Cubs

Rockies rough up Cubs in doubleheader opener

Rockies rough up Cubs in doubleheader opener

DENVER (AP) Antonio Senzatela picked a good day not to have his best stuff.

His offense had his back and gave him some breathing room.

Ryan Hanigan hit a two-out, bases-clearing bloop single as part of a six-run third inning, Mark Reynolds homered for a fourth straight game and the Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs 10-4 on Tuesday in a day-night doubleheader opener.

Reynolds also added two RBI singles as every player in the starting lineup, including Senzatela, had a hit for the NL West-leading Rockies.

Senzatela (5-1) wrestled with his command over six innings but wiggled out of several tough spots to keep the damage to just two runs. The hard-throwing rookie had three walks and four strikeouts.

"There's some resiliency where he hung in there and got through it when he's probably not pitching how we've seen him overall," manager Bud Black said.

Even with his usually pinpoint accuracy a little off, Senzatela, the NL rookie of the month for April, never shied away from Kris Bryant & Co.

"He's not pitching scared, whether he's got his command or not," Hanigan said. "He's not trying to nibble. He's going after guys."

Jake Arrieta (4-2) couldn't find his groove and was removed after 3 2/3 innings - his shortest start since 2012. He surrendered nine hits and nine runs, but just five were earned.

"There were too many hittable pitches left in the middle of the plate," Arrieta said. "The bottom line was I didn't do my job."

The Cubs got a good night's rest when Monday's game was rained out. They arrived in town earlier that day after an 18-inning loss to the New York Yankees that lasted 6 hours, 5 minutes. The team needed a little break, even if it meant playing two on Tuesday.

"Just different when you have that swimming feeling in your cranium. It's difficult to focus," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team lost its fourth straight.

Arrieta and the Cubs were undone by a mistake-filled third inning. A damaging play was an error on shortstop Javier Baez, who threw the ball away trying to get DJ LeMahieu crossing from second to third on a grounder.

There was another costly play too, when Albert Almora Jr. started back on a shallow blooper by Hanigan, forcing left fielder Kyle Schwarber to race after it. But the ball just eluded Schwarber's reach, and the bases cleared.

"As soon as I hit it, thought it was an out," Hanigan said. "When I saw him full sprint at it, I was like, `Oh, maybe there's a chance there.' It worked out."

Trainer's Room

Cubs: OF Jason Heyward (sore knuckle on right hand) is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list on May 16. "I'd be surprised if it's any longer than that," Maddon said.

Rockies: C Tom Murphy (fractured right forearm) is "getting closer," manager Bud Black said. "He's starting to do some things with his arm that he hadn't been able to do before, range of motion."

Omaha, Omaha

Maddon had a chance to visit with former Broncos QB Peyton Manning on Monday. He even invited Manning to spring training sometime. Maddon's one regret?

"Should've asked him about `Omaha,'" Maddon said in reference to the word Manning used to call out at the line of scrimmage. "I had my opportunity to ask about Omaha and I screwed up."

Reinforcements

The Cubs and Rockies were to each add a 26th player for the second game. The Cubs planned to bring up infielder Jeimer Candelario from Triple-A Iowa and the Rockies right-hander Jeff Hoffman from Triple-A Albuquerque.

This & That

Usually at third, Kris Bryant started in right field. ... Two of Chicago's runs scored on groundouts. ... Ian DesmondTrevor Story and LeMahieu each had two hits.

Up Next

RHP John Lackey (2-3, 5.14 ERA) will start the nightcap for Chicago and LHP Kyle Freeland (3-1, 2.65) goes for Colorado.

Cubs’ Ian Happ claimed center field after AAA detour: 'He's the real deal'

Cubs’ Ian Happ claimed center field after AAA detour: 'He's the real deal'

Ian Happ paused before answering, the moment of silence punctuating his matter-of-fact response.

“No,” he said. “I don’t feel that way.”

Looking back, he doesn’t feel like he rose to the Major Leagues too quickly.

Happ has had to field that question since spending 2/3 of last season in Triple-A. But already this year, Happ has hit three home runs, tied for the most on the team, while also maintain a top-three batting average (.297). Not only is he performing on the field, Happ has also embraced a leadership role and taken over for Kris Bryant as the team’s MLBPA representative.

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“He’s the real deal,” Ross said Sunday, after Happ went 3-for-3 with two doubles in the Cubs’ intrasquad scrimmage.

The club’s decision to send Happ to Triple-A Iowa at the beginning of last season came as a surprise. Much of Happ’s conviction that he was ready for the major leagues when he debuted came from his standout rookie season.

Happ hit 24 home runs as a rookie – still his career high – and finished eighth in rookie of the year voting in 2017. His batting average regressed the next year (from .253 to .233), and his strikeout number rose (from 129 to 167). But he joined the .350 club in on-base percentage.

“We believed then and we believe now that he’s going to be a really good player,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said this week. “We thought it was the right move and something that was necessary even though it was really unpleasant to send him back there. To his credit, he made the absolute most of it, took personal responsibility.”

When Happ returned to the big leagues, his progress showed. He won NL player of the week in the final week of the season. But he’s made even more of a splash this year, from Spring Training through the first two weeks of the regular season.

Entering the year, center field was one of the main position battles to monitor for first-time manager Ross.

“Right now, the job is Ian Happ’s,” Ross said Sunday.

Ross’ lineup choices had suggested as much already. Happ has appeared in all 13 of the Cubs games, at least pinch hitting in the three he didn’t start.

“It’s hard to take Ian Happ out of the lineup,” Ross said of the switch-hitter. “The guy’s swinging the bat really well, and his right-handed at-bats have gotten tremendously better. He’s been a staple.”

Happ started his season off with a two-run home run in his first plate appearance. He was batting ninth, and through all of Ross’ reshuffling of the bottom third of the batting order, Happ has been the Cubs’ most frequent nine-hole hitter.

With the Cubs’ No. 7 and 8 hitters consistently getting on base, in the nine-hole has showcased Happ’s ability to drive in runs (he’s tied for second on the team with six RBI) or set the table for the Cubs’ unconventional top of the order.

“I feel great about where I'm at right now,” Happ said, “my ability to help the team and get on base for those guys that are hitting behind me.”

Just as he set the tone in the batter’s box early, with an Opening Day home run, Happ flashed some leather in the opening series against the Brewers. Three days into the season, Happ tracked a long fly ball back to the wall. He leaped and caught it just before his back slammed into the ivy, which barely cushioned the brick behind it.

Happ slid down the wall into a crouch, his body no doubt feeling the results of the impact. But it wasn’t long before he stood back up.

“I think he absolutely took advantage of his time down (in Iowa),” Epstein said, “and is in a different and better phase in his career now because of what he went through.”

 

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How Cubs temporarily grabbed White Sox spotlight during Sunday Night Baseball

How Cubs temporarily grabbed White Sox spotlight during Sunday Night Baseball

Even with the White Sox on center stage, the Cubs found their way into the spotlight.

“We’re gonna aggravate everybody in Schaumburg with this,” ESPN broadcaster Matt Vasgersian said Sunday. “White Sox fans, sorry about this.”

The White Sox made their first appearance on Sunday Night Baseball since May 12, 2013 on Sunday. But early in their matchup against the Indians, the ESPN broadcast momentarily pivoted towards the North Siders.

ESPN showed the results of a social media poll asking baseball fans what they make of the Cubs’ 10-3 start to the season. Of the more than 52,000 respondents, 41 percent said they’ll start to fade soon, 34 percent said they’re a World Series contender and 25 percent said they’re a division title contender.

“Apparently, we had a lot of respondents calling from the South Side of Chicago,” Vasgersian joked.

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The Cubs were scheduled to appear on Sunday Night Baseball before their series against the Cardinals was postponed. So while the poll’s appearance was no coincidence, some White Sox fans probably weren’t happy seeing it pop up mid-game.

“White Sox (fans) are saying,” Vasgersian said, “‘It’s the first time we’ve been on Sunday Night Baseball since 2013 and we gotta talk about the Cubs?’” 

White Sox fans have aired their grievances in recent years over the team being forgotten by national media, especially as the Cubs have received plenty of coverage. This may not fall under the same category as previous occurrences, but it certainly brings back memories of those moments.

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