Cubs commit five errors in loss to Reds

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Cubs commit five errors in loss to Reds

In a game that saw 28 combined hits and fielders scrambling to track down fly balls whipped around by a fierce wind at Wrigley Field, offenses didnt need any help. But the Cubs defense supplied it anyway.
Five different Cubs committed errors, leading to two unearned runs in a 10-8 loss to Cincinnati in front of 36,891 at Wrigley Field.
The Reds scored twice by themselves in the second inning off Cubs starter Justin Germano, and three more (two gifted by the Cubs) in the third, when three Cubs infielders committed an error. It started with sure-handed first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who muffed an easy grounder for just his second error of the season. Ryan Ludwick followed by hitting a two-run homer through the 24-mph wind.
With two outs, third baseman Josh Vitters, making his Wrigley Field debut, received a hard-luck error when a smash by Wilson Valdez ricocheted off his body. Devin Mesoraco then hit a soft grounder to short, but Castro pulled up his glove too soon, allowing another run to score, drawing boos from the crowd. On the next play, Castro cleanly handled a grounder to finally end the inning to a chorus of sarcastic cheers.
Alfonso Sorianos two-run double in the bottom half made it 5-3, but the Reds blew the game open with a three-run sixth, again with help from the Cubs. With one run already in, Drew Stubbs singled and stole second. Catcher Wellington Castillos throw sailed way right of the bag and continued into center field for the Cubs fourth error. Then center fielder Brett Jackson missed the ball, allowing Stubbs to come all the way around to score for an 8-3 Reds lead.
The Cubs made it interesting late, getting RBI-doubles from David DeJesus, Castro and Castillo (who had two of them). After cutting the lead to 9-8, DeJesus reached third as Rizzo came to the plate with two outs. Reds manager Dusty Baker called on lefty reliever Aroldis Chapman, who took care of Rizzo with three fastballs to squash the Cubs comeback. Chapman stayed in for a perfect ninth, earning his 26th save in 30 chances.
Despite all the offense, the Cubs needed fewer mistakes, especially from Castro. In addition to his error, Castro, who has made his share of mental mistakes over his first three seasons, ran himself into an out in the sixth. Vitters lined a single to right, but Castro, who was running on the pitch and was unaware of the hit, slowed down before second base and looked around confusedly. After realizing the ball was put in play, Castro unwisely decided to head for third, and the Reds threw him out easily. Castro then heard boos for the second time in one game.
Germano went 5 23 innings and gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits in his third start for the Cubs.

Jake Arrieta not at his sharpest in Cubs shutout loss to Dodgers

Jake Arrieta not at his sharpest in Cubs shutout loss to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – It’s harder to find perspective when the lights are flashing all around Dodger Stadium and the techno music is thumping and Adrian Gonzalez just launched a two-run homer 429 feet to straightaway center. 

But that’s why Jake Arrieta pays Scott Boras. The super-agent sat in a front-row seat behind home plate on Friday night, watching his client go through another up-and-down start for a Cubs team that needs Arrieta to pitch more like an ace.

It’s easy to lose sight of this during a 4-0 loss where the Dodgers looked more like the team on a mission after getting eliminated from last year’s National League Championship Series.

But Arrieta is someone who has already experienced the low points that made him think about quitting baseball as he shuttled back and forth between the Orioles and Triple-A – and the intoxicating high from ending the 108-year drought and creating so much joy for generations of Cubs fans.

So Boras isn’t buying the idea that Arrieta might be feeling the weight of his upcoming free agency.

“Coming from Baltimore to here and establishing himself in the big leagues was the major arc of his career,” Boras said, “the most difficult moment of illustrating that he is an everyday major-leaguer. The fact that he has the skills, and what he has up here (in his head), the dynamic of winning two World Series games and things like that, I’d say he’s (been) measured. When you win World Series games, that’s the most important thing.

“If you want me to measure pressure, I’d say that’s World Series cojones.”

To get back there, the Cubs will need more consistency from Arrieta, who gave up four runs across six innings to move to 5-4 with a 4.92 ERA.

Arrieta put up nine strikeouts against one walk, but the Dodgers beat his fastball. Gonzalez had gone more than 130 plate appearances this season before notching his first home run in the sixth inning. Chase Utley – the 38-year-old veteran who began the game hitting .204 – also homered off Arrieta in the third inning.

Arrieta has now allowed 10 homers this season. He gave up his 10th in the middle of August last season, when he went through command/mechanical issues and still wound up as an 18-game winner and one of the toughest pitchers to make hard contact against in baseball.

The Cubs are 25-22 and looking at replacing possibly two or three starting pitchers by Opening Day 2018.

“You don’t really think about (it),” Boras said. “When the Cubs come to town, I look at the standings: OK, where are they at? They’re trying to win again. This club’s a good club and you think about what moves they’re going to make to make it better. I think Jake’s total focus has always been about putting himself in a position that few players get to be in, and that is being on a club where you can win more.”

Cubs: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Cubs: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

LOS ANGELES – Joe Maddon doesn’t want to put the platoon label on a young hitter who became a World Series legend before his 24th birthday. But the Cubs manager also isn’t planning to start Kyle Schwarber against left-handers anytime soon. 

“If people want to say that, I can’t avoid it,” Maddon said Friday at Dodger Stadium, where Schwarber sat against lefty Alex Wood, who took a 20.1-inning scoreless streak into this National League Championship Series rematch. “I’m going to do that until I feel good about him, because I don’t want to lay too many at-bats on him in a negative situation.

“If he’s not swinging the bat well against righties, it’s a bad assumption that I’m going to think he’s going to swing it well against lefties. Then I’m just putting him in a deeper hole by throwing him out there, just based on really bad logic.

“I’m just trying to pick his spots right now to get him going. Once he goes, he can play against anybody.”

[MORE CUBS: The 'friendly rivalry' between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman]

Schwarber – who’s hitting .181 with a .656 OPS and 55 strikeouts in less than 200 plate appearances this season – will start Saturday against Dodger right-hander Brandon McCarthy. But even with Clayton Kershaw looming on Sunday, Maddon didn’t want to give Schwarber the entire weekend off, the way Jason Heyward mentally reset last August at Coors Field.

“I don’t think it’s there yet,” Maddon said. “I’ve had good conversations with him. I think it’s a different set of circumstances.”

For the Cubs, this doesn’t really change their overall evaluation of Schwarber as a core player and potentially one of the most dangerous left-handed sluggers in the game. But Maddon has been backing away from the idea of Schwarber as a leadoff hitter, trying to reboot the player who had been such an intimidating postseason presence.

“My concern when the guy is struggling a little bit is you don’t want him to get him too many at-bats,” Maddon said. “It’s really hard to get yourself out of that mental, physical and numerical hole. By not getting him as many at-bats, it will be easy to get back to a number he’s more comfortable with.

“I don’t care about that – I really don’t. I’m looking at his past, process, what he’s doing for the team in regards to on-base, everything else. But for the guy himself, he looks up at the scoreboard and he sees numbers everywhere and they evaluate themselves based on numbers.

“I don’t want him to do that. I just want him to get back into the process of having good at-bats.”