Cubs

Joe Maddon does not hold back on missed strike call: 'That's what kind of pisses me off'

Joe Maddon does not hold back on missed strike call: 'That's what kind of pisses me off'

ST. LOUIS - Friday night was an easy revisionist history moment for Cubs nation.

The result wasn't what they wanted — a 2-1 loss to the rival Cardinals in 10 innings — and it was easy to play back the tape and see where it all went wrong.

For one thing, the Cubs went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and their only run on the evening was a sacrifice fly from starting pitcher Yu Darvish in the second inning.

But there was also a sequence in the decisive bottom of the 10th inning where Cubs reliever Dillon Maples looks to have clearly retired Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader on strikes, only to see Bader trot down to first base with a walk.

This was the final pitch of the at-bat, called a ball by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, even though it clearly looked to be in the zone, both by the naked eye and the NBC Sports Chicago K Zone:

It should've been Strike 3 and the second out of the inning. Instead, it put runners at first and second with only one out. Maples walked the next guy to load the bases before Joe Maddon made a pitching change and Steve Cishek gave up the game-ending hit to Matt Carpenter a few pitches later.

After the game, Maddon brought up the missed strike call unprompted while also discussing the lack of offense that has gone hitless in its last 23 plate appearances with runners in scoring position:

"We really need to do a better job of driving in runs," Maddon said. "We wouldn't even be in that position at the end. I guess it's like 0 for the last 23, apparently. I didn't even know it was that bad. We gotta do a better job right there. Had opportunities early, they kinda went away. Our pitching was outstanding. 

"And even Dillon Maples was outstanding, too. The fact that he was placed in that situation after he clearly struck Bader out, which would've totally turned into a different moment for him. I totally believe that. That's the kind of thing that bums me out. Of course, listen, we were not good offensively, granted. But to have pitches like that taken away in a crucial moment, now my guy's gotta go home and feel bad about himself tonight, which I don't like whatsoever. 

"And it wasn't even a borderline pitch. It was a strike. That's the kinda stuff you wanna see something done about. And I'm still not advocating electronic strike zone. I'm just advocating let's go. Let's go. 

"You cannot miss that pitch in that situation. Here's a guy that's ascending to the major leagues as a relief pitcher, doing a wonderful job, does his job and does not get rewarded for it. That's what kind of pisses me off, quite frankly."

Maples wasn't so quick to blame the umpire, even though he clearly was frustrated with the call (you can see his reaction on the video above).

"I just made a close pitch and obviously didn't get the call I wanted, so I was a little upset," he said. "You gotta move on."

This is Maples' second stint in the big leagues this season after making three separate trips to the majors from Triple-A Iowa last year. He's still trying to find his way in "The Show," but Friday should've been a redeeming night for him. 

Instead, he has to worry about trying to move on mentally from another tough moment and he might not get too many more opportunities in the majors right now with Pedro Strop nearing a return.

The Cubs, meanwhile, enter June having dropped six of their last eight games. 

Cubs Talk Podcast: John Baker on getting mentally prepared for baseball

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: John Baker on getting mentally prepared for baseball

Former Cub and now Cubs mental skills coach  John Baker joins the podcast with David Kaplan and Gordon Wittenmyer to discuss the mental aspect players are going through in the return to play. They dive into keeping players focused, how the lessons of late Cubs psychologist Ken Ravizza still impacts the team and how the Cubs are operating under the new guidelines.

(2:23) - Biggest mental challenges Cubs players are dealing with

(10:55) - Ken Ravizza's lessons still impact the Cubs

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

(19:46) - Getting Cubs players to be in the moment when playing

(25:00) - Kaplan and Baker exchange tattoo stories

(30:30) - Not having fans around has been tough

Listen here or below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs' Adbert Alzolay complains about South Bend conditions but comments misleading

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USA TODAY

Cubs' Adbert Alzolay complains about South Bend conditions but comments misleading

Cubs right-hander Adbert Alzolay made waves on Thursday tweeting (now deleted) about the conditions for players at the club’s alternate training site, hosted at the South Bend Cubs facility.

Alzolay and the 10 other players in South Bend are eligible for this season but will remain inactive unless need arises on the big league roster. He tweeted the players make $18 a day — or $10, when accounting for “dues” the players owe, while possibly tipping clubhouse attendants.

Whether it was a miscommunication by someone with Alzolay, the actual amount the players get is $25 and no dues are deducted from that. The option to tip clubhouse attendants is up to players individually. Through Summer Camp, the 11 Cubs in South Bend will also receive two packaged meals a day at the complex.

Once the regular season starts (July 23, per MLB’s arrangement for the 60-game campaign), the alternate site Cubs will receive $50 a day in meal money, instead of what was originally proposed because the Cubs proposed higher daily meal money.

Players will receive full salaries beginning July 23, per MLB’s agreement, and minor leaguers are being paid in the meantime. Six of the 11 Cubs in South Bend are not on the 40-man roster, and they will continue receiving $400 a week. Those on the 40-man (including Alzolay) received advanced salaries, per MLB’s agreement with the MLBPA in March.

Alzolay received $30,000 from that agreement.

Additional important context is the South Bend facility is one of the best in minor league baseball — with housing for the players nearby. The players are residing at new apartments that opened in December right outside the ballpark. They aren’t being charged for those apartments through Summer Camp, and the Cubs will subsidize many of the players in South Bend once the regular season starts. 

MORE: Where Cubs could find position of strength in 2020: South Bend

Alzolay later tweeted an update on the matter.

In wake of José Quintana’s thumb injury, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the Cubs haven’t decided if Alzolay will join the Wrigley Field training group.

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