Cubs

Joe Maddon explains why Wade Davis didn't pitch in that series-altering 9th inning of Game 2

Joe Maddon explains why Wade Davis didn't pitch in that series-altering 9th inning of Game 2

If it wasn't confirmed before, it is now: Joe Maddon's honeymoon period in Wrigleyville really is over.

The Cubs bullpen held serve with the lights-out Dodgers bullpen for a while, but at the end, all Maddon could do was watch his team lose with Wade Davis sitting in the bullpen, unused, in the ninth inning.

The reigning World Series-winning manager called on John Lackey with two outs in the ninth inning in a tie game against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS. It was the first time Lackey had ever pitched in back-to-back games in his entire 15-year career.

If you're reading this and didn't just wake up from a coma, you already know what happened: Lackey walked Chris Taylor, then served up a game-winning homer to Justin "Tormund" Turner.

Meanwhile, the Cubs' lone All-Star was sitting in the bullpen watching this all go down. 

Why didn't Maddon go to Davis - his best reliever - in the biggest spot in the game?

"'Cause I really just needed him for the save tonight; we needed him for the save tonight," Maddon said. "He had limited pitches, was one inning only. 

"In these circumstances, you don't get him up and then don't get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That's it."

The "circumstances" are the fact Davis gave everything he had to even get the Cubs to this point, getting seven outs in Game 5 of the NLDS Thursday night/Friday morning and throwing 44 pitches. It was his longest outing - both by pitches and outs - since 2013 when he was working as a starting pitcher.

Davis had multiple forearm issues last season and he looked weary down the stretch this year at times as Maddon leaned on him hard during a tight pennant race with the rest of the bullpen struggling to find consistency.

Maddon went in depth later in Sunday's postgame press conference, but obviously the save part will drive Cubs fans mad. You can't get a save if you can't get past that bottom of the ninth inning and if you're gonna go down, might as well go down with your best pitchers on the mound against the other team's best hitters.

"I don't necessarily hold off for the save," Maddon said. "In the situation tonight, coming off of his last performance; the other thing you have to consider: understand, when you have a guy like that coming off the performance that he had, to warm him up and to not use him is equally as bad. 

"To warm him up not put him in the game and then ask him to pitch maybe 2 innings later, that's really not good form. So today/tonight, I really was waiting for the opportunity to grab a lead and then throw him out there. That's really what it was all about. 

"There was no way he was pitching more than one [inning], and that was pretty much it."

Maddon said he liked Lackey against the first guy - Taylor - and was going to have Lackey pitch the next inning too, if it got that far. Maddon pointed out that nobody is a good matchup against Turner, not even Davis, which is true.

But Maddon also isn't the only one to blame for the Cubs' 2-0 hole in the NLCS.

Maddon rightly pointed to the hapless offense - "we've gotta score more than one run" - that looks completely out of sorts this postseason. 

They scored nine runs in Game 5 in Washington, but most of those came off outs and Nationals mistakes. In the other six postseason games, the Cubs have scored a grand total of 11 runs.

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

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AP

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here:

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Brandon Morrow lands on DL after hurting back while taking his pants off

Remember that one time Sammy Sosa threw out his back while sneezing? Well, Brandon Morrow may have topped that on the Cubs all-time list of wacky injuries.

The 33-year-old closer was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game after hurting his back while taking his pants off upon returning from the team's road trip to St. Louis. It's being labeled as "lower back tightness."

"It's frustrating any time you can't get out there, and especially when you can't go because of something stupid like taking your pants off," Morrow told reporters on Tuesday.

And that's put the Cubs pitching staff in a tough spot for the rest of the week, given Wednesday's series finale against the Dodgers is the third game in a little more than 24 hours for the Cubs.

"I don't want to downplay anything," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Obviously he had back spams, he had the same thing in spring training. We'll start treating it the same way we did in spring training; I think he was out about a week to 10 days. If things go as we hope, I think it'd be the kind of thing where he'd probably be able to be throwing before the 10 days is up.

"But we felt like it wasn't going to be something where he was ready this weekend and if he's not going to be ready all weekend, we can already backdate it three days so it made sense to put him on the DL."

Morrow is tied for fifth in the National League with 16 saves and owns a 1.59 ERA is 26 relief appearances this season. Justin Hancock, who served as the 26th man during Tuesday's doubleheader, stayed with the team as a result.