Cubs

Cubs: Rizzo, Bryant get the postseason monkey off their backs

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Cubs: Rizzo, Bryant get the postseason monkey off their backs

The Cubs look like a different team with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant producing in the middle of the lineup.

Both sluggers collected their first postseason hits — and homers — in Monday's 8-6 slugfest victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

Bryant singled to left in the bottom of the first inning after beginning the postseason 0-for-11 with four strikeouts and two double plays.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs out-slug Cardinals to take commanding control of NLDS]

Then in the fifth, Bryant broke a 2-2 tie by depositing Michael Wacha's full-count pitch into the left field bleachers. Rizzo followed with a moonshot into the wind to right field.

Despite his struggles, Bryant said he hasn't changed his approach at all this postseason.

"You know, the first one is obviously good to get out of the way," he said. "First hit of the postseason, first hit in the regular season, it's always good to get it out of the way.

"That's kind of a monkey off my back and I moved forward from there, had some good at-bats, saw the ball really good and it was just an overall good game for us."

Rizzo admitted it "definitely felt good" to join in on the Cubs postseason party after starting out 0-for-12.

[MORE CUBS: Jake Arrieta is human against Cardinals, but Cubs are that good]

But even without Bryant and Rizzo, the Cubs entered play Monday 2-1 in the postseason, getting an offensive boost from Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler (who all homered Monday, too).

Still, the Cubs weren't going to keep winning forever without their big bats contributing.

"This isn't about any one," Rizzo said. "It's about us; it's about the whole team. When Kris stands in the box, even if he can't actually swing the bat, him just standing in the box and his presence alone means more to this team than anyone can imagine.

"It was just a matter of time before he started hitting and does what he does."

With such a young core, the Cubs look like they could be lined up for many more postseason runs beyond 2015, after all the rookies have gotten more experience under their belts.

[MORE CUBS: Joe Maddon's playoff vision for Cubs comes to life at Wrigley]

But the Cubs aren't thinking that way. They're going for it right now, regardless of age or experience.

"We just have to enjoy this," Rizzo said. "You never know what can happen in this game. You don't know if we'll ever get back to this point. So we have to enjoy this, one game at a time."

Cubs optimistic Javy Baez avoided serious injury on hit-by-pitch

Cubs optimistic Javy Baez avoided serious injury on hit-by-pitch

ST. LOUIS — Cubs nation can breathe a sigh of relief for now.

The team announced Javy Baez has a left elbow contusion after taking a 90 mph fastball off it in the third inning of Sunday night's game. Baez will still undergo X-rays to be sure there is nothing more sinister at play, but for now, it looks as if he has avoided serious injury.

Still, this is not what the Cubs wanted to see.

The Cubs entered play Sunday night having gone 24-12 since getting swept out of St. Louis in the first weekend of May. They were feeling good about themselves, starting to get their mojo back and playing more like the team everybody expected.

And then Baez took a fastball off the left elbow.

After a couple minute delay, Baez was led off the field and Addison Russell came in off the bench to replace him at first base.

The 25-year-old was in the midst of a breakout season for the Cubs, sitting 5th in the National League with 46 RBI and on pace for a near 30-30 seaosn (33 homers, 29 stolen bases). 

He had slowed a bit (.175 average, .502 OPS in June) but still gives the Cubs so much energy and versatility on a daily basis with his ability to move around the infield and lineup.

If the Cubs are going to be without Baez for any length of time, it could be a huge blow to a team that was just hitting its stride.

Yadier Molina is sad and Cubs fans have a new favorite GIF

Yadier Molina is sad and Cubs fans have a new favorite GIF

ST. LOUIS — The game was over and Yadier Molina knew it.

As Ian Happ turned on Sam Tuivailala's two-strike pitch in the 7th inning, Molina crumbled to the ground in defeat.

Happ's two-out double gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead they did not relinquish in a 6-3 victory Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

The Cubs had to claw back all night against the Cardinals, fighting to tie the game at two separate spots before Happ's breakthrough off Tuivailala.

Molina couldn't contain his disappointment:

Molina is a common target of ire from Cubs fans in the heated rivalry with the Cardinals, so you can bet his #SadFace led to some glee in the Chicago fanbase (just look at the comments on that Tweet):

The 35-year-old catcher just returned recently from a nearly month-long stint on the disabled list when he took a foul tip off a Kris Bryant swing to the groin on Jordan Hicks' 102 mph pitch the last time the Cubs were in town.

Molina has drawn 3 walks and has a single in this weekend's series with the Cubs, but he also committed a miscue in Friday's game, when he threw wild to first base on Jon Lester's squeeze bunt.

The Cubs are now 24-12 since they were swept in St. Louis on the first weekend of May.