Six in a row: The Cubs are feeling 'unbeatable'


Six in a row: The Cubs are feeling 'unbeatable'

Joe Maddon thinks the Cubs have caught their second wind.

At this point, it's pretty much impossible to argue that.

The Cubs (64-48) pulled out their sixth straight victory Wednesday night, walking off the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-2, in front of 36,438 fans at Wrigley Field.

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After Hector Rondon blew a save by allowing an unearned run in the ninth, Miguel Montero ended it with an opposite-field blast to lead off the 10th inning.

Montero and the Cubs were on Cloud Nine in the clubhouse after the game.

"Right now, the feeling in the clubhouse is we're pretty unbeatable," Montero said. "... That's the kind of feeling that we actually get and hopefully it stays there and we keep believing it.

"We got a good ballclub. The young guys are just getting better and better. There's no reason why we should not win."

Before Tuesday night's game, Maddon spoke about how well the Cubs rookies have been playing, and they delivered again Wednesday as Kris Bryant homered and Addison Russell drove in a run with a two-out hit in the fifth inning.

Maddon said the Cubs were like a car that wouldn't quite turn over ("Like my old '65 Plymouth that Uncle Chuck used to drive all the time") coming out of the All-Star break.

"And then, eventually, it turns over, and all of a sudden, guys start feeling it a little bit," Maddon said. "I thought there was a certain amount of mental fatigue post-break. I think we're getting through that somewhat right now.

"And like I said, you put yourself in position, now it's the playoff hunt in September, energy just shows up. You don't have to look for it; it's there.

"So we're looking for that component that takes care of that, so that when you arrive at that moment, you're ready to rock and roll. That's what our guys are starting to get."

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The Cubs had only four hits Wednesday, but they made them count and played some stellar defense behind starter Jason Hammel and four relievers.

"There you go, man: Pitching and defense getting it done again," Maddon said. "I could not be more proud of our guys. ... If we don't play that kind of defense, we do not win it."

Anthony Rizzo made the highlight-reel play, jumping completely into the stands to make a catch in the sixth inning to ignite the crowd and the dugout ("Even old man David Ross was fired up," Rizzo said).

"These games are really helping us get into that strong mentality of, 'we can do this,'" Anthony Rizzo said. "Not that we haven't had that all year, but all year we've been grinding - five or six games over .500. Up to eight or nine [over], then go back down.

"We never really got into a nice little run. Right now, we feel that and everybody feels really good about it."

It was the Cubs' 12th win in their last 13 games. The Cubs gained a game on their direct competition Wednesday, pulling to within 1.5 games of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first wild card spot and extending their lead to 4.5 games over the San Francisco Giants for the second wild card.

"I couldn't be more proud of this group," Maddon said. "Most of them are young, but they come to play. I think they've gone through that intimidation moment or that 'happy to be here moment.'

"I think they feel like they belong here right now and they're showing up with a good look."

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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