Cubs

Cubs' Montero on crucial dropped third strike: 'It really hurts'

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Cubs' Montero on crucial dropped third strike: 'It really hurts'

Miguel Montero let his frustration show through on the first question he was asked, correcting a reporter that the winning run in Game 3 of the NLCS scored on a wild pitch, not a passed ball.

The veteran catcher spent almost 20 minutes at his locker answering question after question from reporters, but he wanted to ensure everybody understood that it wasn't just a simple mistake.

[RELATED - Mets pounce on Cubs again to take commanding 3-0 lead in NLCS]

With a runner on third and two outs in the sixth inning Tuesday, Cubs reliever Trevor Cahill struck out New York Mets rookie Michael Conforto on a curveball that bounced in the dirt.

Montero had just blocked the three previous pitches in the dirt, but couldn't keep that one in front of him, allowing what wound up becoming the game-winning run to score, striking a dagger through the heart of the Cubs, who went down three games to zero in the series with the loss.

"It's a tough one," Montero said. "It really hurts. I've blocked pitches like that many, many times and I didn't block that one. It really, really hurt.

"It was strike three. But you know what? It happens. Part of the game. You can't block every ball. I wish you could, but you can't. Nothing I can do. I can't change it.

"It wasn't an easy block, but I gotta do a better job than that."

Cahill has spent the last few seasons working with Montero, dating back to their Arizona Diamondbacks days, and the big right-hander said he had all the confidence throwing that curveball in the dirt again.

"He blocks that 99 times out of 100," Cahill said.

A reporter also asked Joe Maddon after the game if it was a smart idea for Cahill to go back to that curveball in the dirt, and the Cubs manager had his answer all ready:

"It was [a smart idea] because he struck him out," Maddon said. "So it was actually a pretty good pitch. Miggy's able to block that ball a lot, and he was very upset with himself.

"It's not an easy play, but it's a play that a catcher can make and he knows that. So, actually, it played well, we just didn't block the ball."

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The Mets wound up tacking on two more runs on some suspect Cubs defense in the seventh inning, but it was that crucial dropped third strike that wound up being a major point of discussion after the game.

Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes really made that dropped third strike a key play by getting a huge jump off Cahill and stealing third the batter before.

"It seems so easy from the outside," Montero said. "'Oh yeah, you gotta block that ball.' I know I gotta block it, but it's not as easy as it looks.

"I mean, it hurts. How many blocks did I have before that? That one went by and it really, really bothered me."

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

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AP

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here:

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Remember that one time Sammy Sosa threw out his back while sneezing? Well, Brandon Morrow may have topped that on the Cubs all-time list of wacky injuries.

The 33-year-old closer was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game after hurting his back while taking his pants off upon returning from the team's road trip to St. Louis. It's being labeled as "lower back tightness."

"It's frustrating any time you can't get out there, and especially when you can't go because of something stupid like taking your pants off," Morrow told reporters on Tuesday.

And that's put the Cubs pitching staff in a tough spot for the rest of the week, given Wednesday's series finale against the Dodgers is the third game in a little more than 24 hours for the Cubs.

"I don't want to downplay anything," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Obviously he had back spams, he had the same thing in spring training. We'll start treating it the same way we did in spring training; I think he was out about a week to 10 days. If things go as we hope, I think it'd be the kind of thing where he'd probably be able to be throwing before the 10 days is up.

"But we felt like it wasn't going to be something where he was ready this weekend and if he's not going to be ready all weekend, we can already backdate it three days so it made sense to put him on the DL."

Morrow is tied for fifth in the National League with 16 saves and owns a 1.59 ERA is 26 relief appearances this season. Justin Hancock, who served as the 26th man during Tuesday's doubleheader, stayed with the team as a result.