Cubs Get Shut Out On Father’s Day

Cardinals 5, Cubs 0

How great would it have been if the Cubs completed the sweep on Father’s Day of the St. Louis Cardinals? Two rivals, one on the way up, and the other, just being there. The Cubs lost 5-0 and remain a half game back of the Brewers.

A scary incident occurred when Javier Baez left the game after being hit by a pitch.

“I’m fine,” Baez said. “It’s just really sore. It got me really good right on the elbow. I thought the pain was going to go away right away, but it kind of numbed my whole arm and even my ribs. We’ve been icing it. It feels pretty sore, but I know I’m good.”

There was nothing funny about that. The Cubs haven’t hit as many home runs as they have in the past but they’ve made contact more. Home Runs are exciting but give me guys on base any day then going yard. Now, don’t get me wrong; going yard is incredible to see it’s not everything.

“I think it’s something we have to evaluate over a little bit of a longer period of time,” general manager Jed Hoyer said regarding the Cubs’ reduced power. “We haven’t hit as many home runs, and in theory that’s concerning, but it’s a small sample. Let’s look later on and see where we’re at.”

It’s not the Cubs biggest worry. You can spin any cliche you want but a win is a win. Last night, the Cubs couldn’t manage a run and that happens from time to time. They’re stringing together the wins when it counts and staying with the pack.

“We’re all out there trying to do our jobs and put ourselves in the best position to win a baseball game,” Kyle Schwarber said. “Getting on base is the simplest form of that.”

If the Cubs go on to compete this fall, it’ll be a more well balanced team than the 2016 World Series guys.

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Heyward Hits Back

Cubs 6, Cardinals 3

Jason Heyward launched his fourth home run of the season as the Cubs won the series from the Cardinals last night with a score of 6-3. it wasn’t the prettiest game but the Cubs did it.

“Love it,” Joe Maddon said of the clutch hitting. “Listen, that is my No. 1 priority offensively. Homers will come. Pitchers throw homers. When hitters try to hit homers on all the pitches thrown to them, the results are normally bad. Let pitchers throw you home runs. Be in position to hit the ball hard with two strikes. Understand they’re not giving you that pitch to drive out of the ballpark. Why not adapt? That’s where the action will come back into the game, that’s where you’ll get more movement, that’s where you’ll get the entertainment you’re looking for.”

On the pitching side of things, Kyle Hendricks snapped a  three game losing streak. He’s had problems giving up home runs but also has never let it get to him too much, he’s been able to bounce back and deliver solid outings, which is his MO.

“A couple years in the big leagues has helped that,” Hendricks said. “If it was early in my career, I might have a different thought process. It’s one of those things. I’m battling and getting really hurt when I make a bad pitch. There’s nothing I can do, I can’t get it back. That’s where my focus is now — the next pitch.”

But last night’s game was all really Heyward. He’s settled in this season and finally been able to quiet the naysayers. It’s been a rough go for Heyward since joining the Cubs a few seasons ago.

“What was that a 99, 100 mile an hour fastball? He got to it easily,” Maddon said. “He’s the guy that’s really ascended among the group. He’s made all the difference by hitting second and providing some big hits in the latter part of the game. He’s really good as the game gets in progress.”

So, the two big names were Hendricks and Heyward. The run support was there for Hendricks and Heyward came through in the clutch. A couple of other heroes were Ian Happ and Willson Contreras with two out RBI’s. Folks, those are the kind of plays that win ballgames in October.

The Cubs close out the series tonight on Father’s Day which I know most baseball loving Dad’s will be watching tonight. Bring out the blue bats and enjoy.

I’m going golfing today.

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Bryant Breaks Slump

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Nobody needs to explain the importance of divisional series in Major League Baseball.

Nobody.

Especially not Kris Bryant who busted out of his slump in a big way. In fact, he saved it for the St Louis Cardinals as the Cubs defeated the redbirds 13-5 in the opening of a three game series.

“When we come here and play the Cardinals and see the red and blue and the fans going crazy, it does make it a little different,” Bryant said. “We realize it’s going to be a dogfight from here on out with the Brewers and Cardinals. It’s nice to start off the series with a win.”

Says the guy who crushes a two run homer. His first since May 15th

“I know there’s going to be plenty more times in my career when [I have a homerless streak], and it’s all part of the journey,” Bryant said. “As much as we hate it as players, everybody goes through it at some point in their careers. It’s nothing new to me. On the surface it might look like everything has been peachy and pretty easy for me, but it never felt easy.”

There will be but I hope it’s not going to happen for the rest of the season. The Cubs are a game and a half out of first in the Central. It’s turning into a tough season. The Cubs have been there before. They’ve felt the losing and the winning. I’m never going to say that the Cubs winning last night was a corner turner but when they play the Cardinals and the Brewers, it’s always exciting.

“I think the biggest thing we can do is when stuff like [the losses] happens, these guys show up the next day like it never happened,” Jon Lester said. “I think that’s what’s key. You can dwell on it that day, that night, but the next day, when you show up to the field … it’s hard, but you try to leave it behind you and get after it on that particular day. We did that today. Guys had great at-bats. Obviously, when you’re able to hit the ball over the fence, that helps.”

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Cubs Blame It On The Rain

Cardinals 4, Cubs 3 (14 inn.)

It must have been his chance encounter with Ozzie “The Wizard of Oz” Smith at Target but Dexter Fowler crushed his first career walk off in the 14th inning to lift the Cardinals past the Cubs 4-3.

I thought I’d lead in with that because it sounded better than the Cubs lose their fifth straight. I wish Fowler was still with the Cubs.

“We’re not hitting the ball like we can,” Joe Maddon said. “We’re not scoring any runs. The pitching has been good enough to have a really good streak going, but we’ve been void of hard contact. It’s a lot of softly hit balls on the infield and not driving the baseball, and that’s pretty much it. Luke gave up a homer, but we just have to strike the ball with more consistency.”

The mantra around baseball and especially Cubs fans, has been “Just wait, the Cubs will get going” but it’s more than that, the Cubs struggles are real. Any team can lose five straight, that’s a slump, but the Cubs have been on a spiral the whole season.

“We’re trying,” Javier Baez said. “We’re still not completely hot. We’re going to keep battling and making adjustments. The season is pretty long. I think we just have to make adjustments, step by step.”

How many adjustments do they have to make before they consider the fact that something is broken right now and needs fixing. Now, before I throw in the towel and say that the Cubs suck (Forget the one I said yesterday) they’ve shown flashes of brilliance. Of course Baez has been playing an outstanding season but even the electricity he’s brought early on has fizzled a bit.

“[The rain delays] were awkward. We’re pretty good with the rain. It was a long game, we didn’t get any hits, and neither did they. Both sides were out of pitching. We were one pitch away and didn’t get it. Nobody feels worse than Luke does. He was one pitch away from getting a save, and it didn’t happen. You move on, and that’s exactly where I’m at.” Maddon said.

It’s about the only thing the Cubs can do.

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Cubs Stink in Extra Inning Loss To Cardinals

Cardinals 8, Cubs 6 (10 inn.)

It went into extra innings, ten to be exact. The Chicago Cubs used to be a team that, “Always found a way to win” but lately after their fourth straight loss, the Cubs have suddenly found a lot more ways to lose. In yesterday’s 8-6 loss to rivals St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs gave up more walks.

This might come across as a maudlin tribute to their former glorious 2016 season but the head scratching continues.

We’re not as good as we can be,” Joe Maddon said of the Cubs’ defensive efforts. “We hold ourselves to a really high standard defensively, and when we make a mistake, it jumps at you.”

As well as they should. These are former champs who have been making uncharacteristically weird mistakes that have happened this season. There’s no excuse now that it’s May or that Yu Darvish needs time to adjust.

This is it.

This season, the Cubs were tapped to have the best rotation in baseball. Yesterday, Tyler Chatwood blew a 4-0 lead by giving up walks and a hit by pitch. Score was tied and came out of the inning, but walked the next batter in the fifth.

“There is no reason for that fourth inning to happen right there,” a frustrated Chatwood said. “Just throw the ball over the plate and let them get themselves out. It’s just me beating myself right now.”

It’s easy for me to point this out and rail against the team, I’ve never played pro ball. The Cubs play this season has been nothing short of inconsistent. We’ve watched them string some wins together and briefly on top of the Central but now watch as they’re 2.5 back of the Cardinals. The real question is why?

The other question is how much more can Joe Maddon take and how can he keep sticking up for their sometimes atrocious play?

“It’s delivery-related because he’s pretty tough,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “I just think he needs to find that rhythm.” on Chatwood’s 3.31 ERA

I’m one for a glass being half full but the Cubs haven’t exactly stunk nor have they been that good.

“I had trouble locating my fastball all inning, really,” Brandon Morrow said. “My arm was a little alive today and I was flying open and I was having trouble getting it down the entire inning.”

Hey, even the normally solid Morrow looked human.

There’s no other way to put this but the Cubs stink. I’ve said it, someone had to, it might as well be me. Sometime, this season there are going to be changes at the manager level. It’ll either be a talking to or a revaluation of the situation but as it stands now, the Cubs aren’t going to win their division or get back to glory days.

“I’m putting myself in bad situations, and it’s hurting the team. There’s no reason for that fourth inning to happen there. Just throw the ball over the plate. It’s just me beating myself now and the team. I just have to fix that.” Chatwood said.

A lot needs to be fixed.

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Cubs Bring El Mago

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A lot of good things happened yesterday as the Cubs defeated the St Louis Cardinals 8-5 in front of a dry crowd under sunny skies. Yup, that was a good ol’ fireball the Cubs played under.

“Good approach, good at-bats,” Joe Maddon said of the Cubs’ 14-hit attack, which involved using the entire field. “It is so fun to watch. Keep your launch angles, keep your exit velocities, give me a good at-bat. Those were really good at-bats. Staying inside the ball, using the whole field — I promise you if they stay on that path, balls will still go out of the ballpark at the pace they’re capable of. With that, you’ll see better situational hitting, you’ll see higher batting averages, on-base percentages. I loved our approach today.”

Or the Cubs just really suck at playing in the rain. Plus, the Cubs got back to the basics and played small ball. Get on base and move the runners. Sounds pretty simple but for some reason, when players reach the big leagues, they see the back of the yard and there’s a big target where they try to hit the ball deep. That’s good and all but getting runners home and loading the bases is the fundamentals they need. The Cubs finally did that yesterday.

“It is [an art form],” Maddon said. “It’s just good hitting. We worked really good at-bats. I’d love to stay with that if we can. Use the whole field.”

The other advantage of April baseball is that teams have a long road ahead of them and they can experiment. Mix up the order and move the players around. Javier Baez is swinging a hot bat so far so why shouldn’t he do it? He batted second and looked good there.

“That’s good to know,” Baez said when told about Maddon’s motives. “I was trying to stay focused on the same approach, same swings. I didn’t get excited, but that’s one of my goals is to end up there in the lineup. I feel great, I’m still seeing the ball really good. I chased a few pitches today, but I took good at-bats.”

Love him or hate him, Baez has become the exciting player the Cubs hoped he’d be. In a world of high salaried performers, Baez shows up at the plate looking like that kid in the sandlot hitting a home run for the very first time. He looks like that all the time.

“The guy’s an exciting ballplayer,” Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber said of Baez. “I feel we’re always talking about Javy Baez. I’m not going to get tired of it. He’s a heck of a ballplayer and a lot of instincts and he’s a leader and he’s fun to watch.”

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Cubs Left Out In The Cold

Image result for chicago cubs

Why are there always good things to happen to the Chicago Cubs even when they lose? Coming hot on the heels after a couple of “Inclement weather” warnings, the Cubs fell back into the baseball groove last night with a 5-3 loss to their arch nemesis (If they were stuck in the Marvel Universe) the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nick Fury: What’s your super powers?

Chicago Cub: Bad luck, curses and inclement weather

Fury: Damn, you’re pairing with Hawkeye

When I say good things that happen, I’m talking El Mago Javier Baez. A triple short of the cycle and yet, they couldn’t find a way to win.

“It’s going to happen,” Joe Maddon said. “I’m fully confident it’s going to happen. The bullpen has done a wonderful job, and the starters are really good. There’s a lot to look forward to with the starters because they’re really good, and as things settle in, they’ll really start piling up the innings. I mean that, I’m not just saying it.”

I’m glad that Anthony Rizzo has returned to the lineup. His much needed help is a welcome sign to the struggling 7-8 North Side Blue Bears. As much as what’s happening on the field is to blame for their uncharacteristic record, the weather, postponement of games and the frigid temperatures around the league are probably the main cause of their poor play. I mean look at all those snowbirds returning from Florida to Canada only to be welcomed by a mountain of snow, “What do you mean I can’t break out my 7 iron?” I guess it happens in baseball as well.

“You know those sunny days are coming, both on the field and as a group, so we’ll just keep playing through it,” said Rizzo.

Playing through it is about all they can do. Sunny days are coming but when I see players on the field with toques, that’s a sign that either global warming is a serious threat to America’s National Pastime or we may be doomed to have domes throughout MLB.

I’m kidding about the toques.

So, perhaps Rizzo is right by suggesting playing fewer games?

“I think we play too much baseball,” Rizzo said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on ESPN 1000. “Yes, guys are going to take pay cuts. But are we playing this game for the money or do we love this game? I know it’s both, but in the long run it will make everything better.”

What do you mean, play fewer games? Cut baseball? Blasphemy!

“I think playing in the cold sucks,” continued Rizzo, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday. “I was thinking about this the other day. When you think of Cubs and Cardinals, you think of a beautiful Saturday at Wrigley Field. You don’t think about playing in 20 degrees.”

He has a point. Cut the season by 10 games, it’s a lot of venue cutting, but the mighty minds of accounting and finance can work something out because empty seats look bad. Wait a minute, what about playing more doubleheaders?

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