Chicago Cubs

Colvin gives Cubs walk-off win over Padres

449026.jpg

Colvin gives Cubs walk-off win over Padres

Monday, April 18, 2011Posted: 10:10 p.m. Updated: 11:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs came storming out of the dugout as if they had just won a playoff game, hopping around home plate. It felt like a raw October night 34 degrees at first pitch and wind strong enough that Geovany Soto could feel his eyes watering.

Teammates mobbed Soto after he sprinted from first base on Tyler Colvins two-out, pinch-hit double into the right-field corner. Just like that, it suddenly ended in the 10th inning, a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.

That was the best feeling in the whole world right then and there, Soto said. We wanted to get out of there so badly.
WATCH: Soto's comments on the frigid weather

Really, there was no end in sight. Colvin had been hitless in his last four games and went 3-for-24 on the just-completed road trip. He was pressing and had trouble catching up to the fastball. He lined a 92 mph sinker from Padres reliever Chad Qualls and the celebration was on.

You got to have your confidence, Colvin said. You got to go up there knowing youre going to hit. Thats the way I have to approach it.

WATCH: Colvin on his big hit

It has been that way for the 8-8 Cubs, who have hit the .500 mark eight different times already, the first time theyve opened the season like that in 81 years.

Getting traction in the standings and with fans hasnt been easy. The attendance was announced at 36,597, though there were nowhere near that many bodies in the ballpark. Even Carlos Zambrano walked into the interview room afterward and twisted his head to try to get a look at the Bulls score.

For all the talk across the years about getting rid of Zambrano, were left with this question: Where would the Cubs be without him?

On a pitching staff filled with question marks, Zambrano has been the one carrying the rotation. He gave the Cubs eight scoreless innings and snapped the teams streak of 11 consecutive games without a quality start. He did it without wearing long sleeves.

Thank God that everything is going good for me, Zambrano said. Ive been working hard. Ive been doing whatever it takes in between starts to win, to be ready for every game. We needed this one.

WATCH: Zambrano on the magnitude of this game

Zambrano has not lost a game in almost 10 months, since the Cubs told him to leave U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 and get into anger-management counseling. He seems to have come out of it in a much better place.

Even in showing up Mike Quade last week, Zambrano demonstrated another level of maturity by immediately apologizing for walking off the mound before the manager got there.

Zambrano didnt try to shift the blame elsewhere. And there was absolutely no rush to get him out of this game as he commanded his fastball and dropped breaking pitches down into the zone. He retired the final 13 Padres he faced and struck out three in a row at two different points.

He stayed calm, Soto said. He stayed within his game.

And as Zambrano neared his 10th and final strikeout, the crowd rose to its feet, getting loud even with Wrigley Field about half-empty.

I love these fans, Zambrano said. Theyve been there for me. When I do badly, theyve been there for me, too. But that gets me going, believe me.

I dont like to screw it up. I just want to go out there and win. Every time I heard something from the crowd, I felt motivated.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol combined to shut down the Padres (7-9) across the final two innings. These are the types of games you have to endure in Chicago in April. Maybe it can be a springboard for an inconsistent team looking to get hot.

I believe in this team, Zambrano said. I believe that we can get on a streak and win 10, 15 games in a row. We can do it. If we can keep winning series, (then) when the winning streak comes were going to be in a good position. We have a great team. Its up to us.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Justin Wilson isn’t running away from big moments with Cubs: ‘I want the ball’

justin_wilson.jpg
AP

Justin Wilson isn’t running away from big moments with Cubs: ‘I want the ball’

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs have tried to find lower-pressure spots for Justin Wilson to work on things and rebuild his confidence without publicly burying a lefty reliever they specifically targeted before the July 31 trade deadline.

Both manager Joe Maddon and team president Theo Epstein have given Wilson the vote of confidence, though the real test will be whether or not the Cubs actually trust him in the playoffs.

“It’s an open book of communication here,” Wilson said. “We talk. I’ve talked to them and said: ‘Hey, I’m going to get right. I want the ball. I just want to keep getting back out there.’”

Even after All-Star closer Wade Davis blew his first save in more than a year, the Cubs could find big-picture optimism about their bullpen because Wilson got four outs during Saturday’s 4-3 10-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

“How good was that?” Maddon said. “That’s really something looking forward. He made a nice adjustment out there. It looked really good from the side. If we get that out of him, that could be a huge difference-maker for us.”

That was the idea when the Cubs made Wilson their headliner in the package deal with catcher Alex Avila and reinforced the bullpen for another World Series run. Wilson closed for the Detroit Tigers, notching 13 saves for a bad team, putting up a 2.48 ERA in 42 appearances and shutting down left- and right-handed hitters.

Wilson – who gave up 16 walks in 40.1 innings for Detroit – allowed 16 walks and 17 hits through his first 14.1 innings as a Cub while putting up a 6.28 ERA.

On a smoking 88-degree afternoon and in front of a loud crowd of 44,067, Wilson faced the top four hitters in the Milwaukee lineup and unleashed 17 fastballs in a row, all of them buzzing around 95-97 mph across the seventh and eighth innings. Wilson struck out Eric Sogard and Neil Walker, forced Ryan Braun to fly out to left field and struck out Travis Shaw swinging.

With stuff like that, the magic number to clinch the National League Central title in the low single digits and another week left in the regular season, the Cubs hope Wilson can figure it out and become the late-inning weapon they envisioned.       

“Clearly, it hasn’t been the same for me from before the trade,” Wilson said. “I just want to keep pitching.”

The Streak ends as Cubs watch Wade Davis finally blow a save: ‘It’s definitely on me’

The Streak ends as Cubs watch Wade Davis finally blow a save: ‘It’s definitely on me’

MILWAUKEE – The efficient, emotionless way Wade Davis did his job helped the Cubs stay afloat during the disappointing first half of this season, a time when late-inning losses could have really damaged the clubhouse and the defending World Series champs might have collapsed.  

Standing at his locker, Davis had the same stone-faced expression on his bearded face after Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 walk-off loss, the third straight 10-inning game the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers have played at Miller Park. Because Davis had been 32-for-32 in save chances this year, the Cubs could appreciate all the heart-pounding action and how this compared to October.  

“We 100 percent won that game today, it seemed like,” Davis said in his monotone voice. “The offense and everything was incredible, coming back twice. It’s definitely on me.”

It was jarring to watch Travis Shaw drive a hanging curveball over the fence in left-center field and into the Milwaukee bullpen. Teammates waited for Shaw at home plate with Gatorade buckets after that game-winning two-run homer, showering him and tearing his jersey apart amid the mosh pit, the Brewers still clinging to their hopes in the National League wild-card race.

The perfect season already ended for Davis in the ninth inning, when Orlando Arcia hammered a misplaced 92-mph fastball that stayed just inside the left-field foul pole and landed in the second deck.

The crowd of 44,067 watched Davis blow his first save since Sept. 2, 2016, which also happened to be his first game back in the Kansas City Royals bullpen after spending more than a month on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow.

“There’s nothing to lament right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Another intensely good baseball game. And they got us at the end. But there’s no way, shape or form to point a finger at Wade.”

Davis wasn’t pointing a finger at Maddon and doing an Aroldis Chapman impression, but the All-Star closer did admit: “My arm was dragging a little bit.”

The Cubs had used Davis five times within the last eight days, including a back-to-back-to-back last weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals and then asking him to get five outs in Thursday night’s 10-inning comeback win over Milwaukee. Until Saturday’s comeback, the Brewers had been 0-54 when trailing after eight innings.  

“I just made a lot of bad pitches,” Davis said, who had converted his last 38 save chances and set a new franchise record to begin his Cubs career/set him up for a big contract this winter as a free agent.

Maddon, who will face another round of bullpen-management questions when the playoffs begin, had Hector Rondon warming up in the 10th inning, but the right-hander threw a scoreless inning on Friday night, his first appearance since Sept. 8 after getting treated for a sore elbow.

“If we did not score when we scored, I would have brought Rondon into the game,” Maddon said. “But once we scored, I put him back out there. It was a pretty easy equation.

“He’s your best guy. There’s no second-guessing whatsoever. He was fine to go back out there.”

What did The Streak mean to you?

“Not much,” Davis said. “I obviously wanted to win today’s game and put us in a better position than we were yesterday. So it kind of stinks, but, you know, move on from it.”

That summed up the entire mood inside the visiting clubhouse, the Cubs pointing to a dominant Kyle Hendricks start (one run in six innings), Justin Wilson auditioning for a trusted role out of the playoff bullpen (four outs) and a resourceful lineup that manufactured offense without hitting home runs.  

“It’s been a hell of a series so far,” Hendricks said.

The magic number to eliminate the Brewers from the division race remains four, while the Cardinals were at five heading into their Saturday night game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs can’t wait to unleash Davis in October.

“There’s no difference between these three games and the games that are going to occur the next month,” Maddon said. “They were absolutely that intense.”