Cubs Lose Close One

Darwin Barney

Let me get this out of the way; Aroldis Chapmen is awesome. Respect. Last night, the Cubs lost to the Reds 2-0. The Cubs struggles at home continues. Travis Wood played a great game earning his twentieth quality start of the year, but the Cubs couldn’t pull it together against the Big Red Machine part 2

“It’s funny, because we’re scoring in bigger parks and stuff on the road and we can’t seem to muster anything at home,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

There’s nothing funny about that. The Cubs have had trouble scoring all year long so it’s not surprising that when they’re facing a potential Wild Card team, they end up in some kind of trouble.

A highlight from last night’s game was the great play of rising superstar, Junior Lake. Even though he got thrown out at third, it’s that aggressive play that the Cubs need from him.

“You can’t make a throw any better than that,” Sveum said. “I got no problem with that aggressiveness.

So, it really wasn’t what the Cubs did wrong but what the Cincinnati Reds did right. Does that sound like a cliché or what? The hits were close with the Cubs getting six and the Reds four, but in the end it came down to some good ol’ fashioned bad ass pitching from Travis Wood and Matt Latos.

“He out-pitched me tonight,” Wood said of Latos. “I made a mistake to Phillips and he hit it out of the park, and that was all they needed.”

Tonight, the Cubs will try to take their revenge when Jeff Samardzija gets the start against Homer Baily. Game time is 8:05pm

—Mark

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Cubs Pay Their Pennants

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

It was a tough loss for the Chicago Cubs yesterday in St. Louis. The series sweep was just out of reach as the Cubs lost to the Cardinals, 8-4.

of course, St. Louis has a lot more to lose than the Cubs, but a win over the rivals would have been a sweet victory anyways.

“Obviously, they’re doing what they need to be doing, being in the pennant race,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

That’s exactly it. St. Louis is in a pennant race and the Cubs are not. So do the Cubs spend the rest of the season playing spoiler to the Reds and the other playoff bound teams or do they forge ahead and try to determine those players who will be with the club next year and stay the course.

I believe the Cubs should call up some more prospects and get them acquainted with the big leagues. I know a lot of teams that are out of playoff contention do this, but in the Cubs situation, it’s more important because they’ve been building for a few years. I don’t think the “spoiler” route is the right situation. Of course, if it happens then that is all the better.

“It’s really important,” catcher Welington Castillo said of the goals in the next seven weeks. “Not just for yourself, but for the team. I know we’re out of the race, but we’ve got to keep playing like we are close and we’re fighting. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing. Personally, you have to keep your head up and play like nothing has happened.”

Well Castillo, a lot has happened this year and it’s been a good year at that. Some players have gone like Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano. There’ll be some money freed up for next year and the Cubs can finally sign a couple quality but not too expensive free agents to compliment rising stars like Junior Lake and Kris Bryant.

The Cubs head home to face the Reds tonight at 8:05 eastern. Travis Wood gets the start.

—Mark

Cubs Attack Cardinals In St. Louis- Call Animal Control!

dioner navarro3

When everything goes well, they really go well for the Chicago Cubs. last night, the Cubs made it two in a row by soundly defeating their rivals the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5.

The Cubs scored with RISP’s, they scored with a comeback in the eighth and they of course, made it two in a row.

“There’s something about playing the Cardinals,” Darwin Barney said. “It’s not good to say, but you get up more for games like this. It’s just one of those things where they’re in the hunt and need to win some ballgames, and we’re playing spoilers once again. That’s a good club with an offense that’s on the verge of breaking out again. Let’s take them while we can.”

The Cubs improved to 52-64. Maybe .500 ball isn’t that far out of sight yet? This was the kind of game that Dale Sveum has wanted the Cubs to play all year. It hasn’t come easy, but it sure is a confidence booster. Dioner Navarro had marked his return by pinch hitting and getting an RBI double. So, when guys like Navarro can come in like that late in the game and produce, that’s what makes good teams great.

“It worked perfect,” Dale Sveum said. “We were testing Navarro today to find out if he could even play, and to get off the couch and get the game-winning hit. He’s the perfect backup catcher. You don’t worry about him because he’s so good off the bench.”

Wellington Castillo had a great game, knocking in a Home Run in the second inning. Castillo has been a quiet presence on this ball club. He doesn’t share the limelight with Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo or Junior Lake, but he gets things done when it counts.

Even though the Cubs won the series, it will feel even better today if Edwin Jackson can get the sweep. Game time is 2:15 eastern.

Rusin Shuts Out Cardinals

chris rusin

It may be late in the season and the Cubs don’t really have anything to play for but spots on the team for next year. If that’s the case, then Chris Rusin is making a strong case for himself as the Chicago Cubs handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-0 victory last night.

“His ball can move so much that he can get swings and misses at some balls that are quite a ways out of the zone,” Dale Sveum said. “But he makes the ball move. He keeps the ball down.”

Chris Rusin pitched six shutout innings and was the first Cubs pitcher to achieve that feat in St. Louis going way back to 1979 when Ken Holtzman went seven innings.

Junior Lake will most likely continue to be in a Cubs uniform next year, but his late season heroics have provided Cubs fans with something to believe in. It could be next year or the year after that but last night, Lake came through in the seventh inning to drive Wellington Castillo home. Later on it was Anthony Rizzo’s turn to bring Darwin Barney and Junior Lake home with the score.

This is the area that the Cubs have struggled with all season long. Maybe they don’t have the pressure this late in the season and it’s practice, but RISP is what winning teams can do. It’s always a great matchup when the Cubs play the Cardinals and the games usually mean something even when they don’t.

The Wild Card is out of reach but do the Cubs still have a chance to make it to .500? Their record is 51-64. It’s a long shot and the season is quickly fading away, but perhaps one last miracle shot at respectability?

“As a team, we can definitely get better, myself as well,” Anthony Rizzo said. “But we got to keep giving ourselves the situations.”

They still have plenty of time to practice up for next season. Carlos Villanueva gets the start tonight. Game time is 7:15 eastern.

–Mark

Donnie Murphy Powers The Cubs to Win Over Phillies

donnie murphy

What a night it was for Chicago Cubs’ newcomer, Donnie Murphy. Last night, Murphy banged two home runs into the stands as the Cubs downed the Phillies 5-2.

“I was just thinking base hit right there,” Murphy said of his ninth inning at-bat in a 2-2 tie. “But in a count 3-1, he didn’t want to put another guy on. I faced him [Tuesday] night. Thankfully, I knew he had a little giddy-up on his fastball.”

This was Murphy’s third home run since Sunday since being called up from Triple A.

Players like Murphy and Junior Lake continue to show the strength of the Cubs’ farm system and Triple A. The team’s chances of a wild card spot are all but gone, so to see the stellar play of these guys this late in the season is encouraging to the Cubs’ faithful.

“Each time I get called up, I’m not as nervous anymore,” said Murphy.

Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro was taken off of the field after a collision with Chase Utley. He’s listed as day to day.

“I don’t think anything was wrong or anything,” Dale Sveum said. “He was blocking the plate, guys have the right to do that. That’s what you want your guys to do, to do everything they can to get home plate.”

It was a convincing win and in light of the current PED scandals going on, it was good to see an “Old Fashioned” win the hard way. Grinding it out and sticking to it late in the game.

The Cubs look to continue their winning ways when Jeff Samardzija faces Ethan Martin. Game Time is 1:05 eastern.

—Mark

Should We Be Excited By Alex Rodriguez’s Return?

Yesterday, a friend of mine and I took a drive to Cooperstown. It was beautiful and fitting on the day of Alex Rodriguez’s comeback game. We were listening to satellite radio on the way down and listening to all the coverage of A-Rod’s return. Many people have opposing arguments for and against this great player. Now I’m being careful when I use great in association with Rodriguez. We live in a nation where everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that and I believe that baseball is the fantastic game it is because of players like Stan Musial, Ryne Sandberg, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax and Phil Rizzuto. Of course there are so many players to name. Go to the Hall of Fame and you will see them there enshrined on plaques and their memories behind glass.

There’s a certain feeling seeing mementos from eras that most of us never had a chance to be there. Cy Young-wow, the greatest pitcher to ever play the game. I’d like to believe he’d be amazed at the accomplishments of Roger Clemens and maybe he might be a little sad as well.

Babe Ruth would be in awe if he were alive to see A-Rod try to beat these records. Then again, the Sultan of Swat would challenge A-Rod to a home run derby.

For now, Alex Rodriguez can still play the game. It’s not Joe Girardi’s job to comment on the allegations and suspensions but PED’s don’t belong in baseball. If Alex Rodriguez took PED’s then A-Rod doesn’t belong in the game.

We sat at Doubleday Field and watched a game of pick up and it was relaxing. The sun was shining and we didn’t have anywhere to go but there. We cheered for every hit that was cracked on both teams. It was incredible and one of the memories I took from that sacred place is baseball is a past time. Yesterday, we past the time beautifully.

–Mark

Cubs Lose 1-0 To The Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs

As the one run losses pile up, the Chicago Cubs are glad to be past those surging Dodgers. Yesterday, the Cubs fell to the Dodgers 1-0.

A main problem with the Cubs this season is to win these close games despite playing decent ball. I think it would be different if in the majority of these games, the Cubs turned them into ,”The Cub Follies” but for the most part, I’ve enjoyed watching these guys compete every game.

“Obviously we want to bring our fans at Wrigley wins,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said. “We get the fan support, and coming from other teams that I have been on … the fans don’t really come out like here. It’s a special thing. You feel the fans behind you and you feel them rallying behind you.”

Maybe that’s the problem as well. Fan support can only go so far. We’d like to see some wins put up too. I’d be foolish to think that players coming into Chicago believe that because of the Cubs rich history that it’s all about, “The Lovable Losers” title that’s been woefully attached to this club. Every guy who puts on the Cubs uniform believes that they can win.

This year has been great for watching the team. It’s a turning point for the team and seeing the young guys like Junior Lake and now Logan Watkins. There’s no other way to put it, I’m stoked for their future.

Right now though, it’s those one run games they must win.

“We didn’t have a whole lot going on [offensively], but that was obviously a chance, bases loaded with one out, and we didn’t get the job done again,” Dale Sveum said. ” … We got shut out three times in seven games at home. We scored two in another one. So it’s very difficult, obviously, to win unless you’re scoring runs.”

The Cubs will enjoy a break before heading to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies tomorrow. Edwin Jackson gets the start. Game time is 7:05 eastern.

—Mark