Cubs

Maddon on Cubs' tough loss: 'We showed why we're not ready yet'

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Maddon on Cubs' tough loss: 'We showed why we're not ready yet'

The Royals have become one of the best teams in Major League Baseball thanks to a ridiculous bullpen and stellar defense.

Friday, that was the difference as the Cubs bullpen and defense imploded in the eighth inning, handing Kansas City an 8-4 victory in front of 34,273 fans in the Royals' first visit to Wrigley Field in more than 13 years.

"We played well today and then we broke down at the end," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We had them on the ropes.

"They showed why they went to the World Series. We showed why we're not ready yet."

[MORE: Dale Sveum returns to Wrigley Field: 'This is a special place']

Addison Russell tied the game for the Cubs with a long home run off Kansas City's elite setup man Kelvin Herrera — who had allowed just one homer in 80 innings since the start of the 2014 season — in the seventh inning, but the Royals wasted no time regaining the lead.

Pedro Strop walked Mike Moustakas to begin the eighth and the next hitter, Lorenzo Cain, doubled him home. Eric Hosmer then walked and after two straight strikeouts, the wheels came off for the Cubs.

Royals second baseman Omar Infante sent a liner to center field, where Dexter Fowler dropped the ball and then slipped and fell while trying to pick it back up, allowing two unearned runs to score.

"We have to be more efficient in the latter part of the game," Maddon said. "We cannot make the physical or mental mistakes. You have to make pitches in order to beat good teams late.

"You have to have that will to beat them. You do that by repeating your fundamentals and your techniques and making your pitches or making players or having good at-bats and that's what we need to do, all throughout the game."

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The rough eighth inning overshadowed a comeback from the Cubs after Jake Arrieta allowed four runs — three coming on solo homers — in seven innings of work.

Kris Bryant doubled home Addison Russell in the third inning and Jorge Soler smashed a two-run homer to left in the sixth before Russell's game-tying blast an inning later.

"We didn't make the one play," Maddon said. "But it's before that. We didn't make pitches. The bullpen - we have to make pitches when it's necessary. We didn't do that and that put us in that particular bind.

"It was such a great game for 7 2/3 innings. I thought we really were gonna pull it out. Came from behind - Soler hitting that home run, Addy hitting the home run, working good at-bats in the game.

"And then you get to that moment and we just didn't execute. We talk about fundamentals and technique - we didn't execute and they win. It comes down to that."

The Royals tacked on another unearned run in the ninth off Edwin Jackson before Wade Davis and Greg Holland shut down the Cubs to preserve the win for Kansas City.

[MORE - Maddon, Cubs getting a 'fresh look' at Junior Lake]

"In moments like this, my thoughts always turn to - I want to see how high we bounce after the fall," Maddon said. "We've done pretty well this year, so let's see how high we bounce tomorrow."

On this homestand, the Cubs have welcomed the Washington Nationals and the Royals - two of the best teams in the league - into Wrigley Field.

The Cubs have hung with both teams, but are just 1-3 to show for it through the first four games.

"Those are both high-level clubs," Arrieta said. "The Royals played in the World Series last year and had some tremendous years from a lot of their young guys.

"It's good to match up with them. It kinda lets you know where you stand a little bit. Exposes your mistakes and where you need to get better at some things. We will.

"We were in that game right up until the end and we'll be better for it."

Cubs expected to hire Mike Napoli — David Ross' former teammate — as quality assurance coach

Cubs expected to hire Mike Napoli — David Ross' former teammate — as quality assurance coach

David Ross will not only be managing former teammates with the Cubs in 2020, but he'll be coaching alongside one, too.

The Cubs are expected to add former MLB catcher Mike Napoli to Ross' coaching staff, per multiple reports. Napoli will assume the title of quality assurance coach, vacated by Chris Denorfia, who held the position for one season.

Napoli played in parts of 12 big-league seasons from 2006-17 with the Angels, Rangers, Red Sox and Indians. He won the 2013 World Series with Boston — alongside Ross and Cubs starter Jon Lester — and was also a key figure with the 2016 Indians, whom the Cubs defeated in the World Series. He finished his career with a .246/.346/.475 slash line with 267 home runs. 

According to MLB Network's Jon Heyman, the Cubs pursued Napoli last winter, though the 38-year-old wanted to take a short break from baseball before jumping into coaching. He'll join a Cubs coaching staff that is almost finalized, with the exception of one vacant base coach spot. Here's what the group looks like right now:

Manager — David Ross
Bench coach — Andy Green
Pitching coach — Tommy Hottovy
Associate pitching coach, catching and strategy coach — Mike Borzello
Hitting coach — Anthony Iapoce
Assistant hitting coach — Terrmel Sledge
Bullpen coach — Chris Young
Base coach — Will Venable
Base coach — open
Quality assurance coach — Mike Napoli

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the organization hopes to have the coaching staff finalized by the end of the week. With Napoli on board, the Cubs are one step closer to making that goal a reality.

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Fans apologize to Yu Darvish following Astros cheating allegations

Fans apologize to Yu Darvish following Astros cheating allegations

When the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish at the 2017 trade deadline, he was expected to be one of the final pieces to their championship puzzle.

After a solid nine-start regular season with Los Angeles, Darvish was stellar early in the postseason. In two starts (one in the NLDS, one in the NLCS), he allowed two runs across 11.1 innings, racking up 14 strikeouts compared to a single walk.

Things went downhill for Darvish in the World Series, where he surrendered nine runs in 3.1 innings across two starts. This includes Game 7, when he threw 47 pitches in 1.2 innings, allowing five runs in a 5-1 series-clinching win for the Astros.

Darvish became a scapegoat for the Dodgers' World Series loss and faced heavy backlash from fans. Consequentially, he had concerns about re-signing with the Dodgers when he became a free agent that offseason, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, due to fears of how the city's anger towards him would affect his family.

Two years later, fans are now apologizing for directing their anger at Darvish for his World Series performance. Why?

Tuesday, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported the Astros stole opposing teams' signs electronically during the 2017 season. This conflicts with the notion of Darvish tipping his pitches in the World Series, which an anonymous Astros player told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci was the case.

The notion of Darvish tipping his pitches is now in question altogether:

As has often been the case this offseason, Darvish had a brilliant reaction to the whole situation on Twitter:

Darvish joined the Cubs in 2018 on a six-year deal. After an injury-riddled debut season with the Cubs, he took off post-All-Star break in 2019 and is expected to be the team's Opening Day starter in 2020. Although what happened in 2017 can't be changed, it's nice to see he's moved forward.

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