Cubs Hammer Carpenter and the Cardinals

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One of the flaws of the game today is the inability of most pitchers going deep into a game. On average, pitchers last around 5-5 1/2 innings. Yesterday, Jose Quintana went seven innings on the way to a 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

“He got better as the game progressed,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Everything kept getting sharper. It looked like there was more jump on the fastball at the end. We needed him to go more deeply in the game and he did. I saw him getting better per hitter.”

Pitchers going deep in theory, works. It doesn’t always turn out that way but on paper a pitcher should last seven innings, bring in the relief and then the closer.

In a perfect world(just not a perfect game) this is the way it should roll out. Yesterday’s match up worked out for the North Siders. It was also aided by Kyle Schwarber‘s bat.

“It shows the resilience of this team and we’re not afraid to be down and fight, scratch or claw our way back into the game,” Schwarber said. “That’s been our M.O. this season. If we’re down, we know we’re not out.

Oh c’mon Schwarbs, that’s been the Cubs M.O for a few years now. In fact I wouldn’t chalk it up to the Cubs clawing their way back, more like they just have a really good team and that’s what really good teams do.

“Wrigley was really loud [Saturday] night, the loudest I’ve heard in awhile. You’ve got the doubleheader, passionate Cubs fans, passionate Cardinals fans. It got really loud. It’s always fun playing them because the fans are so into it. You play a team five times and you’re usually sick of them after the third day, but it’s just fun playing them.” Anthony Rizzo said.

Five game series are few and far between, throw in July temperatures a rivalry and there you have it – – the makings of a great series.

With the Cubs in the top spot in the National League and third overall behind Boston and Houston, the Cubs should be in a great spot for the post season. If they can pick up some pitching for the stretch then they’ll have the pieces to move well in October.

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Baez and Schwarber Tune Up For Home Run Derby

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In what appears to be quite likely a tune up for the Home Run Derby, both Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez propelled the Cubs to a 11-6 victory over the San Diego Padres with a home run each as they padded their lead in the National League.

“We’re running out of [superlatives],” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. “I like the way he’s going about his business. He’s playing the game right, playing the game hard, playing the game smartly. He’s just playing the game of baseball. I don’t think he has an analytical bone in his body. … He’s absolutely fun to watch.”

As if April never happened, the Cubs find themselves in sole possession of first place with one game to go before the mid summer classic.

“This year I’ve been consistent with my work, with my routine, being here early,” he said. “I’m the type of guy that I like to take my time during my routine, so I like to get here early and there are already a few people here. Working is the thing that is getting me here and doing some good this first half.” Baez said.

Kyle Hendricks enjoyed a win as well even though it was at times, a shaky performance by The Professor. While he’s got to figure out why he gives up first inning home runs, Hendricks is looking forward to the second half.

“It’s good to be at the top,” Hendricks said. “The Brewers are a great team behind us. There’s no days off in the second half. We have to play the same baseball we’ve been playing.”

The Cubs are in a great spot. With the return of Yu Darvish expected very soon, the Cubs will have their rotation bolstered.

“I think we’re surprised,” Cubs General manager Jed Hoyer said of Darvish’s injury. “Other than the Tommy John [surgery he had], he’s been a guy who takes the ball and has been really durable. I think this is a blip. I think it’s a moment in time and he’ll get back to that place where he’ll give us six, seven innings of quality baseball.”

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Jon Lester Crushes Three Run Homer

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Jon Lester crushed a three run home run in yesterday’s 11-10 sweep of the Minnesota Twins. They scored 35 runs in the series. That’s a lot, folks.

“I can’t be more impressed with the way our guys played on the field,” Maddon said. “Under the circumstances, the heat, they’re out there, they played well, we hit well, we ran the bases great. We did so many things well in adverse conditions. Give them a lot of credit.”

It seems like the Cincinnati massacre has been put behind them and the Cubs are now cruising back up to the top of the division. That was their fourth win in a row and nestled .5 game back of the Brewers.

Yesterday though, belonged to Jon Lester.

“Obviously, being over here [in the NL] and actually having to be responsible for that nine-hole, it’s important,” Lester said. “It’s important to have good at-bats. I feel I’ve done that regardless of the outcome, I’ve had good at-bats and haven’t been just a one-pitch out guy. I’ve worked some counts and been able to at least make the pitcher work, that’s all I’m trying to do. If I get hits, I get hits.

“The home run is awesome, it’s cool, especially at home. It’s always fun to play here with the crowd and hit the ball in the bleachers. At the end of the day, I’m a pitcher, not a hitter.”

It wasn’t a perfect game by all accounts but as the saying goes, ‘A win is a win no matter how you get it” right? Lester on the other hand, cruised to his 11th win of the season and is pretty much staving off father time.

The All Star Break is next week and the Cubs are beginning to look like the team that was hyped at the beginning of the year. Jon Lester has the most wins in the National league and the Cubs are in third place in the National League.

“We’re not trying to go out there and slug our way,” Kyle Schwarber said. “I think [Saturday] we had nine runs, with all base hits. That was great. We’re just going out there trying to make hard contact. It’s paying off.”

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Cubs Thought Turkey’s Could Fly

Reds 6, Cubs 3

The Chicago Cubs up and down 2018 season continued last night with a 6-3  loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Let me repeat that; the Cubs lost to the Reds.

The Reds?

The Reds are last place in the Central, 15 games out of the top spot and in no position to contend for the fall classic.

But—

They’re winners of their last 8 out of 10 games and the Cubs got snake bit.

“We haven’t played great here,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve played two of our least impressive games in about a month. It’s just not been us playing our typical game. We grab a lot of energy off our defense; we needed to grab some off our offense. If we start hitting, we’ll start doing what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got to be more consistent at the plate.”

Or is it something else entirely when it comes to the Big Red Machine? I mean Anthony Rizzo failed to tag a player during a rundown. He tapped him on the head and the ball dropped from his glove.

Weird.

It seemed nobody was on their game last night except Kyle Schwarber who banged out a two run home run in the fourth to give the Cubs the lead and add to his home run total of the season.

“Schwarber’s getting different — he’s getting different in a good way,” Maddon said. “He’s handling the ball up in the zone a lot better. He’s not missing it. He’s looked really good.”

Perhaps Schwarber’s hitting his stride or perhaps it’s the hometown crowd but I maintain that the “Sultan of Schwarb” will continue to improve his game or perhaps his eerie resemblance to the Bambino will have even more great things down the road?

“I still want to be able to string some things together,” Schwarber said. “Obviously, I put a good swing on the ball today. I want to be able to still go up there and have good at-bats and put up a quality at-bat. I want to work the at-bat and get my pitch, and when I do get my pitch, drive it.”

So, the Cubs haven’t been playing well in Cincinnati and have fallen two back of the surging Brewers, will they find their mojo today when Luke Farrell makes his first start of the season today. I mean, nobody wants to lose a series to the Reds.

Right?

“One pitch just changed the game,” Jose Quintana said. “It was a battle. We needed this game.”

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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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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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