Cubs

Cubs on edge after loss to Brewers

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Cubs on edge after loss to Brewers

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 4:35 p.m. Updated 6:47 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Everything will be magnified for this team. Its the way the roster is built and their city is wired.

WATCH: Byrd angry with questions

The Cubs are going to play close games and that means endless opportunities to second-guess and pick apart decisions. Frustrations boiled over after Sundays 6-5 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park.

So when Marlon Byrd singles to lead off the ninth inning and gets thrown out trying to steal second, people will be curious, even when there were several other plays that had a much bigger impact on the game.

Manager Mike Quade called it a miscommunication, something that will be dealt with on Monday to make sure that I didnt screw the damn thing up and I might have. But I didnt care for that situation.

Byrd refused to discuss the situation beyond saying he looks at the third-base coach and repeating the same words seven times: Did I go?

Next question, Byrd said. Done.

There were more significant game-changing moments, but the reaction showed a Cubs team on edge after missing out on another chance to win a series. They went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and left nine men on base.

(We were) looking for a knockout punch all day long offensively, Quade said. We had a ton of chances. We just got to keep pounding and find a way to put teams away when we get them on the ropes.

It should be pointed out that Byrd scored three runs on Sunday and raised his average to .342. And that the Cubs havent stolen a base in the first nine games of the season for the first time since 1941.

But if the Cubs are going to contend, its going to be with pitching, not speed. Promoted from Triple-A Iowa, Casey Coleman made it through five innings and for the most part minimized the damage.

Coleman gave up two two-run homers to Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. What really bothered Quade was a pickoff attempt moments before Fielders bomb in the first.

The manager ran out to first base to argue that Carlos Pena had tagged out Carlos Gomez before he dove back to the bag. With that Coleman would have escaped the inning.

There were plenty of mistakes made, both by guys in uniform and guys not in uniform, Quade said. We made our share. You got to get people out. Whether you get a break here or there or a break goes against you, you still got to play.

Still, it was all in front of the Cubs (4-5), who had a one-run lead and Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol ready to handle the last three innings.

Wood began the eighth with a walk and it unraveled from there. Casey McGehee a player the Brewers once grabbed off waivers from the Cubs stepped in as a pinch-hitter with two outs.

McGehee sent a 94 mph fastball screaming past the wall in right-center field and into the Cubs bullpen for a two-run homer that brought a crowd of 37,193 to its feet.

Wood stood in front of his locker and took responsibility for the pitch. He understands that most days there wont be any margin for error.

We knew we were going to play tight games, Wood said. Thats part of it, but (when) you start the inning off with a walk you put yourself behind the eight-ball.

The Cubs havent got off to the fast start they talked about in spring training. A bounce here or a bounce there and its not that hard to picture the Cubs enjoying three consecutive series wins right now. But it doesnt work that way, and theyre losing ground.

You think theyre going to bounce your way eventually, (that) youre going to get some breaks, Wood said. (But) theres no question weve got to win that game and win that series. It didnt happen.

Box Score
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Rick Monday Flashback and Lester Returns

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AP

Cubs Talk Podcast: Rick Monday Flashback and Lester Returns

Luke Stuckmeyer catches up with former Cub Rick Monday on the anniversary of his infamous flag-saving episode at Dodger Stadium in 1976 (2:15).

Rick takes us through the entire incident, and gives some insight into why he felt compelled to act on that day 43 years ago.

Then, we'll hear from Joe Maddon on what to expect from Jon Lester's 1st start since April 8th (10:40) before Luke is joined by David Kaplan to discuss Lester's return to the rotation after over two weeks on the injured list (11:30).

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Is Jason Heyward fulfilling his 'destiny' with Cubs right now?

Is Jason Heyward fulfilling his 'destiny' with Cubs right now?

Wednesday night, Jason Heyward showed off the type of opposite-field power the Cubs touted when they signed him to that big free agent deal before the 2016 season.

Heyward's 3-run shot off Scott Alexander in the sixth inning Wednesday helped stake the Cubs to a 7-6 victory. It was also reminiscent of a blast he hit off Jake Arrieta and the Cubs in the 2015 National League Division Series while he was still with the St. Louis Cardinals — taking a pitch off the plate outside and sending it into the left-center bleachers with ease:

Here's the 2015 shot.

There were so many encouraging things for the Cubs on the one Heyward swing Wednesday night: a homer off a lefty, to the opposite field, it gave his team a lead a late-game lead and it was just another example of the veteran's hot start:

For perspective, Heyward has as many homers in the first month of the season as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined.

Heyward is now on pace to hit 37 homers and drive in 103 runs in 2019 after totaling just 26 homers and 165 RBI in his first three years in a Cubs uniform.

Regardless of whether he's going to keep that power pace up or not, this is a brand new Heyward on an offensive run we've never seen from him before in Chicago.

"It's just been great," said Cole Hamels, who faced Heyward a lot when the two both called the NL East home. "Being able to see it in the offseason and the leadership type of role that he takes and the respect that he has in the clubhouse during spring training, this is what he's been destined to do.

"He's in his comfort zone. I remember playing against him in Atlanta and these were the types of games he could put in. He could do everything from the outfield — he's got a strong arm — and he's got ridiculous power. We were always very aware of that whenever we faced him, so it's nice to be a part of it and for him to be able to show this."

The homer is Heyward's only hit of the series, but it still ran his season batting line to .333/.450/.587 (1.037 OPS). He's also displaying an incredible awareness of the strike zone, walking 14 times against only 9 strikeouts to begin the campaign. 

Even with something of a resurgence last year, Heyward still had only a 93 OPS+, which essentially means he was 7 percent below league average as an offensive player.

This year, his OPS+ was 164 before the game-winning home run, and his teammates are loving the show.

"They're definitely fully supporting Jason," Joe Maddon said. "Jason does so much supporting of others, even when he's not going well. Whatever you put out there, comes back to you. It's coming back to him right now.

"He's that kind of guy. He's always there for everybody else, so now everybody's there for him."

Heyward doesn't like talking about himself and he refuses to get complacent or revel in the good times too much, even after this hot start following three years of offensive struggle. 

"A lot of work to be done," he said. "Get ready for every day. We got work to do — we got a tough division, we play great competition. Myself personally, just be ready to do whatever I can on a daily basis, whether that's coming through on the field, off the field, whatever it is.

"But it's awesome to be able to contribute for these guys because I know how hard everyone works and what we go through on a daily basis."

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