Cubs Win, Arrieta on Record Setting Run

Chicago Cubs

If the game of baseball is filled with peaks and valleys, then Jake Arrieta is striving to reach his peak. Does he even have one? The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 but not only were they victorious but Arrieta became 9-0 for the 2016 season.

Impressive, right?

Well, there’s more. Arrieta tied a MLB record set by Kris Medlin. The Cubs have won 23 straight games when Arrieta is on the mound. Is it too early to be whispering Arrieta and Cooperstown?

He’s in pretty good company with a WAR of 8.0 this season.

Most WAR From Age 29 On
PITCHER WAR, 29+ YEARS CAREER WAR PCT. HOF?
Randy Johnson 96.7 1993-2009 104.3 92.7% Yes
Phil Niekro 92.9 1968-1987 97.4 95.4% Yes
Lefty Grove 88.1 1929-1941 109.9 80.2% Yes
Roger Clemens 85.1 1992-2007 139.4 61.0% No
Gaylord Perry 78.4 1968-1983 93.7 83.7% Yes
Pete Alexander 76.1 1916-1930 117.0 65.0% Yes
Cy Young 72.7 1901-1911 170.3 42.7% Yes
Warren Spahn 72.3 1950-1965 92.6 78.1% Yes
Curt Schilling 68.6 1996-2007 80.7 85.0% No
Greg Maddux 63.9 1995-2008 104.6 61.1% Yes
Dazzy Vance 63.0 1922-1935 62.5 100.8% Yes
Bob Gibson 62.6 1965-1975 81.9 76.4% Yes
Walter Johnson 60.0 1917-1927 152.3 39.4% Yes
Eddie Plank 59.7 1905-1917 86.5 69.0% Yes
Nolan Ryan 58.4 1976-1993 83.8 69.7% Yes
Red Faber 56.4 1918-1933 68.4 82.5% Yes
Tom Seaver 54.5 1974-1986 106.3 51.3% Yes
Jack Quinn 54.5 1913-1933 59.0 92.4% No
Carl Hubbell 53.2 1932-1943 67.8 78.5% Yes
Tom Glavine 52.7 1995-2008 74.0 71.2% Yes
Kevin Brown 52.4 1994-2005 68.5 76.5% No
Mike Mussina 50.1 1998-2008 82.7 60.6% No

The Cubs have now won two in a row against the Cardinals and seem to be getting back on track after the horrendous road trip.

“I came out and felt really good,” Arrieta said. “My timing was as good as it’s been all year. They put some good swings on some pitches. The cutter down to Randal Grichuk that he hit out in the second wasn’t a bad pitch. He put a good swing on it. Same thing with Matt Adams. I had a manageable pitch count to pitch in the game a little longer, but I got extended in the fifth. They had a good game plan coming in,” he said of the Cardinals. “It’s a good thing our offense was productive today.”

It’s fitting though that Arrieta ends the road trip with a huge victory. The Cubs now can go back to Wrigley Field on Friday to start a homestead against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday knowing that perhaps the worst part of the season is behind them and they can hit the reset button.

“Sometimes the game’s going to get you,” Returning outfielder Jason Heyward said. “You say ‘turn it around,’ but we’re doing OK. Right now, we’re not by any means complacent, but it’s a part of the season. You’re going to go through ups and downs. You’re going to go through stretches where the other team just has a better night than you do.”

Believe it.

Have The Cubs Started Hibernating Again?

John Lackey

As the losses add up, it’s hard not to think that maybe the Chicago Cubs need to mix things up. In many ways, there’s that old cliche in sports that after another loss especially last night’s matchup against the much despised St. Louis Cardinals, the RedBirds shouldn’t have won the game 4-3. In fact, a walkoff home run against a superb  Adam Warren stings a lot.

After John Lackey‘s awesome outing, it was a case of a couple of home runs doing the Cubs in.

“They’re a good team,” Lackey said. “We have to worry about ourselves. They’re kind of irrelevant. If we play our game, we’ll be OK.”

I wouldn’t go that far. The Cubs are losing ground in the Central after the loss and now have lost three in a row. I believe you can officially declare the Cubs in a slump, maybe a rut. I don’t know?

“We pitched well, we had good at-bats — unable to drive in a run obviously really hurt us, but it’s another good baseball game,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “Games like that you say, ‘Our pitchers only made one or two mistakes, and they beat you,’ and it’s true. They hit two mistakes out of the ballpark, and we lose.”

Are the Cubs playing overconfidently or has the other teams figured them out? Sure, last night the Cubs shouldn’t have lost the game, although I have to tread lightly by saying that. We know that any team on any given night could lose in a heartbeat. The secret for the Cubs to get back on track is for Anthony Rizzo to start hitting again. You can trace the Cubs, uh, slump back to when Rizzo stopped being Anthony Rizzo.

“Balls really not falling for me at this moment,” Rizzo said. “It’s a little frustrating for me. I think I’ve been really good with my approach.”

And that happens.

I guarantee that once Anthony Rizzo starts hitting again, the Cubs are going to get out of the funk that they’ve slipped into. The good news is that now’s the time to get the wrinkles out and make those mistakes because October comes quickly and the Cubs need to get that momentum back.

“It is frustrating a little bit,” second baseman Ben Zobrist said after the game. “It’s still so early. We weren’t thinking too high of ourselves. We know it’s a long season. We just have to get back to the grind again.”

Believe it.

Cubs Lose Second Straight Series

Joe Maddon

Should we start panicking? The Cubs are having a bit of a slump at the moment losing 7 of their last 11 games. They’re still first overall but does this mean that the mighty Cubs have some flaws? Last night saw the Cubs lose 1-0 against the San Francisco Giants and their second straight series loss.

“This is a snapshot. It’s May,” Joe Maddon said. “I want to be the best team in baseball but it doesn’t matter if you are now. After the last game has been played, that’s when I want to be the best team. Right now it creates wonderful conversation. It’s up to us to sustain it.”

Doggone it, he’s right. It’s only May. However, it is only may but when a team gets off to a great start the way the Cubs did and expectations are running high, it’s these slumps that have a cause for concern. Not the Oh My God, the season’s ruined type of alarm bells, but perhaps it’s time that they readjust their lineup. Mix it up a bit, you know?

During last night’s game, Javier Baez was called out at first after an attempted bunt but it looked like he was safe.

MLB Rule 7.08 states “a runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely.”

I’m not entirely sure though that this was the case in the Baez play. There were a few choice words from Maddon.

“I really don’t understand the call at all,” Maddon said after the game. “I really don’t. The point is he didn’t really get way out there.”

It was a tough loss for sure. Kyle Hendricks pitched well. Tonight, the Cubs look to find their winning ways again when they travel to arch rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. If there’s any series for the Cubs to turn around their fortunes, then it’s this one. John Lackey gets the start against his former team.

In other news, RP Neil Ramirez was DFA. He’s had a tough start to the season even though his numbers have been a respectable 2.20 ERA, 10.74 K/9 and 4.27 BB/9 in 65 1/3 innings of work.

“Neil has had a really wonderful young career with the Cubs,” Maddon said. “It’s hard to do that. Hopefully he’ll have a better opportunity to play somewhere else.”

Believe it.

 

Cubs Build Character In Tough loss

Jon Lester

It was one of those days for the Cub’s rotation. Starter Jon Lester left in the second inning during the Cubs 5-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants. It could have been the San Francisco sun that got to him, but then again, it could have been just the Cubs met their match.

“They’re going to have their days,” Anthony Rizzo said. “I’m sure he’s not too happy about it. If somebody thinks we’re going to win 140 games, I’d like to know what they’re on.”

Maybe our expectations have run the gamut when it comes to the storied franchise, I don’t know. The Giants have been outstanding this May so it didn’t surprise me. It’s funny though, a couple of years ago, the Cubs would have been lucky to steal a game in a series and now the Cubs are going through a “mini” slump and everyone’s wondering what’s wrong with the Cubs?

“We’re going to go through the ups and downs of the season, and this is one of them,” Rizzo said. “It’s part of the game.”

Perhaps that is the problem when a team is expected to win 100+ games. I get so caught up in the winning that I forget that baseball has its share of luck in it as well. A bad bounce, a line drive to first and that’s all it takes to change the momentum in a ballgame.

The Cubs are still sitting at the top of the MLB, but as the dog days of summer approaches when the weather shifts into high gear and injuries pile up, the Cubs might start to look in changing things up in the order.

With the scary injury to Jason Heyward things could go south in an instant. Luckily, the injury wasn’t too serious and he’ll be able to get in the lineup soon.

“I listen to my body, always, regardless of what the doctor’s telling me,” Heyward said. “I got to be smart, because it is May. We’re not in September right now. We’re working towards that, but this is not the time to push anything like that, especially when you got obliques and stuff like that involved.”

If anything, the loss last night is a character builder and will prep the team for the fall. Personally, I’ve always been afraid of the Giants. They’re that sneaky team that will beat you when you least expect them to do anything.

This is a good loss for the Cubs.

“A lot of things in that game I wish I could go back out and rethink through or throw another pitch, but it is what it is,” Jon Lester said.

Believe it.

Cubs Bring Down Giants and Arrieta Dominates

Jake Arrieta

The Chicago Cubs had a rough time in Milwaukee. That wasn’t the case last night when the Cubs started a three game series with the impressive San Francisco Giants. In what could possibly be a precursor to a fall matchup, the two, uh, giant teams of baseball duked it out with the Cubs coming out victoriously 8-1 and ending the Giants’ eight game winning streak.

Jake Arrieta (8-0) was in spectacular form in a possible Cy Young year. in seven innings of work, the right-handed specialist gave up one run.

“I’m telling you, there’s another level we haven’t seen yet this year,” Joe Maddon said. “His numbers are good, his velocity is good, his spin on the breaking ball is good, changeup’s good. Everything is good. But his command has been off. Even in the [last] no-hitter, his command was off the first part of that game and he got it after about the fourth inning. Once he gets the feel where the ball’s going again, you will have better starts out of him. It’s just the truth.”

The only casualty in the lopsided win occurred when Jason Heyward crashed into the outfield wall after making one of the best catches this Cubs fan has ever seen. He left the game and there’s no update on the extent of the injury.

“There was a long way to run,” Heyward said. “There was a lot of space, enough to make the play. You try to slide in a way you don’t land on your wrist. The momentum took me to the wall.”

I hope he’s all right.

In the second inning, Kris Bryant crushed a three run homer as the Cubs took a 5-0 lead. Although, Bryant is a game breaker, it was nice to see Jorge Soler find his touch again when he destroyed the leather off of the ball in the eighth inning. Baseball is a game of slumps and streaks. We know that Soler has that arm and at any given time, his power comes through.  I hope it’s here to stay.

I’ll tell you, the Brewers beat up the Cubs in the last series and we all know that they’re not the cream of the crop in baseball. So I was expecting this Giants series to be start off being a matchup of low scoring and tight pitching and not the blowout we saw last night.

There’s been a lot of speculation to Jake Arrieta’s mythic season. Reports of PED use just hampers his historic run. Sure, I’d be disappointed if they were true but it has not been proven and let’s face it, baseball fans and sports fans alike love his story. Baseball particularly makes a great story. That’s why there’s lots of films made about “America’s Pastime”

The magic of baseball lies in the ability to transport us away from life’s not so great stories. It’s always been that way and will continue to be that way. If Arrieta did use PEDs then he’s only hurting himself. Baseball will endure with or without him.

“That kind of speculation, I’ve found it to be distasteful,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “I can’t think of a better word. It’s just inappropriate.”

“There’s one way to know. Did he test positive or did he not?”

When people ask me why I enjoy watching the Cubs I tell them the story of the team. Maybe I like rooting for the underdogs. In a country that has only one baseball team(everyone is a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays) I bring them up to date on Cubs baseball. Now friends and family are enjoying their historic run. They’ve empathized with me when the team wasn’t playing so well and marvelled at the team’s dominance these past two years. I think secretly, everyone is a Chicago Cubs fan at heart.

Believe it.

 

 

 

Cubs Show Grit

 

Ben Zobrist

Not only are the Chicago Cubs good, but they’re full of the tricks in order to get things done. last night, the Cubs pulled out the stops in a 2-1 13th inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Travis Wood got out of a bases loaded pickle in the 12th then in the 13th got the bases loaded walk to seal it.

“Whenever you win a game like that on the road, it really says a lot about your group,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We hit the ball well all night long. To say you hit the ball well in a 2-1 victory in 13 innings is kind of like, ‘I’m an idiot’ but I’m not. We actually swung the bat really well. Our defense, to coin an old phrase, was Johnny on the spot.”

It’s hard to put grit and baseball together in the same sentence, although the incident in Toronto against the Rangers might say otherwise but the Cubs showed both grit and determination to steal the win from the Brewers.

These kind of victories are going to go a long way towards October. They won’t always be able to score five runs in a game. in fact, it’s their defence that shone through in yesterday’s win. Catcher David Ross seemed to have his cannon in fine working order after he threw out four runners on the path. A couple were trying to steal and another involved a rundown. Not bad for an “Old Guy”

“That’s one of the crazier ones I’ve been a part of,” Ross stated. “Pretty cool to get out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam on the road. That was pretty impressive.

“And for the same guy to get the winning RBI. Pretty neat game.”

Who would have thought that David Ross and Travis Wood could be the heroes in the game? I didn’t, that’s for sure.

“I felt good all night, I swear I did,” Maddon said. “You watch games like that and understand one thing: There’s a lot of awkward stuff that occurred against us and we didn’t quit. That really speaks loudly about your group. The whole team participated in that victory. And when everybody has ownership, that makes everything a little bit better. All the little things we did tonight in a very difficult win, makes the whole thing better. There’s so much energy in victory, it’s incredible.”

Believe it

Cubs Hit Back To Back Home Runs In Loss

Jason Heyward

Even when the Chicago Cubs lose, as they did to the Milwaukee Brewers last night by a score of 4-2, they look good doing it. Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant broke up Chase Anderson’s bid for a shutout by crushing back to home runs in the ninth inning.

“I’m kind of surprised I didn’t get the silent treatment, to be honest,” Heyward said. “But I think with the circumstances with us not getting any runs, no hits and whatever. I thought I’d get the silent treatment. … I don’t know if they’re afraid of me, or they said, ‘Hey, we’re on the board finally.’ Maybe the next one, I’ll get the silent treatment.”

After signing a whopping eight year 185 million dollar contract with the Cubs, Heyward has been off to a slow start. This was his first home run of the season and Cubs fans have been feeling worried about his sluggish performance.

I think it’s always difficult for better teams to play the not so great teams because they don’t have anything to lose and sometimes they take these teams for granted. Are the Milwaukee Brewers as bad as their record says or did the Cubs play a slightly more relaxed game then they’re accustomed to?

“Teams that are struggling a bit are the teams that worry me even more, because when they’re playing a better team, that’s when they bring out the best in them,” Joe Maddon said.

Kyle Hendricks had a great outing despite the loss. Every game he gets better and better. I watched his performance last night closer than I normally do and just the way he delivers those pitches across the plate with accuracy and command. He almost looks like he belongs in another era of the game. There’s no surging power from his arm, but the lanky hurler pinpoints exactly where the ball wants to go. Sure, his fastball tops out at maybe if he’s lucky 88 MPH, but he continues to fool batters and when they do hit off of him, there’s a bounce and they’re out at first. People have compared him to Greg Maddux, but he’s really coming into his own this season. Hendricks is probably the best five spot thrower in the game.

“Kyle did his thing,” Heyward said. “He didn’t have run support.”

Believe it.

Cubs Take One On The Chin Against Pirates

Jon Lester

Sometimes, the mighty fall. That’s what happened yesterday as the Chicago Cubs tried to close out the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-1 loss.

Jon Lester held the Pirates scoreless through 6 1/3 innings of work, but his no hitter was broken in the seventh when Jung Ho Kang hit an RBI double.

“He’s a good fastball hitter, and I tried to go in, and didn’t locate,” Lester said of the at-bat versus Kang. “I made a lot of really good pitches today, and as the game went on, I found my curveball a little bit, finally. It [stinks] to go through that whole scenario there and leave one middle and the guy doesn’t miss it and hits a double. That’s a tough one.”

The Cubs are going to have days like Sunday. When I think about it, Jake Arrieta pitched a no hitter and then John Lackey had a great outing and almost had one, now, Jon Lester’s performance yesterday was close. That’s pretty good.

Despite the loss, the Cubs pitching staff still lead the majors in ERA with 2.64 and much of the success is credited with the improvement of Lester.

“This year’s just so much different, health-wise and the whole mentality of where we are as a team and all that stuff. I try not to compare last year to this year, but I feel like I’ve thrown the ball pretty well from the first day of spring training. Hopefully, I’ll just continue to give our team chances to win ballgames.”

The Cubs have a day off today before embarking on a ten game road trip starting with the Milwaukee Brewers. Kyle Hendricks gets the call to the mound.

“It’s actually good to get away sometimes,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You’re at home, there’s a lot of demands at home, even having a young baby at home. A guy can catch up on his rest on the road. From our perspective, there won’t be the wind blowing in the hitters’ faces, and they’ll like that. I think the change of venue, change of scenery, keeps it fresh and keeps it exciting and makes you appreciate it even more.”

Believe it.

Cubs lose Double Header and Ryan Braun a Cub?

Jorge Soler

 

Yesterday was a perfect day, the Cubs played a doubleheader, but sometimes all perfect intentions don’t exactly work out that way.

It was a case of,”All good things must end” Kyle Hendricks pitched a great game, but the the San Diego Padres Brett Wallace’s three run homer sealed the deal for Game 1 as the Padres went on to defeat the Cubs 7-4.

This is the first time this season that the Cubs have lost back to back games.

“Listen, we’ve done pretty good,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon after the first game. “We made a couple mistakes today. Our pitcher was outstanding. He hit a lot of balls really well. They beat us. I give them credit. You’ve got to give the other side credit.”

You could say it was David vs Goliath, Rocky vs Apollo Creed or whatever spin you want to put on it, but the Cubs got beat good.

The good news is that yesterday’s afternoon game bode’s well for Hendricks, who recorded a great quality start. He got off to a rocky start but as the game went on, he found his groove.

In the second game, John Lackey almost had a perfect game, if there were only five innings. There were many questions surrounding Maddon’s decision to put Jorge Soler up in the with inning when the game is on the line. It’s no secret that Soler is struggling this season, so why didn’t he pinch hit for him?

“Of course not,” Maddon responded after the 1-0 loss. “You don’t do that. This is a guy that’s a big part of our future. He could just as easily put the ball over the wall and get a knock. … There is really no thought of that.”

Whatever think about his decision, I’m on the side that’s still early in the season and the best way to find production out of a struggling player is to either play him when the game is on the line or send him to the minors for rehab. Soler’s got a great arm but his At The Plate production isn’t up to the rest of the team.

“He’s fine,” Maddon said. “There’s not a thing wrong. You can’t read into one game like that and denigrate a really good young prospect like that. He had a tough night, but he’ll be fine.”

Ok, I’m just going to put this out here right now. There’s a rumour that the Cubs are considering trading for Ryan Braun. If this happens, I’ll be so upset that you’ll hear me screaming from Canada. I can’t say I don’t like the guy because I’ve never met him, but when a guy gets suspended for PEDS  after winning an MVP award and doesn’t do right by giving it back, that doesn’t sit right with me at all. He can apologize all he wants but he still doesn’t deserve that MVP.

Ryan Braun doesn’t deserve to wear a Cubs uniform.

Believe it.

Cubs Flair For The Dramatic Make Shakespeare Proud

Ben Zobrist

Eight wins in a row. The Chicago Cubs are continuing their magnificent run with an 8-7 win over the San Diego Padres. The Cubs are tied with the 1907 Cubs for best start to their season going, 25-6.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s fantastic.

“Jon didn’t have his best thing going on today, but he fought through six, which we needed,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “But we played well offensively. … When you’re able to give up seven and win, that’s a pretty good thing.”

But hold on just a minute. They have to come down from that cloud soon, right? I mean, streaks don’t last forever and as every Cubs fan knows, it’s just a matter of time before things get back to normal.

“We want to stay as locked in as we are right now. The game is very humbling. We’re aware that time is coming when there are going to be great challenges, and we almost look forward to it. That’s when you find out what you’re made of, more so than the good stretches like the one we’re on now.” Team President, Theo Epstein.

And that’s the difference between this year’s historic franchise, they believe in themselves, but most importantly, they’re grounded in reality. The players take every game one at a time knowing that it’s a long season.

“You can’t stay this hot all year long,” Ben Zobrist said. “It’s such a long season, and we know we’re going to have down points. It’s the ability to pick each other up, and this team, so far, you’ve got contributions from everybody, all around the clubhouse, up and down the lineup, every pitcher, every reliever, everybody’s contributing in some way. I think the confidence as a team is just super high because of that.”

In fact, the Cubs are so steeped in reality that they’re oblivious to the Sports Illustrated cover jinx which is the equivalent of theatre’s hush hush of a certain scottish play before a performance. Not to say I’m without my own superstitions. I have a faded Cubs coffee mug that I’m almost tempted to not wash until that coveted trophy is dripping in champagne.

“We’re excited, but it’s still early May, and we have to keep that in our minds and recognize that every game is going to be tough and we have to battle every game,” Zobrist said.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Sure it’s a battle with a 162 game schedule, but the Cubs have proven that they’re strong and learned from last season’s heartbreak.

Today, the Cubs will play a double header. In honour of the Cubs crazy good season, I’m brewing up a batch of Fear The Beard English Pale Ale. Today, is my own kind of day like Ernie Banks said, “Let’s Play Two” A double header and making home-brew. Game time is 1:05 EST. One of my faves gets the start Kyle Hendricks.

Can’t get much better than that.

Believe it.

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