Cubs Sweep Fish Under The Rug

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All right, all right, all right perhaps the Cubs are on a bit of a win streak. Yesterday’s 13-4 victory over the Fish wasn’t as much an offensive prowess as the box score shows. Yeah, Kris Bryant became the fastest Cub to reach 100 home runs and Anthony Rizzo is back in fine form but it’s the Marlins and they swept them.

“Tough to put into words,” Kris Bryant said of reaching the milestone. “It’s obviously pretty cool. … It feels really good. Any time you accomplish something — I don’t even know how many people have done it before — I just feel really dang happy I got there.”

But—

It’s the Marlins. The Cubs need to beat Washington, Pittsburgh and St. Louis if they want to be relevant in October. I’m happy and a little thankful that the tandem of Bryzzo has been hitting the ball well in the series but can they continue their hitting? They’ve got a weekend set against the White Sox which should be easy and then later in the month they’ll play Pittsburgh.

“We had a great day. We had a lot of fun out there,” said Albert Almora, one of four Cubs players who finished with three hits. “Hitting is contagious, and once guys start rolling, you see hits falling. It might not be pretty, but they fall.”

Maybe it is contagious?

There’s no question that the Cubs are one of the most talented teams in baseball. They haven’t played that way in April and May has continued that uneven play. If there’s any consolation in the Marlins sweep, it’s that the Cubs might find that contagiousness spread and carry it to the weekend series.

“Our fans are riding the roller coaster with us. The highs seem to be much more exaggerated and the lows, the same thing. But just as baseball players, we’re always taught to level those things out as much as possible.” Bryant said.

Fans have a lot invested in the team. At one time, it was great if they could put a sweep together but in the last few years, fans have come to expect the team to be outstanding. Maybe it’s a good thing that fans are getting harder on the Cubs? Or maybe we’ve expected too much from the North Siders and this is the season that reality sets in?

Believe It

 

 

Cubs Have Tickle Fight With Marlins

Cubs 4, Marlins 3

 

It was all there last night in the Cubs 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. Kris Bryant‘s running skills (even some tickling ) Victor Caratini and David Bote got into the game and did a great job, oh and then there was Ben Zobrist’s throw from the corner that kinda started the faux bench clearing scrum.

“It was rather entertaining,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “There was no reason for it. I was surprised. There was no animosity. It wasn’t a dirty play, it was nothing. [Dietrich] is out by 52 feet, [Caratini] has got the ball. [Dietrich] bumps into him, play over. It was kind of surprising. I don’t think there was anyone who got heated. it probably required more tickling than punches.”

Ah baseball!

The Cubs have strung two in a row. Should we dust off the parade gear? Um, I’m going to wait until they do it against the Washington Nationals or St Louis Cardinals. No offence to Marlins fans but winning back to back games against them amounts to nothing. The Cubs should’t have a problem with them.

Bryant had the go ahead run in the eighth and man, is it good to see him back in business.

“He’s a great base-runner, he’s probably one of the best in the league,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “He shows that time and time again. It gets overshadowed because of everything else he does. But his base-running is something every young player should look at.”

For a tall guy, he moves real quickly.

So now the Cubs have got their hands full. Jason Heyward is on the concussion list and Bryant could see time out on the field. This is what’s going to test the Cubs patience and skills. Heyward is huge in the lineup (not his plate skills). We’ll see just how well the Cubs can weather the storm while he’s out.

“He popped it on that fly ball the other day in St. Louis on the home run by Dexter,” Maddon said. “I knew he was not feeling 100 percent. We just have to go through protocol and take our time with it.”

Jose Quintana gets the ball today. Here’s hoping the Cubs can sweep the Marlins. Right now, they’re 1.5 games out of first but yet it feels a lot more.

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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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Cubs Drop First Series in Miami

Marlins 6, Cubs 0

Well, that’s not exactly the way the Chicago Cubs envisioned their opening series to end with a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Miami Marlins. To start with, and I’m just pointing out the facts, the Cubs went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Um, you can call that opening series jitters, but 1 for 9 isn’t that good. That’s definitely one area to improve upon. Yet, I don’t feel the Cubs are in trouble yet. It’s just frustrating it’s the Marlins, which by the way, appeared to have slightly more Cubs fans in attendance than Marlins cheerleaders.

“Quite frankly, we could not have hit the ball better than we did,” Maddon said of Sunday’s game. “That’s the most incredible shutout I’ve ever seen in my life. Give their defense a lot of credit. They covered a lot of ground in the outfield; they made some plays in the infield. For zero points, you cannot hit the ball any better than we did. That might have been the best-hit shutout I’ve ever seen.”

Now, if that doesn’t sound like the most optimistic words of a man trying to open his own restaurant in Chicago, that’s a pretty darn good sales job of the Cubs. The way I see it, there’s a huge difference of someone going to the driving range and hitting a bucket of balls and sinking it into the cup. Maybe the Cubs used the Miami series as batting practice for their division rivals Cincinnati Reds this afternoon?

“It’s just one of those things,” Anthony Rizzo said. “History shows we don’t play well in Miami. We split. Move on from there. … Overall, I thought the contact was good.”

It could have been one of those fluky things. Jose Quintana pitched very well and the Cubs hit the ball all over the place but baseball is baseball and sometimes you’re not going to get those runs.

It’s a little disappointing from baseball’s third highest payroll but like any good Cub, they’ll lick their wounds and move on.

“The whole game changed in one inning,” Jose Quintana said. “A couple ground balls and the double to Anderson — I think that [pitch] was a little up. It happened and it’s frustrating.”

Yup, frustrating is the key word, especially to this super hyped Cubs fan that waited all winter to see this day. Cubs fans love story book endings and so far this year, the Cubs have gotten off to a rocky start. Perhaps it was just an April Fool’s joke and they’re going to come out in Cincy with bats blazing and pitches popping( don’t know what that means exactly but man, it sounds awesome.)

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Extra!, Extra! Cubs Win It In Ten

Chicago Cubs v Miami Marlins

The importance of starting pitching was never more on display than in last night’s extra inning 10-6 all nighter win by the Chicago Cubs over the Miami Marlins. In this case, the hot ticket free agent signing of Yu Darvish came up short lasting just a mere 4 1/2 innings. Call it stage fright or just plain Opening Week jitters, but Darvish looked mortal in his Cubs debut.

“He wasn’t really sharp overall,” Joe Maddon said. “A lot of pitches for 4 1/3. He showed glimpses where the command was good. His fastball command was off a little. I would say, overall, he didn’t have his best stuff tonight.”

Five runs on five hits, that’s a big, “Whoops, sorry about that guys.” moment. I hope he bought his teammates a round or two afterwards.

When you think about it, Darvish has a lot of pressure put on him being the big money man that he is for the Cubs.

“It seems like every time I pitched the first game in Japan things went not so well,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “I don’t know why that happened. … It could have been a location problem with my pitches. I don’t think I was able to command whatever I wanted to, in terms of fastball.”

So, to show the depth in the Cubs this year, and this is why they’re going to be scary good,  the offence picked up the pieces with Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant contributing in big ways for the team.

Schwarber’s monster blast combined with Bryant’s 4 run 10th inning was just what the Cubs needed to bring the fireworks and put on display their ferocity and endurance especially after Friday night’s epic outing.

“We did some really nice stuff,” Maddon said. “How about Zobrist? He’s swinging the bat as well as anybody on the team right now. Schwarber hits a big bomb, and [Bryant] continues to have good at-bats. It’s almost like some of them are trying way too hard. Let’s just back it off a little bit, see the ball, don’t try to do too much. Get back to the whole field — we’re getting too pull conscious too early.”

Don’t forget that Mike Montgomery appeared in his third straight game. I don’t think people imagined that this was the kind of start to 2018 they had in mind for the North Siders.

“I was not expecting to get in there today,” Montgomery said. “In the eighth inning, all we had left was Strop, and the Marlins tied it up. When we didn’t take the lead in the ninth and the 10th comes around, everybody said, ‘Hey, can you go?’

The Cubs had better dial back these extra inning nail biters and save them for October because we all know what extra inning Octobers can do for 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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Solving The Mystery of Chicago Cubs

Canuck Cubbie

Trying to find the reasons behind the Cubs fluctuating results this year is a perplexing issue. The Cubs lost yesterday 4-2 to the Miami Marlins. Could it be nagging injuries? Yesterday, Addison Russell left the game after the fourth inning due to “discomfort” in his shoulder. I’m not disputing anything but the Cubs have been racking up the injuries this season at a frantic pace. Trying to solve the “Mystery of the Cubs” should be a title in the next Sherlock episode but it probably couldn’t be one even the great detective couldn’t solve.

“More than anything, it’s trying to do too much, as opposed to just score one,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I think a lot of times a hitter gets in that situation and the bases are loaded or two guys are on, you want to score three or four. Score one. Score the guy that’s on third base. If you could reduce it to scoring one, mentally, you can have a much better chance of being consistent with it.”

And there you have it. Maddon sums it up, “Trying to do too much” sometimes the toughest questions have the easiest answers. On the other end of the spectrum, the leaders, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant need to take control of the team and be the guys the other Cubs need. On a team where where nobody can blame it on rookies anymore, the Cubs came into their own last season and now this year is the time where they have to cement the legendary 2016 season.

“Not every year is going to be perfect,” Kris Bryant said. “It’s not going to be an MVP year every year, so that’s how I look at it. … Stick with the same approach. There’s no need to make any situation bigger than it is. No matter if it’s the first or ninth inning of a game.”

He’s got a point. Not every year is going to be perfect. Last season was an anomaly. Yet, the expectations this year are higher for a club that hasn’t won a championship in over a 105 seasons and then ended the drought. This season’s been a reset button like campaign.

Should we have expected more out of this season, the Cubs and a back to back World Series? It’s a difficult championship to win, there’s no question about that. The fact is that the Cubs have been progressively the most watched team in the game. From the way that they draft, their management, and their players. Baseball is a game of statistics and there’s no question that other teams have spent more time studying the “Cubs Way” more then their own team trying to answer the question of, “Why are they so good?” last year, nobody quite knew how to play against the Cubs. This year is different. Every team has one team to study, the Cubs have 29.

Believe it.