Cubs Walk Off Thriller Stuns Marlins

Chicago Cubs

If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, and I know most of you who follow the Canuck Cubbie do at least have a passing interest in the lovable North Siders, you’ll probably agree that yesterday’s 5-4 walk off victory over the Miami Marlins will go down as one of the season’s most thrilling wins.

“A big part of that rally at the end of the game is just our fans, purely,” Maddon said. “So much energy. Long day for us — it was a hot day out there, sunshine, we’ve got to get on the road, all those mental factors. I just want to recognize them.”

The ninth inning wasn’t just about the fans, the ninth inning was all about the depth of the once not so mighty baseball club that has turned around in the last couple of years to become the leading contender for October’s most coveted hardware.

It was Miguel Montero, Javier Baez and Dexter Fowler who set up the comeback in the ninth with Matt Szczur trotting home for the win. However, John Lackey pitched his 16th quality start of the year, it was also his third in a row and he went 2 for 2 recording his first multi extra base hit game of his career.  Sure, he didn’t get the win, but the grizzled veteran sums it up on what the expectations and goals of baseball’s longest suffering team are up against.

“Fair expectations? We’re trying to win a World Series. I didn’t come here for a haircut,” Lackey said. “I came here for jewelry.”

I think he wanted the win.

So the Cubs swept the Marlins. They have a day off before heading to Oakland to face the constantly rebuilding Athletics. The Cubs need a sweep and should be able to collect valuable distance from the rest of the National League Central. Normally, I love the races until October but this season is extraordinarily different; the Cubs need to dominate the Central and prove just how good they are.

“We just never quit,” Chicago’s Ben Zobrist said. “As a team, that’s kind of a mantra, and that’s something all good teams have to believe when they’re down that they can come back and win games, and this series was true for us to believe that for ourselves. When you get in those situations again, everyone believes they can do it again.”

Also, this next series should see an end to the Cubs homerless streak which sits at five games.

The Cincinnati Reds had the “Big Red Machine” of the 1970’s, so what should the newly powerhouse Cubs be called?

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Cubs Win The Tight Ones Too

Chicago Cubs

It’s amazing to think that going into the 2016 MLB season, Cubs fans were on a high with Jake Arrieta‘s Cy Young winning performance last year. Although, Arrieta’s pitched really well, he’s shown fans that he’s human. Last night, the Cubs behind Jason Hammel beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 in front of a raucous Wrigley Field crowd. It was Hammel’s eleventh win of the season, setting a career high. This is the second time in his career that Hammel has collected four straight wins.

“As long as we keep taking care of our business and not looking outside to see where other teams are located, nothing else matters. If the surge is now, if the surge is in September, if we surge all the way from August through September to October, that’d be great. We’ll just keep going one game at a time.” Hammel said.

It goes to show you that when pitchers are working hard on the mound, the results will happen. The Cubs are 12-6 since the All Star game and won five straight series at home. If you can’t win at home, you’re not going to win anywhere else.

Sometimes I lay in bed at night and think what the Cubs could have been like if Dexter Fowler didn’t go on the disabled list(Naw, he doesn’t really keep me up at night). What would the Cubs record be like? Last night he went 3 for 4 and has scored a run in his last five games. He truly is the master OBP with .403 and when it comes to triples nobody can touch him with 69 since 2009.

“Dexter got the whole thing rolling,” Joe Maddon said. “When he plays at that level, he picks everybody else up and it accelerates everybody’s confidence, hitting-wise. He’s a nuisance to the other team.”

The other impressive thing that I noticed about the Cubs is they haven’t been going yard in a while, last four games to be exact. So, it’s been the small ball that’s taking over. Man, that’s going to provide dividends come October. Look at the way Kansas City handled everyone else? There’s also the resurgence of Jason Heyward who has hit in his last eight games.

There’s two months left of baseball, or the equivalent of rounding second base. The Cubs are getting key performances from their low key guys and getting the wins in one run games 14-16. This is the way baseball should be played.

Also, Willson Contreras has proven that he’s the Cubs catcher of the future. He went 2 for 3 and has gained the respect of pitchers.

“He’s a great kid — I love him,” Hammel said. “He basically has gotten better every start I’ve worked with him. The game calling, the blocking — he’s even coming up to me and giving me hugs. He saw that I was frustrated coming out early and he’s like, ‘Hey, nice job.’ He’s got kind words, wise words beyond his young years. I was very proud of him.”

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Hendricks Delivers The Rhythm in Cubs Victory

Kyle Hendricks

After their hot start in April that extended into May, nobody could blame the Cubs for settling into a rhythm that at times seemed to cause people to scratch their heads in disbelief, “Is this the same team?” but since the All Star break the Cubs have been on a tear and the rhythm went from a Chuck Berry swagger to a Barry Manilow sing a long and now sounds like a loud menacing Led Zeppelin stomp.

Yeah, I didn’t think it made too much sense either but it sounded real good.

Kyle Hendricks delivered another potential Cy Young performance in the Cubs  5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins. In his second career shutout, Hendricks rocked the fish with his three chord change up(stay with me,I’m on a roll) and as an encore, he gave the forty thousand plus a reason to go home happy throwing his third career complete game.

“With the bullpen being somewhat depleted, we needed that tonight and he absolutely nailed it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hendricks. “Everything he did tonight was stellar. … Right now, he’s he’s one of the best pitchers in the National League, period.”

I may seem a little enthusiastic when it comes to Hendricks but the numbers don’t lie, he’s got the best ERA at home with 1.06. This is in the last nine games and those fine folks who decide on the Cy Young winner must consider Kyle Hendricks. his record is 10-7, not exactly in the same conversation as the other all stars but when managers heap praise on you the way that Joe Maddon does, he becomes one of the most valuable players on the squad. Mark my words, if and when the Cubs raise that golden flagged trophy over their heads, Kyle Hendricks will be one of the main reasons they got there.

“It’s pretty beautiful to watch,” Maddon said. “He’s a humble man, he does his work, he’s a great team player. He’s just a joy to be around and then he goes and does that. With good health, he’ll continue to do that for a while.”

Hendricks is a very humble guy and is a true representation of how ballplayers should carry themselves.

“This is definitely the best I’ve pitched, the most confident I’ve been,” Hendricks said. “It’s been a development all year long.”

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Marlins Make Cubs Catch of The Day

Joe Maddon

It’s official, after yesterday’s 9-6 loss to the Miami Marlins, the Chicago Cubs, who now have dropped five of their last six—Are in a slump.

That’s right, I’ve said it and that’s exactly what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing in any towel and this Cubs fan certainly isn’t falling off of any bandwagon, but call it what it is and that’s all right.

“We did some really good things early, and John [Lackey] just did not have his best day — that’s all it came down to,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We scored plenty of runs. That’s a good offensive day for us. When we normally score that many runs, we’re going to win the game.”

This is all true. John Lackey didn’t have his best outing of the season. To be fair too, the Cubs have been suffering from a lot of injuries to their key players. So, despite those injuries, the Cubs have been doing fairly well.

“Today we did play offensively well enough to win that game,” Maddon said. “We just didn’t have our typical pitching day.”

Even with Anthony Rizzo returning to the lineup, it goes to show you just how important pitching can be.  Sure, they can swing the bats and put up the runs, but when pitching falters, that can be deadly.

Now I’m not blaming Lackey for the loss because it’s a team effort, but we do have to admit that there’s something not gelling lately with the Cubs.

The good news?

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of July and the All Star break in a couple of weeks, the Cubs aren’t about to blow things up. The young players like Albert Almora and Willson Contreras have contributed greatly to the cause, but I have a feeling that the Cubs only need to regroup and they’ll be all right.

So, I’ll leave it with the man who says few words;

“To start off with an infield hit … I have to do better than that,” John Lackey said. “Four runs should be enough to win that game.”

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Are The Cubs Slumping?

David Ross

There’s a campaign to elect David Ross into the All Star Game #VoteRoss and judging from yesterday’s game, that campaign is growing all the time. Ok, despite the 4-2 loss against the Marlins.

David Ross cracked his sixth of the season proving once again that Father Time need not be invited to these games. Ross’s home run tied up the game but with starters out from injuries, the Cubs didn’t have a comeback miracle.

“There’s some young guys here and it shows at times, but I think there’s a lot of talent and we’re trying to figure out how to play best as a team,” Ross said. “It’s just a little rough patch. There’s a reason that the guys who were starting and are injured were starting. We have to hold down the fort until they get back.”

With newcomer Willson Contreras at first due to Anthony Rizzo out due back tightness.

“This is totally different than it was before,” said Rizzo, who may need more than one day to heal. “We’re just being smart and being cautious about it.”

Was Contreras nervous about filling in for the big guy?

“I have no problems playing first base,” Contreras said. “Once they told me, ‘You’re playing first base,’ I said, ‘OK, I’m ready to play first base. No problem with that.’ I want to play every day, I want to do the little things to win the game, to make the playoffs, to make the World Series. I’ll do everything for my team.”

So, the Cubs have lost four in a row. Are they slumping? Are injuries piling up or is the grind of the season finally getting to the fearsome Cubs of the North Side? Their projected win total is slipping from 114 to 107 of the season. Their chances of eclipsing the 2001 Seattle Mariners is slipping away.

Is it fair to say that all these stats make up a great team or is it the final product of winning the big one? I’m on the side of finally winning the big prize. Of course, the Cubs have had their history of losing seasons and failing to come through. We all know the history.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Lose A Close One, Two Rookies Bump Into Each Other, You’ll Never Guess What Happened and Steve Bartman Seventh Inning Stretch?

Chicago Tribune

There was a moment in yesterday’s game against the Miami Marlins which summed up the theme of the game. Addison Russell was chasing a foul ball and so was Kris Bryant. Apparently, Addison didn’t see or know that Kris was chasing the ball too because they crashed into each other and nobody caught the ball.

You can almost set up a click bait ad. “Two rookies chasing a foul ball, one rookie doesn’t call off the other rookie and you’ll never guess what happens next.”

“I think that primarily because of the crowd noise, they didn’t hear each other communicate,” Maddon said. “Apparently Russell was calling it and then Bryant called it at the very end, and that’s where the breakdown occurred. But we were able to pitch through it.”

Well, in the end it doesn’t matter, the Cubs lost a close one and left the odd base runners stranded.

What? All right, all right. It’s mid season and this Cub fan has a little cynicism creeping in. The Cubs lost 2-1 and let me tell you, it was a game they could have won. You notice that I refrained from saying “should have” because either team should have won that game but in the end it was those two zingers by Miami that pulled the carpet out from under the Cubs.

Hey, it was nice seeing Harry Caray up singing the seventh inning stretch. It was also great to see Ryan Dempster and Tom Ricketts introduce the song. How many owners do you know that would be on national television with a schooner of beer and chatting it up with a former pitcher.

That’s pretty darn cool.

“One of the things that we think would be really fun is to bring back a number of our departed historic figures, like Harry Caray, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo,” said Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney. “We want to bring them back to the fans via the video board.”

Speaking of other departed historic figures, I think it would be a great promotional idea to have Steve Bartman sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”

What? Too soon?

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Junior, Go Jump In The Lake

Junior Lake Chicago Cubs

Did anyone ever tell you to go jump into a Lake? Well, apparently last night Miami decided to tell Junior to do just that. Well, in case you missed it, Junior Lake decided in his infinite wisdom to just blow Miami a kiss as he turned third base after a lengthy home run. Miami downed Chicago 7-3

Listen, I don’t care who you are but I don’t enjoy grandstanding in any sport. Hit your home run and jog the bases. Score your goal and skate to the bench. Oh, don’t get me started on those touchdown end zone shenanigans. Have respect for the other team.

Why?

The pitcher just tipped his cap to you, the goalie is still shaking his head at how that went through the five hole and the defence is probably catching their breath watching you sprint 70 yards.

“I just spoke to [Lake] and spoke to him during the game,” Joe Maddon told reporters. “We don’t do that here and that will be the last time you see it. I did tell them at home plate during the scrum. I told Chuck Hernandez because that’s who I saw. I said, ‘It’s our fault and we’ll take care of it.”

Sometimes though, major leaguers lose sight of the professionalism that athletes have to carry once they make it to the pros. In any case Junior, part of the reason you’re not in the permanent lineup like say, Fowler, Bryant and Soler is just that.

Anthony Rizzo has started every game because of his skill, but also his attitude.

“I don’t want us to take a page out of ‘Major League’ and flamboyantly flip a bat after a long home run,” Maddon said. “I don’t want that at all. That has nothing to do with us ascending. I would even like to use this moment for our Minor League guys, that [flipping the bat] doesn’t play. For our kids watching, it doesn’t play. Don’t do that; that’s not cool. It’s very, very much not cool. If you’re watching the game back home in Chicago tonight, don’t do that.”

Junior, that’s not cool.

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