go,” Butler said. “I knew it was my game until we got the lead and then we’d hand it over to ‘B-Row’ and he’d take care of business. They came up to me after every inning and asked, ‘How are you feeling?’ and I said, ‘I can keep going, just give me the ball.'”

It was hard fought and I bet you you’re glad for that nifty condensed game feature on MLB.TV because it was a long one, ending just after midnight.

“That was such a huge effort, especially this early in the year, when starters aren’t going so deep into games,” said Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Who was no slouch either in his season debut going six innings giving up one run. Butler went one more inning than Hendricks!

It was the longest relief outing for a Cub since Scott Sanderson pitched eight innings in 1989.

The Cubs weren’t hoping to go this deep into games this early into the season, but there you have it. I hope it won’t exhaust the bullpen too much. It was a tight game and one that I’m sure the Cubs are glad is over.

It was a marathon but Kris Bryant notched his first home run of the season and turned in an impressive performance getting three hits and one run plus, well his home run.

Tonight’s the night Cubs fans have been waiting all winter to arrive. Yu Darvish makes his regular season debut and folks, if there’s a pivotal moment in the young season, it’s this one. The season’s going to depend on how well Darvish throws.

“He’s been great, really good,” manager Joe Maddon said earlier in the week about Darvish. “I’ve not been worried in any way, shape or form about performance. That’s not a concern. He’s performed very well. I’m looking for him to be able to adapt and adjust to us, that he feels comfortable here, and he likes it here. I totally believe a guy of his abilities … if he likes the method and the exchange between his manager and his coaches, and his catchers, good things are going to follow.”

So far, I’m blown away by the way the Cubs have opened the season. Last night’s game was a hiccup but if there’s a way to lose, that’s the way to do it. Both teams fought hard and it came down to being tired. Something was going to give.

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Cubs Find No Joy In WrigleyVille

Part of the beauty of baseball and any other sport for that matter, is that there has to be a winner and a loser. To say that the Cubs shouldn’t have been in the NLCS this year would be wrong. They won their right to qualify for the World Series but last night’s 11-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers showed fans , sport writers and the Cubs brass just about everything they needed to know about what went wrong with the Cubs during the first half of the season. It also should everyone just how mismatched the Cubs/Dodgers series was in the first place.

“It’s a disappointing season that we didn’t go to the World Series,” Chicago pitcher Jon Lester said, “but whenever you get on the plane to go home or get in the car to go home, you have to look at the positives, and the positives are we gave ourselves a chance. It didn’t happen this year. We got beat by a better team. You’ve got to tip your hat sometimes.”

There’s that tipping of the hat again. No, the Cubs shouldn’t tip their caps. They should be saying ,”Thank you” to the Dodgers that this was done in five games. It was fitting that a three time Cy Young winner was facing a pitcher, who’s name wasn’t Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks or Jon Lester. It was Jose Quintana. A pitcher that looked like a deer in headlights after the first inning.

“The better team won over the course of these five games. They played really well. They kind of out-pitched us and everything else. So give them credit. Dave Roberts and their entire staff, I just want to say, ‘Congratulations.’ [We] know what it feels like coming off of last year — we were celebrating versus them in this exact same spot. So they’ve had themselves a spectacular year, and I want to wish them all well in the World Series.” Joe Maddon said.

As I do too. They dominated the Cubs in every category. When the guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant can’t get it done; then there’s problems. Someone asked me yesterday what my prediction was for last night’s game, and I told them,

” You have a three time Cy Young winner going against a team without their best starting pitcher, their top guys in a hitting slump and a closing ace that’s unavailable; David had better odds against Goliath”

Which they replied,”That was a story and David won”

“No, this is baseball and numbers don’t lie.”

Of course, I was hoping the Cubs would in some miracle, win and move on but in a way, I’m glad the season is over. The Cubs need to lick their wounds and concentrate on next year. I’m proud of the team, their accomplishments and look forward to spring again. When everything is new and hopes and dreams are a clean slate.

“As a team, we know it’s an accomplishment to get to where we’ve gotten to,” Ben Zobristsaid. “But after what we experienced last year, this is less than what we wanted this year. At the same time, you have to recognize how tough a year it was for us. We kept battling and were able to win our division and win the Division Series to get here. I think the Dodgers were just better. They played a phenomenal series and we didn’t. We have to keep our heads up. We kept battling together and stayed together.

Casey At The Bat

by Ernest Thayer

The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

#ThatsCub

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Cubs Down 2-0 in NLCS. Head Back To Wrigley

If the Chicago Cubs go on to lose the NLCS then it’ll be on Joe Maddon’s shoulders. There I said it. I say this after the Cubs were downed by the Dodgers 4-1 and now the Dodgers have a two game lead going to Chicago on Tuesday.

Sure, Kris Bryant‘s bat has gone silent, in fact, the rest of the team has been quiet in this series. Nobody can blame it on stellar pitching because both rotations have been in a state of flux. The fact is that Jon Lester should have stayed in for another inning or even a couple more outs. Carl Edwards was good for another few outs and well, Brian Deunsing was pitching really well, so I don’t quite understand what went wrong there? Oh wait, I’m sure everyone’s scratching their heads over the use of John Lackey. The guy has never pitched back to back games in his life.

“I really just needed him for the save tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He had limited pitches. It was one inning only, and in these circumstances, you don’t get him up and then don’t get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That’s it.”

Now, I’m glad Wade Davis wasn’t used, he’ll be fresh for Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Here’s hoping it’s cold in Chicago and Yasul Puig’s tongue sticks to the bat. Any recommendations of a rule change to aluminum?

“It’s their guys versus our guys,” Addison Russell said. “We’re playing to win. I feel like the competition just steps up a little bit because each pitch is more crucial, each swing, each play. An error can be the deciding factor of winning or losing. A bad pitch can be the decision of winning or losing. That’s really what I like about it.”

It’s really going to come down to the Cubs scoring more runs and Maddon not playing hot potato with his bullpen. Kyle Hendricks gets the start on Tuesday. He’s well rested and he needs to put up a performance for the ages, at least seven innings. Carl Edwards Jr relieves him and then it’s Wade Davis’ turn to shine.

“All you’re focused on is making pitches,” Hendricks said recently. “That’s my job and it never changes — no matter regular-season game, postseason game, no matter who you are facing on the other side of the mound. My focus is to go out there, make good pitches, rely on my preparation which I’ve done all year long. But when it comes down to it, when those lights turn on, you just have to execute pitches better than the other guy.”

The Cubs have been down in a series before and fought back, we know this and we know the results. They needed that win in LA, but not all is lost. They win three at Wrigley and take one back in LA. Easy Peasy, right? Bill Murray will be there to cheer them on and the momentum is clearly in the Cubs corner.

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Chicago Cubs Advance To NLCS

Last night was one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever seen. The Chicago Cubs are NLDS Champions and advance to the NLCS to face the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers after a 9-8 victory sending the Washington Nationals golfing for another year.

“I would say this is the most fun I’ve had playing in a baseball game, and it ranks right up there with winning the World Series,” Addison Russell said.

You know, he’s right. It would come close to winning the World Series, I mean he should know, right? It seemed both the Cubs and the Nationals expired their pitching order respectively in an attempt to thwart each other and win the NLDS. Neither starting pitcher could get it done with Kyle Hendricks or Gio Gonzalez. To give you an example about how weird the game was, Hendricks threw seven strikeouts and Gonzalez had six. If this were any other game, those would be decent numbers but not last night; The Cubs wanted to go on to their third NLCS while the Nationals haven’t won a series in 36 years (going back to the Expos)

“This was such a tough series, just a dogfight,” said Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who started the series’ opener and finale. “You’ve got to tip your hat. That club on the other side is really, really good. Lot of tough ballplayers over there. Top to bottom, they’re just so deep. We’re just lucky we were able to come out on top.”

Luck being the key word. This series truly would have gone the other way and normally I cringe when athletes “Tip their cap” to their opponent but in this case, it’s justified. I’ve never been more nervous watching a ballgame then last night.

“Really anxious, almost bemused at some of the things that were happening in that game,” said Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. “It was kind of a surreal game. We got all those runs with only one big hit to drive in runs, and then it was a matter of just holding on, finding a way to get 27 outs. It seemed impossible at times.”

Trust me Theo, it looked impossible from this end as well. When they say a pitcher’s duel, they included when the pitcher’s performances were sub par as well. If there were a way to get 27 outs without throwing strikes, this was the game.

“That’s one of the most incredible victories I’ve ever been part of,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Under the circumstances, in the other team’s ballpark, after a tough loss at home [in Game 4], to come back and do that, give our guys all the credit in the world.”

The NLCS begins tomorrow night. I hope the Cubs have one of their” fun days” and try to relax because one thing that this year’s edition of the post season has shown us is that the Cubs are out to prove last season wasn’t just plain old luck. However, the Dodgers are rested and the Cubs’ machine is well oiled.

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