Jed Hoyer: Rain delay was 'divine intervention' for Cubs

Jed Hoyer: Rain delay was 'divine intervention' for Cubs

CLEVELAND — In between ducking random streams of champagne, general manager Jed Hoyer described Wednesday night’s rain delay as divine intervention.

The Cubs needed it in the worst way.

In the midst of a potentially epic collapse that would have exceeded their 2003 National League Championship Series meltdown, the Cubs took advantage of a 17-minute stoppage of play as rain began to fall upon an exasperated Progressive Field crowd.

Before they returned to action with the score tied at 6, right fielder Jason Heyward convened Cubs hitters for an emotional meeting to discuss how they wanted to proceed after blowing a four-run lead. Moments later, Kyle Schwarber singled to start a game-winning rally that would erase 108 years of torment. The Cubs scored twice in the top of the 10th inning and then held on to for an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the World Series.

“I really feel like in some ways that rain delay was kind of divine intervention,” Hoyer said. “The game was going really fast for us at that point. Dexter (Fowler) had just missed winning the game for us (in the ninth) – (Francisco) Lindor made a heck of a play. And to get that little break right there, it helped us a lot.”

Make no doubt about it — the Cubs were reeling when the heavens opened up and rain began to fall. Shortstop Addison Russell said some players cried after the Cubs, on the verge of an epic comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, watched as the Indians erased a three-run deficit in the eighth inning against closer Aroldis Chapman, including a game-tying two-run homer by Rajai Davis.

Thanks to Lindor’s outstanding range and a scoreless inning from Chapman, neither team scored in the ninth. But even a high-wire escape wasn’t enough and Heyward decided to call a meeting in the weight room, about 15 feet away from the steps up to the dugout.

“There was obviously frustration and Aroldis felt terrible,” Series MVP Ben Zobrist said. “But everybody’s like, ‘Hey, man, we got you. We’re going to pick you up.’ I think there was even some applause, some claps for him. ‘Don’t worry about this. We’re going to come back and win this game.’

“JHey called the meeting and said, ‘Let’s forget about everything that’s happened up to this point. Let’s believe that we’re going to do this.’ That’s all that needed to be said.”

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Veteran catcher David Ross said Heyward spoke passionately for several minutes. And because Heyward has proven to be reserved in his first season with the club, players knew to pay attention.

“When a guy like Jason talks, you listen, because he doesn't do it that often,” Ross said.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon loathes holding team meetings. He prefers for them to be organic and rarely makes the request. So when he noticed his players huddled, Maddon had a good feeling.

“It’s crazy how things happen for a reason,” Maddon said. “I don’t know. But I walk off and I see them all gathering in that little room down below there.

“I hate meetings. I’m not a meetings guy. I love when players have meetings.

“So they had their meeting and the big part of it was, ‘We don’t quit. We don’t quit.’

“It’s incredible how this all plays out sometimes.”

It didn’t hurt that the Cubs had the middle of the lineup due in the 10th inning against Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw. Hoyer recalled feeling the same way in the 2003 American League Championship Series moments before Aaron Boone’s walkoff homer — that if his Boston Red Sox could extend the game, they’d win because the heart of the order was due to bat.

The Cubs were quick to take advantage of an opportunity the Red Sox never had.

Schwarber — who hit .412 in the Series and had a .971 OPS — singled on the second pitch he saw from Shaw and pinch-runner Albert Almora tagged up on Kris Bryant’s deep fly out to center.

“Schwarber got the first hit and it just steamrolled,” Zobrist said.

Indians manager Terry Francona opted to have Anthony Rizzo intentionally walked to put two aboard. Zobrist then ripped a 1-2 cutter for an opposite-field RBI double past third base and the Cubs didn’t look back.

“It’s actually a really comforting feeling knowing how those guys are,” Hoyer said. “You could hear all the guys that were part of that inning talking — it allowed them to regroup.

“We had the best part of our lineup coming up and I do think that taking that break, kind of regrouping (helped). ‘Let’s win the inning. If we win one inning, we win the World Series.’

“We had the right guys up to do it.”

More on the World Series victory

--Joy to the World: Cubs finally end 108-year Series drought

--Finally: The Cubs are World Series champs

--The wait –and the weight- is over: Cubs fans celebrate World Series title

--Barack Obama congratulates Cubs World Series championship

--Famous Cubs fans celebrate World Series title on Twitter

--Ben Zobrist becomes first Cub ever to win World Series MVP

--Numbers game: statistical oddities of the Cubs World Series title

--Jed Hoyer: Rain delay was ‘divine intervention’ for Cubs

​--Fans give Cubs a taste of home in Cleveland

--Ben Zobrist delivers exactly what the Cubs expected with massive World Series

--‘Dreams come true’: Bill Murray reacts to Cubs winning the World Series

--Big surprise: Kyle Schwarber plays hero again for Cubs in World Series Game 7

- Ryne Sandberg: World Series ‘made it able for me to live in the present’

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

The last time Jake Arrieta pitched at Wrigley Field, his night ended with Cubs fans giving him a rousing standing ovation. The former Cubs right hander tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading the Cubs to victory in Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS—their only win against the Los Angeles Dodgers that series.

Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field as a visitor on Monday night, making his first start against the Cubs since joining the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Ironically, Arrieta’s counterpart for the night was Yu Darvish, who ultimately replaced Arrieta in the Cubs starting rotation.

Despite now donning Phillies red, Cubs fans once again showed their love for Arrieta, giving him a lengthy standing ovation ahead of his first plate appearance. Darvish even stepped off the mound in respect for the moment.

“I loved it, absolutely loved it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters postgame. “[I’m] very happy that our fans would acknowledge him like that. Yu stepped away from the mound nicely. Jake deserved it.”

Arrieta tipped his helmet in appreciation for the crowd, taking in the moment for more than 30 seconds before stepping into the batter’s box. After the game, he told reporters that moment brought back memories of his time with the Cubs.

“That was something that really brought back great memories of getting that same sort of ovation pretty much on a nightly basis,” Arrieta said. “[I’m] very appreciative of that. I can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago, I really can’t.”

Arrieta took fans back to his Cubs tenure on Monday, throwing six innings of one run ball in the Phillies’ 5-4 10-inning win. Although the 33-year-old didn’t pick up the victory, he matched Darvish—who threw six innings of three-run ball—pitch by-pitch.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler noted how well Arrieta handled his emotions throughout the night.

“I thought he handled the emotions really well. I thought he was in control of the game even when we were down,” Kapler said to reporters. “He always maintained his poise and he just got stronger as the outing went on and that’s why we were able to have him take down the sixth inning for us.”

It’s well-documented how Arrieta’s career improved for the better after the Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013. When the Cubs acquired him, Arrieta held a career 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts). He finished his Cubs career with a 2.73 ERA in 128 regular season starts. He also won five postseason games with the Cubs, including Games 2 and 6 of the 2016 World Series.

Despite moving on in free agency, Arrieta spoke highly of his time with the Cubs, their fans and the city of Chicago.

“Cubs fans all across the country, all across the world, they really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do here for them,” he said. “It means a lot, it really does.

"I’ll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization, everything that they did for me. It was 4 1/2 incredible years of my career.”

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Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish was one pitch away.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Darvish threw Phillies catcher JT Realmuto a 2-2 cutter. It made sense - Darvish had been spotting that pitch well all night, and the Phillies were averaging a paltry 79.8 mph exit velocity against it.

With one strike standing between Darvish and a 6-inning shutout, Realmuto took Darvish’s cutter and sent it back up the middle for a game-tying RBI single. A 2-RBI triple from César Hernández followed. In the blink of an eye, what was shaping up to be one of Darvish’s finest moments in Chicago was instead reduced to yet another start spent searching for silver linings.

“Really good. He was outstanding tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He pitched really well.

“He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself. I thought he was outstanding - even better than what he looked like in Cincinnati. I thought that was probably his best game for us to date.”

Darvish has continued to lean heavily on his cutter this season, more so than any year prior. After throwing it 13 percent of the time last season, he’s going to that pitch almost 25 percent of the time now. If that holds, it’d beat his previous career-high, set in 2013, by six percentage points.

All things considered, that pitch has actually been good for him this season. It’s his go-to offering when he needs to induce weak contact, and batters are hitting .125 against it so far. He gets batters to chase cutters 29.5 percent of the time, the most of any pitch he throws. While he has admitted in games past that he relies too heavily on his fastball, Maddon sees no issues with the new trend.

“I have no concerns with that whatsoever,” he said. “There’s different ways for pitchers to attack hitters, and if it's successful, I really would not change a whole lot.”

Though the night was dedicated to celebrating one of the franchises most beloved pitchers, it was one of their most maligned that continued to show signs of figuring it out. He’s put together back-to-back starts with three or less walks for the first time this season, and has allowed two or less runs in three of the last five.

The pitcher even stepped off the mound during Arrieta’s first at-bat, in order to let the standing ovation continue on.

“He’s is a legend in Chicago,” Darvish said after the game. “And I pitched against him and pitched pretty good, so it makes me confident.”

The bullpen again struggled on Monday night, as the trio of Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan allowed two runs on five hits, including the game-winning solo home run from Realmuto in the 10th. For a moment it looked like the Cubs had a win wrapped up when Brach got outfielder Andrew McCutchen to bite on a two-strike slider, but was (probably incorrectly) called a checked swing.  He would eventually draw a walk, leading to Jean Segura’s game-tying single.

“On the field, I thought for sure [that McCutchen swung],” Brach said. “Looking at the first base umpire, I was a little taken aback. That’s why I went off the mound - just to regather myself, because I didn’t want to let the emotion get to me there.

“It’s a 50-50 call, and unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”


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