Ain’t It Grand?

Pitcher Travis Wood runs the bases after hitting a Grand Slam.

Pitcher Travis Wood runs the bases after hitting a Grand Slam.

There must be some mojo working at Wrigley Field. it could be the Rolling Stones staying in Chicago, but yesterday Travis Wood belted a Grand Slam Home Run to power the Chicago Cubs to an 8-3 win over their South Side rivals.

Yes, you read it right folks, Travis Wood, pitcher for the Cubs hit a Grand Slam!!!!

That’s his second shot this year.

“We take pride in our hitting and being able to help ourselves out,” Wood said. “We just want to be able to handle the bat so we’re not a dead out. We can try to go out there and eventually help ourselves out and get something going.”

Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena each hit homers in the win.

Well done boys, well done!

So, the Cubs won the Crosstown Cup and even though it’s only for bragging rights, it’s a motivator that can probably land them a wild card spot. After all, they’re only 10 games back and if anyone remembers a few years ago when they were 10 games behind at the beginning of August and battled hard to win the division.

They have the potential to do it again.

So, what are the thoughts about Cubs pitchers powering the ball into the streets?

“They hit every day at home, they hit on the road, they have good swings,” Anthony Rizzo said. “It is fun to watch. We just have to get the pitchers up.”

Maybe Travis Wood should hit third in the rotation.

The Cubs have won four in a row heading into today’s matchup against the Diamondbacks. Matt Garza’s on the mound. Game time is 2:20pm eastern.


There’s No Place Like Home For Dioner Navarro

Dioner Navarro, Tyler Flowers

If you ever need someone to put on a clinic about how to play baseball; Dioner Navarro is your man to call. please call him. Yesterday, Dioner and the North Side Cubs taught the Chicago White Sox a thing or two on the fundamentals of baseball. Final score: 9-3

This has been a week of firsts for the Cubs and it all started with Jeff Samardzija’s beautiful display of deconstruction and dismantlement of the Chicago White Sox on Monday collecting his first Shutout of his career.

Dioner Navarro humiliated three baseballs yesterday on his way to collecting three home runs. just in case you thought it was too early in the morning, I’ll say it again. 3 Home Runs!

“I hit two one time in Little League,” Navarro said. “That was about it. It’s a great feeling and so surreal right now. I can’t speak right now. The most important thing is we got a ‘W’ and [Scott] Feldman did a good job.”

Awe shucks, Dioner. You just banged three home runs in a game, show some excitement you modest Cubs catcher you.

“Let’s not get carried away with a guy having a great game. … It’s just nice to have a backup catcher doing the things he does and handling the pitchers he handles.” Dale Sveum said.

So, the Cubs have won three in a row and although they’re 13 1/2 back of the leader St. Louis, the Cubs are still two up on the Brewers and with this win, don’t be surprised if it carries some valuable momentum going into June.

Well Done, Dioner.

The Cubs aim to finish off the White Sox today when Travis Wood takes to the mound to square off against Jake Peavy Game time is 2:20pm eastern.


Gimme Shelter

rolling stones chicago

Maybe it was the high ticket prices at the Rolling Stones concert at the United Centre that brought the rain? We know the Stones are having a tough go at selling out this tour. Everybody had a chance to run over and see them. I’ll tell ya, it would have been awesome to see the Stones in Chicago with Taj Mahal! As it stands, we’re going to Toronto next week to get our Rocks Off.

Maybe it was Edwin Jackson’s turn on the mound that brought it.

“Sometimes when you’re having a season like I’m having, that’s how it is,” Jackson said.

Or maybe it was because the Cubs were up 2-0. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll take that as my answer.

The Cubs were facing White Sox pitcher, Chris Sale.

“You hate to waste any time you get up 2-0 against a pitcher like Chris Sale,” Sveum said. “You score two and hopefully a couple more and you’ve done your share off a guy like that. It’s too bad the game has to get canceled that quick. We knew that rain was coming.”

The Cubs are riding a two game winning streak going in to today’s game at Wrigley Field. Scott Feldman gets the ball against Johnny Danks.

Game time is 2:20pm eastern. Barring Rain.


Jeff Samardzija Shuts out White Sox


I’m not even going to mention Jeff Samardzija’s nickname. The Crosstown Cup is a mini classic of sorts. When a team doesn’t win championships in years and years, every little stepping stone and every kind of Cup is a moral victory of it’s own. Yesterday, the mighty Chicago Cubs, and yes, they played mightily, beat their nemesis from the South Side, the Chicago White Sox 7-0.

The Cubs managed to highlight everything that’s going to make this team contenders. Julio Borbon hit a Home Run, Alfonso Soriano was hitting, Anthony Rizzo scores and so does Castro. Yup, the Cubs connected last night with all their arsenal but, it was the incredible poise and stealth of The Sha–whoops, Jeff Samardzija that propelled the team to victory. This was his first shut out. This was a complete game. This was incredible.

“That kind of stuff, 97 [mph] from the first pitch to the last pitch, whatever he threw, you’re not going to see that too often in the big leagues,” Dale Sveum said.

Last night, it was ‘Old School” baseball. Duke it out and stay in the game.

Not only did the Cubs need that win to try and pull ahead of the Brewers, but the Cubs need a strong June to have any chance of a Wild Card spot. I think they can do it. Last night’s game proved it.

As for the coolness of the Crosstown Cup?

“This is what you play for. There’s just a comfort level when you get to sleep in your own bed and drive 15 minutes to the park and come play. You’ve got the steel mills in the background. It’s not the most beautiful scent in the world, but it smells like home.” said Samardzija.

Well Done, Shark.


Cubs Take One in Cincinnati


The Cubs ended their losing ways by beating the Reds 5-4 in extra innings. Matt Garza was replaced in the bottom of the fifth inning by Rafael Dolis after the Reds jumped to a 4-0 lead.

There was some unusual antics when Johnny Cueto took a pot shot in the sixth inning at David Dejesus’s head after he went out of the batter’s box in the first inning. Matt Garza wasn’t too pleased by his actions, and in hockey circles, Garza would be considered as the team’s enforcer.

“If the game was played that way, I don’t like it like that,” Garza said. “You don’t go intently and try to injure somebody. Hopefully, the league looks at that. I don’t want him to get suspended or anything. I just want him to learn a lesson. Hopefully, his players will warn him. It is what it is — they run their own show. We’ll see him again down the line.”

Let that be a lesson to you Johnny Cueto, you’ve been warned by Garza. Good to have you back, Matt.

I don’t really agree with anyone throwing baseballs at anyone’s head. It’s not a very good tactic, just beat him with the pitches next time, Cueto.

“It probably woke us up as much as anything,” Dale Sveum said. “It woke our dugout up.”

So how do the Cubs respond to all these shenanigans? The big bats wake up. Anthony Rizzo hit a double and Soriano wallops his fifth home run of the season. The Cubs tie the game.

In the tenth inning, Wellington Castillo hits a double, enabling Scott Hairston to score. Cubs win!!!

Anthony Rizzo Ends His Drought. He Goes 3 For 3

Anthony Rizzo ended his hitless streak yesterday in a tough 5-2 loss against the Reds. In fact, Anthony Rizzo pretty much snapped out of the funk he was in going 3 for 3.

“Those guys find it, that’s why they’re that good,” Dale Sveum said of Rizzo. “They find it and roll for a while and might hit another slump. That’s hitting, anyway.”

Travis Wood had a tough time with his former club. Being yanked after five innings, he was struggling.

“He still pitched a good game — it just got away from him,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Wood. “Take nothing away from him. He’s done a great job.”

Three Finger Brown’s 10 quality starts is safe.

ok, I’m going out on a limb here by suggesting that fans and critics have been way too harsh on this team. I think in this kind of year, it’s better to watch the individual achievements of guys like Rizzo, Scott “Feldmania” Feldman, Jeff Samardzija (Who I think our son said his name the other day. He got lost at the “z”) and Travis Wood.

Look at the season this way:

Pitchers are keeping ballhawks happy, Rizzo is secured for another few years and this could be Alfonso Soriano’s swan song? I’m not picking on you Alfonso, you’re having a pretty good year, but you have to admit that contract is pretty heavy.

There’s no going around it. The Cubs aren’t going to win the World Series this year. I enjoy the individual production by different players this season. Pitching has been outstanding, but I’ll tell you this; As soon as they can get runners in, this team is going to be great!

Matt Garza takes to the mound today, as they try to steal a win from the Oldest Team in The Majors. Game Time is 1:10pm eastern


Ain’t That A Pitch?

Why is it that the pitchers are the only ones showing up to batting practice? Scott Feldman hit his first home run in a losing cause to the Cincinnati Reds last night 7-4.

“It felt good,” Feldman said of his big hit. “But now, I don’t even feel like I hit a home run, because I kind of ruined it with that pitch I hung to Hanigan. It felt good at the time [to hit it]. I could go the rest of my career without getting a home run, if I could win the game.”

The Cubs got off to an early three run lead but the Reds came back in the fourth inning to take a 5-3 lead eventually winning 7-4.

I’m not taking anything away from Scott Feldman’s two run homer, believe me, I’m glad he’s hitting the ball. I’m really glad the pitcher’s are scoring, but look at the box score and it will tell you all the information you need to know about the Cubs problems and what needs to be fixed.

Ryan Sweeney, Luis Valbuena and Dioner Navarro each scored the runs for the Cubs. Where was Anthony Rizzo? Sure Starlin, David, and Nate all got hits but there was no run support for Feldman.

Here’s my new batting order:

1. Starlin Castro
2. David Dejesus
3. Alfonso Soriano
4. Anthony Rizzo
5. Nate Schierholtz
6. Darwin Barney
7. Wellington Castillo
8. Luis Valbuena
9. Pitcher

Going into the game, the Cubs were .216 with runners in scoring position. Last. Dead last. That statistic has to change if the Cubs are going to do any damage in the standings.

The series continues today at 4:10 eastern. Travis Wood gets the start.


No Joy in Pittsburgh

Cubs Pirates Baseball

Many baseball fans will recognize that line from a famous poem, “Casey at the Bat” all though I changed it to Pittsburgh. It’s kind of fitting that on the last game of the series to occurrences happened:

1. Edwin Jackson was on the mound.

2. It rained.

The Pirates handed the Cubs a 4-2 loss yesterday. With the loss, the Cubs have lost four in a row.

“He obviously wasn’t real sharp,” Dale Sveum said. “He didn’t come out with a whole lot of velocity at the beginning either. Andrew McCutchen took advantage of a hanging slider and another fastball as well. There wasn’t a whole lot of life coming out of that arm today.”

Leave it to Dale Sveum to keep it real. Gotta’ love him.

“Just certain things you can’t explain,” Sveum said, “other than just not being able to put games away and (not) hitting with men in scoring position and getting that run in, getting a big inning here and there. We’re just snakebit on that. We’re not getting that kind of stuff done.”

“Leaving it up in the zone is just not finishing through,” Jackson said. “There were a couple times I jumped out and rushed a little bit. By the third inning, I was able to make the adjustment. I just have to do a better job of finding that earlier in the game.”

So listen, I think Edwin should go to the bullpen and put Villanueva in. At least for a few games.

Move Starlin Castro to the lead off and drop David Dejesus to the second spot.

I believe just a little tinkering here and there might just do the trick.

It might just bring joy to Chicago.

The Cubs are off to Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds. Game time tonight is 7:10 eastern.


The Shark part Two- The Pirates Revenge

the shark

There’s big bats in the Cubs lineup. Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Nate Shierholtz, David Dejesus and Darwin Barney. All Stars and Golden Glove winners.

None of them were to be found last night. Wellington Castillo, Julio Borbon and Cody Ransom got the only hits in yesterdays 1-0 drubbing by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“That’s (the same old) song and dance,” Dale Sveum said. “We get people on. We just can’t get ’em in.”

I think he’s mad.

Were they afraid of the water? or were they just sitting back enjoying A Shark chewing up some Pirates. Jeff Samardzija proved himself again. The Shark went seven innings and struck out eight. A great night’s work. Now, if everyone else showed up for work.

“That’s just electric stuff,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Samardzija. “He’s definitely been hard on us and to score early in the first and to only have two opportunities the rest of the game … and for them, the third inning, with the bases loaded, was the difference.”

It was those “Big Bats” that were afraid of the water in the third inning that kept the Cubs off of the scoreboard. A strikeout here, a pop up there, I might be a nice guy and I firmly stand on the side of the optimists out there, but one of the fundamentals in the game is to hit the ball, land on base, run the base and score. Yes, it’s that easy and the Cubs will remain at the bottom of the NL Central until they can find a way to get those guys on base and home.

“Early on we made some dumb mistakes that cost us big time,” Anthony Rizzo said. “We’ve been in close games all year. Now it’s about scratching runs across and keeping the lead.”

The Cubs try to get things going this afternoon and salvage something against the Pirates. Game time is 12:30 eastern. Edwin Jackson gets the ball.


Pirates Spoil Matt Garza’s Return

Matt Garza

Matt Garza’s return last night created a lot of excitement for Cubs fans everywhere. It was looking good through four innings and perhaps there was a no hitter in the cards for him, but Andrew McCutchen landed on base, spoiling that. The pirates went on to defeat the Cubs 5-4

Then it happened.

Travis Snider walloped a grand slam in the sixth inning off of Shawn Camp and taking the lead 5-3.

The Cubs came within one run in the ninth and was turning into a rally for them, but things came up short when Anthony Rizzo, who was having an unusually off night, struck out swinging.

In all fairness, it was bad luck that the Cubs lost a 3-0 lead going into the sixth. I think part of baseball is those games where everything can be going right and all the momentum is shifting in the right direction, but it takes one pitch to change everything.

The positives to take from last nights gut wrenching loss is again, a pitcher lands on base. Matt Garza hits a double in the second inning to drive Wellington Castillo and Darwin Barney home that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

“Two of our runs were driven in by a pitcher,” Dale Sveum said. “We have to be better and score runs and get those big hits and bust games open.”

Hector Rondon came in for Matt Garza in the sixth inning. maybe it was to ease him in slowly, who knows?

“I had a little nerves that I had to fight off early,” Garza said. “I was disappointed I didn’t go deeper. I don’t like coming out in the fifth. That’s not what I train for, that’s not what I strive to do. It is what it is — I felt great being back out there, but it [stinks] the way it ended.”

You’ll always get the naysayers who scream about, “How can they blow that lead?” but Matt Garza did everything right. In fact, he was down right filthy on the mound.

Baseball isn’t like hockey where a team can out play the opposing team and still get the loss. Baseball has that uniqueness to it that through carefully crafted plays and strategy, that one play can change everything.

There’s always the ninth inning. Other sports, you’re on the clock.

Welcome back Matt Garza, we missed you.

Game time is 7:05 pm eastern.