Cubs, Zambrano continue series vs. D'Backs

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Cubs, Zambrano continue series vs. D'Backs

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 12:17 p.m.

Associated Press

Ryan Dempster had a first-inning meltdown during the Chicago Cubs' series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Carlos Zambrano's personal-best winning streak came to an end thanks to a similar situation during his most recent outing.

Looking to bounce back, Zambrano takes the mound for the visiting Cubs as they continue a four-game set with the Diamondbacks on Friday night.

Dempster gave up seven runs and lasted a career-low one-third of an inning in Thursday's 11-2 loss at Arizona (11-13) - Chicago's season-worst fourth straight and sixth in seven games.

"That was not how I drew it up," said Dempster, as the ERA of the Cubs' starting rotation increased to a major league-worst 6.39.

Chicago, (10-14), averaging 2.8 runs during its skid, has scored three runs or fewer in seven of 10 games.

Aramis Ramirez had hit safely in 11 of 12 contests prior to going 0 for 3 Thursday, dropping his average to .314. Carlos Pena, signed in the offseason to provide some power in the middle of the lineup, went hitless in four at-bats and is 1 for 21 (.048) over his last seven games.

Pena, who had averaged 36 home runs over the previous four seasons with Tampa Bay, has failed to go deep in his first 21 games.

Meanwhile, Zambrano (2-1, 5.28 ERA), who went 10-0 from Aug. 14-April 18, saw his impressive run end with Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed season worsts of six runs - five in the first frame - and eight hits over five innings.

"Pitching in the first inning wasn't good. My sinker was not good, but other than that I was able to throw five innings," Zambrano said. "I knew sooner or later I was going to lose a game, unfortunately it was (Friday).

"I enjoyed the winning streak a lot, but it's over with. Let's get another win on my next time and I'll be ready for that."

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA over five career starts against Arizona, all on the road. While Zambrano has won eight straight starts as the visiting pitcher dating to last season and recorded a 2.56 ERA, he's given up nine runs in 11 2-3 innings over two outings away from Wrigley Field in 2011.

He'll also face a Diamondbacks offense thriving at home.

Arizona has won four of five at Chase Field and leads the NL with 81 runs at home. They reached double digits for the fourth time Thursday thanks largely to Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero.

Drew went 3 for 5 and hit his first-career grand slam en route to a career-best five RBIs. Montero also homered and drove in three.

Drew is batting .333 in his last 12 games against the Cubs while Montero is hitting .391 over a six-game hitting streak in the series.

Diamondbacks scheduled starter Armando Galarraga (3-1, 6.00), whose eight home runs allowed are the second most in the NL behind Dempster's nine, had won his first three starts of the year before surrendering six runs - two earned - and a season-worst four walks in three innings of Sunday's 8-4 loss at the New York Mets.

"Armando didn't throw the ball like he wanted to," manager Kirk Gibson said of the right-hander, who is 2-0 lifetime against the Cubs despite a 5.54 ERA.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

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Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."

CSN Chicago will live stream Cubs, White Sox games in 2017

CSN Chicago will live stream Cubs, White Sox games in 2017

CSN will live stream Cubs and White Sox games plus pre and postgame shows throughout the 2017 season.

This is thrilling news for all Chicago baseball fans and comes at an absolutely perfect time for a Cubs fanbase that will spend the rest of the year reveling in the 2016 World Series championship.

White Sox fans will also gain more opportunities to get up-close looks at the future as the South Siders continue on with their rebuild.

Both teams and the pre and post shows will be streamed on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

CSN already streams Bulls and Blackhawks games and pre/post shows.

"We are thrilled to launch live streaming of our Chicago White Sox and Cubs telecasts beginning this MLB season," said Phil Bedella, Vice President/General Manager of CSN Chicago. "With live streaming currently offered for our Bulls and Blackhawks telecasts, the addition of MLB streaming further illustrates our commitment to provide our viewers with the most in-depth and compelling Cubs and White Sox content in and out of the home and on any device."

The complete CSN broadcasting schedules for Cubs and White Sox telecasts will be released over the next couple weeks.

"We are very pleased that our partners at CSN will be able to provide fans with the opportunity to watch the White Sox anywhere," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for fans to watch their White Sox, regardless of where they are or what they are doing.  Sports fans deserve to see all the action all season long."

"After such a historic season, we are thrilled Cubs fans will be able to stream games on their choice of device, either inside or outside the home," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. "This access has been years in the making for our fans, but the timing is awfully good given the excitement around the 2017 campaign."

For more information, check out the complete press release.