Archive | Chicago Cubs

Bryant Finally Arrives But Cubs Fall Late to Padres

Posted on 18 April 2015 by Bob

Kris Bryant Debut

Kris Bryant made his much-anticipated, widely-watched debut on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Wrigley yesterday but that wasn’t enough as an inconsistent strike zone and some strikeouts in crucial situations ultimately did the Cubs in.

Bryant, the highly-touted prospect got the call after injuries to Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella essentially forced the Cubs hand to bring him up one day after his service time pushed his free agency eligibility back one year. He struggled at the plate, striking out three times and grounding out to end a critical seventh inning but his glove was exceptional as he made several nice snags and on-point throws to first. His position at the hot corner seems to be secure for the foreseeable future.  Manager Joe Maddon seemed pleased stating, “We did bring him up for his glove, didn’t we? He had a really good game at third base. Really played well over there.”

Overshadowing Bryant’s first game in the big leagues was the inconsistent strike zone outlined by Home Plate Umpire Sam Holbrook. In the seventh inning, Cubs relief pitcher Brian Schlitter appeared to strike out Padres CF Wil Myers to end the inning on a pitch right down the middle just above the knee but Holbrook ruled the pitch a ball and on the next pitch Myers crushed a three run shot into the bleachers providing the final margin of victory for the Padres.  Maddon, displeased with Holbrook’s strike zone all game, could be seen visibly shouting “all five runs” in reference to the Padres taking advantage of Holbrook’s inconsistent strike zone to record each of their five runs. He was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

It was tough to see the Cubs give this one away after being in control for much of the game but sometimes it’s just not your day. The important thing is that the Cubs continued to get on base after getting down a run, they just couldn’t push anything across.

They’ll get another chance today as Bryant searches for his first hit. Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the Cubs against Tyson Ross. Game is in progress.

 

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Wood Powers Cubs to Fourth Win in Five Tries

Posted on 16 April 2015 by Bob

Travis Wood bounced back from his first start to power the Cubs past the Reds allowing only three hits through the beginning of the eighth inning while striking out seven. Anthony Rizzo provided some early run support with a two-run shot and the Cubs never looked back as they shut out the Reds and laid claim to first place atop the NL Central Division.

Travis Wood

Starlin Castro had an outstanding game as well providing two hits and a walk but his biggest contribution was his glove.

“How about our shortstop? He had a hell of a game at shortstop tonight. Played both left and right, had some great throws, double play was huge,” said Manager Joe Maddon, referencing a double-play ball snared by Castro that ended the Reds threat.

Starlin-Castro

This was a complete team effort from top to bottom and sends the Cubs into an off day brimming with confidence before a weekend series at Wrigley versus the new look San Diego Padres.

Friday’s game pits newly acquired Padre: James Shields vs. Jason Hammel with first pitch at 1:20 PM.

 

 

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Cubs Fall to Reds as Rally Comes Up Short

Posted on 15 April 2015 by Bob

Jake Arrieta 2

The cardiac Cubs young season continued Tuesday night as Jake Arrieta surrendered three runs in the fourth inning providing enough for the Reds to hold on to the win in the ninth.  Arrieta, usually lights out against the Reds, couldn’t continue his success as Reds hitters found some gaps to get guys across home plate.  The Cubs didn’t go quietly however as pinch-hitter Wellington Castillo launched a two-run home run in the eighth to ignite the Cubs dormant offense and Castro and Szczur were able to reach base in the bottom of the ninth before the Reds flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman struck out Mike Olt to end the threat.

Despite the losing effort, the Cubs battled yet again keeping fans in the stands and on their feet until the final out. This new brand of baseball appears to be invigorating for both the team and the fans. The bullpen was once again stellar allowing no hits and zero runs while proving to be quite a strength so far. The same cannot be said of the Reds bullpen which almost saw a win slip through their fingers for the second night in a row.

The series concludes tonight with former Cub Jason Marquis taking on Travis Wood in the rubber match with first place in the NL Central on the line. First Pitch is 7:05 PM.

 

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Cubs Ride Late Heroics to Three Game Win Streak; Hope to Keep it Rolling

Posted on 14 April 2015 by Bob

How about them Cubbies?

The Chicago Cubs FINALLY have a little swagger in their step as they enter Tuesday night’s game vs. the Cincinnati Reds riding a three-game win streak with two of those wins being decided by final at-bats. The Cubs shocked the Rockies Sunday afternoon on Dexter Fowler’s 9th inning two-out, two-strike blast off of former Cub, LaTroy Hawkins. The Cubs followed it up with an extra-innings walk-off win Monday night that has the Cubs two games over .500 for the first time since 2009. The phrase, “It’s still early” will continue to pop up in these posts for the better part of April and May whether the results are good or bad, but Northsiders have to be feeling upbeat this week after the last half-decade watching the Cubs fall behind early and then have their bats silenced too.

There’s fight in these Cubs, that’s for sure and man, is it fun to watch. Monday night’s contest saw Jon Lester fall behind 3 – 0 early in the first inning only for the Cubs to come back and tie it in the bottom half. Lester again gave up three more runs in sixth inning, watching his ERA balloon to 7.84 on the season. Surprisingly, the Cubs Ace was the only cause for concern last night as his teammates picked him up in a big way.

Jorge Soler

Jorge Soler led the way with three hits, two of them Home Runs, and four RBI’s. Chris Coghlan added three hits as well, providing a solo dinger in the sixth. The Cubs not only battled, they persevered, outlasting the Reds in ten innings and providing these young Cubs with some much-needed confidence that they can came through late. After the sixth inning, Lester exited and the Cubs bullpen was lights out from there on allowing only three hits over four innings and no runs.

Most fans would agree that games like these are the ones that the Cubs of yesteryear would find a way to lose. The fact that they haven’t in the last three games should prove that these aren’t those same Cubs. It’s still early but having minor victories feels good again especially if they lay the foundation for greater ones.

 

Next Up:

Tonight Vs. the Cincinnati Reds, Jake Arrieta takes the mound against Anthony Desclafani. Game time is 7:05 PM.

 

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Cubs Fall to Rockies in First Game on the Road

Posted on 11 April 2015 by Bob

The Cubs fell the to the Rockies 5 – 1 on Friday behind home runs from Troy Tulowitski and Justin Morneau for the Rockies as the Cubs once again struggled to score runs. Travis Wood lasted four and 2/3 innings allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Opening Day at Coors Field.

It’s still early so we’ll reserve judgement for now but it’s pretty clear that the Cubs major issue is scoring runs after going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. The pitching should be a strength once guys get into a routine but it’s the hitting that is costing the Cubs right now.

A few more outings like this and you’ll hear the clamor for Kris Bryant rise to a fever pitch and the Cubs service time deadline can’t come soon enough.

Here’s to hoping for some positive news after tonight’s game.  First pitch is 7:10PM and Jason Hammel takes on Kyle Kendrick  as the Cubs continue their series with the Rockies at Coors Field.

Jason Hammel

 

 

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Cubs-Cards April 7th Tuesday Night Game Postponed; Reschedule Date TBD

Posted on 07 April 2015 by Bob

The Cubs have postponed their Tuesday April 7th night game due to weather concerns. The reschedule date is TBD.  Check back on the blog for updates concerning the reschedule. It looks like it may be in July or September when the Cardinals are in town again but nothing has been finalized yet.  Hopefully it will be a bit warmer then!

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs

Tomorrow’s game is slated for 1:20PM. Let’s hope for a nicer day tomorrow! Arrieta vs. Lynn should remain the starters.

Go Cubs Go!

 

 

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Cubs Fall Flat in Opener as Wainwright Cruises

Posted on 06 April 2015 by Bob

After all the build up, months of waiting, and all the new faces present at the Friendly Confines last night, this game had a familiar feel for Cubs fans as the St. Louis Cardinals came to town and shut down the Cubs offense behind Adam Wainwright’s workman-like effort and Jon Lester fell flat in his first start as a Cub. The Cubs managed 5 hits but could never string enough together to score a run while the Cards got to Lester early chasing him after four and a third innings. It’s just one game and the Cubs offense should see some pop as the unit gels (perhaps Bryant is the answer?). Jon Lester should bounce back now that all the hoop-la is behind him.

Opening Night

Despite the score, it was a nice night at the ballpark albeit a bit chilly as the game wore on. The new video board in left is a more than welcome addition, providing replays, advertising, and some touching tributes to the late Ernie Banks. Even the bleacher sections which many feared to be an eye sore for these first few months looked nice with large Ernie Banks tribute tarps covering the under construction section.

The biggest disappointment other than the Cubs bats had to be the lack of restrooms due to the recent construction. Lines stretched across sections in the upper and lower decks as some waited up to an hour to use the facilities. Something tells me that the Cubs will have this issue corrected by Tuesday night’s game as the bad publicity stirred up by this has reached comic levels.

While things may seem to not have changed much there was a great energy throughout the at-capacity crowd that had to comfort even the most ardent fans. Change doesn’t come easy but this Cubs organization is on its way.

 

 

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Cubs Opening Night Lineup Speculation; Maddon Keeps Us Guessing

Posted on 02 April 2015 by Bob

Just three days out from Opening Day and the suspense is killing us! To pass  the time until meaningful games commence let’s speculate on the Cubs Opening Day lineup vs. Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals.

OUR PICKS

Dexter Fowler

1. CF Dexter Fowler: The lead-off position should be the easiest pick as Fowler was brought in specifically by the Cubs to get on base early and set the table for the power hitters in the 3 – 5 positions. Fowler enters 2015 with a career .366 On Base Percentage meaning the Cubs have upgraded at the position and he’s a switch-hitter to boot, giving the Cubs added flexibility at the top of the order.

2. RF Jorge Soler: While some sites project him in the cleanup spot, it’s hard to see Maddon starting a rookie there when early on he will be much more valuable in the 2-hole with his aggressive approach, getting on base so the Cubs proven All-Stars behind him can drive him in. By all accounts, Soler can play and some believe he will battle teammate Kris Bryant for  Rookie of the Year honors. If he gets hot early, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him move into the heart of the lineup but for now he starts at #2.

3. 1B Anthony Rizzo: He will be the glue that holds this thing together. As he matures, it’s not out of the question to see him put up even bigger numbers than his All-Star campaign last year. With formidable hitters in front of him expect to see his RBI’s increase from 78 a year ago and if he can duplicate his Top Ten performance in Home Runs in 2014, these Cubs could make some noise.

Starlin-Castro

4. SS Starlin Castro: Would love to see him continue on an upward trajectory from last year and with Addison Russell waiting in the wings it will be imperative for Starlin to have a big year not only for himself but for the team as well. After his first healthy spring in years, expect Castro to get off to a good start.

5. C Miguel Montero: Another Cubs’ off-season acquisition and another 2014 All-Star in the heart of the order. Montero provides an upgrade not only with his catching ability but his bat is also an upgrade over Wellington Castillo who may be moved early on this season. The catch is if David Ross, Opening Day Starter Jon Lester’s former battery mate in Boston, is called upon to catch the lefty Sunday night. If so, Ross, who has a much weaker bat, would be bumped further down the lineup.

Here’s where it gets tricky given the injuries and the versatility of Arismendy Alcantara and Maddon’s penchant for tinkering with batting order. Given his hot spring we’ll give the nod to:

6. LF Matt Szczcur: Batted .348 with 5 home runs and 9 RBI’s in 20 Cactus league games. With injuries to Chris Denorfia and Chris Coghlan, perhaps Maddon will ride the hot hand in giving Szczur a shot.

Mike Olt

7. 3B Mike Olt: What a difference a year makes as Olt enters Opening Day as the Cubs starting third basemen for the second straight year. He had an excellent spring and appears to have regained the confidence he lacked throughout last season. Many believe he is just a placeholder until Bryant is called up but if Olt can ride his warm spring into a hot summer perhaps all the time Bryant has spent in the outfield as of late will not be for naught.

8. P Jon Lester: Call it the Maddon Effect but it’s this line of thinking that got him hired in the first place. Maybe he holds off on this for Opening Day but my guess is you will see Jon Lester batting 8th enabling Maddon to squeeze the most out of the top of the order.

9. 2B Arismendy Alcantara: Some view Tommy La Stella as a viable option at second base but for now Alcantara seems like the safer choice for opening day given his versatility and the power he displayed last year slugging 10 home runs in 70 games. The fact that he could be moved around the infield or outfield tells me he will find his way on to this Opening Day roster and will be a vital cog in the Cubs machine as a jack of all trades this year.

So there you have it folks, our guess as to what you will likely see as the Cubs begin the season Sunday night. Agree or disagree, the Cubs have talent and options this year, two things that have been scarce in these parts for the last five years. It will be interesting to watch this take shape as the year unfolds. Here’s to hoping for some consistency, nice surprises, and a fun to watch team that can manufacture some runs.

CBmxPOaWIAATyCA

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Bryant to Start Season in Triple-A as Expected

Posted on 30 March 2015 by Bob

The Chicago Cubs made it official today trimming Kris Bryant and Javy Baez from the Major League roster and sending the pair to Triple-A Iowa as well as moving Addison Russell to minor league camp. Although the Baez move is intriguing given his call up late last year to the majors, these moves should surprise no one. It has been a foregone conclusion from day one that no matter what Bryant did he would be starting the season in Iowa. This is a service time issue and the Cubs weren’t going to trade 2 weeks of Bryant now for 6 months in 2021. Ask any reasonable Cubs fan and I guarantee you this move neither shocks nor offends them. Those columnists feigning outrage over the alleged disservice the Cubs are doing to their fans are simply sensationalizing a pretty cut and dry line of reasoning in the pursuit of controversial, eye-grabbing headlines.

Bryant

Yes, Bryant is one of the Cubs’ 25 best players and yes, he had the best spring of arguably anyone in baseball but I’d rather see Bryant in Cubbie Blue in 2021 than a few weeks earlier than I already will this year. I think even deep down that Bryant might be OK with this move. It gives him time to get in a good groove, demolishing minor league-early season pitching and then ascending at the right time to his spot in the Major League lineup potentially missing the hype-filled debut and subsequent lump-taking which befalls so many young rookies making the leap into the League (or at the very least minimizing those lumps).

Of course Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, will tell you otherwise and the talking heads will tell you that the Cubs are only hurting themselves but the fact is that those in favor of his inclusion in the Opening Day lineup are either in it for the money or they simply cannot wait any longer to see what the hype is about and actually have some copy that doesn’t contain the words: “Kris Bryant” and “Cubs prospect” in the same sentence.  They will get their wish soon enough and something tells me that come July all this will all be an after-thought.

As for Baez, it’s pretty clear that for all his power and promise he won’t be doing anyone any good with all those strikeouts. It’s best to have him work out those issues in Triple A for a bit instead of attempting to break the strikeout record with a full year in the majors. He needs more time, as does Russell. The Cubs aren’t going to change their system no matter how extraordinary the talent surging up their ranks has proven to be.

Cubs fans should rejoice.  A new season is upon us with some actual reasons to cheer.  Next year is almost here and it’s an important one.

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Hammel Out-Dueling Samardzija as Cubs Host Sox

Posted on 27 March 2015 by Lou

Jason-Hammel-Chicago-Cubs

The Cubs are hosting their cross-town rival White Sox at Sloan Park this afternoon.  Former Cubs Jeff Samardzija is facing his former Cubs team for the 1st time since being traded to the Oakland A’s in July 2014.  Ironically, he is squaring off against Jason Hammel who was also sent to the A’s with Samardzija in that July trade.

Fortunately for the Cubs, Hammel is out-dueling the White Sox opening day starter through 4 innings.  The Cubs have a 4-0 lead.  Hammel has given up just 3 hits in his 4 innings of work.

The Cubs got to Samardzija right away in the 1st inning.  Dexter Fowler led off the inning with a single.  One batter later, he came around to score on Jorge Soler’s 2-run home run.  That put the Cubs up 2-0.  In the bottom of the 4th, Starlin Castro touched Samardzija for a solo home run.

After losing 2 straight, it would be nice for the Cubs to muster a win against the Sox.  After a lot of cuts this week, the Cubs roster is starting to take shape.  Manager Joe Maddon will also start managing games the full 9 innings pretty soon, especially during the last week of spring training.  Getting on a nice role these last 7-8 games should go a long way in giving the Cubs confidence heading into the home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on April 5th.

Go Cubs Go!

ct-spt-1217-cubs-white-sox

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