Baez Pulls Out The Magic in Extra Innings

 

Is there anything that Javier Baez can’t do? In the tenth inning, Baez stole second base and then took advantage of a couple of errors to run home and score. The Cubs went on to beat the San Diego Padres 5-4 and take first place in the National League Central.

“At this point, it’s really not even surprising to us, and it’s crazy to say that,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said of Baez’s daredevil baserunning. “It’s fun. His instincts, his baseball instincts, are taking over the whole game and people are noticing it more than ever. That’s who he is, and he continues to keep getting better.”

I’m a huge fan of his style of playing. It’s the way the game should be played and proves that the small ball is the most exciting.

If the Cubs go on to not win the big trophy with all those awesome shiny flags, then 2018 will be best remembered as the year Javier Baez became “El Mago” and brought magic to Wrigley Field. He’s an all star this year and who knows? perhaps an MVP.

So the trade deadline is coming up and the Cubs need to add a player, who are they going to add? They need pitching. Unless Yu Darvish comes back and does something outstanding and crazy good, the Cubs are going to look for better pitching. I’m suspecting that we could see Tyler Chatwood involved in a deal.

If anything the Cubs are finding their rhythm heading into the break. Today’s game with Kyle Hendricks will be a sign of things to come. He was lights out in his last game and hopefully he’ll be able to carry the momentum going forward after the break.

“We’re in a much better position than we were last year at the same time. We’ve done better overall, in regard to our hitting approach. Our starting pitching has to ascend. There’s still things we have to work through. Of course, I’d like to be — you always want to be in first place. … [The Brewers] have been playing well and they’re tough. I like the way we’re trending. There aren’t a whole lot of tired guys out there.” Maddon said.

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Chicago Cubs Turn Things Around On Reds

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The Chicago Cubs finally did it. They beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-7 in a contest that saw them down by five runs going into the fourth inning but then El Mago, Javier Baez, hit a a game tying RBI single and the “Never quit kids” launched their comeback.

“That’s what we do,” Baez said. “That’s what we do, we fight to the end. We’ve been coming back since 2016, we’ve been doing this. We just have to realize who we have in our lineup. It doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down. I think we can do a lot of damage if we turn the page to the next guy.”

I’m not sure if it’s what they do or they’re just a damn good ball club but one thing is for certain that good teams find ways to win and even though the Cubs had a tough April, and yeah, you better believe I was one of those fans that had their doubts about this club,  they’re looking like that team from a couple of years ago.

The downside to the victory occurred when Tyler Chatwood got a big Boo from the crowd, I know that delivering as many walks as he does, it’s bound to take its toll on everyone but man, it’s going to be tough for him to rebound from his shaky season.

“You never want to hear that,” Joe Maddon said. “I understand when the fans get frustrated. When you’re sitting in the dugout and know the guy as well as you do, it’s frustrating to us. He’ll tell you he probably thought he might have deserved it. Heck, I’ve gotten booed taking pitchers out of games, I’ve gotten booed walking out to take a pitcher out of a game. I think it means somebody cares.”

That’s a good way of spinning it, but Chatwood has been less than stellar this season.

So on July 17th, the MLB All Star game happens at National Park in Washington. The pomp and pageantry go along with it but is it time to make it count again? I’m glad it doesn’t count for home field anymore that was ridiculous and we all know the Cubs were robbed in 2016 but I’m a huge fan of the game and if they got away from fan voting and stuck to just picking the players on statistics alone, would that be more relevant? Or what if they just had a couple of players chosen by fans only? One thing is for certain, Javier Baez will be there.

“How could you not have him on the All-Star team? How could you not want him on the All-Star team? That’s what we’re attempting to showcase Major League Baseball-wise to draw young fans into the game are players like Javy. He has mass appeal. People want to see Javy at this game. They see him in the World Baseball Classic and he’s very popular there. I have to believe, I want to believe, he’ll get on that team somehow. You can look at numbers all you want, but that’s what people want to see, they want to see Baez play baseball.” Maddon said.

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Rizzo Breaks Record in Cubs Win

Phillies Cubs Baseball

This could be a scary thing when Anthony Rizzo starts swinging the bat. Yesterday, Rizzo swatted his tenth homer of the season on route to a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“We come in, we battle. [Wednesday] was a special moment at Wrigley for the whole team and all of Chicago. We’re going in the right direction. We just have to keep playing baseball.” Rizzo said.

In fact it was his 175th home run, beating The Hawk Andre Dawson’s record on the Cubs list.

“They’ve been trying to pitch him a certain way and he’s getting to it,” Maddon said. “He’s really smart. He hits balls [to right], but normally his home runs to me are gap to gap. He’s just getting his hands through on the barrel to the ball really well. … He’s been trending pretty good over the last month and a half.”

So, as the Cubs are steamrolling their way up the National League Central standings they’re 1/2 game back of the Brewers and Rizzo is connecting at the right time. If they could take the Central before the All Star break, things will be all right. If they can get Tyler Chatwood working, then things will be aces.

“His stuff was a little more crisp, a little more sharp execution-wise,” said catcher Chris Gimenez, who has caught Chatwood in back-to-back starts. “He did a good job battling. He’s so worried about trying to execute to the most perfect intent as opposed to really pound the zone. That’s what we’ve been trying to get in his head a little more. Throw the ball on the white and you can expand off it.”

Today’s game is a big one against Pittsburgh. The Cubs need to win and get some leverage heading into Monday’s all too important series against the Brewers. The Cubs are in a good position with the momentum, there’s still room for improvement because all of their wins have come against mediocre teams. They have to put on the burners and get a groove going and I can see it happening. If they can also get their pitching in sync with their hitters, they can win it all.

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Cubs Sound An Awful lot like Guns N Roses

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You know when you go back years later and you’re driving to work or somewhere and you just want to listen to something different, so you throw on a tune you haven’t heard in a while and realize it’s not as bad as they said it was all those years ago?

I did that with Chinese Democracy, Guns N Roses much maligned cd they put out ten years ago. It was awesome man, and gets stuck in your head.

The 2018 edition of the Chicago Cubs are kind of like that record. Last night, they beat the San Francisco Giants 8-3 to take the series.  Javier Baez connected with a three run homer in the fourth inning and the Cubs never looked back.

“In batting practice I pulled one ball,” Baez said. “I felt great after that whole batting practice. It was to the right side. I was just trying to get my timing down and see the ball through the sun. When I do that, I see the ball really well.”

Like the Chinese Democracy record, when the Cubs are great, they’re bang on but sometimes, they feel like a work in progress a la Tyler Chatwood.

He’s walked a lot of batters which isn’t going to cut it in October. In fact, that could be just downright nasty if that happens.

“We have work to do,” Maddon said. “I really believe in this fellow, and his stuff is that good. We just have to get a more stable routine that permits him to control himself when he gets out there. We need to get him more routine oriented, that he has an anchor to hold onto when the ball’s not going where he wants it to.

“When he’s out on the mound, he’s trying so hard to throw a strike and not to walk somebody, and that’s the issue. We’ve got to get him beyond that. If that’s your focus, sure enough, you’re going to walk somebody. We’ve got to get beyond that.”

True champions are made with pitching and the Cubs need to figure out their rotation in a hurry or their chances will fall, come, well the fall.

“I’m grinding right now, for sure,” he said. “But the good thing is we won the game.”

 

The Cubs Are At The Dawn of a New ERA

Indians 10, Cubs 1

Well that was an ugly game, now wasn’t it? In their 10-1 loss to Cleveland, Cubs pitcher Tyler Chatwood gave up six walks in just over two innings.

“He’s got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball — it’s busy what he does with his hand,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s something he’s done for a while. It’s not something he can change easily. … You can see the movement from the side, how good it is. We’ve got to harness it somehow. I spoke to him on the bench and reassured him that it’ll be fine. He knows that. Man, that’s good stuff. We’ve just got to get him in that zone.”

It’s been his Achilles Heel all season and even though it looked like he’s been trying to overcome it, last night it was bad.

“It’s definitely frustrating, because one at-bat I’ll feel really good, and the next at-bat I’m fighting myself,” Chatwood said. “It’s even more frustrating that I’m putting us behind a guy like [Trevor] Bauer, the way he’s throwing the ball right now.

Although the Cubs played well behind the plate garnering ten hits, the problem was not advancing the runners. If a ball club chalks up that many hits, they’ve got to get those guys home. 0-10 with RISP isn’t going to cut it.

“I’m trying to force pitches rather than just letting it happen,” Chatwood said. “Little mechanical thing. I’m drifting down the mound. I don’t know where I’ve created that bad habit. … Last time I was able to stay into rhythm. Tonight I was battling rushing rather than staying back. It’s just keeping that feeling and maintaining that.”

The ironic part is that the Cubs were expecting huge dividends from their starting rotation and so far this season, they’re 27th in team ERA with 3.42

That has to change.

Is there any truth to the rumour of Manny Machado in the pinstripes?

“What we have here is a special unit, a special team,” Albert Almora said. “Like [Machado] said, and like I’m saying right now, that’s up to the front office guys to make those kinds of decisions. We have a great team here as we stand, so we’ll see what happens.”

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Cubs Stink in Extra Inning Loss To Cardinals

Cardinals 8, Cubs 6 (10 inn.)

It went into extra innings, ten to be exact. The Chicago Cubs used to be a team that, “Always found a way to win” but lately after their fourth straight loss, the Cubs have suddenly found a lot more ways to lose. In yesterday’s 8-6 loss to rivals St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs gave up more walks.

This might come across as a maudlin tribute to their former glorious 2016 season but the head scratching continues.

We’re not as good as we can be,” Joe Maddon said of the Cubs’ defensive efforts. “We hold ourselves to a really high standard defensively, and when we make a mistake, it jumps at you.”

As well as they should. These are former champs who have been making uncharacteristically weird mistakes that have happened this season. There’s no excuse now that it’s May or that Yu Darvish needs time to adjust.

This is it.

This season, the Cubs were tapped to have the best rotation in baseball. Yesterday, Tyler Chatwood blew a 4-0 lead by giving up walks and a hit by pitch. Score was tied and came out of the inning, but walked the next batter in the fifth.

“There is no reason for that fourth inning to happen right there,” a frustrated Chatwood said. “Just throw the ball over the plate and let them get themselves out. It’s just me beating myself right now.”

It’s easy for me to point this out and rail against the team, I’ve never played pro ball. The Cubs play this season has been nothing short of inconsistent. We’ve watched them string some wins together and briefly on top of the Central but now watch as they’re 2.5 back of the Cardinals. The real question is why?

The other question is how much more can Joe Maddon take and how can he keep sticking up for their sometimes atrocious play?

“It’s delivery-related because he’s pretty tough,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “I just think he needs to find that rhythm.” on Chatwood’s 3.31 ERA

I’m one for a glass being half full but the Cubs haven’t exactly stunk nor have they been that good.

“I had trouble locating my fastball all inning, really,” Brandon Morrow said. “My arm was a little alive today and I was flying open and I was having trouble getting it down the entire inning.”

Hey, even the normally solid Morrow looked human.

There’s no other way to put this but the Cubs stink. I’ve said it, someone had to, it might as well be me. Sometime, this season there are going to be changes at the manager level. It’ll either be a talking to or a revaluation of the situation but as it stands now, the Cubs aren’t going to win their division or get back to glory days.

“I’m putting myself in bad situations, and it’s hurting the team. There’s no reason for that fourth inning to happen there. Just throw the ball over the plate. It’s just me beating myself now and the team. I just have to fix that.” Chatwood said.

A lot needs to be fixed.

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Cubs Showing That Everybody’s In

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This could be the dawn of a new era for the Chicago Cubs. While the last couple of years has showcased the hitting side of the Northside powerhouse, this year’s version has high lighted a more streamlined lower scoring edition. In yesterday’s 2-0 shutout win over the Brewers, the Cubs, perhaps they’re getting older, a more patient group.

“When you can play somebody in your own division eight times and do well, that’s always a boon,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They came in winning eight in a row. I have a lot of respect for them. We didn’t beat up their pitching, either. Don’t be deceived here. They pitched really well, too. They played really well, too. We just happened to pitch a little better in the series.

“They’re a very good ballclub, and we just happened to get them this time around,” Maddon said. “They’re never to be taken for granted.”

Having five shutouts in a month against the same team, I wouldn’t blame them if they took things for granted. The Cubs are 1/2 game back of division leaders Pittsburgh Pirates  and the record setting debut of Nick Kingham  

The Cubs pitching was so good over the Brewers that their last four pitchers allowed only 1 earned run.

“It’s pretty cool to be part of it,” Tyler Chatwood said. “You don’t want to be the guy left behind, so I think everybody’s kind of pushing each other and I think that’s what good rotations do.”

So even if their bats fell silent, the Cubs pitching took over and now we can safely say that the Cubs are looking more and more like the team promised at the start of the season. The team has been inconsistent. They win one, lose one and the order and the rotation has been all over the place. It’s great to see them finally coming together. Perhaps, it’s the team getting older, more seasoned and coming into their own but as Ben Zobrist becomes the elder statesman for the club, Chicago has to remember that their ticket to respectability was all ready punched that magical night in Cleveland. Theo Epstein helped build it in a Kevin Costner kind of way, but the rest is on the team to continue that legacy. We’re finally seeing it this season.

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