Cubs

Cubs-Sox bring back the drama

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Cubs-Sox bring back the drama

If you wondered whether the Cubs and White Sox still had any juice left, it didnt take long to get the answer.

There couldnt have been many bigger headlines than the new Mr. Cub walking away. The fans chanted Pauley, Pauley. There was a purpose pitch in retaliation and a manager unhinged.

Friday began with word spreading about Kerry Woods retirement, and ended with another farewell news conference in the Wrigley Field dungeoninterview room. In between, the White Sox won a wild game 3-2 in front of 34,937 fans that couldnt have left disappointed.

Paul Konerko staggered to his feet, but didnt want any help walking back to the dugout, a towel pressed against his face. This wasnt the time or the place to show weakness.

No one can question Konerkos toughness. The White Sox captain got up after Jeff Samardzijas 85 mph splitter smashed into his face, leaving a small laceration and swelling above his left eye.

It was a scary scene in the third inning. Konerko had opened the game with a two-run shot, the 404th home run of his career. Samardzija said there was no malicious intent.

There are lot of superstars in the league that put up big numbers, get paid a lot of money, Samardzija said. Pauleys one of those guys that does (it) the right way. Theres not too many of (them) out there. Hes not about show. Hes not about himself. Pauleys a great guy.

That ball got away. Unfortunately, it hit him up high. If I could take it back, I would.

Philip Humber responded by throwing a ball behind Bryan LaHairs back, and this was a game played with a real hard edge.

When David DeJesus tried to stretch a single into a double in the fifth inning, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham took the throw and barreled over him.

Beckham, an All-State free safety and quarterback in high school back in Georgia, knocked DeJesus off the bag. The out call set off Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who seems to greet everything else by shrugging his shoulders or rolling his eyes.

As far as I know, you cant shove people off the base, Sveum said. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it all the time.

The fuse was lit and Sveum rushed out to argue and got ejected. In the run-up to Cubs-Sox, everyone wondered if it would be boring without Ozzie Guillen or Lou Piniella or Carlos Zambrano playing the instigator. Not so much.

There was Wood striking out Dayan Viciedo, the only batter he faced in the eighth inning, and leaving to a loud ovation.

It was a very special moment, Sveum said. I wish I could have been out there to be the one that took him out of the game and made that decision. I wish I would have thought about that before I got carried away.

Even Samardzija who says things like whatever, dude became a little emotional.

Samardzija gave up the go-ahead home run to Beckham in the eighth, but submitted another strong performance, giving up three runs in 7.1 innings and notching eight strikeouts, again showing he can be a frontline guy.

Samardzija watched both these teams while growing up in Indiana and wanted the spotlight. He has vivid memories of how dominating Wood could be.

I remember being a kid and my dad reading an article or something about Kerry Wood working out in the pool, Samardzija said. Thats why he threw 98 mph. And so my dad has me in the pool the next day kicking floaties around and stuff.

That was the dude you wanted to be. Thats how you wanted to throw. You wanted to throw hard. You wanted to throw a big curveball.

No, it wasnt a sellout. But, yes, the drama was definitely back in this crosstown rivalry. Even one of its villains had to give props to the modern-day Mr. Cub.

I love Kerry Wood, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. He had a tremendous career. I wish he wouldnt have had the injuries he had, because he would have been one of the best ever. Classy guy (who) was good for the game.

He worked his tail off every day and wanted the ball in big situations. He had a great run and its sad to see the way it ended.

Its kind of poetic justice that he struck out the last guy he faces.

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

The last time Jake Arrieta pitched at Wrigley Field, his night ended with Cubs fans giving him a rousing standing ovation. The former Cubs right hander tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading the Cubs to victory in Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS—their only win against the Los Angeles Dodgers that series.

Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field as a visitor on Monday night, making his first start against the Cubs since joining the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Ironically, Arrieta’s counterpart for the night was Yu Darvish, who ultimately replaced Arrieta in the Cubs starting rotation.

Despite now donning Phillies red, Cubs fans once again showed their love for Arrieta, giving him a lengthy standing ovation ahead of his first plate appearance. Darvish even stepped off the mound in respect for the moment.

“I loved it, absolutely loved it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters postgame. “[I’m] very happy that our fans would acknowledge him like that. Yu stepped away from the mound nicely. Jake deserved it.”

Arrieta tipped his helmet in appreciation for the crowd, taking in the moment for more than 30 seconds before stepping into the batter’s box. After the game, he told reporters that moment brought back memories of his time with the Cubs.

“That was something that really brought back great memories of getting that same sort of ovation pretty much on a nightly basis,” Arrieta said. “[I’m] very appreciative of that. I can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago, I really can’t.”

Arrieta took fans back to his Cubs tenure on Monday, throwing six innings of one run ball in the Phillies’ 5-4 10-inning win. Although the 33-year-old didn’t pick up the victory, he matched Darvish—who threw six innings of three-run ball—pitch by-pitch.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler noted how well Arrieta handled his emotions throughout the night.

“I thought he handled the emotions really well. I thought he was in control of the game even when we were down,” Kapler said to reporters. “He always maintained his poise and he just got stronger as the outing went on and that’s why we were able to have him take down the sixth inning for us.”

It’s well-documented how Arrieta’s career improved for the better after the Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013. When the Cubs acquired him, Arrieta held a career 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts). He finished his Cubs career with a 2.73 ERA in 128 regular season starts. He also won five postseason games with the Cubs, including Games 2 and 6 of the 2016 World Series.

Despite moving on in free agency, Arrieta spoke highly of his time with the Cubs, their fans and the city of Chicago.

“Cubs fans all across the country, all across the world, they really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do here for them,” he said. “It means a lot, it really does.

"I’ll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization, everything that they did for me. It was 4 1/2 incredible years of my career.”

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Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish was one pitch away.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Darvish threw Phillies catcher JT Realmuto a 2-2 cutter. It made sense - Darvish had been spotting that pitch well all night, and the Phillies were averaging a paltry 79.8 mph exit velocity against it.

With one strike standing between Darvish and a 6-inning shutout, Realmuto took Darvish’s cutter and sent it back up the middle for a game-tying RBI single. A 2-RBI triple from César Hernández followed. In the blink of an eye, what was shaping up to be one of Darvish’s finest moments in Chicago was instead reduced to yet another start spent searching for silver linings.

“Really good. He was outstanding tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He pitched really well.

“He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself. I thought he was outstanding - even better than what he looked like in Cincinnati. I thought that was probably his best game for us to date.”

Darvish has continued to lean heavily on his cutter this season, more so than any year prior. After throwing it 13 percent of the time last season, he’s going to that pitch almost 25 percent of the time now. If that holds, it’d beat his previous career-high, set in 2013, by six percentage points.

All things considered, that pitch has actually been good for him this season. It’s his go-to offering when he needs to induce weak contact, and batters are hitting .125 against it so far. He gets batters to chase cutters 29.5 percent of the time, the most of any pitch he throws. While he has admitted in games past that he relies too heavily on his fastball, Maddon sees no issues with the new trend.

“I have no concerns with that whatsoever,” he said. “There’s different ways for pitchers to attack hitters, and if it's successful, I really would not change a whole lot.”

Though the night was dedicated to celebrating one of the franchises most beloved pitchers, it was one of their most maligned that continued to show signs of figuring it out. He’s put together back-to-back starts with three or less walks for the first time this season, and has allowed two or less runs in three of the last five.

The pitcher even stepped off the mound during Arrieta’s first at-bat, in order to let the standing ovation continue on.

“He’s is a legend in Chicago,” Darvish said after the game. “And I pitched against him and pitched pretty good, so it makes me confident.”

The bullpen again struggled on Monday night, as the trio of Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan allowed two runs on five hits, including the game-winning solo home run from Realmuto in the 10th. For a moment it looked like the Cubs had a win wrapped up when Brach got outfielder Andrew McCutchen to bite on a two-strike slider, but was (probably incorrectly) called a checked swing.  He would eventually draw a walk, leading to Jean Segura’s game-tying single.

“On the field, I thought for sure [that McCutchen swung],” Brach said. “Looking at the first base umpire, I was a little taken aback. That’s why I went off the mound - just to regather myself, because I didn’t want to let the emotion get to me there.

“It’s a 50-50 call, and unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”

 

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