Cubs Get Embarrassed By Braves

Chicago Cubs

There’s no other team in baseball that’ll be glad for the All Star Break then the Chicago Cubs. They’ll be thankful for the much needed rest. Last night in a makeup game against the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs lost 4-3 in extra innings.

Some might say, “They played a hard fought game” or “It was close” but of course, they’d be fooling themselves into thinking the Cubs were in the game. They didn’t stand a chance against the Braves. The Cubs were down 2-0 until the 8th inning when both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo got hit and took their respective bags. After Ben Zobrist connected with an RBI double and Willson Contreras lined a triple, the Cubs were back in business taking a 3-2 lead.

This is the Cubs remember?

Atlanta bounces back to tie it and send it into extra innings. Folks, there’s no way the Cubs should have lost that game. They’ve now lost three in a row and dropped 7 of their last 8. There’s certain teams you can’t lose to. The Reds, Braves and let’s throw in the A’s (Ok, let’s not say the A’s because I like them but you get what I mean.) There’s something terribly wrong with the Cubs right now. They’re not a bad team but the cracks in the cement at Wrigley Field are getting bigger and bigger, so much so that my mother’s back is getting sore.

It’s frustrating because Jason Hammel pitched extremely well but left the game in the 6th inning due to a hand problem. The Cubs are still the Cubs but I’m starting to think that maybe this mighty 2016 team hasn’t paid their dues just yet. They got off to an incredible start and it seemed like every other team has caught on to their dominance and figured them out.

“It was a tough game. We fought back and did the little things. We have to think about tomorrow now. This is in the past, it’s over. We have to think about Pittsburgh.” Willson Contreras said.

Well Willson, you should have blown out the Braves. You should have went in with the attitude of,”Welcome to Wrigley Field this is how we get things done now go back to hot freakin’ Atlanta you don’t belong on the same diamond as our amazing team”

The Cubs aren’t going to be thinking about Pittsburgh. They’re going to be thinking about the long ride and encouraging words from manager Joe Maddon. Hell, they might have a pyjama day on the plane and when they get to Pittsburgh there might be some magic tricks and some Lemurs to pet.

My family and I are making the trek down from our nook in Canada to Pittsburgh for Sunday’s game. We’ll be 20 rows back of third base. The slump will end.

Believe it.

Cubs Get Help From Bill Murray

Bill Murray

Just as the Chicago Cubs lost horribly to the Atlanta Braves on Friday, on Saturday they showed the pure power and strength of the team in their 8-2 victory.

Their big guns were out in full force as Miguel Montero hit a three run crusher, Anthony Rizzo bombed one out for a souvenir and Jason Heyward destroyed the corked leather. Let’s not forget Kris Bryant‘s two runner as he displays his (much in the future) Hall of Fame resume.

Who were they behind?

Jake Arrieta. Yeah that’s right, he collected his 10th win of the season and that wasn’t all. Arrieta also showed off his hitting with two hits.

Oh yeah, he struck out 12 too.

“I wanted to come out today with a conscious effort to be aggressive early because I know teams are taking against me early in the count, hoping to get ahead and make me come into their zone,” Arrieta said.

Sure, personal accolades are always cool but in the end, baseball’s a team sport and no matter how well Arrieta or the other players do this season racking up homers, strikeouts and other stats, the only column that will count in the end is the win.

The great news is that Anthony Rizzo is getting his game back with a home run. When he’s in the lineup and healthy, the team captain is one heck of a game changer.

“Just read the lineup — it’s like when you read a novel, when it’s missing a paragraph or a chapter,” Joe Maddon said. “When you put his name in the lineup, everything looks different. … The other team looks at it differently, so it’s very important to have him in the lineup.”

It’s funny that although Arrieta and Ben Zobrist lead their respective categories in Wins and OBP, the Cubs are at the top of the pack with their 42 victories. It shows right there how well this team has gelled and makes for a potentially long October month.

It’s no secret that Bill Murray is probably the most famous and disputably biggest fan of the Cubs so perhaps his attendance in the dugout yesterday contributed to the victory.

“Obviously, he’s a good luck charm,” Maddon said. “Murray is so into what we’re doing. I think the players grabbed some energy from that. It’s definitely not a bandwagon situation. These guys are legit.”

Believe it.

Cubs Stunned By Braves

Dexter Fowler

There are days when a 41-18 team look mighty invincible, and then there are days when they’re mere mortals. Yesterday was a day that the Chicago Cubs looked “Normal” after a sting defeat to the Atlanta Braves 5-1.

Even though Jason Heyward  is an incredible defender, there’s a reason why he’s not up there with his pal, Dexter Fowler in the All Star voting, and that is because you have to be good on both sides of the plate. Heyward went 0-4 with three strikeouts. Now to be fair, the Atlanta Braves, with whom I have such great disdain for which could go back to my days when I was a kid and reruns of Family Matters were pre-empted to bring you Braves baseball on TBS.

I don’t like the Braves.

Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel was out pitched by Braves starter Bud Norris, who pitched a really good game.

“That’s baseball — baseball’s a crazy game,” Hammel said. “On any given night, any team can win. A lot of people say you’re only as good as the starting pitcher on the mound that night, and he was better.”

Or it could be a case of David stunning Goliath which heaped some high praise from Cub’s Manager, Joe Maddon.

“I mean, the guy just pitches really well whenever I’ve seen him,” Maddon said. “I’ve not seen him pitch poorly, ever, I don’t think. He should actually paste my picture underneath the bill of his hat.”

It’s these kind of losses that worry me this season. Yeah, the Cubs are still 9 games in front of their arch nemesis St. Louis Cardinals and well ahead of the pack in the Major Leagues but to lose to a team that has less than half of the wins is not so much embarrassing like Hammel said it’s a crazy game, but they should dominate those games.

Hey, it’s great to see Chris Coghlan back with the team. He made his debut Friday and is a welcome addition to the club. He’s an amazing player who can fill various roles with the Cubs. I remember he was pretty bummed when the Cubs dealt him in the winter.

“When you have relationships with friends and you haven’t seen them for a while, then you see them and you smile and hug and it feels like you haven’t skipped a beat,” Coghlan said.

He was a huge part of last year’s 97 win campaign and now with injuries to Jorge Soler and Tommy La Stella, the Cubs could use the familiar face.

“It’s amazing how things work out,” Coghlan said. “It was crushing for me and my family. The best thing about the whole thing is I get to come back here. It’s the best team in baseball.”

It’s almost like they’re getting the band back together

Believe it

 

Cubs Lose in Extra To Braves

John Lackey

 

That was a close game. Even though the Cubs lost to the Atlanta Braves in extra innings 4-3, it was exciting. You can’t win them all, right?

“We did a lot of things well,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We had one mistake on defense, and I thought it was a little bit of a tough hop for Addy, but otherwise, they hit some balls well today, and we hit some balls well today without any luck. I appreciate how our guys came back and had a chance to win the game. It was another entertaining game from the fans’ perspective. I like the fight in our group.”

Listen, I’m not a huge Atlanta Braves fan, Never have been and never will. I don’t know what it is about them that turns my stomach, but there’s just this “Blech!”feeling overtime I watch them play. It could be all those years on TBS. I don’t know.

Now that John Lackey is with the good guys, I’ve had more opportunity to take a look at him and man, he’s earned my respect. He’s tough as nails, especially after those few choice words he said to Tyler Flowers in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Ok, so to recap a bit, Lackey threw a high pitch and then there were a some words exchanged that were the equivalent of Potty words that my son would say.

“We had a little discussion,” Lackey said. “It’s still baseball. I’m not a pitching machine. If you want me to throw it over the plate for you, we can go somewhere else. This is the big leagues.”

Lackey’s a big guy. He throws me a pitch, I’m going to say,”Which way would you like me to move, sir.”

The great news was that Kris Bryant was back after a precautionary rest when he sprained his ankle. I got a little worried that he might be out of the Cubs lineup a little longer.

“Felt good,” Kris Bryant said. “I think that was their concern, if I could run down some balls out there. But I felt fine going through all the routes.”

Cubs take to the road and head to Pittsburgh in an apparent theme trip. I’m excited because we head to Steeltown in July to catch the Cubs/Pirates.

Joe Maddon has the players dressed in crazy suits and it’s certainly going to be a crazy series after last season’s Wild Card game and we all know how that ended, didn’t we?

“I think we all enjoy going there because we know we’re going to play a high-quality team,” said Arrieta, who will start Tuesday’s game. “We know that in order to beat these guys, we’ve got to be on top of our game, we’ve got to play good defense because we know their lineup is strong. They’ve got the ability to do a lot of things — they can run, hit for power, they can move guys around. Being able to neutralize that team in Pittsburgh is a challenge.”

Believe it.

Szczur Comes Through In Grand Fashion, Lester Needs To Get A Grip

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs’ Matt Szczur watches his grand slam during the eighth inning a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Good teams win ball games but great teams find ways to win in close games. Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs did just that as Matt Szczur found a way to help his team come through and defeat the Atlanta Braves 6-1.

It was a Grand Slam. It was his first career Grand Slam. It was magnificent.

It was fitting that Szczur connected with the ball during the game. He’s the type of guy the Cubs rely on in these situations. The type of guy who fills in when others are injured, and the type of guy who provides that depth that the Cubs are proud of on the team.

“He’s kind of a manager’s, a coach’s dream player,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He stays ready, he’s very versatile. There’s so many good things about him. The last step for him was for him to realize he belongs in the Major Leagues and he could do this. You could hear it conversationally. He talks differently. He’s more confident. … Once you know it, you can do well here.”

But then maybe it’s the excitement of being in the Cubs organization this season. There’s an electricity that carries itself throughout the clubhouse and connects with the players. Could it make the player more focused and able to go yard in a bases loaded situation?

“I want to be the best guy off the bench,” Szczur said. “I feel it’s the same thing for everybody else on the team. We just want to make an impact.”

If there is an Achilles Heel on the Cubs team this season, then it’s got to be Jon Lester. I’m not talking about his pitching. We know he’s got the stuff of champions, but it’s that inability to throw to first that is wreaking havoc on a Cubs rotation.

In the seventh inning, Lester struggled with a bunt off of Erick Aybar and he never recovered.

“No matter what I say about the bunt in that inning, nobody’s really going to believe what I say,” Lester said. “You know, I never had a handle on it. I fielded it. The ball kind of rattled around in my glove and I reached for it twice and didn’t have a handle on it. I ate it. You can believe me or not on that. But there’s no point in rushing a throw when I don’t have a handle on the throw.”

I believe him, but the question everyone needs to ask is why?

Why does Lester have problems throwing to first and how can he fix it? Without knocking the guy, I don’t understand how a pitcher with one area of concern, can’t seem to get a grip on the problem?

It’s early in the season, but I’d bet a dime to a Loonie that Lester will be a reason the Cubs might not hoist that shining trophy in October.

Believe it.

Kris Bryant Hits Two Home Runs as Cubs Sweep Atlanta Braves

Wrigley Field

When the Cubs signed Dexter Fowler, his job was to get on base, plain and simple but in yesterday afternoon’s 9-3 destruction of the Atlanta Braves, Dexter Fowler began with a lead off home run. That’s the perfect scenerio to kick off any game.

“It’s been like that my whole career, so I’m kind of accustomed to hitting leadoff,” Fowler said. “I just try to get on base and let the big boys do what they need to do.”

Those “Big Boys” were Kris Bryant who hit two, Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero. It’s not too many times that a team can hit five home runs in a game and lose.

The rookie race has heated up with Bryant’s two home runs as well. He’s four behind Joc Pederson of the Dodgers

The Cubs have won four straight and the best team in the National league for August.

There was a scary part in the game when a fan got hit by a foul ball off the bat of Kyle Schwarber.

“What I’m saying is, when you’re at the ballpark and you’re in those particular locations, watch what’s going on. Don’t turn your head away from the action. Every time a ball is pitched you look, then you can go and talk.” Madden said.

The fan was immediately taken to the hospital.

The Cubs are 6 1/2 back of the Cardinals but those pesky birds just won’t quit. The race will go down to the last day for sure.

“What I like is that we didn’t settle for a split, we didn’t settle for three out of four, we came out and played it for four out of four,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “And that’s impressive. You gotta give our players and coaches a lot for credit for that.”

What’s really impressive about the way the Cubs have played this year is they’re not at the top of any category except Strikeouts and that can be said for the amount of rookies on the team. They also lead baseball in walks which is weird because of the plate discipline. That would undermine the logic of a young team. They’re also last in the National League in hits. For a team that just crushed five home runs?

That’s all Joe Maddon.

Believe it

Cubs Give Warm Welcome To Edwin Jackson

Chicago Cubs

I feel bad for Edwin Jackson, I really do. He struggled playing with the Cubs and yesterday, he struggled against the Cubs. The guy can’t catch a break. The Cubs  handed Edwin a parting gift of back to back home runs from Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler as they went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves 9-7.

If the Cubs make it to the World Series, it’s because of their ability to bounce back in games and seize that momentum. They’ll jump all over a mistake. The fell behind 7-3 in the fifth, but clawed and scratched their way back.

“That was a really good win for us,” said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “When we go down like that [in the fifth], we just needed a run or two to scratch away.”

Addison Russel connected with a solo shot that went under review after it was thought that there was fan interference. A problem that at Wrigley Field this year. Remember Keith Hartley?

“I thought I had a pretty good shot, and watching Maybin go back, I thought he might have had a chance at it,” Addison Russell said. “I thought maybe it might be in the basket, maybe it might not be, but I’m glad it was ruled that it went out.”

Do we need to worry about Dan Haren yet? Again, is there a strong case for bringing Travis Wood back to the rotation? It could have came down to two things in the short outing.; Either it wouldn’t have mattered what was being thrown over the plate because the wind was a certain factor and batters were hitting everything that was coming across the plate or like Kyle Hendricks yesterday, these two games have exposed the Cubs’ flaws.

“Obviously, I’d like to do better, be out there longer and stuff like that,” Haren said. “When it comes down to it, when we’ve got 40 or 50 games left, whatever we’ve got left, it’s just about winning games. I think everybody has to just put their self… wanting to do good for themselves behind them and just go out and just do the best they can for the team because that’s what it’s about at this point in the year.”

Believe it