Category Archives: Chicago Cubs

Cubs Edge Rays 2-1 In 7th Straight Victory

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Mike Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and the Chicago Cubs extended their winning streak to a season-high seven by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 Tuesday night in manager Joe Maddon’s return to Tropicana Field. Maddon managed the Rays from 2006-14, then left to manage Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago entered with a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. Montgomery (7-8) allowed one hit in six innings, a one-out homer in the sixth by Brad Miller. Montgomery struck out six, walked one and hit his first batter, Kevin Kiermaier. (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)  

Joe Maddon On Addison Russell-Javier Baez Up Middle In Postseason: ‘Hard To Run Away From That’

(CBS) Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t much interested in answering hypothetical questions about postseason lineups when his team hasn’t yet clinched a berth yet, but he has let on this much. With the high-stakes games upon the Cubs and the playoffs looming, he’ll rely heavily on the familiar infield quartet to anchor his lineup: Anthony Rizzo at first base, Javier Baez at second, Addison Russell at shortstop and Kris Bryant at third. That was the infield alignment the Cubs typically utilized in the playoffs en route to a championship in 2016. “When Javy’s at second and Addison is at short and you got KB, Riz and (Willson) Contreras behind the plate, my god, that’s the D-peat we’ve talking about,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday afternoon. “So it’s also hard to run away from that.” Maddon’s comment came in the context of the many difficult lineups decisions he’ll encounter should the Cubs reach the postseason, as they’re in line to do with a 3.5-game lead in the NL Central with 13 games left. As he explained, it’s not and either/or choice of Russell or Baez at shortstop. He will keep playing both. Both Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist are capable of playing second base or the outfield. Utilizing one of them at second base opens up an extra outfield spot and potentially more at-bats for someone like Kyle Schwarber, but Maddon loves the Russell-Baez duo up the middle. So it sounds like the lineup tweaks from day to day will come in the outfield. While emphasizing all that, Maddon also indicated he’s likely to favor offense over defense when filling out his lineup card in the postseason, though he’ll be ready to quickly utilize defensive substitutions in-game. “You remember that one-game playoff against the Pirates a couple years ago?” Maddon said, in reference to the 2015 wild-card game in Pittsburgh in which he started Tommy La Stella at third base. “We went offense, then to defense. I would think we would probably go there first if we can. And again, just looking at the overall numbers against the particular pitchers, sometimes right on right is OK. Actually, Milwaukee has a couple of those dudes. “If it’s close enough, you would probably go offense early, then turn it over to defense game in progress. You’ve got to garner a lead. But I don’t know man, you just look at both sides’ pitchers. We’re probably talking as much as anything about ground balls (in making those lineup decisions).”

The Bernstein Brief: Metrics Favor Addison Russell Over Javier Baez At Shortstop

By Dan Bernstein — senior columnist (CBS) As much as we love highlights, baseball success is more often in the routine and better handled by those who make the former look like the latter. For all the flair Javier Baez has shown at shortstop for the Cubs with Addison Russell out, Russell will and should regain his rightful spot there. And the decision isn’t a difficult one after consulting more than just our recent and often fallible respective memories. Russell has 14 defensive runs saved in 159 plays this season, per, and Baez just one in 112. Even missing all the time he has, Russell’s total in that category is still tied for second among MLB shortstops behind Andrelton Simmons’s otherworldly 28 DRS in 252 plays. Russell has an Ultimate Zone Rating of 4.0 based largely on his superior range, while Baez posts a -0.8. What’s interesting is that even as Baez returns to regular duty at second base, these same numbers also show how well Ben Zobrist has been performing there this season. The 36-year-old Zobrist has a UZR of 3.1 and three DRS in 96 plays, while Baez has a 0.6 UZR and 4 DRS in 78 plays. But when we factor in the measured values of offensive runs above average and baserunning runs above average, the decision to keep Baez in the lineup there is also easy. The Cubs are fighting to lock down another division title and prepare for the playoffs, and they’re making the correct call. The spectacular is entertaining, but better is better. Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

Cubs’ Playoff Hunt: In Full Control After Sweep Of Cardinals

(CBS) A three-game sweep of the rival Cardinals over the weekend at Wrigley Field has left the Cubs in prime position to reach the playoffs and defend their World Series championship. As Chicago has Monday off, let’s reset the situation about where everything stands and what awaits. NL Central standings
Cubs 83-66
Brewers 79-70 (4 GB)
Cardinals 77-72 (6 GB) Cubs’ remaining 13 games
at Rays, at Rays
at Brewers, at Brewers, at Brewers, at Brewers
at Cardinals, at Cardinals, at Cardinals, at Cardinals
vs. Reds, vs. Reds, vs. Reds Cubs’ magic number to clinch NL Central: 10 The Cubs’ magic number decreases by one every time they win a game or the Brewers lose one. Playoff odds The Cubs have a 94 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, per FiveThirtyEight, with a 92 percent shot of winning the NL Central. Chicago’s odds at winning the World Series are 9 percent. Fangraphs pegs the Cubs with a 96.6 percent chance of winning the division and 97.7 shot of reaching the playoffs, while Baseball Prospectus rates the Cubs as 90 percent favorites to win the division and gives them 92.9 percent playoff odds. Scenarios in play Barring a sharp downturn in the final two weeks, the Cubs will win the NL Central and a berth into the National League Divisional Series. That matchup will almost certainly come against the Washington Nationals, who are six games back of the Dodgers in the loss column for the best record in the National League. And that Cubs-Nationals series will almost certainly open up in Washington D.C., as the Nationals are seven games clear of the Cubs with just 13 games to play. The starting date for the NLDS is Friday, Oct. 6. The Nationals took the season series from the Cubs, 4-3. Should the Cubs struggle mightily down the stretch and not hold off the Brewers or Cardinals for the NL Central crown, there’s a chance they’d still be in contention for the second wild-card spot. Chicago is currently 1.5 games clear of Colorado, which holds the second spot and the right to play at Arizona in the wild-card game on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Of course, if the Cubs falter in the NL Central race, they likely faltered to the extent that the Rockies would hold them off for the second wild-card spot.

Cubs Adjust Rotation, Will Start Mike Montgomery On Tuesday

(CBS) The Cubs have tweaked their rotation at the start of a 10-game road trip. Chicago will pitch left-hander Mike Montgomery on Tuesday at Tampa Bay instead of left-hander Jon Lester, who’s been moved back a day and will get the ball Wednesday to conclude the short two-game series. Montgomery had been in the bullpen since the middle of last week but is getting another start after rookie Jen-Ho Tseng was hit hard in his debut last Thursday and as right-hander Jake Arrieta remains out for a few more days. The Cubs haven’t announced their rotation past Wednesday, but their hope is for Arrieta to return at some point in the four-game series at Milwaukee that starts Thursday. By inserting Montgomery into the rotation and pitching Lester on Wednesday, the Cubs can also line up more of their right-handed starters to face the Brewers, which they prefer to do for matchup reasons, and give Lester the ball to start at four-game series at St. Louis next Monday. The Cubs lead the Brewers by four games in the NL Central and the Cardinals by six.

Heyward Gets Big Hit As Cubs Sweep Cardinals With 4-3 Win

CHICAGO (AP) — Jason Heyward hit a tiebreaking RBI single with two out in the seventh, and the Chicago Cubs swept the St. Louis Cardinals with a 4-3 victory on Sunday. Ben Zobrist drove in two runs and Kyle Schwarber hit his 27th homer as the NL Central-leading Cubs closed out a 6-3 homestand with their sixth consecutive victory. They stayed four games ahead of Milwaukee and increased their advantage over third-place St. Louis to six games. Pedro Strop (5-4) worked a rocky seventh for the win and Wade Davis got three outs for his 31st save in 31 chances. Dexter Fowler flied out to the warning track in center with a runner on first to end the game. The Cardinals trailed 3-0 before Fowler hit a tying three-run homer off Jose Quintana with two out in the sixth, silencing the crowd of 37,242 on a warm, sunny day at Wrigley Field. The inning began with a double for Matt Carpenter that eluded a lunging Schwarber in left. The Cubs responded in the seventh. Anthony Rizzo reached when he was grazed on his sleeve by a pitch from Tyler Lyons (4-1). The play was originally ruled a ball, but then was overturned by a replay review. Rizzo advanced to second on Javier Baez’s pinch-hit single and took third when Ian Happ beat out a potential double-play grounder. Heyward then hit a liner into left field against Matt Bowman, making it 4-3. St. Louis put runners on second and third with two out in the sixth, but Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Randal Grichuk to end the inning. Brian Duensing fanned Carpenter with the bases loaded for the final out of the eighth, punctuating the big pitch with an emphatic fist pump. Chicago played without catcher Willson Contreras, who served a one-game suspension for his confrontation with umpire Jordan Baker in the fifth inning of Friday’s 8-2 win in the series opener. Contreras was originally suspended for two games, but the punishment was reduced after he appealed. The Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead behind Zobrist, who hit a run-scoring groundout in the third and an RBI single in the fourth against Lance Lynn. TRAINER’S ROOM Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow impingement) faced hitters before the game and said he was ready to come off the disabled list. Manager Mike Matheny liked what he saw but wasn’t ready to commit to a timetable for Wainwright’s return. “We haven’t really talked about that yet,” Matheny said. “Wait and see once again physically how everything is measuring up. Today was a good step.” Wainwright, who was placed on the DL on Aug. 18, said he probably will pitch out of the bullpen initially when he returns. … 2B Kolten Wong returned to the lineup after being sidelined by back spasms. Wong left in the seventh inning of Friday’s 8-2 loss to the Cubs and rested on Saturday. Cubs: There was no word on the next step for RHP Jake Arrieta (right hamstring strain), who threw 42 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday. But he has been ruled out for Chicago’s two games at Tampa Bay this week. UP NEXT Cardinals: Following an off day, RHP Jack Flaherty (0-1, 6.08 ERA) makes his fourth major league start Tuesday night at Cincinnati. RHP Jackson Stephens (2-0, 2.38 ERA) pitches for the last-place Reds in the opener of a three-game series. Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon returns to Tampa Bay when the Cubs begin a two-game set against the Rays on Tuesday night. Maddon managed Tampa Bay for nine years before he left after the 2014 season. “I’m really honestly looking forward to it,” he said. “There’s so many friends in that building.” (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)

Cubs’ Willson Contreras Has Suspension Reduced To 1 Game

(CBS) Cubs catcher Willson Contreras has had his two-game suspension reduced to one game upon appeal following his outburst in a win against the Cardinals on Friday at Wrigley Field. Contreras will serve his suspension Sunday as the Cubs host the Cardinals in the series finale. During a dispute in the fifth inning Friday after right-hander John Lackey was ejected for arguing a missed strike call, Contreras threw his catcher’s mask down in disgust and it bounced and hit home plate umpire Jordan Baker in the leg. He was then ejected.

Levine: Cubs’ Addison Russell Returns To Claim His Position

By Bruce Levine– CHICAGO (CBS) — The game was critical, the moment was important. With a two-run lead in the eighth inning against the rival Cardinals on Saturday, Cubs manager Maddon inserted shortstop Addison Russell as a pinch-hitter. With Russell out since the first week of August with a sore right foot, it felt like a release from purgatory, and a standing ovation from the Wrigley Field crowd followed. “That was a pretty special moment in my life,” Russell said. “Walking to the plate, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face. It was really fun.” The results were satisfying on numerous fronts. Russell delivered a solo home run into the left-field bleachers on a 1-2 pitcher from Cardinals reliever Tyler Lyons, helping seal Chicago’s 4-1 win. “I have been working really hard to get back,” Russell said. “The moment happened. I just need to be game ready, both physically and mentally. If I am, I will be fine.” With two fine shortstops to choose from in Russell and Javier Baez, Maddon has the luxury of easing Russell back into into a full-time workload. The Cubs will move Baez back to second base when Russell takes over short. “Of course we were not expecting that,” Maddon said of the Russell homer. “I just wanted to get him an at-bat. It also reminded you that we have missed his presence also. The final point, look at the defense we had out there to end the game. Pretty nice also.” Maddon’s preferred infield defense is Anthony Rizzo at first, Baez and second, Russell at shortstop and Kris Bryant at third. It was the backbone that helped author one of the greatest defensive seasons in baseball history in 2016. For Russell, his focus is on proving he’s ready to reclaim his position on an everyday basis. “Javier definitely plays a good shortstop,” Russell said. “He plays a great second base. It is definitely fun to watch him. I enjoy watching him play. I enjoy watching all of the guys play. From a shortstops perspective, I am happy to be back out there.” And the Cubs are happy to have him out there. Russell was slotted in to start at shortstop and hit eighth against the Cardinals in Sunday’s series finale. “That was awesome to see him,” Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks said. “Just watching him smile as he was rounding first base was great. It had been awhile, and I know how that feels. He brings more energy to us. It is awesome to have him back for sure.” Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

Kyle Hendricks, Addison Russell Lead Cubs Over Cardinals 4-1

CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Hendricks pitched effectively into the eighth inning, Addison Russell homered and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 on Saturday to increase their NL Central lead. Chicago has won five straight and leads Milwaukee by 3 1/2 games and St. Louis by five in the division. Albert Almora Jr. had three hits and two RBIs for the Cubs. Russell was activated before the game after being sidelined since early August with plantar fasciitis of the right foot. He pinch hit in the eighth and hit a solo shot against Tyler Lyons to the back of the left-field bleachers. Hendricks (7-5) allowed one run and five hits in a season-high 7 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one. Wade Davis got the final three outs for his 30th save in 30 chances, extending his Cubs record. Matt Carpenter homered in the eighth for the Cardinals’ run. Michael Wacha (12-8) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. The Cubs managed just one hit over the first three innings before breaking through in the fourth. Almora and Ian Happ had RBI singles to make it 2-0. Wacha, though, avoided a big inning by striking out Javier Baez and Hendricks (sandwiched around a walk to Jon Jay) to leave the bases loaded. In the fifth, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras drew two-out walks following lengthy at-bats (a total of 20 pitches) to put two runners on. Almora then ripped the first pitch he saw into the left-center gap, scoring Rizzo for a 3-0 lead. Hendricks retired the first two batters in the eighth before Carpenter hit a solo shot to left. TRAINER’S ROOM Cardinals: CF Dexter Fowler returned after sitting a week with a bruised left knee. He was 2 for 3 and was hit by a pitch . 2B Kolten Wong sat out with back spasms after leaving Friday’s game in the seventh. Cubs: RHP Koji Uehara wasn’t available because of a lower back issue. UP NEXT Cubs LHP Jose Quintana (6-3, 3.88 ERA) faces RHP Lance Lynn (11-7, 3.01) in the finale of the series on Sunday. Quintana is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts against St. Louis, including a 5-3 win on July 23. Lynn is 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA at Wrigley Field. (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)

Levine: Addison Russell Returns To Active Roster

By Bruce Levine — CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite Willson Contreras’ two-game suspension, the news was not all bad for the Cubs on Saturday afternoon as they welcomed back shortstop Addison Russell to the active roster. The 23-year-old infielder has been on the DL since Aug. 3 with a strain and plantar fasciitis of the right foot. Russell was close to returning 17 days ago. However, he re-injured the same foot during a rehab minor league game in South Bend. During his departure, teammate Javier Baez has filled in at the position with spectacular success. Baez will return to second base when Russell is able to handle the rigors of nine-inning games again. Manager Joe Maddon was asked if the players would eventually swap roles, to which he said, “We have seen what both have done at shortstop. We like Javy at second base and Addie at shortstop.” “If you look at what Addie did last year, it was pretty darn good — 21 home runs and 95 RBI,” Maddon continued. “He was one of the better defenders in all of the baseball last year. We will stick with this. When Javy is at second and Addie at shortstop it is really difficult to beat.” Maddon added that Russell will be eased back into the lineup. Prior to his injury, he was hitting .241 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI. Russell was the National Leagues All-Star starting shortstop in 2016. Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.