Chicago Cubs Lineup: Austin Romine Behind the Plate

Sports

bleachernation.com 24 August, 2021 - 02:28pm 8 views

Why was the Cubs game postponed today?

CHICAGO – Tonight's game between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field has been postponed due to inclement weather. ... Separate tickets are required for each game. Fans must exit the ballpark after the completion of the first game. MLB.comTonight's Cubs-Rockies game postponed

Read full article at bleachernation.com

Rockies-Cubs game postponed due to rain; doubleheader coming on Wednesday

Purple Row 24 August, 2021 - 06:11pm

The Rockies will play 2 7-inning games at 12:20 and 4:30 p.m. MT

Due to intense rain and lightning on Tuesday, the Rockies and Cubs game has been postponed. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Wednesday with two seven-inning games at 12:20 and 4:30 p.m.

Germán Márquez (11-9, 3.80 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) was set to start for the Rockies on Thursday night and was going to face off against lefty Justin Steele (2-2, 3.22 ERA, 1.25 WHIP). Both will presumably pitch on Wednesday, as well as Wednesday’s original planned starters - Austin Gomber (9-7, 4.15 ERA) and Zach Davies (6-10, 5.04 ERA).

Trevor Story Says Wrigley Field is a "Special Place," and Would Listen if the Cubs Came Calling in Free Agency

bleachernation.com 24 August, 2021 - 09:40am

Unlike the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies elected not to sell off their walk-year star at the Trade Deadline. And, for as much as the decisions to trade Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez, and Kris Bryant might have generated sadness among Cubs fans, it’s pretty easy to see the merits of those trades.

By contrast, it remains very difficult to understand why the Rockies held onto Trevor Story, knowing full well that an extension isn’t happening. Maybe, because of his relative struggles this year, the offers were all just crummy. Too crummy to make it worth not just hanging onto Story and taking the compensatory draft pick after the season when he declines a qualifying offer. It’d be surprising if the Rockies couldn’t get slightly more than that, but I won’t rule it out.

Anyway, that’s all just background to Story’s visit to Wrigley Field this week, which made for some good talking points at NBC Sports Chicago and The Athletic:

“I can tell you I love playing here. The fans are great. It’s a place you look forward to coming, for sure.”@GDubCub has a Story for the Cubs:https://t.co/Vd3Pq4ZTHV

— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) August 24, 2021

Trevor Story will listen if the Cubs are serious about being big players in the free-agent market and executing a quick turnaround at Wrigley Field: “It’s a special place. When you’re here, there’s something different about it.” https://t.co/we7kJTVOUP

— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 24, 2021

“It’s a special place,” Story said. “I was just talking to our hitting coach, (Jeff) Salazar, about it. When you’re here, there’s something different about it. Here and New York and Boston, in those three stadiums, you just feel a different atmosphere about it. But, yeah, it certainly brings memories back to 2018. It was obviously good for my team. It was electric, man. I feel like that’s what it’s all about playing baseball ….

“From afar, it’s such a historic organization. I love playing here. The fans are great. Just coming here over the last six years, it’s a place you look forward to coming, for sure.”

To me, the message there is less notable for any specifics related to Trevor Story, though I’ll touch on it in a moment. Instead, the main thing to take away is the reminder that other players do very much still view the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field as a destination in free agency. Without a doubt, the money still matters the most. Let’s not kid ourselves, or deny players the right to get as much in free agency as they can possibly get. But sometimes I think Cubs fans get a little too close to things, and come to believe that our own frustrations over decisions the organization have made are shared by players around baseball. It just isn’t the case. The Cubs are still viewed as a very player-friendly, family-friendly, fan-friendly organization, playing in an iconic ballpark in a great city. Players will want to come if the money is there. The soft factor stuff isn’t going to be an issue.

As for Story, specifically, as a Cubs target, I have a mixed reaction. On the one hand, without Nico Hoerner locked into shortstop as the definite starter next year (and also without a locked-in third baseman), I am very much on board with the idea that the Cubs could explore this shortstop class. Maybe that means a Story pursuit. Maybe it means a reunion with Javy Báez. Maybe it means an approach on Corey Seager or Carlos Correa or Marcus Semien.

Like a number of those guys, Story’s 2021 season has opened up a lot of questions about what his market and price tag will look like. Prior to this season, he was pretty consistently great at the plate and in the field, with your obligatory Coors Field discussion necessary:

As is true for almost every big Rockies bat, Story’s home/road splits are significant, and you pretty much have to enter into a pursuit believing that it’s the Coors hangover effect on the road. Otherwise, you’d have a whole lot less interest in going after him for his road numbers (.243/.311/.437, 97 wRC+).

But, assuming his elbow issue from earlier this year is not substantial, you’re talking about a 28-year-old who is always great defensively, runs the bases well, and has the potential to be a well-above-average bat. Can you convince yourself that this season is just a fluke brought on by dismissible issues X, Y, and Z? If so, then you might be out there trying to sign Story for something way into the nine figures. I’m not sure that team would be the Cubs.

(If I *had* to pick one of the shortstops for the Cubs to pursue, it’d probably be Carlos Correa, who is the youngest, whose bat has the most upside, and who isn’t coming off a major hand injury like Seager. But those two are definitely close, and will both get over $200 million. Maybe way over.)

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago White Sox, or the Chicago Blackhawks. None of MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls, the White Sox, or the Blackhawks have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Bleacher Nation is supported in part by affiliate advertising programs, which you can learn more about here.

The highs — and lows — from the Chicago Cubs’ 6-4 win that ended their franchise-record 13-game home losing streak at Wrigley Field

Chicago Tribune 24 August, 2021 - 07:45am

Facing a three-run deficit before the offense had a chance to hit Monday against the Colorado Rockies presented another hurdle for the Cubs to overcome. But a late comeback set up a walk-off win. A three-run eighth inning, capitalizing on a bases-loaded situation with nobody out, sparked the offense. Patrick Wisdom (RBI single) and Michael Hermosillo (RBI double) delivered the big hits in the eighth, setting up Rafael Ortega’s heroics in the ninth.

Ortega pulled Rockies closer Daniel Bard’s full-count slider over the right-field wall for a two-run homer, capping the Cubs’ 6-4 comeback victory. The long ball stopped their franchise-record 13-game losing streak at Wrigley Field. The streak spanned 28 days, the most without a win at Wrigley since they went 29 days from May 30 to June 28, 2006, according to team historian Ed Hartig. Their last home win on July 26 also was a walk-off, coming on Javier Báez’s pinch-hit single against the Cincinnati Reds.

“These guys have fought to the end a lot,” manager David Ross said. “Sometimes the pitching gets the best of us, but the effort, the intent, the focus is there night in and night out. We’re going to make some mistakes at times, but the way this group goes about it, they’re locked into every pitch and engaged. I’m just really proud of how they continued to fight tonight all the way to the end of the game and great things happen.”

Here’s a look at the highs — and lows — of the record losing streak and its ending.

Photos of the Chicago Cubs' 6-4 ...

Given his career journey to this point, veteran Rafael Ortega’s success might be the unlikeliest development in an overall unpredictable season for the Cubs. Since getting called up in late May, Ortega has been a hit machine and has taken on a bigger role after the trade deadline.

His walk-off homer, a career first, was the Cubs’ first since Kyle Schwarber’s on July 16, 2019, versus the Reds. It ended an 0-for-15 stretch for Ortega over his last three-plus games.

“Rafi’s the ultimate pro. He’s first one here down in the cage, got his routine locked in,” Ross said. “He’s a guy that’s prepared every day. He hit a little bit of a cold stretch after that off day, but just finding his time again in the at-bats, he’s been pretty much one of our more consistent at-bats. It was nice to have the big at-bat there.”

It’s unclear if his extended success will force the Cubs to seriously consider the left-handed hitter in a platoon role in 2022. He’s certainly doing everything he can to persuade the Cubs to give him an opportunity to show his performance isn’t a one-year fluke. The Cubs need some internal pieces to step up and establish themselves. While that’s particularly true of the younger players on the roster, there is value for the Cubs to find that among veteran players too.

“It’s been really tough just coming here every day, especially not winning many games, not winning games at home,” Ortega said. “It’s something that weighs on you coming in every day, knowing that you might not be able to win.

“We have a lot of young players, but we have a good coaching staff here, our manager in our team meetings, we’re all picking ourselves up. We’re all trying to help each other out. If it’s a veteran or if it’s a younger player, all we’re trying to do is just go out there, do the best that we can, be prepared and try to get a win.”

The Cubs weren’t able to rely on their pitchers during the ugly home skid. The rotation and bullpen combined to produce a 7.10 ERA over the last 14 home games, including Monday’s victory.

Kyle Hendricks’ performance slightly lowered that collective ERA, though it required overcoming a tough first inning that saw him throw 23 pitches and allow three runs. He gave up only one more run over the next six innings for his fifth start of at least seven innings. Right-handers Codi Heuer and Manuel Rodríguez threw scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth.

Once Hendricks established his fastball and started attacking with the pitch more after the first, he experienced more success against the Rockies.

“Early there, just a lot of pitches and just wasn’t executing great, so I got back to focusing on execution — just pick up the glove,” Hendricks said. “But from there we made the adjustment after the first inning, noticing that they just got a couple hits off changeups, they were kind of sitting soft.”

Fittingly, Hendricks was the pitcher who buckled down to set up the Cubs for their first home win in nearly a month. He has been their most reliable starter, and in challenging stretches like the Cubs have endured at Wrigley, they need veterans like Hendricks to deliver. For a largely inexperienced pitching staff, growing pains are inevitably part of the process in getting valuable big-league experience. The home losing streak highlighted how low the valleys can be.

Ian Happ’s fifth season in the majors has largely been one to forget. His batting average hasn’t been above .200 since June 1, which marked the end of a 10-game stretch that represents the only time this season it was above that mark. His power numbers haven’t been there either, with an 80 OPS+ and .301 slugging percentage.

Happ’s last 11 games through Monday, including nine starts, are moving him in the right direction and give the Cubs hope he can finish the season trending in a positive direction. He collected his second three-hit game in less than in a week during Monday’s victory. A four-pitch walk against Rockies reliever Jhoulys Chacin in the eighth resulted in Happ scoring the tying run on Hermosillo’s double.

“When you start to feel good, get a couple of knocks and feel good about yourself, that builds confidence and then you’re not hesitant, you’re not in between, (as) we call it a lot of times, where you don’t know whether to be on the fastball or the curveball and even your rhythm at the plate is coming,” Ross said. “Ian is definitely more comfortable at the plate on a normal basis for me from the (dugout view), and confidence has a lot to do with that as well.”

Over the 11-game stretch, Happ is 13-for-36 (.361) with a .439 on-base percentage, three home runs, four doubles, seven RBIs and a 1.161 OPS. How he is finding success is important too: He has been hitting the ball hard and driving it into the gaps.

The Rockies right-hander isn’t known for being a strikeout pitcher — his 15.5% strikeout rate is second-lowest among 87 major-league starters with at least 100 innings — except against the Cubs, when generating whiffs becomes part of his success.

Cubs hitters struck out six times Monday against Senzatela, who also tallied six strikeouts against them Aug. 5 at Coors Field. That gives him 12 strikeouts in 10⅔ innings versus the Cubs. He has struck out more than six in only one of 21 starts this season.

The Cubs’ contact issues have been especially pronounced since the trade deadline, and they have a clear need for better contact hitters in the lineup next year. Senzatela’s strikeout numbers against them highlight that glaring weakness.

Before Monday’s win, there was a nice pregame moment when former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramírez and former catcher Geovany Soto appeared on the field.

Each threw out a first pitch, which was preceded by a highlight video, and a late-arriving crowd cheered them on. There wasn’t much hoopla or buildup around their return; they were in town and welcomed to the ballpark.

Ramírez has a strong case to be inducted one day into the Cubs’ new Hall of Fame, located beneath the left-field bleachers. In 8½ seasons (2003-11) with the Cubs, the two-time All-Star hit .297 with a .359 on-base percentage, .533 slugging percentage, 224 home runs and a 128 OPS+.

Cubs Hall of Fame and Wrigley Field rededication

Photos from the Chicago Cubs' ...

Copyright © 2021, Chicago Tribune

Chicago Cubs: Rafael Ortega – flash in the pan or the real deal?

Cubbies Crib 24 August, 2021 - 07:00am

Monday night’s walk-off win over the Colorado Rockies, one of the worst road teams in baseball, won’t change how Chicago Cubs fans end up viewing the 2021 season. But, man, it still felt really good to know the ‘W’ was flying above the Wrigley Field scoreboard for the first time in almost a full month.

“I just had a feeling,” Ortega said. “I knew if I could get up there, stay patient, wait for the right pitch, I thought that I could do it, that I could hit a homer in that situation.”

The series opener hero, Rafael Ortega, continues to do everything he can to show he belongs not only on a roster that’s little more than a patchwork of Triple-A players, but on the next contending Cubs team. The Chicago leadoff man came through big-time with the walk-off home run in the ninth off Daniel Bard – putting an end to the longest home losing streak in franchise history in the process.

Things haven’t been easy – for fans or for players. Ortega spoke after the game, pointing out the toll that losing takes on the guys in the clubhouse, as well. Sometimes, as fans, that’s something that we just don’t have a lot of visibility to – we’re caught up in our own emotions and reactions.

“It’s been really tough,” Ortega told MLB.com. “Just coming here every day, especially not winning many games, not winning games at home. It’s something that weighs on you, just coming in every day knowing that you might not be able to win.”

Given the sell-off we witnessed nearly a month ago, there was little doubt what direction the team would head over the season’s final two months. But that doesn’t mean there’s not reasons to tune in – or, for players, a reason to grind out at-bats and do the little things that could catch the eye of David Ross or Jed Hoyer as the Cubs approach an offseason filled with uncertainty.

Ortega carries a .306/.365/.483 line this year through 70 games with Chicago. We’re getting pretty darned near the point where you can’t chalk it up to a small sample size. A .370 BABIP makes you think there should be some regression coming for the 30-year-old, but at this point, it hasn’t hit.

The Cubs’ outfield mix is brutal. Ian Happ, who has, all of the sudden, gotten hot (a 1.300 OPS in the last week), is wildly inconsistent and needs to level off if he’s ever going to be considered a long-term building block for the team. Jason Heyward, despite all the value he brings with his veteran mentality and strong community ties, is dead weight (59 OPS+ and two years, $44 million left on his deal).

Want your voice heard? Join the Cubbies Crib team!

All this to say the opportunity is there for Ortega to grab a spot (again, this is totally dependent on the team’s actions in the coming offseason). He’s got five-plus weeks left to show he’s more than a guy on a hot streak. Let’s hope he can do it.

Build your custom FanSided Daily email newsletter with news and analysis on Chicago Cubs and all your favorite sports teams, TV shows, and more.

Your favorite teams, topics, and players all on your favorite mobile devices.

Powered by Minute Media © 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Rafael Ortega Just Hit a Walk-Off Homer for the Chicago Cubs!

bleachernation.com 23 August, 2021 - 10:23pm

Should a late-August win for a fourth-place Cubs team against a fourth-place Rockies team make me feel this good? Nope. But I don’t really care! That was awesome and we deserve it. And it was especially fun considering how it all started.

Although Kyle Hendricks was supposed to be our stopper, he gave up 3 first inning runs, making a 14th straight loss for the Cubs at home begin to feel all too likely.

But Hendricks locked things down for another six innings after that, Ian Happ got on base four times (including two doubles), Patrick Wisdom had a big RBI hit, Michael Hermosillo rocked a game-tying RBI double in the 8th, and then, after Jason Heyward led off the ninth with a roller up the middle, Rafael Ortega called game.

W1#Walkoff pic.twitter.com/9UIKde7kx1

— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 24, 2021

Statcast had it at just 99 MPH off the bat and 376 feet, but it just felt like a no-doubter as soon as he swung. That was Ortega’s first hit of the night and his first homer since his three-homer game on August 1st. What a win.

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago White Sox, or the Chicago Blackhawks. None of MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls, the White Sox, or the Blackhawks have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Bleacher Nation is supported in part by affiliate advertising programs, which you can learn more about here.

Sports Stories