Baez Brilliant In Loss To Pirates

Pirates 5, Cubs 4

The Cubs are a hopeful bunch, even in last night’s 5-4 loss on the chin to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs remained hopeful.

“I thought we played really well,” Maddon said of the Cubs’ overall play. “I have no issues with tonight’s game. We got a little unlucky and they beat us. If we play that game every night, I’ll take it the rest of the year. I thought we played that well, the at-bats were good, we played great defense. It’s just one of those nights.”

They did play really well, Javier Baez crushed three hits and a whopper of a three run home run, but it wasn’t enough. I’m still waving that MVP flag for El Mago, he’s truly having that banner year, but after hearing Alex Rodriguez’s comments on Yu Darvish whether they’re true or not, the Cubs have to remain focused and try to do their jobs. It’s true that Darvish wasn’t off to a great start in Chicago and the injury has further aggravated fans and possibly teammates, but we all know that Rodriguez can stir pots whether the brew needs to be stirred or not, tonight Cole Hamels makes his Cubs debut and we’ll know the future of Darvish.

“He loves having the packed ballpark, games that matter,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “You’re really betting on the person. You acquire someone in the middle of a pennant race in a market like Chicago and you have to pay attention to makeup, because the first time they walk onto the mound at Wrigley, they have the hopes of 24 teammates on them and the whole organization and 45,000 people and a huge market. You want someone who feels good about that opportunity and will embrace it and knows they can rise to the challenge. You don’t want someone who is comfortable where they were and protecting their career and not sure what they got into. The makeup and experience does matter.”

It’ll be in Pittsburgh but his point has been made. Epstein is a smart guy and I’ll trust his decision making skills any day over Rodriguez’s bluntness. The Cubs analyzed the data, that’s what they do. They chose Hamels for a specific reason keeping their eyes solely on October.

“I totally disagree with that. Everyone knows what’s going on. We know there is an injury there. We support his recovery. Everybody in there knows and everyone in the coaches’ room knows also, throughout the organization … It’s unfortunate that it was relayed that way, but it’s not true.” Maddon said about Rodriguez’s comments.

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Baez and Schwarber Tune Up For Home Run Derby

Image result for javier baez

In what appears to be quite likely a tune up for the Home Run Derby, both Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez propelled the Cubs to a 11-6 victory over the San Diego Padres with a home run each as they padded their lead in the National League.

“We’re running out of [superlatives],” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. “I like the way he’s going about his business. He’s playing the game right, playing the game hard, playing the game smartly. He’s just playing the game of baseball. I don’t think he has an analytical bone in his body. … He’s absolutely fun to watch.”

As if April never happened, the Cubs find themselves in sole possession of first place with one game to go before the mid summer classic.

“This year I’ve been consistent with my work, with my routine, being here early,” he said. “I’m the type of guy that I like to take my time during my routine, so I like to get here early and there are already a few people here. Working is the thing that is getting me here and doing some good this first half.” Baez said.

Kyle Hendricks enjoyed a win as well even though it was at times, a shaky performance by The Professor. While he’s got to figure out why he gives up first inning home runs, Hendricks is looking forward to the second half.

“It’s good to be at the top,” Hendricks said. “The Brewers are a great team behind us. There’s no days off in the second half. We have to play the same baseball we’ve been playing.”

The Cubs are in a great spot. With the return of Yu Darvish expected very soon, the Cubs will have their rotation bolstered.

“I think we’re surprised,” Cubs General manager Jed Hoyer said of Darvish’s injury. “Other than the Tommy John [surgery he had], he’s been a guy who takes the ball and has been really durable. I think this is a blip. I think it’s a moment in time and he’ll get back to that place where he’ll give us six, seven innings of quality baseball.”

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Cubs Stymied By Reds

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You have to hand it to the Cubs, they can’t seem to beat the Reds or are the Reds really that good? Yesterday, the Cubs tried desperately to make it seven in a row but fell short in the 3-2 loss.

“You look at the numbers on the stat sheet and they’re pretty good up and down, and the bullpens, too,” Joe Maddon said of the division’s pitching staffs. “[The Reds’] bullpen is a lot better than it had been, Milwaukee, ourselves, etc. The pitching is good in this division. But so is the offense. It’s turned out to be a tough division.

“It’s very strong, which is good. I want that. I want us to play in what’s hopefully considered the best [division] in baseball. That should bring out the best in your players on a nightly basis.”

It does bring out the best in this tight division. It’s also been a tough Wild Card race as well. Going into the break, the Cubs will have to finish strong.

“Look where we’re at — we’re in a good spot and right there. We have what we feel like is the best baseball to be played.” Mike Montgomery said.

He’s right. Although baseball is a peculiar game. Why can’t the Cubs beat the Reds? The Reds could be playing spoiler down the road if the Cubs can’t pick it up.

The real question concerning the break is who the Cubs are going to pick up, if they’re going to get anyone to solidify an all ready potent team?

“You’re always looking to fortify and add a little bit, and you always have Plan B and Plan C in case of injury or bad performance,” Epstein said. “There’s no way we’re going to go out and acquire starters the caliber of a locked-in Kyle Hendricks or a locked-in Jose Quintana. The majority of our answers lie within, that’s for sure.”

The struggle does come from within. I’m confident Hendricks will turn the corner but what about Yu Darvish? His critics are real and perhaps he’s the one who needs to carry the rest of the team on his back?

“I just want him to be well,” Maddon said. “That’s what I talked to him about specifically. ‘It’s not about rushing. Just get back out there. Get back in your routine. Get back in your work. Then, as this plays, we’ll get you back out there. Of course, we want you back sooner rather than later, but if biology’s not going to permit it, it’s not going to permit it.'”

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Darvish Gets First Win As Cub

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Yu Darvish got his first win as a Chicago Cub. In the weirdest division in baseball, the Cubs are 1.5 games back of leader Milwaukee. Of course, it’s a three way tie. That’s just the Cubs way. Darvish’s win was music to Joe Maddon’s ears. The Cubs beat the Reds 6-1

“The difference [with Darvish] was, after the first inning, he really started to gain command of his fastball,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “Then the slider becomes even more difficult. If he was in a different spot in the batting order, I probably would have let him go back out for the seventh. … My take on him is when he gets into a rhythm out there, it’s almost like he stops thinking and just starts pitching.”

My thinking is maybe he should stop thinking more often.

JK Yu

After a harrowing incident walking the pitcher, Anthony Rizzo went to calm him down.

“I was trying to calm myself, letting the frustration come out,” Darvish said through his interpreter about that moment. “I was thinking of saying something out loud, to get it out of my system, and Rizzo came over and said the same thing, ‘You look very frustrated. Let’s keep it together.'”

While we’re on the subject of firsts, the Cubs hit back to back home runs for the first time this season. Also, yesterday’s game was the first time that Kyle Schwarber was ejected. He argued a call that he thought should have gone the other way.

“I flipped my bat and said it was high, and I said a choice word in there,” Schwarber explained. “I don’t want to show him up. I wasn’t looking at him. And then he just threw me out, and that’s when I kind of lost it, because I didn’t think that ejection was necessary.”

So, as a “Glass Half Full” kind of guy, now that Darvish has his first win under his belt, the Cubs are looking up. They have an off day today before a series with Cleveland on Tuesday. If Darvish keeps winning, then there’s only one way up.

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Cubs Come Roaring Back With Brave Win

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Leave it to the veteran superstar Ben Zobrist to provide the fireworks in the Chicago Cubs thrilling 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves last night. This is an important series for the Cubs to win and they truly did it in that classic “Cubs Way”

“It was pretty nice in the fashion that we did it, too,” Addison Russell said. “I feel like there were opportunities there that it could have gone either way, but we capitalized. It was huge tonight.”

The game also marked the return of the Cubs’ offseason  acquisition Yu Darvish. He threw four innings with five strikeouts. It’s no surprise he was pulled after four innings of work. Whether it was his cramping or just coming back, Darvish had a decent game.

“He came up and talked to me and wanted to go back out, but I said, ‘No, I don’t think that’s wise,'” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “And that’s why I went and talked to the umpire to grab more time for [reliever Mike] Montgomery. I had to get Monty up quickly because of that, because I anticipated him going back out, but the guy, having been ill recently … He did a great job today, and that’s why I did what I did.”

I know we’ve been hard on the guy and most of it has been justified, but I think he’ll find his groove soon enough. My only concern about the deal was the Cubs could have got a couple more decent guys out thereon the market but they’re in the “Win now” mode with the team, so in that case it made sense. Last night was one of his better games.

“Definitely the worst I’ve ever experienced,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “Even after 10 days. I was coughing and even going upstairs made me tired … I thought I was 100 percent coming in. Once I started pitching I wasn’t 100 percent. Next four days I’ll eat a lot, train a lot and become 100 percent again.”

I hope so. Perhaps this is a new beginning?

“Dehydration is such a nasty little thing,” Maddon stated. “A lot of times it’s not given enough credit. People say ‘Eh, it’s not a big deal.’ But it is. It was something I didn’t want to press or push and it worked out well.”

With the win, the Cubs are one win behind Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. This series is big.

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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 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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