Cubs Can’t Figure Out Dodgers

NLCS Game 3: Dodgers 6, Cubs 1

It’s easy to point fingers when things don’t quite go as they planned but the truth is that after last night’s heartbreaking 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, the Cubs, who are down 3-0 in the NLCS and face elimination tonight, well, they’re just getting beat by a better team.

“I don’t think there’s any need to change anything,” Chicago’s Kris Bryant said of the club’s approach on Wednesday. “I think we can play even more loose, because what have we got to lose? No one’s expecting us to come back except the guys in this room. I don’t know if it’s a comforting feeling, but I guess it takes a lot of pressure off us because no one’s expecting us to win.”

He’s partially right. They changed things up and they still lost. For some strange reason, the Cubs can’t seem to hit anything thrown in their direction. They’ve been here before and know what’s at stake. All of us arm chair quarterbacks can question Maddon’s bullpen decisions or lineup changes but in the end it comes down to the Cubs not being able to capitalize on situations.

“I’m not going to sit here and throw a lot of hyperbole your way,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s just about our guys. Your back’s absolutely against the wall. Tomorrow is a Game 7. We have three or four Game 7s in a row coming up right now. … We need to gain some kind of mental momentum, and obviously that’s our last chance to do it [Wednesday].”

So, even if the Cubs had an amazing first half and coupled with their incredible second half of the season, the outcome would still be the same. They would have faced the Dodgers somehow and probably still got beat.

Tonight, they have Jake Arrieta on the mound. The former Cy Young winner will look to extend the Cubs season. Remember, the Cubs have been down in a series before.

“It’s just taking one game at a time, really,” Arrieta said. “There is no use in dwelling on what happened the night before or a couple days ago and trying to look too far into the future. I think that’s the mindset that we’ve kind of carried throughout the season, and it’s worked out really well for us.”

Anything can happen. If the Cubs win tonight, they stave off elimination. If the Cubs go on to defeat the Dodgers, everyone will forget the “He should have had Davis in” rants on Twitter. These aren’t the Dodgers of last season. The Cubs aren’t the Cubs of last season either.

“I wouldn’t sit here and say we’re going to lose,” Carl Edwards said. “We’re still confident. We’re ready. It’s a very funny sport. And we’d like to say the tables can turn at any time.”

Believe it

 

 

Cubs Down 2-0 in NLCS. Head Back To Wrigley

If the Chicago Cubs go on to lose the NLCS then it’ll be on Joe Maddon’s shoulders. There I said it. I say this after the Cubs were downed by the Dodgers 4-1 and now the Dodgers have a two game lead going to Chicago on Tuesday.

Sure, Kris Bryant‘s bat has gone silent, in fact, the rest of the team has been quiet in this series. Nobody can blame it on stellar pitching because both rotations have been in a state of flux. The fact is that Jon Lester should have stayed in for another inning or even a couple more outs. Carl Edwards was good for another few outs and well, Brian Deunsing was pitching really well, so I don’t quite understand what went wrong there? Oh wait, I’m sure everyone’s scratching their heads over the use of John Lackey. The guy has never pitched back to back games in his life.

“I really just needed him for the save tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He had limited pitches. It was one inning only, and in these circumstances, you don’t get him up and then don’t get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That’s it.”

Now, I’m glad Wade Davis wasn’t used, he’ll be fresh for Tuesday at Wrigley Field. Here’s hoping it’s cold in Chicago and Yasul Puig’s tongue sticks to the bat. Any recommendations of a rule change to aluminum?

“It’s their guys versus our guys,” Addison Russell said. “We’re playing to win. I feel like the competition just steps up a little bit because each pitch is more crucial, each swing, each play. An error can be the deciding factor of winning or losing. A bad pitch can be the decision of winning or losing. That’s really what I like about it.”

It’s really going to come down to the Cubs scoring more runs and Maddon not playing hot potato with his bullpen. Kyle Hendricks gets the start on Tuesday. He’s well rested and he needs to put up a performance for the ages, at least seven innings. Carl Edwards Jr relieves him and then it’s Wade Davis’ turn to shine.

“All you’re focused on is making pitches,” Hendricks said recently. “That’s my job and it never changes — no matter regular-season game, postseason game, no matter who you are facing on the other side of the mound. My focus is to go out there, make good pitches, rely on my preparation which I’ve done all year long. But when it comes down to it, when those lights turn on, you just have to execute pitches better than the other guy.”

The Cubs have been down in a series before and fought back, we know this and we know the results. They needed that win in LA, but not all is lost. They win three at Wrigley and take one back in LA. Easy Peasy, right? Bill Murray will be there to cheer them on and the momentum is clearly in the Cubs corner.

Believe it

 

Cubs Get It Done Again In 10 Innings

Image result for chicago cubs

The Chicago Cubs magic number is 5 after another thrilling extra innings victory over their division rivals Milwaukee Brewers 5-4.  This will be the second year in a row if the Cubs can hang on to crown the division.

It came down to Tommy La Stella‘s drawn up walk in the tenth inning and let me tell you,  just speaking on Milwaukee’s behalf, there’s no worse way to lose a game then an extra inning walk.

“He has not played in a bit and he goes out there, not too eager,” Maddon said. “Slowed everything down. Accepted his walk. Young players today, many are not willing to accept their walk.”

Just having those empathetic feelings for the Brewers.

It wasn’t just La Stella’s play but the bullpen, normally an iffy spot for the Cubs, pulled it together when Carl Edwards Jr. pitched in the extra innings. The big thing that was impressive about his appearance was the coolness on display. The Cubs might have to call upon him soon in the post season and these last games of the year are the warm up to that post season magic.

“That’s what we have to do,” Edwards said. “In order for us to all get what we want to get and do what we want to do in life, everybody has to step up, and the good thing is everybody is stepping up so we can go to anybody in the bullpen at any time to get us out of a big inning or just stop the bleeding.”

Today is another important game because Kyle Hendricks is pitching and he’s coming off of his longest outing and looks to continue that success into the post season. He’s in his groove and the Cubs have quickly forgotten that dreaded first half of the season.

“It’s always different, every team is different and you find a new way,” Ben Zobrist said. “You have to find a new way to win and a new way to make it interesting. There’s a lot of the same characters as last year [on the Cubs], but with new characters, it changes the mix a little bit. It’s the same intensity and want to win as those other teams but in a different way.”

It’s true that the Cubs have to win in a different way. If last season was all about not quitting, then this season is about honing what they’ve learned in that post season and fine tuning their skills so they can come back in those extra innings. Are they a better team than they were last year? It’s difficult to say because they’re a different team.

Believe it

Cubs/Red Sox Play The Game Right

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs only play the Red Sox every few years. There’s an argument against interleague play but I don’t see it. Even though the Red Sox won the weekend matchup from their step brother’s in the National League, the Cubs/ Red Sox provide so much in favour of the rich history of Major League baseball, that it would be a shame to see it go.

Kyle Hendricks got off to a shaky start in the 6-2 loss, he settled into a nice groove and I think he’s going to just get better as the season wears on.

“We came out of the gates so hot last year,” Hendricks said. “That was a special phenomenon. Usually this is more what you expect [in April], guys finding their ways into their roles. To be able to still win ballgames is a good sign. We’re not clicking on all cylinders. Once that starts happening, getting in the middle of the year, everybody will start rolling.”

Like Hendricks said, in a way the other teams have should that the Cubs are human in April after all. Yet, despite the mediocre start, there were signs in the Boston series that the Cubs are settling into their groove. Jon Jay had a nice trip around the bags to score at home. He’s a veteran with a good eye on what’s happening at the plate and doesn’t necessarily wait for the base coach’s instructions.

“With everything that happened this month and being on the road a lot, I’ll take what we did right now and get on back home and try to build upon it. There’s not a negative to be found for me.” Joe Maddon said.

The bullpen has come around. look at the work of Carl Edwards Jr. He was practically lights out last night, striking out two. The lanky pitcher was throwing laser beams but if it wasn’t for the mistake costly eighth, the Cubs would have easily won that game.

Then, of course, was Kris Bryant‘s long ball tribute yet again to his parents. The way I look at this series of two teams paying homage to broken curses is that this could very well be a preview to the World Series.

“This is good for the industry,’’  Joe Maddon said . “This has been playoff-like baseball with two really good teams playing the game properly.’’

The two oldest parks in the majors, two curses broken; Now, imagine they meet in the Fall classic? That would be historic. However, there’s plenty of baseball left to play.

Believe it.

Cubs Win Streak Snapped And It’s A Good Thing

Addison Russell

You see, no matter how badly a team can do in a season, when it comes to bitter rivalries, there’s few that can match the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Where else can a team dominate the game and watch a lead evaporate right before their eyes like what happened in the Cubs 8-4 loss to the Cardinals yesterday?

The loss had nothing to do with the outstanding pitching of crafty right hander Kyle Hendricks. Nor was the loss attributed to the great home run from Addison Russell. The Cubs did their job but in the end it came down to a depleted bullpen caused from injuries to Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon. The game was tied when Carl Edwards Jr. got lit up in the late innings. Welcome to the rivalry Carl, it’s not your fault.

“That’s an example of what the team looks like without Strop and Rondon,” Maddon said. “I felt really good about C.J. in that moment. He’s been outstanding.”

He has been outstanding but this is the Cubs, right? Where else can a guy like Hendricks tie his career strikeouts in a game and still come up with no decision? Wrigley Field, that’s where. Those ghosts from Chicago Cubs past can rear their ugly head sometimes to ruin a guy’s day.

“He’s throwing the ball exactly where he wants to,” Maddon said of Hendricks. “He was executing outstanding. The heavy strikeouts were a surprise, because [the Cardinals] will move the baseball. That tells you how much [Hendricks’] stuff was on today. There were two elevated changeups to Moss and to Gyorko that caused the home runs. That’s a pitch he normally never throws up there.”

Sure, the Cardinals snapped the Cubs 11 game win streak but in the end it gave the Cubs a dose of reality. What if they continued their winning ways to the end of the season? Imagine a 20 game win streak and then get destroyed in the playoffs. I’m glad the Cubs are just that good but not too good to breach that reality barrier. For a young team, these kind of losses are good. It can give them a strong foundation in October.

“You’re going to lose some ballgames in baseball. It happens. The best thing about it is there’s one tomorrow. We had a good stretch there. We have to try to pick it back up tomorrow.”said Hendricks.

Believe it.

Cubs’ Dexter Fowler is Back, Baby!

Dexter Fowler

The Chicago Cubs welcomed Dexter Fowler back with open arms last night. The Cubs downed the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2. Fowler came back in style, crushing a home run and a double in his first game back with the team since June 18.

“I was just happy to be back around the boys, I was happy to see everybody,” Fowler said after the game. “It’s like coming back home.”

It seems a long time ago when Fowler walked onto that practice field during spring training and surprised players that he’s landed back in Chicago after an offseason which he tested the free agent market.

I have to give Theo Epstein credit, he knew Fowler’s worth to the club and after last night, the rest of us knew it as well. With Fowler leading off, the Cubs are 43-18 but when he’s not in the lineup the team is just 11-17.

Good to see ya again Dexter, we missed you!

What can I say about Carl Edwards Jr. We had a chance to see the lanky pitcher warming up in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago and man, his stuff is incredible. My son’s mouth dropped watching him play catch. Last night, Edwards came into the sixth inning and struck out two. He’s certainly been an underrated part of the Cubs pitching staff this season.

“Experience, really, is all he needs,” Jason Hammel said. “The later in a game you go, the harder it gets. He definitely has the stuff. You can see the improvement and the confidence. Execution for him, too, has gotten better. He’s definitely not afraid. He weighs about 140 pounds, but he can attack a ton worth of weight.”

He’s a hard thrower and I know he’ll just keep getting better and better.

“The funny thing is I come in after a clean inning and the guys are constantly motivating me,” Edwards said. “They’re keeping me humble, too, but I’m keeping myself humble. Today, runner at second, no outs, I was talking to myself on the mound, telling myself, ‘Hey, do whatever you’ve got to do to not let this guy score.’ I went out there and got the first out, groundout, and I was telling myself, ‘Hey, you’re not finished.’ And then two outs, I told myself, ‘Hey, you’re not finished.’ Every time I go out there with runners on, [my goal] is to go out there and make sure the runs do not score.”

Believe it.