CSN to replay Wood's 20 strikeout game, Humber's perfect game

CSN to replay Wood's 20 strikeout game, Humber's perfect game

COMCAST SPORTSNET TO REPLAY KERRY WOODS 20 STRIKEOUT GAME & PHIL HUMBERS PERFECT GAME DURING THE ALL-STAR BREAK

Chicago, IL (July 5, 2012) -- Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, will be providing fans of both teams with a special treat during the All-Star break as the network will re-air a pair of historic Chicago baseball pitching gems: Kerry Woods 20-strikeout performance from 1998 and Phil Humbers stellar perfect game from this past April. Note the following details

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11

7:00 PM Cubs Classics: Kerry Woods 20 Strikeout Game (from May 6, 1998) In just his fifth career start, Kerry Wood entered the halls of baseball history with one of the most dominant, single game pitching performances on record. Facing the visiting Houston Astros, Kid K threw a one-hit, complete game shutout, allowing just two baserunnersbut his MLB record-tying 20 strikeouts was the big story, as Wood mowed the opposition down from start to finish, including striking out eight of the last nine batters he faced. When the season ended, Wood was named the 1998 National League Rookie of the Year.
(SPECIAL NOTE: Kerry Wood will be along to provide brand new commentary coming in and out of breaks throughout this entire replay telecast.)

THURSDAY, JULY 12

7:00 PM White Sox Classics: Phil Humbers Perfect Game (from April 21, 2012) In his second start of the 2012 season (and just his 30th career start overall), Phil Humber became just the third White Sox pitcher in franchise history -- 21st in MLB history -- to throw a perfect game. A monumental performance throughout this game in Seattle, Humber retired all 27 batters he faced (and never needed more than 14 pitches, to get through a single frame) in his first-ever complete game shutout. In addition to receiving a congratulatory phone call from President Obama, Humber was also named the American League Player of the Week for the week ending April 22.

Coming up on Comcast SportsNet

INSIDE LOOK: A.J. PIERZYNSKI debuts this Saturday, July 7 at 7:00 PM

THE BATTERS BOX (episode 2) debuts this Sunday, July 8 at 3:30 PM (following Cubs Post Game Live)

WHITE SOX close out the first half of the season this weekend with a home series against the Toronto Blue Jays (Friday at 6:30 PM on CSN; Saturday at 2:30 PM on CSN)

CUBS head into the All-Star break with a three-game set at the NY Mets (Friday at 6:00 PM & Sunday at 11:30 AM on CSN)

In addition, viewers are also urged to visit Comcast SportsNets newly-enhanced website, CSNChicago.com, for the very latest White Sox & Cubs news, game previewsrecaps, Insider reports, talent blogs, videos and much more, available 247.

Joe Maddon has no choice but to ignore noise and put his faith in young Cubs lineup

Joe Maddon has no choice but to ignore noise and put his faith in young Cubs lineup

LOS ANGELES – Right around the time Theo Epstein was asked when the Cubs might consider sending Kyle Schwarber down to Triple-A Iowa, Ian Happ became the new shiny object for fans and the Chicago media.

In less than 200 at-bats, Schwarber went from World Series legend to dropping from the leadoff spot to being a platoon player to getting shipped away in a fantasy-baseball trade for pitching. 

Unless the Cubs moved Javier Baez, because Gold Glove-caliber middle infielders on a 25-homer, 90-RBI pace just fall from trees. Not to mention someone already proven on the biggest stages as a National League Championship Series co-MVP and World Baseball Classic star.

Even Happ is coming back down to earth as the league adjusts to him. Still, Cubs manager Joe Maddon has no choice but to block out the noise, trust all this young talent and believe in the players who delivered last October.    

“The best I can do is talk to the player himself, which I’ve done with ‘Schwarbs,’” Maddon said before Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium, staying upbeat and in character after back-to-back shutouts. “That’s just the nature of the industry. That’s a part of it that makes it so much fun, too, for the fan, the fact that they can interact and throw out their conjecture like that. 

“Internally, it has nothing to do with how we react to anything. And you have to talk to the player, because he’s always feeling these outside sources pressing down on him. He really shouldn’t, but they’re human beings. 

“How do you prevent that from really infiltrating? It’s just conversation with the guys themselves. That’s about it. You ask the player to really not pay attention and listen to that. 

“But, again, with all the tablets and the different sources available to follow what’s going on, it’s almost inevitable they’re going to hear or read something. So you got to stay positive with them. And we have to have that conversation with them to maintain their confidence.”

The Sunday lineup constructed to face Clayton Kershaw featured eight position players between the ages of 22 and 27: Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Happ, Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras, Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr.

A team built around offensive firepower woke up that morning ranked eighth and ninth in the NL in runs scored (231) and OPS (.736). A .222 batting average with runners in scoring position placed the Cubs 15th out of the NL’s 15 teams. “The best explanation I can offer is that we’re hitting young,” Maddon said. “You look at the end of last season and how well a lot of the guys that are struggling right now performed under those circumstances. I believe we’re going to come back and do that.

“In the meantime, they need our support. They need our conversations, so nobody’s left in the dark or wondering what everybody’s thinking about around here. They need openness. And if you get that, they’ll come back.” 

[MORE: The learning curve for Ian Happ]

The Cubs have bigger problems, like an inconsistent rotation that has kept this team hovering around .500 and prevented any real sense of momentum. This is still largely the same group of hitters that beat Johnny Cueto, outlasted Madison Bumgarner, eliminated Kershaw and wore down Corey Kluber during last year’s World Series run.

“They’ll get it together,” Maddon said. “We haven’t even come close to hitting that real offensive ‘go’ moment. We haven’t been there and we’re still paddling pretty well. That moment’s coming. 

“Whether it’s Happ making adjustments, Contreras making adjustments, Addison making adjustments, these guys were pretty good at the end of last season in some really difficult moments, so they’ll be back.”

The learning curve for Ian Happ and how long Cubs will stick with the rookie

The learning curve for Ian Happ and how long Cubs will stick with the rookie

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs tried to downplay expectations at first with a top prospect, framing Ian Happ’s promotion from Triple-A Iowa as a short-term solution for a roster facing multiple injury issues.  

And then Happ blasted a two-run homer off Carlos Martinez – an All-Star/Opening Day starter for the Cardinals – in his big-league debut on May 13 and kept hitting to the point where he made it an easy decision for the Cubs to keep him around.

After the initial burst – seven extra-base hits in his first eight games – the Cubs have watched Happ go 2-for-16 with eight strikeouts in his last five games against the pitching-rich Giants and Dodgers.

How much patience will the Cubs have with a rookie learning on the job? And what is manager Joe Maddon looking to see now?

“How he reacts to bad moments,” Maddon said before Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium, where the Cubs had been held scoreless for 18 straight innings. “If a guy starts kind of losing his mind a little bit, then you might have to back off of him. But if he’s able to handle the adversity well, then you kind of stay with it.

“I expect them all to struggle at different times. He’s probably done as good of a job adjusting over the last couple days to the way we’ve been pitched at as well as anybody.

“I have no preconceived notions of how long to stick with somebody or not. I think it’s up to the player and how you react to the bad moments.

“Because everybody looks good when they’re going good. How do you look when you’re going badly? That’s what really sets a guy apart. So far, I think he’s handled it really well, and he looked good at second base, too. The arm strength really plays there.”

This hasn’t changed Happ’s stone-faced expression or stopped him from making an impression with his athleticism on the bases and that ability to move between the infield and multiple outfield spots.  

[MORE: With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base]

Happ is also a good student who analyzes video and notices how teams have gone from challenging him with off-speed stuff during his first week in The Show to firing more elevated fastballs in the second week.  

“With all the information that’s disseminated these days, the league adjusts to you quickly, and it’s your job to adjust back,” Happ said. “It’s just always being on top of the way that you’re being pitched and constantly making adjustments to continue improving.”

As Maddon likes to say, all the shiny new toys and Big Data breakthroughs have favored pitching and defense, making it harder than ever for young hitters. 

“Obviously, the ability to scout the other team and break him down is much greater than it ever was,” Maddon said. “Back in the day, it was like a dude back there with a chew goes back to his room tonight and he recaps his notes that he took during the course of the day: ‘Down and away, up and in. Play him with a step to the pull side.’ That was the advance scouting reports. Now it’s broken down to the point where you actually have pertinent information.

“My point is Happ shows up on the scene. They start jumping in there and they probably could gather some intel from the past. And all of a sudden, they got a much better game plan. Now it’s up to him to adjust.”