Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Game 40 Discussion

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Cubs (3) @ Padres (0)

W: Kyle Hendricks (1-1)
L: O. Despaigne (2-3)


I hate that I wasn’t able to see this game, so I will instead leave this open for discussion on the following questions.

1. Do you feel that the Cubs need to make a move for a starter this year to be contenders for a playoff spot? World Series?

2. Assuming we move someone decent from the young prospects, who do you feel most comfortable moving? Why?

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THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1968 – At Wrigley Field, Pirates’ slugger Willie Stargell hits three home runs and just misses a fourth in a 13-6 rout over the Cubs. ‘Pops’ also hit a single and a double, which bounced off the railing of the left field fence back onto the playing field.

1977 – In a 14-10 Boston victory at Fenway Park, the Red Sox (6) and Brewers (5) combined for 11 home runs to tie a major league record. The round-tripper riot matches the mark set by the Yankees and Tigers in 1950 and equaled by the Cubs and Mets in 1967.

1990 – During the Cubs’ 2-1 victory against the Reds in a 16-inning contest at Wrigley Field, Andre Dawson is walked five times intentionally to set a major league record. The previous mark of four free passes in a game was established by Yankees outfielder Roger Maris in 1962 and then equaled by Padres shortstop Gerry Templeton in 1985.

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May 17th 1979 – A Game to Remember

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

On Thursday May 17th 1979, the Chicago Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field.  The announced attendance for the game was 14, 952, and the contest lasted 4 hours and 3 minutes.  Due to the length of the game, I was able to watch the conclusion after getting home from school.  This day was a defining moment in my personal timeline as a Cubs’ fan.  This an event that comes in and out of my consciousness…”a flashbulb” memory as psychologists would call it. (I hope to finish my second book on the Cubs this summer…which focuses on this particular game…hence you can call it a childhood obsession)

Why this game?   For starters…here is the line score:

Phillies        7  0  8   2  4  0   1  0  0   1   23 24  2

Cubs            6  0  0   3  7  3   0  3  0   0   22 26  2

After school it was my daily routine to jump off the bus, run into my house, and watch the end of the Cubs’ game.  Imagine my surprise arriving on this day…with the Cubs trailing 21-16, and in the middle of a 6th inning rally.  I was instantaneously mesmerized…this was like nothing I had ever witnessed in baseball.  The 6th inning ended, and the Cubs had trimmed the lead to 21-19 after another mammoth home run by Dave Kingman. (Check out the highlights on YouTube!) I called a couple of my little buddies to make sure they were watching…and settled in to watch this rare offensive extravaganza.

Greg Gross (an ex-Cub) tripled to center to start the 7th, and was quickly driven home on a double by Phillies catcher Bob Boone…making the score 22-19.  The Phillies’s 7th inning rally was halted as Ray Burris entered the game in a double switch with Bobby Murcer (my childhood hero) and pitched out of the jam.

In the bottom of the frame, Bobby Murcer’s first plate appearance resulted in a one out single that put men on first and second.  I couldn’t believe what I was watching…could the Cubs rally again? I was having a hard time wrapping my little head around the fact that the score was 22-19…and the Cubs were primed to close the gap even more.  Larry “Hawkeye” Bittner pinch-hit for Steve Dillard and hit into an inning ending double play…a typical outcome on an atypical day.

Pete Rose (3-7, BB, 4RBIs) promptly led off the 8th inning with a single; and I was certain another Phillies’s onslaught was in the offing.  Mike Schmidt followed Rose, and Burris was able to coax a fly-out from the slugger. (Schmidt was retired only twice in his eight plate appearances that day).  Burris, who entered the game with an ERA of 6.53, was able to induce consecutive ground-outs…and the Phillies put a rare zero on the Wrigley scoreboard for the 8th inning.

Ivan DeJesus singled to start the Cubs 8th…and was racing to third almost immediately as Scot Thompson followed suit with a single of his own.  Bill Buckner (ahhh…another childhood hero) smacked a single to center which scored DeJesus and the 20th Cubs run of the day crossed the plate…and Dave Kingman was due up! Kingman…who had already belted three homers on the day…could give the Cubs the lead with just one more of his majestic shots onto Waveland.  Regrettably, Kingman flew out to center and Steve Onitveros followed with a fielder’s choice. The Cubs now had men on 1st and 3rd with two outs…and the promise of the inning was dying.

My hopes for a Cubs’ miracle quickly returned as ex-Phillie Jerry Martin (“biting the hand that once fed him”…as Harry might say) knocked in Scot Thompson…and the score was 22-21.  Cubs’ catcher Barry Foote (3-6 on the day…despite entering the game with a pitiful .204 batting average) astonishingly followed with a single that scored Steve Onitveros…and the score stood tied at 22.  One little boy was jumping up and done going crazy in his family’s living room…like the 14,000+ were about 45 miles away at Clark and Addison.

Let’s pause and return from the land of 1979 to 2015, where metrics and statistics have been advanced and enhanced…to demonstrate just how noteworthy this Cubs’ comeback was.  Here are the Phillies’s projected win possibilities during various points of the game:

SITUTAION/INNING                                                         CHANCE OF PHILLIE’S WIN

-leading 7-0 after top of 1st                                                                     93%

-leading 15-6 after the 3rd                                                                       99%

-leading 17-6, top of 4th                                                                        100%

-leading 17-9, after the 4th                                                                      99%

-leading 21-9, top of 5th                                                                        100%

-leading 21-16, after the 5th                                                                    95%

-leading 22-19, after the 7th                                                                    93%

-tied 22-22, after the 8th                                                                          50%

Back to May 17th, 1979…Bruce Sutter came in to pitch the 9th for the Cubs. Sutter… the future Hall of Famer, the CY Young winner, and arguably the greatest Cubs’ reliever of all time. Sutter did not disappoint, pitching around a one out walk and the Cubs now had a chance to actually win this game.  After tallying 22 runs…and the most improbable of comebacks…if the Cubs scored just one more run… I would witness a marvelous ending.  Alas, Rawly Eastwick the Phillies closer, quickly took any drama out of the bottom of the 9th…and the Cubs were retired in order.

Sutter quickly retired All-Stars Larry Bowa and Rose to start the 10th inning…a pair that had been on base a combined nine times. (note…I realize some of you may wonder why a relief pitcher would pitch more than one inning…believe it or not this was a common occurrence before the bastardization of bullpens by one who shall remain nameless…okay, okay…he wears dark glasses and has a last name one vowel different than the Karate Kid)  With Bowa and Rose retired, Sutter was one out away from sending the Cubs to the bottom of the 10th with a chance to untie the game…unfortunately Mike Schmidt was the out Sutter had to get.

Schmidt…who had already homered on the day…and whom the Cubs had walked four times.  Schmidt…who had hit four homers in an 18-16 Phillies’s victory over the Cubs in 1976 at Wrigley.  Schmidt…who if he had played his career at Wrigley would most likely be the all-time home run leader.

The Cubs and Sutter pitched to Schmidt…and the results were predictable.

Now trailing 23-22 the Cubs still had the bottom of the 10th, but Eastwick bested Sutter and retired the Cubs 1-2-3…including a strikeout of Kingman.  The Cubs fell just short of a dream finish…as they frequently do.  I was disappointed but proud of the game that my favorite team had just played.

Is it the sheer rarity of a game like this that has stuck with me all of these years…and compelled me to write about it?  More likely…it’s the symmetry involved with the history of the Cubs and this particular game.  Phillies 23, Cubs 22 is a microcosm for an organization that can come so close…even be amazing at times…and then fall just a little short.

A more positive take (and one I don’t think we Cubs’ fans get enough credit for) is that 23-22 embodies the trait of never giving up.  This is my preferred take and one I feel Cubs’ fans should embrace.  The Cubs could be losing inning by inning, game to game, year to year, decade to decade, (century to century?); and Cubs’ fans will keep coming back.

…that’s what the 23-22 game means to me.

Epilogue- For those that play fantasy baseball…just imagine the stats from this game:

Larry Bowa 5-8 with 4 runs scored, Pete Rose 3-7 with 4 runs scored and 4 RBIs, Mike Schmidt 2-4, 2 HRs and 4 RBIs, Gary Maddox 4-4 with a HR 4 RBIs, Bob Boone 3-5 with a HR and 5 RBIs, Ivan DeJesus 3-6 with 4 runs scored, Bill Buckner 4-7 with a HR and 7 RBIs, Dave Kingman 3-6 with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs

UGH! Dennis Lamp 0.1 IP, 2 HRs 6hits and 6ERs, Randy Lerch 0.2 IP 5 hits and 5 ERs, Donnie Moore 2 IP 7ERs, Ron Reed 9 hits and runs in 3.1 IP

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Game 39 Notes – If You Watch, You’re Out

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Cubs (3) @ Padres (2)

W: Justin Grimm (1-0)
L: Tyson Ross (2-4)
S: Hector Rondon (9)

GOOD

Tsuyoshi Wada – Right now, I’m going to file this in the good column, but long term, I’m not so sure. If you missed the game, Wada came into the game trying to make his case for the rotation after Travis Wood has struggled this year. While he was almost unhittable in the innings he pitched, he was removed from the game before getting through the 5th inning and only throwing 69 pitches. It was a curious move, but they saw something that led them to believe it was the right move. Had the pen stunk, we’d question it. Because the pen did the job, we can praise it. If you are a fan of the strikeout looking, which is my personal favorite type of strikeout, this was the game for you. Wada struck out the side in the 1st and 3rd innings and five of them were looking. It seemed like everyone was just going down watching, on both sides.

Now the question with Wada becomes whether or not he can be consistent enough in the 2nd and 3rd time through an order with his less than overpowering stuff to not tax the pen too much and keep the offense in the game during his starts. Under normal circumstances with a winning team, you can get by, but when we also have to worry about the same thing with Kyle Hendricks, that’s tough on a pen. I would like to see someone like Jason Hammel spaced in between the Wada / Hendricks combo to at least try to rest the pen a little. Either that or put Jon Lester between them. While Wada is a decent strikeout pitcher (7.4 K/9 in 2014), he isn’t the guy we saw last night (17.4 K/9).

Kris Bryant not only continues to hit, extending his hitting streak, but he’s been really good on the bases as well. It’s fun to watch him each night. It’s so refreshing to watch a guy come up and be what we hoped and heard he would be. After being a Cub fan and being burned by guys that were supposed to be the next great thing, Bryant is finally showing us what that actually looks like, and that’s fun to see.

BAD

Nit picking here, but just a couple things

  • Anthony Rizzo struck out twice
  • I still hate Chris Coghlan (no, I didn’t skip yesterday’s game notes because he hit two home runs)

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THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1907 – After the Giants’ 3-0 loss to the Cubs that drops New York out of first place, the players need to form a protective ring around umpires Hank O’Day and Bob Emslie. Pinkerton guards fire shots in the air, trying to disperse unruly fans who have spilled onto the field at the Polo Grounds.

1927 – For the second consecutive day, an umpire at Ebbets Field is the target of fan abuse. Arbitrator Frank Wilson needs a police escort after the Robins (Dodgers) drop a twin bill to Cubs.

1986Rafael Ramirez strokes four doubles in seven trips to the plate. The infielder’s quartet of two-baggers helps the Braves to edge the Cubs in 13 innings at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 9-8.

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Farewell, Welington

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

 

The first Cubs trade of the 2015 season was announced yesterday, and it is likely to be the first of many. Thus far, the Cubs look to be competitive enough to be on the buyers’ market come the July trade deadline, so we could reasonably expect to see a veteran added to our roster when that time comes. For now, we bid farewell to Welington Castillo and the three catcher platoon. I wrote about the problems of having three catchers last week, and it certainly seemed inevitable that this would end sooner rather than later. Given the problems of the 6th/7th inning for the bullpen, having a roster spot used by a catcher who rarely sees at bats just wasn’t useful. So let’s take a look at what’s changed for the Cubs as a result of yesterday’s trade.

Summary:

It’s about as straightforward of a trade as you can ask for, as the Cubs and Mariners just swapped one player for another. Yoervis Medina comes to us from Seattle, and the hope for the Mariners is that Castillo can add some needed offensive punch at the catcher position (that’s been a problem area for them, as their starter, Mike Zunino is hitting a paltry .173 with a .233 OBP – and their backup, Jesus Sucre, is even worse at .067 without a single walk in 16 plate appearances). Even though Castillo hasn’t exactly torn the cover off of the ball – .163/.234/.349 – his history suggests that he can hit well enough to give the Mariners what they need at this point. If you look at Castillo’s 2013 and 2014 seasons, the closest to full seasons that he’s had, he’s about a .250 hitter with the potential for around 10-12 homeruns in a full season. Not bad at all.

Medina, who comes to the Cubs and is expected to report straight to Iowa, is a little harder to figure. He’s a big (6’3″, 245) right hander whose career numbers indicate that he can get the strikeout, but also gives up about a hit per inning. His career WHIP is 1.336, so he may not be the kind of guy to go to for an easy inning. His strikeout rate looks more like a guy who can come in to get one or two outs based on the matchup, which is how he was used in Seattle. In 141 career appearances there, he has 137 innings. So, while he might give up a lot of hits and probably too many walks, I like the fact that he has 140 Ks in those 137 innings. Medina throws primarily a sinker and a 4 seam fastball, and he also throws a knuckle curve, though not as often. He looks like a flyball pitcher, which could be dangerous on days at Wrigley when the wind is blowing out.

Going forward:

The immediate impact will be the freedom with the roster spot that saying goodbye to Castillo brings. Because Medina is headed to the minors for now, the Cubs have a few options although given the heavy usage the bullpen has seen already, I don’t expect Medina to stay in Iowa for very long. For now, Mike Baxter comes up from Iowa to join the Cubs. He was a non-roster invitee this spring, and he has hit fairly well in Iowa so far. Baxter can play 1B and OF.

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A Look at the Cubs Roster Moves

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Even for an off day, yesterday brought plenty of Cubs-related action. On one hand, President Obama launches his Twitter account and follows all Chicago teams except the Cubs, stirring up a faux controversy that can only get any footing on an off day, but more importantly, the Cubs announced several changes going into their road trip to the west to square off with the Padres and Diamondbacks starting tonight. Here’s a look at how the roster will be different:

Going Down

The biggest news is probably that Phil Coke has been designated for assignment, which could result in either his departure from the team or a stint in Iowa if he accepts the assignment. Coke was signed to a minor league contract on March 7, so he might be willing to try and work on things in the minors for a while. His 6.30 ERA and the fact that he couldn’t get left or right handed hitters out, coupled with the need to make room for Tsuyoshi Wada (more on that later) made this move an inevitability.

Additionally, Brian Schlitter has been optioned and will head back to Iowa. He’s already made this trip back and forth this season before. Schlitter has performed even worse than Coke somehow, and has even struggled in AAA this season.

Going Up

Wada is rejoining the big club from Iowa to take Travis Wood‘s place in the rotation. Wood just hasn’t put together the kinds of starts the Cubs need and will be joining Edwin Jackson in the bullpen. Wada will probably take the #4 spot in the rotation ahead of Kyle Hendricks. Wada returns after a rehab stint in Iowa and is expected to make his first start tomorrow night.

Junior Lake is also returning to the Cubs after being called up in late April and appearing in just four games. Matt Szczur was optioned back to Iowa a few days ago so Schlitter could be added to the bullpen, so Lake is being called up to fill the role 4th outfielder role. It seems as though the Cubs are still determining whether he or Szczur is the best fit for that job.

Speculation

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Javier Baez is doing good things in Iowa. Not only is his K rate down to 25% and he’s hitting .299 and has an OBP of .382. Most importantly, he’s having good at bats and working the count in a way that leads me to believe that he might be able to make an impact on the major league roster at some point soon. The trouble will be where to put him defensively. His best fit is probably SS, but he can handle 2B just fine as well. Another option might be putting him at 3B and shifting Bryant to LF, but Baez has had very, very scant experience at 3B (just 4 games during the Arizona Fall League in 2012). Given the current middle infield situation, I think it’s best to let him continue working on  his approach at the plate and for the Cubs to wait until further in the season to call him up. Perhaps in the meantime, though, giving him some looks in the hot corner might not be such a bad idea.

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Looking Back at Week 6 in MLB

Monday, May 18th, 2015

A star player could soon find himself in a new uniform, Miami is suddenly in the market for a new coach and a passionate fan base might finally be getting their team back. A multitude of new prospects will try to make impacts, and the Cubs flexed their muscle. Week 6 had some big implications for the future, so let’s recap:

Tulowitzki and Rockies Headed for a Split? 

The annual Troy Tulowitzki trade rumors have started once again, and they seem to have more traction than ever. Despite recent comments from Rockies General Manager stating that Tulo demanding a trade is false, it seems that a split between the star shortstop and the team is coming. Any team would like to have a player with his ability, but the most logical place that he could end up would be in Flushing, with the Mets. New York has struggled in the last week, and have watched a 6 game division lead evaporate. It would make a ton of sense for them to aim high for an offensive boost, and they have the young pitching to appeal to the Rockies in a trade. Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Jacob de Grom could each be the centerpiece of a trade, if one were to happen. This is just speculation, but it could gain traction if the Rockies continue to bring up the bottom of the National League West, and the Mets continue to lose ground in the N.L. East.

Marlins Let Go of Redmond 

The Marlins (16-22) fired manager Mike Redmond and bench coach Rob Leary on Sunday a 6-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The move is curious, as Redmond improved the team’s win total by 15 games in 2014. Falling six games out of first was all it took for the Marlins’ front office to make significant changes. No one should be surprised if the Marlins’ coaching search is something of a circus because, well, everything they do is sort of a circus. Possibly the most interesting name to emerge in rumors has been Las Vegas 51’s (Mets Triple A affiliate) head coach and former big leaguer Wally Backman. Backman is a YouTube star, as a film series was made about his work with the South Georgia Peanuts of the South Coast League. Calling him hot tempered would be a colossal understatement, and he is notorious for clubhouse rampages and throwing everything he can find in the dugout on to the field, among other things. If you are not familiar with Backman, do yourself a favor and check out his (not kid-friendly) videos on YouTube. Reports between Sunday night and Monday morning had former player Jeff Conine and current GM Dan Jennings each as the new manager of the Marlins, with Jennings being tabbed in the most recent updates as the choice for manager.

Returning Baseball to Montreal

It was announced this week that Montreal’s Mayor, Denis Cordere, will be meeting with MLB Commissioner to discuss bringing Major League Baseball back to Montreal. It has been more than a decade since the Expos became the Washington Nationals, but indications are that Manfred does not oppose a return. According to CBC Canada, Manfred is intrigued by the level of interest in baseball in Montreal, though an obvious obstacle involves building a functioning stadium that could play home to 81 games per year. Olympic Stadium, the former home of the Expos, has hosted Blue Jays exhibition games for the last two years, and attendance has been exceptional. Manfred’s comments sound as if Olympic Stadium will not be a sufficient venue, but if the interest is there, a stadium will follow. Finding a team to move to Montreal would figure to be a challenge, since the most logical team to move is the Rays, and they can’t move until 2027. The logistics of moving a franchise to a new city might take about that length of time, though, so the Rays could still be a candidate.

Rookie Watch

The last week saw a number of top-prospect call ups, the most notable being the Mets bringing up pitcher Noah “Thor” Syndergaard. The Phillies called up one of their top prospects, third baseman Maikel Franco, while the Astros called up right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers. Syndergaard figures to be the most likely to make an impact and contend for Rookie of the Year honors, and he was very impressive on Tuesday night against the Cubs, albeit in a losing effort. Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant has figured out opposing pitching at a lightning quick rate, and is in the midst of a seven game hit streak. He has three home runs over the course of that hit streak, and is becoming increasingly aggressive at the plate, a change from the incredible patience he showed in his first couple weeks. Dodgers’ center fielder had been the front-runner among rookies, but he struggled in the last week, amassing four hits in 31 at bats. Archie Bradley returned to the rotation for the Diamondbacks, after taking a line drive to the face on April 28, but allowed four runs over two and two thirds innings.

Cubs on Postseason Track  

The Cubs have won six of their last seven, and suddenly all is right in the world. Ranking in the top half of the league in nearly every offensive category has been a nice change, which can largely be attributed to the Cubs corner infielders. After some panicking early on, Jon Lester has been dominant over his last five starts. He has a 2.18 ERA and 33 strikeouts over his last 33 innings. The bullpen is still a glaring situation, and Brian Schlitter is getting closer and closer to being chased out of town. Javier Baez has found success at Iowa, and likely won’t be long for the minors at this point, which should provide even more pop to the lineup. As far as standings are concerned, the Cubs are four games behind Saint Louis in the division race. On a more positive note, if the season were to end right now, the Cubs would be in the Wild Card game. How ‘bout them apples?


MVP of the Week: Cleveland Indians’ second baseman Jason Kipnis lead the league in hits over the course of the last seven days, and got on base at a .677 clip. Most importantly, Kipnis launched an eventual game winning home run in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game against Texas. The runner up for this week’s award is Miguel Cabrera, who powered the Tigers to two wins against Saint Louis, which is well deserving of high praise. Plus, Cabrera joined the 400 home run club this weekend.

Cy Young of the Week: Shelby Miller gets the nod this week, after he allowed one run over 16 innings, and came within one out of a no-hitter against the Marlins. Corey Kluber should get some credit, as well, after he struck out 18 batters over eight innings against Saint Louis. Kluber finished off that unbelievable performance with a Game Score of 98. That is just seven behind the highest score ever, but it was done in one fewer inning (Kerry Wood has the all time high, 105, done over nine innings).

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Game 37 Notes – Bad Baseball Fest

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Pirates (3) @ Cubs (0)

W: A.J. Burnett (2-1)
L: Jake Arrieta (4-4)
S: Mark Melancon (9)


GOOD

Not really a lot to report in this section today. I guess the biggest thing is that we close out the week going 6-1. That’s a heck of a way to rebound off a really bad week of baseball. You have to look at the positive despite the bad result today. Jake got the short end of the stick today despite a really nice seven inning outing. He was dominant, recording seven strikeouts, yet efficient enough to work through the 7th with just over 100 pitches. If we had any offense today at all, he may have picked up a win. What’s crazy to me is that he has four losses and a total of eight decisions already. Aside from his outing, I think one of the only other positives was Brian Schlitter coming in for a non-Schlitter type 9th inning. It didn’t matter much, but it’s good to see.

BAD

I’m not going to harp on these guys today, but there was some bad baserunning and overall just some bad baseball. No offense and very little to say positive things for in the field. Oh, and the bullpen vomited on the field again. After professing my love for the pen early in the year, I would like to officially dedicate this song to them. We are going to need some time apart because watching them makes me want to curse.

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THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1931 - Dodgers’ outfielder Babe Herman hits for the cycle for the first of two times this season. In 1933, as a member of the Cubs, he will again hit for the cycle, making him and Bob Meusel the only major leaguers to have accomplished the feat three times since 1900.

1990 - Cubs’ second baseman Ryan Sandberg’s errorless game streak comes to an end after 123 games and 584 chances. Joe Morgan had held the previous record of 91 games.

2008 – Marlins’ second baseman Luis Castillo, who has stolen seven bases in his last two games, is one theft shy of tying a National League mark. The record of eight pilfered bags in consecutive contests was set by Walt Wilmont of the Chicago Colts (Cubs) in 1894.

2012 – Kerry Wood ends his major league career on his own terms when he strikes out the one batter he faces before walking off the mound into an embrace from his 6 year-old son in front of the Wrigley Field dugout. The 35 year-old much-injured Cubs’ right-hander, an All-Star as both a starter and closer, believes today’s final strike-out to be the most significant and the most memorable moment of his 14-year career.

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Game 36 Notes – Six in a row!

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Pirates (1) @ Cubs (4)

W: Jon Lester (4-2)
L: Gerrit Cole (5-2)
S: Travis Wood (1)

The Cubs have won six games in a row. This is not a drill. I repeat, the Cubs have won six games in a row.

PITCHING

Jon Lester has had a slow warmup, but I think he’s finally hitting on 5 of his 6 cylinders. Today, he notched his 1,500th strikeout, going 7 innings and giving up one earned run. He is still 0-for-forever batting, but it will come, I know it.

The bullpen was alright and definitely interesting. Brian Schlitter was awful, as per usual. He might be a reverse Samson – if he cut his hair, maybe he will do better. Phil Coke and Jason Motte weren’t too shabby in their respective outings, allowing 0 runs and maintaining the lead. The best part of the night, however was this:

Travis Wood is officially a member of the Cubs’ bullpen. Joe Maddon made it official in his post-game conference. I’m all for a Dennis Eckersley like rebound for TWood, with him being my current favorite Cub and all. Here’s to hoping his relieving career takes off.

EVERYTHING ELSE

First things first. If you are unable to listen to Len and JD broadcast games, I am so sorry for you. They are a real treat. Len is all business most of the time. JD seems that way on the surface. However, if you really actually listen to him, he has some glorious nuggets of wisdom to pass on. A lot of them are borderline NSFW and are 100% hilarious if you get past the dryness of his humor.

Addison Russell is going to be a perennial All Star, you heard it here first. This kid is unbelievable. He delivers at the plate, his defense is phenomenal, he has the cutest face I have ever seen, and he is quite funny. Check out this instagram video of he and Kris Bryant doing silly things, here.

And here is a clip of the incredible catch he made tonight:

Yeah, I’m definitely a Russell fan. However, until he starts using pine tar, I will not be sitting anywhere near the Cubs’ dugout. Three times in his last 25 plate appearances, the bat has slipped from his hands, and twice it’s gone into the stands. Tonight he hit some chick in the shoulder. Given, she was out of her seat during the AB, so she may or may not have deserved it. (She was unharmed.)

The Cubs also scored two runs in the seventh without needing a hit! There were some walks, some errors, some stolen bases, a balk… it was quite interesting, and quite nice to get those insurance runs with minimal effort on our behalf.

Bill Madlock was the guest conductor for the seventh inning stretch. He mentioned that Steve Carlton was the toughest pitcher he faced, yet he hit .311 off him. He was enjoyable to listen to and seemed like a nice guy.

The Cubs have won six straight. Wood is a reliever now. Tsuyoshi Wada may be called up in the very near future. Exciting things are happening in Chicago. We are good. Let’s go, Cubs.

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THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1977 – At Wrigley Field, the Cubs tie a franchise record, hitting seven home runs during a 23-7 pounding of the Padres. Larry Biittner goes deep twice with Dave Rosello, Gene Clines, Bobby Murcer, Jerry Morales, and Steve Ontiveros also clearing the ivy.

1979 – The Phillies beat the Cubs in a fifty-hit slugfest in the Windy City, 23-22. The 11 home runs hit in the game tie a major league mark, established by Chicago and their opponents playing in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in both 1967 (Reds) and 1977 (Mets).

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Game 35 Notes – That Was a Wild One

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Pirates (10) @ Cubs (11)

W: Edwin Jackson (2-1)
L: Radhames Liz (1-3)

GOOD

Offense on top of offense, and we scored in a variety of ways, which is always a good thing to see. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both served up homeruns, and Matt Szczur, Dexter Fowler, and Jorge Soler all drove in runs. It was nice to see them score a lot and keep scoring throughout the game. Even as the Pirates refused to go away, our guys kept putting them across home plate. And I think afternoons like this one could be rather common throughout the summer. As it heats up, I would bet that the run totals will increase. It helped that the wind was blowing out, but more than half of the runs came from hits other than homeruns.

Speaking of going yard, Bryant is starting tondo what we expected he’d do when he came up. It hasn’t even been a month of him in the majors yet, but already his plate approach is that of someone with a great deal more experience than he has. And Rizzo is entrenching himself in the argument for being one of the best hitters in baseball right now. His OBP alone (.470!) is enough to make me want to get up and dance, but couple that with 7 HR and 20 RBI already and I’m nearly beside myself. And don’t forget, he’s a whopping 25 years old. This isn’t even as good as he’s going to get (probably). Having the added protection of Bryant in the lineup is going to do wonders for an already amazing hitter.

BAD

The Pirates are probably better than we think they are. They are going to be trouble not just this year, but for plenty of years to come. This game should have been over very early on, but they just kept scoring. Andrew McCutchen alone is terrifying. He had a slow start, but I think you can safely say that that’s over.

Our bullpen is troubling. Every team has at least one weakness, and this is one of ours, without question. Two of who should be our best gave up dangerous runs yesterday (Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon). And Jason Motte is just not very good. He couldn’t even get an out at a time when the Cubs really, really needed him to do just that.

But before I heap it all on the bullpen, Kyle Hendricks had a pretty poor outing. With a bullpen that’s already taxed, the Cubs needed more than 5.2 innings out of him. I can live with giving up the runs on a day when our bats are working, but give us 7 innings, could you? It makes a world of difference. In spite of this,  I’m still willing to see what Hendricks can do. Going into the season, he was one of the guys I was excited to see, and he still is. He did do some good things today. While he did give up too many hits and runs, it shouldn’t be overlooked that he struck out 7 in those 5.2 innings and walked only one. That bodes well.

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THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

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1972 – With a Ruthian blast at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium off Burt Hooton, first baseman Greg Luzinski ‘rings’ the replica of the Liberty Bell hanging in dead center field on the fourth level. The 500-foot clanger, which will be overshadowed by Rick Monday‘s three routine round-trippers, will account for the Phillies’ only run when they lose to the Cubs, 8-1.

1981 – Astros’ shortstop Craig Reynolds hits three triples in one game, helping Houston to beat the Cubs, 6-1. The Texas native is only the seventh major league player to accomplish this feat.

1996 – In a 13-1 rout over the Astros, Sammy Sosa becomes the first Cub to hit two home runs in one inning. The slugger accomplishes the feat leading off the seventh with a solo shot off Jeff Tabaka, and then hits a two-run round tripper off Jim Dougherty later in the frame.

2001 – Chicago outfielder Sammy Sosa becomes the thirty-third major leaguer to reach 400 career homers when he goes deep off Houston’s Shane Reynolds at Wrigley Field. The popular Dominican outfielder has hit 371 homers as a Cub, putting him third on the all-time franchise list behind Ernie Banks (512) and Billy Williams (392).

2011 – Drayton McLane sells the Astros for approximately $685 million to a group led by Jim Crane, who failed in his attempts to buy this team in 2008, the Cubs in 2009 and the Rangers with Mark Cuban in 2010. During McLane’s tenure with Houston, which started in 1992, the club appeared in the postseason six times, including a losing trip to the World Series in 2005.

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