Cubs Seeing Double

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Double Headers are tough to swallow. Yesterday, the Cubs lost 6-5 in the first game and 3-2 in the second game. There was a play late in the second game that kinda frustrated me as well as just about every Cubs fan across the land. It was Starlin Castro’s dropped ball that could have potentially saved the game for the Cubs. With the two losses, the Cubs record in one run games stands at 15-30 in National league Central games.

“Castro made an effort, and the ball didn’t stay in his glove,” Dale Sveum said.

I’ll tell you how it could have stayed in his glove, Starlin should have been in front of the ball. Ah well, today’s a new day.

It’s these one run games that the Cubs need to win. Let me tell you, the blown save in the second game could have been the fault of crappy work of the umpire. There should have been some strikes there, Ump! David Dejesus hit what I think is one of the finest singles I’ve ever seen in the ninth inning. Good Work!

The great news to take away from the game is Jake Arrieta. His debut game with the Cubs since the Scott Feldman trade was pretty damn good.

“There were a little first-game jitters there,” Arrieta said. “But I got under control after that point and was able to command the ball pretty well. Not a lot of strikeouts tonight, but I was able to force a lot of contact, which is always a good thing.”

He played six great innings keeping the score to one run. I hope they don’t keep him down in Triple-A for too long.

“I was very happy with the trade and the opportunity to come over to this organization and be a part of a group of young guys,” Arrieta said.

Edwin Jackson will try to salvage a win for the Cubs when he faces Willy Peralta tonight. Game Time is 8:05pm

—Mark

Cubs Get Brewed

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The trade deadline is drawing near, actually it’s only a couple of more days and Jeff Samardzija’s name has been tossed around. nobody is safe in a Cubs uniform these days. You can take that anyway you want.

Last night, the Cubs fell to the Brewers 5-0 in a game that was lost in the ninth inning. The Cubs headed into the ninth in a scoreless tie but that’s where the wheels fell off. To be fair, the Brewers got a couple of good hits off of Carlos Gomez, Jeff Bianchi and Rickie Weeks. it was one of those games.

“That was a good ballgame,” Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. “Samardzija pitched well. Kyle pitched really well. I didn’t know if we were going to score anywhere.”

For most cases it was. Samardzija pitched a great game making a case for a possible trade which I hope doesn’t happen. In fact, I kinda hope the Cubs don’t make any more moves because this team is getting something going. They’re 48-56 so .500 isn’t out of the question and neither is a Wild Card position. Although, they’d pretty much have to win every game.

“‘Sveumer’ is a consistent dude,” said starting dude Jeff Samardzija, who threw seven scoreless innings. “Every time he comes to the park, he has one goal in mind and that’s fielding a lineup that has a chance to win the game. He does a great job instilling that confidence in every player that that’s our goal. On top of that, with this roster we have, there’s a lot of scrappy guys who can play the game.

That’s the thing about the 2013 Chicago Cubs; it’s those “scrappy” guys like Nate Schierholtz, The Shark and hell, I’d throw Junior Lake and David Dejesus in the mix. It’s a solid team with some building chemistry.

Did the Cubs lose to the Brewers because of bad playing? not exactly. It was tight defence with an unlucky ninth that did it for the Cubs. With the exception of that almost bare handed catch by Samardzija that went through the glove of Starlin Castro which was sloppy.

“You’ve got to score runs to win,” Sveum added. “That’s the bottom line.”

The Cubs will get that chance today when Carlos Villanueva goes for his third win of the season. Game time is 2:20pm
—Mark

Travis Lays The Wood

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It hasn’t been done in twenty years, but yesterday the Chicago Cubs swept the defending World Series champions San Francisco Giants 2-1. Travis Wood collected a home run and so did Wellington Castillo.

“I swear to God, just before he hit that, I was remembering (Yovani) Gallardo winning a game here by himself with a home run off Randy Johnson,” Dale Sveum said, who was with the Brewers at the time. “Sure enough, (Wood) hits a home run. I think he’s the best (hitting pitcher) that can handle good pitching too. Gallardo was really good, but Wood handles good pitching and lays off stuff and takes good swings at almost everything.”

So where did all this inspiration come from? is it because the Cubs are playing really good baseball? is it because they’re out to prove something?

They won because their beloved leader Alfonso Soriano collected his first home run with the New York Yankees.

“It’s always a little different, especially when you lose a guy like Soriano,” Wood said. “He was one of our hottest bats, probably the hottest bat at the time. He’s the leader on the team and he’s been here the longest. It was sad to see him go, but I think he had a pretty solid day today. We just have to pull together and string some wins.”

The best part about this series win though is they did with by one run in each of the games. Sure, my nails are shorter than they were before the weekend and our son asked me a hundred times, “Is that Starlin Castro, Daddy?” but this is a start in the right direction. This also proves that the Cubs are maturing as a team by winning the close ones and battling back in these games. The San Francisco Giants aren’t playing like the champions they were but by the Cubs beating them, it’s a great moral booster because they beat the champs and that goes a long way.

“I can’t remember playing or (managing) this kind of a trip on the West Coast,” Sveum said, lumping Colorado and Arizona in with California. “To win six out of 10 on the West Coast, no matter how good of a team you are, is one of the hardest things to do.”

The Cubs are heading home now and getting ready for a very big series against the Braun-less Brewers. They have a chance to gain some valuable ground in the Wild Card race. The Shark, Samardzija gets the start. Game time is 8:05.

–Mark

Cubs Maul Giants

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It’s better late than never. The Chicago Cubs are finally heating it up. last night, Nate Schierholtz destroyed the ball in the ninth inning with a home run for the ages to give the Cubs a 1-0 win over the defending World Series champs, San Francisco Giants.

Why should the Cubs look towards next season? A lot of folks might think they should, but I’m in the category of, “Let’s see what we got” The Cubs played really well and the trick that got them the win was they played hard and fought their way to the win.

“It was an exciting game,” Nate Schierholtz said. “It reminded me of playing here when we played one-run games every night. They’re nail-biters.”

All the pieces were there. Chris Rusin stayed in for seven scoreless innings and being replaced in the eighth inning for Pedro Strop.

“Rusin was phenomenal,” Dale Sveum said. “He had his sinker working and got a bunch of ground balls and made the strikes when he had to. He did a heck of a job.”

So, why are the Cubs playing good tight baseball? Do they want to be spoilers for Wild Card bound teams or are they out to prove that they’re not as bad as people are claiming?

“We’ve got a lot of guys in here who don’t give up,” Schierholtz said. “One of the things instilled in us in spring training was hard work and running balls out and not ever giving up. That’s one of the biggest things a winning team does. You don’t always have to have the best players to win a championship.”

There is a very real possibility of the Cubs getting the Wild Card. maybe that’s the reason, maybe not. With Philadelphia losing seven in a row and Washington the only threat, the other teams aren’t looking so hot right now. It’s still highly unlikely the Cubs will get there, but the way they’re playing right now, it could happen.

The Cubs look to sweep the series this afternoon when Travis Wood faces Tim Lincecum. Game time is 4:05 eastern.

–Mark

Cubs Slay Giants

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The Chicago Cubs finally did what has been eluding them all season, they scored with runners in scoring position. They also fought hard for a comeback win in the ninth to down the San Francisco Giants 3-2.

Anthony Rizzo drove in Julio Borbon and Junior lake in the ninth.

It was a wild finish, but these are the close games that the Cubs have to win. It’ll give them momentum and confidence in the future. I’m happy with the trades they’ve made in July, a little mixed with the Soriano deal, but I understand why they had to do it. The Cubs are in a good position right now.

“I’m of the belief that you’re never one player away,” Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein said. “If you think you’re one player away, you’re getting desperate and asking for trouble. It’s the single biggest factor in whether or not you have a chance to legitimately contend is the overall health of the organization. In time, the overall health of the organization, the overall talent of the organization will manifest itself at the big league level with a little bit of patience.”

He’s absolutely right. Throughout the years Cubs fans have said that, myself included, “One player away” but when does that one player arrive? The Soriano deal needed to be done and I can only imagine Cubs fans everywhere wiping their brows and letting out a huge sigh that the Cubs can finally let go of that huge chunk of change. my question though is, What if Alfonso Soriano wasn’t signed to that big contract. What if he was just another 37 year old power hitter that provided leadership in the clubhouse? Would he have still been dealt?

Which brings me to another player who can possibly fill in Soriano’s role.

Nate Schierholtz who was returning to San Francisco in a Cubs uniform got a double in the game and continues his great July.

“The fans were great to me, from days at the ballpark and just around the city and outside the city, everyone was always great to the players here,” he said. “It’s awesome playing here and being on a couple winning teams.”

I really hope Nate doesn’t get traded. The Cubs need him in the clubhouse for his consistency and his two World Series rings for guidance and mentorship.

“I haven’t spent a second thinking about being traded,” he said Friday. “Every year, you hear so many names thrown around. … I can’t control it. If you go a week worrying about it and you don’t get traded, it’s a lot of worry for nothing. I love it here, and I’d like to stay a Cub. Hopefully, I don’t go anywhere.”

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The Cubs will be looking to continue their winning ways when Chris Rusin takes to the mound. Game time is 9:40pm

—Mark

Alfonso Soriano is a Yankee

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This was Alfonso Soriano’s last game in a Chicago Cubs uniform. It was a game he didn’t play in and the Cubs lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1. Kind of fitting don’t you think?

The truth is that the Cubs were outmatched last night against Kirk Gibson’s Diamondbacks, but in the end, this was all about Alfonso Soriano.

“I always respect the fans, always play hard for the fans, because I know they love the team and like to see the team doing well,” Soriano said. “I always tried to do my best playing for the Cubs and tried to be a champion here. It didn’t happen, so I hope it happens in the future. Now I have to think about my new team.”

Now it’s official, the Chicago Cubs are Theo Epstein’s team.

Alfonso Soriano started his Cubs career in 2007 and has been the anchor for the team through some tumultuous times. He didn’t end the curse, he couldn’t bring the Cubs their first World Series since 1908 but he was a leader in the clubhouse for younger players and when his bat struck the ball and the ball soared past the pitcher’s mound out into left field over the ivy and sometimes into one Ball Hawk’s lucky glove on the streets outside Wrigley Field; it was a reminder to keep the faith. Good times are ahead. We will win again.

“We got everybody together to say our goodbyes,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s emotional for all of us. You don’t usually gather teams together that often when people are traded to say goodbyes. That just shows the kind of person he is.”

I think for me the one thing I’ll miss most about Soriano is the swagger and confidence he showed after hitting one of those dingers. it was that look of,”Yeah, that’s not coming back” he’d toss the bat and strut his way to 1st base. If you haven’t seen it, watch for it. Very cool.

It’s easy to critize star players when they’re not playing well and I’m one of those guys. When Soriano was hot, he was gold, but when he wasn’t playing well and dropping balls; well, I’m ashamed to say it, but he was public enemy number 1. I think he knew it too because no matter the critic, Soriano always seems to bounce back with one of those trademark streaks.

“I think they’re making the right decisions,” Soriano said. “They have a lot of young talent, and I hope that talent progresses and helps them become a champion. The front office is very smart and I think they know what they’re doing.”

I’m going to miss you Fonzi.

—Mark

Schierholtz Charms The Snakes

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I’ve been chirping about the praise of Nate Schierholtz for some time now. I think since the season started. Last night, the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-6 in twelve innings. All right, they squeaked one out to be exact, but a win is a win.

Schierholtz hit a three run walloper in the sixth inning plus a game winning double in the 12th inning. At the start of the season did anyone predict that he’d be the crusher he turned out to be for the Cubs? I didn’t. It sure would have been nice though to see him in the All Star Game.

“I’m feeling a lot better now,” Schierholtz said. “The All-Star break definitely helped, and so did the cortisone shot. I feel like I’m doing well now, and I’m trying to help the team.”

The other story that’s been circulating for the past week is the incredible play of Junior Lake. I don’t think there’s too many people out there who hasn’t talked about this kid. He can do it all. Last night was a possible future All Star lineup with David Dejesus, Junior lake and Starlin Castro in the 1,2,3 spot. I liked it a lot.

Junior Lake went 2 for 5 with an RBI Double. Remember the little problem the Cubs had with RISP’s, well it seems Junior Lake has solved the woes for the Cubs. The kid is batting .519 and has gotten 14 hits in 5 games. Is it too late for a Rookie of the Year Award?

“He’s showing right now he’s playing with a ton of confidence that he really belongs here,” Theo Epstein said. “This is the league he feels he’s ready for and he’s going out and showing it.”

It’s still too early to make any assessment on how well the kid plays, but I think he’s the real deal.

In the on going development of, “Where is Soriano going”, it appears that he has waived his No Trade Clause with a possible deal to the Yankees.

“I said in Spring Training, I’d like to finish my contract here,” Soriano said. “But at the same time, I want another chance to get in the playoffs, to get in the World Series. I’d be more than happy if we start playing better and I’ve got a chance to win here. But I’m 37, so I want to have one more chance to go to the World Series. If they don’t have that in their minds, if they’re preparing the team for 2015, 2016, it’s too late for me. At the same time, I try to be a champion here. If not, I have to try to do that somewhere.”

I can’t blame the guy for wanting to win a championship. The team is in a good spot right now, but won’t contend for another couple of years. He needs the change and the Cubs need the players.

Carlos Villanueva gets the ball as the Cubs try to make it two in a row tonight. Game time is 9:40pm

—Mark