Cubs

With championship on the line, Aroldis Chapman has no plans to hold anything back now

With championship on the line, Aroldis Chapman has no plans to hold anything back now

CLEVELAND - To a man, the Cubs essentially channeled the announcers in "The Waterboy" after Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday night: 

"Last game of the year. Can't hold anything back now."

Jake Arrieta just threw 102 pitches, but he's ready to roll out of the bullpen if called upon. Same for Jon Lester, who got the Game 5 victory. 

And you better believe Aroldis Chapman is ready, even though he just threw 62 pitches in the last two games.

"One hundred percent," Chapman said through an interpreter in the visiting dugout at Progressive Field Tuesday night. "I'm ready for whatever they ask me."

After throwing a season high in pitches (42) to get the final eight outs of tense, pressure-packed Game 5, Joe Maddon again brought Chapman in in the seventh inning Tuesday night, even though the Cubs were up 7-2 at the time.

"I thought the game could have been lost right there if we did not take care of it properly," Maddon explained. "The meaty part of their batting order. If you don't get through that, there is no tomorrow."

Chapman entered with runners on first and second and two outs and induced Francisco Lindor - who entered play hitting .421 in the World Series - to ground out to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, with Chapman covering and winning the race to the bag.

Chapman rolled his ankle on the play, but he assured Maddon and the Cubs coaching staff he was fine to go back out there. 

The 105-mph closer got all three outs in the eighth inning before walking the leadoff batter in the ninth.

With a 9-2 cushion, Maddon figured he had gotten enough out of Chapman, utilizing Pedro Strop and Travis Wood for the final three outs.

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Maddon admitted he was watching Chapman on a pitch count and had spoken to the big left-hander before the game about possibly coming in in the seventh again.

Chapman - who ended up throwing 20 pitches Tuesday night - prefers to work clean innings, coming in with nobody on base and ideally in save situations in the ninth inning with the adrenaline pumping.

But Maddon has helped change that mindset, utilizing Chapman at the most crucial part the game. And in the World Series, the adrenaline is always pumping.

With Game 7 looming, Chapman maintained he has no ill effects from all the pitches he's thrown the last two games, especially in high-leverage situations. He also claims his ankle is not an issue after the play at first base.

He can't recall a time he's thrown that many pitches in back-to-back games (though there was a day off in between). 

"I feel strong, I feel healthy," Chapman said, who reiterated he put everything he's had on the line the last two games.

Chapman said he doesn't know anything of a pitch limit for Game 7 and he doesn't want one. He knows he has three months to rest after Wednesday night in Cleveland.

Chapman also said he's not worrying about his health entering free agency, as his contract is up as of next Tuesday morning.

"I'm just focused on day-to-day, game-to-game," he said. "All that will take care of itself later on.

"I'm trying to win, win, win. I'll worry about that later."

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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