Cubs

LIVE: Mets lead Cubs in New York

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LIVE: Mets lead Cubs in New York

Friday, Sept. 9, 2011Posted: 10:11 a.m.

Associated Press

After a prosperous two weeks, the New York Mets faltered in their return to Citi Field. A matchup with the Chicago Cubs could get them back on track.

Mike Pelfrey will try to start this three-game series on a positive note for the Mets by adding to his recent success against the Cubs on Friday night.

The Mets had won 10 of 13 before heading home to play a doubleheader against Atlanta on Thursday, rescheduled games due to the threat of Hurricane Irene last month.

New York (70-73) couldn't capitalize on a four-run first inning while dropping the opening game 6-5 and scored its lone run in the finale during the first inning en route to a 5-1 defeat.

"It's been a disappointing season," outfielder Jason Bay said. "You can kind of let it be that way or try to use the last month as a stepping stone going into the offseason and feeling a little bit better of what you're working on in spring training. That was kind of the focus over the last couple of weeks."

As they continue a nine-game homestand, the Mets will try to bounce back with their seventh win in nine home games against Chicago (62-81). The Cubs enter this series having won three of four following a 5-12 stretch but they've dropped six of eight on the road.

Pelfrey (7-11, 4.68 ERA) will try to add to Chicago's road woes with another dominant outing against the Cubs. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two career matchups and will face them for the first time since April 20, 2010.

Pelfrey, though, is 1-2 in his last seven starts and hasn't given up fewer than three runs in any of those outings. The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings Sunday in Washington but also matched a career high with five walks while failing to factor in the decision during a 6-3 win.

In his search for another victory, Pelfrey will try to get help from Jose Reyes, who leads the NL with a .335 average. The shortstop is also on an 11-game hit streak since returning from a stint on the disabled list for a strained left hamstring.

Reyes is hitting .400 in his last 11 games against the Cubs and went 1 for 2 versus Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.61) during a 7-4 win at Wrigley Field on May 25. Coleman gave up six runs over a career-low 1 1-3 innings during that game and enters this one winless in the majors since May 19.

The right-hander has lost three of his last four outings but nearly won his previous one. He allowed two runs over six innings Saturday against Pittsburgh but was denied a victory when closer Carlos Marmol gave up a grand slam in the ninth of a 7-5 loss.

"We talked before the game about him getting better each time and being consistent. He threw the ball extremely well," manager Mike Quade said. "I was glad to get him out in a position to win the game. We didn't get it done for him, but he pitched great and gave us a chance to win. That's all you can ask."

Starlin Castro, the NL leader with 182 hits, will try to extend his hit streak to 10 games. He's batting .375 in six career matchups with the Mets but has never played at Citi Field.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

Jon Lester has arrived at Cubs camp, and he’s pleased with the new-look rotation full of potential aces. Kelly Crull and Vinnie Duber discuss the 5-man unit, and where Mike Montgomery fits into the Cubs’ plans.

Plus, Kelly and Vinnie talk Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber, along with the continuing free agent stalemate surrounding Jake Arrieta.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: