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.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

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."

Yu Darvish thinks Houston Astros should be stripped of 2017 World Series title

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USA Today

Yu Darvish thinks Houston Astros should be stripped of 2017 World Series title

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal is personal for a lot of players, though it probably hits a little differently for Yu Darvish. 

Darvish was a member of the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers team that Houston beat in the World Series. Darvish didn't have his best performance in the series and when asked about the scandal, the Cubs' pitcher didn't hold back:

It's a weird feeling. Like, in the Olympics, when a player cheats, you can't have a Gold medal, right? But they still have as World Series title. That makes me feel weird. That's it. And one more thing. With [Carlos] Correra talking about [Cody] Bellinger. I saw that yesterday. So they cheat, and I think right now that they don't have to talk. They shouldn't talk like that right now.

You can watch the video of Darvish's comments, from ESPN's Jesse Rogers, it right here.

The comments took on a life of their own, as Astros' soundbytes have been known to do over the last few weeks or so. Darvish was ready for the clapback, though, and delivered a final blow to some poor 'Stros fan who thought he could compete with Darvish on twitter dot com. 

Sign a lifetime contract, Yu. Never leave us.

Related: Bryant crushes Astros for cheating scandal: 'What a disgrace that was' 

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Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

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USA TODAY

Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

Jason Kipnis, who’s potentially the Cubs’ new second baseman but indisputably the pride of Northbrook, said there’s one major reason why his possible reunion with Wrigley Field is so exciting.

“Now I don’t have to hate the 'Go Cubs Go' song,” he quipped.

Kipnis was a late addition to the Cubs’ roster, and still not even a guaranteed one at that. After almost a decade spent being one of the Cleveland Indians’ cornerstones, Kipnis arrived in Mesa on a minor league contract, looking to win a job. Ironically, being with his hometown team is unfamiliar territory for the two-time All-Star. 

“[Leaving Cleveland] was hard at first,” he said. “You get used to the same place for 9-10 years, and I think it’s a little hard right now coming in and being the new guy and being lost and not knowing where to go. But it’ll be fun. It’s exciting. It’s kind of out of the comfort zone again, which is kind of what you want right now – to be uncomfortable. I don’t know, I’ve missed this feeling a little bit, so it’ll be good.”

It was a slow offseason for the second baseman, but the second baseman said he was weighing offers from several teams. Opportunity and organizational direction dictated most of his decision-making, but Kipnis admitted the forces around him were all, rather unsubtly, pulling him in one direction.

“They were telling me to take a deal, take a cut, whatever. Just get here,” he joked. “... It made sense, it really did. I think I didn't fully understand it until it was announced and my phone started blowing up and I realized just how many people this impacted around my life. Friends and family still live in Chicago, so it’s going to be exciting.”

The theme of renewed motivation has hung around Sloan Park like an early-morning Arizona chill, and Kipnis said part of the reason he feels the Cubs brought him in is to set a fire under some guys. He talked with Anthony Rizzo during the offseason, who talked about how the Cubs had struggled at times to put an appropriate emphasis on each of the 162 games in a regular season. That’s not a new problem in baseball, and it struck a chord with Kipnis, who himself was on plenty of talented Cleveland teams that never got over the hump. 

“They got a good core here. I’m well aware of that, they’re well aware of that, too,” he said. “I texted him and called him and asked him what happened last year, because I look at rosters, I look at St. Louis’, I look at all that, and I’m like, ‘I still would take your guys' roster.’” 

As for his direct competition, Kipnis said he hasn’t had a chance to really get to know Nico Hoerner yet, but doesn’t feel like the battle for second base has to be a contentious one by any means. At 32, Kipnis has been around long enough to understand the dynamics an aging veteran vs. a top prospect, and doesn't feel like it’s a situation where only one of them will end up benefiting. 

“I know he came up and had a pretty good success, so I think [it’s] going to be a competition, but at the same time, I’m not going to try to put him down,” he said. “I’d like to work with him, kind of teach him what I know too and hopefully both of us become better from it.”