LIVE: Johnson RBI puts Cubs above Mets

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LIVE: Johnson RBI puts Cubs above Mets

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011
Posted: 10:20 a.m.
Associated Press
It has taken some time, but Chicago's Randy Wells is finally starting to pitch like he did as a rookie two years ago.

Wells looks to extend his career-best winning streak to six games when he takes the mound for the Cubs against the New York Mets on Saturday at Citi Field.

Wells (7-4, 4.86 ERA) got off to a brutal start to the season, missing two months with a right forearm strain and owning a 6.16 ERA at the end of July, but he has been sharp for Chicago (62-82) since. The right-hander has posted a 0.83 ERA while winning his last three starts and is 5-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last seven.

Wells allowed one run and seven hits in six innings of a 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

"Better late than never," Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website. "He picked up right where he left off from August. Let's see if he can't finish that way."

Wells will now try to win four consecutive starts for the first time since July 18-Aug. 3, 2009. He finished his rookie season with a 3.05 ERA - 10th in the NL - but followed that up with a disappointing 2010, going 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA.

"People keep asking me about who I was in 2009," Wells said. "I wasn't any different in 2010. It was just a tough year. Things just didn't go my way."

Wells, 0-1 with a 3.06 ERA in three career starts versus the Mets (71-73), will be facing them for the first time this year.

New York starter Chris Capuano (10-12, 4.63) was also experiencing a bit of a renaissance before taking a step back in his last outing.

After yielding two runs while striking out 17 over 16 innings in his final two starts of August, Capuano permitted six runs and eight hits Monday in four innings of a 9-3 loss to Florida. The left-hander failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time in his 27 starts.

"It was frustrating. I could never settle into a good rhythm," Capuano said. "The ball was kind of flat and up a little bit. I just really couldn't make that adjustment."

Capuano has posted a 1.42 ERA while winning his last six starts against the Cubs, but hasn't started against them since 2007, while pitching for Milwaukee.

Chicago third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who hit his team-leading 34th double in Friday's series-opening 5-4 loss, is batting .324 with a homer and two doubles in 34 career at-bats against Capuano.

The Mets handed the Cubs their 12th defeat in 18 games Friday, as Justin Turner doubled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning. New York, all but mathematically certain to miss the postseason for a fifth straight year, rallied after giving up the tying run in the top of the ninth to win for the 11th time in 16 games.

"Regardless of where you're at, those are always exciting," outfielder Jason Bay said.

Bay, who doubled twice Friday, is batting .444 with three homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak after batting .089 with two doubles and two RBIs in his previous 15 games.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Washington Nationals today, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (5-4, 3.83 ERA) vs. Joe Ross (4-3, 5.40 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

Jake Arrieta doesn’t see fractures forming in Cubs clubhouse

Jake Arrieta doesn’t see fractures forming in Cubs clubhouse

WASHINGTON – An erratic, distracted, disconnected Cubs team got a pregame Moment of Zen at Donald Trump’s White House on Wednesday afternoon, a smaller group of players, staffers and executives going back to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the second time in less than six months to celebrate their World Series championship.    

The Cubs showed up at Nationals Park and of course had new Joe Maddon T-shirts folded all over the chairs in the visiting clubhouse: “Embrace the Suck” superimposed on the Captain America shield. Miguel Montero’s locker was completely empty after injecting some truth serum into the group media sessions where the Cubs almost always insist that everything is fine and will be all right in the end.

But the Cubs are at an awkward, sensitive point here, 39-39 after an 8-4 loss to a first-place Washington team that saw reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant leave the game with a sprained right ankle and veteran pitcher John Lackey give up all eight runs as his ERA ballooned to 5.24.

Paying $7 million to make Montero go away won’t magically solve the problems. Even the guy who Montero targeted late Tuesday night after the Nationals stole seven bases didn’t really have a problem with the message or the messenger. 

“I’m sad to see him go,” Jake Arrieta said. “I love Miggy. As you guys know, he’ll say some things from the heart, the way he feels. He’s open and honest. That’s the way Miggy is. He regretted what he said. He felt bad about it. I told him that I’m not upset or mad at him. I didn’t even really see the comments, and I don’t care what they were. 

“I know what it was about – and there was a lot of honesty there. I didn’t do him any favors. I was slow to the plate and (Trea) Turner’s one of the fastest guys in baseball, so it just makes it look worse than it was. It’s unfortunate it had to happen that way, but it is what it is.”

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Arrieta took his teammates along for the ride when he transformed into a Cy Young Award winner in 2015. Montero had trouble hiding his frustrations with Maddon and diminished playing time, not exactly pumped about the idea of wearing a onesie on an overnight flight from the West Coast. Montero wound up catching Arrieta’s no-hitter that unforgettable night at Dodger Stadium.    

The clubhouse vibes now aren’t necessarily awful – to use a Maddon term to downplay the injuries that have decimated the roster – but something is clearly off here.  

“It’s been slightly different, honestly, just because we’ve been up and down so frequently this season,” Arrieta said. “As soon as we get on a roll, we kind of hit the skid. We win two, lose two, win one, lose one. It’s just been this back and forth sort of rollercoaster that we’ve been dealing with. 

“As far as the guys in here, everybody gets along great. We got good relationships. Sometimes, there can be a lull in the dugout from time to time. That’s just kind of the nature of the back and forth that we’ve had, ups and downs. 

“But we’re all on the same page. We know that we need to tighten some things up. And it’s not just in one area. We’ve pitched well at times. We’ve swung the bats well at times. 

“Obviously, last season we were able to kind of collectively do all of that at the same time. That’s what we’re searching for. We’re trying to find that consistency on both sides of the ball.” 

The ironic part is that Montero clung to the idea of being Arrieta’s personal catcher last season, hoping that connection would prevent him from getting bumped off the playoff roster, and now it got him designated for assignment.        

“I don’t think either way it would have fractured the clubhouse,” Arrieta said. “There are certain things that are handled behind closed doors, but Miggy wears his heart on his sleeve. That’s one of the main reasons we all liked him. But we’re going to move forward from this and embrace the guys that are here.”