Starlin Castro almost lost it for the Cubs yesterday. A routine play was bobbled resulting in a first and third situation with two out in the ninth. It was a nail biter for sure but the Cubs went on to beat sweep the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3 and keep in the Wild Card chase.
“It’s great what we did here. We’ve been playing well. We got the Phillies at the wrong moment, otherwise we’ve been OK. We catch Milwaukee at the right time when they’re making adjustments.” Joe Maddon said.
Now the Cubs will face their toughest challenge this season when they square off against Pittsburgh and the San Francisco Giants. I know I’ve said that before but these series are truly a test for them because both teams are fighting for that Wild Card position as well and of course a sweep over at least one of the teams could potentially secure the Wild Card spot but not only that, it’s nearing the end of the season and if the Cubs get into the playoffs, it’ll give them the momentum they need in October.
“That’s part of the learning process with the young guys is to not look too far ahead and not focus on scoreboard watching,” Jason Hammel said. “A week ago, we got swept by [the Phillies] who are 15, 20 games under .500. It’s baseball — you can’t take things for granted and the whole idea of taking one pitch at a time, one game at a time is why teams win and get to the playoffs. It’s the idea of not getting ahead of yourself and not getting too down on yourself. You have to keep an even keel.”
With the Cubs riding a five game winning streak, the best in the majors and Anthony Rizzo’s bat being on a hot streak, the upcoming series should prove to be a very exciting matchup. I’m confident with this series that whoever wins this series wins the Wild Card.
“To really ascend in the division, you have to play the better teams within your group and beat them, and to beat them where they live is important also,” Maddon said.
Good players find a way to win, great players find a way to keep on winning. Last night, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2. It was their fourth straight victory and Anthony Rizzo’s fourth home run in four games.
Another player that’s proving to be quite good at adapting to the big leagues is Kyle “The Sultan of Schwarb” Schwarber who crushed his fourth home run of his young career in the majors.
“He’s going through the same thing over and over again,” Maddon said. “He’s not in a rush, he’s not in a hurry. He’s just, ‘I’m ready to hit on the next pitch.’ You don’t see a lot of guys have that method at the plate at such a young age. He did a lot of good things behind the plate today, too. He had himself a nice day.”
The Cubs are one game back of the wild card and closing in on the Pirates and Giants. Although many, including myself, agree that the Cubs should just focus on the Wild Card race and forget about the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs are nine back of St. Louis a tall stretch to catch them, but why not?
“I’ve been looking forward to August the whole year,” Anthony Rizzo said. “We’re home for a long time. It’s hot in August. I enjoy the hot weather. We know what can happen at Wrigley when it warms up. I’ve been saying that all along to everyone — we’re going to have a big August.”
The Cubs have no choice but to have a big August. With yesterday’s win and the outstanding pitching that’s coming from Kyle Hendricks. Another win after going seven and some change innings. He’s now 5-5. No flash, just craft from the “Professor” and a lesson on how to get things done.
The Cubs are looking for the series sweep today when Clayton Richard takes to the mound.
“We’re definitely confident,” Hendricks said. “Guys are swinging it now. We’re keeping runs off the board. We feel really confident right now against who we’re playing. We have to keep that rolling through August and September.”
Let’s get this straight, I was hoping the Cubs would do a deal by shipping Starlin Castro to the Padres or some team with amazing pitching that can send it the Cubs way.
It didn’t happen.
The Cubs were quiet in yesterday’s trade deadline bonanza. Sure, they received Tommy Hunter from the Orioles in exchange for Junior Lake. They also acquired Dan Haren from the Marlins for minor leaguers Ivan Pineyro and Elliot Soto.
“We explored some bigger deals that would’ve had a longer lasting impact on the organization, and none of those came to pass,” Theo Epstein said. “Those players ended up not being moved as it turned out. Focusing on the 2015 club, which is the most important thing for us to address now, we feel we got two quality pitchers and quality individuals who we feel can provide us the depth we need to compete the rest of the season until we get to October.”
I hope I’m wrong about Starlin Castro. I hope the team turns the corner, after all, they’re on a three game winning streak and are squeaking back into the Wild Card race being only 1 game under. Not bad.
“It made me a little frustrated, thinking about the rumors,” Castro said. “Now it’s over, and I’m trying to finish the season strong.”
Yesterday, the Cubs extended their streak by downing the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1. Anthony Rizzo continued his torrid pace with his third home run in three games. Hey, the Cubs have won three straight, I’m seeing a pattern here.
There’s a reason I’m not in the dugout or calling the shots in some suite in the stands because I’m just some poor guy yelling really loud from the cheap seats.
Now that the the trade deadline has come and gone with the Blue Jays acquiring everyone else in the league, the real season is just beginning. This is the home stretch. There’s eight weeks left until October and the Cubs are going to fight their way into the post season.
Who knows, we could still have that Blue Jays/Cubs World Series.
Now that’s the Cubs team of the year. Things looked a little rocky in the early goings but the Cubs came right back and defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 to take the series opener.
Anthony Rizzo delivered a three run homer in the eighth to prove why he sort of wears the team captaincy on his shirt.
“The whole night, it wasn’t going our way, but I liked the way we were playing,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Eventually, Riz steps up and does what he can do.”
Baseball sure is a funny game. The win takes the Cubs into the last day of the trade deadline. What does everyone think of the David Price deal to Toronto? Nobody saw that coming but the noise north of the border sure is loud about a potential World Series appearance. Of course, my dream would be to have a Cubs/Jays matchup. I tell you, that would be one heck of a party and the allegiance would be fierce. Which brings me to Starlin Castro.
Joe Maddon has gone on record to say that Starlin isn’t going anywhere, but the shortstop has been pulled from a game recently and he’s not having a good season. He’s a talented kid who needs a change of scenery.
“What I said the other day, I meant it,” Maddon said. “He was not going to be traded. I have no idea if that’s going to happen. You never know — if somebody just blows [president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein] away, obviously you’ve got to do something like that. As of that particular moment, every piece of information I’ve received, he’s not being traded.”
Aye, there’s the rub. Maddon has said he hasn’t been traded but Theo Epstein hasn’t said that he’s not going to be traded. They could go after James Shields or Tyson Ross. It’s no secret that the Cubs need to plug that hole in the rotation. Addison Russell could play shortstop.
“It wouldn’t completely surprise me if they made a move or didn’t make a move,” Jake Arrieta said. “I think we can win with what we have here. We’ve got the pieces. We showed we can do it in stretches. If they decide to make a move, I’m sure they’ll make a move that benefits our club.”
Jon Lester makes me nervous. There’s no other way to put it. After getting off to a shaky start this season, Lester has settled into a nice groove lately. In yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Rockies, Lester strikeout 14 batters. Folks, that’s quite a lot of batters.
“That was his best performance all year,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “Just stuff-wise, I thought he had everything going on. … Everything was on and that’s why you saw the result you did.”
An understatement in the very least. Yesterday’s work on the mound kind of solidified the deal. Somewhere on the sidelines, I can almost see Theo Epstein nodding his head saying, “I told you so”
Well Theo, you sure did.
Everyone like that Tulowitzki trade to Toronto? Yeah, they’re looking pretty dangerous right now. So, the Cubs have been very quiet during this trade deadline bonanza. Cole Hamels is a sure bet to go to Texas so where does that leave the Cubs? Do you think they’ll make a deal or will they stay quiet?
Now, I’ve been talking about this for the last week and I’m still liking a potential deal for David Price as unlikely as it could be and now there’s word that the Blue Jays have thrown their hat into the mix.
“I think any time, whether it’s a big move or a small move, any time you get somebody who gives you that little boost, that belief — and I’m not saying [the front office] doesn’t believe in us if they don’t make a move — but you get that little boost in the clubhouse, that, ‘Hey, these guys think we can make a push here,'” Lester said. “Would it be nice? Yeah. If it doesn’t happen, I think we all understand. We have the pieces. We just need to consistently play well in all fronts of the game.”
Joe Maddon has reassured everyone that Starlin Castro’s job is secure.
“Listen, you’re not getting traded. Just relax and play. Don’t worry about this stuff.” Madden told Castro.
But those decisions aren’t entirely up to Maddon alone. There’s one thing for certain, if the Cubs are going to make the post season, Mr. Castro has to be lights out every night. No errors and his head in the game. Every game.
So, whether the Cubs make a move or not, yesterdays victory proves that the Cubs can do it with the big boys.
There’s a lot of dealing going on around the league. Tulowitski to Toronto, Cueto to the Royals Papelbon to the Nationals, so where do you see the Cubs making a deal?
Last night, the Cubs were beat 7-2. Folks, that’s 7-2 against a Troy-less Rockies squad. Now granted Dallas Beeler was on the mound and normally I don’t like it when pitchers are pulled before the fifth inning. It doesn’t matter what the score is, I just don’t like it. This was the right thing to do. Rockies hit everything Beeler was throwing. It also could mean that the Cubs are preparing to see if there could be a possible deal for a pitcher at the deadline.
“We had a tough first inning that really set up the game negatively for us. They were on the emotional side, having lost the face of their franchise. We have to do better. We have to. It’s not about what everybody else is doing, it’s about what we’re doing, taking care of our own business. We have so much more offensive potential than we’ve shown. We have to pull it out of the guys.” said Maddon.
Now, their wild card dreams are slipping away rapidly and there is still a lot of baseball to be played. They are 2.5 back of the Wild Card. They need pitching. With the likes of James Shields, David Price and Cole Hamels still available, the Cubs need to decide what they’re going to do.
Joe Maddon promised fans there’d be a post season for the Northsiders.
“I’m gonna be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon told reporters at his press conference last fall. Now, nobody’s going to be disappointed if they don’t get there. The Cubs have improved tremendously over the last few years, they’re playing above .500 ball and they have a core of players built for the future.
But I want to host a playoff party this fall. The invitations are out. The menu is still being set. You see, baseball in October in the great country of Canada is a pretty awesome thing.
Because hockey season is starting and when the the neighbours shout over the fence, “I think the Leafs have a shot this year!” or on the other side,”Flyers are still going to suck!” I’m going to secretly know two things:
- The Ottawa Senators are going to put together an awesome season.
- Those Ribs on the BBQ sure smell good before a Cubs first post season game since 2008
Where was I going with this? Baseball is best in October.
“I’m gonna talk World Series this year. I promise you. I am. And I’m gonna believe it. And I’m going to see how it’s all going to play out. It’s within our future, there’s no question about that.” Maddon said.
I’m holding you to this Joe.
There’s a caveat to last night’s victory over the Colorado Rockies 9-8. The Cubs bats came to life in a huge way with a huge fourth inning which saw them gain six runs. It was fantastic. Hit after hit and a run through the lineup. In many ways, that was the Cubs team fans were promised during the offseason. However, what looked like a runaway victory almost escaped them in the ninth when the Rockies pulled ahead 8-7 but if it wasn’t for the slumping Kris Bryant with the heroics and the walk off homer, who by the way, yours truly kind of predicted.
“The last three or four games, I’ve hit five or six to the warning track and that’s obviously frustrating,” Kris Bryant said. “I believe in baseball gods and I believe they pay you back, and I guess I got one today. It worked out for us. It was a really good win, that’s for sure.”
That’s for sure, indeed. To say that the Cubs needed that win badly is an understatement. Sure, it’s easy to say that it was an important win, much like every victory this late in the season, but after the Phillies frustrated the Cubs with a sweep, the Cubs have to do the same to the Rockies before heading into a series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s such a flip in the standings and where you’re at and what you’re thinking mentally — it’s all that stuff,” Joe Maddon said of the comeback win. “When you’re losing games late, that’s the most difficult to recapture or get back from that particular moment in the clubhouse. The fact we could take one back, everybody will walk in feeling a whole lot better tomorrow.”
One person who will have a better feeling in the morning is Starlin Castro. He was the chief architect in the fourth inning with a two run single putting the Cubs ahead. It came after a dismal July which saw Castro batting a paltry .139
He could still be with the team after the deadline.
“We were in a competitive race for the postseason a week ago, two weeks ago, and we still are today,” Theo Epstein said. “We’re just in a little bit worse position. That shouldn’t surprise anybody that we’re going to have some down stretches as well. It’s our job to pull ourselves out of it.”
Somewhere in the game of life is a saying,”As long as you can get the job done, it doesn’t matter how you do it.” All right, maybe there isn’t a saying that goes like that and the Cubs were beaten by the Phillies 11-5. For a moment though, Cubs catcher David Ross gave fans a chance to believe “Dreams can come true”
I’m just full of them today.
Yesterday, David Ross pitched in his second game and recorded a shutout in the ninth inning, but there’s more. He went on to hit a home run.
“I don’t really want to be out there, first of all,” Ross said. “It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me other than it was a lot of fun. It helped our bullpen save an inning down there and put a smile on a couple guys’ faces, as well as mine.”
Yes, we all know that baseball is a fun sport. Practically the only sport where the common man can put on a glove, grab a bat and become a legend. In my world, it’s a coffee maker. I can take our Cuisinart and become a Barista.
Once the dust settles, the Cubs have to look at each other in the dressing room and come to grips with the fact that they were swept by the Phillies, they’re 2.5 back in the Wild Card chase and now they have to face the dismal Colorado Rockies.
“We’re almost into August and bodies are weak and minds are fatigued, and you have to find a way to get through it,” Jason Hammel said. “We’ll battle our way to the end.”
He’s right. Baseball isn’t really any longer than other professional sports. The NHL is just as long but what differentiates it from others is they play just about everyday. Although there’s been discussions on shortening the season, I believe it would take away the magic and mystique of the game.
Yesterday, David Ross provided that magic.
“It was good to lighten the mood there at the end because nobody was feeling good about today,” Maddon said.
Only thing better would have been Jon Lester catching.
There’s a couple of things the Cubs have learned about yesterday’s no-hitter by Cole Hamels.
- The Cubs will take a closer look at Hamels and he could be in the rotation next month throwing no-hitters for the Northsiders.
- The Cubs need some more work if they’re going to make the post season.
“He was great today,” Cubs starter Jake Arrieta said. “We couldn’t really get anything going against him. We had several guys with good at-bats, but he had everything working. His breaking ball was really good, his changeup. … Cole was special today.”
The last time a Cubs team was a victim of a no-hitter, Sandy Koufax was throwing heat for the LA Dodgers.
The reason I say this is that along with David Price, the Cubs are looking at Cole Hamels as a possible trade deadline acquisition. Whomever lands on the Northside, the bottom line is exactly that; one of those guys should be in a Cubs uniform soon.
“I’m a professional at getting no-hit,” Joe Maddon said. “I’ve experienced four perfect games against, three as a manager, one as a coach, plus several no-hitters. Give the credit to Hamels. Don’t denigrate our guys. Credit Cole Hamels today. He pitched that well.”
As I mentioned earlier about the Cubs needing more work in the area of their rookies. They’re in a slump. That’s not a bad thing, but getting out out of it could prove tricky. They’re rookies. Kris Bryant and Addison Russell haven’t been in this kind of slump before and I kind of thought with the Cubs facing the Phillies, they’d break out of it against a not so great team.
“You want to encourage them as much as you can,” Coghlan said. “You don’t expect to struggle. You just think you’re going to continue on this torrid pace, and that’s not baseball. I hate to say it, I’m not being negative, but there’s no way Schwarber is going to hit .400. That’s why the game’s so difficult and nobody hits .400. It’s a grind.”
Nobody since Ted Williams has hit .400 Schwarber could hit .400 Kris Bryant could wind up hitting .400 but the likelihood is the same as a wind chill factor in hell.
They’re 1.5 games behind in the wild card race. The time is now.
The Cubs should have won that game. There’s no question about it. Any team that has the lead going into the ninth by all set of logic, should win the ballgame. Instead, the Phillies came back to claim victory in the tenth 5-3.
“If there’s anything we didn’t do well, it’s get the hit when we needed it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of his team, which was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranding 10. “The opportunities were there.”
Other than that, the Cubs played really well. Nobody counts, “Should have won” yup, there’s SHW in the stat column on that. There’s just Wins and Losses. This is the second half of the season, the Cubs are expecting to play in October and that same logic applies here, there’s no more SHW’s especially with teams like the Phillies.
Were there any good takeaways from the game?
Here’s a guy who never gets mentioned in top players or All Star caliber stuff but this former National League Rookie of The Year winner quietly is getting the job done in the windy city. He went 2 for 4 adding a two run bomber and two stolen bases plus a walk in yesterday’s loss.
One of the main concerns that needs to be addressed is the closer. Jason Motte is their guy. Make a press conference to announce it Joe, and don’t forget to buy a round of drinks for the press.
“We have a lot of confidence in those guys,” Jed Hoyer said. “We’ve been in a team-wide slump for quite a while, and I’m actually very impressed with our ability to win games even though we’re not scoring runs. It says a lot about the pitching staff and the bullpen.”
It does say a lot. The team is showing a surprising amount of depth and the rookies carry some maturity too, but the bullpen has been inconsistent and that there closer issue needs resolving.
“I think we’re pretty darn good right now,” Lester said. “Having an addition would be a shot in the arm to maybe take some pressure off the other four guys, but I don’t think we can worry about that right now. … If Theo and those guys decide that’s what we need, then great. If they decide we’re going to stand pat, great.”