The Cubs Get Caught by Marlins

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The Cubs are a funny team. Far from playoff contention and yet, us fans still keep clinging to the faint hope that there might be some little glimmer that we can see in the final month of the regular season. Yesterday, the Cubs lost to the Miami Marlins 4-3. What made it worse was Bobby Hull’s erratic seventh inning stretch.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Doing it for pride” The Cubs and their loyal fans must be feeling very proud indeed.

“After the first four hitters of the game, we didn’t put together anything,” Dale Sveum said. Things certainly did start well for the Cubs but things weren’t looking up for the rest of the game.

September is a month where some players are playing for jobs into next season while others are padding their statistics. For the Cubs, this will be a great chance to show some mettle. Yeah, Travis Woood, didn’t earn a quality start, but he’s played a great season and I hope he’ll be back next year.

In fact, that’s a good point. Very few players on this club are notched in for the long haul. During my vacation, David DeJesus became a Tampa Bay Ray.

“There are a lot of guys playing for their careers, including myself,” Dioner Navarro said. “I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. We’re a young team and trying to rebuild, if that’s what we want to call it.”

Dioner raises an interesting point. Are the Cubs rebuilding? Are they really? I’m not being pessimistic but can a team keep using that same excuse for the last few seasons? A team like the Cubs have a wealth of resources or should. The Yankees have remained consistently strong throughout the years, so why can’t the Cubs?

I don’t have that answer. I think the Cubs are almost there and they’ve played some really good ball this year and of course, some not so great ball.

A funny incident happened to me in Boston when we visited that beautiful city of theirs, I was walking by a cafĂ© with my son Darcy and he was wearing his Cubs cap and I was wearing mine, two symbols of hardship and adversity and a little pride. A father and teenaged son were sitting at the window drinking their Mocha’s and the father pointed to me and I pointed to him, that “Acceptance Point” the gesture that says, “Someday, the Cubs are going to win and that day will be awesome!”

—Mark

DeJesus Resurrected in Washington

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The Chicago Cubs put up a monster win yesterday by defeating the Washington Nationals 11-1. The win came on the same day as respected outfielder David DeJesus was traded to the Nationals for an as yet to be determined player.

Did the Cubs miss DeJesus’ presence? Nope. Nate Schierholtz, the most underrated outfielder in the game today smacked a three run homer in the 1st inning to drive in Junior Lake and Dioner Navarro. In fact, Schierholtz was practically a one man machine collecting 6 RBI’s and adding another home run for the game.

Jeff Samardzija had a great game as well. He was as dominate as team management expected him to be last night.

“Really, it comes down to getting the runs that we got,” Samardzija said. “The last thing you want to do is start walking guys. You put up four-to-five home runs and eight-to-nine runs, it allows you to really calm down.”

Now, I think trading David Dejesus was an odd choice. The guy has picked up the leadership role since Alfonso Soriano bolted for the Bronx and was the guy who scolded Starlin Castro for wanting to hide in the clubhouse after embarrassing himself in the last game. DeJesus told Castro to take a seat and cheer on his teammates. Now that’s leadership.

So, who knows? Maybe this is finally Theo Epstein’s team? Maybe this is the team that will lead the long suffering Cubs fans to salvation.

Maybe.

The Cubs try to continue their winning ways today when Chris Rusin gets the call. Game time is 8:05

In other news, My family and I are taking an east coast trip to Boston and then it’s off to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia until Labour Day. I hope to continue posting during the trip and perhaps post some pictures as well.

—Mark

You Can Never Go Home

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So, there is proof that maybe, just maybe the Cubs might want to inject their team with some youthful energy instead of ejecting their fearless manager Dale Sveum. Yesterday, the Cubs were humbled at home by the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.

Another loss at home and the funny part is that the Cardinals and the Cubs have almost mirror records. The Cardinals with a 71-52 record and the Cubs with a 53-70 record. Junior Lake got three hits including an RBI double, now how’s that for youthful energy?

There was an amazing highlight in yesterday’s game when Anthony Rizzo probably made the catch of the year in the fifth inning going after a Molina pop up. The catch was made on top of the dugout. Way to hustle Rizzo!

“We seem to get guys on base enough during the game, but we’re not getting those runs in. or that three-run homer to break a game open or that two-run double or anything from anybody,” Dale Sveum said.

So now that Sveum has identified the problem, how does he go about fixing it? Well, he gets ejected. Donnie Murphy checked his swing in the seventh inning, but the umpire called him out.

I wasn’t going to get started on instant replay in Major league Ball, but I think it should happen.

I think it’s crazy that it hasn’t all ready happened in the game, but it’s a step in the right direction.

now for the Starlin Castro situation. I think it’s horrible that a guy as talented as Castro makes the errors that he does and yet, he’s still up there playing. I like the kid and so does our son, but putting Castro back in the lineup kind of sends a clear message that there might be a lack of discipline happening. What’s wrong with putting him down in triple A for a few games? This late in the season it’s not going to matter much, but it will help the kid get on track and fix those costly mistakes that he’s been making all season. Maybe even pairing him up with a veteran who can guide him and mentor him? Mario Lemiux did that with Sidney Crosby. It could work.

The Cubs will try to get back on track tonight when Jeff Samardzija gets the start against the Washington Nationals. Game Time is 8:10 eastern
—Mark

Cubs Seeing Double

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Double Headers are tough to swallow. Yesterday, the Cubs lost 6-5 in the first game and 3-2 in the second game. There was a play late in the second game that kinda frustrated me as well as just about every Cubs fan across the land. It was Starlin Castro’s dropped ball that could have potentially saved the game for the Cubs. With the two losses, the Cubs record in one run games stands at 15-30 in National league Central games.

“Castro made an effort, and the ball didn’t stay in his glove,” Dale Sveum said.

I’ll tell you how it could have stayed in his glove, Starlin should have been in front of the ball. Ah well, today’s a new day.

It’s these one run games that the Cubs need to win. Let me tell you, the blown save in the second game could have been the fault of crappy work of the umpire. There should have been some strikes there, Ump! David Dejesus hit what I think is one of the finest singles I’ve ever seen in the ninth inning. Good Work!

The great news to take away from the game is Jake Arrieta. His debut game with the Cubs since the Scott Feldman trade was pretty damn good.

“There were a little first-game jitters there,” Arrieta said. “But I got under control after that point and was able to command the ball pretty well. Not a lot of strikeouts tonight, but I was able to force a lot of contact, which is always a good thing.”

He played six great innings keeping the score to one run. I hope they don’t keep him down in Triple-A for too long.

“I was very happy with the trade and the opportunity to come over to this organization and be a part of a group of young guys,” Arrieta said.

Edwin Jackson will try to salvage a win for the Cubs when he faces Willy Peralta tonight. Game Time is 8:05pm

—Mark

Cubs Get Brewed

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The trade deadline is drawing near, actually it’s only a couple of more days and Jeff Samardzija’s name has been tossed around. nobody is safe in a Cubs uniform these days. You can take that anyway you want.

Last night, the Cubs fell to the Brewers 5-0 in a game that was lost in the ninth inning. The Cubs headed into the ninth in a scoreless tie but that’s where the wheels fell off. To be fair, the Brewers got a couple of good hits off of Carlos Gomez, Jeff Bianchi and Rickie Weeks. it was one of those games.

“That was a good ballgame,” Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke said. “Samardzija pitched well. Kyle pitched really well. I didn’t know if we were going to score anywhere.”

For most cases it was. Samardzija pitched a great game making a case for a possible trade which I hope doesn’t happen. In fact, I kinda hope the Cubs don’t make any more moves because this team is getting something going. They’re 48-56 so .500 isn’t out of the question and neither is a Wild Card position. Although, they’d pretty much have to win every game.

“‘Sveumer’ is a consistent dude,” said starting dude Jeff Samardzija, who threw seven scoreless innings. “Every time he comes to the park, he has one goal in mind and that’s fielding a lineup that has a chance to win the game. He does a great job instilling that confidence in every player that that’s our goal. On top of that, with this roster we have, there’s a lot of scrappy guys who can play the game.

That’s the thing about the 2013 Chicago Cubs; it’s those “scrappy” guys like Nate Schierholtz, The Shark and hell, I’d throw Junior Lake and David Dejesus in the mix. It’s a solid team with some building chemistry.

Did the Cubs lose to the Brewers because of bad playing? not exactly. It was tight defence with an unlucky ninth that did it for the Cubs. With the exception of that almost bare handed catch by Samardzija that went through the glove of Starlin Castro which was sloppy.

“You’ve got to score runs to win,” Sveum added. “That’s the bottom line.”

The Cubs will get that chance today when Carlos Villanueva goes for his third win of the season. Game time is 2:20pm
—Mark

Cubs Slay Giants

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The Chicago Cubs finally did what has been eluding them all season, they scored with runners in scoring position. They also fought hard for a comeback win in the ninth to down the San Francisco Giants 3-2.

Anthony Rizzo drove in Julio Borbon and Junior lake in the ninth.

It was a wild finish, but these are the close games that the Cubs have to win. It’ll give them momentum and confidence in the future. I’m happy with the trades they’ve made in July, a little mixed with the Soriano deal, but I understand why they had to do it. The Cubs are in a good position right now.

“I’m of the belief that you’re never one player away,” Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein said. “If you think you’re one player away, you’re getting desperate and asking for trouble. It’s the single biggest factor in whether or not you have a chance to legitimately contend is the overall health of the organization. In time, the overall health of the organization, the overall talent of the organization will manifest itself at the big league level with a little bit of patience.”

He’s absolutely right. Throughout the years Cubs fans have said that, myself included, “One player away” but when does that one player arrive? The Soriano deal needed to be done and I can only imagine Cubs fans everywhere wiping their brows and letting out a huge sigh that the Cubs can finally let go of that huge chunk of change. my question though is, What if Alfonso Soriano wasn’t signed to that big contract. What if he was just another 37 year old power hitter that provided leadership in the clubhouse? Would he have still been dealt?

Which brings me to another player who can possibly fill in Soriano’s role.

Nate Schierholtz who was returning to San Francisco in a Cubs uniform got a double in the game and continues his great July.

“The fans were great to me, from days at the ballpark and just around the city and outside the city, everyone was always great to the players here,” he said. “It’s awesome playing here and being on a couple winning teams.”

I really hope Nate doesn’t get traded. The Cubs need him in the clubhouse for his consistency and his two World Series rings for guidance and mentorship.

“I haven’t spent a second thinking about being traded,” he said Friday. “Every year, you hear so many names thrown around. … I can’t control it. If you go a week worrying about it and you don’t get traded, it’s a lot of worry for nothing. I love it here, and I’d like to stay a Cub. Hopefully, I don’t go anywhere.”

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

The Cubs will be looking to continue their winning ways when Chris Rusin takes to the mound. Game time is 9:40pm

—Mark

Schierholtz Charms The Snakes

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I’ve been chirping about the praise of Nate Schierholtz for some time now. I think since the season started. Last night, the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-6 in twelve innings. All right, they squeaked one out to be exact, but a win is a win.

Schierholtz hit a three run walloper in the sixth inning plus a game winning double in the 12th inning. At the start of the season did anyone predict that he’d be the crusher he turned out to be for the Cubs? I didn’t. It sure would have been nice though to see him in the All Star Game.

“I’m feeling a lot better now,” Schierholtz said. “The All-Star break definitely helped, and so did the cortisone shot. I feel like I’m doing well now, and I’m trying to help the team.”

The other story that’s been circulating for the past week is the incredible play of Junior Lake. I don’t think there’s too many people out there who hasn’t talked about this kid. He can do it all. Last night was a possible future All Star lineup with David Dejesus, Junior lake and Starlin Castro in the 1,2,3 spot. I liked it a lot.

Junior Lake went 2 for 5 with an RBI Double. Remember the little problem the Cubs had with RISP’s, well it seems Junior Lake has solved the woes for the Cubs. The kid is batting .519 and has gotten 14 hits in 5 games. Is it too late for a Rookie of the Year Award?

“He’s showing right now he’s playing with a ton of confidence that he really belongs here,” Theo Epstein said. “This is the league he feels he’s ready for and he’s going out and showing it.”

It’s still too early to make any assessment on how well the kid plays, but I think he’s the real deal.

In the on going development of, “Where is Soriano going”, it appears that he has waived his No Trade Clause with a possible deal to the Yankees.

“I said in Spring Training, I’d like to finish my contract here,” Soriano said. “But at the same time, I want another chance to get in the playoffs, to get in the World Series. I’d be more than happy if we start playing better and I’ve got a chance to win here. But I’m 37, so I want to have one more chance to go to the World Series. If they don’t have that in their minds, if they’re preparing the team for 2015, 2016, it’s too late for me. At the same time, I try to be a champion here. If not, I have to try to do that somewhere.”

I can’t blame the guy for wanting to win a championship. The team is in a good spot right now, but won’t contend for another couple of years. He needs the change and the Cubs need the players.

Carlos Villanueva gets the ball as the Cubs try to make it two in a row tonight. Game time is 9:40pm

—Mark