Chicago Cubs, Jon Lester, Kris Bryant, Wrigley Field

Cubs Post 15-15 Record So Far: Need Pitching Help

The Cubs dropped their third series in a row and second to Milwaukee in a week’s time, falling 3-2 on Sunday in 11 innings at Miller Park. The cause yet again was pitching, this time it was the bullpen that gave in. Starter Kyle Hendricks delivered five and 1/3 innings of five hit- shutout ball […]

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Chicago Cubs, Jon Lester, Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro

Cubs Undone in Extras as D-Backs Take Fifth Straight

Posted on 23 May 2015

The Cubs had their chances at Chase Field Friday night but failed to capitalize on a surging Diamondbacks squad and ended up taking an exhausting 13 inning loss as they begin their three game series in Arizona. Jon Lester pitched seven innings of five hit, two run ball which was enough to take the game to extras tied at two a piece. Once there, Bryant and Castro both singled in runs to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead that should have been enough, but with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the tenth inning, Diamondbacks first baseman  Paul Goldschmidt hit a two run home run to tie it up and keep the game alive.

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt watches his grand slam home run during the eighth inning of an MLB baseball game against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago, Saturday, June 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Both teams loaded the bases in the twelfth and thirteenth innings respectively but couldn’t scratch one across until the Diamondbacks finally ended it on a pair of hits in the bottom of the thirteenth to win their fifth straight game. It was an exciting contest that kept Central Time Zone viewers awake well into the morning hours but not quite the result we had hoped for.

The top of the lineup was fantastic for the Cubs as spots one through six accounted for nine of their eleven hits.  Lets hope there is no hangover tonight as Jake Arrieta takes the mound vs. the D-Backs, Rubby De La Rosa. First pitch is 9:10 PM CST, so we are in for another late one!

Go Cubs Go!

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Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks

Hendricks Goes the Distance as Cubs Take Series Vs. Padres

Posted on 22 May 2015

Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks had the game of his life last night pitching nine strong innings for a five-hit, seven-strikeout, no walk, complete game gem. Given the Cubs pitching troubles and Maddon’s penchant for the quick hook on high pitch counts, this was something to behold. Hendricks had everything working and even when he did allow a base runner, he was quick to get the next out, most of them off double play balls as he threw 108 pitches; 71 of them for strikes.  He picked up hist first win of the season and a huge boost of confidence.

CUBS win in SD

“I’m going to remember this one, definitely, for a long time,” said Hendricks, “It was just one of those days that finally clicked. I’m not going to say I needed it but I kind of did need it. I haven’t been throwing very well. Thank God it finally clicked today.”

The Cubs have needed more out of their starters and they appear to be getting it as the unofficial start to summer looms this weekend and with it, rising temperatures. Wada showed flashes of brilliance on Wednesday and Jon Lester, with his 1.67 ERA in May, goes for his fifth straight win tonight in Arizona. If this keeps up, that 3.5 game deficit in the division could be whittled away sooner rather than later.

The Cubs offense got in on the action as well, with Kris Bryant and Addison Russell both hitting dingers to provide the run support as the Cubs cruised 3 – 0 in winning their third straight series. A team that started the year as an over-hyped wild card contender should now have the attention of the entire National League. This team appears to be the real deal after two months of surprisingly solid play. They are tied for the fourth best record in the NL and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. They owe much of that to their young stars; Anthony Rizzo, Bryant, and Russell.

KB HR Petco

“I think we have a lot to offer for this team,” Russell said. “We’re talented guys, I believe.”

A lot of people on the North Side and the League believe so, too.

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Chicago Cubs, Justin Grimm, Tsuyoshi Wada

Wada K’s Nine in 2015 Debut; Bullpen Comes Through

Posted on 21 May 2015

Tsuyoshi Wada made his claim to a rotation spot in his first start back striking out nine Padres in only 4  2/3 innings before getting a quick hook from Manager Joe Maddon.

“He was outstanding,” Maddon said. “He had great stuff. He had nine punchouts in 4 2-3, and I’m more about the Cubs winning as opposed to any particular pitcher winning.”

Though he only threw 69 pitches, Maddon kept him on a tight leash given it was his first start back and he had done enough with those pitches to build some confidence moving forward. Nine K’s through almost five innings is pretty good stuff, indeed and bodes well for Wada joining the rotation as Wood’s replacement.

Wada

In past games going to the bullpen that early would have been downright scary, but five Cubs relievers combined for 2 hits over the final 4  1/3 innings to make a 3-2 lead hold up and inspired confidence in the pitching staff as a whole.  Wada also got an unexpected workout after taking a walk in the fifth inning and then coming around to score on Dexter Fowler’s RBI triple. Kris Bryant did his part as well getting a hit in the first and a sac fly RBI in the fifth that provided the winning margin.

While the offense did just enough to win, this game was all about the pitching and it was nice to see it as a strong suit after taking some serious lumps the last few weeks. Justin Grimm was the linchpin as he came on to work out a jam in the fifth. He pitched 1 1/3 innings while striking out three to earn the win as the Cubs scored in the top half of the inning to take the lead. His presence has been a huge boost to the once shaky unit and a stabilizing force in the middle innings.

Grimm

The Cubs still sit four games behind the Cards with a  22 – 17 record. Kyle Hendricks takes the mound tonight to complete the three game series. Game time is 8:10PM CST.

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Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs, Jason Hammel, Starlin Castro

Cubs Waste Solid Effort from Hammel; Give Game Away on Errors

Posted on 20 May 2015

Jason Hammel did his best to outduel Padres pitcher James Shields, pitching seven innings while allowing only three hits and striking out eight but he was undone by three costly errors, all of which led to runs and ultimately cost the Cubs the game.  Up 2-0 after solo home runs from Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler, Hammel appeared to be cruising entering the fifth inning until Kris Bryant overthrew Anthony Rizzo on Justin Upton’s hit to third base. Upton came around to score on the next at-bat.

Hammel at Petco

Then in the seventh, Castro failed to field a fairly easy ball hit right at him allowing Matt Kemp to reach safely. This ended up extending the inning that would allow the tying run to come across. The biggest and most costly error was saved for last, with Addison Russell dropping a pop-up just beyond the infield which enabled Derek Norris to double in two runs later in the inning. Despite another Coghlan homer in the ninth, the Cubs were sunk 4-3 with James Shields striking out eleven.

Russell at Petco

You really hope these kind of games don’t come back to haunt the Cubs later in the season. It’s one thing to have a team beat you but it’s another to beat yourself. This is precisely what the Cubs did Tuesday night and it’s a shame, especially for someone pitching as well as Jason Hammel. The errors by Bryant and Russell while unfortunate, can be reasoned away. Bryant is still a rookie despite what his stellar start would tell you and is bound to make a mistake from time to time. Russell is in the same boat while also still learning the ropes of a new position at second base. No doubt these were costly errors but they should disappear with time and experience.

Unfortunately, time and experience have not been kind to Castro in this department. The five year vet just can’t seem to make the routine play from time to time and it’s something that has to be taken into consideration when considering his future with the club, especially with Russell waiting on the other side of second base to claim his spot. Castro is still young but he’s been in the league long enough now to not be making these types of mistakes with such regularity. He has shown marked improvement but still these issues persist.  How it all shakes out is anyone’s guess but Castro needs to play near perfect the rest of the season for the Cubs to even consider him their long-term shortstop, let alone a long-term player on their team.

 

Next Up: Tsuyoshi Wada makes his Cubs debut this season coming up from Triple-A Iowa after recovering from a groin injury. He will face the Padres Tyson Ross. Game time is 9:10PM CST.

 

 

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Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs, Travis Wood

Cubs Complete Near Perfect Homestand; Get the Day Off

Posted on 18 May 2015

The Cubs are off today after playing for the last seventeen straight days, and they have earned it. After struggling a bit on their road trip to St. Louis and Milwaukee, the Cubs got hot as they returned home in sweeping a four game series with the Mets and then taking two of three from the Pirates this past weekend. Their six game win streak helped to chip away at the Cardinals’ division lead which is now just four games.

Anthony_Rizzo

They did it with pitching, hitting, and defense making this the most complete Cubs team we have seen in years. Sure, there is room to improve (See: Bullpen), but everyone gets a break after a homestand as entertaining as this one. Anthony Rizzo continues to put this team on his back collecting nine hits, six walks, and five RBI’s the last seven days making him on OBP machine with .563. He and Kris Bryant back to back are as formidable as any heart of the order you will see in baseball these days.  With Travis Wood set to join the bullpen and Tsuyoshi Wada grabbing a starter’s spot, the Cubs are still tinkering with issues at the back end of their rotation and relief corp. This move should help address both as Wada has had pretty good numbers during his rehab and Wood should provide some long relief if another starter continues to struggle.

We are rolling through May now and the Cubs have put themselves in a great position at least for a wild card spot. Another month of solid play and we should see them as buyers at the deadline for the first time in a long time. Until then they just need to stay hungry and keep riding their big bats as far as they can take them.

Next Up: Jason Hammel takes on Jame Shields as the Cubs open a three game series in San Diego on Tuesday night. First Pitch is 9:10PM CST, a late start for mid-Westerners with the team on the west coast all week.

Go Cubs Go!

 

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Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs, Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant

Cubs Tear It Open in the Fifth; Complete Four Game Sweep of Mets

Posted on 14 May 2015

Coming in today, one would have been fine ending this series three games to one given how well the Cubs had played in the first three games. After getting down 3 – 0, no one would have blamed you for writing this one off but these Cubs just wouldn’t quit today.  They battled back after falling behind 5-1 to tie the game with a fifth inning barrage that featured big hits from Rizzo and Bryant. Dexter Fowler also had a solo shot in fourth. These Cubs saw a Mets club desperate for a win and stepped on them to complete a four game sweep of the NL East leaders and raise their record to four games over .500.

Dexter Fowler HR

After last night’s walk-off walk to win the game, anything today was just icing on the cake and this cake tastes pretty good.  The hits weren’t plentiful but the Cubs made them count scoring six runs off of only six hits with two walks and a few HBP’s.  Travis Wood and Jorge Soler continued their struggles with Wood getting tagged for five runs and Soler still not able to find his rhythm but the top of the order and the Cubs bullpen picked them up with the latter allowing only three hits over the last four and 2/3 innings.

We may look back on this series as an important mile-marker in the long grind that is the MLB season. These Cubs just gained some valuable experience not only competing against one of the best pitching staffs in baseball but in never giving up and continuing to find a way. Anytime you can sweep a three game series you are doing something right but to take four straight from a talented Mets club is special. This is a huge confidence builder and will hopefully carry over to the weekend.

The rest that Cubs starters provided the bullpen this series cannot be overlooked either. After a pretty rough road stretch where the bullpen was asked to pitch three to four innings at times, the Cubs came home and did a complete 180 for most of this series. A rested bullpen is a happy bullpen and a sign that your starters are pitching well, something you could say the Cubs did this week. The only negative is that the Cardinals still refuse to come back down to earth; keeping their five game cushion in the division for now.

The Cubs get the chance to chip away at that tomorrow as Kyle Hendricks takes on Bucs starter, Jeff Locke. Game time is 1:20PM on what should a warm afternoon at Wrigley.

Go Cubs Go!

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