Cubs Get Swept Out Of LA

Jon Lester

It wasn’t what you thought would happen when two outstanding pitchers faced each other. One a multiple Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw and the other a multiple World Series champion in Jon Lester. I thought it would be low scoring, how about yourself? Nope. It turned out to be a 9-4 series sweep by the hometown Dodgers.

“It sounds like fiction to me, but it happened,” Joe Maddon said. “I have not seen [Kershaw] like that. We were on him. It’s just one of those days. Both of them are very good, they’re outstanding and neither one had a good day and [the Dodgers] got us.”

Something out of an old Twilight Zone episode, where Kershaw gave up three home runs and the Dodgers, with their stingiest bullpen in the National League, squeaked by the defending champions.

“We just have to play for today. You can’t worry about [going on] a run, you can’t worry about showing up and trying to go nine [innings] before you throw the first pitch, you can’t worry about trying to go 3-for-4 before your first at-bat. You can’t worry about [going on] a run, you can’t make runs happen. You can’t make anything happen in this game. We have a good team. It’s just a matter of showing up day in and day out and putting our work in. It’ll come, it’ll click. We’ve had little spurts, and that’s been great. We just have to worry about tomorrow and go from there.” Jon Lester said.

The Cubs will have to take the sting they felt in the series loss off to San Diego and try to boost their league low of .217 batting with Runners In Scoring Position.  Which is a surprising stat from the champs. Add to the fact that they’re 25-24, the Cubs are in a rough spot. They’re almost at the halfway mark and in a sport where having under 95 wins is considered a sub par performance, the Cubs had better find a way to dig deep and fix what’s ailing them.

“I don’t see any reason to worry, especially given what we did last year,” reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant said. “There is no need to worry. You’re going to have your good years, you’re going to have your bad years. Your good starts, your bad starts. This is an average start; it’s not a terrible start. Sometimes it happens. We’ve spoiled ourselves with last year and that start. I guess it’s a good thing to have those expectations because we do, too.”

What Bryant isn’t taking into consideration that yesterday, the Cubs walloped three home runs in the losing effort. Nope, it’s the old cliche about the Cubs having to move the runners. Small ball.

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Cubs Feel Heat In LA

Anthony Rizzo

The Dodgers make me nervous. In last fall’s NLCS there was nothing better than to see the Cubs put an end to Los Angeles’ playoff run. This Memorial Day weekend series has not gone so smoothly. The Chicago Cubs were shutout yesterday 5-0 and now have to face Clayton Kershaw in an attempt to save face and take one game this weekend.

“We haven’t played badly,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We just haven’t hit the ball, and they got timely hits when they needed it. They pitched well, they beat us. That’s it.”

That pretty much sums up every ball game when a team loses. To be fair, John Lackey pitched a good game by taking a no hitter into the fourth inning. Lackey, like the Dodgers makes me nervous. You never know what pitcher is going to show up and last night, was the kind of Lackey who is on his game and means business.

“They really have made very few, if any, mistakes against us and we have not taken advantage of anything,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “We have hit some balls well but they have been foul balls. Otherwise, our contact has been rather weak the last two days.”

With the loss, the Cubs were shutout for the fifth time this season. From a team that won over 100 games last season, this is a troubling statistic. On the other hand, the Dodgers own the lowest bullpen ERA in the National League. If any team can shutdown the offensive power of the Cubs, it’s these West Coasters.

Today’s game is going to be good. Jon Lester versus Kershaw. These guys are on top of the food chain of pitchers. It’s going to be a low scoring affair.

“It should be rather interesting,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You always anticipate low scoring with that. The Dodgers are pitching really, really well. Kershaw is a different animal, and so is Jon. It should be interesting.”

I have a gut feeling that the Dodgers and the Cubs could be facing each other again in the NLCS this fall. Pitching vs offence.

“What it means to me,” Maddon said of the back-to-back shutouts, “is we have no chance to win the last two games.”

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Chicago Cubs Are Going To The World Series

#FlyTheW

What should have been the most raucous of celebrations in sports history is somehow filled with quiet reflection. It wasn’t supposed to end like this, there was supposed to be a curse attached to this near mythical baseball team. They were supposed to blow it but somehow, some way, the Chicago Cubs changed history. They righted a wrong and for baseball fanatics and casual observers alike, on October 22 2016 the Cubs became 2016 National League Champions.

Last night will go down in Chicago Cubs history as one of the most thrilling games ever played at Wrigley Field. The Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 and advance to the World Series for the first time since 1945.

The Professor Kyle Hendricks not only won the ERA title but pitched a gem. In the biggest game of his life to date, he not only pitched seven innings of shutout baseball but he went up against the greatest pitcher in the game Clayton Kershaw, and taught him a lesson he’ll never forget.

Wrigley Field is Hendricks ‘ classroom.

“It doesn’t really seem like reality around here,” said a champagne-soaked Hendricks. “There’s so much going on around here. I’m just trying to soak in the snapshots right now, so I can remember later.”

It was fitting that Hendricks was on the mound. He took apart the Dodgers inning by inning with “old school” tactics by keeping the ball down and not allowing the Dodgers access to those three bags in the infield.

Chicago Cubs

Both Javier Baez and Jon Lester won playoff MVP and rightfully so. Baez was unstoppable on defence and behind the plate. Lester? Well, he was Jon Lester doing Jon Lester things.

People everywhere will remember where they were the night the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 National League pennant. I was surrounded with my wife, family and friends we haven’t seen in a while. It was fitting that our friends came for a visit because Chicago hasn’t seen the pennant in quite a while.

The Cubs are only four wins away from a place they haven’t been since 1908. This isn’t over by a long shot but for a day we can all rejoice knowing that we’ve witnessed something very special.

“Getting to the World Series is a big accomplishment,” said the manager Joe Maddon. “Of course, winning it would be even greater than that. But I still believe that, in seasons to come, people are going to believe more easily now. They’re not going to look for the next shoe to drop. They’ll believe that something good is going to occur, as opposed to something bad.”

The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs Take NLCS Lead, One Win From Destiny

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are one win away from a place they haven’t been since 1945, the World Series. Last night, Jon Lester and the rest of the Cubs shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers with an 8-4 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. The stage is set for a sixth game showdown between regular season ERA leader Kyle Hendricks and three time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

“To go back home with the advantage is really important,” Ben Zobrist said of the Cubs’ 3-2 lead in the series. “You have to feel good about our chances against Kershaw on Saturday. We like our chances.”

The Cubs bats have figured out the Dodgers’ pitchers at the right time. Addison Russell was the hero last night after hitting a two run home run to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning. This is a young team that love to hit.

“Right there, that situation, just trying not to do too much,” Russell said. “I was just trying to find some gaps. I was looking for something up in the zone to drive. First pitch slider a little bit low. Second pitch was a slider, but it was elevated and I put the barrel on it, and it kind of went. But just rounding the bases, it was pretty exciting. Pumped up. Not only for myself, but for the team, and that little cushion that Jonny had to go forward from that, and I felt really good.”

It energized the team and dialled in Jon Lester’s seven innings of pitching. That’s what the Cubs needed was deep pitching to give their bullpen a rest.

What this all means now is that the Cubs have today off before going to Wrigley Field, back home where no World Series championship has ever been won and face the league’s most dominant pitcher. This weekend could very well be the most exciting weekend baseball has ever seen. Will Bill Murray be in attendance should the Cubs extend till Sunday?

There’s a few question marks going into the weekend. Jason Heyward needs to move down in the order. Heck, I’d put David Ross in front of him. He should not hit behind Addison Russell. Pedro Strop should not be used. Finally, Aroldis Chapman looked human in the ninth giving up two runs.

This is a different ball team going into Saturday’s classic. Things have changed since the last time they faced Kershaw. If Kyle Hendricks puts the ball where he wants it, then the Cubs should get the pennant.

“Obviously, [this] feels good,” Joe Maddon said Thursday night. “You’d much rather go home under those circumstances than any other, and you want to get it done as quickly as possible. It’s going to be a formidable event. Our guys will absolutely be ready for the moment, I promise you that. It’s great. The city of Chicago has got to be buzzing pretty much right now.”

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs Give Dodgers a Little R & R

Anthony Rizzo

I’m not bragging, but yesterday I predicted that Anthony Rizzo would have a big game and now we know the truth; he reads the Canuck Cubbie everyday, takes the words to heart and applies all my finer points of baseball to his game.

Yeah, right.

The Cubs played “Cubbie baseball” as Addison Russell puts it, by crushing the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 and tying up the NLCS at two games a piece. If anyone were just tuning into the series from the ALCS, they’d never have known that Russell and Rizzo were in the midst of a slump.

“This is a big win, for sure,” Rizzo said. “To even up the series, we have a chance to take another one here [Thursday] and go home with a 3-2 lead. In a way, this is just one game and we know it’s going to be a quick turnaround, but this was definitely a big game for us.”

It was a huge game fore sure. If the Cubs lost last night, they’d have been in a hole of 3-1. Yeah, they could have bounced back tonight with Jon Lester on the mound but then they’d have to face Clayton Kershaw. Instead, the win guarantees a return trip to Wrigley Field and an opportunity to win it all at home. I said the Cubs needed a miracle, and last night it looked like they had Angels in the outfield.

“It should help their confidence, there’s no question about that,” manager Joe Maddon said. “When you’re going through the moment they were, it’s a confidence issue. It always is. So going into [Thursday], I know when they show up at the ballpark, there’s going to be a good bounce about them. Probably going to see the ball better, slow things down a little bit.”

While Rizzo borrowed Matt Szczur‘s bat to get his three hits and a homer, Russell relied on something else to get his homer and three hits. I don’t know what it was, but keep using it.

John Lackey was yanked in the fifth inning but pitched well. He got into trouble by walking a couple of batters and that’s when the bullpen took over. You can clearly see that Lackey wanted to stay in. The tough Texan wanted that win and I do believe he was the spark that fired up the Cubs who are two wins from their first World Series appearance since 1945.

“How I feel personally is irrelevant now,” Lackey said. “It was a great team win and good to see our guys swing the bats.”

Lackey is known throughout the baseball world for his fiery personality and he didn’t disappoint. After a few questionable calls, Lackey raised his hand up to his chest, signalling to the umpire if that’s how high the strike zone should be. He’s a fierce competitor who isn’t afraid of telling anyone how he feels. He pretty much set the stage for tonight’s tie breaker with Jon Lester on the mound.

“What you’ve seen so far. It’s been a pretty interesting series to this point,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I did not expect it to be such a lopsided victory for us today. Although [the Dodgers] had theirs yesterday. Like I said, it’s two out of three right now. We know it’s at least going back home at some point. [Thursday] will be a pretty nice day to come out on top and going back home, having to win one of two. We’ve been pretty good at Wrigley all year.”

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Cubs Trail In NLCS. Need Miracle Against Dodgers

Joe Maddon

The Chicago Cubs are in head scratching mode. How do they solve the Los Angeles Dodgers after falling behind in the series 2-1?  The Dodgers beat the Cubs last night 6-0 in what looked like the Cubs were left wondering about the Dodgers. The Cubs shuffled their lineup, they’ve cleared the Clayton Kershaw hurdle but still those powerful bats that rocked opponents all season have fallen.

“We’re just not hitting the ball well,” Joe Maddon stated. “We’re doing the same kind of routines, the work is the same, the batting practice is the same, or the lack of it is the same, and we’re just not getting the results right now. There is really no excuse. We just have to pick it up quickly.”

Time’s running out and the Cubs have got to start those bats swinging. Are they too patient, cautious at the plate? Or where is that creativity? One thing is for sure, they look flat at the plate. With the exception of Kris Bryant‘s two hits, the Cubs aren’t producing any serious offence.

“It happens,” Jake Arrieta said of the Cubs’ offensive struggles. “It’s not ideal to happen in the postseason in these sort of games, but these things are possible at any moment in any game. Our guys are prepared. When a guy makes good pitches like Rich did, along with their bullpen, it’s going to be tough on us.”

It’s not supposed to happen in the playoffs. Maybe sometime in August, early September perhaps the bats get silenced while fatigue sets in, but during the playoffs. Fire, man. That’s when everything changes. Aces become legends and hitters turn into heroes. It’s not that the Dodgers are an excellent team, but during this NLCS, they’re looking very much like a team that won 103 games during the regular season, not the Chicago Cubs.

Look, going down 2-1 in a series isn’t the end of the world. Slumps do happen and it can take a Javier Baez line drive or an Anthony Rizzo home run to change directions.

“Belief is very powerful, and we all have that here,” Kris Bryant said. “The peaks and valleys sometime make you go crazy, but we have more games to play.”

John Lackey gets the start tonight. The grizzled veteran is going to have to muster up all his wealth of experience to pull a gem from his glove for this one. Yup, the Cubs will need to pull out all the stops tonight. Put in Jason Heyward and his outstanding defence. I would put David Ross behind the plate with his competitive fire and get creative. Lackey’s going to have to grind it out tonight. Go late in the innings and show the Dodgers that Texas fire because tonight, more so than any other night is what playoff baseball is all about.

“This is a different situation,” Bryant said. “I feel like last year their pitchers just beat us. Right now we’ve had some chances. We’re only down 2-1. Last year at this time, we were down three. That’s obviously not good.”

Anthony Rizzo will be the hero tonight.

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Chicago Cubs Try To Get Bats Going In LA

Chicago Cubs

This is a different Chicago Cubs team than in the past. I mean, the recent past past. The Cubs are nestled into Los Angeles and in a few hours will be heading down to the park to take in some BP and get the show going for tonight.

Why would I call it a show? Because the last time Jake Arrieta pitched against the Dodgers, a no hitter broke out. I doubt that’ll happen tonight but now that the Cubs have gotten over that giant hurdle called Clayton Kershaw, they can focus on the prize. Sunday’s loss was good for the team. Hopefully it gave them some perspective on what wasn’t working and what was working right. What isn’t working is the bats.

“We’ve just got to get back to our plan,” Addison Russell said. “Get back to playing Cubbie baseball. Grinding at-bats and extend that pitcher a little bit. Try to get in that bullpen a little earlier.”

Yeah Russell, you’re 1 and 22 this post season. Time to get that bat rolling again. By no means have the Cubs been slouches on pitching and defence, but what got them to this point were the bats. Kris Bryant‘s possible MVP season was due in part to 39 HR. They should change the batting order move up Javier Baez and put Ben Zobrist in the number 2 spot.

“I have considered different thoughts,” Joe Maddon said prior to the Cubs’ workout Monday. “Like I said, when you get to this point, you’ve got five games left to really make it right, as opposed to 75 to make it right. There is a difference with that. There are certain things you’d do in the middle of the season in order to move something along, not just during the playoffs.”

I’m a little worried about Arrieta’s pitching and control issues he’s had this season but if anyone can turn the Cubs’ fortunes around, it’s Arrieta. The Cubs fortunes haven’t really been turned around after just one loss but this is the NLCS and every one run loss can be humiliating to any team. It can knock off their equilibrium. Look what’s happening to the Blue Jays? I’m still stunned along with the rest of Canada.

“So, to be even here [in the series], we like our chances moving forward,” Arrieta said. “Obviously, our lineup stacks up just about as good as anybody’s. We’ve got our health with us, which is great. We like playing in this park.”

So, the Cubs are three wins away from being in the World Series. A spot they haven’t been to since 1945. Beatlemania and Elvis Presley’s pelvis weren’t even a thought.

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