Cubs

'A loss is a loss': Cubs feel sting after Cards deal gutting defeat

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'A loss is a loss': Cubs feel sting after Cards deal gutting defeat

Joe Maddon decided to focus on all the positive things the Cubs did on a chilly Wednesday night against the first-place St. Louis Cardinals. But for his team, those good moments were negated when Jhonny Peralta launched Pedro Strop's 1-2 fastball into the left field basket for a go-ahead home run with two outs in the top of the ninth.

Peralta’s blast dealt the Cubs a 6-5 loss at Wrigley Field, leaving Maddon’s side feeling empty despite earning a series split with their Missouri-based rival.

The Cubs battled back from an early 4-0 deficit headlined by starter Jason Hammel leaving the game after one inning due to a tight left hamstring. But Miguel Montero’s go-ahead three-run double in the bottom of the sixth off Cardinals All-Star Michael Wacha sent a Wrigley Field crowd of 37,993 into a frenzy that felt like a playoff game, and Travis Wood threw three no-hit innings in relief when the Cubs needed it most.

While Maddon said he was “really pleased with the way we played tonight,” Strop wasn’t interested in looking at the positive side of things.

“We had it, and we just lost it,” Strop said. “Two outs in the ninth inning with two strikes, I mean, it doesn’t seem like, 'Oh, we’re splitting.' We should’ve got that one.”

[MORE CUBS: Maddon comfortable with Bryant, Rizzo in Home Run Derby]

Montero, who played on two playoff teams during his nine-year tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks, agreed.

“At the end of the night, it’s a loss,” Montero said. “A loss is a loss. Not really happy about it.”

The Cubs seemed to be poised to nail down a statement win against a team that swept them in St. Louis to close out June. All they needed was one more strike.

Strop easily retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the ninth, getting Peter Bourjos to pop out and Tommy Pham to strike out swinging. He then issued a four-pitch walk to Matt Carpenter — who went 0-for-4 Wednesday and has eight hits in his last 57 at-bats — which Maddon found more inexcusable than the pitch on which Peralta took Strop deep.

Strop threw three sliders to go ahead of Peralta 1-2 and tried to fire a fastball up and out of the strike zone to set up another slider on 2-2. Instead, he missed over the plate, and Peralta lined it through the mist and just over the left field ivy for the go-ahead blow.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

“It is tough, especially that’s the team ahead in our division,” Strop said. “We’re trying to beat those guys and catch up in the season. Of course it’s a tough one to swallow, ninth inning, two outs and two strikes. I mean, it’s really tough. That’s one of the times that you gotta believe baseball is tough. It’s not as easy at it looks on TV.”

Maddon, though, was persistent in his positivity during his postgame press conference.

“Regardless of all that, I’m really pleased with the way we played tonight,” Maddon said. “I thought it was an outstanding night, what we did coming back like we did, your starter leaves the game in the second inning, attempt to piece the bullpen together to get to the end of the game which we did, and we were one pitch away from winning the game and of course we did not.

“I have nothing bad to say about our game tonight. We just had a tough break in the beginning with (Hammel), and then we made a pitch that their guy got to. Otherwise I’m really pleased with our group.”

But even if the Cubs did plenty right Wednesday night, they did enough wrong to lose to a team that’s the gold standard for franchise success not only in baseball, but in North American sports. If the Cubs want to make an impact if and when they reach the postseason, this is the kind of game they can’t afford to lose, no matter how well things went for the first 26 outs.

“Believe me, it's a tough one to swallow. These are the games that you gotta win,” Montero said, “especially when you got two outs, nobody on and then just all of a sudden two runs and you lose the game, that’s the game that you feel a sting.”

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: