Cubs

Cubs offense gets back on the roller coaster again in World Series

Cubs offense gets back on the roller coaster again in World Series

The Cubs have been shut out in four of the last eight games. 

In the four games in that span in which they scored, the Cubs plated 28 total, an average of seven runs per game.

Another way to look at it: When the Cubs score in an National League Championship or World Series game this October, they're 4-0. 

Friday, as Wrigley buzzed from the first World Series game there in 71 years, the anxiety filtered onto the field where the Cubs expanded the strike zone at the plate and got off their game in a 1-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

"We were out of the zone way too often," Joe Maddon said. "We've got to get our strike zones organized offensively and if we do, we'll be fine.

"Just watching some of the replay there before I came over and a lot of our strikeouts obviously were us chasing pitches. We've got to do better than that."

As they have with every other shutout this postseason, the Cubs tipped their cap to the opposing dugout.

Friday night, it was Josh Tomlin, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen.

It was the same formula the Indians have used all October - good starting pitching followed by a dominant bullpen - en route to setting a new record with their fifth shutout this postseason.

"When you're facing good pitching, sometimes it happens," Ben Zobrist said. "We didn't have a lot of opportunities today. ... We just didn't square a lot of pitches up.

"I wish I had one more at-bat [against Tomlin], to be honest. But I think they got him out of there at the right time, because another time through the lineup and we probably would have gotten to him there.

"They just had a few more drop at the right time and they scored that one run. Otherwise, we would still be playing."

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

The wind was howling out to left field all night, generating a lot of conversation about how a routine fly ball up in the jetstream could wind up a few rows back in the bleachers.

The Cubs admitted it can mess with hitters when they "lick their chops" in hopes of slugging one out onto Waveland, as Zobrist said, but they weren't using that as an excuse.

Whatever the reason, the Cubs got off their gameplan of trying to pass the baton on offense, churning out quality at-bat after quality at-bat.

"It's just about getting that next guy up and knowing it takes one guy to do it," Anthony Rizzo said. "Collectively as a team, we did not do that."

With the tying run on third base and the winning run on second, Javy Baez struck out to end the game, chasing a high fastball out of the zone from Allen.

The Cubs have been here before, answering questions about how they feel after falling down 2-1 in a series and getting shut out twice in the first three games.

Of course, the Cubs went on to win the next three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS and they have that same confidence now, even with Indians ace Corey Kluber ready to take the ball in Game 4.

"Probably won't say anything, to be honest," Zobrist said. "We'll just go about our business like we normally do. We know that last time we faced Kluber, he was really good. So nobody's gonna be assuming we have it all figured out.

"We're gonna try and have quality at-bats and assume he's gonna make mistakes and we're gonna take advantage of him."

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

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USA Today

Willson Contreras commissions heart-warming painting commemorating his relationship with Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon’s time with the Cubs may be over, but the memories made in his five years on the North Side will live on in Chicago sports lore forever. No matter how frustratingly his tenure may have ended, the outpouring of support and appreciation from management, fans and players alike throughout the process of Maddon’s departure are evidence of that.

“I love him like a dad,” Anthony Rizzo said

“I personally never could have imagined having such a wonderful partner,” Theo Epstein later added, standing beside Maddon as they delivered joint reflections on the end of the era.

Maddon touched the lives of so many within the organization and without in his time with the Cubs, but not many more so than catcher Willson Contreras, who burst onto the scene as one of the best young sluggers in baseball under Maddon’s guidance. Maddon — a catcher himself in his short time as a player — never shied away from criticizing Contreras in times he thought it earned, but it’s clear that the two forged a real bond over the last four years. 

Sunday afternoon, artist Austin Ploch revealed that Contreras reached out to him shortly after the end of the 2019 season to commission this heart-warming piece, commemorating the mutual respect and adoration between mentor and pupil:

The painting is derived from a photo of the two that Contreras posted to his Instagram account after it was officially announced that Maddon would not return as the Cubs manager:

Ploch has commissioned work for Contreras before, but now Willson will have a tangible memento to remember his first manager (along with his 2016 World Series ring). We’re not crying, you’re crying.

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Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Astros bench coach Joe Espada has two days off before Houston hosts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, but it looks like some of that time will be spent in Chicago.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will interview Espada a second time for their managerial opening. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the interview is happening on Sunday.

Espada is one of the more sought after managerial candidates this offseason, as he's spent the last six seasons with two of baseball's leading franchises. The 44-year-old has been Astros bench coach since 2018, and prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Yankees — 2014 as a front office assistant, 2015-17 as third base coach.

David Ross was the presumed favorite for the Cubs' opening, when the process got underway. However, by landing a second interview, Espada has clearly given the team something to think about. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan reported on Thursday the Cubs came away "exceptionally impressed" from Espada's first interview on Monday. 

MLB prefers teams not to make managerial announcements during the World Series. So, it might be a few more weeks before the Cubs announce their decision, unless they do so on Sunday or Monday.

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