Brewers outlast Cubs in series finale


Brewers outlast Cubs in series finale

The Cubs got more offense Sunday, but it still wasn't enough to pull out the victory.

The Brewers (7-18) set the tone early again and then put the Cubs (13-10) away in the eighth inning en route to a 5-3 victory in front of 33,398 fans at Wrigley Field.

The Brewers scored solo runs in the second, third and fourth innings before breaking a 3-3 tie in the eighth.

"Gotta set the tone better early," Cubs starter Jason Hammel said. "The first inning was nice. But single runs in the next three innings kinda dampens the mood a bit. I kept us in it, but it could've been a lot better."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Hammel ended up with the minimum requirements for a quality start, tossing six innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out four. He admitted he didn't have a good feel for the ball Sunday as he's dealing with a nail/blister issue on his pitching hand.

Cubs reliever Pedro Strop had a rough eighth inning, giving up a double and a bunt base hit before plunking Jean Segura on the forehead with a high fastball in a scary moment on the field.

Play was halted for a few minutes as the Brewers tended to Segura, who initially tried to stay in the game before calling time and pulling himself off first base for a pinch-runner.

"Definitely a scary moment," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. "It really scared me. I went down with [Segura] to see how he was, but I just couldn't say anything, so I just moved to the side and called the trainers."

Montero said he thought Segura's helmet broke as he saw a piece of plastic fly off immediately.

Strop was shaken up, but said he had been in touch with the Cubs and Brewers training staffs and planned to reach out to Segura.

Strop was given some time to breathe and get back to the task at hand when play resumed, getting Ryan Braun to bounce into a 5-2-3 double play.

Maddon called for Strop to intentially walk lefty Adam Lind to load the bases for former Cub Aramis Ramirez, who had already homered in the game. Ramirez fisted a 95 mph fastball into left field for a two-run, game-winning single.

"It's a better matchup," Maddon said of the choice between pitching to Ramirez or Lind. "It's just one of those things under the category of the right thing to do, but it didn't work.

"That doesn't mean it was wrong' it just didn't work out at that time. I'll take Stroppy in that matchup. It's just an unfortunate moment."

Ramirez agreed that Maddon made the correct call.

"It’s the right move," Ramirez said. "Lind has been hitting hard all year. The guy's hitting over .300 and I’m hitting .200."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Cubs picked up a run in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly from pitcher Jason Hammel. They tied the game in the fifth thanks to some shoddy fielding by the Brewers that led to an Anthony Rizzo RBI triple and Kris Bryant RBI double.

The Cubs had scored just three runs in 31 innings prior to their second-inning tally.

[MORE - Cubs: Kris Bryant keeping his head up despite recent struggles]

This is the first series the Cubs have lost since April 17-19 against the Padres at Wrigley Field. It's also the first series the Brewers have won all season.

"They got a couple important pieces back in [Carlos] Gomez and Ramriez, but it's Major League Baseball," Hammel said. "There are good teams. You can't keep a team down long.

"Even some of the teams that are struggling the most can find a good game or two here or there. We've all been through it. Pleased we were able to come back and make a game of it, but to get where we want to be, we obviously need to win these games."

The Cubs head to St. Louis for a four-game series with the Cardinals beginning Monday night on Comcast SportsNet.

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

NBC Sports Chicago

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

SportsTalk Live is on location in San Diego for the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Tony Andracki and Vinnie Duber join Kap to recap the Winter Meetings. Tony was right-- the Cubs didn't make a move. Plus, should the White Sox have done more in San Diego?

12:00- Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons joins Kap and Chuck. The talk about the price for pitching and what the Cubs might do with Kris Bryant. Plus, Gammons talks about a text he received saying the White Sox were talking with the Red Sox about Andrew Benintendi and David Price. Would that make sense for the Southsiders?

20:00- White Sox World Series winning closer Bobby Jenks joins Kap to discuss his emotional article in The Players Tribune. They discuss his injuries with the Red Sox, the back surgery that almost cost him his life and then his downward spiral into addiction.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast