Cubs

Javier Baez breaks out water gun for Albert Almora Jr. after another comeback win for Cubs

Javier Baez breaks out water gun for Albert Almora Jr. after another comeback win for Cubs

Javier Baez ran out to the middle of Wrigley Field with a neon-colored Super Soaker, spraying Albert Almora Jr. and the camera capturing the celebration after Thursday's 5-4 walk-off win over the Philadelphia Phillies, the drops of water dotting the big video board.

If the Cubs felt a little delirious, well, this imperfect 13-inning game lasted four hours and 22 minutes and marked their 10th come-from-behind victory already this season. 

"I was looking to do something different," Baez said. "I had it ready since the ninth inning. It took a little bit, but I finally got to use it."

Baez brought a Party Room tradition out from the underground clubhouse and into the open, targeting Almora as a player of the game for his hustle double leading off the 13th and scoring when Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis threw away a potential inning-ending double-play ball. Ping-pong-style games and water guns are part of The Cubs Way.

"We got like four of 'em and we got some buckets to celebrate when we win," Baez said. "Sometimes we get the staff, so they know they're doing a great job."

This can’t be easy for the defending World Series champs, giving up 35 runs in the first inning so far this season, playing from behind so often and navigating 11 one-run games already. The Cubs are still a first-place team with a 16-12 record and all that muscle memory built up from six playoff rounds across the last two seasons.

"Maybe the baseball gods are on our side," Kris Bryant said. "We would prefer not to have to come back. But if we're going to be put in that situation, we have a good group of players that work counts when the game is on the line.

"Last year, we just went out and we hit it seemed like the whole year. We scored a ton of runs. Our pitchers shut everybody down, so the games weren't as stressful. But it's not going to be like that. That's kind of fairytale land."

The Cubs are going to have to tighten up their game on Friday against a New York Yankees lineup where Starlin Castro is hitting like a batting champion and Aaron Judge is looking like a home run king. That late-inning drama will be harder to manufacture against a deep, dynamic bullpen headlined by Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances.

Almora set the stage for another weekend on national TV after John Lackey had a five-inning start where his ERA crept up to 5.14. And Ben Zobrist got picked off second base in the ninth inning (Bryant lined a harmless single into left field moments later). And Willson Contreras grounded into a 6-9-3 double play against Philadelphia’s five-man infield to waste a bases-loaded opportunity, ending the 12th inning.

Even if the Cubs aren't clicking on all cylinders, backup catcher Miguel Montero lifted Joaquin Benoit's 96-mph fastball into the center-field basket for a game-tying homer in the eighth inning. The Cubs stayed in the picture with lefty Mike Montgomery working the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. The contributions are still coming from all over the roster.

Almora – who showed so much poise as a rookie last season – said he didn’t even notice that left fielder Ty Kelly was slow to grab the ball and gather himself because his instincts screamed double in the 13th inning.

"We never quit," Almora said. "It's on the World Series ring."

Joe Maddon states that Bryce Harper on Cubs "not going to happen"

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon states that Bryce Harper on Cubs "not going to happen"

Per Jesse Rogers of ESPN, after being asked if the Cubs would sign mega-free agent Bryce Harper, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon replied “Not going to happen”.

This retort from Maddon falls in line with the stance that ownership has reportedly taken in the Harper sweepstakes.


The Cubs could no doubt use some help to boost their up-and-down offense but it looks like it won’t come in the form of Harper. As of now, the Phillies still sit as the front-runners for the mega-free agent after reports of a 5-hour meeting between the two side arose

Cubs Talk Podcast: Top story lines for 2019

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Top story lines for 2019

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss the biggest storylines for the Cubs heading into the 2019 season.

01:00 - Predictions for the rest of the 2019 off-season

03:00 - Are the Cubs falling behind in the NL Central?

06:30 - The need for a veteran catcher to play behind Willson Contreras

08:00 - Lack of long-term contracts being handed out this off-season

10:30 - Will Kyle Schwarber reach his potential?

14:45 - What will David Bote's role be in 2019?

17:45 - Will the new coaching staff make a difference in 2019?

21:30 - Where does Ian Happ fit into the Cubs plan

25:00 - Will Joe ever settle on 3 outfielders to get almost all of the playing time?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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