Cubs prevail with extra-inning victory

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Cubs prevail with extra-inning victory

Monday, Sept. 12, 2011
Posted: 12:10 a.m. Updated: 1:35 a.m.

Associated Press

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NEW YORK -- Jason Bay and the New York Mets missed several opportunities to provide a special ending to a moving night.It was hard to complain about the outcome, though.Carlos Pena hit a go-ahead single in Chicago's six-run 11th inning, and the Cubs beat New York 10-6 on Sunday night in a game that ended nearly five hours after the Mets held a touching ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11."It was a little bit different today. Obviously, you could tell the atmosphere was a little bit different. But I think most of us have played in emotional games or seesaw games before," Bay said. "It was actually fun because it was different. Obviously, not fun losing. We had chances but it was pretty special to be a part of."The Mets' disappointing finish came with nearly all of the 33,502 fans - several thousand first responders and their families receiving free tickets - long gone from a game that started at 8:20 p.m. There was a 24-minute pregame tribute to victims of the attacks, their families and many of the first responders that worked tirelessly at the World Trade Center site in 2001.Making just his sixth big league appearance, Josh Stinson (0-1), the Mets' seventh of nine pitchers, walked Marlon Byrd to start the 11th and gave up a single to Bryan LaHair. Pena singled for the lead.Pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney each hit two-run doubles off Ryota Igarashi before the first out, and Geovany Soto added a sacrifice fly."You keep grinding and grinding," Pena said. "It's not easy."New York trailed 4-1 after five innings but scored twice in the sixth off Matt Garza. The Mets tied it with an unearned run when reliever Jeff Samardzjia made a bad throw on Justin Turner's infield single.The Mets loaded the bases in the first, ninth and 10th innings but came up empty each time. Ramon Ortiz (1-2) got David Wright to pop out to end the 10th before the Cubs went ahead in the 11th, eliciting mocking calls from the few remaining to bring in an experienced pitcher when Stinson gave up the go-ahead hit to Pena."As we went through the ballgame, we had the guys at home plate we wanted to have at home plate several times," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But we didn't get it done."The mood was much different before the game. With the stadium lights dimmed and fans holding electronic candles in one hand and many using the other to take photos with their phones, the Mets held a dignified ceremony that included members of the 2001 team that played in the first professional sporting event in New York, 10 days after the World Trade center collapsed.Players from the Cubs and Mets escorted members of "Tuesday's Children," a charity for families affected by the attacks, onto the field, where they lined up among the uniformed emergency-service workers on the first- and third-base lines. A 100-by-300 foot flag was held by 225 first responders and victims' family members from "Tuesday's Children.""It was really, really well done," Collins said. "Even Mike Piazza, standing next to me, said, 'Boy, isn't this beautiful out here. What a nice tribute.' I think he's absolutely right."Marc Anthony sang the national anthem, as he did on Sept. 21, 2001. Piazza, who hit a rousing two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves that night, caught a ceremonial first pitch from John Franco, a teammate on the 2001 squad.There was no uplifting ending this time for New York.The Cubs scored late in each of the three games, losing the opener Friday, but winning the last two to take their first series in New York since 2006."We don't do things the easy way, that's for sure," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "They kept playing, they kept battling."Mets players briefly considered defying Major League Baseball's policy by wearing the caps they wore pregame honoring New York City's emergency-service units during the game."What are they going to do, fine us?" catcher Josh Thole said before deciding against it.Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations, told The Associated Press the decision was made to keep policy consistent throughout baseball and that "certainly, it's not a lack of respect."Between innings, the Mets played videos on the main scoreboard that paid tribute to the recovery efforts. They also thanked the 2001 squad's manager Bobby Valentine, who was not able to participate in the pregame ceremony because he was part of the ESPN broadcast team for the game.American Idol contestant Pia Toscano sang "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch, standing with several uniformed first responders around Major League Baseball's red, white and blue logo that was painted on the grass in front of the Mets dugout.Mets starter Miguel Batista was with the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and made two appearances in the stirring series against the New York Yankees that inspired the city. He threw 7 2-3 shutout innings in Game 5, won by New York in the 12th inning. He also got one out in Game 7.On Sunday, though, the 40-year-old journeyman, making his third start for the Mets, struggled with his command. He walked three in five innings, hit two batters in the third and gave up four runs and five hits.Garza gave up three runs in seven runs, walking three and striking out four.Jason Pridie hit a two-run shot in the 11th.Notes:
Mets reliever Bobby Parnell said his dad, a fire chief in Salsbury, N.C., recently received a piece of steel from the World Trade Center site that will be used in a memorial. ... Quade, who was a coach with the Oakland Athletics when they played the Yankees in the 2001 playoffs, deliberately didn't visit the site on this trip. "I did not want to get angry again," he said. ... Mets LHP Johan Santana will make his third rehab start this week for Class-A Savannah in the South Atlantic League's championship series. He threw three innings in his previous start for Savannah. Collins said he should pitch four innings this time.Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Willson Contreras is playing his butt off right now for first-place Cubs

Willson Contreras is playing his butt off right now for first-place Cubs

This really is becoming Willson Contreras' team.

The dude is absolutely on fire right now and has almost singlehandedly lifted the Cubs back into first place.

Since the All-Star Break, Contreras has crushed four homers and three doubles while driving in 11 runs in just eight games. 

The Cubs have won seven of those games, including Sunday night when Contreras' two-run shot in the sixth inning turned out to be the game-winner that pushed the Cubs into a first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. (The Cubs also won the only game Contreras hasn't started since the Break.)

In the span of nine games, the Cubs have already erased the 5.5 game deficit they had in the National League Central entering the midseason break.

"He's just playing his butt off, literally, right now," Joe Maddon said. "Everything he's doing is pretty darn good. He plays with enthusiasm, also. You gotta feel that in the stands.

"There's some times he might get over-enthusiastic. I prefer toning people down as opposed to pumping them up all the time. He's doing everything. He's hitting fourth, he's catching, he's handling a really good pitching staff, he's throwing people out, he's blocking the ball really well and he's hitting homers, so God bless him."

Contreras' offense has been amazing, but Maddon credits the young catcher's block on a Wade Davis pitch in the dirt last week in Atlanta with helping to save the season. That play helped ensure a victory by not permitting the tying run to score from third base as the Cubs rattled off six straight wins to start the second half of 2017.

It's at the point now where Maddon cannot rationally find ways to get Contreras out of the lineup, even though the veteran manager is a huge proponent of rest and wants nothing more than to keep his players healthy and playing at a high level late in the season and into the playoffs.

Contreras is like the Energizer Bunny out there, hopping all around behind the plate to block balls, throwing guys out, pumping his chest, screaming obscenities at his first base coach after home runs. He even plays long toss (from the warning track in left-centerfield to about the spot the second baseman normally plays) before games with catching coach Mike Borzello.

The 25-year-old just does not turn down for anything when he's at the ballpark.

So does he ever get weary?

"I do get tired, but when I get home," he said. "When I'm here, I'm never tired. This is my job, this is what I love and you're gonna see me like that all throughout my career."

Contreras credits the Cubs coaching staff with helping him make the mental adjustments that has him in the conversation as one of the best catchers in baseball.

"He's growing up," Anthony Rizzo said. "He's really taking control behind the plate, which is nice. His at-bats just keep getting better and better and it's really fun to watch."

Contreras is on pace for 25 homers and 87 RBI, second only to Kansas City's Salvador Perez in both categories among catchers.

"He definitely has the abilities to be one of the elite catchers," Maddon said. "You gotta consider him one of the elite catchers in the National League already. Because he just does everything so well.

"The biggest next hurdle is just — without pulling him in too much — controlling his emotions a tad more without losing that enthusiasm that he has. Really understanding the game and calling the game and working his pitchers. 

"Mike Borzello does a great job with him. He started out this year and wasn't so good — missing his pitches, missing fastballs, fouling stuff off. But he stayed with it and now you see what he's capable of doing. He is really good right now and he's gonna get better."

Jose Quintana reveling in first place vibes after 'overexcited' home Cubs debut

Jose Quintana reveling in first place vibes after 'overexcited' home Cubs debut

Jose Quintana is grateful for his defense and offense picking him up.

That's not something he's used to feeling after years of borderline-laughable run support from the White Sox in games he started.

But as he made his Wrigley Field debut in a Cubs uniform Sunday night, Quintana served up three rockets in a row to the heart of the Cardinals order and all three wound up as outs.

First it was a lineout to Jason Heyward in right field where the Gold Glover leapt in the air and did something of a karate kick while catching the ball.

Another hard liner at Heyward followed before Jedd Gyorko laced a double into the left-centerfield gap. But Kyle Schwarber retrieved it quickly, made a perfect throw to Addison Russell who spun and made a quick throw to Willson Contreras at the plate to nab Matt Carpenter by a mile.

Thus endeth the first top of the first inning for Quintana at "The Friendly Confines."

"At the beginning of the game, he might've been a little overexcited," Joe Maddon said. "He was too quick with all of his actions. The pitches weren't going where he wanted them to go.

"And then I thought he settled in very well. He wasn't as sharp as in Baltimore, but he was good. He was very good."

Quintana allowed three runs on five hits and a pair of walks in six innings, recording the bare minimum requirements for a quality start. He also picked up his second win in as many outings with the Cubs when batterymate Willson Contreras hit a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.

Quintana agreed with Maddon that he was a little over-exuberant in this one.

"Too many emotions for me," he said. "It was one I enjoyed a lot. I was just trying to focus on inning by inning."

This is the first time Quintana has been on a team in the playoff hunt since his rookie season in 2012 when the Sox went 85-77 and missed the playoffs.

With Sunday's win, the Cubs have moved back into a share of first place and Quintana is all about the success.

"That's awesome," he said. "First time. To come into a team like this one and get to first place, that's amazing. I want to keep doing my job."

Now Quintana will have four days to sit back, relax, strap it down and watch the Crosstown Series knowing he won't have to go in and face a bunch of guys who he called teammates just two weeks ago. 

Quintana's next start will come Friday in Milwaukee.

"He's as advertised," Anthony Rizzo said. "Really didn't enjoy facing him. When we played the White Sox, he was the guy I always hoped to miss. To have him here and his demeanor on the mound is awesome."