El Mago Does it Again

Image result for javier baez

In any other season, and especially if it were his rookie year, Javier Baez would be the kind of guy that would give managers fits. His style of play can be counter productive once the whim of what he’s trying to accomplish takes hold. Fortunately, Baez plays for a guy like Joe Maddon who is a creative guy himself. Yesterday, in the Cubs’ 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers, Baez stole home again.

“It’s almost impossible to teach those things,” Maddon said. “You can suggest it or go through it in Spring Training, but guys have to be bold enough and recognize it in the moment to do those things, which he does. He’s different. As he continues to ascend offensively, that’s been the last thing. Defense, arm, baserunning, it’s all been there. Now you look at the numbers he’s throwing up there offensively, that’s what makes him an elite baseball player.”

El Mago has been electric this season and an All Star consideration as well as MVP. The Cubs are enjoying a six game winning streak but  are only one game back of Milwaukee who are in the middle of a winning streak themselves. The Brewers are giving the Cubs fits.

“I feel a lot of people want to follow me and play the way I play. The thing is, it’s being you. I go out there to have fun and do the best for my teammates and play hard. Obviously, like I say all the time, I’m not trying to show anybody up. I’m trying to do my best for the team.” Baez said.

I don’t know about you but I’m loving it. Watching Baez play has been one of the most exciting things about the Cubs this season. Some folks call it sandlot ball but I believe that’s the way the game should be played each and overtime. If a player sees their chance, take it.

“When Joe got here, that’s one of the first things he said — ‘If you feel sexy, wear it,'” Baez said. “Everybody here is like that. Everybody dresses like whatever they feel like wearing and being here, obviously being on time and playing hard is the most important thing for us.”

Believe it

Cubs Find Way To Maul Tigers

 

 

Cubs 5, Tigers 3

In the Theo Epstein years, the Cubs ‘ mantra has always been to never give up. They’ve lived by that code and continued those words in yesterday’s 5-3 win over the struggling Detroit Tigers.

“The approaches are paying off now, we’re getting some opposite-field hits,” said Jason Heyward, who collected his 13th multi-hit game in his past 30 contests. “The weather warming up, they’re getting hot. Hitting is contagious, too. You get a couple guys going there, and it translates through the whole lineup.”

The day got off to a shaky start with Kyle Hendricks‘ unusual season. He gave up another home run and his unusually “off” season continued.

“It’s very unfamiliar from the dugout, watching it out there,” Joe Maddon said.

The normally steadfast pitcher wasn’t able to go deep in yesterday’s game.

“It’s obviously frustrating,” Hendricks said. “I have to stick with what I’m doing and my cues, and hopefully it’ll click.”

Perhaps the second half of the season, Hendricks will be able to pull it together.

There’s no denying the Cubs’ confidence is at an all time high. They’re getting out of jams and coming from behind to get the wins.

“When you get to that point and you get that kind of confidence going, you don’t want to nick it,” Maddon said. “It’s the residue of our starting pitching not being what it normally is. We’re giving up more early runs from our starters that we didn’t anticipate that happening. But such a tightly knit group, they’re there to pick everyone else up.”

They’re a game back of Milwaukee in the National League Central race. Things are looking great but I hope Hendricks gets everything sorted out. I’m kinda worried. Has everyone caught on to him, it’s not like he throws heat so his arm can’t be gone. We’ll see after the All Star Break.

“Everything is believable,” Maddon said

Cubs Learn The Facts of Life

Chicago Cubs

There’s a theme song from an 80’s television show that goes like this:

“You take the good,you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the Facts of Life” The Cubs learned this the hard way.

Interleague play can be cruel. The Cubs fell to the Tigers, 15-8. What can be crueler is the wind factor at Wrigley Field. When the ball travels, it travels very far. Jason Hammel saw the home runs leave Wrigley Field and last night it was Jon Lester’s turn.

“They’ve obviously been a thorn in my side for a long time,” Lester said. “That being said, I’ve still got to figure out a way to get deeper in that game, especially with how things transpired last night.”

Then there’s Kris Bryant who had a tremendous game, hitting everything that came his way. A home run, two RBI’s and a triple. Baseball’s funny that way.

“I’m just really happy it wasn’t a three-game series,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They hit the ball. Everything they hit was hard, far. We played pretty good offense ourselves.”

Now, it might seem that I’m getting harsh on the Cubs but these losses are coming at a great time for the club. They face the Atlanta Braves who are struggling with a three game losing streak. The Cubs need this series after Detroit because come the playoffs, they’re going to be facing a lot of great teams.

Pittsburgh on the other hand, is going into a series against the always dangerous Giants.

So even though the Cubs are hitting a tough patch, their offence is springing to life at the right time. Between Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler, the Cubs bats are alive. Can the pitching find its rhythm?

“During the course of the year, guys are always going to go through struggles,” Maddon said. “I think Jason is very fixable, I think Kyle is very fixable. I’ve used the word competing, and Danny Haren competes very well. I really think we can work through the issues of Jason and Kyle.”

The Facts of Life

Believe it

Cubs Fall Short After Rain Delay

Kyle Schwarber

“It was a @!#$ ball” those words mouthed by Anthony Rizzo after a really terrible call.  It pretty much sums up a rain drenched game that the Cubs ended up losing 10-8 against the Detroit Tigers.

Starting pitcher Jason Hammel struggled to find his groove. Three home runs were hit off the hurler including a near home run by Miguel Cabrera in which fan interference was involved. A young fan reached over the netting to snag the ball. After the play went under review, it was determined that interference was the call.

“Effort-wise, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different and I’m not trying to overthrow,” Jason Hammel said. “Sometimes less is more. It’s disappointing to go out there and have good stuff like I did tonight and just get hit around the yard. It was one of those nights where it seemed like they knew what was coming.”

I think the problem is that the Cubs are playing a two game series against a very tough Detroit Tigers, no matter where they are in the standings.

The Cubs bounced back to tie the game in the sixth after a two hour rain delay. By the way, I love watching the ground crew pull out the tarps. They do an amazing job. It’s an art seeing the efficiency and speed that goes into that.

Kyle Schwarber continued his torrid pace since being called up this summer. He smacked his ninth home run.

“That kid can play baseball,” Hammel said of Schwarber. “Being in college last year, and all of a sudden in the show and hitting laser beams all over the yard, he’s pretty impressive to watch. He’s got a good attitude, too. He’s keeping it level and taking it in in stride.”

The Cubs have now lost two in a row, they fought back last night after the delay. They didn’t let themselves get down after an unfortunate start to the game and some bad calls. They’re going to need that kind of moxy in October.

“They got the power, they got the speed
To be the best in the National League
Well this is the year and the Cubs are real
So come on down to Wrigley Field”

Somewhere, Steve is smiling.

Believe it

Cubs On The Hunt In Detroit

Chicago Cubs Jake Arrieta

So perhaps Jake Arrieta should take over the number one position in the rotation and drop Lester to number two, waddya think? Last night, the Cubs put the Tigers on the endangered list after a 12-3 drubbing in Detroit.

They haven’t won a World Series in forever, but nobody could tell by last night’s performance. It looked like Jake Arrieta was going to have a no hitter but he’ll take the win instead.

“He was solid,” Montero said of Arrieta. “There was one bad pitch that cost him three runs, but other than that, he threw the ball outstanding. I don’t think they looked too comfortable at the plate.”

No they didn’t and Anthony Gose didn’t look comfortable in the outfield either. The Cubs kept him busy for sure. Chris Coghlan hit a three run monster in the fourth to put the Cubs up and they never looked back.

“We played good baseball [on the trip] and finished strongly against a really good team,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

He hits the nail on the head when he says that. It’s a confidence booster to win those games against the good teams especially when it comes to Inter League play.

Did anyone notice in last night’s game that Anthony Rizzo has one of the most terrifying stances in baseball? Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be the pitcher staring at that mug. He always looks like he means business. He’s slowly becoming the number one first baseman in the National league.

“I think it was a successful trip,” Arrieta said. “We accomplished a lot. It’s a game-by-game situation for us. Regardless of struggle or end on a high note with a victory, we’re able to put it behind us and come out ready to play the next day, focused on the task at hand. And that’s why we’re able to win against good teams.”

So, if Joe Maddon is the creative guy that we think he is, then maybe he should drop Lester in the rotation. That’s my two cents on that. Jake’s earned the number one spot.

Believe it

Cubs’ Jon Lester Struggles Continue

Jon Lester

I guess the Chicago Cubs didn’t get the memo, you know the one that mentions Yoenis Cespedes most powerful arm? Yeah, and he threw Junior Lake out at home. Now I know you might jump all over me when I say he should have stayed at third but with Cespedes out there, that’s exactly what he should have done.

The Cubs were beaten 6-0.

Jon Lester had his work cut out for him and lasted only five innings before being swapped for Edwin Jackson. Yeah, a multi kajillion dollar pitcher being switched up for another multi kajillion dollar thrower.

“Detroit’s always been a tough one for me — I don’t know why,” Lester said. “I guess it’s one of those teams that you struggle with.”

It’s not one of those teams “You struggle with” Ok, I’m a little miffed at that statement. Whatever Lester is struggling with, he’s got to fix. Pronto.

There are other pitchers on the squad that will steal his thunder like Mr. Arrieta and Jason Hammel.

All right, so I have to give Jon some credit. He shoulders the blame by taking responsibility for himself. I do know that he’s working on his stuff and he’ll get better.

“It’s not good,” Lester said of his recent outings. “I’m not getting deep into games. Regardless of runs, hits, errors, walks, strikeouts, whatever, I’ve got to do a better job pitching innings. That’s what it comes down to.”

He’s probably at this moment going over the video of last night’s job and he’ll get better. Being the number one guy does not mean throwing a 90+ speedball is going to get an out everytime. Be creative like Kyle Hendricks.

I’m just some poor schmuck from the really cheap seats in Canada whose only 90 mile an hour pitch only comes from a sneeze. It’s easy for me to say this but from where I’m sitting, Jon Lester doesn’t look so good. I’ll tell you what , I’m challenging you. Anytime, anywhere. I bet you I can hit one of your awesome pitches.

Believe it.

Opening Night 2014

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This is it. No more practicing and no more Arizona. The Cubs will face the Pittsburgh Pirates tomorrow at 1:05 Eastern time. The journey begins. Opening Night is upon us as the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers square off against the San Diego Padres tonight.

From this day on until the end of October, there will be days of, “I’ll come to bed after this inning.” or “I’m not feeling well today” with the receiver on speaker phone as the person double fists a pint and chips waiting for that afternoon game. Ah, baseball’s back and the Cubs are tied for first.

There will be some questions like, “Will the Boston Red Sox repeat?” or “How will Miggy Cabrera’s contract take the Detroit Tigers to the next level” of course Mike Trout’s contract extension puts some much needed confidence into an underperforming Los Angeles Angels.

Now, don’t hate me when I say this but I’m intrigued about the Pittsburgh Pirates and in particular Andrew McCutchen. They’re on the verge of doing something big.

Now that I’ve said that, onto the Cubs. Spring Training is about hope and dreams. Today, the Chicago Cubs are in first place. The only team they have to compete with is themselves and they have to prove to the fans that they’re the team that Theo, Jed and the Ricketts set out to be.

Believe it.

–Mark