Archive | Chicago Cubs

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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Bryant Goes Deep Twice to Lead Cubs over Kershaw, Dodgers

Posted on 23 June 2015 by Bob

The slump-busting continued last night as Kris Bryant became the latest Cub to bounce back from a rough patch to blast the Cubs to victory, and what a victory it was. Facing the reigning NL MVP and CY Young winner in Clayton Kershaw, nobody would have batted an eye if the Cubs dropped the opener to the Dodgers given the stuff he has and how well the Dodgers have played to date, but these Cubs don’t bow to anyone and Kris Bryant let that be known as he jacked a curveball into the right field bleachers to turn a 1 run deficit into a 2-1 lead.

KB vs. CK

Bryant’s blast broke an 0 for 13 slump and after he added another homer to left in the bottom of the eighth inning, he had his first multi-homer game in the Bigs and firmly planted himself in the middle of All-Star and Rookie of the Year conversations.  Matt Szczur also homered off Kershaw which provided enough cushion for a Cubs bullpen that was outstanding after Tsuyoshi Wada left the game in the third inning with cramping in his left arm.  Travis Wood came on for three innings of relief followed by James Russell, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Jason Motte who combined to collectively throw seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. After your starter goes down you expect it to be a long, tough game on your pen, but the Cubs relievers stepped up and nabbed them a huge win, 4 – 2 to put them eight games over .500 which is only good enough for third place in arguably the toughest division in baseball.

You can’t draw up a better way to start a series after taking down a top team’s ace in the opener and your top hitters brimming with confidence. Tonight the Cubs will send Jason Hammel up against the Dodgers Zack Greinke in what should be an excellent pitching match up.  The Cubs hope to make it four straight victories against a team that hasn’t dropped back to back contests when their two Aces pitch in succession.

First Pitch is 7:05PM.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Thump Twins behind Arrieta, Rizzo; Schwarber Heads to Iowa

Posted on 22 June 2015 by Bob

Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo both had a slump-busting weekend and temporary call-up Kyle Schwarber did his part to get the Cubs back on track. Arrieta pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout while striking out seven to rebound from his worst start of the year and claim the ‘W’. The offense backed him admirably behind Anthony Rizzo’s solo-shot in the fifth inning, his third home run of the series, that has officially ended his minor slump. Dexter Fowler added a Grand Slam in the eighth inning to put the game out reach and notch the Cubs another series win.

Not to be overlooked however, are the contributions made by Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber. In his five game stint as DH for the Cubs Interleague roadtrip through Cleveland and Minnesota, Schwarber had a .364 Batting Average with six RBI’s and a home run. That’s pretty good for a guy playing in Double A at this time last week. He is clearly a Major League ready hitter but the Cubs also want him to be a Major League ready catcher so he will return to the minors with a step up to Triple A and a nice showing in the Bigs at the plate, albeit a small sample size, to build off of.

The Cubs hope to build off of it as well, sitting at 37 – 30 and still very much in the hunt despite remaining third in their division. The Cardinals and Pirates continue to win but the Cubs aren’t showing any quit as both they and the Pirates currently occupy the top two spots in the NL Wild Card chase.  If there was ever a game they needed a carry over from, it’s this one as Clayton Kershaw and the NL West leading Dodgers come to Wrigley for a four game series that will challenge the Cubs considerably. Kershaw is arguably the one of the game’s best pitchers and he has been on strikeout tear lately posting at least 10 K’s in each of his last three starts. The Cubs offense will no doubt bear the load in this one, as their success will be largely predicated on if they can get to Kershaw but Tsuyoshi Wada will have to do his part as well to keep these Dodgers in check. Another four hit performance like his last outing would be a good starting place.

Game time is 7:05PM CST.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

 

 

 

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Cubs Throttle Indians behind 18 Hits; Wada Figures It Out

Posted on 18 June 2015 by Bob

The Cubs bounced back from a shutout on Tuesday and deliver one of their own on Wednesday behind Tsuyoshi Wada’s four-hit, six-strike out gem. He had just a little help from the offense as well, as the Cubs piled up 17 runs on 18 hits, both of which are season highs.  The whole team got in on the action as every starter collected at least one hit with rookie Kyle Schwarber leading the way with four, including his first big league hit; a triple to right field.

Kyle schwarber

One night after posting a goose egg, the Cubs kept the scorekeepers busy last night bringing nine men to the plate in both the second and third innings while tallying TEN runs. Chris Denorfia homered and had 4 RBI’s, Addison Russell added a two-run shot of his own along with a beautiful, diving stop to rob Mike Aviles of a hit to end the fifth inning. Anthony Rizzo broke out of his hitless slump to record a double and a two-run homer.  Hell, even part time catcher David Ross and pinch hitter Mike Baxter added hits just to let you know the type of night the Cubs were having.

Kris Bryant, not wanting to be left out, hit his first grand slam in the top of the ninth to push the lead to 17 and end the Cubs charmed night at the plate, albeit the last seven runs came off of Indians position players forced into action by the smoldering remains of what was once the Indians bullpen. Any game you are forced to use nine different pitchers, as the Indians did, will not end positively for your club as Indians skipper Terry Francona noted:

“Getting in that situation doesn’t feel good,” Francona said. “Early on, we started asking ourselves,  ‘Can we not ruin our bullpen tonight?’ It turns out we had to. It’s still not a lot of fun.”

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 8: Tsuyoshi Wada #67 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the third inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 8, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Conversely, the Cubs got everything you could ask for and more out of Wada’s longest start of the season and Yoervis Medina’s two innings of hitless relief. This was exactly the complete game this blogger called for in yesterday’s post; the kind of victories that have been so few and far between.  Maddon was emphatically pleased telling Wada to call himself a “badass” at the post game presser and ruminating on what it was like to see his stable of young talent in action last night, especially Schwarber’s sensational night at DH.

“Yeah, you get a glimpse of what it could look like when everyone is here, Again, I just look at what it’s going to look like,” Maddon said. “They’ve done things together [off the field] before they got here. That always helps the transition period. I can see the interaction among the group. It’s that, combined with really solid leadership from the veteran guys.”

It always feels good to be on the winning end of these blowouts and let’s hope these Cubs get addicted to it.

 

NEXT UP: Jason Hammel is on the mound for the Cubbies tonight against fellow righty, Danny Salazar. Game time is 6:10PM CST.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Blanked Again After Off Day; Fall to Tribe

Posted on 17 June 2015 by Bob

The Cubs bats went silent Tuesday as they fell to the Indians 6-0 on a night that saw the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks visit the Friendly Confines with Cup in tow. The Cubs posed with the Blackhawks in the infield prior to the game for a photo with the Cup while Cubs manager Joe Maddon got to hoist it over his head, something he will remember fondly.

“I know not everybody has had an opportunity to do something like that, and then furthermore in front of your home crowd. It’s kind of an honor that they would present it for me to be able to do that. But more than anything, I was pleased I was able to do it,” Maddon said.

Joe Maddon Stanley Cup

Unfortunately, that is all he will want to remember from a night that wasn’t very kind to the Cubs. The Indians Carlos Santana returned to the cleanup spot to mop up the Cubs as he hit a three-run homer in the third and followed it up with an RBI double in ninth inning to rake in four of the Tribe’s six runs, more than enough to best the Cubs who managed just four hits and never really threatened.

Jake Arrieta had an off night throwing 112 pitches to get through five innings while walking six and giving up four runs. Anthony Rizzo also struggled going 0 for 3 and extending his hitless streak to 19 at-bats. Hopefully, this is the product of a weather-altered schedule and nothing more. Still, the Cubs remain consistently inconsistent when it comes to putting hitting and pitching together on the same night.

Kyle Schwarber

One positive takeaway was Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber getting promoted from Double-A to the Major League roster for just this week to get some experience and a few AB’s at the Big League level before returning to Triple-A Iowa to add some seasoning. Though he struck out in his only plate appearance, he did get some time behind the dish after Miguel Montero was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. This is the plan for Schwarber as the Cubs believe he can benefit from observing David Ross and Montero in figuring out how to be a Major-league, every-day catcher.  He should be in the DH spot for most of this week and weekend as the Cubs travel to Cleveland and then Minnesota for some interleague play.

Tonight: Tsuyoshi Wada gets the nod vs. the Indians Shaun Marcum in a 6:10PM CST start.

Let’s Go Cubs!

 

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Cubs Take 3 of 4 from Reds over Weekend; 2 Straight Walk-Offs by Castro

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Bob

The Cubs had a hell of a weekend after taking three of four from the visiting Cincinnati Reds with the last two wins coming on walk-off hits by Cubs Shortstop Starlin Castro as the team improved to a season-high seven games over .500.  Not shockingly, three out of the four games in the series were decided by one run as the Cubs continue to walk the tightrope but somehow find away to stay on top.

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 14:  Starlin Castro #13 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a walkoff one run RBI single against the Cincinnati Reds during the eleventh inning at Wrigley Field on June 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Cubs won 2-1 in eleven innings.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Castro had an excellent two night stretch as he hit the game-winner on Saturday and followed it up with three more hits and yet another winner on Sunday to finish off the series. For a player who has struggled with expectations and performance throughout his Cubs career it is a huge boost to see him come through in the clutch with the game on the line.

Jon Lester had a pretty nice evening as well Sunday as he went seven innings and allowed only one run on five hits. More performances like that are what Cubs fans expect from the veteran as we near the mid-point of the season. The bullpen also did their part going four strong innings between four different pitchers and giving up only two hits, even though they did collectively walk four.

The Cubs were set to face the Indians this evening but the game has been postponed due to rain. The reschedule date is set for Monday August 24th.

Tomorrow night Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face the Indian’s Trevor Bauer in a 7:05PM start.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Cubs Slam Tigers 12-3 as Bats Come Alive; Rebound from Shutout

Posted on 11 June 2015 by Bob

A night after being shutout 6-0 in a rare visit to Comerica Field in Detroit, the Chicago Cubs rebounded and then some jumping on the Tigers early as they raced out to 5-0 lead behind Chris Coghlan’s three-run homer in the top of the third and a pair of RBI-singles.

Yoenis Cespedes responded in kind for the Tigers, jacking a three-run shot in the sixth inning to cut the Cub’s lead in half, but the Cubs piled on in the next half-inning plating six more runs behind a combination of walks and singles, along with another three-run blast from Miguel Montero to push the lead to 12-3, which would wind up being the final.

Coghlan dinger in Detroit

It was a sweet victory given the previous night’s outcome, and a fitting end to a 5-4 road trip that saw the Cubs see-saw between bad losses and complete wins to stay five games above .500 and keep in the hunt in the Central.

“I just like the idea that we’re able to come back,” Manager Joe Maddon said after getting shut out. “The bounce after the fall. We’ve done that pretty well this year.”

Jake Arrieta pitched six innings of eight-hit ball with his only real mistake being the three-run shot he served up to Cespedes. That was good enough to pick up his sixth win of the year. On the other side, the Tigers had to throw six pitchers out there as starter Shane Green lasted only three innings after allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk.

Arrieta in detroit

Despite the Tigers struggles early this season, the team has talent and for the Cubs to respond to the pounding they took on Tuesday by dishing out one of their own the following night is something to be lauded.  This season has been ebb and flow from the onset but the Cubs have managed to keep their heads above water as we inch closer to the All-Star break.  There have been bumps but it appears that you can’t keep these Cubs down for too long given that their longest losing streak is four games, something that the Detroit Tigers can’t say.

The Cubs return to the Friendly Confines tonight to face Cincinnati as the right field bleachers section will finally be opened up. Tsuyoshi Wada faces the Reds’ Michael Lorenzen in a 7:05PM CST start time.

Lets Go Cubs!

 

 

 

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Cubs Shutout in Loss to Tigers as Sanchez Goes 7.2 Strong

Posted on 10 June 2015 by Bob

Anibal Sanchez went 7.2 scoreless innings while scattering six hits and striking out seven to lead the Tigers past the visiting Cubs, 6 – 0 Tuesday night in Detroit. Jon Lester took the loss after surrendering five runs on nine hits and not making it past the fifth inning, a regression that has to be upsetting to Cubs fans expecting their ace to show up.

Anibal Sanchez

“He had good stuff, but they kept finding places to hit the ball,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They weren’t pummeling him by any means, but they never let him get into a groove.”

David Ross Robbed

Instead it was the other pitcher who was allowed to get into a groove and the defense backed him up, robbing David Ross of a potential home run in the second inning and allowing only a couple of Cubs to get past second base all night.  So the Cubs’ roller coaster of a season continues as they go from the highs of taking three of our four in D.C. to the lows of posting a goose egg in Detroit after an off day. It can be maddening but as long as the record stays above .500 and the Cubs keep treading water, they will remain in the conversation for a playoff spot.

The Cubs look to salvage a split tonight as they send Jake Arrieta to the bump vs. the Tigers’ Shane Greene. The Tigers have now won three straight.  Game time is 6:08PM CST.

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Cubs Riding High after Taking Three of Four from Nationals in D.C.

Posted on 09 June 2015 by Bob

The Chicago Cubs had a pretty good weekend after taking three out of four games from a tough Nationals team and earning their 30th win of the season. Kris Bryant led the way with a single, double, and triple leaving him just a home run shy of the cycle while Kyle Hendricks pitched five decent innings allowing six hits with three runs, which given the Cubs offensive output was good enough for the win.

Kris Bryant DC

Jason Motte was given a chance to close the game on Sunday and picked up his first save since 2012, back when he was a Cardinal. The Nationals Jordan Zimmerman came into this game on a tear, having won his last four starts but the Cubs pounced on him in the fourth and fifth innings to open up a 4-3 lead and chase him from the game. Anthony Rizzo also upped his hitting streak to twelve games.

With on off day on Monday, the Cubs got some rest but also some help for the present and future as they selected University of Cincinnati infielder/outfielder Ian Happ with the #9 pick in baseball’s amateur draft sticking with the strategy of acquiring hard-hitting position players despite the logjam of talent that floods their infield at the moment. It is a sound strategy that has begun to produce visible results and should continue to do so as prospects matriculate through the Cubs system. This is an exciting time for Cubs fan as their is a real sense that they can compete for a playoff spot this season, but should be an even better club next year.

Rafael Soriano

Staying in the present, the Cubs also acquired Rafael Soriano in hopes of shoring up their shaky bullpen. Soriano has been out of baseball so far this season and the Cubs only signed him to a minor league deal, but the hope is that when reunited with his former manager, Joe Maddon, he can return to the form that made him the Nationals closer just one year ago.

The Cubs dip into interleague play tonight as they travel to Comerica Park in Detroit to face the Tigers for a two game series. Jon Lester will pitch against Anibal Sanchez in the opener with first pitching coming at 6:08PM CST.

Go Cubs Go!

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