Jake Arrieta not putting added pressure on himself as Cubs look to force Game 7

Jake Arrieta not putting added pressure on himself as Cubs look to force Game 7

Jake Arrieta reflexively figured the temperature for Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday night at Progressive Field would be cold, as was the case for his frigid Game 2 start last week. 

In maybe the biggest surprise of the World Series, though, Arrieta might be pitching in 70-degree November temperatures on the shores of Lake Erie when he take the mound for the biggest start of his career. 

Arrieta allowed one run on two hits with three walks and six strikeouts in the Cubs’ 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2, He was effectively wild — only 55 of his 98 pitches were strikes (56 percent) — but received the most run support of any Cubs starter in the World Series. 

Improving on that efficiency is one of Arrieta’s main focuses heading into Tuesday night. 

“It's just like any other game where you feel comfortable with the game plan and you go out there to do your best to follow through on the execution,” Arrieta said. “So that's really the only thing that I'll be thinking about as Tuesday approaches, is just trying to be efficient. Trying to be as good as I can about moving the ball in and out, up and down and changing speeds and trying to keep those guys off balance.

Getting more than 5 2/3 innings out of Arrieta could be key if the Cubs force an all-hands-on-deck Game 7, in which the best-case is the Cubs’ bullpen being as fresh as possible. But Arrieta only threw six or more innings once in his five September starts, though the Cubs’ plan to keep him fresh from the start of spring training could pay off in his final game of the 2016 season. 

“We attempted to do that from day one,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I had that conversation with Jake in spring training in the food room in Mesa the first time I saw him. We talked and I brought it right up immediately. So we've been on the same page, taking him out of the games a little bit sooner.”

Arrieta has thrown 214 innings between the regular season and playoffs in 2016, a year after he logged 248 2/3 innings during the Cubs’ run to the National League Championship Series. But not only has Arrieta’s workload been lessened this year, the 98 pitches he threw in Game 2 were relatively stress-free in that 5-1 win. That should help him, too, heading into a start in which every pitch he throws will be a high leverage one, given the Cubs’ Game 3 struggles against Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin. 

“We go out there and we focus on executing and trying to limit the opponent to as few runs as possible, regardless of how many we score,” Arrieta said. “That's the intent. That's the mindset there is I have to take care of my end of the bargain to the best of my ability, and I know that our offense is doing the exact same thing.”

Ricketts: 'Nothing's changed' on Sammy Sosa's status with Cubs


Ricketts: 'Nothing's changed' on Sammy Sosa's status with Cubs

It's Cubs Convention week, so naturally, we have a Sammy Sosa update.

It's a question that comes up every year at this time — will Slammin' Sammy ever be welcomed back to the organization either for the fan convention or at Wrigley Field during the season?

David Kaplan posed that query to Tom Ricketts Thursday morning on ESPN 1000 and the Cubs chairman said his stance has not changed on Sosa:

"At the moment, the answer is no, nothing's changed," Ricketts said. "Like I've said in the past, everyone loved Sammy as a player — one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. But he played through a pretty awkward era. We owe all the guys that played in that era a lot of understanding. 

"There were a lot of PEDs being used by a lot of players — I mean, there's a sealed, federal investigation that has over 100 players that tested positive. I don't want to judge those guys in a way that's too harsh. But on the other hand, I think they owe us a little bit of honesty. I think we need to think that through. I don't know where it goes from here, but there's ntohing new on that front."

That falls in line with the same thing Ricketts has been saying for years at the Cubs — the need for Sosa to provide some "honesty" and the word "apologize" has been thrown out at various points in the past, as well.

At the 2018 Cubs Convention, Ricketts said, "I just think we need to put everything on the table and move forward."
Sosa turned 50 in November and 2018 also represented the 20-year anniversary of his historic home run race with Mark McGwire. But the embattled former Cubs slugger has not been involved with the team or accessible to fans since he left the organization on bad terms after the 2004 season. 

Kaplan spoke with Sosa for NBC Sports Chicago last April and the icon said he doesn't need a job with the Cubs and just wants to be welcomed back by the franchise.

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Tom Ricketts explains why team plans to keep Addison Russell

Tom Ricketts explains why team plans to keep Addison Russell

Cubs co-owner Tom Ricketts was doing media rounds this morning, and stopped by ESPN 1000 to talk shop with our own David Kaplan. 

The two talked Cubs Convention, payroll, season expectations and much more. One of the most noteworthy bytes, though, was Ricketts' response when asked about disgraced shortstop Addison Russell. 

Russell, who's been accused of domestic violence, is currently serving a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Polic. In a lengthy blog post, Melisa Reidy -- Russell's ex-wife -- detailed a history of physical and psychological abuse while in a relationship with him

When Kaplan asked about the reasoning behind keeping Russell on the team, here's what Ricketts had to say: 

"Yeah well in this situation and in these situations, there’s no one size fits all answer and there’s certainly no easy answer. In our case, we talked to domestic violence experts, we talked to Addison multiple times, we got as much information as we could on the situation. The fact is, we have a choice to make. The choice is you can let the player move on and let it be his problem or you can try to let the team be part of helping him deal with what he has to deal with."

"In our case, after all our conversations with the outside experts and Addison himself, we decided the better thing for the player and his family was to help him ride it out and hopefully he can do what he has to do to improve and to make sure these situations never happen again. In a lot of ways in this situation it’d be easier to just let him go, let him see what happens and fight his battle alone, but we think he’s committed to avoiding [anything close to] these situations and we kind of feel like it’s the better answer for everyone involved to not just wash our hands of it but to see if we can’t help Addison get through this and become a better person and someone who avoids getting himself in situations and doing things we all find reprehensible." 

The Ricketts won't have their usual Q-and-A session at Cubs Convention this weekend, so this is probably all anyone will get from Ricketts on the subject.