Cubs

LIVE: Johnson RBI puts Cubs above Mets

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LIVE: Johnson RBI puts Cubs above Mets

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011
Posted: 10:20 a.m.
Associated Press
It has taken some time, but Chicago's Randy Wells is finally starting to pitch like he did as a rookie two years ago.

Wells looks to extend his career-best winning streak to six games when he takes the mound for the Cubs against the New York Mets on Saturday at Citi Field.

Wells (7-4, 4.86 ERA) got off to a brutal start to the season, missing two months with a right forearm strain and owning a 6.16 ERA at the end of July, but he has been sharp for Chicago (62-82) since. The right-hander has posted a 0.83 ERA while winning his last three starts and is 5-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last seven.

Wells allowed one run and seven hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

"Better late than never," Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website. "He picked up right where he left off from August. Let's see if he can't finish that way."

Wells will now try to win four consecutive starts for the first time since July 18-Aug. 3, 2009. He finished his rookie season with a 3.05 ERA - 10th in the NL - but followed that up with a disappointing 2010, going 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA.

"People keep asking me about who I was in 2009," Wells said. "I wasn't any different in 2010. It was just a tough year. Things just didn't go my way."

Wells, 0-1 with a 3.06 ERA in three career starts versus the Mets (71-73), will be facing them for the first time this year.

New York starter Chris Capuano (10-12, 4.63) was also experiencing a bit of a renaissance before taking a step back in his last outing.

After yielding two runs while striking out 17 over 16 innings in his final two starts of August, Capuano permitted six runs and eight hits Monday in four innings of a 9-3 loss to Florida. The left-hander failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time in his 27 starts.

"It was frustrating. I could never settle into a good rhythm," Capuano said. "The ball was kind of flat and up a little bit. I just really couldn't make that adjustment."

Capuano has posted a 1.42 ERA while winning his last six starts against the Cubs, but hasn't started against them since 2007, while pitching for Milwaukee.

Chicago third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who hit his team-leading 34th double in Friday's series-opening 5-4 loss, is batting .324 with a homer and two doubles in 34 career at-bats against Capuano.

The Mets handed the Cubs their 12th defeat in 18 games Friday, as Justin Turner doubled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning. New York, all but mathematically certain to miss the postseason for a fifth straight year, rallied after giving up the tying run in the top of the ninth to win for the 11th time in 16 games.

"Regardless of where you're at, those are always exciting," outfielder Jason Bay said.

Bay, who doubled twice Friday, is batting .444 with three homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak after batting .089 with two doubles and two RBIs in his previous 15 games.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Predicting Cubs-Dodgers NLCS Game 5: 'Why not us?'

Predicting Cubs-Dodgers NLCS Game 5: 'Why not us?'

"NOT IN OUR HOUSE!" a Cubs coach yelled as he walked through the media throng awaiting entry into the clubhouse.

There was Kyle Schwarber standing at his locker, emphatically saying, "we're not gonna go down quietly."

There was Jake Arrieta, already making plans for what he would do to celebrate after the Cubs beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.

What a difference a day makes.

The Cubs looked completely beat and worn down after Game 3 Tuesday night. Kris Bryant echoed the same line — "why not us?" — he delivered last fall when the Cubs were down three games to one in the World Series, but this time, it just didn't feel the same.

Bryant looked shellshocked and admitted the team was drained after the NLDS and traveling across country to get steamrolled by the Dodgers in the first two games of the NLCS.

Wednesday night, things were different.

Even though the offense still hasn't broken out. 

Even though all the Cubs' runs still came off early homers — they have yet to score in this series not off a longball.

Even though Wade Davis is unavailable for Game 5 Thursday — the Cubs haven't won a game this postseason in which Davis did not pitch.

Even though the best pitcher on the planet — Clayton Kershaw — awaited the Cubs Thursday night at Wrigley Field.

The belief was back in the home clubhouse at Wrigley, even if it was just for one day.

But was it just for one day? 

I've been saying it all fall — the only time this Cubs team has played up to their potential is when they've had their backs against the wall. Your back couldn't possibly get more against the wall when down 0-3 in the NLCS, a deficit only one team in baseball history has come back from.

Conceivably, yes, the Cubs can pull this off. They can climb all the way out of this hole and make a second straight World Series.

If any team can do it, it's the group that erased the longest championship drought in American sports history and did it in the most dramatic way imaginable.

Will the Cubs be able to pull it off? 

I have no idea, honestly. I know that's a cop-out, but screw predictions at this point of the postseason. 

There's a very real possibility the Cubs offense finally breaks out and takes one more step toward writing this team's entry into the baseball history books.

There's also a very real possibility Kershaw comes out and slams the door on any talk of Cubs magic and finally pitches his way into the World Series for the first time.

Either way, the build-up to Thurday night around Wrigleyville is gonna be fun as hell.

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

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USA TODAY

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

This became a three-ring circus on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon screaming at the umpires, the video board showing the replay of Curtis Granderson’s swing and the crowd of 42,195 booing and chanting “BULLS#$!!”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in command of this National League Championship Series, but the Cubs won’t go quietly into the offseason, unleashing All-Star closer Wade Davis for the final two innings of a 3-2 thriller that kept them alive for at least another night.

The Cubs can worry about the daunting task of winning three more elimination games in the morning. Once Davis forced Cody Bellinger into the double-play groundball that left Justin Turner stranded in the on-deck circle and this one ended at 11:16 p.m., he pulled at his right sleeve and buttoned the top of his jersey while waiting for the Cubs to start the high-five line. “Go Cubs Go” blasted from the stadium’s sound  system and fireworks erupted beyond the center-field scoreboard and Davis acted as if nothing had happened.

To put the idea of beating the Dodgers three times in a row in perspective, the Cubs blasted three homers and got a classic big-game performance out of Jake Arrieta and still needed Davis for a heart-stopping, high-wire act.

Maddon already ruled out Davis for Thursday night’s Game 5 after the closer fired 48 pitches – or four more than he did during last week’s seven-out save that eliminated the Washington Nationals. But at least the Cubs will have those decisions to make instead of cleaning out their lockers.

“I don’t know,” Davis said. “We’ll definitely come in tomorrow and get some treatment and go out and play catch and see how I feel.”

It looks like Davis doesn’t feel anything on the mound. Davis didn’t react to Turner chucking his bat and yelling into the visiting dugout after crushing a 94-mph fastball for a home run to begin the eighth inning. Davis didn’t seem bothered by Yasiel Puig flipping his bat after drawing a walk. And Davis never lost his composure while Maddon got ejected for the second time in four NLCS games.

Maddon flipped out at home plate umpire Jim Wolf – and really the entire crew – when what was initially called a swinging strike three on Granderson got overturned and ruled a foul tip.

“Wade doesn’t care about any of that,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “That’s the right guy to have on the mound. With the mentality he has, he’s going to strike the guy out on the next pitch. Obviously with the replay, it’s not easy to keep your composure. But he’s just different. He’s a different animal.”

While the fans at Wrigley Field got loud and turned angry, Davis chatted with catcher Willson Contreras: “I was just trying to think of the next pitch I was going to throw if he ended up staying in the box.”

Davis got Granderson (0-for-4, four strikeouts) swinging at strike four, walked Yasmani Grandal and then blew away Chase Utley with a 95.1-mph fastball, needing 34 pitches to finish the eighth inning. Davis wasn’t finished, using a Kris Bryant bat to hit against Dodger lefty Tony Cingrani, fouling off five pitches before striking out looking at a 94.9-mph fastball.

“Yeah, I gave up there after a little bit,” Davis said with a look that sort of resembled a smile. “He was bringing it pretty good, and I hadn’t seen a baseball in a while coming in like that.”

If the Cubs are going to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox – the only other team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS format expanded to seven games in 1985 – they are going to need the offense to generate more runs, a great start from Jose Quintana on Thursday night and someone else to run out of the bullpen. Not that Davis is ruling himself out for Game 5.

“Go get some sleep and then come in tomorrow and start getting ready,” Davis said.