Cubs

Cubs starting to believe in magic

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Cubs starting to believe in magic

NEW YORK — Clubhouse DJ Chris Denorfia programmed the postgame playlist with The Cars’ “Magic,” Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra,” Pilot’s “(Oh, Oh, Oh it’s) Magic” and that “I’ve Got The Magic in Me” song from the “Pitch Perfect” soundtrack.

Yes, the Cubs have a completely different vibe this season, conjuring up a 2-0 victory over the New York Mets that took 11 innings on Wednesday at Citi Field. So who cares if Simon the Magician really is that good or the Mets lineup really is that bad?

As the offense disappeared on back-to-back nights in Queens, it became hard to tell which one of these teams went for offense and built the franchise around young hitters. The Cubs and Mets will probably be scoreboard-watching all summer long and fighting for a wild-card spot, but it’s been almost all zeroes here.

Yet the Cubs are now 6-0 against the Mets this season and back to six games over .500 — and smiling and laughing after scoring 10 runs in the last eight games.

[MORE CUBS: Maddon likes Motte's 'pure blunt force' in ninth inning]

Freewheeling manager Joe Maddon had responded to a five-game losing streak by — obviously — welcoming mentalist/mind reader Simon Winthrop into the clubhouse to perform his tricks in front of the team before Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Mets.

“Win or lose,” Maddon said, “I am really proud of the way our guys have been playing baseball. There is no quit. There is no giving up. We’re a little bit challenged offensively right now, and a lot of times teams will sink because of that. We have not.”

The Cubs finally broke through with two outs in the 11th inning, needing Starlin Castro to “Respect 90” and beat the throw on a slow-rolling groundball toward third base. Castro hustled for an infield single and allowed Anthony Rizzo to score from third base.

“We’ve been like that almost all year,” Castro said. “We won a lot of games by one run. We won a lot of games by two runs. We lost games by one or two runs. That’s really important. If we keep the game close, we got a chance, (because) you never know. We got a pretty good team. No matter what, we’re going to be together.”

[MORE CUBS: Addison Russell ready to handle the grind of a long season]

The Cubs have won 19 one-run games — and nine in extra innings — but it’s not like they’re doing it with smoke and mirrors. They hope this is the real Jon Lester.

Their $155 million ace began July with seven scoreless innings after a rough April (0-2, 6.23 ERA), an excellent May (4-1, 1.76 ERA) and a rocky June (0-3, 5.74 ERA).

“I’ll use anything we can get right now,” Lester said. “Hopefully, now we can just get on a little bit of a roll and not worry about going too good, too bad all the time.

“That’s really our whole rotation. I don’t think you put it solely on one guy. Once our rotation gets on a roll, that’s when things start clicking.

“The times where our offense isn’t picking us up, we’ve got to pick them up.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get a new Cubs hat right here]

While Lester is usually all business — and has felt the weight of his contract and the newness of everything — he couldn’t help but laugh at the clubhouse beats and the emerging personality of this team.

Lester looked over at Rizzo and referenced his sweet “Matrix” slide on a double steal in the ninth inning.

“Now we got a mix tape of magic music,” Lester said. “We got Houdini over here running to third and saying it’s magic. Hey, I’ve been through seasons where you have stuff like that. It makes it fun. It makes it interesting.”

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.