Cubs Give Tanaka A Perfect Ending

New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs

Did anyone check the temperature in Hell lately? Because it went down a few degrees last night. Yup, the Chicago Cubs defeated the New York Yankees 6-1 It was the first of the last two games Derek Jeter will play at Wrigley Field, the end to Masahiro Tanaka’s perfect season and a great game for potential rookie of the year honours to Mike Olt.

“We’re looking at playing our opponents, and when we step between the lines, there are big names out there,” Rick Renteria said. “Guys come up and they’re in awe — but I want these guys to see that’s a shortstop, that’s a second baseman, that’s a first baseman, that’s a third baseman [on the Yankees]. We know what they can do, what they can’t do. We have to play our best game against their best game, and see where it falls.”

Yeah, last night all the cylinders were firing for the Chicago Cubs. Mike Olt threw out Derek Jeter with a rocket from third and even fittingly, in a rain drenched Wrigley Field, the mighty Derek Jeter grounded out in the ninth. The last at bat of the game. It was that awesome. Plus, the stellar work of Jason Hammel who is turning into an ace by not giving up a home run in 31 innings.

Prior to the game, Starlin Castro gave Jeter the number two from the scoreboard, “That’s all right we don’t usually get more runs than that.” Just kidding. And Ernie Banks got his photo opp with the man.

“I like the history of the game,” Jeter said. “Obviously, we get spoiled at home, the size of the clubhouse and all the amenities that are in the stadium. I’m a baseball historian, so I appreciate the fact that there’s a lot of history that comes along with this ballpark. I’m happy that I get an opportunity to be here.”

And then the Cubs go on to ruin the party. So, the Cubs are now sitting nine games back and are on a three game winning streak with Jeff Samardzija set to take to the mound today. He’s looking for his first win of the season and has the best ERA in the majors. Can the Cubs strike lightning twice? It would be very sweet to have Tanaka lose his first and Samardzija get his first win of the season.

Only in Wrigleyville. The ivy still looks great!

—Mark

Yankee Doodle Came To Town

It’s kind of funny that the ivy is almost in full. The Cubs are slowly chugging away up the standings, sitting eleven games back and today they face their arch nemesis on the mound, Masahiro Tanaka. Yes, the New York Yankees are in town and with all the fanfare surrounding Derek Jeter’s elongated retirement party(Whatever happened to just having a press conference and saying, “I’m done.”) it should be a great series.

Wham Bam combination of Starlin Castro, Mike Olt and Anthony Rizzo are going to have their hands full with the surprising Yankees. Jason Hammel gets the ball in the first game of this two game series.

Will there be drama today? Will Theo Epstein be sitting anxiously somewhere away from the bleacher creatures biting his finger nails thinking about what could have been at Wrigley Field? Or will the Cubs prevail victorious over the Bronx Bombers and proving that there really is a plan to this one hundred plus years of a drought that some day soon could end.

Well, at least the Ivy looks pretty.

–Mark

Cubs Do It Just Like Old Times Against Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs

There’s something oh so satisfying with a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs beat the Brew Crew 4-2 yesterday and capped the series victory. The Cubs looked great doing it with those snazzy throwback jerseys circa 1937. Maybe they should unretired those jerseys more often. What do you think?

Let’s talk about Mike Olt. He’s the darling of the Cub Den and for good reason. He’s the first Cubs rookie to bang nine bobbers before June since Geovanny Soto and we know where that led to, don’t we?

I’ve been singing his praises way back in spring training and look what he did yesterday. Another home run folks. He now leads National League rookies.

“I’ve just gotten some good pitches to hit,” Mike Olt said. “As long as I’m doing that, I’m happy. The home runs come in bunches. Hopefully, I can keep it going.”

The other thing we know is Mike Olt was involved in the trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas. Yesterday, Garza was looking on popping sunflower seeds. At least his mouth was shut.

Tomorrow the Cubs take on the Yankees and they get their chance to square off against Masahiro Tanaka. Yeah, that Tanaka. 24-0 in Japan. He’s 6-0 since joining the Bronx Bast- I mean Bombers. The prized hurler that the Cubs tried in vain to acquire. Don’t worry Theo, I snagged him in my fantasy League.

—Mark

Tanaka, The One That Got Away.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Yankees

I have a theory about everything that went wrong with yesterday’s double header in New York:

The Cubs are saving the Yankees for their return gig at Wrigley Field next month. Yup, that’s what I’m sticking too.

So, in the first game of the double header, the Cubs watched in awe at the one that got away in the form of Masahiro Tanaka, that Japanese ace the Cubs almost signed in the offseason. He struck out ten over eight innings, that’s pretty darn good if you ask me.

“He threw well,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “His split had tremendous dive. He can elevate to change your eye level. He can work both sides of the plate.”

The Cubs had a great chance in the seventh inning off an Anthony Rizzo bunt that put two on with nobody out but Schierholtz sent one up the gut that bounced off Tanaka’s glove. The play went under review and he was out at first.

Was it a lesson on how good the Yankees can be with Tanaka or just how much the Cubs still have to learn this season.

The truth is that the inexperienced Cubs didn’t stand a chance against the Yankees. Anthony Rizzo had a pretty good day, but the more I see Nate Schierholtz, the more I think he’s not the same player he was last year.

The Cubs have a day off before facing the Reds tomorrow at Wrigley Field. It’s not going to be an easy one either for the Cubs.

“I don’t want to say that has anything to do with it,” Renteria said of the conditions and timing. “The reality is both teams play in it. [On] the off-days, we still worked, we still got in here and were able to hit. Today, they took batting practice on the field. No, we just weren’t able to put anything together.”

—Mark

Could Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz Be On The Move?

Nate Schierholtz, Darwin Barney

I have to admit that I am truly disappointed in the trade of Trevor Gretzky to the Los Angeles Angels for Matt Scioscia. It’s not that it’s a big deal, but folks; it’s a huge deal to me. You see, that name is huge in Canada. Very huge. That name is beside a record 50 goals in 39 games. That’s how big that name is. I am of course, talking about the Great One, Wayne Gretzky. Trevor’s old man.

The thought of wearing a Cubs jersey with Gretzky 99 on the back excited me. It was a connection to my youth and a nod to the future. Wayne Gretzky won four Stanley Cups and I hoped that Trevor would hold up that World Series trophy for the Cubs. Do you realise how many more Cubs fans there would be in Canada? Blue Jays who? Trevor come back, please come back!

There, I’ve said my peace.

There are rumblings in the Cubs camp about a possible trade of Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz This would be a very good deal for the Cubs. Don’t get me wrong, I think Barney and Schierholtz are really good players and class acts, but given Barney’s struggles at the plate and Javier Baez’s potential at playing second base, this would be a great move for the team. Nate Schierholtz had a great season last year and his trade value increased tremendously.

Really, I’m salivating at the thought of a Mike Olt, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo infield. Now, the Cubs need some pitching to cement their rotation. On paper, this is the Cubs weakness for the future. They’re a long ways away from rotations in Washington, St.Louis and Detroit. Those are championship calibre teams and dangling Darwin and Nate in front of possible suitors would be the next step for the emerging club.

So forget about dealing Jeff Samardzija. He’s not the problem and neither is Travis Wood. The Cubs tried to get Masahiro Tanaka, tried desperately to put him in the rotation, but those damn Yankees proved just a little more appealing to the Japanese flame thrower.

Think about it. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the Ricketts have some money to throw around if they were willing to chase Tanaka. They’re just waiting for the right opportunity to land that high profile ace when one comes around. Remember? Forget Committed, patience is the word in the Cubs organization.

Imagine when Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant get the call. it’s going to be one heck of a lineup. The Cubs are up to something and a deal that would send Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz off to another club, I feel is the final piece to something very special.

Believe it.

—Mark