Cubs Are A Royal Pain In Kansas City

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Though try as they might, the rain delay couldn’t stop El Mago from creating, well you guessed it, a little magic in Kansas City as the Cubs went on to defeat the Royals 3-1.

“I was so mad [at my at-bats] plus the rain delay — you can ask ‘Stroppy’ about my attitude,” Javier Baez said. “I struck out twice, and not that I struck out, but it was pitches way out of the zone. This is the first time I played here so I was really excited to be here. I like the field — it’s really big. I was trying to control my emotions. After the rain delay, I went out there with a different attitude and being patient.”

I think that’s the difference between an MVP season and not an MVP season, is patience.

“[I told him] ‘You’ve got two more at-bats,'” Pedro Strop said. “‘We’re playing this game, and you’ve got two more at-bats. I want you to go 2-for-4. Don’t tell me anything, you’re going 2-for-4.’ I was kind of screaming at him. ‘Wake up, man. Wake up. We’ve got a game to play and you’re the man. You’re going to get two base hits. Watch. Let them pitch. Let the ball get close to you and hit it.’ That’s pretty much what it was.”

It’s not a secret amongst Cubs fans that Baez’s play has garnered him some MVP talk but when the new guys come onto the team at this point in the season and they’re awestruck with his playing ability, then perhaps the MVP discussion turns real.

“Javy’s play was outstanding,” Cole Hamels said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a Hall of Famer behind me in Texas [third baseman Adrian Beltre] and what Javy’s able to do, he’s riding the line with that type of playing ability. It’s great to be able to have that.”

The Cubs rotation has been a see saw type of season, but with the addition of Hamels, who has dreamt of being a Cub, things have brightened, not that I’m terrified of the Cubs’ chances in October, I don’t know, they haven’t been lights out this season and could be the factor in the playoffs should the team not succeed.

“Moving it forward, I think our guys are really good and I want to believe we’ll find that magic potion at some point,” he said. “Other than we haven’t performed as well as we can, I still believe there’s a solid chance we will. … It’s about everybody, it’s about scoring points, not making fundamental mistakes. It’s a group situation and we are a team. As a group, we all have to do our jobs.”

Believe it

Reds Sweep Cubs For First Time Since 1983

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Well, that was a disaster now, wasn’t it? Yesterday, the Cubs were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in a game that saw the Cubs with a five run lead heading into the sixth inning, but watched it dwindle and then downright disappear as the Reds went on to beat them 8-6.

The bullpen watched it all go wrong.

“I came in there to stop the bleeding and I wasn’t able to do it,” Pedro Strop said. “All the work my team did before to put those runs up there. … This is a tough one to swallow. Coming down the stretch we weren’t playing well. We lost three games and that one, we should have gotten that one, to start a new rhythm.”

Yes, it’s a tough one to swallow, especially yesterday’s loss.  Jason Heyward drove in two runs and you know, I’m excited for him this year. He’s been playing well and to see the sweep, all his hard work went for nothing really. The Cubs need to regroup as they head out to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. Do they change their game plan? Will we see Kris Bryant back in the lineup?

“He’s been battling it, but I really felt like giving him [Saturday] off would be fine for today,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I talked to him and [head athletic trainer] P.J. [Mainville] afterwards and it’s still a little ratty — it’s just not right. There’s no sense in pushing that. I don’t think it’s going to be for long. I also thought he might be fine for today, so it’s a day-to-day kind of thing.”

He’s the type of player you’d want to tread lightly with. This loss is the first series sweep by the Reds over the Cubs since 1983. This doesn’t bode well for Chicago’s Northside Heroes.

“We beat the Dodgers two out of three [last week], and we’re the best team since the 1927 Yankees,” Maddon said Sunday morning before the latest loss. “Then Cincinnati beats us for three days, and all of a sudden, it’s doom and gloom. I cannot live my life that way.”

No, that’s the truth. The Cubs have to definitely regroup and figure out what went wrong in Cincinnati because when it’s all said and done, this weekend series will either go on to bite them in the ass or make it’s way to Cooperstown and forever be known as,” Cincinnati Incident”

Believe it

Cubs Win Streak Snapped And It’s A Good Thing

Addison Russell

You see, no matter how badly a team can do in a season, when it comes to bitter rivalries, there’s few that can match the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Where else can a team dominate the game and watch a lead evaporate right before their eyes like what happened in the Cubs 8-4 loss to the Cardinals yesterday?

The loss had nothing to do with the outstanding pitching of crafty right hander Kyle Hendricks. Nor was the loss attributed to the great home run from Addison Russell. The Cubs did their job but in the end it came down to a depleted bullpen caused from injuries to Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon. The game was tied when Carl Edwards Jr. got lit up in the late innings. Welcome to the rivalry Carl, it’s not your fault.

“That’s an example of what the team looks like without Strop and Rondon,” Maddon said. “I felt really good about C.J. in that moment. He’s been outstanding.”

He has been outstanding but this is the Cubs, right? Where else can a guy like Hendricks tie his career strikeouts in a game and still come up with no decision? Wrigley Field, that’s where. Those ghosts from Chicago Cubs past can rear their ugly head sometimes to ruin a guy’s day.

“He’s throwing the ball exactly where he wants to,” Maddon said of Hendricks. “He was executing outstanding. The heavy strikeouts were a surprise, because [the Cardinals] will move the baseball. That tells you how much [Hendricks’] stuff was on today. There were two elevated changeups to Moss and to Gyorko that caused the home runs. That’s a pitch he normally never throws up there.”

Sure, the Cardinals snapped the Cubs 11 game win streak but in the end it gave the Cubs a dose of reality. What if they continued their winning ways to the end of the season? Imagine a 20 game win streak and then get destroyed in the playoffs. I’m glad the Cubs are just that good but not too good to breach that reality barrier. For a young team, these kind of losses are good. It can give them a strong foundation in October.

“You’re going to lose some ballgames in baseball. It happens. The best thing about it is there’s one tomorrow. We had a good stretch there. We have to try to pick it back up tomorrow.”said Hendricks.

Believe it.

Cubs Mess With Texas

John Lackey

The Cubs lost to the Texas Rangers 4-1 yesterday but they won the series and it’s a huge victory over the American league leading team in wins. The Cubs also learned a valuable lesson in the series; Jason Heyward needs to learn how to hit better. If the Cubs want playoff success, his behind the plate work needs to improve. Whether it’s tweaking his swing or pushing him farther down the order, I don’t know but something needs to improve.

“He’s honestly been, and I’ve said this before, the most unlucky fellow,” Maddon said. “Well-struck balls at people all year. That’s a game changer in that particular moment — line drive right at the first baseman. What else can you possibly do?”

No matter Heyward’s playing, it boiled down to pitching. Cole Hamels was on target, so for the Cubs to take two was a great achievement.

“That’s a really good team,” manager Joe Maddon said of the Rangers. “We won two out of three against a really good team. You had really good pitching, good starting pitching. You look at their lineup, and you look at those names and the numbers and what they’re capable of, and they’re a very good offensive club also. To take two out of three here post-break is pretty impressive. That’s exactly what you’re looking like in the postseason, those kind of teams.”

Just as the Cubs finish the series with the Rangers, they go back into the fire with their nemesis New York Mets, today. They have to win this one. Last year they beat them seven times in the regular season but were stymied in the playoffs. This is a big series and I’d go out on a limb to say it’ll be the biggest of the season.

“I didn’t even know, to be honest, that we were playing the Mets,” Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. said. “It’s another team. … We just have to take care of the next series.”

As the trade deadline ticks closer, the rumours are heating up that Andrew Miller might end up a Cub. He’s heard them too and is even willing to play the outfield should the Cubs sign him just like Travis Wood and Pedro Strop.

“I’m not surprised that (manager) Joe Maddon did it,” Miller said. “It seems like he’s at the center of stuff like that all the time. But it’s pretty cool and shows how athletic pitchers can be, so it’s good to have relievers out there. I think I can probably field OK. The pressure of a game situation might stress me out a little bit, but as long as I don’t have to have any at-bats, I think I’ll be all right.”

Believe it.

 

 

 

Baez Blasts Grand Slam, Cubs Win In 15

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One thing I’ve learned since Joe Maddon has come over to the North Side is that he’s unpredictable. Last night’s victory over the Cincinnati Reds was a huge 15th inning Grand Slam by none other than Javier Baez. It was a crazy game where even Travis Wood played in the outfield.

“The grand slam obviously was huge just to really build that cushion to permit us to more comfortably go into that last inning, because I had no idea what was going on,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

It was certainly a pitcher’s duel as Cubs’ ace Jon Lester gave up one run over 7 2/3 innings. It was that tense. Red’s John Lamb was just as stingy as Lester giving up only two runs over 6 innings of work.

As we all know a 15 inning me can get really weird, I mean the whole idea of baseball is absurd if you get right down to it. Somebody kneeling behind a crouched individual swinging a piece of maple only separated by inches while staring down a 98 MPH piece of rubber wrapped in leather? So when a relief pitcher comes into a game and is told to take his place way out by the warning track, that’s insane. In hockey you never hear the coach yell at Sydney Crosby,”Hey kid, you’re playing in nets.” That just doesn’t happen, but baseball? Yeah, it does.

“We were naked, we were so naked,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Here’s the thing, you do stuff like that, when I went out to [put reliever Travis Wood in left field] originally, the infielders were kind of giggling, they kind of liked it. So when you get into a game like that that’s really stressful, everybody’s trying so hard, everybody wants to win. It’s, in a perverse way, to lighten the mood a little bit and so they all kind of dug that.”

But it just wasn’t Wood playing in the field, it was Pedro Strop and Spencer Patton. I’ve never seen it before.

Just like the other night was all about Kris Bryant, last night belonged to Javier Baez. Imagine that there was some point when Baez was considered for a trade, but the way he’s been swinging the bat and playing third base, well he’s just turned out to be the guy the Cubs have been relying on lately.

“I was just trying to have a good [at-bat],” Baez said. “I had the pitcher in front of me. They were looking for a double-play ball. He hit it pretty good to first and the only choice he had was to come to the plate and then I came up.”

Believe it.

Cubs Kyle “Sultan of Schwarb” Schwarber is Back in a Big Way

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The “Sultan of Schwarb” was on full display yesterday despite the Cubs falling to the Atlanta Braves 4-2. Kyle Schwarber went 3 for 4 and once again proving that he belongs up in the majors. Schwarber was called up after an injury to Miguel Montero.

“It helped to get all the ‘firsts’ out of the way, all the nerves, just the awe factor of being here,” Schwarber said. “That got away the first day when I was up here. After that, it was all just about winning. I’m up here to go out and win and help the team compete and get a playoff spot. I don’t know how long it’s going to be for, but I’ll play for as long as it can be.”

Could Schwarber be the answer? What will become of David Ross? Personally, I don’t think it’s fair or even wise for Ross to catch Jon Lester. The way that the ace is pitching, I would start warming up with another catcher.

The 2015 Chicago Cubs reminds me so much of that wonderful play, “Glengarry Glenn Ross” by David Mamet. In the film version, there was that monologue about the ABC’s of selling. “Always Be Closing” the problem is that the Cubs have had so much trouble in that area this season. Although I admire Joe Maddon’s attempt at match ups, I think the Cubs should try and focus on one closer. You know, that light’s out kind of guy that legends are made of. Aroldis Chapman stuff. This is the area that I feel the Cubs are going to make the move at the deadline. Pedro Strop isn’t cutting it. He’s got a lot of stuff left in his arm but in order for the Cubs to move forward in the season, he’s not the right guy at the position.

“It’s not going the way I want it,” Pedro Strop said. “The stuff is there, I feel good, nothing’s hurting. It’s just not going my way right now.”

The Cubs are teetering on the Wild Card spot. How much more of these close games can they take?

Believe It.

Brewers Too Much For Cubs

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Things didn’t go as planned on the weekend. Sure, play Milwaukee, sweep them and gain some ground on the Birds.

That didn’t happen. Instead, the Cubs are looking at 4 1/2 games back of St Louis’s rearview mirror and that’s all right. They take on the Cardinals tonight in what could be the equivalent of Manny vs Floyd(Yeah, right).

Seriously,  this is a pivotal series. Whoever wins this series, wins the division. That I’m confident about.

“I think every game is a big game,” Joe Maddon said. “I never apply more weight to a game than another game. We talked about it in Spring Training that you play the game the same way in March that you do in October. So when you go out and play it doesn’t feel any different, and that’s a good thing. From a fan’s perspective, I get the rivalry.”

Is anyone else worried about Kris Bryant and his home run drought? I didn’t think so either. It’ll come and then it’ll keep coming. It could be worse, he could have been called up and been a bust, but that hasn’t been the case. He’s been awesome so those home runs will get there once he has a chance to settle in.

“I’m not here to put up crazy numbers or any of that stuff,” Bryant said. “I’m here to win. Maybe at previous levels, you’re trying to get here so you feel the pressure to put up good numbers. But here it’s all about winning and that’s what I’m all about, too.”

So, either the Brewers/Cubs series was the turning point of the season and how the Cubs will finish the year or if they can rebound against the Cardinals and dictate who has the best chance to win the division and quite possibly, cross your fingers…

I’m not even going to say it in case a farm animal comes walks in my backyard and eats all the grass.

“It’s Major League Baseball, and you can’t keep a team down too long — even some of the teams struggling the most will find a good game here or there,” Maddon said. “We’ve all been through it.”

Believe it.