Cubs Get Stymied By Pirates

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I’m going to blame it on the cold weather. but in the Chicago Cubs’ 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the obscenely mighty Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs just couldn’t get it done. Well, at least I’m sticking to my cold weather theory. I think it must be hard for a guy like Kyle Hendricks to deliver the control that he’s so accustomed to in the cold weather. Then again, the Cubs do miss Anthony Rizzo.

“It’s definitely early,” Kyle Schwarber said. “I think we’d like to piece some wins together. We’re not going out there and pressing for that. We know if we go out there and do what we need to do, things will happen. It’s just been an unfortunate series of events with everything that’s going on. We’ll keep going out there and playing our ballgame.”

The problem is that in baseball, unlike other sports, a team can’t win one, then lose one and keep up the pace. In football, a team still has a chance to make the post season if they keep that pace or in hockey, they can rely on points but baseball, man, that’s a different breed altogether. It’s almost like pinpointed accuracy in the standings. Teams have to win April and August if they want an outside chance of competing.

“In the snap of the fingers, it went from balmy to embalming, I guess,” Joe Maddon said. “It got cold very quickly. You could see the wind came on. It did impact. The ball still carried, it seemed. It was two different ballparks completely. That’s the beauty of the place.”

So there you have it. It’s got to be the cold. Then again, Hendricks style of pitching has to be bang on, if he’s off just a little bit, it’s harder for him to get his game back. We’ll have to wait and see when Rizzo gets back. Pittsburgh is good and I’m a little scared in the standings on how they’ll be this season. The weather’s been funky and so has the Cubs’ game.

“We were making good pitches, putting together good [at-bats], but so are they,” Hendricks said of the Pirates. “They’re really good right now and putting together good quality at-bats. They’re a tough team.”

Up next is the Atlanta Braves and man, do I hate that team. Their records are similar and I hope the Cubs stick it to them. Yu Darvish gets the ball in his Wrigley debut. This is the series, the Cubs get it back.

Believe it

 

Cubs Destroy Pirates, Baez Hits Two Home Runs

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Um, so what’s up with Javier Baez? It seems like he’s a one man show. He continued his amazing April last night, rocketing a couple of home runs in the Cubs 13-5 toppling over the Pirates but that wasn’t all, Baez stole home on a gutsy play that worked out well.

“I went a little late on that,” Baez said of his dash home. “I was going on contact. I saw the ball. I was paying attention for the ball in the dirt. It kind of caught me in-between, but I scored.”

Yeah, I don’t think Maddon minded too much on that. In fact, if you guys are keeping tabs on Baez(and I know you are) that’s four home runs in two days. Can he keep up that pace? Will he set a franchise record? Tune in for the next Adventures of Javy.

“I’ve been working on focusing on just me and the pitcher out there,” Baez said. “Forget about the whole field, everything really. Launch angle. The miles off the bat, all this stuff, I was hitting with all this stuff. I clear my mind and it’s all about compete. So that’s how I’ve been taking it.”

All right, people criticize Jason Heyward on his plate appearances but there’s no denying that he’s a master and a beast in the outfield. Before the game, the Cubs had a special ceremony that presented Heyward with his fifth Golden Glove award. It’s well deserved and I know that the Cubs brass didn’t sign Heyward on his offensive prowess.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve told him, ‘I feel so much better when you’re on the field,'” Maddon said. “I think the receiving of the Gold Glove Award is one of the top awards in all baseball. I love having guys win that award. Normally, if you have a couple of those, you have a pretty good year as a group.”

I think it’s money well spent.

So yeah, yesterday’s victory is signalling to everyone that the Cubs are looking better and slowly getting into that groove for the season. I like it, I like it a lot. Really though, I didn’t expect Baez to turn on the jets like this.

“You’re going to go scout, watch guys run the bases and they’ll tell you what they’re instincts are like in the game of baseball,” Maddon said. “[Good players] see things. It’s like a good running back. … He’s among the best I’ve ever seen or ever had.”

Which, if the Cubs are hoping to return to that glory season of 2016 and win one on Wrigley Field soil this year, it’ll be from guys like Baez.

Believe it.

 

Welcome Home, Chicago Cubs

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There was a huge difference in the attendance between the White Sox and the Cubs home opener. The noticeably empty seats at the White Sox(ok, ok, it snowed and was cold) compared to the 40 000 + soaking up the sweet cold air at Wrigley Field to cheer on their North Side heroes. The good news is they played a game, the bad news is they lost 8-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Javier Baez kicked off Opening Day in style with two home runs. Along with Ben Zobrist, the two have quickly become the players to watch this season.

“To be honest, I was trying to hit the ball on the barrel and not get jammed because of the weather,” Baez said. “I stayed short to the ball. The second at-bat [in the fifth], I came back to the old at-bats against him. He got me, but I got him back again.”

The Cubs are playing .500 ball so far and that won’t sit too well in most fans books, I mean you can make all the excuses in the world but excuses won’t change the score. The Cubs have missed opportunities and yeah, Anthony Rizzo is injured for a bit but there’s plenty more baseball to come. I’m just happy Opening Day arrived and baseball is officially back at Wrigley Field.

“I felt I had really good stuff today and they were able to foul it off rather than get weak contact outs or something, so they did a good job of that,” Tyler Chatwood said. “They’re hot right now. It seemed like whenever they put the ball in play, good things happened for them. You’ve got to be able to get out of that.”

He’s right about that. Pittsburgh is playing extremely well and could give the Cubs a run for the National League Central title.

“We didn’t play badly,” Joe Maddon said. “They hit the ball well today. They’re swinging the bats really well right now this early in the season, so you have to give them credit.”

So, I think it’ll take some juggling the lineup, warm weather and a healthy lineup to change the Cubs’ course. .500 ball isn’t bad, but then again in a season where the Blue Jays are 8-2, the Cubs record isn’t all that great.  Last season, the team kicked it up a notch in the second half, but we know that they ran out of gas in the playoffs. Maybe it’s just the optimist in me but I think the Cubs will be just fine. Once they get their swing, it’ll be lights out. Nobody said they were going to win over 100 games this season.

Baseball’s back!

Believe it!

 

Cubs Ready For Home Opener

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Two things happened in yesterday’s 3-0 shutout of the Milwaukee Brewers. One, Jose Quintana emerged as a solid ace in training and Ben Zobrist is the best Cubs player this year, he could become the David Ross of 2018.

“You look on paper and [the Brewers] have predominantly right-handed hitters against him,” Maddon said. “That doesn’t bother ‘Q.’ If ‘Q’ is executing his stuff, righties or lefties, he’s pretty good. The guy is so focused going into the game. His work is so good. He likes being here, he likes pitching here. I think you’re seeing the best side of Jose.”

We are. It can only get better.

“We have really high expectations,” Quintana said of the Cubs. “It’s really good when you start winning at the beginning. We talked a lot before games. We want to do good things this year. We know it’s a long season but this month is really important.”

So far, the Cubs have looked a little weary from being on the road, so it’s exciting anticipating their return to Wrigley Field today. It’s fitting that they’re the last team in the majors to roll out their home opener, hey with a place nicknamed the “Windy City” it’s no wonder, I mean April baseball isn’t always the most heartwarming thing on everyone’s mind.

It is one of the most exciting days of the year. It’s an opportunity to sit back and enjoy all that’s good. Sure, it’s going to be cold but for me, there’s very few things that are up there with baseball at Wrigley Field.

“It’s just different when the game starts and you have the adrenaline going, sometimes you don’t notice how cold it is,” Kris Bryant said. “We have plenty of heaters and hand warmers and all the other stuff. We should be fine.”

Anthony Rizzo wants to play in the opener. In fact, it feels almost not the same that he might not be ready today. He’s the Cubs’ Micky Mantle and their leader. So, I’m going out on a limb to say that there’s a good probability we might see him sneak in an At Bat today.

“I want to play (Monday),” Rizzo said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to be smart. You can’t play (Monday) and set myself back five to six days. We’ll see how it goes. (Sunday) will be a big day to see how it really feels.”

The past few years have been night games and it’s made the home opener much different. Today, it’s at 2:20 EST and let’s face it folks, baseball is best played during the day.

“Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a game, I’ve seen other teams and it’s never the same. When you’re born in Chicago, you’re blessed and you’re healed the first time you walk into Wrigley Field

—Eddie Vedder

I wasn’t born in Chicago but walking onto Wrigley Field takes lines off faces and replaces them with smiles. It truly is a magical place. We’re watching from Canada but we’ll be there in spirit cheering on the Cubs while clearing the BBQ for the year’s first taste of glorious Italian sausages with peppers and onions.

This is the year that the Cubs are going to win the World Series at home in the place where it belongs.

Believe It

 

Cubs Hang In Against Pirates

The Cubs keep it close and scratch out a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It came down to a pitching duel between Gerrit Cole and Jose Quintana. Quintana struck out six over six innings of action, while Cole pitched a goose egg over eight solid innings, the Cubs hung on.

“Cole pretty much had no-hit stuff today,” Alex Avila said. “The way he was locating with 97 (mph fastballs), slider, curveball, changeup, he was excellent. You just had a feeling we weren’t gonna have too many opportunities against him. And if he made a mistake, we weren’t able to capitalize on it. He had unbelievable stuff. It was like, try to outlast him, keep the game where it was until we got to their bullpen.”

Speaking of Avila, he’s been a solid player for the Cubs since Willson Contreras went down with an injury. He’s been a key player for the Cubs second half turnaround.

“He’s not overwhelmed by the situation,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Been there, done that. He’s able to slow the game down really well. … Had a couple punchouts before that [the triple], so kind of a tough night before that, but hung in there. Give him credit for maintaining.”

The Cubs are hanging on to their first place spot in the National League Central with a four game advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s not really a place they’d like to be with expectations for this season running on an all time high, but they’ll take it.

“We’re in first place,” Avila said.

The Cubs will finish out this series today before meeting the Brewers in a crucial series. It’s going to be a tough month with the rest of the Central playing spoiler to the North Siders. I’m hoping for a Cleveland/ Chicago rematch in the World Series but with Cleveland riding a 14 game winning streak, things could take a turn for the worse if the Cubs expect to repeat as champions.

Although stranger things have happened.

Believe it.

Cubs Take It On The Chin In Pittsburgh

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The Chicago Cubs have had a couple of games where they racked up the score in the double digits against the opposing team, so yesterday’s 12-0 shutout victory was maybe karma coming back to bite them in the behind. The real nail biter was an early exit from Jake Arrieta with a hamstring injury.

“He felt pretty good afterwards,” Joe Maddon said. “He started to loosen up. He was able to go through the delivery motion like he was unable to out on the field.

“Even when he was apparently hurting a little bit, he was still going through all the stuff, stuff I can’t do. He’s putting his nose on his knees, doing other things, and I thought, ‘OK, it might be a cramp.'”

Otherwise the game went from bad to worse.

You know things are bad when position players fill in to pitch, just ask newly acquired Leonys Martin.

“I was afraid to hit somebody,” Martin said. “I was trying to throw the ball over the plate.”

It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, there was the John Baker game where it was a success but more times than not, it’s because of some catastrophe or a bullpen saving thing.

It goes to show you also what happens when guys like Javier Baez sits out and how much they mean to the team.

“My thumb is kind of jammed a little bit, so I’m taking a day off and I’ll be ready to go [Tuesday],” he said before the Cubs played the Pirates. I told the doctor about my thumb, but we were obviously worried more about the head, the contact. So today it’s pretty swollen. I’ve been icing it. Hopefully I’ll be ready [Tuesday].”

I’ve been harping on the easy schedule thing for a while and while I’m not trying to be negative but I’m leery about them heading into the post season. The Cubs should, in a perfect world, be able to handle teams like Pittsburgh even without their regulars playing. The Dodgers and the Nationals are going to prove to be too much for the Cubs to handle. Of course I could be wrong, the Cubs are known to provide some playoff magic.

Today, Kyle Hendricks gets the nod on the mound, and North Side’s favourite Professor hopes to not disappoint. He’s been playing exceptionally well and maybe, just maybe he might be the spark for the Cubs heading into the post season.

“His velocity is back where it needs to be, and now there’s a difference between fastball and changeup,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s looked every bit as good as he did last year [when Hendricks was 16-8 with a Major League-best 2.13 ERA].

Believe it.

 

Cubs Set Franchise Record in Anhilation of Pirates

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Part of me wants to end the post right here. A 17-3 humiliation of the Pittsburgh Pirates is a rare feet but scoring 17 runs in two games less than a week apart, well, that’s just down right weird and awesome. Let’s just get things a little clear here too; when Cubs pitchers start getting RBI’s, good things happen. Jose Quintana did just that and look at what happened?

Then there’s Ian Happ, the rookie who now has 20 home runs and joins the club along with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras. It’s a tired old cliche, but the Cubs record doesn’t reflect their play since the All Star break. Well hold on now, that doesn’t make sense because they’ve been getting the wins but they’ve been playing like they should have 90 wins, if they played this well before the break.

“We have a lot of good hitters here, a lot of young guys who have learned a lot and are putting good swings on the baseball, especially on a night when we get 20 hits and score 17 runs,” Happ said. “We had a lot of good [at-bats].”

I think too that last night’s victory showed that the Cubs can do all the right things on the bags when they want to. Stealing home, Happ attempting that triple, although caught and more at home in a Little League game but that’s the kind of things the Cubs need to do if they hope to recapture that crown again.

Then there’s Baez stealing home, wasn’t there a film made of that? It’s probably one of the most thrilling plays in the game and none other than Baez could pull that off with flair.

“We had a safety squeeze,” Baez said. “It was the same error as last year [in the NLCS]. We practiced today in early work, and even doing the early work I was going to the plate too fast and breaking to the plate pretty fast. I think on the play [Quintana] squared the bunt too early. I reacted early, too. I was making sure that didn’t happen again and it did.”

Is Happ a rookie contender? I think he should be in the conversation. No other Cubs player has hit that milestone in fewer games.

So, what about the player’s weekend jerseys? my wife and I agree that they should replace their current third jerseys with those from the player’s weekend. They’re sharp looking and heck, why not keep the nicknames on the back?

Believe it