Blackhawks

Garza vows Cubs will keep fighting

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Garza vows Cubs will keep fighting

Matt Garza tries to vent his frustrations behind closed doors and away from the cameras. He directs the anger toward himself and never shows up teammates.

If this is getting old, Garza wont say it out loud. He wants the responsibility on his shoulders, and believes he should finish whatever he starts. That fire is one reason why the Cubs think he could be a building block.

This one definitely appeared headed toward It is what it is, man territory, with Garza shrugging off another hard-luck decision in the interview room. The story changed late Monday night in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley Field.

Pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair worked a 12-pitch walk against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. Geovany Soto didnt swing and walked on four pitches.

An ex-Cardinal, Joe Mather, came through with the clutch hit, a two-out, two-run single up the middle that lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 walk-off victory they hope will be a jumpstart.

Just like that, Mather was getting the Gatorade bucket poured over his head and a shaving-cream pie pushed into his face. And Garza, who loves stuff like that, had to smile: That was one hell of a game.

Even with Albert Pujols out of the picture, the gap between the Cubs (5-12) and Cardinals (11-6) seems to be growing. No one else in the National League Central is above .500, and the last-place Cubs are six games out already.

If the Cubs are going to hang around this summer, it will be with their starting pitching. Garza went seven innings and allowed two runs, keeping them within striking distance.

My job is to go out there and take my team as deep (as) I can, Garza said. But enough about me. These guys played hard for nine. We didnt quit. And down to the last out, we just kept fighting and fighting.

Thats just a little more growth right there for our young club. Thats a huge step forward for us.

When Theo Epstein was asked earlier this month if the teams performance would impact what the Cubs might do with Garza, the team president simply said: No.

You can see someone who likes the big stage and clearly feels at home. In Garzas last 14 starts at Wrigley Field dating back to June 27 of last season he has a 1.84 ERA and has allowed three runs or less in each of those outings.

Garza only got into trouble in the fourth, which began with Skip Schumakers infield single and Matt Holliday lining a double to left. The Cardinals manufactured their two runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly and Garza got a little wild (hit batter, wild pitch, two walks). But it didnt become the big inning.

Hes a big-time, big-game pitcher, manager Dale Sveum said. He put himself in that situation, but it was more pitching to the lineup. He didnt let some guys hurt him. He knew the pitcher (Jaime Garcia) was coming up and thats just having a good head on your shoulders.

Seven times last season Garza left with the lead and didnt factor in the decision. This one looked like a loss until the final at-bat. The Cubs hope its a sign of things to come.

You sure hope so, Sveum said. Obviously, things havent gone that well at home. To do that off one of the best closers and the world champions is always a big springboard.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: LW Matthew Boldy

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NBC Sports

2019 NHL Draft Profile: LW Matthew Boldy

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Matthew Boldy

Position: Left wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 192 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"Big winger, great shot, highly skilled. I think what he brings is size, the shot, and he has a deceptively good two-way game."

NHL player comparable: David Pastrnak

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks are likely leaning toward drafting a center or defenseman with the No. 3 overall pick, but Boldy is an intriguing prospect because he’s drawn comparisons to Marian Hossa. And that’s a player the team has missed over the last two seasons.

Boldy is one of the most complete players in this draft class, and already has the size to play in the NHL. He’s a great skater, responsible in his own end, can play in any situation and can really play any style. Boldy might be a year away from making the jump to the pros, but he's going to be a player the you never have to worry about on the left side.

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Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.