Cubs Stumble Against Rockies

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs’ Addison Russell follows through with his swing after connecting for a solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa in the seventh inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A baseball season is filled with its fair share of peaks and valleys. Yesterday, the Cubs fell to the Rockies 11-4. Hey, it happens to the best of us. There was a bright spot in the loss; Addison Russell. He notched two home runs in the loss and at the ripe old age of 22, arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game, has been the secret weapon of the Cubs all season long.

“If Addison played here right now, he’d probably have at least 25 homers, quite frankly, and be approaching 100 RBIs,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “From what I’ve seen all summer in Wrigley Field, there’s such an amazing advantage offensively here. What you saw today, he’s done that a lot with the wind bringing the ball back in. In his brief Major League career, he’s playing at the top of his game right now.”

The thing I’ve always noticed about the Colorado Rockies which I’m sure some of you will dispute, is that they are one of the toughest teams to play against. When they’re bad, they have a tendency to find ways to spoil the party for other teams. Those rare occasions when they’re awesome, they discover new ways to suck. If I were a betting man, I’d stay far away from the Colorado Rockies.

Do you agree?

This was the first series that the Cubs lost since the All Star Break, I don’t think it’s too much cause for concern especially heading into San Diego and facing baseball’s most travelled pitcher and five inning specialist Edwin Jackson where hopefully the Cubs can get back on track but it’s those west coast trips that can mess everything up just ask the Griswolds.

“That’s the kind of game I don’t dwell on for very long,” manager Joe Maddon said afterward from his office. “Once you guys leave here, I promise you I’m going to crack open a Miller Lite, grab something to eat and look on Trip Advisor to find somewhere for us to eat tonight in San Diego.”

Jason Hammel who has been the darling pitcher of the Cubs in the second half did not enjoy the same day that Addison Russell did. He got lit up really badly which raised his ERA from 0.95 to 2.17 which proves that baseball can’t always be the marathon long season. Things can change with one game.

“We gave them too many opportunities,” Maddon said. “They had to get six outs, Jason did, in the first inning, and that’ll wear you down a bit. Had we just caught the ball today, he could’ve had a different view about it early in the game. We came out first and third, popout, homer, but then we started making too many mistakes. That really put Jason behind the proverbial eight ball.”

Tonight’s a new series in a new town and a fresh start. Ah, baseball is a forgiving game.

Really Joe,  Miller Lite?

Believe it.

Cubs Peaking Over Rockies

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Mike Montgomery delivers to Colorado Rockies’ David Dahl in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Chicago Cubs dominated the Rockies in a 9-2 victory while trying to make a case for the accolades to continue in Kris Bryant‘s career after he took the cover off of the ball for his league leading 31st home run of the season.

“There’s still a lot of season left, but for me, I just kind of went into this year working on making a little more contact, and I think having that approach has allowed me to tap into more power,” Bryant said. “I’ve always been the type to hit the ball in the air and hit home runs, so if I’m going to be able to make more contact, I just think more home runs are going to result from that.”

But like every win, it starts with pitching. Mike Montgomery, who was placed in the rotation after John Lackey went to the DL, did 4 1/3 innings of work with 5 strikeouts. The Cubs need this kind of pitching when their regulars go down to injury. Although he did’t get the win, Joe Maddon is confident Montgomery can step in again.

“He has great command of his off-speed pitches, and the fastball has been located really well. A very good curveball, and a nice changeup off that and with that a two-seam fastball that runs and gets the ball on the ground and a four-seam fastball that he can strike you out with. He’s got really good command of everything right now, but the thing that’s impressive is the ability to throw a breaking ball for a strike.” Maddon said.

If the Cubs are peaking, then they’ve certainly have it going at a good time. The MVP race is picking up steam and there’s no shortage of Cubs in the mix. The Cubs have a lot of depth and they could wind up with their first 100+ wins since 1935 but in the end the only thing that matters is the World Series.

Today, Jason Hammel takes to the mound with hopes that the Cubs will win this series against the always tough Colorado Rockies. Game time is 4:10 EST

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.

Cubs’ Jon Lester Gets His First Home Run. Ever!

Jon Lester

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester throws during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Sometimes Jon Lester surprises me. He really does.  Yesterday, he picked up his first home run ever.

I mean ever. Yeah. Really, really really ever.

The Cubs destroyed the Colorado Rockies 10-0. It just wasn’t a single shot but a two run kazinger over the wall in the fourth inning. Not known to be a hitting pitcher, Lester just proved another point about these Chicago Cubs;

They’re an offensive threat no matter where they are at the plate.

“You’re coming in and trying to figure out how far from the plate you’re supposed to stand and how you’re supposed to load and how you’re supposed to swing,” he said. “This year I have a better idea of what I’m trying to do. Just the comfort level of being in a batter’s box and seeing live pitching — that’s the hardest part. These guys all throw 94, 95 [mph] plus. It’s a big shock when you don’t see it all the time.”

But the fun doesn’t end there because it was his buddy, David Ross who wanted in on the fun, the retiring “Grandpa” of the group received three doubles and three RBI’s. Two players not known for their hitting and power practically carrying the team on their backs.

Now, my wife might say who cares about spring training, but these little moral victories are confidence builders especially since the regular season starts next week.

“I try not to read too much into Spring Training, whether it’s good or bad,” Lester said. “I would’ve liked to have gotten a couple more innings, but we had some long innings today and that’s why they pulled me a little early. That’s my big thing is making my starts and getting my innings — that’s all I really care about,” he said. “The runs and all that stuff, I try not to pay attention to that [in spring]. The big thing for me is not a lot of walks, which is good. It means I’m staying in the zone consistently and getting early contact.”

It’s practice Jon, but who knows where this might lead? Perhaps a batting title?

That was a joke Cubs fans.

What isn’t a joke is Manager Joe Maddon’s realistic approach to the Cubs’ season. We know about the drought. There’s high hopes in Chicago and after last season’s heroics there certainly is a lot of pressure but the players know that it’s a job and this season is no different than any other. The team’s good, the players are relaxed and confident, so now it’s about playing baseball to the best of their abilities.

“We have not won a World Series in a century, so there’s nothing to get complacent or cocky about,” Maddon said. “Bring that all on the table, talk about it, say it up front. That’s why I believe it’s important to embrace the target.”

1908 folks. That’s a long time ago.

Believe it.

Change is On The Horizon For Cubs and a Tangent of A Curveball

Chicago Cubs

There’s a lot of dealing going on around the league. Tulowitski to Toronto, Cueto to the Royals Papelbon to the Nationals, so where do you see the Cubs making a deal?

Last night, the Cubs were beat 7-2. Folks, that’s 7-2 against a Troy-less Rockies squad. Now granted Dallas Beeler was on the mound and normally I don’t like it when pitchers are pulled before the fifth inning. It doesn’t matter what the score is, I just don’t like it. This was the right thing to do. Rockies hit everything Beeler was throwing. It also could mean that the Cubs are preparing to see if there could be a possible deal for a pitcher at the deadline.

“We had a tough first inning that really set up the game negatively for us. They were on the emotional side, having lost the face of their franchise. We have to do better. We have to. It’s not about what everybody else is doing, it’s about what we’re doing, taking care of our own business. We have so much more offensive potential than we’ve shown. We have to pull it out of the guys.” said Maddon.

Now, their wild card dreams are slipping away rapidly and there is still a lot of baseball to be played. They are 2.5 back of the Wild Card. They need pitching. With the likes of James Shields, David Price and Cole Hamels still available, the Cubs need to decide what they’re going to do.

Joe Maddon promised fans there’d be a post season for the Northsiders.

“I’m gonna be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon told reporters at his press conference last fall. Now, nobody’s going to be disappointed if they don’t get there. The Cubs have improved tremendously over the last few years, they’re playing above .500 ball and they have a core of players built for the future.

But I want to host a playoff party this fall. The invitations are out. The menu is still being set. You see, baseball in October in the great country of Canada is a pretty awesome thing.

Why?

Because hockey season is starting and when the the neighbours shout over the fence, “I think the Leafs have a shot this year!” or on the other side,”Flyers are still going to suck!” I’m going to secretly know two things:

  1. The Ottawa Senators are going to put together an awesome season.
  2. Those Ribs on the BBQ sure smell good before a Cubs first post season game since 2008

Where was I going with this? Baseball is best in October.

“I’m gonna talk World Series this year. I promise you. I am. And I’m gonna believe it. And I’m going to see how it’s all going to play out. It’s within our future, there’s no question about that.” Maddon said.

I’m holding you to this Joe.

Believe it.