Cubs

Quade: Cubs arent quitting on the North Side

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Quade: Cubs arent quitting on the North Side

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011Posted: 11:40 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Follow @CSNMooney
Box Score
READ: The long road back for Wood and Cashner
READ: Quade recalls "Moneyball" days in Oakland

CINCINNATI The White Sox seem to be on a collision course between Ozzie Guillen and Ken Williams. The Cubs are in a holding pattern, waiting for the season to end so they can intensify their general manager search.

Two disappointing baseball teams wont give the city meaningful games across the final two weeks. Its been like that all summer on the North Side.

Guillen called out his players after Wednesdays loss to the Detroit Tigers, saying they had no fight left. Mike Quade has now watched his team lose 85 games and sink to 20 under .500. But the Cubs manager hasnt seen anyone quit on him yet.

I dont know whats going on (over) on the South Side, Quade said Thursday. Its not my place to get involved in any of that. I only know about this group here and they havent. They didnt last year. I dont think its in their nature. I guess thats unfortunate (for the White Sox). But Im happy with the effort down the stretch here.

As if to prove a point, the Cubs went out and played a game that lasted four hours and one minute.

They erased a two-run deficit in the ninth and took the Reds (74-76) to 11 innings before Jay Bruce launched a first-pitch slider from James Russell, the seventh reliever out of the Cubs bullpen. Bruces two-run shot traveled 394 feet before disappearing over the right-field wall to give the Reds an 8-6 walk-off victory at Great American Ball Park.

Whatever the motivations money, numbers, pride the Cubs have maintained a sense of professionalism throughout a difficult season. Theyve viewed their chemistry issues as isolated to Carlos Zambrano.

The problems are more complicated than effort. The Cubs began Thursday leading the majors in errors (124) and tied for third in blown saves (23). Theyre a bottom-tier team in terms of starting pitching (4.91 ERA) and hitting with runners in scoring position (.235).

But give them this much: They finally got to their downtown Cincinnati hotel around 5:30 on Monday morning and put up 12 runs in a victory that night. And even with first pitch at 1:20 p.m. first pitch looming on Friday, they didnt give in late Thursday night.

Thats just a testament to what were about right now, said starting pitcher Randy Wells, who couldnt protect a four-run lead or finish the fifth inning.

Even if there are a few things about this team that deep down Quade would like to get off his chest, hes not wired that way, and doesnt have the same platform as Guillen.

Ozzies always worn it on his sleeve, Quade said. Thats what he does. Hes probably more vocal in that regard than I am. And if hes upset with things, you usually dont have to sneak around to figure it out. Hell let you know. Thats part of his passion, (what) has made him good at what he does.

Were different sides of town. Were different people.

Etc.

Reliever Justin Berg whos on the 40-man roster but spent most of this season at Triple-A Iowa will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday. Team USA selected two Cubs prospects outfielder Brett Jackson and left-hander Jeff Beliveau to play next month in the World Cup in Panama and the Pan American Games in Mexico. Andrew Cashner faced four batters and was charged with one run during Thursdays loss, which means hell likely be unavailable again until Sunday. Starlin Castro needs seven hits to reach 200 and wants to do it during the final homestand at Wrigley Field.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: