Cubs

Garza goes for first win vs. Rockies on CSN

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Garza goes for first win vs. Rockies on CSN

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 10:49 a.m.

Associated Press

(AP) -- Troy Tulowitzki didn't have much trouble at the plate against the Chicago Cubs last weekend at Coors Field.

It could be a different story when the Colorado Rockies visit Wrigley Field.

Tulowitzki hopes to shake his struggles on Chicago's North Side in Monday night's series opener against the Cubs.

The Rockies (14-7) took two of three from Chicago in Denver from April 15-17, as catcher Chris Iannetta led Colorado's offense with five RBIs.

Tulowitzki didn't drive in any runs in that series, but went 4 for 11 with a triple and scored twice. The All-Star shortstop was 1 for 3 on April 15 against Matt Garza (0-2, 4.74 ERA), Chicago's scheduled starter Monday.

Tulowitzki, who drove in his team-leading 16th run in Sunday's 6-3 loss to Florida, hasn't had much luck at Wrigley, batting .162 with a homer and 13 strikeouts in nine games there. It's his lowest batting average at any current NL park.

Unsurprisingly given Tulowitzki's struggles, the Rockies haven't enjoyed much success lately at Wrigley, losing 11 of their last 12 games there.

The Cubs (10-11) have dropped three of their last four at home, though, including a 7-3 defeat to Los Angeles on Sunday. Batting third, shortstop Starlin Castro went hitless for just the third time in 15 games.

Castro, who went 7 for 13 with a homer and four RBIs in Colorado earlier this month, is 2 for 12 as the No. 3 hitter, compared to a .500 average when batting out of the leadoff spot.

"If I mix and match the first three guys, I don't care where (they hit)," manager Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website.

Quade now hopes Garza can finally earn his first victory as a Cub.

The offseason acquisition from Tampa Bay allowed six hits and struck out nine over six shutout innings of a 2-1, 11-inning win over San Diego on Wednesday in the second game of a doubleheader. The Cubs had lost Garza's first three starts.

"(Personal) wins don't matter," said Garza, who won a career-best 15 games last season with the Rays. "If I don't win a game all year, but we win my games it doesn't bother me one bit."

Garza didn't give the Cubs a good chance to win in his last start at Coors Field, yielding five runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-0 loss. The right-hander, who leads the majors with an average of 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings, struck out five Rockies.

Garza posted a similar line in his other career start versus the Rockies - a 4-3 Rays loss at Coors on June 18, 2009, in which he yielded four runs over five innings.

Iannetta, who had a three-run triple off Garza at Coors Field, has sat out the last two games for the Rockies but may return to the starting lineup Monday to catch Esmil Rogers (2-1, 6.75).

After winning his first two starts of the season on the road, Rogers was tagged for eight runs and six hits - including three homers - in three innings of an 8-1 home loss to San Francisco on Monday. The right-hander had not yielded a home run in his previous nine starts.

Rogers has never faced the Cubs.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The Cubs are in a way better spot than they were a year ago

The Cubs are in a way better spot than they were a year ago

ST. LOUIS — It's night and day watching the 2018 Cubs compared to the 2017 version.

Even with the injury to Javy Baez Sunday night, the Cubs are in a way better spot now than they were a year ago.

On June 17 of last season, the Cubs sat at 33-34 with a run differential of just +6.

They looked flat more often than not. "Hangover" was the word thrown around most and it was true — the Cubs really did have a World Series hangover.

They admit that freely and it's also totally understandable. Not only did they win one of the most mentally and physically draining World Series in history, but they also ended a 108-year championship drought and the weight of that accomplishment was simply staggering. 

The 2018 iteration of the Cubs are completely different. 

Even though they didn't finish off the sweep of their division rivals in St. Louis Sunday night, they're still only a half-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and for the best record in the league. A +95 run differential paced the NL and sat behind only the Houston Astros (+157), Boston Red Sox (+102) and New York Yankees (+98) in the AL.

Through 67 games, the Cubs sat at 40-27, 13 games above .500 compared to a game below .500 at the same point last summer.

What's been the main difference?

"Energy," Joe Maddon said simply. "Coming off the World Series, it was really hard to get us kickstarted. It was just different. I thought the fatigue generated from the previous two years, playing that deeply into the year. A lot of young guys on the team last year.

"We just could not get it kickstarted. This year, came out of camp with a fresher attitude. Not like we've been killing it to this point; we've been doing a lot better, but I didn't even realize that's the difference between last year and this year.

"If anything, I would just pinpoint it on energy."

Of course the physical component is easy to see. The Cubs played past Halloweeen in 2016 and then had so many demands for street namings and talk shows and TV appearances and Disney World and on and on. That would leave anybody exhausted with such a shortened offseason.

There's also the mental component. The Cubs came into 2018 with a chip on their shoulder after running into a wall in the NLCS last fall against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have a renewed focus and intensity.

But there's still plenty of room for more. The Cubs aren't happy with the best record and run differential in the NL. They know they still haven't fully hit their stride yet, even amidst a 24-13 stretch over the last five weeks.

"I think we've been pretty consistent," Jon Lester said. "We've had some ups and downs on both sides of the ball as far as pitching and hitting. But the biggest thing is our bullpen and our defense has been pretty solid all year.

"That's kept us in those games. When we do lose — you're gonna have the anomalies every once in a while and get blown out — we're in every single game. It's all we can do. Keep grinding it out.

"Our offense will be fine. Our defense and the back end of our bullpen has done an unbelievable job of keeping us in these games. And if we contribute as a starting five, even better. 

"You have the games where our guys get feeling sexy about themselves and score some runs. That's where the snowball effect and we get on that little bit of a run. I feel like we've been on a few runs, it just hasn't been an extended period of time. I don't have any concerns as far as inside this clubhouse."

Lester hit the nail on the head. The Cubs sit at this point with only 1 win from Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood struggling with command and low power numbers from several guys including Kris Bryant.

Throw in the fact that Joe Maddon's Cubs teams always seem to get into a groove in August and September when they're fresher and "friskier" than the rest of the league and this team is currently in very good shape for the remainder of the year. 

If they can get 3 wins away from the World Series after going 33-34, the sky should be the limit for a 2018 squad that's in a much better position 67 games in.

For now, it appears Javy Baez has avoided serious injury on hit-by-pitch

For now, it appears Javy Baez has 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. He was initially scheduled for an X-ray to make sure there is nothing more sinister at play, but that was deemed not necessary throughout the course of the game and it looks as if the Cubs' dynamic young infielder has avoided serious injury.

"I'm fine. Just really sore," Baez said. "It got me really good right on the elbow. I thought the pain was gonna go away right away but kinda numbed my whole arm. We've been icing it. It feels pretty sore, but right now, I'm good."

Baez said he didn't move his arm for almost an hour after getting hit, but wasn't experiencing any numbness or lack of feeling in his left hand or fingers after the game. He didn't rule out playing in Monday night's homestand opener at  Wrigley Field.

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 is 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 season (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.