Cubs Seeing Double

CT cubs-brewers020.JPG

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

cxc104-729-2013-190612-high-jpg

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

travis woodhr

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

nate

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

Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants

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

Alfonso+Soriano+Arizona+Diamondbacks+v+Chicago+PtjIURy-gfPl

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

mlb_u_schierholtz11_600

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

10-4 Over And Out

Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks

The Cubs were schooled last night by the Arizona Diamondbacks and shown what a playoff bound team is like in a 10-4 loss.

Travis Wood kept the Cubs in the game until the sixth inning when the D’Backs woke up and collected three runs.

“We were rolling pretty good,” said Travis Wood, who retired the first nine batters he faced. “Other than the pitch to Prado that he ended up hitting out, the first five were pretty good. Unfortunately, they kind of figured me out in the sixth and were able to put up three more.”

Ok, and what about the Great Junior Lake? He continues to shine, getting another home run and going 3 for five. it’s too bad he wasn’t around in the first half, imagine the damage he could have done then?

“He’s playing as good as anybody can imagine for coming up after five games,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Every at-bat has been quality. He’s getting good pitches. The only pitches he’s been swinging bad at are great pitches… He’s one of them guys that look like he likes his stuff and performs better at this level.”

Did everyone see Coach Sveum get ejected in the third inning after Cody Ransom tossed his bat. It was Sveum’s fourth ejection of the season. I don’t understand it when managers argue these things and get thrown out. I think MLB should adopt a challenge system for managers because otherwise it’s kind of useless for them to argue calls and go head to head with the umpires. Anyways, great job Dale!

“I didn’t quite like the way he handled staring at Cody and following him,” Sveum said. “It was over with. He didn’t need to keep staring at my player and baiting him.”

Nate Schierholtz got into the action with a two run shot in the eighth which is proving my case for not trading this amazing player.

Rumours continue to swirl around Alfonso Soriano going to the Yankees. if this does come true, it will be his second time around with the Yanks. I hope it’s true and I hope the Cubs get some quality picks. I’m a big fan of building through the draft and getting the young players into the game. I think this is what will transpire in the possible Yankees deal. I have no problem with it but the Cubs will be on the hook for 18 million of his contract.

If Junior Lake continues playing the way he is, I see great things for the Cubs in the near future.

Jeff Samardzija gets the ball tonight. Game time is 9:40pm eastern.

—Mark

The Great Lake

Junior Lake

We’ve got Lake Huron, Erie, Ontario, Superior and Michigan. We might as well add Junior to the mix. The Cubs needed some positives in the clubhouse and sometimes positive things happen in the most unlikely surprises. Junior Lake has played his fourth game last night in Arizona, but it could have been his 400th game. He delivered his first home run and collected three RBI’s.

“He might have found his niche right now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. The Cubs defeated the hard biting Diamondbacks, 4-2 last night.

In fact, the Cubs are going through a tremendous amount of change after starter Matt Garza was traded to the Texas Rangers earlier in the day for Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and possibly Neil Ramirez and a couple of more players.

I think it was an excellent move for the Cubs obtaining one of the Ranger’s highest draft picks in Olt. Garza’s going to be missed for sure in the clubhouse, but let’s face the facts that since Garza came back from his injury, he’s been playing extremely well for the team and now was the best opportunity for a guy like Matt to be dealt.

“He’s one of the hardest-working pitchers you’ll ever be around,” Sveum said. “Even the four days he doesn’t pitch, he’s on the bench and rooting his teammates on. You’re always going to hear him on the bench. He’s one of those special starting pitchers who will always be involved in the game, and position players who play every day and other people appreciate that.”

Now, if the Cubs can get a solid veteran with the ability to drive in runs, and free up some more cash with a deal for Alfonso Soriano, they’ll be set, but before I get the parade started, the Cubs have tons of work to do in getting the team in calibre form.

This is definitely a good move on Epstein and Hoyer.

How ironic is it that a guy named Braun is suspended for PED’s?

The Cubs continue their winning ways today when Travis Wood faces Patrick Corbin and the Diamondbacks at 9:40 eastern.
—Mark

Rookie Mistakes & Castro Gets It Done

castrorockies

It was close yesterday as the Cubs lost to the Colorado Rockies, 4-3. Junior Lake made rookie mistakes and left Runners on Base. That has been the problem of the Cubs all year round.

“It’s tough, but he’s young and he’s full of energy, and I’m sure he’s pretty excited. But he’s been doing a great job out there so far.” Edwin Jackson said.

The good news is that Starlin Castro had a great game and whatever was ailing him in the first half of the season, has somewhat subsided. He collected three singles and a double. Way to go Starlin!

I think yesterday’s game was a good one despite the loss. There was a lot to take away from it. Besides Junior lake’s learning curve, which I think it would be a huge mistake if they were to send him back now. I’m a believer of “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” philosophy. I’ve harped on it many times before, but I’m happy with the direction the tam is going, so, play the kids, take the lumps, but be exciting and experiment. The Cubs aren’t really in a Wild Card race, so now is probably the best time to just go out and play some ball. Have fun.

Anthony Rizzo collected his 14th home run of the season as well. Yeah, yesterday’s game really was good. The kids made errors, but learned through their mistakes and the veterans and next generation guys like Castro and Rizzo played very well. That’s how this team is going to win. What hurt the club yesterday was that little old thing RISP. They have to fix that.

“We outhit them, we just didn’t outscore them,” Edwin Jackson said. “So it was just one of those days where they have the timely hits and we didn’t. But nevertheless we still fought hard, and we don’t really have much to hold our heads down about.

The Cubs are in tough when they continue the desert trip against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Matt Garza gets the start. Will it be his last start for the Cubs?

Game time is 9:40 eastern.

—Mark