The Cubs Aren’t Kidding Around

junior lake

The Chicago Cubs got off to great second half downing the Colorado Rockies, 3-1. The streaking Alfonso Soriano banged his 17th home run of the season and the newcomer Junior Lake showed everyone why he wants to be in the Big Leagues. In his first At Bat, Lake nailed a double. Even though, it’s not going to last, Junior lake is filling in for the injured David Dejesus.

“I’m not really focusing on whether I’m an outfielder in the future,” Lake said. “I’m just going to do what I’m called upon to do and take that role and do my best.”

Depending on how well he plays, I think the Cubs might want to try and keep him in the lineup. I know it’s one game, but David Dejesus could be good trade bait. Although, with Alfonso Soriano probably on the move, I think Junior could slide on over to his spot.

“While he’s here, he’s going to play, basically until DeJesus gets back,” Dale Sveum said.

Jeff Samardzija pitched a beauty of a game last night and kept the runs to a minimum after seven innings.

“If you were to ask me all year how I felt about my mechanics, I’d say they were off all year, to tell you the truth, until today,” Samardzija said. “So I’m really excited to stop making adjustments and really just work on pitch selection and pitch location.”

So, this is what I think the Cubs should do for the rest of the season. Keep Junior Lake up because I believe that he’ll provide that link between Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo. Having an exciting younger core of players on the Cubs team is exactly what they need right now. Good players find a spot on the team.

Carlos”The Villan” Villanueva gets the call today. Game time is 8:10 eastern.

—Mark

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Sweeney is Out of This World

sweeney

It could easily have been the Sweeney Cubs vs the Houston Astros yesterday at Wrigley Field. Ryan Sweeney collected his third home run and added six RBI’s as the Chicago Cubs went on to rout the Houston Astros, 14-6.

“You’re talking about a guy that sees pitches,” Dale Sveum said. “He’s a heck of an outfielder. The key thing that we don’t have in the organization is left-handed bats. He brings that facet to our game.”

Jeff Samardzija earned his fifth win of the season as he fought hard for seven innings. I highly doubt Samardzija’s name will be brought up when it comes to the all star game next month but even though his numbers aren’t in the top, he has been outstanding for this team. I really do hope that The Shark and Nate Schierholtz receive some mention.

A 14-6 dismantling is a rare accomplishment these days for the Cubs and much of the credit has to go to Ryan Sweeney who has really stepped into David Dejesus’s shoes since Dejesus was injured.

“I got into some good hitter’s counts,” Sweeney said. “We had some runners on base on second and third. The first couple of weeks I haven’t been so good with runners in scoring position, but the last couple of games I have tried to focus on that and get those guys in.”

Aw Shucks.

It was also nice to see Tony Rizzo add four runs including his twelfth home run of the season.

“It’s going to test our character from here on out, and we’re all in this together,” Rizzo said. “We all have got to pull for each other and have each other’s back. That’s for any team you go on. If you don’t have each other’s back, then get out of here.”

I think though the improvement of RISP 6-11 yesterday is the key. You have to move the runners and it showed against the Astros. Yeah, I know the once mighty Astros are struggling this year, but it’s against these teams that the Cubs can try and mix things up and have fun against. Don’t get me wrong Astro fans, but for a team like the Cubs with a lot of young players it’s yesterday’s games that will show what the future can bring.

The Cubs have an off day before heading to Milwaukee to face the Brewers tomorrow. Edwin Jackson gets the start and game time is 8:10 eastern.

—Mark

“Start Spreading The News”

Edwin+Jackson+Chicago+Cubs+v+New+York+Mets+6DUsls1KByWx

“I want to wake up in that city
That doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap”

The Cubs are channeling Frank Sinatra this morning after another huge win.

The Cubs are on a roll. Two wins in a row and Edwin Jackson gets his third win of the season. Cubs down the Mets 6-3. They played tough and they played smart.

The big bat of Anthony “Tony” Rizzo came alive getting three hits and two runs.

David Dejesus left the game after crashing into the wall. It looked bad, but I know he’ll be back soon.

The big news of the night is Edwin Jackson. He finally, well sort of looked like the big bucks guy the Cubs invested in the off season.

“The conviction on all his pitches, and his velocity and all that stuff,” Dale Sveum said. “But you could see the conviction in the pitches and not trying to be a pitcher as much as just a stuff guy — getting guys out with his stuff.”

That’s right, he got the job done and that’s what it’s all about. Nothing fancy, just working the counts.

“You get those early runs and it’s definitely a luxury,” Jackson said. “More times than not it’s going to be close games and you have to pitch mistake-free or pretty close to it. To get an offensive explosion like tonight is definitely great.”

This marks Edwin’s second win in a row and hopefully he’s onto something good.

Nate Schierholtz had another great game and continues to be the Cubs “Secret Weapon” He got things going with a Home Run in the first inning. I really hope he gets voted into the All Star Game because he’s really making a case for himself.

Although Starlin Castro had a good game the other night, he continues his up and down play getting a goose egg yesterday. Starlin, you have to be better than that.

So, even though the Cubs have a long way to go, if they continue to play like they did last night, things could get Wild.

The series continues today when Scott Feldman gets the ball at 2:10 eastern. It should be a dandy.

That is the word “dandy”

—Mark

Cubs Take One in Cincinnati

Soriano

The Cubs ended their losing ways by beating the Reds 5-4 in extra innings. Matt Garza was replaced in the bottom of the fifth inning by Rafael Dolis after the Reds jumped to a 4-0 lead.

There was some unusual antics when Johnny Cueto took a pot shot in the sixth inning at David Dejesus’s head after he went out of the batter’s box in the first inning. Matt Garza wasn’t too pleased by his actions, and in hockey circles, Garza would be considered as the team’s enforcer.

“If the game was played that way, I don’t like it like that,” Garza said. “You don’t go intently and try to injure somebody. Hopefully, the league looks at that. I don’t want him to get suspended or anything. I just want him to learn a lesson. Hopefully, his players will warn him. It is what it is — they run their own show. We’ll see him again down the line.”

Let that be a lesson to you Johnny Cueto, you’ve been warned by Garza. Good to have you back, Matt.

I don’t really agree with anyone throwing baseballs at anyone’s head. It’s not a very good tactic, just beat him with the pitches next time, Cueto.

“It probably woke us up as much as anything,” Dale Sveum said. “It woke our dugout up.”

So how do the Cubs respond to all these shenanigans? The big bats wake up. Anthony Rizzo hit a double and Soriano wallops his fifth home run of the season. The Cubs tie the game.

In the tenth inning, Wellington Castillo hits a double, enabling Scott Hairston to score. Cubs win!!!

Ain’t That A Pitch?

Why is it that the pitchers are the only ones showing up to batting practice? Scott Feldman hit his first home run in a losing cause to the Cincinnati Reds last night 7-4.

“It felt good,” Feldman said of his big hit. “But now, I don’t even feel like I hit a home run, because I kind of ruined it with that pitch I hung to Hanigan. It felt good at the time [to hit it]. I could go the rest of my career without getting a home run, if I could win the game.”

The Cubs got off to an early three run lead but the Reds came back in the fourth inning to take a 5-3 lead eventually winning 7-4.

I’m not taking anything away from Scott Feldman’s two run homer, believe me, I’m glad he’s hitting the ball. I’m really glad the pitcher’s are scoring, but look at the box score and it will tell you all the information you need to know about the Cubs problems and what needs to be fixed.

Ryan Sweeney, Luis Valbuena and Dioner Navarro each scored the runs for the Cubs. Where was Anthony Rizzo? Sure Starlin, David, and Nate all got hits but there was no run support for Feldman.

Here’s my new batting order:

1. Starlin Castro
2. David Dejesus
3. Alfonso Soriano
4. Anthony Rizzo
5. Nate Schierholtz
6. Darwin Barney
7. Wellington Castillo
8. Luis Valbuena
9. Pitcher

Going into the game, the Cubs were .216 with runners in scoring position. Last. Dead last. That statistic has to change if the Cubs are going to do any damage in the standings.

The series continues today at 4:10 eastern. Travis Wood gets the start.

-Mark

No Joy in Pittsburgh

Cubs Pirates Baseball

Many baseball fans will recognize that line from a famous poem, “Casey at the Bat” all though I changed it to Pittsburgh. It’s kind of fitting that on the last game of the series to occurrences happened:

1. Edwin Jackson was on the mound.

2. It rained.

The Pirates handed the Cubs a 4-2 loss yesterday. With the loss, the Cubs have lost four in a row.

“He obviously wasn’t real sharp,” Dale Sveum said. “He didn’t come out with a whole lot of velocity at the beginning either. Andrew McCutchen took advantage of a hanging slider and another fastball as well. There wasn’t a whole lot of life coming out of that arm today.”

Leave it to Dale Sveum to keep it real. Gotta’ love him.

“Just certain things you can’t explain,” Sveum said, “other than just not being able to put games away and (not) hitting with men in scoring position and getting that run in, getting a big inning here and there. We’re just snakebit on that. We’re not getting that kind of stuff done.”

“Leaving it up in the zone is just not finishing through,” Jackson said. “There were a couple times I jumped out and rushed a little bit. By the third inning, I was able to make the adjustment. I just have to do a better job of finding that earlier in the game.”

So listen, I think Edwin should go to the bullpen and put Villanueva in. At least for a few games.

Move Starlin Castro to the lead off and drop David Dejesus to the second spot.

I believe just a little tinkering here and there might just do the trick.

It might just bring joy to Chicago.

The Cubs are off to Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds. Game time tonight is 7:10 eastern.

—Mark

The Shark part Two- The Pirates Revenge

the shark

There’s big bats in the Cubs lineup. Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Nate Shierholtz, David Dejesus and Darwin Barney. All Stars and Golden Glove winners.

None of them were to be found last night. Wellington Castillo, Julio Borbon and Cody Ransom got the only hits in yesterdays 1-0 drubbing by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“That’s (the same old) song and dance,” Dale Sveum said. “We get people on. We just can’t get ’em in.”

I think he’s mad.

Were they afraid of the water? or were they just sitting back enjoying A Shark chewing up some Pirates. Jeff Samardzija proved himself again. The Shark went seven innings and struck out eight. A great night’s work. Now, if everyone else showed up for work.

“That’s just electric stuff,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Samardzija. “He’s definitely been hard on us and to score early in the first and to only have two opportunities the rest of the game … and for them, the third inning, with the bases loaded, was the difference.”

It was those “Big Bats” that were afraid of the water in the third inning that kept the Cubs off of the scoreboard. A strikeout here, a pop up there, I might be a nice guy and I firmly stand on the side of the optimists out there, but one of the fundamentals in the game is to hit the ball, land on base, run the base and score. Yes, it’s that easy and the Cubs will remain at the bottom of the NL Central until they can find a way to get those guys on base and home.

“Early on we made some dumb mistakes that cost us big time,” Anthony Rizzo said. “We’ve been in close games all year. Now it’s about scratching runs across and keeping the lead.”

The Cubs try to get things going this afternoon and salvage something against the Pirates. Game time is 12:30 eastern. Edwin Jackson gets the ball.

—Mark