Cubs

Subway Series ends in dramatic fashion

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Subway Series ends in dramatic fashion

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Russell Martin and the homer-happy New York Yankees appeared a little out of practice when it came to celebrating a game-winning homer. Martin led off the ninth with his second homer of the game and the New York Yankees took advantage of some shoddy infield defense to beat the Mets 5-4 Sunday for a three-game sweep. The catcher rounded third as a sold out Yankee Stadium roared and jogged toward his joyous teammates waiting at the plate. He took a big hop and fell as he landed on the plate and grabbed his leg, putting a momentary stop to the bouncing party. "I tried to jump in the air to celebrate, and I got about 2 inches off the ground," Martin said. "But I still managed to touch home plate and it feels good." Martin's fall might've given his teammates a sudden reminder of what happened to Kendrys Morales. The Los Angeles Angels star broke his leg hopping on home plate during a walk-off win in May 2010 and missed almost two seasons. "I worried, yes," manager Joe Girardi said. "I saw him go down a little bit, but someone pulled him up and he walked quickly, so my worries went away." The homer on a full-count pitch off Jon Rauch (3-6) was the Yankees' first walk-off homer since Sept. 8, 2010. The Yankees took advantage of errors by David Wright and Omar Quintanilla to rally from a 3-0 deficit and take a 4-3 lead in the eighth on a single by Alex Rodriguez. But Rafael Soriano blew his first save since he started finishing games when Mariano Rivera was lost to season-ending knee injury. Soriano gave up a tying double in the ninth to slumping Mets first baseman Ike Davis, a defensive replacement in the eighth. He got some help keeping it tied 4-all from shortstop Jayson Nix, who threw to third to get the lead runner on a grounder by Quintanilla. "Any play he makes that's a heads-up play doesn't surprise me," Girardi said, "because he's been around the game and understands what he needs to do." Boone Logan (1-0) got two outs with runners on first and third for the win. The Yankees are 7-2 in June. The Yankees hit eight long balls in their first Subway Series sweep of the Mets in the Bronx since 2003 -- that series included a fourth, makeup game that was played at Shea Stadium as part of a two-stadium doubleheader. It was their first win in their last at-bat against the Mets since June 12, 2009, when Luis Castillo dropped Rodriguez's potential game-ending popup, allowing two runs to score. The Mets took a 3-0 lead against Andy Pettitte in the second inning with help from second baseman Robinson Cano's fielding error and Jonathon Niese pitched repeatedly out of trouble for much of the day to make it stand up for seven innings. "Definitely a tough one, the way Jon Niese threw the ball," Wright said. Pettitte gave the Yankees a scare in the sixth when he snared Scott Hairston's comebacker with his bare hand and threw him out. Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue raced out to the mound and after several minutes of deliberation and a few practice pitches, Pettitte remained. He retired the side in order then was greeted by a pat on the shoulder by Derek Jeter at the dugout. His left hand bandaged heavily, Pettitte said he'll be able to make his next start, which is scheduled to come after he turns 40 on June 15. X-rays of the hand were negative. "He's got an extra day here. So he should be OK," Girardi said. Girardi said Hiroki Kuroda will make his next scheduled start after he was hit on the foot by a sharp grounder Friday night. Trailing 3-0, in the seventh, Martin hit a two-run drive off the top of the wall in right field after Wright's throwing error extended the seventh inning. Many of the 49, 010 -- the third straight sellout -- paused to wait and see if the leaping Hairston caught the ball. "That was hard to take," Hairston said. "Guess a lot of those things happen in this ballpark." Martin, who was hitting .173 entering play May 25 has four homers in his past six games and 10 RBIs. He's raised his average to .216. "I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable at the plate," Martin said. "I made a couple of adjustments and, hopefully, I'll just keep doing what I've been doing now." Jeter led off the eighth with a slow hopper that went under Qunitanilla's glove and rolled into the outfield. Jeter was given a single and he hustled into second base with a headfirst dive on the error. Curtis Granderson then hit his second opposite field single of the game to left, off Bobby Parnell, to put runners on first and third. Mark Teixeira followed with a tying hit a day after he gave the Yankees the lead with a two-run homer. The Mets scored more than three runs against the Yankees for the first time in 11 games and for the first time in their past five games this season, but have lost six of seven overall. Making his 51st interleague start, matching Livan Hernandez for most all time, Pettitte raced through the top of the Mets order with only seven pitches in the first. He then needed 36 pitches in the second as the Mets scored three runs. He gave up three runs -- two earned -- and struck out eight in six innings. The Yankees put the leadoff batter on against Niese five times in seven innings but came up empty until the seventh. The Yankees hit into three double plays to help quash threats. Given an extra day of rest after leaving his most recent start with an accelerated heart rate, Niese appeared to get out of seventh inning when Andruw Jones hit a grounder to Wright. Wright spun and made the throw into the dirt. Martin followed with his homer. His home run in the ninth was the third walk-off homer of his career. NOTES: The Yankees reinstated pitcher Freddy Garcia from the bereavement list and sent Ryota Igarashi to Triple-A Scranton-WilkesBarre. ... Jeter has grounded into 11 double plays this season. He had 10 all last year. ... Rodriguez moved past Eddie Murray for seventh on the career RBIs list with 1,918.

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

For the second straight week, Kyle Schwarber halted his postgame media scrum to get something off his chest.

Standing at his locker — the same spot he stood exactly a week prior — the Cubs slugger got about as forceful as he's ever been with the cameras rolling.

Are the Cubs drained right now?

"Never. Nope. Not at all," Schwarber said. "I'll shut you down right there — we're not running out of gas at all."

Really? 

You gotta admire Schwarber's grit. He's got that linebacker/football mentality still locked and loaded in mid-October after a brutal first three games of the NLCS.

But...come on. The Cubs aren't drained? They're not tired or weary or mentally fatigued?

Schwarber says no, but it doesn't look that way on the field. They look like the high point of the season was that epic Game 5 in D.C. It was one of the craziest baseball games ever played, very reminsicent of Game 7 in last year's World Series.

Only one thing: Game 7 was the ultimate last game. They left it all on the field and that was cool because there was no more season left. Last week's wacky contest wasn't the final game of the season. It was just the final game of the FIRST series of the postseason.

So if the Cubs aren't feeling any weariness — emotional, physical, mental or otherwise — they must be superhuman.

Yet Anthony Rizzo — the face of the franchise — backed Schwarber's sentiment.

"I'm 28 years old right now," Rizzo said. "I could run laps around this place right now. I've got a great job for a living to play baseball.

"We have a beautiful life playing baseball. You gotta keep that in perspective. So if you wanna try to get mentally tired, realize what we're doing."

Rizzo talked that talk, but his performance on the field has hit a wall. After his "Respect Me!" moment in Game 3 of the NLDS, Rizzo went hitless in his next 16 at-bats before a harmless single Tuesday night. He then struck out in his final trip to the plate.

Bryzzo's other half — Kris Bryant — actually took the opposite stance of his teammates.

"Yeah, [that Washington series] was pretty draining, I think," Bryant admitted. "Some good games there that I think were pretty taxing for our bullpen and pitchers, too. 

"Kinda expect that around this time of year. The games mean a lot."

It's not surprising to hear those words from Bryant. In fact, it wouldn't even be mildly shocking to hear every player in the clubhouse share the same point of view.

The Cubs played all the way past Halloween last fall, then hit the town, having epic celebrations, going on TV shows, having streets named after them, etc. 

Then, before you know it, there's Cubs Convention again. And shortly after that, pitchers and catchers report. 

From there, the "title defense" season began, featuring a lackluster first half and a second half that took a tremendous amount of energy just to stave off the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and get into the postseason.

Oh yeah, and then that series with the Nationals where the Cubs squeaked out a trio of victories by the slimest of margins.

These Cubs have never really had anything resembling a break. 

However, they're now just one game away from getting that rest they so badly need (and deserve).

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

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USA TODAY

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

Ben Zobrist didn’t look for any deeper meaning in Kyle Schwarber’s first-inning homer off Yu Darvish on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, or hope that one swing could change the entire momentum of this National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zobrist knows what it takes to win in October, the Cubs identifying him as the missing piece to their lineup after he helped transform the 2015 Kansas City Royals into a championship team, and then getting a World Series MVP return on their $56 million investment.

That “Schwarbomb” turned out to be fool’s gold, the only run the Cubs would score in front of a quiet, low-energy crowd of 41,871, the defending champs one more loss away from golfing/hunting/fishing/signing autographs at memorabilia shows.

“That was great to get a homer, but I’d rather see some hits strung together,” Zobrist said after a sloppy 6-1 loss, standing at his locker for almost 10 minutes, answering questions in the underground clubhouse. “I’d like to see a couple doubles together, a few singles, three or four hits in an inning. We just haven’t done that.

“That’s what makes rallies. They’ve stayed away from those kinds of innings. That’s why they’re ahead right now.”

Darvish – Jake Arrieta’s replacement in the 2018 rotation? – canceled out the two singles he allowed in the first inning by getting two of his seven strikeouts and answering some of the questions about how he would respond to all the pressure in October.

Darvish – a trade-deadline acquisition that had echoes of Theo Epstein’s “If not now, when?” explanation for last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade – walked one of the 25 batters he faced and pitched into the seventh inning before handing the game over to a lights-out bullpen.

“There’s nothing that we didn’t see beforehand on video,” Zobrist said. “It’s just a matter of we need him to make more mistakes, and we got to take advantage of those mistakes when he makes them.

“When he got to 3-2 counts, he wasn’t throwing a heater. He was throwing the cutter, and it’s a tough pitch to hit. You have to sit on it, and even then it’s got good movement to it. He kept us off-balance.”

Forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts is at the controls of a Los Angeles bullpen that can match up against right- and left-handed hitters, target locations, unleash upper-90s velocity, execute the elevated fastball that messes with eye levels and lean on All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for multiple innings.

The Dodger relievers essentially put together a no-hitter that lasted nine-plus innings across Games 1, 2 and 3. Together, they have pitched 10.2 scoreless innings, facing 36 batters and allowing two hits and a walk and hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.

“They kept the ball on the edges and kept us off-balance,” Zobrist said. “They’re not throwing the pitch in the middle of the plate when we need them to. They’re keeping it on the edges and those are hard (to hit). When you got guys with good stuff on the mound, you need them to make some mistakes for you, or at least start walking some guys.

“When they’ve gotten in those situations with a three-ball count, they’re still making the pitch when they need to. They’re not walking many guys – and we are.

“That’s why they’re up 3-nothing.”

Zobrist (4-for-23 this postseason) is now more of a part-time player/defensive replacement, no longer the switch-hitting force who dropped the bunt at Dodger Stadium that helped end the 21-inning scoreless streak during last year’s NLCS.

Zobrist insisted the Cubs are still all there mentally, not checked out after a grueling first round against the Washington Nationals and a brutal walk-off loss in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. He owns two World Series rings and one has the Cubs logo and this inscription: “We Never Quit.”

“We keep it loose all the time,” Zobrist said. “We know what’s at stake. And we don’t shy away from it. We look forward to the challenge ahead. It would be a great story for us to be able to come back in this series and win this series.

“We make adjustments, we take advantage of mistakes and we come out with a victory tomorrow. That’s what we have to do.”