Cubs

Kris Bryant: ‘There’s no worry here’ after Cubs lose epic Game 3 to Giants

Kris Bryant: ‘There’s no worry here’ after Cubs lose epic Game 3 to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO – Joe Maddon delivered a simple message to the Cubs before the playoffs started: Things will go wrong, so how do you deal with it? The point being a 103-win team shouldn’t change its focus or routine while the outside world obsessed about 1908 and the pressure of World Series expectations.   
 
Now let’s see what the 2016 Cubs are made of – if this 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants in the 13th inning will be remembered for the right or wrong reasons. 
 
What a head-spinning night of October baseball, from Madison Bumgarner looking human in a five-inning start, to Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta drilling a three-run homer off the Giant, to Aroldis Chapman melting down, to Kris Bryant creating another MVP moment, to several breathtaking defensive plays.  
 
When Game 3 finally ended late Monday night on the West Coast, nearly 2 a.m. Tuesday back in Chicago, the Giants clawed back into this National League Division Series, now down 2-1 after Joe Panik drilled a Mike Montgomery fastball off the right-field wall to score Brandon Crawford from second base.   

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
 
But after a walk-off loss, the Cubs didn’t show any signs of panic in the visiting clubhouse, recognizing this has been an epic best-of-five matchup against a battle-tested team that won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
 
“There’s no worry here,” said Bryant, the budding superstar who never gets too high or too low, an attitude that helped turn this into another instant classic that lasted five hours and four minutes. “You just have to appreciate that it was a great game.
 
“We’re all pretty exhausted, but that’s playoff baseball at its best.”
 
Bryant had tied the game in the ninth inning, launching a Sergio Romo slider into the left-field seats for a two-run homer. At that point, the Cubs had already gone through five relievers on a night where they would use three different catchers. Enter Montgomery, the lefty who showed why the Cubs believe he can become a big part of the rotation in 2017 and beyond, throwing four scoreless innings before the Giant breakthrough in the 13th. 
 
“We’re a confident group of guys,” Montgomery said. “We know we got a good team. We’re not going to let one game like this effect us.”
 
Tuesday night will definitely be a Big Boy Game for John Lackey, who has won two World Series clinchers and will start opposite San Francisco lefty Matt Moore. The Giants have now won 10 playoff elimination games in a row, part of an unbelievable run that has already seen them win 11 straight postseason series, which ties them with the 1998-2001 New York Yankees for the longest streak in major-league history. No one ever said this would be easy for the Cubs.     
 
“Just because we’re down doesn’t mean we’re out,” Panik said. “If we’re breathing, we’re still fighting.
 
“If we’re breathing, we’re not out of it.”

Cubs embrace Little League World Series experience by going hill-sledding

Cubs embrace Little League World Series experience by going hill-sledding

One of the most iconic aspects of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, is the hill behind center field at Lamade Stadium. Fans bring carboard boxes with them to the ballpark, using them to slide down the hill while Little League games commence on the ball field. 

Sunday, the Cubs and Pirates visited Lamade ahead of their Little League Classic matchup later in the day. Several Cubs took the opportunity to fully embrace the experience, taking turns sliding down the famous hill at the ballpark.

Anthony Rizzo and manager Joe Maddon demonstrated some A+ form, while former Cubs catcher and current ESPN broadcaster David Ross' care-free form is amazing.

Kris Bryant and Cole Hamels also took turns down the hill, and you've gotta love the pure joy on their faces.

The Little League World Series serves as a friendly reminder that baseball is a child's game. While the competitive aspect of MLB part of the game, it's nice to see the Cubs embracing the experience.

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Cubs bullpen gets another reinforcement with Craig Kimbrel activated

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USA TODAY

Cubs bullpen gets another reinforcement with Craig Kimbrel activated

The Cubs bullpen has had its share of struggles in recent days, but the team’s new closer is coming back from the injured list.

Craig Kimbrel was activated off the IL ahead of Sunday’s game against the Pirates. The game will be played in Williamsport, Pa., as the Little League Classic.

Kimbrel took the spot of Duane Underwood Jr., who heads back to Triple-A Iowa. Outfielder Mark Zagunis also joined the Cubs roster as the 26th man for Sunday’s game.

Kimbrel joined the Cubs as a free agent in the middle of the season and debuted on June 27. He made 14 appearances before going to the IL with right knee inflammation. He last pitched on Aug. 3.

In 12 2/3 innings, Kimbrel has 17 strikeouts, eight walks and 13 hits for a 5.68 ERA. He has nine saves.

The Cubs suffered back-to-back walk-off losses on Thursday and Friday with the bullpen blowing late leads. Three of the team’s most experienced relievers, Kimbrel, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek were all on the IL at the same time. Kintzler was activated Friday, but promptly blew a lead in Pittsburgh on Friday in his first game back.

Kimbrel’s return gives Joe Maddon another option in the bullpen after going through a rough stretch with relievers.