Cubs Win A Close One

darwin

It wasn’t a pretty win, but the Chicago Cubs managed to hold off the Seattle Mariners yesterday to go to their 7-6 win.

The Cubs had a 7-1 lead but the Mariners came back to be within one run in the eighth inning.
Edwin Jackson got his fourth win of the season but the underrated Kevin Gregg came in to seal the deal.

“We’ve played well as a team in spurts,” Cubs GM Theo Epstein said. “If you wanted to sum up the first half, you could say it went really well for the first seven innings. We’ve really had a hard time closing out games.”

Which makes Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein’s job that much more difficult going into the All Star Break in a couple of weeks. The Cubs need help everywhere except Starlin Castro( though that’s debatable) Anthony Rizzo and Darwin Barney.

The problem with the Cubs too is that they’ve never been in sync during the games. Either it’s the pitching that’s outstand or it’s been the offense that’s played well during the games.

Alfonso Soriano continued his hot streak and notched his 21 double of the season and Darwin Barney is now 68 games and counting for his error free streak.

“Maybe we’re lucky,” Barney said. “I think we would trade some of those doubles for more hits with runners in scoring position. Doubles are good, runs are better.”

I think it’s to be expected this time of the year when players start “auditioning” in hopes that their market value will increase while other players are in the home stretch to get that vote for the all star break and pad their resume with All Star tacked in the front of their name. Kind of like winning an Oscar.

So, the Cubs have a day off today before heading along the West Coast for their first ever visit with the Oakland Athletics tomorrow.

INJURY NOTE: Outfielder Ryan Sweeney will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken rib he sustained while crashing into the wall during Saturday’s game.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day and be proud of our longest unprotected border in the world.
—Mark

Who is Nate Schierholtz?

nate schierholtz
As we go into this upcoming series against the Milwaukee Brewers, I thought I’d take a look at one of the Cubs best players this season, Nate Schierholtz.

Nate came to the Cubs from the Phillies last December for a one year 2.2 million dollar deal.

I wouldn’t have thought that Nate would have made the big impact that he has made on the club, but here he is at the end of June and batting .296 and is a candidate to represent the Cubs in the 2013 All Star Game in New York. if that’s a hint to get out and vote for Nate, I don’t know what is.

“I signed here because I knew I’d have a chance to play here more than I have in the past,” Schierholtz said. “My goal is to go out and help the team win and get on base and drive in runs. That’s something I’ll continue to work on. I’m just happy that I’ve been given this opportunity.”

Schierholtz is second on the team in home runs with 10 just behind Tony Rizzo who has 12. He is also second in batting average with .296 behind Ryan Sweeney.

What’s so interesting about Nate is he’s only played 63 games as compared to Starlin Castro who has played 73.

Even though he doesn’t lead the team in the offensive categories, he has been outstanding with the Cubs this year.

Do the Cubs trade him? I don’t think so. He’s 29 years old and when the Cubs prospects start coming up, he’ll be in the lineup on a regular basis. Let’s face it, Alfonso Soriano is having a great season but his days are numbered. Nate will become a great veteran presence on the club to prospects Brett Jackson, Jorge Solar, Albert Almora, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.

So, I say keep Nate Schierholtz because he’ll be one of the great keys to the future Cubs and the road to the World Series.

—Mark

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

Cubs Maulina’d by Yadier

Edwin1
The Chicago Cubs weren’t beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals as much as Yadier Molina was the one who beat the Chicago Cubs. After hitting a two run shot in the sixth inning, the Cardinals took command of a tie game and never looked back. Cardinals win 4-1

Edwin Jackson was going for his third win in a row, but what are you going to do against the potential MVP of 2013?

“I felt like it wasn’t a super bad outing tonight,” Edwin Jackson said. “I thought it was a pretty good pitch but either he was looking for it or he guessed right. It was right in his zone. I threw my pitch with conviction, the pitch I wanted to throw. Sometimes that happens.”

Edwin Jackson had a good game and I’m starting to feel kind of embarrassed for picking on him in earlier posts. What do you expect from a huge off season signing that started out inconsistent?

Sorry Edwin.

“It’s a game of chess,” Jackson said. “You win some and lose some. Tonight was a tough loss, especially if you feel like it was from one pitch. But I threw the pitch with conviction. He hit a home run.”

So, having stopped picking on Edwin Jackson, let me turn the finger over to Mr. Starlin Castro. Yes, it’s your turn. Castro failed to get any hits last night. I know you have this iron man streak going at 265 games, but I think I’d prefer a 265 game hitting streak myself. Does everyone agree with me on this one? Starlin Castro went hitless last night. I think it’s odd that he leads the team in hits at 69 but his OBP is dismal.269 I don’t know what that says about him?

You have Ryan Sweeney’s batting avg. at .300 and Castro’s is only .235 something’s not right here and I think I know how to fix it.

Put Castro in the lead off position. That’s right, I’ve said it before. He needs to be put in the frying pan front and centre. That means in the lead off. Every great player has the ability to mature in the lead off spot.

His stats are just weird They don’t make sense. He should be a better player according to his numbers.

Try him in the lead off. Things will turn around for him. I guarantee it.

The Cubs will try to close out the series tonight with Scott Feldman and all his Feldmania on the mound before hosting the Houston Astros tomorrow at Wrigley Field.

—Mark

Game time tonight is 8:15 eastern.

The Shark vs The Cardinals-Sounds Like a Monster Movie

the shark2

Jeff Samardzija was brilliant last night as the Chicago Cubs went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2.

“Despite different things that happen throughout the year, that’s how it goes. With the (blown game) in New York and (Monday’s loss) and the situation I’m in, I wanted to come out and do a job for this team and get us back on track.” Samardzija said.

That’s what The Shark did, he got the Cubs back on track and hopefully bringing momentum to the organization.

Samardzija almost had a complete game, but Dale Sveum pulled him in the ninth. It was the right decision although Samardzija was still throwing heat, I think he knew that they had to close out this victory. Kevin Gregg replaced him.

Tony Rizzo sat out the game needing a much deserved rest. Nate Schierholtz continued his stellar play, contributing one run and one hit at three at bats, but Starlin Castro was shut out last night. They have to do something with Starlin. His head’s not in the game right now and I like the kid, but they should bench him for a couple of games. Hell, they could bring someone up to try out. I’m not looking at wins this season as much as the combinations of where the club will be in a couple of years. So, if the Cubs finish last then hopefully it’s a learning curve and an education. Speaking of education, Cody Ransom and Ryan Sweeney hit back to back home runs in the first inning. Way to go boys!

“We’re the Chicago Cubs, so you know there’s always something going on, something being talked about,” Samardzija said. “If you can’t deal with that, you better play somewhere else. We’re a great team in here, we get along real well. Despite different things that happen throughout the year, that’s how it goes.

Of course, Samardzija is exactly right in saying that. The Cubs can be the best team in baseball on any given night and on other nights they appear to be playing like a little league team. The thing is that the best team in baseball plays great every night.

Edwin Jackson is looking for his third win in a row tonight when the Cubs continue their series against the Cardinals. Game time is 8:15 eastern.

—Mark

Welcome To Wrigley Field, Kris Bryant!

Kris Bryant

The Cubs chose to go with a young infield. Kris Bryant was chosen yesterday in the 2013 Draft. Houston picked Mark Appel 1st overall.

What do you think about the Cubs choice? It makes sense, it really does. I feel with a few tweaks here and there, the Cubs pitching is almost where they would like it to be, so third base is what needs help. Don’t get me wrong, the pitching has got a lot of work ahead of them but I ‘m looking at their draft pick and yeah, Kris Bryant is going to be good!!

Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo—Yeah!!!

“I know they haven’t won a World Series in a while,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, I can do all I can to help the Cubs win one. That’s about the extent of what I know. I know it’s a great baseball city, I know it’s a great team — a lot of history to it. I’m excited and just happy I’m going to be given the opportunity to continue playing this game.”

The issue this season is getting the bats going so hopefully Bryant will provide them the stability they need to win that World Series.

“Of course there are going to be some things he needs to work on.” Head of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod said. “We spent a lot of time on that side of the game, his defensive side. We do think in the immediate future he’s going to play third base for quite a while, and if the time comes down the road where if he continues to grow or continues to get a little stronger and we feel a move may be necessary, then we’ll deal with it then.”

CUBS vs PIRATES

It’s going to be another key divisional series this weekend against the Pirates. The Cubs host the Pirates with Travis Wood all set to get things going 2:20 eastern time.

With a record of 24-33, you can almost assume that it’s a must win for the Northsiders if they have any chance of keeping up with the Pirates. The Cubs are 9 1/2 games back of the Wild Card and 13 1/2 behind division leaders Cardinals.

I believe they can beat the Pirates. Ryan Sweeney is hitting .357 since joining the Cubs from Triple A but the Pirates have the Cubs number this year at 4-2

The Cubs have picked on some of the best this season. This is going to be a classic.

—Mark

Rizzo To The Rescue!

Anthony Rizzo Comes Through

Anthony Rizzo Comes Through

The interesting thing about the Cubs this year is you never know what team you’re going to get on any different night. Is it the Chicago Cubs Greenhorn team that has difficulty bringing in runners? Or is it the glimpses of the team a few years from now when they reach the post season on their way to a possible World Series Championship? Last night, the Cubs beat the Angels 8-6.

Don’t worry fellow Cubs fans, I’m not jinxing anything. They will compete in a few years. Believe it.

Last night, The Cubs proved to the Angels that they got some pop in their bat and patience at the plate. ask Mr. Tony Rizzo.

“They made good pitches on me. You come in and get the hit there and get the big hit at the end. I want to be up in every situation, whether I’m 0-for-4 or 4-for-4.” Rizzo said.

That being said, a couple of the standouts last night were Cody Ransom and Ryan Sweeney. Since coming to the organization, they’ve quietly done their job alongside the Home Run hitting powerhouses of pitchers.

Cody Ransom hit three RBI’s and Ryan Sweeney gave the Cubs the lead in the sixth.

It was a good win for the Cubs and perhaps Anthony Rizzo is back in the swing of things. Of course, I’m not jinxing anything.

The Cubs are off today before hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. Game Time is 2:20 eastern and Travis Wood takes the mound.

So, today marks the start of Draft Day. It runs through to Saturday. Cubs have the second pick. Cubs need pitching so it would make sense for them to snag Mark Appel, but a third baseman to compliment Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro sounds interesting. This is going to be a key draft for the Cubs. Here’s how I think it’ll work out:

Cubs will draft Mark Appel # 2

Alfonso Soriano will be gone in the off season freeing up some much needed cash and the Cubs will sign a quality veteran third baseman under thirty that will lend some much needed experience to the infield.

That’s how I would do it, but if they do decide to go with a third baseman, then they’ll pick Kris Bryant.

Tough decisions to make, but I know they’ll make the right ones.

—Mark