Cubs Get Attacked By Cardinals 10-4

Jason Hammel

The one thing that is certain about the Chicago Cubs 10-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals is that Jason Hammel has solidified the Cubs #5 spot in the rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta , Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. Not that it was any surprise, but his game has been out of whack lately.

“Honestly, I’d love to be a part of it, as the rest of the guys on the team would love to,” Hammel said of the postseason. “I know there’s only a certain amount of spots. If I’m handed the ball, I’m ready. Obviously, you want to be part of something special like that, but I think everybody here has been part of something special to get to this point. We’re all very proud. We still have eight regular-season ballgames left to build some momentum. Postseason, whether I’m on the roster or not, I’m still going to enjoy it.”

There was a bit of excitement when Dexter Fowler almost hit for the cycle. He was just a home run shy of doing the great achievement. In fact, there have only been 14 natural cycles in MLB history.

“Dexter is looking like he did in the first half,” Joe Maddon said. “That’s nice to see.”

Before the Cubs head out to the playoffs, the Cubs  will have another chance to be 100 winners at Wrigley Field tonight when Jon Lester will get the opportunity to be the hero in front of a nationally televised audience to strut his stuff  and if the Cubs win, they’ll set a franchise record at home for wins with 57 and the Cubs will win the season series against the Cardinals. Should the Cubs face the Cardinals in the post season?

“They would be very tough,” Maddon said of a potential playoff matchup. “They’re very good offensively. They can match up out of the bullpen. They do a lot of things.”

The Cardinals and the Cubs meeting in the playoffs again would be that fitting conclusion to a dream season for the North Siders.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Snap Losing Streak In Style

Willson Contreras

The longest drought in professional sports history and the oldest serving Major League baseball team squared off against each other last night and to say that the Chicago Cubs needed that victory is an understatement. In their 5-2 defeat of the Cincinnati Reds, three important things happened; Jason Heyward, Addison Russell and Willson Contreras all hit home runs to secure the victory but the big fourth important thing was Jason Hammel. He broke out of his funk and received his 15th win of the season.

“Overall, it was a good sign for me,” Hammel said of his outing. “Fastball command got better as the game went along. And the team continues to prove that if you hang around for a little while, they’ll make it exciting.”

Does that include sticking around for 108 years? After the win, the Cubs became the first team this season to have four pitchers with 15 or more wins. That’s impressive and what’s more impressive is Jason Hammel’s resiliency. With his 15th victory, Hammel has kinda been struggling this season so it’s great to see him with the win. It really hasn’t been the best second half for the hurler. If people believe that it’s an audition for the playoffs, it could just be a warm up.

“[My] individual numbers would be a lot better minus those runs, but overall, it’s the whole body of work and continuing to trust the process and the things that I’ve been working on,” Hammel said. “Everybody’s going to have a bad one, and unfortunately for me, they were really bad. But we continue to move on. Obviously, tonight was a step in the right direction. I felt good about it.”

It’s always better to look at the overall team accomplishment than the individual performance. Sorry if I pulled out that horrendous sports cliche but there’s no other way to put it.

If the season were to end today, the St. Louis Cardinals would have that final Wild Card position and man, wouldn’t that be great for the Cubs to face the Cardinals in the division series? Of course the Cardinals would have to get by the New York Mets but it would be worth the wait.

“Right now, it’s only about winning,” Joe Maddon said. “That’s it. We want to get this whole thing functioning properly, so when we get to the postseason, we’re able to do the things that we want to do.”

If the Cubs make it to the World Series, I hope Cubby Bear will save two seats for a couple of Canuck Cubbies.

Believe it

 

 

Cubs Keep Champagne On Ice

Jason Hammel

 

It must be just like Christmas around the clubhouse after their 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals but the celebration will have to wait another day. For a team that’s having a phenomenal year, this I think, is the most crucial time for the Cubs and the hardest. They’re playing teams that are vying for a Wild Card spot and well, the Cubs are all ready in it.

“We’ve played this team all year and have competed against this team all year, and they never back down from the challenge,” Chicago’s Addison Russell said. “We definitely expected that. You have to tip your cap. That’s a great team over there.”

St. Louis does have a great team, they’ve always been a great team and the Cubs fiercest competitors but when the Cubs had plenty of opportunities to move the runners, they didn’t. I’m not saying that’s their fault but it’s going to be a crucial component in October.

“We had guys on base all night,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “At the end of the night, you look at the homers, but we had many opportunities to score, and we didn’t.”

Small ball wins October.

I would argue that now is the opportune time to try new things. Be creative, if it doesn’t work who cares? The ultimate goal should be to move the runner. If the Cubs don’t make the World Series, it’ll come down to that very reason. They couldn’t move the runners.

Jason Hammel is going through a rough patch. It could be those pesky playoff nerves approaching but he hasn’t looked good in his recent outings. Giving up more than 20 earned runs in his last six starts is the opposite end of Kyle Hendricks.

“It seems like every time I give up a run, it leaves the yard,” Hammel said. “I’d like to give up a double or something that drives in a run sometime. It’s very frustrating. I felt like I pitched pretty well. I don’t know what else to say.”

He’s a fierce competitor and hopefully, cross your fingers he’ll find his game soon.

Going down this stretch, many don’t always talk about the clubhouse and the importance of encouraging words from grizzled old veterans like David Ross. In his victory lap season, he’s hit more home runs than anytime in his career while providing those encouraging words to those younger players like Kris Bryant in the times he needs it. In a recent game against Houston, the two were spotted chatting it up on the bench.

“I was probably just venting to him some frustrations [about an at-bat], and he was there pumping me up and telling me I’m the greatest player who ever lived,” Bryant said. “That’s what he tells me. That makes me feel good. I know I’m not the greatest player who ever played the game, but for him to say that to me, that’s all you need when you don’t feel right or something. You need a guy like David Ross sitting next to you on the bench doing most of the talking. That was a moment for me and him.”

There’ll be another moment towards the end of October.

Believe it.

Cubs Hammel Had Better Nights

Anthony Rizzo

If ever there was a rough night for a Cubs pitcher, then it was last night in their loss to the Milwaukee Brewers 12-5. Jason Hammel got roughed up pretty badly allowing 5 runs in the first inning alone.

“Too many pitches up in the zone,” Hammel said. “I didn’t set the tone for us early. This one is on me, and obviously, it doesn’t sit well. We’re fortunate to have a comfortable lead now, and we’ll just brush this off now and move on.”

The Cubs Roberto Clemente nominee, Anthony Rizzo tried to get things going for the Cubs by belting his 28th home run of the season but it turned out to be one of those nights where things couldn’t get going for the mighty North Siders but the Brewers just had Hammel’s number.

“Usually, if they’re going to get him, it’s going to be early in the game,”Joe  Maddon said. “When he gets deeper in the game, he normally settles in. … I thought he righted himself, and it didn’t play out.”

So, what does this mean for Hammel and the Cubs going forward into October, should they switch up their rotation?

“It’s not an audition — he’s got 14 wins this year,” Maddon said. “He’s had a nice season. Everybody has bad moments. I don’t worry about things like that.”

I’m not worried about Hammel for the playoffs. Sometimes thinks don’t click and that’s what last night added up to for the veteran pitcher.

“The story of the tape for me this year is when I’m bad, I’m really bad,” Hammel said. “The overall body of work is really good. I’m not going to beat myself up. I’ve had a pretty good run against these guys, and they were due for one.”

There’s a great article from Sports Illustrated and the Cubs Post Season chances for this year. In it, Tom Verducci suggests that this year’s team may be one of the best ever. I’d have to agree. I think, myself included, people are biting their fingernails or walking on eggshells when it comes to this team because of their history but when you look at how good the 2016 team has been, the question can quickly turn to, “Why not”?

For those Cubs fans who have waited patiently (you know who you are) and those Cubs fans who are jumping on board, well one thing is for sure and that is 2016 is a great time to be a Cubs fan. I know my family is busy thinking about post season parties and get togethers. Everywhere I go lately, there’s been folks giving me the nod when they see my Cubs cap. “This is their year” or “We’re with you” it’s really, really cool.

Believe it.

 

Hammel Exits Early in Loss. Trying To Make The Chapman Situation a Positive

Jason Hammel

Even though baseball is a past time and a sport, the frustration can get to players, just ask Jason Hammel after he was pulled with just 39 pitches in yesterday’s close loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2.

“I didn’t even pitch today in my mind,” Hammel said. “I barely threw 40 pitches. This is a side day for me, pretty much.”

It’s gotta be hard for baseball players when they get yanked from games. I mean every player thinks they’re good and they can contribute to the team. I’m not saying Hammel’s a bad player, not that at all, but yesterday just wasn’t his day and I’m sure he and Joe Maddon had some choice words for each other.

“Of course, he didn’t like what I told him, but I had to tell him, and that’s cool,” Maddon said. “I’m not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence or any other issues.”

It’s also a sign of a great team when the players fight for staying in the game. I believe that  with this kind of attitude, the Cubs are going to go places in the playoffs.

The flip side is that Hammel will be rested for his next outing.

There’s an interesting story in the New York Times about Caitlin Swieca( @CaitlinSwieca), a Cubs fan who has found a way to put the Aroldis Chapman situation into a positive. She’s pledging $10 for every save that Chapman earns to fight domestic violence.

“It’s a moral dilemma,” Swieca said. “There’s definitely two conflicted feelings: the feeling of wanting to just watch a game and not let the domestic violence thing bother you, and the feeling of not wanting to let the domestic violence issue just fade into the background.”

There’s a lot of conflicting attitudes towards the signing of Chapman. There’s no disputing his pedigree on the field, but there’s no excuse for what he did off of it. I think what Caitlin is doing is fantastic and a good way to cheer for Chapman because I’m finding it very difficult to do that.

Believe it.

 

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.