Cubs Force Game Six in Thrilling Win

Wrigley Field

There’s no denying that Joe Maddon is baseball’s most creative manager out there, but last night at Wrigley Field, with the Chicago Cubs down 3-1 in the series, he pulled the most creative stunt to date; Aroldis Chapman‘s entry into the seventh inning. The creativity worked. Eight outs later, and the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 3-2 and force a game 6 in Cleveland.

“That was our best opportunity,” Maddon explained. “I thought right now, based on the bullpen usage recently, he’s actually kind of fresh. He hasn’t been overused in the last part of this season nor throughout the playoffs. So, again, with him, like a lot of relief pitchers, late-inning relief pitchers, you want to talk in advance of the moment. We did. So he was definitely aware of what may happen tonight.”

I’ve always thought of Chapman as a three out pitcher as we’ve witnessed earlier in the postseason. He has a tendency to get into trouble if he’s stretched out for at least six outs.

“I always appreciate it if they let me know that I’m going to pitch more than the ninth inning,” Chapman said. “I physically prepared myself to come in as early as possible.”

The Cubs are facing elimination. It sucks, but there’s no use in sugar coating it. The big bats have to come out and in the fourth inning they did. Kris Bryant led off with a home run and the faithful at Wrigley roared. Anthony Rizzo didn’t want to be out done by his Cub  brother and connected with a double one At Bat later. Addison Russell launched a single and then, in his final Wrigley Field appearance, David Ross sacrificed a fly ball in order to get the  three runs in. Jon Lester was brilliant through six innings.

“It’s a grind,” said Lester, who threw 90 pitches allowing two runs and four hits while walking none and striking out five. “I mean, that’s what postseason … that’s what makes it fun at the same time.”

That’s what they pay him the big bucks for.

“There’s not a crazy sense of urgency, but certainly we want to get some runs there so that they’re not going to go to [Andrew] Miller and Allen with the lead,” Bryant said. “For me, I wasn’t going out there trying to hit a homer or anything like that. It was, ‘Have a good at-bat,’ and it’s nice that it went over the fence. Obviously, I haven’t been swinging the bat too great, but it was nice to kind of get one to kind of help us all out.”

So there you have it. The Cubs are sort of back in the series, although I’m hesitant to say that facing elimination. They go back to Cleveland tomorrow with Jake Arrieta on the mound and the DH rule in effect. I think normally this wouldn’t fare in the Cubs favour but with the way Kyle Schwarber‘s been swinging, it could be the series changer. The Cubs were down in their series against Los Angeles and look how that turned out?  The Cubs are in good shape. They’re two wins away and I’m confident that if they win Tuesday, they’ve got the series.

“From an entertainment perspective, if you’re a baseball fan or looking to become a baseball fan, it was wonderful tonight, outstanding. But I like to believe we’re going to catch or gain some momentum from this game going back over there.”

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Cubs Prepare For Greatest Comeback In World Series History

World Series

The Chicago Cubs are in deep. last night, the Cubs fell to the Cleveland Indians 7-2 and have a 3-1 deficit in the World Series. It seemed that for everything the Cubs did, the Indians answered back . That’s October baseball. The real question is, Can the Cubs come back?

“We know we have to win out,” Chicago’s Kris Bryant said. “If we want to get to the last game, we have to win the first one, then the next one. It’s one game at a time, don’t change anything, have fun, smile, just be ourselves.”

He’s partially right. If you’re going to play that cliche, then yeah, it is one game at a time. The good news is that next up is Jon Lester tonight, then Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks. Now is not the time for the Cubs to panic. Within a 24hr period, they’ll have to reconnect with the team that won 103 games and reach down deep and play ball. They can come back in this series. They’ve had 16 three game winning streaks this year. Of course, none of them were against this Cleveland Indians team. Only five teams in World Series history have come back from a 3-1 hole.

1985 Kansas City Royals

1979 Pittsburgh Pirates

1968 Detroit Tigers

1958 New York Yankees

1925 Pittsburgh Pirates

So you see, it’s not impossible. If there is any team in baseball capable of staging the greatest comeback in post season history, it’s these 2016 Chicago Cubs.

Why?

They’ve gotten to know this Cleveland team. Joe Maddon is going to keep things loose in the locker room by not allowing players to report until 90 minutes before the game. Hey, they know what’s at stake and I feel that if they try to do too much at this point, it might throw the equilibrium way off balance.

“They’re all trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on,” Miguel Montero said of the Cubs’ young hitters. “It’s not going to happen. We need to take our walks. We need to be a little bit more patient at the plate. We need to play small ball. … We’re all trying to launch the ball 110 miles per hour off the bat, launch angle, whatever. No, we need to get a freaking ground ball through a hole. As simple as that.”

There you have it. Small ball. Forget Bryant’s home run capabilities, get Dexter Fowler on base, move the runners and perhaps lay down a bunt.  They key is exactly what Montero said. Guys like Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Willson Contreras have to keep the ball on the ground because if the Cubs win tonight, it goes back to Cleveland where the DH rule applies and you know what that means?

Kyle Schwarber is back in the game.

“We have to have a one-game winning streak tomorrow,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And if we do that, I really would be feeling pretty good about going back to Cleveland.”

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Cubs Down 2-1 in World Series. They Will Win Tonight.

Chicago Cubs

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Billy Williams threw out the first pitch and Bill Murray sang the seventh inning stretch. The first World Series game played on Wrigley Field soil was in fitting style, a loss.

The Cleveland Indians blanked the Chicago Cubs 1-0 in game three to take a 2-1 series lead. Nobody could blame Kyle Hendricks for getting into a tough situation early on. By keeping the Cubs into the game by not allowing a run and still not finishing the fifth inning, says a lot about how the game went.

“I wasn’t sharp, but they had a good game plan against me,” Hendricks said. “They were laying off some good pitches, putting together good [at-bats]. I didn’t have the feel today for myself, so I just had to battle through it.”

Of course he didn’t have the “feel” because in reality, last night’s game was centre stage for Chicago and sports. If there was anyone who needed to take the mound, it was Hendricks.  His cool demeanour and always thinking stance kept the excited crowd calm. However, the Cleveland pitching dictated the events. Josh Tomlin kept the ball away from the explosive bats of the Cubs. If there are curses to be had, then blame the fact that the wind was blowing out and the game ended in a one run victory.

“It’s rare that you see those conditions, and it’s a 1-0 baseball game,” Joe Maddon said. “But that’s how it works out sometimes. … From our perspective, we got out of the zone way too much. We’ve got to get our strike zone organized again for tomorrow night’s game.”

It’s easy to think that every game is a must win game, but tonight is exactly that. John Lackey gets the call and he’ll have to be razor sharp, competitive and bring his temper because Corey Kluber is his opponent. The Cubs will have to run the pitch count, get some foul tips and really work the count against Kluber. The long ball need not apply tonight regardless if the wind blows out or not. The Cubs have been shutout four times this post season and still end up in the World Series. So they’ve faced great pitching and their bats haven’t erupted lately, big deal! Tonight, it’s grind it out, sandlot baseball. Get mean, get dirty and if Anthony Rizzo has to draw a walk by getting hit, so be it?

“This is why you play the game,” Lackey said. “This is why I’m still playing at this stage of my career, at this age. I’m trying to win championships and trying to be a part of something special.”

Yeah, tonight’s going to be the game that decides which way the Cubs are going. I predict that if the Cubs win tonight, they’ll win it all. I know it’s a bold prediction but when you think about it, their #4 guy going up against Cleveland’s #1 if he wins and guys like Kyle Schwarber and Rizzo come through, well history will be rewritten.

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Wrigley Field, Where Dreams Come True

Chicago Cubs

Kyle Schwarber gets ready to take to the field.

There hasn’t been a game played at Wrigley Field this late in the season in 71 years. The city of Chicago is embracing a celebration tonight. A chance to welcome their hometown Cubs back to October baseball. This is a story that’s bigger than sports. It transcends any high salary that the players will be making, this goes deeper than any supposed curse. The Chicago Cubs playing tonight at Wrigley Field is about hope.

Why should people care if the Cubs win the World Series?

“Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon.

“They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

Terrence Mann–Field of Dreams

You can substitute Chicago for Iowa but that’s it. The reason people care about this team, this field and this opportunity to become World Champions is simply because, as Terrence Mann says, It reminds us all of what was once good and it could be again.

People can trace back the roots of other professional sports leagues but baseball, man? They’ll be debating that for centuries. The game of baseball is a common thread throughout North America and the world. A game marked by no time limit. Imagine that? We are not reminded by our own mortality, we are enthralled by legends past like Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. These heroes doing extraordinary things and this year’s version is Kyle Schwarber. He went out two games into the season with a torn ACL but is back in the World Series without missing a beat.

Tonight, we all have reserved seats at Wrigley Field. Most of us will be in the cheap, cheap seats but our hearts are there at the corner of Clark and Addison. We will be brought back in time as we watch Kyle Hendricks dissect the Cleveland order, cheer when Kyle Schwarber steps up to the plate, nod our heads when Dexter Fowler reaches base and pass Bill Murray a tissue when he needs one the most. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Steve Bartman, give him a hug, say you’re sorry but please let him sit somewhere else.

Ernie Banks and Ron Santo are smiling. Harry Carey is calling the game and sharing a Bud with St. Peter. This one’s for them and all those Cubs who built the brick work piece by piece. The heartache, the joy and now the reward. There’ll be no speech from Joe Maddon, the player’s know what’s at stake. It took 71 years to get here again and before I suggest the next comet be named “Cubbie’s Comet” enjoy this moment with family and friends.

“You’re blessed and you’re healed the first time you walk into Wrigley Field.”

Eddie Vedder- All The Way

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Cubs Win, Now It’s Sweet Home Chicago!

Anthony Rizzo

Last night’s win was a must win situation for the Chicago Cubs and they delivered. The Cubs sent payback to Cleveland with a 5-1 victory and now head home to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Friday. The series is tied and the next three are in Chicago. How sweet is that? On a night which saw Kris Bryant receive the Hank Aaron award, the Cubs delivered.

Jake Arrieta restored the order by pitching the longest no hit in a World Series since 1969 with 5 2/3rd innings of zero hits. Arrieta’s been seeking a new contract worth 150 million stretched through seven years. He’s going to make it tough on the Cubs but first things first, that’s a World Series ring.

“I knew I hadn’t given up a hit all the way to the sixth,” Arrieta said. “That’s really not the focus in a game like this. You really want to try to continue to pile up outs as often as you possibly can. Whether they get a hit or not really doesn’t affect the way you continue to approach that lineup, especially with a five-run lead.

“I wanted to stay aggressive and continue to allow these guys to put the ball in play on quality pitches in the bottom of the strike zone, and that was the mindset throughout, regardless of whether I gave up a hit or not.”

The first inning was beginning to look like game one’s struggles when Cleveland loaded the bases which led to the announcers suggesting that the addition of Willson Contreras over Miguel Montero, who’s backstopped Arrieta through the majority of the season, wasn’t the wisest decision by Joe Maddon. It got Arrieta out of his comfort zone but Contreras’ arm is stronger than Montero’s so he’d be more able to throw runners out at second.

Kyle Schwarber has pretty much shaken off any signs of rust,  but there’s one question that needs to be answered going back to Chicago for the next three games where National League rules will apply.

Where to put him?

He’s been in the designated hitter role but will Maddon stick him in the outfield or pinch hit? Does he give up Jason Heyward‘s defence for Schwarber’s offence? Tough decision which will be answered soon.

So the Cubs head back to Wrigley Field for Friday’s game three. Folks, there hasn’t been a World Series game on Wrigley Field soil in 71 years. The place will be packed and full of energy, we’ll see Bill Murray crying and one of baseball’s hallowed grounds just soaking it all in.

Game time is 7:30 eastern with Kyle Hendricks on the mound.

“It’s going to be incredibly special,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s the finest venue there is in professional sports, and maybe in all of sports.”

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Cubs Down 1-0 In Series. That’s All Right

World Series

There’s a reason that these two clubs are playing in the most important series in baseball. Both teams are lights out dominant on both sides of the plate. In last night’s 6-0 shocker at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago Cubs didn’t look sharp but then again, Corey Kluber is the best ace the Indians have on their roster and he made the Cubs pay a hefty price for those World Series tickets.

“We knew [the Indians’ formula] going in,” Cubs catcher David Ross said about facing Kluber, Miller and Allen, “but I think the moral of the story is we got to see those guys on Day 1. Hopefully, that will pay off later.”

Blubber had eight strikeouts over three innings. When that nasty stuff is thrown over the plate, it will befuddle batters if they haven’t faced it before. Jon Lester looked awkward trying to figure out Cleveland’s batters after a frustrating bottom of the first inning where he walked two batters and loaded the bases that resulted in a 2-0 lead.

“I didn’t throw strikes,” Lester said. “There’s no beating around the bush. It’s not like I all of a sudden forgot how to throw a strike, I just didn’t throw a strike. I didn’t get ahead, didn’t execute pitches. It can’t happen. It’s not acceptable.”

Now, it may seam that I’m harping hard on the Cubs after that game but there were signs that it wasn’t all bad. Ben Zobrist hit into the gap for a double and the return of Kyle Schwarber was welcomed as he was a mere two feet from sending the ball over the wall but instead settled for a double.

“We put really good at-bats up against these guys,” Schwarber said. “We just didn’t come up with the knock when we needed to, but that’s baseball. I can hound myself for not getting a knock against Miller with two guys on, but it’s baseball. You just have to move on to the next day.”

This is game one. There’s no locker room rant or talk that’s going to get them amped up for game two. These guys are here for a reason and if that’s the best that Cleveland’s got, then the Cubs should adapt well in game two. Getting Kluber out of the way was a blessing. The way I look at it, the Cubs started slowly in the NLCS as well. I wouldn’t call this a hole but rather an opportunity for the Cubs to “feel out” the opposition. This is the magic of the World Series. These teams don’t know each other very well and in a way, sends a message regarding Inter-league play and perhaps limiting it.

Tonight, Jake Arrieta gets the call and he has to be focused and sharp. The reigning Cy Young winner will find his control and settle the Cubs down.

“I think what you really learn with the more experience you get in the postseason is the finer details,” Arrieta said. “Controlling the running game, not allowing mental mistakes to — not allowing your opponent to capitalize on your mental mistakes. Because, obviously at this point in the season, the team that makes the fewest mistakes typically wins the ballgames.”

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Cubs Get Ready For Game One of World Series

Chicago Cubs

Today is the start of a journey that’s been 108 years in the making. The Chicago Cubs are four wins away from ending sport history’s longest drought. Suddenly, everyone is a Cubs fan. There’s also word that injured Babe Ruth lookalike Kyle Schwarber will make his return to the Cubs after missing out the 2016 season due to an injury in April.

“To have another young guy here who has a track record of hitting home runs, who is a threat, who, when you see his name in the lineup, there’s some scariness to that — we can’t wait to have him back,” Chicago’s Addison Russell said. “I’m a big Kyle Schwarber fan. I love what he does; I can’t wait until he gets here.”

He’ll more than likely fill the Designated Hitter role.

Yes, things have gotten a lot more exciting in recent days. The World Series schedule will be jammed and I’ll be lucky enough to get some sleep in the next couple of weeks. With the Cubs in the World Series, it’s easy to overlook some of the odd statistics about the Cubs for example when Dexter Fowler steps up to the plate he’ll become the first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs in a World Series. That’s unbelievable.

“That’s crazy,” Fowler said Monday. “It’s crazy to even think about that, because you look back and you look at your parents, my parents weren’t even alive then. It’s a lifetime. It’s awesome to be the pioneer, the first one.”

Even Schwarber is the Cubs post season home run leader with five. He only played one season!

So, as nerves get steadied, Jon Lester gets the ball tonight 8pm. This is what fans and players have waited their lifetime to be a part of. For the casual baseball fan or observer who is tuning in for the first time wanting to witness history in the making, “Where were you when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series?” This is it. The hardest trophy to win in sports (Yes, even harder than the Stanley Cup my fellow Canucks), two deserving teams locked in a pitcher’s showdown or a batter’s paradise. No World Series has ever been won on Wrigley Field soil, that fabled and mythical place where everything and everyone is friendly.

If you don’t know what’s going through fan’s minds right now, here’s Bill Murray

“I think I cried a little bit.

“There was a feeling … where I just felt the whole building, the whole room, just the relief and the sense of wonder that it was really happening.

“And I just felt for everyone, for every Cub fan and everyone in Chicago that’s been waiting, and all over the world, who have been waiting for this moment.

“I just thought some sort of prayer was being answered.

“It’s exciting. If you don’t know what it’s like to wait your whole life for the team you root for to win, you can’t explain it.

“To root for a team that never won, it’s character building.”

That’s Chicago Cubs baseball.

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