Los Angeles Angels

Kyle Schwarber livid after controversial game-ending call: 'I was a little hot'

Kyle Schwarber livid after controversial game-ending call: 'I was a little hot'

Kyle Schwarber thought he had just worked a walk and instead watched as third base umpire Gabe Morales rung him up on a check swing.

The Cubs left fielder reacted instantly, slamming his helmet on the ground while pointing and shouting at Morales and starting down the third base line.

Teammates Javy Baez and Jason Heyward intervened and manager Joe Maddon went out to plead his case to Morales and the rest of the crew, but the damage was done — the Cubs had lost the game and Schwarber was officially ejected by two umpires.

Here's the full sequence:

"I was a little hot," Schwarber admitted after the game. "I've been able to calm down now. I wasn't the happiest person in the world."

Schwarber had worked the at-bat to a full count against Angels closer Cody Allen before the check swing on the curveball in the dirt. 

The Cubs had runners on second and third and two outs as they trailed by a run, attempting to complete a comeback that saw them score a run earlier in the ninth inning and a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth.

"I took a look at [the replay] and if I didn't go the first time, I didn't go the second time," Schwarber said, referencing an earlier check-swing call in the at-bat where Morales said he did not go around. "If you're not 100 percent sure, you can't call it. Obviously I was frustrated. Who's not gonna be frustrated when they end the game like that and you're that close to sniffing out a run? Frustrating. I just don't think that it was a good call.

"I just didn't like the way it ended. Grinding out an at-bat against that guy. It's a big situation right there and worked him and got in a hitter's count and spit some pitches and then you gotta battle against him. I thought I didn't go and he thought I did."

Replays showed a very, very close call that probably could've gone either way. Had Morales said Schwarber did not go around, the Angels would've been mighty upset. The way this played out, the Cubs were upset.

Maddon didn't think Schwarber went around either, backing his player after the game:

"Everybody's worried about electronic strike zone," the Cubs skipper said. "I want an electronic method to control check swings. That would be much more interesting and I would prefer that. Let the umpires call the game like they always do. Let's figure out a way to control check swings."

Regardless of the call, the Cubs walked 8 batters and gave up 6 runs to an Angels team missing its entire heart of the order — Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton are all hurt and Albert Pujols gave way to Justin Bour at first base with no DH in a National League park.

The Cubs also let another hitter reach on a catcher's interference — the fourth of the season already — and failed to cash in enough in the run column on 9 hits, 7 walks and a crucial ninth-inning error as Angels left fielder Brian Goodwin dropped Jason Heyward's fly ball two batters before Schwarber came to the plate.

The end result is the Cubs' ninth loss in the first 14 games of the season.

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Cubs give Kris Bryant a day off but maintain he's in a 'good place'

Cubs give Kris Bryant a day off but maintain he's in a 'good place'

No, Kris Bryant is not hurt. His absence from the lineup Saturday afternoon has nothing to do with his left shoulder.

"This was part of the three-day in advance lineups and today was his day," Joe Maddon said. "That's it."

OK, so...story over?

Not quite. Bryant isn't hurt, but he is slumping and it's understandable fans go straight to freaking out after the way 2018 went, when the former NL MVP battled the shoulder injury all season that kept him out of the lineup and made him look off at the plate even when he was on the field.

He got off to a hot start in Texas (4-for-13, HR, 2B, 3 BB, 4 RBI) but in April, he's struggled — .205 average, .578 OPS, only 3 extra-base hits (all doubles) and 13 strikeouts in 39 at-bats.

"I had a really good conversation with him yesterday," Maddon said. "He's actually in a good place. Again, just trying to stay in front of all the different maneuvering I like to do this year and make sure that everybody understands why. We talked about it yesterday — he was great. I just want to be proactive. 

"Of course, not going great for him right now, so maybe the day's gonna help him a little bit, but I want these guys to know proactively. I want to give them days off irregardless of the day before being good or bad — this is how it's set up."

Maddon talked about the new lineup communication in detail in spring training. Essentially, instead of giving players the next day's lineup the night before, he now plans out lineups for the series in advance and lets everybody know before the first game of that series. 

So Bryant knew he had Saturday off Thursday night, before the series with the Angels even kicked off.

As long as his shoulder's OK and otherwise healthy, we can all write this off as just another slump for Bryant. And hey, at least this valley hasn't come anywhere near Chris Davis territory (who ended his 0-for-54 stretch with a hit Saturday). 

Bryant's tough start is not ideal given the way last year played out, but he and the Cubs insist he's not pressing or trying to do too much at the plate. So eventually we should see him get back to the hitter he was from 2015-17 when he slashed .288/.388/.527 (.915 OPS).

"[He's working] just like he always has," Maddon said. "I watch him — the work is exactly the same. I talked to him yesterday, he says he feels great at the plate. I listen to the guys, I watch. 

"Of course, you're not seeing the contact that you're used to seeing, but I know a couple years ago, he went through a really awful moment and came out on the other side of it, too. It's early. ... I just continue to encourage and believe he's gonna come out of it relatively soon."

The Cubs still have more than 90 percent of the season remaining and with a day off Saturday to reset mentally, another possible day off Sunday with terrible weather scheduled for Wrigley Field and then a trip to Miami against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball might be the right recipe for Bryant to bounce back. 

Even though he's not hitting the ball with authority the way everybody expects him to, Bryant has still reached base safely in all but two games so far in 2019. He's finding ways to help the team even when he's not putting the ball over the fence or into a gap.

"We have been taught so much in our game to evaluate yourself by wearing your batting average on the sleeve of your shirt," Maddon said. "Too many guys live and die by that number or how that's going. But there's so many other different ways to help us win today that he's capable of because he has all these tools in the toolbox. So that's what I try to impress upon him."

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Albert Pujols trivia – with a Cubs flavor


Albert Pujols trivia – with a Cubs flavor

Albert Pujols spent eleven seasons with the Cardinals, tormenting the division rival Cubs before departing for the Angels ahead of the 2012 season. Believe it or not, this is already his eighth season in Anaheim and he’s already fifth on the Angels career home run list.

Friday, the 39-year-old returned to Wrigley Field, and I couldn’t help digging into some Albert Pujols trivia to mark the occasion.

Pujols now has 57 career home runs against the Cubs, 20 more than any other active player (Ryan Braun is next with 37). Overall, 57 home runs against the Cubs is ninth all-time (Willie Mays leads the way with 92). But remember, the National League was an eight-team league through 1961, a 10-team league through 1968 and a 12-team league through 1992. That means more meetings between the Cubs and each opponent. More opportunities for home runs.

The first time Pujols faced the Cubs (May 11, 2001), the Cubs starting lineup looked like this:

2B Eric Young
3B Bill Mueller
LF Rondell White
RF Sammy Sosa
1B Ron Coomer
C  Todd Hundley
SS Ricky Gutierrez
CF Damon Buford
P  Jason Bere

Don Baylor was the Cubs manager.

Pujols played third base. His first homer at the expense of Cubs pitching came the next day - off Kyle Farnsworth. It was career home run No. 12 of 635.

With his home run on Friday afternoon, Pujols has now homered off 31 different Cubs pitchers. Along with Farnsworth and Cole Hamels, there has been:

Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Rodrigo López, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Jeff Samardzija, Ted Lilly, Glendon Rusch, Bob Howry, Jerome Williams, Matt Clement, Sergio Mitre, Randy Wells, Roberto Novoa, Félix Heredia, Billy Petrick, Michael Wuertz, Carlos Villanueva, David Patton, Rich Harden, Rich Hill, Travis Wood, LaTroy Hawkins, David Aardsma, Shawn Estes, Thomas Diamond, John Grabow and Sean Marshall.

Over the course of Pujols’ MLB career,  393 different players have appeared in a game for the Cubs. Don’t worry, I will NOT list them all. But here are a few: Fred McGriff, Joe Girardi and Eric Karros. The Cubs have had nine managers, including interim managers Rene Lachemann and Bruce Kimm, joining Baylor, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, Ricky Renteria and Joe Maddon

Pujols was the first player born in the 1980s to appear in a Major League game. The first from the 1990s, by the way, was Starlin Castro.

Pujols has faced Jesse Orosco (born April 21, 1957) and Freddy Peralta (born June 4, 1996). Neither pitched for the Cubs, but still… a 39 year gap!  Pujols is 39 years old.

When Pujols made his MLB debut…

  • Wrigley Field was the only NL Central ballpark around that’s still currently in use. Miller Park in Milwaukee opened four days later; PNC Park in Pittsburgh opened seven days later; Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati opened two years later; Busch Stadium opened three years after that.
  • Mark McGwire was the Cardinals starting first baseman, and at the time he still held the single season home run record with 70 (in 1998).
  • Joe Maddon was a coach for the Angels.
  • 27-year-old Theo Epstein had yet to be hired as Red Sox general manager.
  • Albert Almora Jr. was two weeks away from his seventh birthday.
  • The Cubs had only gone 92 seasons since their last World Series win.

And now, the Cubs World Series drought is at a mere two seasons. Meanwhile, Pujols is back homering at Wrigley Field. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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