Cubs

Furious at Joe West, Joe Maddon loses it after Kyle Hendricks loses no-hitter for Cubs

Furious at Joe West, Joe Maddon loses it after Kyle Hendricks loses no-hitter for Cubs

ST. LOUIS — Cubs manager Joe Maddon lost it after Kyle Hendricks lost the no-hitter, feeling like umpire Joe West tried to upstage his pitcher in the ninth inning on Monday night at Busch Stadium.

Maddon didn’t want to become a distraction after getting ejected from a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals that shrunk his team’s magic number to clinch the National League Central to three — and a spectacular performance that made Hendricks look like a potential Cy Young Award winner.

[RELATED - Kerry Wood lays into Joe West on Twitter]

But on the TV replay it sure sounded like Maddon ended his nose-to-nose argument with West by saying: “F--- you!” And the normally chatty manager didn’t want to hear another follow-up question about whether “Cowboy Joe” should have had a better feel for the moment.

“Come on,” Maddon said during his postgame news conference. “Just write it. Just write it. Just write it. You guys saw it. You know what happened. I don’t need to get into any more trouble. Just write it.”

The Cubs already had closer Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bullpen when Jeremy Hazelbaker drilled an 0-2 changeup over the right-field fence for a leadoff homer that ended Hendricks’ no-hit bid.

“There was a misinterpretation there,” Maddon said. “We needed a little bit more time to get the pitcher ready based on the situation. That’s all. And I needed the catcher to go out to the mound. That’s all. That’s it. We were denied. And I didn’t like that, so I made my stand.

“I truly believe we were proper in that. It’s not about that moment. It’s about Kyle. This was Kyle’s night.”

The apparent issue involved veteran catcher Miguel Montero immediately reacting to the Hazelbaker homer by checking in on Hendricks — and then getting conflicting signals from the home-plate umpire.

[RELATED: Cubs' Joe Maddon explains the origin of his 'Try not to suck' T-shirts]

“After I went to the mound and came back, (West) tapped me on the shoulder and told me to go out (there),” Montero said. “So I’m walking out to the (mound). And then he’s like: ‘Hey, if you go out there, I’m going to count it as a visit.’

“I’m like: ‘OK, what’s going on?’ Is that possible? I don’t even know if that rule exists. It doesn’t matter, because (Kyle’s) coming out of the game already. That’s when (Maddon) came out. And after that, I’m not responsible for what happened out there.”

So Hendricks didn’t get the Hollywood ending, and this isn’t how Maddon would ever script taking the ball from a pitcher who’s becoming a bigger and bigger story for the best team in baseball.

“By that time, I’m a little bit out of breath, and I’m not even supposed to go out there, because I had been kicked out already,” Maddon said. “But that’s not going to stop me from walking out there. It was inappropriate what had happened, so I was not going to be very honorable at that particular moment. It was inappropriate.”

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The unflappable Hendricks (15-7, 2.03 ERA) stayed in character and always understands the method to Maddon’s madness.

“We were joking on the mound,” Hendricks said. “I knew he was trying to get some time to get Chapman up — (that’s just) Joe and his ways. We were laughing a little bit about it on the mound — the only way you can really relieve that situation after the homer.”

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Yu Darvish's 1st win at Wrigley, Cole Hamel's status, and Kris Bryant playing better than he did in his MVP season.

01:00     Darvish picking up 1st win at Wrigley

03:30     Cole Hamels injury update

05:00     Starting rotation after the All-Star break

06:00     Cubs defense looking sharp

07:30     How the Cubs will approach the weekend and the expected heat

09:30     Kris Bryant playing above his MVP level

12:00     How the NL Central stacks up

14:00     Upcoming road trip to San Francisco, Milwaukee and Saint Louis

16:00     Addition to Martin Maldonado

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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