Jake Arrieta

Arrieta’s No-Hitter Is A Thing Of Beauty

Jake Arrieta

There are nights when I go to sleep that I think I’ll wake up in the morning and Carlos Zambrano is still the pitcher and Carlos Marmol is the closer. Of course this is just a dream, probably a nightmare. Then when I wake up and realize that Jake Arrieta‘s dream season of 2015 is a reality and last night’s historical game happened the way it happened.

In the Cubs demolishing of the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 16-0, Arrieta threw a no-hitter. I was skeptical of Arrieta’s status as an ace. I swear last year was a fluke and that he couldn’t pull another no-hitter this year.

I was wrong.

Here’s some of the accolades that the game evoked:

  • It was the second largest margin of score since 1884 when the Buffalo Bisons beat the Detroit Wolverines 18-0 that a no hitter was thrown.
  • The Cubs 15th no hitter (Jake threw the 14th)
  • Arrieta is 3rd Cubs to have multiple no hitters
  • It was the 24th consecutive quality start by Arrieta.
  • Arrieta also went 2 for 4

Arrieta has certainly continued his amazing streak into this season. His record now is 4-0. It’s always hard to follow an award winning season with another that is equally as sharp but the stoic pitcher went out last night in front of a sparse Cincinnati crowd of 15, 000 and did his job the only way he knew how.

“It feels different the second time,” Arrieta said. “I was a little more relaxed as the game progressed. Based on the way I threw the ball before the game started, I anticipated having to grind through some at-bats and some innings a little more than I did. I was able to get the ball in on left-handed hitters for some called strikes and then go below the strike zone when I needed to for some big swings and misses. You put it all together and have conviction with what you’re throwing out there and good things can happen.”

Of course, he had help from the rest of the Cubs team like Mr. David “Grampa” Ross and 2015 rookie of the year, Kris Bryant who hit a grand slam.

Ross who is on his farewell tour, never caught a no-hitter but last night, he wanted to help out his ace by going 2 for 4 including his first home run of the season. Not bad for an old man. However, the night belonged to Arrieta.

“As a catcher and a guy who prides himself on calling a game and all that stuff, it’s one of those things I really, really wanted to do, or be a part of,” Ross said. “I feel like I didn’t do a whole lot. That animal was in control the whole time and knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he locked it in when he needed to.”

There was a time during the game that Joe Maddon considered yanking Arrieta to give him a rest but when a pitcher is dialled in, even if it’s this early in the season, you just want to let the man play.

“You never want to interfere with somebody’s greatness,” Maddon said. “That’s really special for him and the organization to have another no-hitter thrown. As a manager, you try to stay out of those moments.”

Congratulations Jake, you deserved it.

Believe it.

 

 

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Cubs Fall To Cardinals But Win Series

Anthony Rizzo

 

I knew a Cubs sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals would be too good to be true. After a rain soaked three hour delay, the Cubs fell to the Cardinals 5-3.

But–

You knew there was going to be one of these didn’t you?  Anthony Rizzo crushed his fourth home run of the season. So, the Cubs took two of the three, but sent a message to Cardinal land that the rivalry between the two division opponents has been renewed with a visor.

“Winning the series is always your goal,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You get greedy after winning the first two — you always want to try to sweep the series at that point. My takeaway is, after winning the first two games, being behind, three hours, 21 minutes hanging out in the clubhouse [during the delay] and going out with that kind of attitude, that speaks volumes for our group. That says a lot. Everybody was ready to play, everybody wanted to play, nobody shut the switch off. Beyond winning two out of three, that was the part that was most impressive.”

It almost seemed like this series was a continuation of October. These kind of series are so good for the game of baseball and they showcase the competitive spirit that the game has to offer.

“They’ve been a great team for a long time,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said. “The steadiness of the Cardinals organization is remarkable. We’re trying to get to that point. At least now, when we come in here, we feel there are two really good teams playing. We have to execute our pitches and make plays and get hits, but there’s not the sense that we don’t have the ability. We certainly have that ability.”

Much has been said regarding the Cubs progress and transition from “Lovable Losers” to contenders for the championship that has alluded them for over a century  but somehow that cloud will always hang over them. In many ways, the Cubs reminded me of that recent movie The Witch with the goat that was tied up always looming in the barn watching the family’s every move. Is something bad going to happen?

Naw.

The Cubs are 11-4 with last night’s loss but still sit atop the National League Central division.

Tonight, the Cubs head to Cincinnati to take on the Reds and have a chance to pad their lead.  Jake Arrieta gets the ball.

“I love having this kind of emotion on a daily basis,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the rivalry between the two teams. “It’s good for you as a person, as a player. I know the fans are into it. I love the competitive nature in the game. It’s healthy.”

Believe it.

 

 

Cubs Destroy Myth of Designated Hitter

Jason Hammel

You have to hand it to the Chicago Cubs, it looks more and more like they have the St. Louis Cardinal’s number lately. Last night, the Cubs were in a nail biter but came out intact with a 2-1 victory over their division rivals.

It was Jason Hammel‘s RBI double that sealed the deal in the fourth inning. What is it about Cub’s patchers hitting a lot this season? Was that the reason that Joe Maddon kind of switched back to pitcher’s batting last? Was that his secret weapon? Forget Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant, I’m picking these guys as my hitters in my pool.

“We hit every day, but I’m not trying anything different,” Hammel said. “I’m trying to get the barrel out. I had a pitch down and in that I could handle. As long as I can put good wood on it, maybe I can squeak it through a hole.”

Although Jason Heyward hasn’t been the offensive weapon that the Cubs hope to have, his output in the field has been nothing short of awesome. Last night was no exception when Heyward threw a  heat seeker from way far out to get the Matt Holiday at home plate.

“I just want to work at it,” Heyward said. “I just try to know where everybody’s going to be on the field. I knew who was hitting, somebody who hits to right field often, know who’s running. You always want to think about those things before the play happens and it develops. Expect the worst thing to happen, expect to have to make a diving play, expect the ball to be hit to you. You want to be in every spot.”

Perhaps then, that it’s Heyward’s defence the Cubs wanted in the first place.

The Cubs are really on a roll now with the pitchers contributing behind the plate as well as the front. I’m not quite sure it was Maddon’s expectations of that happening during spring training but Cubs’ fans rejoice because it’s turning into some exciting baseball.

“You can’t expect that to continue,” Maddon said. “Technically, we have some guys with good swings. If a pitcher makes a mistake, they have the ability to do what you saw tonight. If you watch them all, and break them all down, they go up to the plate and do things right.”

No, we can’t expect that to continue but we also know that once a player finds their groove, then we can expect the consistency to continue throughout the season. I’ve always thought that pitchers should be able to hit maybe not quite as well as batters but be able to pose an offensive threat when the situation arises. There’s been a long standing debate on the roles of the DH’s but baseball is about every player putting their stamp on things in the game and not have one guy riding the pine waiting to wallop the ball into oblivion. It’s a two way game.

The Cubs prove that this season.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Working on Their Field of Dreams With Help from Kevin Costner

John Lackey

 

Is it too early for John Lackey  to be considered for a Cy Young award? C’mon he’s a shoo in to win the coveted trophy. It’s one thing for the Chicago Cubs to beat rivals St. Louis Cardinals 5-0 in game one of their first series in 2016, but it’s another thing for Lackey, a former Cardinal, to get 11 strikeouts and be the only active player to have beaten every MLB team.

“It was a little weird at the beginning, warming up in the other bullpen, that sort of thing,” Lackey said. “I had a great time when I played here. No hard feelings on that situation. They went a different direction and I ended up in a great place.”

Keeping in mind that Lackey is  37 year old and he just collected 11 strikeouts. That’s a monumental achievement.

It was an important and emotional victory for the North Siders. Even though the Cardinals finished first last season, it was the Cubs that stole their thunder in the playoffs after defeating the Redbirds in four games.

This season, they poached two players in Lackey and Jason Heyward. It must have been a little awkward for both players staring across at the dugout.

“When I think about baseball, the way I learned playing it growing up is old-fashioned — you want to get dirty, play the game the right way, you want to do little things,” he said. “Big things are fun, home runs are fun, web gems are fun, but a team game is really emphasized in this division.”

Every time Heyward touched the ball or got near it, fans booed. Why not? it’s one of the most heated rivalries in sports.

But the night belonged to John Lackey. This is Field of Dreams stuff, Bull Durham and heck, even For Love of The Game.

Speaking about Kevin Costner, he wants to do one more baseball film. Guess who he wants to do the film about?

“I’ve got one more in me,” Costner told Larry King. “It has to do with the Cubs. I don’t know, I’ve gotta get it written.”

Yeah, I’ll be lining up to see that. The thought of Costner doing a film about our beloved Chicago Cubs sends chills down my spine.

The Chicago Cubs are currently the best in baseball, they have a 37 year old ace in their rotation and Kevin freakin’ Costner wants to do a movie about the Chicago Cubs. Could life not get any better?

“We’ve got a pretty good team here, and expectations are high, and we’re embracing those and we’re shooting high,” Lackey said. “It’s still early. Let’s play some baseball and see what happens.”

Believe it

 

Despite Loss to Rockies, Cubs Look Forward to Cardinals

Jon Lester

There are some games where no matter the things you do right, it seems like it’s just not enough to get the job done. Under normal circumstances, Jon Lester‘s 10 strikeout effort and recording a double after hitting a rocket of a ball, would have seemed enough to put the Colorado Rockies away but instead, Lester and the Cubs stumbled  in their 2-0 loss yesterday.

“We pitched extremely well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Except for one game, we’ve caught the ball extremely well. We’re working some good at-bats. Some guys have not hit their stride on the offensive side, but they will.”

The fact that Lester notched a double is an achievement. A pitcher not known for hitting or throwing to first base, had an all star calibre game.

It was the offence that couldn’t get things going. They’re going to have these games for sure. The other caveat to remember is these “softer” teams like the Rockies should be a practice instead of taking them lightly. On the other hand, when they run into a hot pitcher like Tyler Chatwood, it’s very difficult to get the job done.

“We’re capable of putting up multiple runs in the blink of an eye,” Jason Heyward said. “You just got to hang in there until the end of the game until the last out is made. We want to be in a spot to help the team to win, and we were right there in one.”

Tonight is the night though that Cubs fans have been waiting for.  It’s the first of the season in good ol’ fashioned rivalries between the Cubs and the Cardinals. John Lackey gets the ball against his old squad and Jason Heyward’s first meeting against the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s going to be an interesting matchup considering Hayward’s departure was met with a lot of scorn including the burning of his jersey?

“They paid for it, so they can do whatever they want with it,” Heyward joked.

Bad blood runs through this rivalry is an historic one and with two former Redbirds now with the Cubs it’s going to get a lot more challenging and interesting. For years, the Cubs were the underdogs but with the onset of tonight’s rivalry made anew, the tides have shifted and the Cubs now have the upper hand.

“Just another series,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said. “That’s how we treat every series, playing a nameless, faceless opponent. That’s how we always try to approach things and not really worry about who we’re playing.”

Believe it.

 

 

 

Cubs Conquer Rockies

Jake Arrieta

Well Jake Arrieta is awesome. So far this season, Jake has picked up where he left off after his award winning 2015 breakout year. Yesterday, Arrieta pitched eight goose egged innings and extends his Wrigley Field dominance going back to last July.

I’m a big fan of complete games. The ability to go through nine innings of solid baseball is a true testament to the power and sometimes legendary status given to starting pitchers. Jake wanted to continue yesterday but I understand Maddon’s decision to yank him in the eighth.

“Of course he could have gone out there and possibly or probably thrown a shutout today,” Joe Maddon said. “But big picture, you as a manager have to look out for the team and him and his career and his family, too.”

The Cubs have to be very cautious this season on how they handle their pitching staff. If they want to make it through October, I’m predicting we’re not going to be seeing too many complete games in 2016.

“This game will humble you, and it can do it in a heartbeat,” Arrieta said. “I think remaining humble and working hard regardless of your success or failure is the way to approach it. … That’s why I try to work the way I do between starts, to prepare so when I take the mound, that’s the fun part.”

The Cubs defeated the Rockies 6-2 and really showed their dominance. We know that Anthony Rizzo can hit the bombers really well and yesterday was no exception. Rizzo launched his third home run of the early season, but it’s his leadership that catapults the rest of the team into action. Joining Rizzo in the home run category was Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler.

Fowler launched a three run homer while Soler propelled a rocket of 442ft. There’s not too many times when a team will lose after they’ve hit three homers in a game. So far this season, the Cubs are second with 71 runs just behind the St Louis Cardinals who have 81.

Another guy who impressed me a lot yesterday was Javier Baez. It seemed like he was hungry enough to make the team. Although he won’t get much playing time behind Ben Zobrist, he made the most of it with a two hit game. part of me thinks that he’ll be gone during the offseason, but while he’s here, he’ll be contributing to the amazing depth of the Cubs.

“He’s got a high-maintenance swing and he’s young, so he needs to continue to get at-bats,” Maddon said. “That’s the difficult part about all of this … to nurture him along right now along with a team that has a chance to do something really special this year.”

By being a Chicago Cub, Javier Baez is all ready part of special things indeed.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Get Rocked On Jackie Robinson Day

Jackie Robinson

If this were the Chicago Cubs team of a few years ago, then nobody would have been surprised if the Cubs lost yesterday’s game against the Colorado Rockies 6-1. They would have said stuff like,”Hey, we’ll get them tomorrow.” or they’d be dissecting everything that went right in the loss, I know, because I was guilty of saying those same things. We were used to losing.

Not anymore.

It seems like five game winning streaks is the Cubs way when it comes to winning but yesterday’s loss was odd.

“We’ve got to come back tomorrow strong,” said Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. “If we bounce back tomorrow strong, I think we’ll be in a good position and have a lot more confidence.”

Huh? The Cubs aren’t lacking in confidence. A well oiled machine doesn’t lack confidence. Kyle Hendricks doesn’t outdo Zack Greinke only to lose to Chad Bettis.

No, the team got lazy. They took themselves for granted after their incredible start to the season and allowed the Colorado Rockies to get through them.

“It was a weird game all around,” Hendricks said. “The few errors, I even had a couple where it felt like my glove had a hole in it or something. Just a weird day.”

“Their pitcher was good, he did not permit us to really get into our game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Conversely, I thought we pitched really well today. … And I thought Kyle threw the ball extremely well today.

“Look at the score overall and you’d think some guys had bad days on the mound. We just had an unusual breakdown on defense.”

It was also Jackie Robinson Day A day to honour the player that broke barriers. Players wore #42 on their jerseys and some like Jason Heyward had it on their shoes.

“It’s awesome,” Heyward said. “Somebody made an impact on and off the field, and that goes a long way. … How do you handle failure? That’s a big part of our game. But how do you handle failure and hatred and all types of things? It’s just awesome, all the way around.”

The day is even more poignant when you take in accounts of recent events in the past couple of years, the day is not just about baseball. I wish I could go back in time and meet the man but I can’t.

We bought a book about Jackie Robinson called, “I am Jackie Robinson” by Brad Meltzer for our son. It’s a great book to teach kids about bullying.  He’s only five years old but he’s a big supporter of Anti- Bullying programs and Pink Shirt Days so we bought him this book. After reading the book to him, he asked the most simple question,”Why ?” I couldn’t answer that question but to him, bullying is wrong on all accounts.

Baseball is a game of inclusion and when everyone plays, it makes it that much better.

Believe it.