Cubs

Cubs not anticipating any carryover from fireworks with Pirates

Cubs not anticipating any carryover from fireworks with Pirates

Joe Maddon is not exepecting to bust out his spin move this weekend at Wrigley Field.

The Pirates are in town eight days after Maddon had to be held back by Kris Bryant and umpire Joe West in Pittsburgh as the irate Cubs manager was fed up with pitches high and inside on his players, including David Bote taking one off the helmet.

However, it appears neither side has hard feelings over the matter and are more focused on playing the game in an all-important weekend series for both teams.

"I don't think there's gonna be a huge carryover," Maddon said Friday morning. "I really don't. We made our point. Inside's inside. I'm totally into [pitching] inside. I totally believe in that. It was just the fact that eventually a guy got hit in the head. That's where my focus was with that."

Maddon stressed the priority for his team is to get off to a good start after the All-Star Break and reiterated he didn't feel the Pirates were intentionally throwing at the Cubs last week in Pittsburgh.

Kris Bryant has been hit by a pitch 11 times this year and knows what it feels like to take a 95 mph fastball to the head (last April in Colorado). He understands the Pirates like to pitch inside and knows hit-by-pitches are just a part of the game, but also admitted it can get frustrating when the balls are up near the shoulders, neck and head.

For their part, the Pirates insist they don't have any sort of organizational edict to live up-and-in.

"We don't encourage anybody throwing at anyone's head," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Friday. "Never have, never will. That part of it — the game is played on the field, players want to do well when they get out there. They want to represent themselves well in that competitive spirit, without causing any type of harm to anybody. 

"Moving people off the plate has been around a long time. Probably there's more exception taken to it today than before. That's not one of our teaching techniques — to move the ball up and in toward anyone's head by any means."

Anthony Rizzo — who gets hit as often as anybody else around the game the last few years — understands why opposing teams go up-and-in, but also wants to make sure it's within reason.

"It's a great theory — throw at Javy [Baez's] head three times and then throw a slider down and away. You're gonna get him out," Rizzo said. "It's scary. Until Major League Baseball steps in and does something, it's a good formula to get guys out — throw at 'em and get them scared off the plate and then go down and away.

"At some point, you have to stand up and Joe did that. It's the ebb and flow of the game. You get hit by a slider — it's not intentional. It's the fastballs up and in that give every hitter across the league the right to get angry when it's at the hands or the letters or toward the neck. It's part of it. That's how the Pirates pitch and they have success."

Even though they may not like the fastballs high and tight, the Cubs have more a more important mission than settling a score or potentially risking injury or suspension if last week's fireworks spill over to Wrigley Field.

The Pirates began the second half in fourth place in the NL Central, but only 2.5 games behind the first-place Cubs. 

"It's pretty easy [to put the hit-by-pitch issues away and keep their focus]," Bryant said. "We've been through situations like this before. We've had a break to move on. 

"We have games to win. We can't worry about that when we have plenty of other stuff to worry about as a team."

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

The Wrigley Field basket has played a huge role in this week's Cubs-Reds series.

In Monday night's game, Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali hit a game-tying homer into the basket in the seventh inning of a game the Cubs went on to lose.

But the basket giveth and the basket also taketh away.

Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs who were singing the praises of one of the strangest ballpark quirks in baseball.

Schwarber connected on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, hitting a fly ball through the impossibly-humid air and into the basket in left-centerfield for a 4-3 Cubs win.

"Whoever thought about that basket — whenever that occurred — tell them, 'thank you,'" Joe Maddon said. "Although it did work against us [Monday]. When it works for you, it's awesome."

Schwarber has stood under the left-field basket many times with his back against the wall, thinking he might be able to make a play on a high fly ball only to see it settle into the wickets and turn into a chance for a Bleacher Bum to show off their arm. 

But is he a huge fan of the basket now that it worked in his favor?

"I guess so," Schwarber laughed. "Yesterday, it cost us, but today, it helped us out. It's just the factor of Wrigley Field. Happy it worked out today."

It was Schwarber's first career walk off RBI of any kind.

It was the Cubs' fourth walk-off homer of the season, but their first since May 11 when Willson Contreras called "game" on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs are now 4-1 since the All-Star Break and hold a 2.5-game lead in the division.

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

Doug Glanville and Ozzie Guillen join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

The talk about the trade that sent Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery to the Royals in exchange for Martin Maldonado, Willson Contreras' injury that sent him to the injured list and an update on the White Sox roster moves and rebuild status.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: