Edwin Jackson Licks His Wounds

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It was a test of the bottom feeders in Milwaukee last night and even though the Brewers won the game 6-1, it was hard not to think about who really won the game. Did the Cubs win because they lost adding to the column or did the Brewers win in the standings? The game didn’t matter last night except when Edwin Jackson was pulled in the fourth inning.

To be fair, Jackson walked three and committed an error. He wasn’t having a good game and Hey, that happens. Shake it off and get ready for the next game.

“He was already at 75 pitches, and I felt as many one-run games that we play and in this ballpark, I was going to take a shot at tying it back up and making sure we score that one run,” Dale Sveum said. “He was at 75 pitches, and he wasn’t happy with coming out of the game at that point and not getting to five innings. You respect that about players who want to stay in the game, and I made that decision.”

It used to be that every player who came up to the plate was Starlin Castro, but now our three year old son has a new player and his name is Junior Lake. I just thought I’d mention that.

Jackson has 16 losses which isn’t good, but it doesn’t reflect his pitching at all. As every one knows in baseball circles, the Cubs haven’t had the most memorable season in the win category and with 12 games left, sometimes it’s better to head to the locker room and lick their wounds.

Jeff Samardzija gets the start tonight at 8:10 eastern.

—Mark

Cubs Looted

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Are there signs of improvement in this young Cubs organization? After yesterday’s 3-1 loss to the rival Pittsburgh Pirates, it’s looking like things could be turning around for them.

“Those guys, they’re good, they’re hot,” Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. “They’re playing good. Those hitters are not easy to get through. … Sometimes you don’t get good results, but when you throw your best pitch with conviction, then whatever happens, you’ll be happy because you threw it with conviction.”

Yes, the Pirates are probably playoff bound and yet the Cubs seem to be holding their own. Left hander Chris Rusin is staking his claim in a constantly changing rotation by keeping the surging Pirates to a low four hits. That’s pretty amazing considering the Cubs rotation has been “evolving” this season and hopefully things will be solidified this off season.

“It was probably, to me, his most impressive outing against a lineup that has numbers against left-handers that’s impressive,” Dale Sveum said.

Although the Cubs didn’t win and really it’s not to me the most important thing at this time in the season. It’s about finding the right pieces for next year.

Some support from one of my favourite players in the game Andrew McCutchen

“I’m sure they have a lot of good talent,” McCutchen said. “And they’re going to continue to get better. It takes time. It takes time getting guys comfortable, and getting feet wet just performing.”

Will it take the Cubs twenty years to get better? I hope not.

Jake Arietta gets a shot at redemption when the Cubs continue the series tonight 7:05 eastern.

—Mark

Still Dirty At Thirty

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds

You have to hand it to the Cubs, when they’re good they’re pretty awesome. Last night in front of a near empty crowd in Cincinnati, the Cubs put a beat down on the Reds 9-1. The best part of the victory? It was a day after Edwin Jackson’s 30th birthday and he hits a home run. Happy Birthday indeed!

“It’s been a tough year, but there’s not been one time where I’ve given in,” Edwin Jackson said. “I’m a big believer, regardless how tough it gets, you can either fold or you can just continue to fight back. And as long as the guys in here know that you’re not a quitter, it doesn’t change the approach.”

Well there’s no point in rolling over and ending the season now. These last games are an early camp for next year. The other good thing about last night’s victory is they beat last year’s win total of 61. So you see, they’re getting better.

Wellington Castillo turned in a performance of the year by hitting two home runs and Donnie Murphy joined the party by hitting a home run of his own.

I’m anxious to see if the Cubs will indeed put in some prospects or stay the course. I’m liking Starlin Castro in the lead off spot.

The Cubs will try to earn the sweep and put a dent in the Red Machine when Jeff Samardzija gets the ball. It’s an early game at 12:35 eastern.

—Mark

Cubs left in the Cellar

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs

It was Scott Baker’s first start in a long, long time. Well, August 8 2011 to be exact. He played well with five scoreless innings, but the Cubs couldn’t hang on for the win as the Milwaukee Brewers downed them 3-1 Sunday.

“First time out, he did a great job and we’ll leave it at that and evaluate going forward,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

The Cubs have put themselves in a situation where anything can happen. This year has been a huge transition time for the Cubs. All the trades they’ve made and the lineup changes. Plus, the Cubs have had some great surprises in Junior Lake and Nate Scierholtz. They’ve also had their share of disappointments in Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro. Could Starlin Castro be on the move next year? He signed a big contract, but in today’s game that means nothing. Even the starting rotation will see some changes.

“I’m just going to go in the offseason with eyes open and ears open,” Jeff Samardzija said. “It’s no secret I am where I want to be and doing it the way I want to be doing it. That hasn’t changed. We’re pretty close to where we need to be, and I want to be part of that for sure.”

That is exactly what the Cubs have been doing this month, evaluating. They also have the opportunity to play that most awkward word in sports–spoiler.

Tonight, the Cubs go to Cincinnati to try and topple the Big Red Machine .2013. I’m not a big fan of the spoiler moniker, but c’mon, September is the perfect time for the Cubs to do this. I believe it’ll be a great moral victory to see the Cubs determine who will be the National League Central Champion.

There’s twenty games left in the season so this should be interesting to see what happens. Travis Wood gets the start. Game time is 7:10 eastern.

—Mark

Lake Runs Deep

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs

It’s kind of odd watching the Cubs play at this time of year. The bleachers are half empty, apparently getting children off to baseball practice or waiting in line to pick them up at schools seems a lot more important than watching the Cubs. However, for those of us who watched the game yesterday witnessed the Cubs put on a clinic for the Milwaukee Brewers beating them 8-5 in front of that sparse crowd at Wrigley Field.

School was in for newcomer Junior Lake as he belted out his first career grand slam. It’s a shame that he wasn’t around since the start of the year, he most definitely would have wound up with Rookie of The Year considerations.

The most impressive thing about Junior Lake’s game is his unselfishness. With two men on base in the third, Lake decided to bunt. He could have tried for another Home Run, but instead he proved to millions of Cubs fans why he’ll be around this ball club for many years to come, and perhaps, be there when they win it all.

“I know I can hit another home run,” Lake said, “but it’s not about me, it’s about the team. I think it helps the team if I bunt for a base hit or make a sac bunt.”

It’s September baseball in the windy city. No Magic Numbers, no packed stadiums and a little chill in the air reminding everyone to book their Cubs Convention tickets for the winter.

“If you’re not finishing first or going to the playoffs, it’s not a good season, no matter how you look at it. We’re trying to do some things and win that game that day.” said Dale Sveum.

Who knows? Maybe when baseball expands the next time around, they’ll add a few more playoff spots for the Fall Classic.

The Cubs are playing for respect today at 4:05 eastern time when Jake Arrieta tries to pull ahead of the Brewers in the battle in the basement game.

—Mark

The Frustration Continues

cubs vs marlins

You can toss all the clichés aside. You know the ones I’m talking about, “Taking it one game at a time.”, “It’s a rebuilding season” hell, all you have to do is watch the fantastic Bull Durham in order to get the idea. Last night, we saw the Cubs go from being behind 3-2 to having bases loaded Runners In Scoring Position to eventually losing to the Miami Marlins, 6-2

What?

That’s right. The Miami Marlins. That same much hyped team that exploded and moved up to Toronto to become another much hyped team to eventually becoming, well, the Toronto Blue Jays.

I can hear all the stand up comedians in clubs across the USA, “The Cubs are so bad, they’re losing to the Marlins.”

Of course I’m kidding.

Edwin Jackson had a rough game and he hasn’t won since the end of July. Will he be around here next season? Well, of course he will be around. He’s got a $52 million dollar contract. I can guarantee that he’ll be down in the rotation.

“It’s definitely been a disappointing season,” said Jackson “ But every lesson is a lesson learned. You either accept it and be complacent with it, or find a way to keep working hard and get ready to bounce back.

Did you catch the clichés?

Brian Bogusevic continued to impress with a monster of a home run in the fifth inning to put the Cubs up 3-1

The problem last night was again not capitalizing with runners in scoring position which we talked about earlier and has been the Cubs greatest concern all season.

“As a starter, you really can’t worry about runs,” Jackson said. “If you’re not scoring a lot, then the pitching and defense has to be there. If you’re a starter and out there worrying about run support, you won’t get too far in the game. It’s one of those things you can’t control.”

There the truth comes out from the man. The Cubs are not scoring a lot of runs.

Hopefully that changes today when the Shark, Jeff Samardzija takes to the mound. Game time is 2:20

—Mark

The Cubs Get Caught by Marlins

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The Cubs are a funny team. Far from playoff contention and yet, us fans still keep clinging to the faint hope that there might be some little glimmer that we can see in the final month of the regular season. Yesterday, the Cubs lost to the Miami Marlins 4-3. What made it worse was Bobby Hull’s erratic seventh inning stretch.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Doing it for pride” The Cubs and their loyal fans must be feeling very proud indeed.

“After the first four hitters of the game, we didn’t put together anything,” Dale Sveum said. Things certainly did start well for the Cubs but things weren’t looking up for the rest of the game.

September is a month where some players are playing for jobs into next season while others are padding their statistics. For the Cubs, this will be a great chance to show some mettle. Yeah, Travis Woood, didn’t earn a quality start, but he’s played a great season and I hope he’ll be back next year.

In fact, that’s a good point. Very few players on this club are notched in for the long haul. During my vacation, David DeJesus became a Tampa Bay Ray.

“There are a lot of guys playing for their careers, including myself,” Dioner Navarro said. “I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. We’re a young team and trying to rebuild, if that’s what we want to call it.”

Dioner raises an interesting point. Are the Cubs rebuilding? Are they really? I’m not being pessimistic but can a team keep using that same excuse for the last few seasons? A team like the Cubs have a wealth of resources or should. The Yankees have remained consistently strong throughout the years, so why can’t the Cubs?

I don’t have that answer. I think the Cubs are almost there and they’ve played some really good ball this year and of course, some not so great ball.

A funny incident happened to me in Boston when we visited that beautiful city of theirs, I was walking by a café with my son Darcy and he was wearing his Cubs cap and I was wearing mine, two symbols of hardship and adversity and a little pride. A father and teenaged son were sitting at the window drinking their Mocha’s and the father pointed to me and I pointed to him, that “Acceptance Point” the gesture that says, “Someday, the Cubs are going to win and that day will be awesome!”

—Mark