Archive | Chicago Cubs

Jake Arrieta Propels Cubs to Victory over Sox; Cubs Enter the Break on a High Note

Posted on 14 July 2015 by Bob

Jake Arrieta threw a complete game on Sunday allowing one run on just two hits and put an end to any debate about who the ace of the Chicago Cubs is as the team took down the White Sox 3-1, and avoided being swept by the South-siders. Arrieta also had his first career home run in support of his own efforts on the mound to gain his tenth victory on the year, matching his season high before the start of the second half. He is, quite simply, one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, and it’s a damn shame he won’t be pitching in tonight’s All-Star contest as the man is clearly operating at the top of his game right now.

Arrieta dominant

“His stuff is among the elite level of major league pitchers,” Manager Joe Maddon said after Sunday’s game. “There’s no question.”

He struck out the side in the first and did the same to end the game in the ninth as he totaled nine K’s on the afternoon. Backed by some early run support, a rare commodity around these parts as of late, Arrieta cruised before aiding his own cause in the bottom of the fifth as he homered 380 feet for his first career home run, a feat he wished he would have been able to savor as the ball just made it into the left field basket.

“I would have liked to have hit the first one knowing it was a homer instead of having to sprint to first,” Arrieta said. “But yeah, I mean, that was cool.”

That’s Arrieta at the moment; cool, calm, and commanding. He is doing everything to get his team the W, an effort you’d like to see replicated by some of his teammates (i.e. Jon Lester and Starlin Castro). He is a big reason the Cubs enter the break at 47 – 40 and despite being 8 games back of division leader, St. Louis, the Cubs hold a one game lead for the second and final Wild Card spot meaning there will be meaningful, second-half baseball played on the North Side of Chicago for the first time in over half a decade.

Cubs win go cubs go

Despite the Cubs offensive struggles this team has found a way to grind out wins, and they have their pitching to thank for that as the starting pitching staff had allowed two or less runs in 11 straight games heading into last Saturday’s contest. That is pretty remarkable stuff and a big reason this team hasn’t dipped closer to .500, which was a possibility given how quiet their bats had become.

This is a team that is feeling good if not great about themselves heading into the All-Star break but they believe their best baseball is yet to come.

“Seven-plus [over .500] going into the break — I’ll take that,” Maddon said. “Because I do believe there is a lot to look forward to on the other side.”


Next Up: The NL All-Stars take on their AL counterparts in tonight’s All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH. Game time is 6:30PM CT. Anthony Rizzo will start at DH for the National League with Kris Bryant coming off the bench.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Fall to St. Louis on Peralta’s Late Home Run; Split with Cards

Posted on 09 July 2015 by Bob

The Cubs were Oh-So-Close to accomplishing something they haven’t yet this season; a series win vs. the Cards. With two outs and two strikes on Jhonny Peralta, Pedro Strop was one strike away from completing such a feat, but one bad pitch later left the ball in the left field basket and the Cubs one-run advantage turned into a one-run deficit. Rosenthal came on for the Cards in the bottom of the ninth and with the exception of Addison Russell’s two-out double, was able to put down the three other batters he faced and ended the game 6 – 5 for the ‘bad guys’.

Peralta HR

While on it’s face this result is extremely disappointing, if you had told the Cubs on Monday they would manage to split this series and come pretty damn close to taking three of four, I am positive they would have taken it given their struggles against the red birds to date. Their bats finally showed up as well totaling 17 runs over the last three games which hopefully spells the end of their ‘two runs or less’ slump.  Miguel Montero came through big-time with his sixth inning two out double which drove in 3 runs and put the Cubs on top until the very end while Rizzo and Soler, recently returned from his rehab in Triple A, each added two hits as well.

There’s no use in stewing about what might have been as the Cubs just have to keep moving forward as this team continues to coalesce. Sure they could have used the extra win but the split is progress and there is still a lot of season left. This weekend series with the cross-town White Sox sets up another huge opportunity to gain some ground in the division as the Cardinals and Pirates open up a four game series that should see the two teams ahead of the Cubs in both the Central and Wild Card races beat up on each other a bit. If the Cubs can take care of business against the White Sox, they could ride some nice momentum into the second half.

Kyle Hendricks gets it started vs. Carlos Rodon for the Sox with a 3:05PM CST start time tomorrow.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Sweep Double Header Vs. Cards; Look to Win Series

Posted on 08 July 2015 by Bob

The Cubs finally broke through against their division rival on Tuesday as they bested the Cards not once, but twice in a rare double-header sweep at Wrigley Field. After taking the day game 7 – 4, the Cubs took the Cardinals best shot, hung in there, and delivered a punch of their own taking the night cap 5 – 3.

The Cubs got on the board first in the fifth inning as recent call-up, catcher Taylor Teargarden singled in a run. The Cards answered right back in the sixth as Jason Heyward grounded into a fielder’s choice scoring Matt Carpenter. Mark Reynolds then pushed the Cards in front with an infield single that plated Heyward. The Cubs, not to be outdone, exploded in the seventh as Addison Russell’s controversial game-tying single was ruled fair, getting Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness ejected for arguing the call. His replacement, reliever Kevin Siegrist then threw away a grounder that would extend the inning as the Cubs pushed two more runs across. This was more than enough to get the job done as each team would add one more run for the final score of 5 – 3.

Addison Russel game tying single

After how badly the Cubs have fared against the birds thus far, yesterday was pretty sweet and an important step in this team’s progress. Beating the best team in baseball is something that these young players needed to experience and Cubs fans needed to see to believe. While their overall record vs. St. Louis is still poor, sweeping a double header will prove vital to not only reigning in the division but proving you can fight and grind your way to wins no matter the opponent.

Taking the fourth and final game of this series could generate some serious buzz as the Cubs head into the crosstown classic vs. the White Sox and end the first half on a high note as All-Star week commences. The also currently hold a 3.5 game lead for the second wild card spot that has fans dreaming of the possibilities.


First they have to go out and get their first series victory over the Cardinals this year. Jason Hammel takes the mound vs. Michael Wacha with a 7:05PM CST first pitch.

Let’s Go Cubs!


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Cubs Split with Cardinals Through 2 Games; Night Game of Twin Bill Coming Up

Posted on 07 July 2015 by Bob

Last night Jon Lester gathered his first MLB hit, took a no-hitter into the seventh, yet still took the loss as the Cards blew open a pitcher’s duel in the ninth after an hour-plus rain delay to the take the opener 6 – 0. This game felt like many of the Cubs-Cards contest so far where the Cubs hang in there but ultimately end up succumbing to the scrappy Cardinals and their penchant for pulling out the win.

Any night Jon Lester pitches that well into the seventh inning should bode well for the Cubs chances of winning but not against these pesky birds. Yadier Molina opened the scoring in the seventh on a sacrifice fly that plated Jhonny Peralta, who had broke up Lester’s no-no with an infield single earlier in the inning. Kolten Wong then singled in Jason Heyward to push the margin to 2 – 0, from there it rained and poured on the Cubs in more ways than one.

Edwin Jackson was atrocious in his one inning of work after the rain delay giving up four earned runs on four hits while also issuing a walk. It’s almost as if the man has lost all confidence in his stuff. Disappointing is about all one can muster when describing his performance to date.  Let’s hope he can get things straightened out and soon.

John Lackey pitched seven innings of six-hit ball for the win for St. Louis.  The fact that the Cubs had just as many hits (6) as the Cardinals, but zero runs to the Cards’ six tells you how much more efficient St. Louis was and just how much this Cubs offense can go struggle from time to time.

The Cubs flipped the script in the day game of today’s double-header as Jake Arrieta pitched 6 and 2/3 innings before getting chased with two out and two men on in the seventh. Both men would come around to score to make the game 3-2 but the Cubs blew it open in the eighth inning as they batted around sending all nine men to the plate. Dexter Fowler doubled to drive in a run and Anthony Rizzo hit a a two run home run. Chris Denorfia then  singled to drive in the final run and the Cubs would survive a Mark Reynolds two-run home run in the ninth to win the game 7 – 4 and knot this series up at one a piece.

It was nice to see some pop in the later innings and we can only hope there is a carryover for the evening game of this twin bill. Dallas Beeler takes the mound for the Cubs vs. Tim Cooney for the Cards. Game is currently in progress 0 – 0 in the top of the fourth inning.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Feeling Good after Winning 5 of 6; Head into Showdown with Cards

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Bob

This 4th of July was one to remember for Cubs fans. Of course they enjoyed the fireworks show post-game; they had every reason to be jubilant after Kris Bryant launched his own proverbial fireworks during the game. Bryant hit a two-run homer off the left field score board in the bottom of the first, and then added a grand salami, his first at Wrigley Field, in the bottom of the second en route to a 7 – 2 Cubs victory that had the crowd buzzing on a gorgeous night at the Friendly Confines. You couldn’t ask for a better 4th of July, and the Cubs have to be pretty pleased with themselves as they have won five of their last six games.

A stark turnaround from their five-game losing streak, the Cubs have been getting it done with pitching as the offense has put up two runs or fewer in 10 of their last 12 games. With the offense treading water for the most part, the pitching staff has been remarkable.  Arrieta, Hendricks, Hammel; these guys have been working late into games and scattering few hits while posting zeroes on the scoreboard.  It’s not often that teams with such little run support find success but these Cubs are currently riding that model to stay on pace in the wild card chase and have another excellent opportunity to make a dent in the division with the Cards in town for a four game set.

Tonight it’s Jon Lester vs. John Lackey in a 7:05PM start.Cubs - cards

Let’s Go Cubs!


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Cubs Sweep Mets behind Arrieta, Herrera; Hold Mets to One Run in Series

Posted on 02 July 2015 by Bob

The Cubs bats finally woke up today, although against the hapless Mets, it didn’t really matter all that much. Jonathan Herrera, filling in for Kris Bryant who had the day off at third, led the charge after putting down a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher that scored the game’s first run. He added a two-run homer in the sixth that all but put the game out of reach.  The Cubs went on to win 6 – 1.

Chicago Cubs' Jonathan Herrera hits a two-run homer during the sixth inning of the baseball game against the New York Mets at Citi Field, Thursday, July 2, 2015 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Mets finally scored a run in the series after going 22 innings without a score. Curtis Granderson’s third-inning double was all the Mets could muster, as their offense continues to deflate. If you thought the Cubs were struggling coming into this series, take a look at the other dugout where starting pitcher Jacob deGrom punched a cooler with his pitching hand after giving up Herrera’s two-run blast.

“I told the team inside, no disrespect to anybody in this room, we have to lighten it up around here,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Miguel Montero added another two-run shot in the ninth to effectively end the game and the day for Jake Arrieta who was outstanding. Arrieta pitched eight innings while giving up five hits and just one run while striking out seven. He would have come on in the ninth but with the game blown open, there was no need for Joe Maddon to push his starter any further.

“We can pitch with anybody, we can swing the bats, our defense can play lights out,” Arrieta said.

Arrieta vs. mets in NY

This is exactly what the team needed coming off their worst stretch of the season. A three game sweep effectively negates their sweep at the hands of St. Louis over the weekend and allows the team to return home on the upswing with some positive takeaways before a ten game home stand. It wasn’t always pretty and the Cubs are no offensive juggernaut, but this team’s ability to battle is commendable. Even though the home runs came late in the game, with the Mets showing no signs of life, it’s good to see some pop from a lineup that has had so little of it lately.

They’ll need any bit of confidence they can get as the Cardinals are set to arrive at Wrigley early next week for what should be another tough four game test but first it’s the Miami Marlins who are visiting over the July 4th Holiday weekend. Friday at 1:10PM it’s Jason Hammel vs. Tom Koehler. Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Get Back on Track as Hendricks Goes Six Strong

Posted on 01 July 2015 by Bob

The Cubs snapped their recent five game losing streak with a 1-0 win Tuesday night vs. the Mets at Citi Field thanks in large part to Kyle Hendricks’ six strong innings of three-hit ball, a lights-out bullpen, and some Maddon “Magic”. Hendricks bounced back from his three game slump to keep the Mets at bay all evening; never allowing a runner past second base and striking out six.

KH vs. NY Mets

“Today was much better as far as mentally,” Hendricks said, “just focusing, making every single pitch.”

The Cubs bullpen backed him tremendously with Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, and Jason Motte each pitching an inning of no-hit, no-walk ball for the Cubs to claim their first win in a week.  Unfortunately, the Cubs continue to struggle to produce runs as they have scored just seven runs total in their last six games, while going 4 for 37 with RISP until Tuesday night. Luckily, they were still able to out-duel the Mets who have struggled even worse than the Cubs have to hit and score; producing the winning run on a Matt Sczcur sixth-inning, two-out double to deep left center that enabled Kris Bryant to cross the plate.

“A 1-0 win is always pretty spectacular, but we still have to do a better job offensively,”  Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said. “I know they’re saying the same thing on the other side.”

Spectacular is one way to put it; magical is another. After a tough weekend in St. Louis, Maddon decided that the Cubs needed a positive distraction to loosen them up a bit and forget about their losing streak. He brought in a magician to perform for the team before the game, a tactic that harkens back to his days in Tampa where he was known for such unconventional, psychological exercises. The intent was to take the pressure off his team and for a night, it worked.

“Just trying to lighten things up a little bit,” Maddon said. “We’re always trying to create some magic around here, so why not bring a magician in?”

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05:  Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs looks on before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Correlating the win with the pregame stunt is a fool’s errand as such things are hardly quantifiable, but in speaking with players, the guys who go out and make it happen, they found Maddon’s trick to be humorous as well as helpful. Whose to say that ploys such as these, however silly and small, don’t make a difference for guys looking to bounce back from adversity?

“I just felt more comfortable and, I’m sure the guys felt the same, because he kind of tones it down a little bit, lets you relax,” Matt Szczur said about Maddon. “It was a fun time.”

Fun times are what Cubs fans are looking for and they got a taste of it last week. Maybe this week the Cubs will work a little magic of their own.

Next Up:

Jon Lester takes on Bartolo Colon at 6:10PM CST tonight.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Slide Hits Five After Weekend Sweep in St. Louis

Posted on 29 June 2015 by Bob

The Cubs has us all riding high less than a week ago after besting Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on back to back nights to rise to nine games over .500 , but that shine wore off quickly as they dropped their next two contests and headed to St. Louis for a weekend series with the Cardinals, AKA the best team in baseball,  where that stumble became a skid after the Cards swept these young Cubs and extended their losing streak to five games.


On Friday night the Cubs put up a good fight behind Jake Arrieta’s strong seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. They even took a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, but those plucky Cards battled back to tie it, then take the victory in ten innings after Justin Grimm loaded the bases and Mike Baxter’s throwing error on a fielder’s choice from Johnny Peralta allowed Peter Bourjos to score the winning run.

Saturday’s result was the opposite as the Cards cruised 8 – 1 with the Cubs calling up Donn Roach from Triple A for a spot start and lasting only 3 and 1/3 innings.  Sunday wasn’t much better as the Cards took the game 4-1 and swept the series after outscoring the Cubs 15 – 4 over the weekend. Four runs. In a series.  That won’t get you many wins, especially against these Cards who now boast a 51 – 24 record; a solid 27 games over .500 with an 11.5 game lead over the third-place Cubs. This may have officially put the division out of reach but the way the Cardinals are playing, that was bound to happen sooner or later, probably sooner.

There were few positives to take away from the weekend and sometimes a team just need to ride out the bumps in the road, keep their nose to the grindstone, and find a way to get back on track. While this has been the Cub’s longest losing streak of the season, a silver lining has to be that it has taken this long to experience such a streak.  This team is still talented, and is still very much in contention for a wild-card spot.

Let’s hope that after taking a day off to collect themselves, the Cubs can bounce back against the Mets in NYC. Kyle Hendricks takes the mound tomorrow vs. Jonathon Niese. First pitch is 6:00PM CST.

Go Cubs Go!

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Turner, Gonzalez Help Dodgers Turn Back Cubs; Look for Split

Posted on 25 June 2015 by Bob

Justin Turner hit a three run homer in the third inning to follow up Adrian Gonzalez’s solo-shot in the second which was more than enough to turn back the Cubs 5 – 2 last night at Wrigley Field against the struggling Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks lasted just five innings in giving up four runs on four hits; another disappointing outing for the second year starter at a time when the Cubs need quality starts badly. His rough patch has ballooned his ERA to 4.46 after too many big hits.

Justin Turner

“I thought I was turning it around there for a little bit, but the last two starts, just giving my team zero chance to win, which is pathetic, really,” he said after the game.

The Cubs managed just two runs on Addison Russell’s fifth inning double and Anthony Rizzo’s same-inning, double-play RBI which was not enough to make up for Hendrick’s mistakes.

While Hendricks is on a down-turn, the Dodgers’ Justin Turner is on a tear. His home run was his fourth in his last six games as he is currently batting .320 and showing no signs of slowing down.  The result was disappointing for the Cubs who came in hoping to earn a series victory after posting two consecutive victories over the Dodgers best arms in Kershaw and Greinke. Now a split seems like the probable result as the Cubs are down 4 – 0 through eight innings today.

Jon Lester has lasted only four innings while giving up an almost identical stat line to Hendrick’s outing yesterday; allowing four runs on four hits while also issuing four walks. This is not the way to finish off the series, especially with Lester on the mound. Lester’s struggles are starting to become a problem as he’s posted a 4 -5 record to date with a 4.03 ERA.  This isn’t what the Cubs paid for and with the calendar on the cusp of July, it’s difficult to write it off as early season struggles. It’s hard to say what the fix is but here’s hoping the proven veteran can turn it around. They’ve made it this far with his mediocre performance; imagine what they could do if he starts pitching like the ace he’s capable of being.

Lester struggles

So it appears that the Cubs will have to settle for the split still down 4 – 0, so we’ll turn our attention to the weekend as the Cubs head south on I-55 for a series at Busch with the NL Central-leading Cardinals, a prime opportunity to make up some ground in the division, especially since the clubs will play seven times in the next two weeks.

Friday night’s game features Jake Arrieta vs. John Lackey in 7:15PM CST start time.

Let’s go Cubs!


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Hammel, Cubs Send Dodgers Aces to Back to Back Losses for First Time This Year

Posted on 24 June 2015 by Bob

Something is brewing on the North Side; something young, something fun, but most of all, something good. Yes, the often used Cubs hashtag #Wearegood can now be considered something more than just a fun gimmick. After beating two of the best pitchers in the game on back to back nights against a division leading team, it’s safe to say that these Cubs are good and the positive energy they are exuding has taken the fan base by storm.

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: at Wrigley Field on June 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Last night, despite it being a Tuesday in June, felt bigger than any game has at Wrigley in a long time. With Zack Greinke on the mound for the Dodgers; a team that hadn’t experienced back-to-back losses when their aces (Clayton Kershaw and Greinke) pitch in succession, and coming off a bitter defeat the night before that rendered Kershaw disgruntled and perturbed, the Cubs knew they would have to grind to do what no team had done yet this season.  And that is exactly what they did. Jason Hammel threw quite possibly his best game all year in pitching 7 and 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits and a pair of walks to carry the Cubs through this pitcher’s duel as Zack Greinke put up almost identical numbers,though only lasting six innings.

After nine innings of play and neither team able to push across even a single run, the clubs headed to extras and while the game was far from over, you couldn’t help but think that Cubs at least had an advantage. They are 18 – 12 in one run games, with nine wins in walkoff fashion, and 8 – 3 in extra innings contests. Those are pretty impressive numbers and while they scream for a regression to the mean, you also can’t deny how clutch this team has been in such contests.  This time it was Chris Denorfia’s turn to play the hero as his tenth inning long sac fly to center field drove in the winning run with the bases loaded and one out. Cubs Win 1-0. The Cubbie Magic had struck again.

Denorfia walk off

“I believe in magic but I believe it has to be earned,” Manager Joe Maddon said.

These Cubs are earning it and then some but there is still a long way to go as even with this four game win streak they still sit a half game back of the Pirates and 6.5 back from the Cardinals, the only two teams in the National League with better records than the Cubs. That’s right, the three best teams in the National League all reside in the Central at the moment.

“We have three months,” Hammel said. “We’re playing good ball right now. We’ve been playing good ball for three months. We don’t quit, We’re going to keep coming.”

Consider that a warning shot across the bow of the good ship “N.L”  You are all on notice.


Tonight: It’s Kyle Hendricks vs. Mike Bolsinger as the Cubs go for a fifth straight and a series victory over the Dodgers. Game time is 7:05PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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