Archive | Chicago Cubs

Cubs Shelled by Reds as Bullpen Falters Late; Drop Opener 13 – 6

Posted on 01 September 2015 by Bob

One night after Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter and a red-eye flight from LA back to Chicago, it was probably expecting too much for this team to play aesthetically pleasing baseball, let alone get a win.  The Cubs offense did their part, tallying six runs which on most occasions would be more than enough for a win, but the bullpen completely crumbled as Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, and James Russell gave up 10 runs combined after Kyle Hendricks’ modest five innings of five-hit, three-run ball. Yes, six of those runs came in the ninth with the Cubs already trailing by two and the game seemingly over, but it’s still not a good sign when on the cusp of September the back end of your bullpen remains dicey.

Grimm struggles vs. REDS

The game was scoreless through three innings and 1 – 1 after four when Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips broke the game open with a two-out, two-run RBI single to put the Reds out in front. The Cubs would battle back in the bottom half of the inning as Addison Russell had a two-run, RBI double to knot the game back up. Kyle Schwarber would single in another run, as would Kris Bryant, to tip the balance back in the Cubs favor, 5 – 3.

It all went out the window after Hendricks left the game and Grimm came on to start the sixth inning immediately walking Ivan De Jesus before serving up a homer to Eugenio Suarez. History would repeat itself as Grim allowed Tucker Barnhart to reach on a single to right before pinch hitter Adam Duvall went deep to left field with a two-run shot of his own to put the Reds in front for good. The score remained as such until the ninth inning; one of the worst you will see all year from this Cubs team as Travis Wood walked three batters while collecting only two outs. James Russell came on only needing to get one man out but gave up an RBI single and a double in addition to not one, but two errors from second baseman Starlin Castro that lead to runs.  Mercifully, Jay Bruce ground out to second to end the inning and the Cubs bullpen’s woeful night. Addison Russell added a solo home run off of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth to provide a minor silver lining. The Reds took the game 13 – 6.

Castro struggles

Cubs manager offered his assessment and from the sounds of it, he didn’t like the book:

“(It was) kind of a bad ending,” Maddon said. “It didn’t start too good, the middle part of the book was actually a pretty good read and then eventually it became a nasty ending. I’m over it already. Just throw that one away.”

That’s what the Cubs will look to do tonight as the calendar has finally flipped to September and the finish line has come into focus. They stand 5.5 games behind the Pirates for the top Wild Card spot, and are 5.5 games ahead of San Francisco for the second and final Wild Card position. They are firmly entrenched in a playoff race, something that would have sounded very hard to believe at this time last year.

They look to get back on track tonight in a make or break start for the struggling Dan Haren as the roster expands to 40. He will face Anthony DeSclafani for the Reds with a 7:05PM CST start. Hopefully, we will get a look at the newly acquired outfielder, Austin Jackson at some point for the Cubs. Javy Baez will also start at second base due to the roster expansion.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

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Arrieta Throws No-Hitter; Improves to 6 – 0 in August as Cubs Top Dodgers to End Road Trip

Posted on 31 August 2015 by Bob

Jake Arrieta capped an August to remember by throwing his first career no-hitter against the Dodgers in LA on Sunday night, snapping a four game skid in the process and getting the Cubs back on track as they end their west coast road trip and head back to the Friendly Confines.

Aug 30, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) reacts after thawing his final pitch of the ninth inning for a no hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Cubs won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-217228 ORIG FILE ID: 20150830_mta_aj4_250.JPG

Arrieta had flirted with no-hitters before but this was different. It feels like this entire season has been building to this moment and Arrieta finally got to show the country just how good a pitcher he is. He was simply dominant, striking out 12 while walking only one man in 116 pitches to notch his MLB-leading 17th win. He was aided by some great defense behind him as well, and a fielding error by Starlin Castro at second base that some felt should have been ruled a hit, but was ultimately upheld as an error seeing as Castro should have made the play. Castro would atone for his “happy” accident later in the game by snagging a line drive off the bat of Carl Crawford that had hit written all over it.

Kris Bryant provided the game’s only score, a two-run homer in the top of the first off of Dodgers starter, Alex Wood that would prove more than enough as Arrieta was damn near perfect. He lowered his ERA in August to an astounding 0.43 and his season ERA to 2.11 while tallying his 14th consecutive quality start. There is no more beating around the bush; this man is the Cubs ace, their true #1, their stopper, and almost 100% positively their starter in a potential one game, Wild Card playoff. If you need any further proof (and you shouldn’t), take a look at this road trip. The Cubs finished 2-4 with both wins coming courtesy of Arrieta. Sure, they had to face Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw so that record comes with some qualifiers, but Arrieta has put this team on his back and carried them into September contention. It’s rare for a team to come home after a roadtrip with that record and feel good about it, but Arrieta’s gem on Sunday Night Baseball changed the narrative and sent the Cubs back home fired up as they near the stretch run.

Arrieta no hitter 2

Arrieta HAS to be included in the Cy Young discussion now as even before his No-No he had been among the game’s best this season statistically. While much is made of the ROTY and MVP campaigns for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta has been the team’s north star; consistently giving them his best stuff and keeping the good ship Cub afloat in rocky waters.  He personifies what this team is all about and the Cubs will undoubtedly go as far as he can take them. Hopefully this inspires the back end of the rotation to step their game up and try to emulate Arrieta’s discipline and confidence on the mound. Lord knows we need it right now if we have any shot of catching the Pirates.

Arrieta No hitter

Up Next:

The Cubs return home tonight to Chicago to open up a three game set with the Cincinnati Reds. It’s Kyle Hendricks vs. the Reds Michael Lorenzen with first pitch at 7:05PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

 

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Cubs Win 5th Straight as Kris Bryant Hits Walk-Off Home Run to Down Tribe

Posted on 24 August 2015 by Bob

The month of August can be a grind for MLB teams with the All-Star break behind them but October still a ways off. It’s hot, guys are tired, and five months of almost daily baseball can leave a team fatigued mentally as well. It’s usually when the playoff picture begins to come into view, as contenders rise to occasion and the pretenders fall back to the pack. I think it’s safe to call these Cubs contenders after the incredible month they’ve had, with still one week left in August.

The Cubs are 17 – 4 this month so far and after playing an incredible seventeen straight games in Chicago (14 at home, 3 on the south side), finished the “extended” homestand at 14 – 3. Is that home cooking? Some might argue such, given the winds have been blowing out at Wrigley resulting in a high number of balls leaving the yard, but that argument doesn’t hold much water when you consider that each team has to play in the same conditions. This Cubs team is, simply put, very good.

KB Wrigley Walk-off #2

After starting the most recent part of the homestand by getting absolutely mauled by Tigers for two straight games, the Cubs regained their rhythm against Atlanta resulting in a four game sweep and put the cherry on top today as the Cubs won in walk-off fashion behind Kris Bryant’s home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, 2 – 1.  Jon Lester and the Indian’s Corey Kluber battled all afternoon in a low-scoring affair, each giving up only one run a piece while scattering six and four hits respectively. These two were at the top of their game today, and Kluber even flirted with a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The difference being that the Cubs were able to chase Kluber a bit sooner than the Tribe could get to Lester as Jon lasted 8 2/3 innings before allowing the game-tying run to Carlos Santana on a single with two outs in the ninth. That set the stage for the red-hot Bryant to play the hero and cap the Cubs homestand with a bang. Anthony Rizzo provided the game’s first run on a RBI-triple in the seventh, which plated Chris Coghlan who had doubled to left.

It would have been disappointing had the Cubs lost today after coming within one out of a shutout, but Kris Bryant stepped into the batters box with two outs  and made everyone forget the drama of the previous half inning by blasting his 20th home run of the season. The Cubs now sit 21 games over .500 in their relentless pursuit of the Pirates and Cardinals in both the Wild Card and division races; races that still remain open despite the torrid pace each of those clubs is on in their own right.

cubbies-bear-logo

The Cubs now head out on the road for the first time in a while but should have little worry as they currently boast the National League’s best road record at 33 – 25. They will still be tested however as they venture west to face, first the Giants and then the Dodgers in a pivotal road trip that could see them open up an even greater lead in the Wild Card chase as they currently have a 6.5 game cushion over San Francisco for the second spot.

It will be Arrieta vs. Matt Cain tomorrow night by the Bay with first pitch coming in at 9:15PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Get Down Early But Storm Back For Second Straight Win

Posted on 22 August 2015 by Bob

The Cubs got back to their streaking ways on Friday, picking up their second win in a row against the visiting Atlanta Braves after dropping three in a row earlier in the week. The offense continues to impress whether it’s getting out to an early lead or battling back later in games with a “never say die” attitude. It was the fourth game in a row in which the Cubs scored five or more runs making it seven of their last eight contests to reach that threshold. They got it done behind Chris Coghlan’s solo home run in the first to tie the game up at one all. In the fifth, Chris Denorfia grounded into a fielder’s choice that allowed Miguel Montero to score on a throwing error by Braves third baseman, Pedro Ciriaco. Still the Cubs were only able to scratch that one across, while stranding two men on base.

KB doubles vs. Braves

The real damage was done in the bottom of the sixth, as an Anthony Rizzo walk set the table for Kris Bryant’s RBI-scoring double. Montero followed with a double of his own, allowing the Cubs to take the lead 4-3. Rizzo added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, as he singled to right bringing Addison Russell in to score and provide what would be the game’s final score, 5 – 3.

The starting pitching left much to be desired but it wasn’t as bad as the club’s two games against Detroit this week. Kyle Hendricks lasted five innings while giving up seven hits and allowing three runs. He did strike out seven and lasted much longer than his last start (3.1 innings), so there was progress however minor it may seem.

“It was better,” Hendricks said. “It’s still a little frustrating.”

Skipper Joe Maddon concurred, offering some positive reinforcement:

“The beginning was just a little bit sketchy, but then he did settle into that guy,” Maddon said. “I saw a better down angle, I saw the ball down better, I saw some called strikes that they didn’t like, which only means that the ball is moving back over the plate.

That may be a glass half-full assessment but without a formidable offense and excellent outing from the bullpen, the outlook wouldn’t appear as rosy. Jason Motte, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon each pitched one inning of scoreless relief with Rondon being the only one to give up a hit. That proved crucial as the game wore on and Cubs missed a few opportunities to put more runs on the board. Motte picked up his eighth ‘W’ while Shelby Miller took the loss for the Braves.

So notch another Cubs comeback win in the books, another climb through adversity to come out on top; an experience that should prove helpful come October. Chicago improved to 69 – 51 on the season, gaining a game on the Pirates and Cardinals who each suffered losses and keeping a four game cushion over San Francisco for the final Wild Card spot.

They go for win #70 today as the try to take their third straight from Atlanta behind Dan Haren on the mound. He is opposed by Williams Perez for the Braves with the game set to start at 3:05PM CST.

 

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Lose Shoot-Out to Tigers After Rain Delay; Look for Season-Split with Detroit

Posted on 19 August 2015 by Bob

Offense was out in full force at Wrigley Field Tuesday night; unfortunately so was the rain. The Cubs dropped a shoot-out to the Tigers 10 – 8 last night in a long, wet contest that was delayed over two hours due to heavy winds, rain, and tornado warnings in the Chicago land area. The game finished just after 1:00AM Wednesday morning as the Cubs, who had battled back from deficits of 3 – 0 and 6 – 2, were able to knot the game up at six a piece in the seventh inning on Anthony Rizzo’s single to right center, but Pedro Strop gave it all back in the top of the eighth inning as he loaded the bases before recording an out and allowed three runs to score before working out of the inning.

Kinsler

Ian Kinsler went five for five at the plate for Detroit, netting two RBI’s, the second of which came in the ninth and provided  a comfortable cushion as the Cubs would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the inning but that was still not enough, as the Tigers took the game 10 – 8 behind 19 hits. Jason Hammel was off his game again lasting only three innings (Although the rain did play a small part) and giving up five runs on nine hits. He gave up home runs to both Kinsler and J.D. Martinez in the first, and another homer to Anthony Gose in the second. This really taxed the bullpen as the Cubs were forced to use six relievers to finish the game.

A tarp covers the field during a rain delay at a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Cubs did their part offensively behind a pair of home runs; the first from Chris Coghlan, a two-run shot in the second, and the other being a three-run, 419-foot blast to right in the fifth from none other than the phenomenal Kyle Schwarber to pull the Cubs within a run and get them right back in this game. You could feel the momentum shifting in the middle innings as the Cubs clawed their way back into this. It felt like they might outlast the Tigers and keep their incredible run going but alas, Pedro Strop completely fell apart in the eighth. A run or two might have been able to be overcome but not three that late in an already long and exhausting game.  While it’s frustrating to drop two straight, it’s a sign of how far this team has come when two straight losses is a rare and unexpected occurrence.

Luckily, the Cubs have Jon Lester going tonight vs. Daniel Norris, so that SHOULD help out a tired bullpen as the Cubs look to salvage a season-series split with the Tigers and keep pace in the Wild card chase. Game time is 7:05PM CST.

 

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Drop Finale Vs. Sox; Win Streak Ends at 9

Posted on 18 August 2015 by Bob

The Chicago Cubs finally dropped a game in the series finale vs. the South Siders on Sunday capping their win streak at nine games and 15 of their last 17. The Cubs simply ran into a buzz-saw in the form of Chris Sale and boy, did he make the streaking Cubs look silly in striking out 15 batters while allowing only one hit in seven, dominant innings of work. It’s a lot easier to take such a loss when the team has been playing as stellar as these Cubs have the last two and a half weeks. Whereas earlier in the season, a performance like Sunday’s could be viewed as the norm, it has now become the exception; a sign of how far this team has come and how even talented hitters on a hot streak aren’t immune to struggles against one of the game’s best.

Chris Sale

That’s not to downplay how lights-out Sale was though. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Dexter Fowler was able to single into left. He struck out the side in the first inning and did so in the seventh as well, his last inning of work. The White Sox backed him with three solo home runs from Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez, and Melky Cabrera off of Cubs starter Dan Haren, to jump out to a 3 – 0 lead. Despite his dominance, the Cubs had a one last opportunity in the ninth inning against Sox reliever David Robertson. Down to one out left and nobody on, Jorge Soler homered to right to make it 3 – 1, followed by an infield single from Addison Russell which brought the tying run to the plate in Starlin Castro. He grounded out to end the game keeping the final score at 3 – 1.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to spin the positives on a day when there weren’t many at the post-game presser:

“The best thing we did was get his pitch count up enough to get him out before the ninth inning,” Maddon said, half-smiling, after the game. “He’s really tough for us.”

While that’s an understatement, at least the Cubs can rest easy knowing they won’t have to face him again this year. For all their hard work these past couple weeks they now sit at 67 – 49, with a four game lead over San Francisco for the final Wild Card spot, and are only two back of the Pirates for the top Wild Card position. That’s a pretty good place to be right now and makes the eight game deficit they face in the division that much more incredible. Put this team in almost any other division in baseball and they would be the front runner; in the N.L. Central, they’re a third place team which doesn’t sound great until you consider they’re also the third best club in the entire National League and sport the fourth best record in all of baseball.

Wild card preview

We’re definitely in for some fireworks down this stretch run, for if everything holds as is, the Cubs would be setup to potentially face both division foes who currently reside ahead of them. That’s still a ways off, but October 4th is beginning to get a little larger on the horizon and the Cubs are playing not only meaningful, but exciting baseball this late into the season.

Here’s to hoping the team can stay hot. Tonight it’s Anibal Sanchez vs. Jason Hammel as the Detroit Tigers come to Wrigley for a two game Inter-League series. First pitch is 7:05PM CST.

 

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

 

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Cubs Win Eighth Straight; Top Sox in Opener

Posted on 15 August 2015 by Bob

The Cubs train is rolling right now and is showing no signs of slowing down as they topped the White Sox, 6-5 in the opener Friday at US Cellular Field behind some solid relief pitching and a couple of big bats. The Cubs have now won eight straight games and 14 of 15 to climb to 66 – 48 and just a game and half back of the first wild card spot and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Coghlan Cubs Win

The latest heroes in this amazing run were the bullpen and the bats of Chris Coghlan and Anthony Rizzo. After starter Kyle Hendricks lasted only 3.1 innings while allowing five runs on eight hits, it looked like the Cubs current streak was headed for it’s end but Clayton Richard came on for two innings of relief and allowed only one hit to get the Cubs to their late-relief men and keep the game in hand. Yes, Clayton Richard was the hero; the same guy who has twice been designated for assignment this year and picked up by no one off the waiver wire each time. He earned high praise from his teammates and manager alike on Friday:

“He was huge,” Anthony Rizzo said. “Clayton coming in, giving us those innings was huge. He threw up zeros.”

“He really defined the game at that point,”  Manager Joe Maddon added.

Richard enabled the Cubs to extend the game but they needed some big bats to get over the hump and bag another W. They got exactly what they needed from Chris Coghlan who hit a three run homer in the third to put the Cubs up 4-2. After they fell behind 5-4, Coghlan came through again with another homer to center to knot the game at five a piece. Anthony Rizzo stepped up just after with a jack to the right field seats to put the Cubs on top for good and for the second straight game the Cubs hit back to back homers in the same inning.

Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon closed out the game allowing one hit over 3.2 innings and  Strop provided some theatrics as he and Alexei Ramirez got engaged in a little back and forth with Ramirez on second and Strop trying to keep him honest on the bag. After Ramirez wagged his finger at Strop, effectively telling him he wouldn’t catch him off the bag, Strop struck out the final two batters and turned towards Ramirez and delivered not one, but two emphatic fist pumps to show him  who was really in charge. It was fun to watch and provided an emotional boost to the Cubs fans watching in the seats and at home as Twitter went nuts after Strop’s antics.

This team is truly special to watch and they are showing up everyday believing they will win; knowing someone among them will step up to make the difference. From Clayton Richard to Chris Coghlan and everyone in between, this team is full of feel-good, bounce-back stories; guys who have suffered through slumps, injuries, and bad luck to find their way back to the lineup and help their team get a W. I’m not sure how long this charmed streak will last but it’s been a blast to watch. The fun is definitely back on the North Side. Let’s see how far these Cubs can take it!

Tonight it’s the Cubs Arrieta vs. Quintana for the Sox at 6:10PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

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Cubs Stay Red Hot in Winning 11 of 12; Beat Brewers 6 – 3

Posted on 12 August 2015 by Bob

It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a run like this from our beloved Cubbies so let’s all take a moment and appreciate what this team has accomplished these last twelve games.

Here are some numbers:

*The Cubs have won 11 or their last 12 games to improve to fifteen games over .500 with a 63 – 48 record.

*The Cubs have a 3.5 game lead for the second Wild Card spot and after the Pirates loss to the Cardinals last night, are only 2.5 games back from the first spot.

*In the last 12 games, opposing starting pitchers have lasted on average 4.8 innings in games and only one has reached the seventh inning. In the last 8 games, no opposing starter has pitched six innings.

*The reason for opposing starter’s lack of success against the Cubs? This red-hot lineup is seeing 3.98 pitches per plate appearance, good for tops in the N.L. as the league average is 3.78.

*The Cubs have scored 58 runs the last 12 games, which is almost a five run per game average (4.83), a far cry from the earlier offensive grind the team experienced putting up one to two runs a game.

Chicago Cubs starter Dan Haren delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Yes, the Cubs are really putting it altogether of late, getting it done with pitching, hitting, and defense. They are getting production from rookies (Bryant, Schwarber, Soler, Russell) and veterans (Rizzo, Fowler). Even the Cubs weak spots are being converted into positives as Starlin Castro, resigned to the bench the last four games, returned as a late inning replacement at second base last night, and while he didn’t record a hit, he did impress fans and players alike with his hustle in attempting two rather difficult plays. He received a loud ovation for a difficult catch on an Elian Herrera foul pop out in the ninth. That had to feel good for the maligned veteran, struggling through the worst stretch of his still relatively young career.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Jorge Soler #68 of the Chicago Cubs is safe a s home as Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers makes a late tag during the second inning on August 11, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Dan Haren was serviceable in his second start with the Cubs (exactly what they brought him in for), as he pitched 5.1 innings of five hit ball while allowing three runs, two of which came on an Adam Lind home run in the top of the sixth. Otherwise, Haren and the Cubs bullpen did a fine job of keeping Milwaukee from getting anything going. The Cubs offense did their part, chasing Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann after 2.2 innings and stretching that Milwaukee bullpen early in this series. Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler each drove in 2 RBI’s and the Cubs pretty much took control from the onset and never let up. The final score was Cubs 6, Brewers 3 despite the teams both posting seven hits. The Cubs simply did more with their opportunities, something they seem to be doing with great regularity these days.

The look for more of the same tonight as Jason Hammel is set to face Matt Garza. First pitch is 7:05PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

 

 

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Cubs Bust Out the Bats & Brooms vs. the Champs; Open Up Wild Card Lead

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Bob

It seems like all season we’ve been waiting for this Cubs team, a year ahead of schedule, to put it all together and go on one of those hot streaks that playoff-caliber teams do. This weekend we finally got our wish as the Cubs bats not only exploded but they did so against the defending World Series champion, San Francisco Giants in a historical four game sweep at Wrigley Field in which the Cubs trailed for all of one inning.

Coming into this series the Cubs sat a half game behind the Giants in the Wild Card chase and hoped to remain competitive against a squad with loads of playoff experience; a 2-2 split would not have been shocking. Instead, the Cubs exited on Sunday with a 3.5 game lead for the second Wild Card spot and all the confidence and bravado one acquires when they outplay a good baseball team in four consecutive games.

Arrieta the General

There were stars aplenty throughout the series, most recently Jake Arrieta, who on Sunday pitched 7.2 innings of four-hit, shut-out ball while striking out six and capturing his 13th win of the season. He was bordering on dominant yet again  He also legged out a triple in the second which would prove beneficial after Addison Russell hit a sac-fly to bring him into score and upped his lead to 2 – 0, which would remain the final score, but not without some indigestion in the ninth.

Hector Rondon came on to save the game in the ninth but quickly found himself in trouble as he allowed the first two men reach; Brandon Belt on a single and Brandon Crawford on a double, before hitting Ehire Adrianza with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. The odds were not good and I’m sure many Cubs fans had that sinking feeling they’ve felt so  many times over the past years when the club has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but in dramatic and perhaps narrative-changing fashion, Rondon struck out Hector Sanchez, Angel Pagan, and finally after 36 pitches in the inning, he got Gregor Blanco K’ed on a pitch just off the plate that was expertly framed by Miguel Montero to escape the jam and send the Wrigley Faithful into a frenzy, the likes of which we haven’t seen in seven, long years. These aren’t last years Cubs, that much is true.

Rondon Celebrates

After claiming 10 wins in their last 11 games and sweeping the Giants, the Cubs have put the N. L. on notice that they don’t desire to be just a cute, feel-good story. They want to win, and currently they have the leadership and execution to do so. Joe Maddon has been pulling all the right strings both on the field and off as he continues to lead this mostly young bunch to heights unknown to teams that start four rookies. It seems that all the people brought in this off-season are doing exactly what they were brought in to do. Jon Lester is back on his game and becoming the top of the rotation force they expected. David Ross has provided valuable experience in teaching Kyle Schwarber and has been a surprise bat in some clutch situations over the last several weeks. Dexter Fowler is working some deep counts to get on base and set the table while Miguel Montero is back from his injury behind the dish, framing pitches to get his team the W. Couple that with the impressive tear the rookies have been on and this team is primed for some October baseball.

With an off day on Monday, the team has a minute to take a breath after a successful and yes, FUN series. They return to action on Tuesday as Dan Haren will make his second start for the Cubs vs. Milwaukee’s Taylor Jungmann. Game time is 7:05PM CST and the Cubs look to improve upon their burgeoning, 62 – 48 record and try to close the gap on Pittsburgh who remains on top of the Wild Card heap with a 3.5 game cushion.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Rounding Into Form Behind Schwarber’s Hot Streak; Go for Series Win vs. Giants

Posted on 08 August 2015 by Bob

What do you do with a man who has 8 hits, 9 runs, 3 home runs, 8 RBI’s and a .421 batting average in 19 at-bats the last seven days?

You find a way to keep him in the lineup, that’s what.

It doesn’t matter if you have to play him out of position because you have two other catchers who bring their own talents to the position. It doesn’t matter if said move means bumping a veteran, three-time All-Star at shortstop to the bench in favor of the more-talented, hotter-hitting rookie to make room. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s done with the macro, the big-picture, driving your reasoning. None of it matters so long as the Cubs win and lately they have been doing a lot of winning; for that, they have that man, Kyle Schwarber, to thank.

Schwarber stays

Schwarber had another excellent day on Friday collecting a double, an infield single, and a stolen base as the Cubs beat the Giants 7 – 3, increasing their Wild Card lead to 1.5 games and going a season high 12 games over .500 at 60 – 48. He is just on fire right now and providing a huge lift to a team all to dependent on Anthony Rizzo for much of the season. His vigor has been contagious as the Cubs have scored  4 or more runs the last eight games and getting just about everyone involved in the process; a sight for sore eyes coming from an offense that just a month or so ago was slogged down in a series of one and two run outputs for entire games.

It’s starting to feel different at Wrigley as the season enters it’s third act and the Cubs show little signs of waning, turning on the after-burners with a playoff spot in their grasp. Jon Lester is no stranger to this vibe having played on the World Champion Red Sox teams and his performance of late has reflected that. He was tough yesterday scattering six hits and two runs in seven innings of work while lowering his ERA to 3.22. He has now gone seven or more innings in seven consecutive starts becoming the workhorse leader this team signed him to be.

Castro sits

All the Cubs pieces are currently functioning at a high level as the bats are popping, the starting pitching has been going deep into games, and the bullpen has, for the most part, been shutting the door. Manager Joe Maddon has been pushing all the right buttons, none more important than realizing he must keep his young, hot hitters on the field regardless of position or reputation. This has come at the cost of sitting Starlin Castro to allow Schwarber to play left field when not catching, and moving Addison Russell to his natural position at shortstop, and bumping Chris Coghlan to second base. This can’t be easy for Castro but everyone watching knows that he is not producing at the rate of those given the nod ahead of him. It is necessary for the Cubs to put their best team on the field that gives them the greatest chance to win. So far, so good. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and affects Castro moving forward but you can’t argue with the results so far.

Today it’s Kyle Hendricks vs. Matt Cain in game three as the Cubs go for the series win. Game time is 3:05PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

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