Cubs

Cubs look more like themselves in snapping four-game losing streak with comeback win over Brewers

Cubs look more like themselves in snapping four-game losing streak with comeback win over Brewers

The Cubs are back…to being a .500 team. Not that anyone in this clubhouse would ever show the signs of frustration this early into a World Series title defense, but this comeback win felt more like something out of that unforgettable 2016 season.
 
"Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days the offense picks your sorry ass up!" Brett Anderson posted on his Twitter account after Tuesday's 9-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers snapped a four-game losing streak and reenergized Wrigley Field.

Except for a bad Anderson start – and the scattered boos heard from the crowd of 39,026 – this looked more like the Cubs team you expected to see. 

"Tonight was a perfect example," new Cub Jon Jay said. "Guys didn't get down and kept on fighting, kept on fighting. The guys out here, they play all nine. They play hard."

A relentless lineup erased a 5-0 deficit, scored in bunches with two two-run homers from Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero and ultimately wore out the Brewers (8-7) with role players like Jay and Albert Almora Jr. 

A bullpen still trying to define roles got its act together, with five relievers combining to limit the Brewers to one run across the final five-plus innings and slow down Korea Baseball Organization sensation Eric Thames (3-for-5, two doubles off Anderson).

It didn't feel exactly like the playoffs, but the press box did shake a little bit in the sixth inning, when Almora smashed a pinch-hit, two-run single off third baseman Travis Shaw's glove to make it a 7-6 game. The crowd roared again when Jay hammered a Jared Hughes fastball off the right-center field wall for a game-tying triple – and then scored the go-ahead run on a Hughes wild pitch.

"It's early in the season," Jay said. "We got guys with track records and guys who've had big years, so it's all about staying in that routine and continuing to play."

The contributions from all over the roster bailed out Anderson, who had the reporters in the interview room cracking up after the Brewers hit him hard and knocked the injury-prone pitcher out in the fourth inning, though not because of the ball that drilled him "right in the fat part of my fat hamstring." 

"Yeah, it didn't feel great, but it didn't really effect me," Anderson said. "I tweaked a groin last start and got hit in the hamstring this start, so it wouldn't be a Brett Anderson start without some sort of athletic play.

"I'd like to have a start where I don't have to deal with something, but it comes with the territory of being super-athletic."

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Can't relate, a beat writer said.

"Not many people can," Anderson said in his deadpan voice.

The 2016 Cubs didn't lose their seventh game until May 11, but this is still a new group trying to create a different identity, even if most of the names and faces are the same.

"We set the bar really high last year," Montero said. "We had a really good start last year. Whatever we're at right now, that doesn't mean that it's a really slow start. We're playing .500 now. We just got to worry about one series at a time, one game at a time."

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Cubs first-round pick Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Class-A South Bend Cubs, and he did not disappoint.

The 23-year old shortstop showed off impressive hops during an acrobatic grab in the topf of the second inning in his first game with the South Bend Cubs. Hoerner will surely be an exciting defensive prospect with ability like this.

As far as offense goes, through four at-bats at South Bend, Hoerner is batting .500, and this comes after he hit .318 with a home run and two RBI through seven games with the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs Class A short-season affiliate.

Here is to hoping we continue to see big-time plays from Hoerner.

Jose Quintana can't wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday

Jose Quintana can't wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday

One year after arguably the biggest trade ever between the Cubs and White Sox, both sides are feeling pretty happy with their returns.

Jose Quintana has had a bit of a disappointing 2018 campaign overall, but he's been really solid lately, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.27 WHIP since April 22 — a span of 14 starts.

He struggled in two starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series last fall, but shut the Nationals down in two games (one start, one relief appearance) in the NLDS, allowing only 3 hits and a pair of walks in 6.1 innings.

All told, Quintana is 15-9 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 182 innings a Cubs uniform.

Meanwhile, the White Sox boast one of the strongest farm systems in the game thanks to Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, the main pieces from the Cubs for Quintana last summer.

Jimenez has a .313 average, .912 OPS, 12 homers and 46 RBI in 65 games this season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. The 21-year-old outfielder was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2018 campaign.

Cease is a bit further away from Chicago, but the 22-year-old is also having a strong season. He's 10-2 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 in 16 starts this year, with his last 3 outings coming for Double-A Birmingham.

Some Cubs fans may be expecting an ace out of Quintana, but there's enormous value in a guy that's under team control through the 2020 season and due just over $30 million for the 3.5 seasons' worth of contributions.

Still, Quintana understands it was a hefty cost the Cubs paid for his services and he embraces the challenge.

"These guys are gonna be All-Stars,"  Quintana said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I've heard good things. I want to continue to do the best I can, but I know it was a huge trade. I know [the Cubs] paid a lot for me. That's a good feeling, you know? 

"It helps that [Jimenez and Cease] are doing good. I know they're younger, but it's amazing to be in that trade. I'm more happy right now to be here. Best of luck to them. 

"One time I'm going to face Jimenez, too, so I'm going to enjoy that."

We may not have to wait long to find out: The Cubs head to the South Side Sept. 21-23 for a 3-game set, when Jimenez could be getting his first taste of MLB life as a September call-up for the White Sox.