St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals fan attempts to troll Cubs following walk-off loss, Derek Holland claps back

Cardinals fan attempts to troll Cubs following walk-off loss, Derek Holland claps back

Let's get one thing straight: Derek Holland has been owning the Cubs' miserable loss to the Phillies on Twitter for the last 15 hours or so. Holland entered with the bases loaded and one out, allowing a walk-off grand slam to Bryce Harper that might still be flying, at this point.

So, before reading on in this story, realize that Holland is taking responsibility for Thursday night's loss. That certainly is admirable, but the reality is he doesn't deserve all of the blame -- Kyle Ryan, Rowan Wick and Pedro Strop each didn't have their A games on Thursday, either.

With that being said, let's move on to what Holland is owning next: Twitter users attempting to cast negativity his way. The best example comes from a Cardinals fan who made a light-hearted comment in response to one of Holland's tweets.

Holland shut down that slander real quick:

Obviously, Thursday's loss (No. 38 on the road for the Cubs this season) was frustrating for the team and the fan base. There's been too many similar instances this year, and without a chunk of them, the Cubs would have more than a share of first place in the NL Central right now.

As Holland said, though, the Cubs are still in first place. Granted, they're tied with the Cardinals , who have two games in hand. Things could be better on the North Side, but let's not act like the world is ending.

Or, feel free to do so, if that's your thing. The baseball season is long, and the beauty of it is that a team has a chance to bounce back immediately after a tough game. The Cubs have a chance to do just that Friday against the Pirates.

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Cubs release 2020 schedule with some interesting changes

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USA TODAY

Cubs release 2020 schedule with some interesting changes

Mark your calendars now for March 26, 2020, when the Cubs will open up a brand new season of action in Milwaukee against the division-rival Brewers.

Major League Baseball released all the tentative schedules for next year and the Cubs will cross off both openers before the first of April — the home opener is slated for March 30 against the Pirates, so roughly a 40 percent chance of snow baseball. 

Frigid temperatures at Wrigley for early-season games aren't new, but this is the first time ever the Cubs will open a season in Milwaukee. 

The Cubs also are making some big changes with the games at Wrigley Field, as every weeknight contest before Memorial Day and after Labor Day will start at 6:40 pm now. That pushes first pitch up 25 minutes during the school year (which could also help if weather is an issue for early-season games). 

Here are some other notable games on the Cubs' 2020 schedule:

—The Cardinals' first trip to town comes April 10-12 for a three-game weekend series at Wrigley Field. Milwaukee isn't in Chicago until May 11-13 for a mid-week series. 

—The Cubs play the AL East in Interleague matchups in 2020 and that includes a visit from the Boston Red Sox to Wrigley Field in June (19-21). The Red Sox haven't played at the "Friendly Confines" since 2012.

—The Cubs also host the Tampa Bay Rays July 3-5 and have a home-and-home series with former coach Brandon Hyde and the Orioles (in Baltimore April 14-15, in Chicago June 2-3).

—The AL East tour also includes a trip to the Bronx to play the Yankees (June 26-28) and a series north of the border against the Toronto Blue Jays (Aug. 14-16). 

—The Crosstown series will once again be a four-game set, with two games at Wrigley July 20-21 and two games on the South Side (July 7-8). 

—The Cubs finish the year with 10 of their final 12 games at home, including yet another season-ending series with the Cardinals — this time at Wrigley Field Sept. 25-27. 

—The Cubs also play the Cardinals in London June 13-14 and have a pair of off-days before that series plus another one after.

—As far as off-days are concerned, the breaks seem to be spread out more evenly for the Cubs in 2020 compared to this year. The breakdown by scheduled off-days per month:

March: 1
April: 3
May: 3
June: 4
July: 3 (plus All-Star Break)
August: 3
September: 3

Here is the complete 2020 regular season Cubs schedule:

'He has a force field around him': How Javy Baez's creativity continues to spark Cubs offense

'He has a force field around him': How Javy Baez's creativity continues to spark Cubs offense

At this point, nobody's surprised when they see Javy Baez pull his "El Mago" act. 

Amazing play in the field? That's old hat. Swim move slide? C'mon, that's so 2017. Lightning-quick tag? Yawn. 

OK, "yawn" is a complete exaggeration because it never gets old to watch Baez's extreme athleticism. But at some point — years ago — that all had to be added to the scouting report when teams would play Baez and the Cubs, right?

So how does the 2018 NL MVP runner-up continue to force opponents into making so many mistakes on the bases? 

"He has a force field around him, that's the thing," Ian Happ said. "Every time he's on the bases, he seems to get guys to make mistakes and that's because everybody knows he's such a good baserunner. Everyone knows the impact he has — they try a little harder when he's on the bases because you know he can make something like that happen and it forces guys into making mistakes."

Baez — who just celebrated the five-year anniversary of his MLB debut — has shown exactly what Happ is talking about over the last week. 

There was Saturday, when he hustled out of the box on a second-inning liner down the right field line and coasted into third with a triple when Christian Yelich couldn't corral the ball perfectly off the wall. A few pitches later, Baez sprinted home when a ball squirted only a couple feet away from Milwaukee catcher Manny Pina, leading to the Cubs' first run:

It was also the Cubs' only run until the seventh inning of the tightest game of the weekend series and it only occurred because Baez singlehandedly made something happen for his team.

Then there's twice where Baez forced the opposition into making an error on a stolen-base attempt: last Friday against Milwaukee and last Wednesday in St. Louis.

He didn't come around to score on Friday, but the Wednesday incident led to a huge insurance run for the Cubs. In a 1-0 game, Baez danced far off second base and baited Cardinals catcher Matt Wieters into throwing behind him. St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong tried to rush and catch the short-hop in a position to try to throw out Baez at third, and instead missed Wieters' throw and Baez coasted home with some all-important eighth inning breathing room for a team that has struggled to win on the road.

"It's huge," Happ said. "He's a one-man show out there where if he's hitting or if he's on the bases, he can create a run by himself. I was hitting in St. Louis when he did that. He was on second base and I was all excited about driving him in and he got himself home without me even having to swing the bat.

"The stuff that he can do like that to jumpstart the offense and give us instant production without really having to get too many more hits — that's huge."

The Cubs offense has certainly looked better lately — Happ and Nicholas Castellanos are huge reasons why. But it's a small sample size — Happ probably won't post an OPS over 1.000 and Castellanos probably won't hit near .400 for the rest of the season.

But what Baez can do as a "one-man show" can help steal a run here and there for an inconsistent offense, especially as they embark on a crucial road trip in desperate need of better play away from Wrigley Field.

"He's done that for years and it does provide a lift," Joe Maddon said. "Today's game is frowning upon that Three-Musketeerism on the bases — nobody wants to make outs on the bases and there's not a lot of speed in the game per team, so that's part of what's missing. I agree. It'd be nice to have more people in your group that's capable of doing things like that."

Baez only has 9 stolen bases on the season, but he's been plagued by a right heel injury since late May and he's way too valuable to the Cubs to risk injury by running on a consistent basis. However, he doesn't always need to steal a base to help the Cubs with his "force field" approach to running the bases.

"I know when I get on base, the pitcher and catcher and pretty much the whole team is paying attention to what I'm gonna do or what I'm doing," Baez said. "I just keep my head up and see where the ball is gonna go and see what the plan we got against a pitcher. I always try to advance on base or more if I can."