Cubs vs Blue Jays World Series?

Chicago Cubs

Tonight, the Chicago Cubs will find out who they’ll play in the NLCS. Will it be the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Washington Nationals? I’m taking the Nationals. The Cubs played better this season against them. If only because of that four game sweep back in May, the Cubs are going to have an easier time. Sure, the nationals are stacked but the Cubs are better defenders and I’m trusting in 2016’s playoff hero so far, Javier Baez.

Max Scherzer is pitching tonight so he won’t be ready for Saturday. There’s Dusty Baker managing against his old team and we all know what happened last playoffs at Wrigley when Dusty was in a Wrigley dugout? Speaking of superstitions, I think the Cubs have finally chased whatever superstitions haunted them. This being the season of ghosts and unusual occurrences, that last game 4 between the Giants/Cubs wasn’t so much about curses or anything but we were watching a team dig down deep and fight their way back.

“I think the biggest thing is nobody really cares in there about a curse or a goat or anything else,” Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said. “If we make a mistake, we’re not going to blame it on a curse or anything else like that. We’re going to blame it on ourselves and be accountable for it and move on to the next play or the next moment.

“Plus, I think we’ve got too many young guys in there that don’t even know what that stuff is,” Lester said. “It’s almost better to play naive and just go out and worry about us, worry about the Cubs, and not anything else in the past or, like I said, any animals.”

I hope Daniel Murphy decides to not go bear hunting this fall.

Cubs in 5

So, should the Cubs move on to the World Series I’d love to see them go up against the Toronto Blue Jays. It’d be a classic matchup that would rival the Giants/Cubs NLDS. Imagine Edwin Encarnation vs Kris Bryant. Jose Bautista against Anthony Rizzo or Addison Russell taking on Troy Tulowitski?

The Cubs are so evenly matched against the Blue Jays that it would take on epic proportions. I’m not tempting fate, just daydreaming. Neither team has played each other this year, which would add to the suspense of the series. “Canada’s Team” vs the Chicago Cubs.

Cubs in 6

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Cubs Preview October

Anthony Rizzo

Well that was exciting! The unofficial preview to October ended in spectacular fashion despite the North Siders dropping the season series to the Washington nationals by a score of 5-4 in extra innings.

“Neither team wants to lose, both teams are totally invested — it was fabulous,” Joe Maddon said. “Of course, I wanted to win the game. Regardless, I was very happy to be part of that game today. It tells me a lot about our group and why I feel really, really strongly about our group in the future. That had a lot of strong indicators.”

The Cubs get an off day today to according to the schedule but it could easily be considered a great day to recoup and lick their wounds with a hard fought series like that. The way the Cubs battled back in yesterday’s game was nothing short of incredible. You had Anthony Rizzo‘s two run rocket in the ninth and then Addison Russell wanted in on the fun in the 12th inning, hitting an RBI single.

“They’re the two best teams in baseball going at it, exchanging punches,” Jason Hammel said of the series. “It was exciting. We had our chances to do it and they answered back, and that’s what you’re going to get out of two teams who know how to do something and create something that’s not there. We had our chances and they answered late.”

If it’s that tired cliche of “That’s the kind of loss a team should take, then yesterday was it.    They were two young teams hungry for the win and it felt like an old sandlot game, or perhaps a chess match. The only glaring concern was the bullpen. We know that help is coming in the form of Joe Nathan and Brian Matusz, plus there’s the trade deadline. if the Cubs can shore up some arms after the deadline, then there’s no telling where this team is headed in October. Heck, we even can look into the future a bit and guess it is th Washington Nationals.

“I don’t want to — I guess I will say it,” Anthony Rizzo said. “It kind of had that playoff feel. You can’t ever take anything for granted there. That was a fun game. A crazy game. The type of games you see in October.”

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Cubs and Nationals Could Be Playoff Preview

Kyle Hendricks

Compared to their debacle over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, last night’s 4-1 loss to the much better Washington Nationals proved that this week is going to test the Chicago Cubs on their way to October.

Max Scherzer controlled the game, striking out 11. It could very well come down to these two teams in the National League in October, they’re that good.

“That’s what you’ll see when you get two really good baseball teams is you’ll see a lot of that close action and it’s a battle of inches that permits you to win or lose those games and they won the battle of the inches tonight,” Maddon said.

This week will be tough because after the Nationals, the Cubs will face the Pirates and the Cardinals. See what I mean? This week will show what kind of team the Cubs are.

“You’ve got to beat the good pitchers,” Maddon said. “In order to win in the playoffs, you have to beat good pitchers. [Scherzer] is one of them. We beat him one time, he beat us this time. In the playoffs, you see good pitching. That’s why teams get to the playoffs is they have good pitching. Bottom line, you have to compete against the good ones.”

Not only good pitching but an all around great team in the Nationals. It’s really good that the loss came at this time of the year. It’ll expose what the Cubs need to improve on going forward in the season.

“You’re dealing with arguably the best team in baseball right there,” Addison Russell said praising the Nationals. “Guys that come in every day wanting to win and they have the bats and arms to prove it.”

The fact that the Cubs were 43-18 heading into last night’s matchup and was their best start since 1918 was an exciting momentum builder. It kind of felt like a playoff game.

“I don’t know about that,” Kyle Hendricks said. “It’s still June. We have a ways to go. We faced them at home. It’s just two good teams facing off at this point. It’s good competition, really good baseball. We’ll enjoy these next two games.”

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Mrs. Baez Proud of Her Cub

Javier Baez

It’s fitting that Javier Baez hit that walk off home run. It’s just downright poignant, in fact. Yesterday, in case you hadn’t heard the party rumbling as far as Canada that the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 to sweep the series.

On Mother’s Day of all days to hit a walk home run is just special. Mrs. Baez is proud of her son.

“You can see how much power he’s got,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was pretty much a one-hand flip of the bat. That had rockets on it, man, and that was really well struck.”

So what if Jake Arrieta didn’t get the win? We just discovered he’s human and every human has a day off.

“An incredible series and a pretty special way to end it the way Javy did today,”Arrieta said.

This was definitely the series that’s going to define the rest of the Cubs season. The way they battled back in yesterday’s matchup and reached down deep in the end to get that home run by Baez. If this is their year, it’s going to be one to remember. They’re dominating every team in every game  in just about every category. The other thing that’s making it so special, that little secret that every Chicago Cubs fan knows, is that there is nobody on this planet that remembers the last time the Cubs were so dominant. There was nobody alive the last time they won the World Series.

The fact that they’re 24-6 and have won seven in a row is huge, but does it, or will it transform into a World Series victory? Odds are in their favour, but here are some interesting results.

The Chicago Cubs have outscored their opponents 180-79 and their 6.21 Runs Per Game average is tops in baseball. Now, I can just gush all that I want about these North Siders but nobody can deny that they’re the feel good story in sports for the season. Long time fans aren’t pointing their fingers, “I told you so”No, they’re just smiling with satisfaction that their time has come and they’re playing great baseball. If, at the end of the season and they don’t win it all, it could be disappointing in that “I opened a Christmas present and wasn’t expecting this?” kind of way, but they will wear that shirt with pride knowing they gave it their all and that’s all that anyone can expect.

“Year 2 is easier to vibe to the same frequency as him Maddon,” Anthony Rizzo said, using his manager’s vernacular. “We don’t really wrap our head around it [the team’s record], but it is a good start.”

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Zobrist Hits Two HR’s In Cubs Win

Chicago Cubs

Who would have thought Ben Zobrist would be the powerhouse that he’s become? Yesterday, as the Cubs gave the Nationals a good beating on the way to a 8-6 way too close to call victory, Zobrist crushed two homers.

“I’ve seen this before, and it’s so nice to see this power resurgence,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who has known Zobrist since their days together with the Rays. “He’s getting pitches and not missing them, and it really provides protection. The other team has to think twice, and that’s good.”

It was perfect conditions for a Cubs win. The sun was shining, the flags were blowing out and Wrigley was packed. Ernie Banks would have been proud. In fact, it goes without saying that both Ernie and Ron Santo are spending their free time right now, smiling from above at what the Cubs are accomplishing this season.

There were 4 home runs yesterday. Both Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella joined in on the derby. But the fun didn’t stop there. John Lackey notched his 2000th career strikeout and the crowd cheered their approval. The home run marked Rizzo’s 10th of the season.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know I was that close,” Lackey said. “I had a runner at first and was trying to get out of the inning. I guess [2,000 K’s] means I’m old and I’ve been around a while and have done a few things.”

As much as those accolades mean too guys like Lackey, they’d trade them in for a championship ring. The Cubs can clinch the series today with a win. Jason Hammel gets the start and if there is any player who could stick it to the Nationals, it’s him. Not only is he off to an amazing start going 4-0, but he’s a whopping 9-0 against the Nationals.

Yes, summer has unofficially reached the North Side with temperatures climbing to almost 80 degrees. The Cubs are playing their best ball in over a hundred years and making fans believers.

“It’s exciting to finally play here with the wind blowing out a little bit here today. It was great,” Zobrist said. “Any time you start feeling good at the plate, it makes the game a lot more fun, especially with a nice, warm day, the wind blowing out. I think probably a week ago, both of those balls I hit today would’ve been caught, but fortunately for me today they were blown out a little bit. Just feeling good right now, and I think we’re playing great baseball.”

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Cubs Show Their Pride Against Nationals

Chicago Cubs

 

It was the match up they promised. Two teams poised to go far this season. A former manager returning to Wrigley’s sacred field trying to carve a destiny of his own but Last night, the mighty Chicago Cubs proved why Dusty Baker, the often booed Daniel Murphy and the rest of the Washington Nationals do not belong in the same category as the Cubs.

The Cubs beat the Nationals 5-2 behind crafty Kyle Hendricks who pitched six shutout innings.  The Cubs are on their way to their best start in history. Right now, they’re 21-6. Their best since 1907 when they went 23-5

“I don’t look at the actual numbers, but I know what some of those guys are doing,” Hendricks said. “It’s unbelievable. We keep pushing each other like we’ve talked about. It’s every next guy. They got to pass the baton and keep it rolling.”

The first time the Cubs faced Daniel Murphy, the boos were inevitable. The tensions were flaring and even Dexter Fowler was ejected for a questionable call. I don’t think it was the right thing for the Umpire to eject Fowler because it was a strike but Fowler was arguing about the strike zone. There were a few so so calls.

“I’m always respectful,” Fowler said. “I asked, ‘Is that the top of the zone?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Are you going to call it away and down?’ I want to know the strike zone. He said, ‘That’s enough.’ I said, ‘Enough of what? I’m asking you a question.'”

It was a fair question because of Fowler’s Lead-Off abilities. Knowing where the strike zone is crucial to the guy because if the Umpire is calling low strikes and not always the high ones, it’s going to adjust Fowler’s strategy.

Agree to disagree with both of them.

Last night’s game tested the Cubs’ mettle. They have to win this series to prove to themselves that they’re as good as the papers say they are.

“The Nationals are a great team and they’ll be good for the rest of the season,” Ben Zobrist said. “We played good ball tonight, and they got a taste of it. But we’ve got three more games against them.”

Another key player who had an outstanding game was Tommy La Stella who went 3 for 4 with a double and two runs. He’s an outstanding offensive weapon that the Cubs will use throughout the season. It’s awesome to watch him.

A sweep of the Nationals will prove the Cubs are the best. Tonight’s matchup will pit John Lackey against another veteran Matt Scherzer. This series is playing like an award winning teams. You’ve got Manager of The Year Joe Maddon, Rookie of The Year Kris Bryant, Cy Young winners and National League MVP Bryce Harper. It’s no wonder these are the two best teams in baseball.

“If you’re a Major League Baseball fan, I want to believe you’ll be looking in our direction for the next four days — it’s good stuff,” Maddon said.

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Cubs Feeling National Pride in Washington

Chicago Cubs

So the Chicago Cubs have the Washington National’s number. Yesterday, the Cubs beat the Nationals 6-3 but it was the play of Chris Coghlan that changed the landscape. He cracked one out into right field during the fifth inning with nobody out, the game tied and the bases loaded. You couldn’t have scripted it any better.

“I’ve been saying it all along, I know we can play with the big boys in the league,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “But you’ve got to prove it. We’ve played less effectively against teams that have been struggling this year. We’ve played well against teams that are doing well.”

Now, if they can only string a few together against the Brewers of the league, then they’ll be in business.

Hey, how about the play of Kris Bryant? Not that he needs any questions regarding this outstanding rookie but he continued to play extremely well and like a veteran to boot, yesterday, he scored twice.

“Well, the big thing is pitch selection, controlling the strike zone,”  Maddon said. “He’s done a really great job with that. There will be moments where he may chase for an at-bat or two, but he’s able to bring it back in order. And you’re seeing the year he’s having based on the fact that he’s really increasing his plate discipline.”

Another thing I noticed was the amazing pitching of Jason Motte. I know, I know; he doesn’t get enough credit for the work he does but he was practically lights out yesterday throwing some heated mid 90’s scorchers across the plate.

“Leading up to this point, Ronny knew when he was pitching, Stropey had a good idea and everyone else was ready when the phone rang,” Motte said. “Today was today, and go out there next game and be ready to go.”

He kind of gets lost in the mix but yesterday was his day.

So the Cubs have the day off before taking on the Tigers in Detroit. I wish I could say Jon Lester should have a cake walk with this, but I’m starting to cringe every time he starts.

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