Schwarber Hits It Long For Cubs

Chicago Cubs

I love September ball. Magic numbers, post season races and spectacular walk off gems.

Then there’s Kyle Schwarber. Recording his twelfth home run. The Sultan of Schwarb continued his outstanding rookie campaign and at least this guy’s comparison to the mighty Babe Ruth.

Speaking of confidence, when not hitting home runs, Kris Bryant is driving in those runs with two last night and leading all rookies with 82.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Maddon said of Bryant. “He doesn’t care who’s pitching, what the count is, his defense, third base, outfield — he’s just all about winning. For a young guy, he’s one of the best baseball players I’ve been around.”

With the September call ups in place, the Cubs are set to make that final push towards October. Javier Baez, Austin Jackson, Tsuyoshi Wada, Quintin Berry and Trevor Cahill have all joined the Cubs ranks. They’re ready to take on the St Louis Cardinals for six games this month.

Ok, so I’m this “Great Canadian Cubs Fan”. We live in a country where 95% of baseball fans cheer for the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays are having this monster season where everyday you’ll run into people wearing Josh Donaldson T-Shirts or Tulowitski jerseys. They’ve all become household names even if you’re not a baseball fan. It’s pretty cool and it’s neat to see the SkyDome(yes, I’m showing my age) filled in September.

Then there’s the Cubs.

Canada doesn’t have a National League team to cheer for and let me tell you, and it’s not just in my circles, there’s a lot of Canadians who are behind the mighty Northsiders. We like the underdogs. It’s our nature. Rizzo, Bryant, Arrieta and Schwarber have become heroes too. I hear it all the time.

“Hey Mark, that kid Bryant sure is some player, eh?”

Yes, the stereotypes are true. We say Eh, Aboot and a couch is a Chesterfield.

“Joe’s mentioned it,” Schwarber said. “He said, ‘Wait until September. You get an extra pep in your step coming to the park every day. It’s not the dog days, it’s that time to go after the race and make it ot the playoffs.’ We all feel it.”

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Jake Arrieta Makes History With No Hitter

ct-cubs-dodgers-photos-20150830-005

When the Cubs snap a losing streak, they do it in style, don’t they? Jake Arrieta throws his very first no hitter and now leads the  Majors with 17 wins.

How sweet is that?

“It’s tough to put it into words,” Jake Arrieta said. “You think about it all the time, and as a kid, and you see other guys around the league do it and you want to be a part of that. It’s not only special for me and my family and friends, but the organization and my teammates.”

It gets better. Kris Bryant crushed another home run on his way to possibly that coveted Rookie of The Year title. You know, the only award a player can win once in their career.

The Cubs beat the Dodgers 2-0 to win the rubber game. With Arrieta reaching the 17 win plateau, the last time a Cubs pitcher did that was 2008 and we all know happened that year, don’t we?

So, Jake Arrieta is having a banner year. He’s almost reached his win totals in two seasons with Baltimore.

“As I’ve matured and gotten older, I’ve developed an understanding that what happens in the pregame and the bullpen doesn’t dictate anything leading into the game,” Arrieta said. “Once you get in between the lines, just execute. That’s the only focus. That’s the mindset I carried into games.”

Jake’s become the quiet leader among the Cubs this season. He’s brought the level of maturity with him that the young Cubs have needed. He can reach 20 wins this season, but most importantly, with his winning style, the Cubs will reach the post season and quite possibly cement their position for years to come.

“He was outstanding. I told him I’m proud of him,” Miguel Montero said. “He worked his butt off and he works harder than anyone in the game. That’s his reward right there. Hopefully more to come.”

There’s often talk about jinxing a no hitter,”You’re not supposed to say it”

I don’t believe in jinxes or curses. However, if you’re not supposed to talk about a no hitter, I might just not mention anything about another certain milestone.

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Cubs Get a Little Mixed Up Against Dodgers

Chicago Cubs

Things got tough for the Chicago Cubs in last night’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2. The relationship that a pitcher has with the catcher came to the forefront when Miguel Montero caught for Jon Lester for the first time this season. For those not in the know, David Ross normally catches for Lester but is away for family reasons.

“We probably haven’t worked enough together to have 100 percent confidence,”Miguel Montero said of Lester. “That’s OK and understandable. For the most part, I think we were on the same page.”

The Cubs didn’t play a bad game because they were leading 2-1 going into the seventh but it came down to the mister between Montero and Lester. It doesn’t really matter because those things can be fixed.

“Balls were finding holes,” Jon Lester said of the seventh. “They were either hit a little too hard or a little too soft. The good thing is, I don’t have to go back to the drawing board. My stuff was there. Location was there, stuff was there, velocity was there. Everything was there. Now it’s a matter of a little bit of luck going my way and maybe the outcome is a little different.”

The Cubs have struggled a bit on the west coast trip with a four game losing streak. They still hold the wild card spot but their hopes are fading if they want to catch the St Louis Cardinals.

Jake Arietta gets the call tonight.

On Tuesday, the Cubs are expected to bring Javier Baez back when they face the Reds.

“I would say he’s probably sooner rather than later, probably a first-wave kind of guy, because there’s a lot things he can do to help you win right now,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Baez, who was the Cubs 2011 pick has had an up and ride with the club.  He’s missed time with a finger injury but has shown a lot of pop in his bat lately with Iowa. He’s a dangerous hitter and will bolster the lineup. In many ways, this is almost the “Dream Team” that the Cubs have projected.

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Cubs Get Tough Loss against Last Playoff Nemesis

Chicago Cubs

One thing you can say about the Chicago Cubs (All right, there’s plenty but this is just one) They never make things easy on themselves. Yesterday’s 4-1 loss against their most recent playoff nemesis the Los Angeles Dodgers was a lesson in humility.

Then again, it’s games like these facing opponents such as Clayton Kershaw arguably the best thrower in the game that the Cubs need.

“You can put those pitchers against the most veteran teams out there and they’re going to look like they’re taking people to school,” Anthony Rizzo said. “This is good — it’s a good test. There’s pitching all throughout the game, but to face this consecutively like we are — I’ve never been there, but I know it’ll be a grind every game [in the postseason], and that’s what we’re doing.”

Anthony Rizzo launched his 26th home run of the season in the loss. It’s not going to be an easy September. The Cubs face the Cardinals and the Pirates. After the Dodgers the Cubs will get a much needed breather when they’ll face the Reds.

“These are games we’ve got to win,” Cubs starter Jason Hammel said of facing ace pitchers. “When they’re on their game, they’re going to be tough to beat. I could say the same thing about our five starting pitchers. It is what it is, and tonight, Kershaw was better.”

September is going to be an interesting month. Fowler’s back and with the possibility that Javier Baez could see some action, my only concern is the Cardinal’s series. I still believe that the whole Cubs year will come down to the last day of the baseball season.

“They’re not robots,” Maddon said of his roster. “They’re young. They’re learning. I have no issues. I just want us to learn from our experience.”

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Cubs Get Taught A Giant Lesson

Chicago Tribune

Uh oh! Two things to notice after last night’s defeat against the San Francisco Giants 4-2.

  1. The Giants are as plucky as ever
  2. Kyle Hendricks needs some time off.

With two of the best managers in the game today in the dugout, Joe Maddon and Bruce Bochy, the Cubs showed how inexperience they still can be and the San Francisco Giants put on display why they have those nifty patches on their sleeves.

“It was kind of a sloppy first that permitted them to get back in and that pretty much was the difference in the game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Kyle Hendricks watched as Nori Aoki put one into the bleachers in the first. It must have rattled the young pitcher and really had a hard time finding his groove again. The Cubs need to decide what they’re going to do with Hendricks. He looks like a deer in headlights when he gets up to the mound. He played decent last night but he’s a perfectionist and when he’s rattled in the playoffs, it’ll be tough.

With only their fifth loss in 26 games, these losses are blips on the radar but it can also mean that when Dexter Fowler isn’t in the lineup, the Cubs don’t fare so well.

“We have some really inexperienced people who are learning on the fly right now,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s nothing to be worried about or talk negatively about. We’re learning, and I give our guys credit. We fought again.”

Although the Cubs lost a bit of ground on the Cardinals and the Pirates, this loss was what the Cubs needed. West Coast trips are difficult but everything they do from this point on is a learning process.

“I grew up a Giants fan so I went to a lot of games here growing up. This is how it was when I came here. It was fun to pitch in.” Hendricks said.

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Jake Arrieta and Starlin Castro Making Cubs Dreams Come True

If Jake Arrieta doesn’t win the Cy Young, I’m going to wear a Braves cap. That’s how confident I am about him winning the award. Last night, Arrieta and the Cubs delivered a beat down to the San Francisco Giants  8-5. The Cubs homered three times from the likes of Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber and…

Starlin Castro.

Yes, Starlin Castro had a terrific game. He was a triple shy of the cycle. Yes, I know Starlin Castro!

“I think Starlin, what he did today, that’s a potentially nice sign for us,” said Maddon, “He really did look different and better today. Him and [hitting coach John Mallee] made a little bit of an adjustment and it looked like it played.”

If you didn’t know all ready, Starlin’s been filling in for Addison Russell who’s been away with his fiancee and the birth of their son (and future shortstop for the Cubs).

This is the kind of game that the Cubs have wanted and expected from the gifted Castro. Maybe, it’s just arrived in time for the post season.

“Sometimes those kind of moments make you strong,” Castro said. “This is my sixth year, [and I was] playing every day, but now it’s been really tough for me. I think it’s made me a little stronger. … I want to be a part of this team and keep hitting and play better.”

So, the Cubs have a potential Rookie Of The Year winner in Kris Bryant and a Cy Young winner in Arrieta. The Cubs have been arguably the best team in baseball since the All Star Break (Toronto Blue Jays, you can sit down for a second). They’re a young team and all Sports Illustrated covers aside, Hey, it’s regional, The Cubs are looking real good. Those promises made in the offseason are coming true.

“What I can appreciate is how well these guys are acclimating themselves to this kind of competition so quickly. That’s the most exciting part for me about our team, is how they’re able to make adjustments so quickly and be successful on a ballclub that is however many games over .500 and playing extremely well and being a huge part of what we’re doing here. I don’t think they put much thought into it, which is exactly the way they should be approaching it. Having that mindset allows them to come here and not necessarily feel pressure but come out here and play.” Arrieta said.

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Kris Bryant Gets His 20th Home Run In Style

Chicago Cubs

If Kris Bryant isn’t a shoo in for Rookie of The Year honours, then he is now. Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 2-1in a make up game. The Cubs are suddenly the hottest team in baseball again with a five game winning streak.

“When I’m thinking home run, I don’t hit one,” Kris Bryant said. “Today, with the wind blowing out, it’s a good time to hit a fly ball, and I was able to accomplish what I wanted to do.”

With the home run, Bryant reaches 20 for the season and since the end of July, the Cubs are 20-4.

This upcoming series against the Giants is going to be a tough one. Cubs are 6 1/2 ahead of San Francisco but the Giants are riding a 2 game losing streak. I don’t know what it is about the Giants but during the regular season, I wouldn’t pay them any attention and then in the playoffs when there’s no other team to cheer for, i guess to me, they’re my bandwagon team.

Not this year.

So, there’s been some debate as to whether Starlin Castro should be traded or not. He had a decent game yesterday but I also think Addison Russell has been outstanding this year. Listen, it won’t be long before Javier Baez will be joining the club again and I still think the Cubs need to bolster that rotation a bit. Stalin Castro’s days with the team are numbered. If it’s not before the end of this season, then sometime during the off season, he’ll be shipped out. The Cubs have been a much better team when Castro hasn’t been in the lineup.

For now, Kris Bryant is the new kid in town and the Cubs future is looking very bright. It’s still weird writing about the Cubs in a positive way, but this year has been great. They’re legitimate contenders. The Sporting News predicted them way back at the start of the season.

“We just all believe in ourselves,” Bryant said. “It’s someone new every day. That’s just the way it’s been going this year. We’re riding the wave, and it’s a good one.”

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Kris Bryant Hits Two Home Runs as Cubs Sweep Atlanta Braves

Wrigley Field

When the Cubs signed Dexter Fowler, his job was to get on base, plain and simple but in yesterday afternoon’s 9-3 destruction of the Atlanta Braves, Dexter Fowler began with a lead off home run. That’s the perfect scenerio to kick off any game.

“It’s been like that my whole career, so I’m kind of accustomed to hitting leadoff,” Fowler said. “I just try to get on base and let the big boys do what they need to do.”

Those “Big Boys” were Kris Bryant who hit two, Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero. It’s not too many times that a team can hit five home runs in a game and lose.

The rookie race has heated up with Bryant’s two home runs as well. He’s four behind Joc Pederson of the Dodgers

The Cubs have won four straight and the best team in the National league for August.

There was a scary part in the game when a fan got hit by a foul ball off the bat of Kyle Schwarber.

“What I’m saying is, when you’re at the ballpark and you’re in those particular locations, watch what’s going on. Don’t turn your head away from the action. Every time a ball is pitched you look, then you can go and talk.” Madden said.

The fan was immediately taken to the hospital.

The Cubs are 6 1/2 back of the Cardinals but those pesky birds just won’t quit. The race will go down to the last day for sure.

“What I like is that we didn’t settle for a split, we didn’t settle for three out of four, we came out and played it for four out of four,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “And that’s impressive. You gotta give our players and coaches a lot for credit for that.”

What’s really impressive about the way the Cubs have played this year is they’re not at the top of any category except Strikeouts and that can be said for the amount of rookies on the team. They also lead baseball in walks which is weird because of the plate discipline. That would undermine the logic of a young team. They’re also last in the National League in hits. For a team that just crushed five home runs?

That’s all Joe Maddon.

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Cubs Give Warm Welcome To Edwin Jackson

Chicago Cubs

I feel bad for Edwin Jackson, I really do. He struggled playing with the Cubs and yesterday, he struggled against the Cubs. The guy can’t catch a break. The Cubs  handed Edwin a parting gift of back to back home runs from Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler as they went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves 9-7.

If the Cubs make it to the World Series, it’s because of their ability to bounce back in games and seize that momentum. They’ll jump all over a mistake. The fell behind 7-3 in the fifth, but clawed and scratched their way back.

“That was a really good win for us,” said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “When we go down like that [in the fifth], we just needed a run or two to scratch away.”

Addison Russel connected with a solo shot that went under review after it was thought that there was fan interference. A problem that at Wrigley Field this year. Remember Keith Hartley?

“I thought I had a pretty good shot, and watching Maybin go back, I thought he might have had a chance at it,” Addison Russell said. “I thought maybe it might be in the basket, maybe it might not be, but I’m glad it was ruled that it went out.”

Do we need to worry about Dan Haren yet? Again, is there a strong case for bringing Travis Wood back to the rotation? It could have came down to two things in the short outing.; Either it wouldn’t have mattered what was being thrown over the plate because the wind was a certain factor and batters were hitting everything that was coming across the plate or like Kyle Hendricks yesterday, these two games have exposed the Cubs’ flaws.

“Obviously, I’d like to do better, be out there longer and stuff like that,” Haren said. “When it comes down to it, when we’ve got 40 or 50 games left, whatever we’ve got left, it’s just about winning games. I think everybody has to just put their self… wanting to do good for themselves behind them and just go out and just do the best they can for the team because that’s what it’s about at this point in the year.”

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Cubs Have Moxy In Win Over Braves

Chicago Cubs

If this were any other year, fans of the Chicago Cubs would say that the team has Moxy. Why? Because they’re young, not as experienced as the other clubs and well, we’re all just glad that they’re doing well.

Yesterday, the Cubs walloped the Atlanta Braves by a score of 5-3. A lot of people talk about that, Don’t quit” mentality that the Cubs have, but is it that they don’t quit or is it that suddenly this season, the Cubs are just too damn good?

“It exemplifies, typifies that we do not quit,” said manager Joe Maddon. “You had to fight through a lot of little adverse baseball moments there, and we did.”

Get over it Joe, the team has been doing it all season long. Finally, the club is a well balanced machine capable of beating opponents at any part of the game.

Except pitching. Yes, the Cubs are struggling a little bit there. Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks need to get back the form they’ve misplaced recently or I’m afraid along with the many Cubs fans out there that it could be October 2016 when the post season arrives.

Yesterday Kyle Hendricks last 5 innings giving up 3 runs. I feel bad for the kid. Something’s gotten into his head this year and believe me, if there’s any pitcher out there that is working hard to right his own ship, it’s the “Professor” Maybe they have to stick Travis Wood in there until things go right, I don’t know.

“I felt a big improvement, that’s why it’s still a little frustrating giving up three runs there, but in the end, I am happy,” Hendricks said. “It felt 100 times better. My arm felt more free, more on line and I made a lot more good pitches. I wasn’t expecting it to be 100 percent in the first start after what we’ve been working on, but hopefully we can turn it around quick.”

Two key players that the Cubs have is Miguel Montero and Chris Coghlan.

Coghlan homered to lift his totals to a career high of 15 while Miguel Montero continues to put up decent numbers while providing leadership to the younger guys.

“We know that if we’re down in the score we’re going to come back at some point, and that’s part of the confidence, part of the winning attitude,” said Miguel Montero.”It feels great.”

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