Hendricks Pitches Gem Despite Loss

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You know? I think Kyle Hendricks must be filled with bad luck this season. Either he can’t get run support in some games, batters hit everything off of of him or like in last night’s 2-1 extra inning loss to the San Francisco Giants, no matter how amazing he pitches, he can’t get the win.

“It was a much better feeling out there,” Hendricks said. “The fastball command was finally there and it just opened up the rest of the game for me. Willy [catcher Willson Contreras] and I were just really on the same page, mixing pitches, keeping them off balance, and that’s the game I have to play.”

Hendricks went deep in the game, he did everything right by going nine innings. That’s what the Cubs need from him but if a team is going to lose, then that’s the way to lose in extra innings and executing everything to the way it was planned.

“That’s the outing we’ve been looking for with the hitting that we’ve been doing recently,” Joe Maddon said. “Going forward, that becomes contagious sometimes, when you’ve got a guy that pitches like that. I really believe you could see that version of Kyle most of the time for the rest of the season.”

He’s right. If Hendricks pitches that way the rest of the season, he’ll turn it around. It’s a funny game where the slightest angle will throw everything off.

“I knew what was wrong, and what I’ve been trying to work on. It was still inconsistent. It’d be one good, one bad, I couldn’t repeat it. Today, in the third inning, something just clicked and I was able to repeat one after another. So that was a really good feeling.” Hendricks said.

Congratulations to Javier Baez, Jon Lester and Willson Contreras on being voted to the All Star team. Well deserved, Baez has been having a career year while Lester is doing the things that Lester does by having 11 wins this year.

“To watch them blossom over the last couple of years, to see what Javy’s gone through from this crazy swinger to a much more controlled game of baseball, and Willson, on the other hand, he’s pretty much fought, fought, fought his way,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Now he is the best catcher in the National League. I think he’s the best catcher in baseball.”

It’s hard to argue with that. Javier Baez has been enjoying his breakout season.

“He’s probably my favorite player to watch,” Lester said of Baez. “I’ve got to play with and in front of some really good infielders in my career and I think Javy has surpassed all those guys.”

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs Sound An Awful lot like Guns N Roses

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You know when you go back years later and you’re driving to work or somewhere and you just want to listen to something different, so you throw on a tune you haven’t heard in a while and realize it’s not as bad as they said it was all those years ago?

I did that with Chinese Democracy, Guns N Roses much maligned cd they put out ten years ago. It was awesome man, and gets stuck in your head.

The 2018 edition of the Chicago Cubs are kind of like that record. Last night, they beat the San Francisco Giants 8-3 to take the series.  Javier Baez connected with a three run homer in the fourth inning and the Cubs never looked back.

“In batting practice I pulled one ball,” Baez said. “I felt great after that whole batting practice. It was to the right side. I was just trying to get my timing down and see the ball through the sun. When I do that, I see the ball really well.”

Like the Chinese Democracy record, when the Cubs are great, they’re bang on but sometimes, they feel like a work in progress a la Tyler Chatwood.

He’s walked a lot of batters which isn’t going to cut it in October. In fact, that could be just downright nasty if that happens.

“We have work to do,” Maddon said. “I really believe in this fellow, and his stuff is that good. We just have to get a more stable routine that permits him to control himself when he gets out there. We need to get him more routine oriented, that he has an anchor to hold onto when the ball’s not going where he wants it to.

“When he’s out on the mound, he’s trying so hard to throw a strike and not to walk somebody, and that’s the issue. We’ve got to get him beyond that. If that’s your focus, sure enough, you’re going to walk somebody. We’ve got to get beyond that.”

True champions are made with pitching and the Cubs need to figure out their rotation in a hurry or their chances will fall, come, well the fall.

“I’m grinding right now, for sure,” he said. “But the good thing is we won the game.”

 

Kyle Hendricks Delivers Master Class In Velocity

Cubs 6, Giants 2

Kyle Hendricks isn’t a hard thrower. I’ve established this throughout the years here at the Canuck Cubbie. His stuff is legendary with his sub 90 MPH pitches and calm demeanour, he quietly takes to the mound and goes about his business. In yesterday’s 6-2  win over the San Francisco Giants, Hendricks found a way to win.

“He’s so steady,” Maddon said. “He’s just the same guy. Right now, Kyle is throwing the ball as well as I’ve seen him throw the ball. The numbers are good. That high 86-87 [mph], occasionally 88 [mph fastball], because off of that, here comes that magnificent changeup. I’m a curveball fan. I still like that activated a couple more times. But, he just knows what he’s doing.”

The Cubs were in a slump and it was up to “The Professor” to get them back on track and he did just that by going seven innings and seven strikeouts.

“I made better pitches today,” Hendricks said. “In the past, I was throwing about the same, but too many bad pitches. The only [bad] one was 0-2 to Hernandez, I didn’t bury it enough down and in. Other than that, I executed what I was trying to do. In that sense, it was the best-executed game for me.”

The Cubs were in a badly need of a win after getting swept by Cleveland. For a team that’s not playing as well as anticipated, they’re still playing above .500 on both the road and at home. They’d be in second place in the west and right up there in the east. This is the danger I guess of us weird Cubs fans. I’m guilty of it. I get so excited about the least bit of happenings surrounding the team, “Oh My God, Joe Maddon got new specs!!!”

Yeah, that’s how bad I get with this team sometimes. This is still a good team and nothing stops me more than seeing Hendricks pitch. So, with the Cubs struggles at getting extra base hits and capitalizing with Runners In Scoring Position, I hope they can fix things and get back to the dominating team they once were.

“We’re not getting the bang for our buck,” Theo Epstein said before the game. “A lot of our extra-base hits and home runs are with nobody on base. We’re not performing at the same level with guys in scoring position. It should all even out.”

Believe It

 

 

Chicago Cubs Stay Classy

Joe Maddon

May 25, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) departs for a road trip wearing a suit based on the character Ron Burgundy from the movie “Anchorman” after a game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-350302 ORIG FILE ID: 20170525_gma_bb6_410.jpg

The Chicago Cubs have become a home run machine after taking the series from the Giants in a 5-1 victory. Three home runs were hit with Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist launching rockets into the Wrigley Field bleachers.

“As a group, we did a great job of getting back to keeping it simple and not trying to do too much,” Heyward said. “Just try to take it easy and relax and have a good approach (at the plate). Be aggressive in the strike zone and kind of make them come to us.”

They’re getting contributions from everyone and including Heyward, who has had to tweak his swing during the offseason. Either it was his speech in last fall’s dramatic and historic game 7 World Series that prompted him to adjust his swing or he’s cashing in his first pay check from the Cubs, Heyward is a much better player this season at the plate.

“I don’t feel you can ignore [last year],” Heyward said. “You have to be aware and make adjustments. We’re going to fail way more times than we’ll succeed. That’s why it’s a humbling game. You always take failure and learn from it and go from there.”

With the win, the Cubs now take over top spot in the Central Division(In my humble opinion, it’s a spot where they belong)before heading to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers. It’s not that I hate the Dodgers but rather they make me nervous. They’re so good and it’s a west coast game so it’s on really late. People can talk about winning their divisions but these west coasters are the games to win. They’re the kind of games that can mess a team up in their rhythm.

“We don’t care about last year,” Heyward said. “It’s not going to do anything for us now other than having experience. Right now is right now. We have to go play tomorrow, and that’s going to be another thing. … Last year was awesome, but we have to play right now, and I feel right now we’re doing a great job playing baseball the way we can collectively and let things come to us. We’re not trying to do too much, not trying to create excitement. It’ll be there.”

Heyward is right. Last year was awesome and perhaps unique. This season the Cubs are out to prove that they’re champs and put a stamp on the World Series. So, as the Cubs hit the road in Anchorman style, if Joe Maddon’s motto from last season, “Try Not To Suck” this year is,

“Stay classy, Chicago”

Believe it

 

Cubs Don’t Take Anything For Granted

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs bring the power against the San Francisco Giants as Anthony Rizzo crushes two home runs in the 5-4 victory. Kyle Hendricks pitched seven solid innings allowing only two runs. The Cubs are taking cues from Rizzo, the Cubs clubhouse leader.

“I’ve been on some streaks sometimes, but I want to be as consistent as possible,” Rizzo said. “But you take it. You ride it. You ride it out and you enjoy it.”

Nobody needs to tell you that when the leader leads, good things happen. Rizzo has homered in his last four games. The Cubs are slowly clawing their way back to the top of the standings with a half game back of the Brewers. What’s most impressive though is coupled with Jon Lester‘s complete game performance, Hendrick’s seventh inning endurance is proving to be a catalyst in their wins.

“That was probably the strongest I’ve felt deep into a game [this year],” said Hendricks, who led the majors last year with a 2.13 ERA. “The game before this was the previous time I’d felt stronger. But today, definitely the best.”

As I was building off on yesterday’s post, starter’s need to go deep again. Usually when they go deep into games, team’s are going to win ballgames. That’s logic. They might not be pretty wins but endurance and the ability to get batter’s out anyway they can will do it.

“When our starters go deep, it’s always fun to play behind them,” Rizzo said.

Of course it’s fun, there’s usually a cushion to play behind and the order can relax leading to perhaps more multi homer games. The Cubs are settling into a nice groove. They’ll go for the series win today before a weekend series against the Dodgers. The Cubs need to win these west coast matches this early in the season if they want to continue their quest for a repeat World Series.

“When you get a lead like we did tonight, you want to win those games. We’ve got a good home-field advantage, one of the better ones in sports as far as the fan support. We don’t take that for granted.” Jason Heyward said.

Believe it

 

 

Cubs Keep It Entertaining And Almora Goes Airborne

Willson Contreras

Nobody can ever say that the Chicago Cubs don’t ever quit. In just about every game that they come up short, there’s been some reminder of that. Last night, the Cubs came up short against the San Francisco Giants 6-4 but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“If we keep playing that game, it’ll make me a happy person. I thought we played really well. We had really good at-bats, played our defense. That’s what I’m looking for, more of that. When you lose a game like that, my thought has been if we keep playing like that, we’ll win plenty.”Joe Maddon said.

My problem with games like that is they’ll have a difficult time winning any of those games if they can’t follow through and win them. If the Cubs were the team they were a few years ago, then “fighting back” and “never quitting” were great terms to apply to them because they were an up and coming team. Not now, they’re the freakin’ World Series Champions!

“Obviously, we’re not tired of saying that we never quit,” Javier Baez said.

Of course there were a lot of positives to take away from the game like Ian Happ. The guy’s hitting .357 with seven extra base hits. They’ll find a way to keep the rookie in the lineup.

“It’s not easy to do,” Jason Heyward said. “Some guys come up and there are a lot of questions or whatever … He does what he’s asked.”

It wasn’t just about Happ either. The resurgent Javier Baez and the ultimate team player , Ben Zobrist each served up souvenirs for excited Wrigley attendees but all that amounts to nothing when it comes to actually winning the games. It’s easy for me to say that the Cubs need to get out early and stay ahead or if they’re coming from behind to actually win the game. Oh wait, there was Albert Almora‘s awesome Kevin Pillar impression in the first inning when he went airborne.

The true indication of the Cubs turning the corner will come with Ben Zobrist in the leadoff spot. He’s a great hitter and if he continues, they will win a lot more games.

“That first at-bat, you kind of feel like, ‘Well, maybe I should be patient,'” Zobrist said. “But then again you don’t want to let a ball right down the middle go by.”

Believe it

Chicago Cubs Advance To NLCS

NLDS Champions

In what will go down as one of the most thrilling playoff games in MLB history, the Chicago Cubs came from behind in the 9th inning to win the NLDS three games to one and a final score of 6-5.

To tell you I was starting to get worried yesterday was an understatement. The Cubs sure didn’t look like that behemoth team that won 103 games during the regular season.Their bats fell silent. Where was Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant? No, it was up to David Ross to provide any of the long ball excitement in game #4. I’ll tell you though, I’ve gained so much respect for Javier Baez. He’s been the spark plug for the team providing what Fox analysts described as “Not humanly possible!” stuff by the second baseman. He’ll surely be an MVP candidate this post season.

“He was incredible,” Pedro Strop said. “Javy can do anything. He owned this series. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Baez got the game winning hit in the ninth to put a damper on the Giants series.

John Lackey settled into a groove but it was Matt Moore’s steady workmanlike approach that kept the Cubs at bay. Now, it may sound like I’m heaping so much praise on the Giants but call it what it was, playoff baseball. The Cubs caught a break in the ninth with that rally.

“We’ve had several games that feel like that during the season but when you do it in the postseason, it gives you a whole ‘nother level of confidence late in the game,” said Ben Zobrist, who delivered a key RBI double in the ninth. “Once [Kris Bryant] and [Anthony Rizzo] got on, you kind of felt like, something good is going to happen here. Really, the last two nights, that’s what the Giants have done, they’ve put great at-bats together, rallies together. Tonight was our night.”

That “Something good” was Willson Contreras who crushed a two run single. You could see it on his face and who better to do it than the rookie? A symbolic gesture to the Cub’s Way and the brass in head office who built this team.

The Cubs needed this kind of adversity. I was hoping for a Mets/ Cubs matchup in the NLDS but in hindsight, this was the series that the Cubs needed. They haven’t been tested to this degree all year and the San Francisco Giants taught these young Cubs what playoff baseball is all about. One streak comes to an end but hopefully a new tradition begins and a curse finally brought to rest.

“We don’t quit,” Joe Maddon said. “That’s really what it comes down to. You hear that all the time, everybody says it, but you have to actually live it. And I have to tell you, I’ve seen it so many times from this group. That’s a big part of our philosophy. And I like to keep things simple, and that’s simple. … We just play 27 outs.”

Believe it