Chicago Cubs

LIVE: Cubs, Padres tied 1-1 in Game 1

450502.jpg

LIVE: Cubs, Padres tied 1-1 in Game 1

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 10:40 a.m.
Associated Press

The San Diego Padres failed to score a run in their series opener at Wrigley Field.

Maybe they forgot that Dustin Moseley wasn't starting until Wednesday afternoon.

The Padres seek to finally give Moseley some support and end their run of futility against Chicago Cubs pitching when the teams play a doubleheader after Tuesday night's game was postponed because of inclement weather.

Carlos Zambrano and a pair of relievers dominated San Diego (7-9) on Monday. The Padres managed five hits - all singles - while striking out 13 times over 10 scoreless innings.

The Cubs finally broke through in the bottom of the 10th, when Tyler Colvin's pinch-hit double off Chad Qualls scored Geovany Soto and gave Chicago a 1-0 victory in windy, 34-degree conditions.

"The whole game you go out there and you're kind of miserable and it's so cold," Soto said. "We wanted to get out of there so badly. We were like, 'Man, all we need is one.' But it was tough to get that one."

Tuesday night's game was postponed because the forecast called for heavy rain and wind chills in the 20s.

"You don't want to play in weather like this," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "Wind and cold are fine. If we didn't have the rain, it would have just been another cool night."

San Diego has been shut out four times this season and also lost 1-0 to the Cubs (8-8) in the teams' final meeting of 2010. The Padres have failed to score in their last 22 innings versus Chicago.

San Diego's other three scoreless performances have all come with Moseley (0-3, 1.83 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander allowed the game's only run in 6 2-3 strong innings Thursday at Houston.

"It's frustrating, but you go out there and do your job and you leave the rest up to the team, and hopefully guys pull through," Moseley said. "Through the first three it hasn't happened, but it's a long year.

"I mean, these guys can start scoring 10 a game for me. We have a great bunch of guys and a lot of good players, and I look forward to those days when they get their swings and confidence and everything is back to where it can be and it will be."

Moseley will be opposed in the opener by another pitcher that hasn't received much support.

Chicago has been shut out the last two times Matt Garza (0-2, 6.27) has taken the mound, and he's allowed five runs in each of those outings.

"It hasn't been a great start for him and he knows that. But he's still working and I still believe he's going to be a (great) pitcher on this club and in this rotation," Quade said.

The right-hander made his only start against San Diego last season, allowing three runs and six hits over eight innings of a 5-3 win for Tampa Bay.

In the nightcap, Aaron Harang will look to win for the fourth time in as many starts for the Padres. Harang (3-0, 1.50) has allowed one earned run over six innings in each of his first three outings, beating Houston 4-2 on Friday night.

"He's pitching with aggressiveness and he's pitching with some confidence," manager Bud Black said. "It's great to see."

Harang is quite familiar with pitching at Wrigley Field after playing for Cincinnati from 2003-10. The right-hander is 5-3 with a 5.01 ERA in 12 starts there, and he's 10-8 with a 4.51 ERA in 24 appearances against the Cubs.

He will be opposed by James Russell (1-1, 7.20), who makes his second start for the Cubs due to injuries suffered by Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner.

The left-hander, who made 57 relief appearances as a rookie in 2010, surrendered five runs and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings in his first start, an 11-2 defeat at Houston on April 12.

"You can only hope it'll go better," Russell told the Cubs' official website. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm not real sure how we'll go about it, but probably go about it the same way as last time."

Russell faced the Padres twice last August, giving up two runs, two hits and a walk over 1 1-3 innings while striking out three.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Get off my lawn: Jon Lester breaks down big Cubs win

Get off my lawn: Jon Lester breaks down big Cubs win

ST. LOUIS – Jon Lester went into get-off-my-lawn-mode, tired of math nerds and people being famous for no reason and the questions about whether or not he will be ready for the playoffs.   

Lester is actually a great talker when he gets going, introspective, self-deprecating and a voice of authority after winning three World Series rings with the Cubs and Boston Red Sox.

But Lester didn’t exactly sound ready to pop champagne bottles after Monday night’s 10-2 win at Busch Stadium eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals from the National League Central race and guaranteed at least a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for the division title.  

Whether it was Lester’s brutal honesty, simmering frustration or high expectations for himself, he downplayed a quality start against a team still battling for a wild-card spot. He also took a subtle jab at the team’s sophisticated game-planning system and ripped the culture that brought us “Nacho Man.”

“I got to get back to being me,” said Lester, who had given up 27 hits and 12 walks in his previous four September starts since coming off the disabled list with what the Cubs termed left lat tightness/general shoulder fatigue. “I got to get back to putting the hitters on a defensive mode, as opposed to trying to pitch to a scouting report from pitch 1.

“That was a conscious effort going into tonight, and I felt a lot better with everything, based off of that.”

Lester attacked the Cardinals with fastballs, working with 4-0, 5-0 and 8-1 leads across six innings. Once again, he found his rhythm later, giving up two walks in the fourth, getting his only 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth and maxing out at 103 pitches.

The Cardinals scored their only run off Lester in the second inning when Jedd Gyorko launched a ball 410 feet out toward left field and “Big Mac Land” – in the same at-bat where shortstop Addison Russell almost made a Derek Jeter catch and turned “Nacho Man” into an instant celebrity.   

“I’m laughing more at the fact that the guy’s taking pictures and signing autographs,” Lester said. “I really don’t know what he did. A guy fell into him and got nacho cheese on his arm and now he’s taking pictures and signing autographs. I guess that shows you where our society is at right now with all that stuff.

“I really didn’t think it was that far foul. I thought it was a pretty routine play that just kept going. And I think it surprised Addie as well. So great effort, but I don’t understand the other stuff.”

Classic Lester, who changed the clubhouse vibe and fundamental nature of this rivalry when he decided to sign with a last-place team after the 2014 season and will be 3-for-3 in playoff seasons as a Cub.

“I don’t know,” Lester said three times when asked if those command issues are rooted in taking more than two weeks off in the middle of the season. “I haven’t had stuff like this before, so figure it out as we go.”

How close are you to where you want to be?

“I don’t know,” Lester said. “I was good tonight, so let’s go with that.”

The Cubs trusted Lester enough to give him $155 million guaranteed and make him their Game 1 starter in all three playoff rounds last year. But the team’s inner circle of decision-makers had to be breathing a sign of relief, knowing that plans will take shape before Lester’s final regular-season start, what should be a meaningless Game 161 against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.  

“He’s just been searching, command-wise, (and) I can’t give you an exact reason why,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We just need to get him out of the gate a little bit more on top of his game. Again, I can’t give you a solid reason. He’s well. The numbers on the gun are good. It’s just a matter of executing his pitches and finishing them.”   

Lester always seems to be so hard on himself on the mound, and that competitive fire has made him one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation. The Cubs expect to see that guy show up in October against the Washington Nationals.   

“Everything was just a little bit sharper today than it has been in a little while, so that’s good, moving in the right direction,” Lester said. “There’s a few things in there that I need to clean up. But as far as overall, it’s definitely a positive."

With no more drama left in division race, Cubs-Cardinals turns into Addison Russell vs. Nacho Man

With no more drama left in division race, Cubs-Cardinals turns into Addison Russell vs. Nacho Man

ST. LOUIS – The Cubs played with an all-out intensity that drove Addison Russell to sprint over from shortstop and dive headfirst into the front-row seats beyond the left-field line, kicking a tray of nachos out of some dude’s left hand.

The St. Louis Cardinals have sunk to the point where Nacho Man became their biggest star on Monday night, going viral on social media and getting interviewed by the Chicago Tribune and both CSN Chicago and Fox Sports Midwest during the in-game broadcasts.

Russell didn’t catch that foul ball in the second inning with a Derek Jeter leap that left his right hand covered in cheese. He got booed when the Busch Stadium video board showed the replay of the nachos hitting the ground. He made amends by bringing out another order of nachos and taking a selfie with the Cardinal fan.

“He had a great night at the ballgame,” Russell said. “Initially off the bat, I was thinking that I could make the play. I didn’t see the fence and collided with it and got all nacho-d up.”

No, this didn’t feel like a playoff atmosphere at all, beginning with the 85-degree heat and ending with entire sections of empty seats. Jedd Gyorko actually homered during that at-bat, but it didn’t matter because the Cubs had already given Jon Lester a four-run lead before he threw his first pitch in what was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for October.

The Cubs will be there as the National League Central champions, eliminating the Cardinals from the division race with a low-stress 10-2 victory that sets up the chance for a blowout party late Tuesday night in the visiting clubhouse with another win or a Milwaukee Brewers’ loss.

“Woof,” catcher Willson Contreras said when asked what it would mean to clinch in St. Louis. “It always means a lot.”

Sensing the opportunity to bury the Cardinals, the Cubs jumped St. Louis right-hander Luke Weaver, a talented rookie who came in with a 7-1 record and a 2.05 ERA and lasted only three innings. Russell – who had been such a clutch performer late in last year’s playoff run – started it by driving a two-out, bases-loaded double into the right-field corner in the first inning.

Kris Bryant, the reigning NL MVP, drove Weaver’s 93-mph fastball beyond the left-field wall and into the visiting bullpen for his 29th homer and a 5-0 lead in the second inning. Javier Baez, the No. 8 hitter, launched a three-run homer that traveled 422 feet and slammed off an advertisement overhang above the bullpen in the third inning.

This is like a dream for Cubs fans enjoying this road trip to St. Louis and trolling Cardinal fans this week (with or without taking their nachos).

“I just want to win, honestly,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I understand all that. But I’m so contrary to coming to try to force those kind of thoughts in my methods. It’s about tonight’s game. And whenever we have this first chance to get there, let’s get there. You never want it to drag out. You want to be able to set things up, so it doesn’t matter to me.

“Believe me, man, I just want to win tonight.”

Or, as 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist said: “The testosterone probably raises a little bit this time of year.”

Get your goggles and trash bags ready. The Cubs are the type of team that designed a Party Room into their state-of-the-art clubhouse as part of the $600 million Wrigleyville development and stretched out their World Series victory lap across Disney World, “Saturday Night Live,” and countless talk shows, commercials and ring ceremonies.

Anthony Rizzo – the only player left from the 2012 team that lost 101 games and a consultant on that Party Room project – insisted that celebrating in front of their rivals at a stadium that used to give the Cubs nightmares wouldn’t make a difference.       

“I really would love to be able to do it at Wrigley and use our new facilities even more,” Rizzo said. “But St. Louis is a good baseball city. They appreciate good baseball.

“If it was there, if it was in Arizona, it doesn’t matter where we clinch. Our goal was to win the division.”  

Even if it took until Sept. 26.

“It’s starting to smell like playoff baseball,” Russell said. “I know that these guys are amped up. It’s definitely feeling like playoff baseball."