Cubs Get Shut Out On Father’s Day

Cardinals 5, Cubs 0

How great would it have been if the Cubs completed the sweep on Father’s Day of the St. Louis Cardinals? Two rivals, one on the way up, and the other, just being there. The Cubs lost 5-0 and remain a half game back of the Brewers.

A scary incident occurred when Javier Baez left the game after being hit by a pitch.

“I’m fine,” Baez said. “It’s just really sore. It got me really good right on the elbow. I thought the pain was going to go away right away, but it kind of numbed my whole arm and even my ribs. We’ve been icing it. It feels pretty sore, but I know I’m good.”

There was nothing funny about that. The Cubs haven’t hit as many home runs as they have in the past but they’ve made contact more. Home Runs are exciting but give me guys on base any day then going yard. Now, don’t get me wrong; going yard is incredible to see it’s not everything.

“I think it’s something we have to evaluate over a little bit of a longer period of time,” general manager Jed Hoyer said regarding the Cubs’ reduced power. “We haven’t hit as many home runs, and in theory that’s concerning, but it’s a small sample. Let’s look later on and see where we’re at.”

It’s not the Cubs biggest worry. You can spin any cliche you want but a win is a win. Last night, the Cubs couldn’t manage a run and that happens from time to time. They’re stringing together the wins when it counts and staying with the pack.

“We’re all out there trying to do our jobs and put ourselves in the best position to win a baseball game,” Kyle Schwarber said. “Getting on base is the simplest form of that.”

If the Cubs go on to compete this fall, it’ll be a more well balanced team than the 2016 World Series guys.

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Cubs Down Mets In Come From Behind Thriller

Cubs 7, Mets 4

 

The Cubs are inching their way to the top. After last night’s 7-4 comeback victory over the New York Mets they’re only three games back of the Brewers. Perhaps the Cubs are finding their swing again, but the caveat being this is the Mets.

Four really good things happened in last night’s game. Kyle Schwarber hit his 11th big one of the season, Ben Zobrist continues to be well, Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora has one sick glove that nobody outside of Cubdom is aware of and Tommy La Stella quietly goes about getting hits. If he were in the Rolling Stones, he’d be Charlie Watts.

“More than anything, my swing actually feels right,” Zobrist said. “That’s kind of the key. I search for that most of the time, and when I find it, it just comes a little easier and I can drive the ball more and square up more balls. That’s when I know I’m in a good spot.”

The Cubs came back last night, but is it a true indication of the way they can play or is it against the not so great teams that they’ve been able to beat? Sure, they’ve got the Brewers’ number but they’ve only beaten the Pirates, Mets, Rockies, Braves and Marlins. Throw in the Reds, Giants and we don’t count the White Sucks. Outside of Atlanta and Colorado( not counting the Brewers because they’re in the same division) the Cubs haven’t really won. I’m being critical here because I still feel that come August to October, the Cubs are going to run into a whole mess of problems unless they do what they’ve done the last couple of seasons and turn on the afterburners in the second half of the season.

“It’s just a matter of time with all of these guys to get them where they normally are and the back of the bubblegum card reads well,” Joe Maddon said.

Nobody’s denying that the Cubs have the potential. They’ve got a great team and Javier Baez is going to punch his ticket to the All Star Game but they’ve got to figure out their chemistry quickly.

So I have question for you guys, when you’re not watching the Cubs, which teams do you watch if you pick one from each division?

  • Toronto Blue Jays (They don’t call me the Canuck Cubbie for nothing)
  • Detroit Tigers (A friend of mine’s favourite team)
  • Oakland Athletics (Rollie Fingers was one of my favourite players growing up and their ties to Ottawa Ontario my hometown)
  • New York Mets (I can’t stand Atlanta and still sore about Montreal moving to Washington)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates( That Stove Top cap was my first ball cap. I loved the Pirates as a kid because the very first ball game I went to was an Expos/Pirates game where I got the cap. A couple of years ago, we visited Pittsburgh and not only is PNC my favourite park outside of Wrigley Field, but they have awesome fans. We were talking to the folks sitting behind us and they said that if the Pirates don’t make it, they’ll cheer for the Cubs. I’m returning the favour. )
  • San Francisco Giants (This is a good one. This has a connection to Ottawa’s Triple A team of the 1950’s, Ottawa Giants. Same kind of connection to the Oakland Athletics.)

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Cubs Continue To lose Close Games

Indians 1, Cubs 0

There wasn’t much the Cubs could have done in their 1-0 loss to Cleveland. Well, there was a whole bunch they could have done but leaving runners stranded was a big thing. The truth is that both teams played a very tight game like they were in a recent World Series or something.

The viewpoints differ  amongst teammates.

“I feel like we’re underperforming a little bit,” third baseman Kris Bryant said even before the game. “We’re pretty average right now.”

Or then there’s Albert Almora.

“You think of the 2016 team, and you’re spoiled when you think of that kind of caliber we played all year,” center fielder Albert Almora Jr. said of the Cubs’ 103-win, wire-to-wire run to the division title. “But I like where we’re at, and I think we’re playing at a really high level right now with the intensity. We’ll see. It’s still early.”

Which he’s right about that. It is still early, but the Cubs can’t find ways to win like they used to. Jon Lester put in a solid performance.

“I think he’s found his voice and it’s fun to watch,” Maddon said. “He’s a veteran, he’s earned the right to be here, the big contract, and now that some of the guys he’s worked with in the past, whether it’s David [Ross] or John Lackey, are gone, Jon is carrying on. Those guys were his mentors and he deferred to them. Now Jon’s carrying the torch.”

But the Cubs were stymied last night. They’ll sure take last night’s loss over their ten run beat down the previous night. Even if a Manny Machado signs with the club, would he make a huge difference? He suddenly would come onto the team and half to gel with the rest of them, I don’t believe his impact would be huge. Remember, everyone thought the Cubs had the best rotation going into the season. The Cubs have a great shot at Bryce Harper next year and I like them odds a little better. Addison Russell will be dealt at the deadline, that I’m convinced about.

“I think we are better than what our record shows. We’ve just got to continue to be us and play our game and focus on everyone in this clubhouse and care about each other. I feel like we do a really good job of that. If we just continue to do what we believe in, good things are going to happen.” Kyle Schwarber said.

They struggled in the first half last year.

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Darvish Gets First Win As Cub

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Yu Darvish got his first win as a Chicago Cub. In the weirdest division in baseball, the Cubs are 1.5 games back of leader Milwaukee. Of course, it’s a three way tie. That’s just the Cubs way. Darvish’s win was music to Joe Maddon’s ears. The Cubs beat the Reds 6-1

“The difference [with Darvish] was, after the first inning, he really started to gain command of his fastball,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “Then the slider becomes even more difficult. If he was in a different spot in the batting order, I probably would have let him go back out for the seventh. … My take on him is when he gets into a rhythm out there, it’s almost like he stops thinking and just starts pitching.”

My thinking is maybe he should stop thinking more often.

JK Yu

After a harrowing incident walking the pitcher, Anthony Rizzo went to calm him down.

“I was trying to calm myself, letting the frustration come out,” Darvish said through his interpreter about that moment. “I was thinking of saying something out loud, to get it out of my system, and Rizzo came over and said the same thing, ‘You look very frustrated. Let’s keep it together.'”

While we’re on the subject of firsts, the Cubs hit back to back home runs for the first time this season. Also, yesterday’s game was the first time that Kyle Schwarber was ejected. He argued a call that he thought should have gone the other way.

“I flipped my bat and said it was high, and I said a choice word in there,” Schwarber explained. “I don’t want to show him up. I wasn’t looking at him. And then he just threw me out, and that’s when I kind of lost it, because I didn’t think that ejection was necessary.”

So, as a “Glass Half Full” kind of guy, now that Darvish has his first win under his belt, the Cubs are looking up. They have an off day today before a series with Cleveland on Tuesday. If Darvish keeps winning, then there’s only one way up.

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Cubs’ Hendricks Stoic Effort

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It’s not even the end of April  and Kyle Schwarber has all ready knocked seven home runs. Yup, the Cubs defeated the Brewers 1-0 in front of the Wrigley faithful.

The Professor  Kyle Hendricks took to the mound and masterfully executed seven scoreless innings.

“That’s a product of when my focus was, just make a good pitch,” Hendricks said. “Every pitch, just on to the next pitch. I was just in a really good mindset today — one pitch at a time.”

He’s pretty focused every time, but that’s just my opinion.

If you noticed an absence at third base yesterday, Kris Bryant stayed on the bench for a third straight game. I’m not too worried about his absence affecting the Cubs because more than likely it’s just precautions but;

“I’m listening to what his needs are right now,” Joe Maddon said. “I’m making sure that the medical procedures are being followed so that we do everything right. It’s never going to be a unilateral decision on my part to insist that he plays, ever. I’m listening to K.B., the doctors, trying to do the right things and get him back out there. It’s early. I really feel strongly that he’s going to be fine, but I don’t want to push it.”

With research into these injuries, I think more teams have shifted away from playing them too soon whether it’s more than likely a minor injury or not. He’ll be back.

Speaking of getting back, Yu Darvish takes to the mound today in search of his first win. The high priced hurler has struggled this season, causing fans to scratch their heads and wonder if the Cubs front office made a big mistake in signing him.

“This guy’s good. This guy’s going to show it. He’s going to show up,” Maddon said, “and the thing (is) as a manager, as a coach, I’m just trying to get him to respect this pitch and then respect that next pitch, but don’t try to over-evaluate it or make it more complicated than that because your stuff, I don’t know, top 10 in baseball probably.”

I’m not saying anything against Darvish’s stuff but there’s a reason why a guy like Hendricks who makes a paltry $760 000 is ahead of a 126 million dollar arm in the rotation.

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Cubs Show That Everybody’s In

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Those folks in the Cubs front office sure know what they’re talking about when they thought up  #EverybodyIn and the Cubs go out and deliver a 16-5 beatdown on the Rockies last night. Kyle Hendricks got off to a shaky start but settled into a groove nicely.

“It was still a battle the whole way,” Hendricks said. “Deep counts, a lot of pitches, able to get through it, I guess. You saw a lot from our lineup today, really. That’s what won the game. They gave me two right away, I give three right back. For them to stay on those at-bats, come back and get that many runs for me, that was the ballgame.”

Yeah, it was. I’ve always said that Hendricks will never be that “Perfect Game” pitcher but his craftiness and techniques win him those ball games. Yesterday he proved that after giving up those runs, he stays calm and keeps his poise to get back into the game.

As for “El Mago”, give him the MVP all ready, why don’t you?

“I’m seeing the ball right when [the pitcher] releases it,” Javier Baez said of his recent tear that finds him hitting .400 (14-for-35) with three doubles, a triple, six homers, and 16 RBIs over his last eight games. “I’m not trying to go [opposite field], but a lot of hits are being hit that way. I’m just trying to stay to the middle, keep the same approach and keep doing my routine.”

His slide into second kept managers pumping more sunflower seeds into their mouths but sometimes, you just have to go for it. I don’t believe any manager is going to try and change Baez’s game.

“When the whole group adopts a method, and they feed off one another, and they’re capable …” manager Joe Maddon said, interrupting himself as he analyzed the offensive outburst over the last two games. “… These guys have been to the World Series, they’ve won one, they’ve been in the NLCS every year, they know what’s going on. But I’ve often talked about, the one area — we have not had mature at-bats. We can’t say we’re inexperienced anymore. We have experience, but we’re still young. We have to get rid of that youth involvement in the at-bat and we’ll play some really nice baseball.”

That’ll come. We’re all ready seeing guys like Kyle Schwarber settle down at the plate a bit. On the other side, Baez has got such a pure swing that patience won’t help him too much. He’s got to play the game he’s meant to play.

So, it’s finally so good to see Everybody In after their disastrous start to the season. Hopefully, this is a sign of the baseball to come.

“You are going to see everyone play,” Maddon said. “I hate to disappoint people, but everyone is going to play. And they’re all going to play well. I promise.”

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Cubs Bring El Mago

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A lot of good things happened yesterday as the Cubs defeated the St Louis Cardinals 8-5 in front of a dry crowd under sunny skies. Yup, that was a good ol’ fireball the Cubs played under.

“Good approach, good at-bats,” Joe Maddon said of the Cubs’ 14-hit attack, which involved using the entire field. “It is so fun to watch. Keep your launch angles, keep your exit velocities, give me a good at-bat. Those were really good at-bats. Staying inside the ball, using the whole field — I promise you if they stay on that path, balls will still go out of the ballpark at the pace they’re capable of. With that, you’ll see better situational hitting, you’ll see higher batting averages, on-base percentages. I loved our approach today.”

Or the Cubs just really suck at playing in the rain. Plus, the Cubs got back to the basics and played small ball. Get on base and move the runners. Sounds pretty simple but for some reason, when players reach the big leagues, they see the back of the yard and there’s a big target where they try to hit the ball deep. That’s good and all but getting runners home and loading the bases is the fundamentals they need. The Cubs finally did that yesterday.

“It is [an art form],” Maddon said. “It’s just good hitting. We worked really good at-bats. I’d love to stay with that if we can. Use the whole field.”

The other advantage of April baseball is that teams have a long road ahead of them and they can experiment. Mix up the order and move the players around. Javier Baez is swinging a hot bat so far so why shouldn’t he do it? He batted second and looked good there.

“That’s good to know,” Baez said when told about Maddon’s motives. “I was trying to stay focused on the same approach, same swings. I didn’t get excited, but that’s one of my goals is to end up there in the lineup. I feel great, I’m still seeing the ball really good. I chased a few pitches today, but I took good at-bats.”

Love him or hate him, Baez has become the exciting player the Cubs hoped he’d be. In a world of high salaried performers, Baez shows up at the plate looking like that kid in the sandlot hitting a home run for the very first time. He looks like that all the time.

“The guy’s an exciting ballplayer,” Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber said of Baez. “I feel we’re always talking about Javy Baez. I’m not going to get tired of it. He’s a heck of a ballplayer and a lot of instincts and he’s a leader and he’s fun to watch.”

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