Blue Monday: Cubs put on show vs. Pirates

Blue Monday: Cubs put on show vs. Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The first time the Cubs and Pirates met this season, the Bucs came from behind three days in a row to sweep the series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs ensured there would be no comeback Monday night, running up a big lead in the first two innings and cruising to a 14-3 win at PNC Park.

Addison Russell led the Cubs' assault on Chad Kuhl and the Pittsburgh bullpen with a career-high four hits, including an RBI single in the first inning. Jason Heyward followed by crushing the first pitch he saw into the center-field seats. After scoring four runs with two outs in the first, the Cubs put up five more in the second, capitalizing on Kuhl's rough night and the Pirates' sloppy defense behind him. Ben Zobrist cleared the bases with a double to right, Heyward's groundout plated another and left-hander Brett Anderson singled to drive in Russell.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Heyward continues to impress at the dish

Outfielder crushed 3-run homer vs. Pittsburgh, leading team in RBIs

Heyward continues to impress at the dish

PITTSBURGH -- If it looks as if Jason Heyward is hitting the ball harder, he is.

The Cubs' outfielder belted his third home run in the last four days, a three-run shot in a 14-3 win over the Pirates on Monday night, and continued to impress in his makeover.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon sticking with Schwarber in left field

Maddon sticking with Schwarber in left field

PITTSBURGH -- Kyle Schwarber started in right field at PNC Park during the 2015 National League Wild Card Game, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon hinted in Spring Training that may happen during the regular season as well. But Schwarber made his 10th start in left field on Monday as the Cubs opened a three-game series against the Pirates.

"It didn't seem strong enough for me to move him tonight," said Maddon, who looked at the scouting report and Pirates' tendencies. "It's something we could still do. He's so used to playing out there [in left field] now. The other part is the unpredictability of where the ball is going to be hit."

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hendricks hoping for bounceback start

Hendricks hoping for bounceback start

When the Pirates and Cubs met at Wrigley Field earlier this month, Pittsburgh won all three games, and outscored Chicago, 18-10. Could they set the tone for the National League Central matchups between these two teams the rest of the season?

"They were tight and intense," manager Clint Hurdle said of the three games, which the Pirates won by scores of 4-2, 8-7, and 6-1. "Then we went to St. Louis and had three World Cup soccer games [all 2-1 losses].

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

3 HRs in 3 days? Simply business for Rizzo

Cubs 1B keeps perspective as he extends hit streak to career-high-tying 12 games

3 HRs in 3 days? Simply business for Rizzo

CINCINNATI -- Anthony Rizzo says that, for him, the components of a sizzling hot streak pretty much resemble the components for any other day at the office.

"You just play baseball really," the Cubs' first baseman said Sunday after extending his hitting streak to 12 games during a 7-5 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. "You just hit balls where they're not standing. You go through the process. It's no different than not getting any hits."

Continue Reading

Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell gets autographs on Pokemon cards

|
Russell gets autographs on Pokemon cards

Typically, when you're the 23-year-old starting shortstop for the defending World Series champions whose Game 6 grand slam helped snap a 108-year title drought, you're the one giving out autographs. Addison Russell, however, recognizes that being a big leaguer affords him the rare opportunity to get signatures from all his favorite players. So that's exactly what he does -- with Pokemon cards.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Cubs outmuscled as Cincy sweep bid denied

Cubs outmuscled as Cincy sweep bid denied

CINCINNATI -- It's been a rough first few weeks of the season for Reds right fielder Scott Schebler. But pitcher Bronson Arroyo was fortunate to have Schebler's contributions supporting his strong start in a 7-5 victory over the Cubs as Cincinnati salvaged one game from its three-game series at Great American Ball Park on Sunday.

After Billy Hamilton gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the first inning by singling, stealing second and third base and scoring on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly, Schebler hit a solo home run to right field in the second inning to make it 2-0 against John Lackey. Schebler then added a jam-shot of a bloop single to center field in the fourth to snap a 2-2 tie.

Continue Reading

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Cubs on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Contreras' slam leads Cubs' HR show in Cincy

Contreras' slam leads Cubs' HR show in Cincy

CINCINNATI -- On a chilly and blustery Saturday afternoon, the Cubs' bats provided plenty of heat with three home runs and a 12-8 victory over the Reds that gave Chicago its first four-game winning streak of the season. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has dropped four games in a row, and seven of nine, to drop to a .500 record at 9-9.

The first-place Cubs (10-7) took a 3-0 lead on lefty starter Cody Reed after three batters with Anthony Rizzo's three-run homer. The Reds answered in the bottom of the first with Joey Votto's three-run homer and a solo shot by Eugenio Suarez -- both against Jake Arrieta. Suarez added a second solo homer, off Cubs reliever Justin Grimm, in the eighth, while Votto added a fifth RBI with a ninth-inning double to finish a triple shy of the cycle.

Continue Reading

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Cubs on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon: Heyward's adjustments 'very effective'

Outfielder homers for second straight game; adds stellar defensive play

Maddon: Heyward's adjustments 'very effective'

CINCINNATI -- Last April, Jason Heyward was the new kid on the block. This April, he is just one of the guys.

Well, not exactly. He's one of the guys who has been one of the stars of the first month of the Cubs' season. Heyward blasted a three-run home run Saturday, his second in as many games, and made a key defensive play during Chicago's 12-8 win over Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

Continue Reading

Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Cubs on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reds tease Cubs fans with 'Bandwagon Cam'

|
Reds tease Cubs fans with 'Bandwagon Cam'

There's no fault in losing to the Cubs. After all, that's a team loaded one-to-nine with sluggers and stars coming off a World Series championship.

So, though the Reds lost an extra-inning heartbreaker on Friday and went down, 12-8, in a slugfest on Saturday, they at least won the hearts and minds of those in attendance thanks to their Bandwagon Cam. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

La Stella to Minors as Cubs keep 8 in 'pen

La Stella to Minors as Cubs keep 8 in 'pen

CINCINNATI -- Chicago manager Joe Maddon gave another endorsement to the eight-man bullpen concept Saturday when infielder Tommy La Stella was activated from the bereavement list and optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

"I kind of like it," Maddon said of carrying an extra pitcher instead of an extra utility player. "I prefer eight guys if possible. There is greater potential negative impact to beating up your bullpen than being caught short on the bench."

Continue Reading

Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Cubs on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo HR helps Cubs to another dramatic win

Rizzo HR helps Cubs to another dramatic win

CINCINNATI -- In 2016, the Cubs won 15 of 19 games vs. the Reds. They also won 15 of the previous 19 games at Great American Ball Park the past two seasons. That trend continued on Friday, but it was far from easy as the game went 11 innings before a 6-5 Cubs victory.

Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen had a three-run lead and was one out away from notching a six-out save in the ninth inning. That was until his first-pitch fastball was scorched for a three-run home run into the right-field seats by Anthony Rizzo to make it a 5-5 game. Until that moment, the Cubs were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Continue Reading

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Down, but not out: Rizzo comes through in 9th

Down, but not out: Rizzo comes through in 9th

CINCINNATI -- Yep, he's Anthony Rizzo for a reason.

The Chicago first baseman and No. 3 hitter was 0-for-3 with a walk Friday night when he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning with two outs, two on base, and the Cubs trailing Cincinnati, 5-2. Reds right-hander Michael Lorenzen was working his second inning and Wandy Peralta, Cincinnati's only left-hander, was warmed up. Cincinnati manager Bryan Price decided to stick with Lorenzen.

Continue Reading

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ hits seventh homer for Iowa, leads Minors

Happ hits seventh homer for Iowa, leads Minors

No pitcher has been more dominant than Class A Columbia's Merandy Gonzalez to begin the season. That trend continued on Friday night, as the Mets' No. 14 prospect extended his scoreless innings streak to 20 2/3 by tossing seven frames in a win against Lexington.

Gonzalez allowed just three singles and struck out a season-high seven batters en route to his third win in as many starts for the Fireflies. He retired nine consecutive batters at one point before setting down the final seven he faced to finish with 88 pitches (64 strikes).

Continue Reading

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell hitting ball harder this season

Russell hitting ball harder this season

CINCINNATI -- Addison Russell says he isn't obsessed with statistics. But he was OK with this one.

According to Statcast™, Russell was leading all Major League players with 26 batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more through Wednesday and was leading the Cubs with an average exit velocity of 92 mph per batted ball.

Continue Reading

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Full circle: Rings mean World to Cubs scouts

Blitzer, Lofrano, Servais thrilled to experience long-awaited championship with Chicago

Full circle: Rings mean World to Cubs scouts

CHICAGO -- They've spent more than 90 years combined looking for the players who would help the Cubs win a World Series. They've endured razzing from their peers and sympathy from friends after each losing season. They've been on the road so much, they've lost track of the miles and hotel nights. But this week, Billy Blitzer, Bob Lofrano and Mark Servais were like little kids on Christmas morning.

The three longtime scouts finally received a World Series ring, each personalized with their name. Most important to them -- it has the Cubs' logo on it.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Szczur's Game 7 painting auctioned for $35K

Bricks and Ivy Ball raised more than $2.2 million for Cubs Charities

Szczur's Game 7 painting auctioned for $35K

CHICAGO -- Outfielder Matt Szczur's painting of the final out of Game 7 of the World Series was auctioned off for $35,000 at the Cubs' Bricks and Ivy Ball, held Wednesday night at Navy Pier. The event raised more than $2.2 million for Cubs Charities.

Szczur was surprised at how much his painting garnered. He posted on Twitter: "Honored and humbled that my first painting was auctioned off for $35,000 for such a great cause. Thank you @cubs and cubs charities for allowing me to give back and be a part of something special."

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watch David Ross dance to 50 Cent on 'Ellen'

|
Watch David Ross dance to 50 Cent on 'Ellen'

For his third "Dancing with the Stars" routine earlier this month, David Ross completed a remarkable transformation from World Series champion and Chicago folk hero to the fifth member of the "Magic Mike" gang. There was a lot of leather. Even 50 Cent was involved. 

Just a few weeks later, Ross and his dance partner Lindsay Arnold have heard the voice of the people, and on Thursday they appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to give them what they want: namely, lots more fake abs. After a brief discussion of how much fun he's had on the show so far (and how much he misses hanging out with his former Cubs teammates), Ross and Arnold took to the floor.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Cubs rally late with Russell's walk-off homer

Cubs rally late with Russell's walk-off homer

CHICAGO -- For the second straight game, the Cubs rallied for a win. Kris Bryant hit a game-tying RBI single in the ninth and one out later, Addison Russell smacked a walk-off, three-run homer Wednesday to lift the Cubs to a 7-4 victory over the Brewers and take the series.

"It's been an emotional week," manager Joe Maddon said of the Cubs' first homestand of the year in which they raised the championship banners and received their rings. "I like where we're at and what we're doing."

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs fan bursts into tears with a trip to Wrigley

|
Cubs fan bursts into tears with a trip to Wrigley

Seeing your favorite team in their home stadium for the first time as a child is a quasi-religious experience. Many of us can probably remember everything -- the weather, the taste of the hot dogs, which utility infielder either gave you the greatest of victories or the worst of losses. Sadly, before the age of cell phones, there was no proof of your reaction when you were gifted with tickets. 

That's not a problem for this young Cubs fan. Kolt, a 9-year-old Cubs fan, was rewarded for his hard work with two tickets to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play the Cardinals. Fortunately, his sister captured footage of his amazing reaction: 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Walk-off win epitomizes Cubs' resiliency

Walk-off win epitomizes Cubs' resiliency

CHICAGO -- Engraved on the Cubs' championship rings is the phrase, "We never quit." It was their motto last season as they won 103 games and eventually the World Series. That may be the theme for 2017 as well.

For the second day in a row, the Cubs rallied for a win as Addison Russell smacked a walk-off three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday to beat the Brewers, 7-4. On Tuesday, the Cubs had to rally from a 5-0 deficit for the win.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cease unhittable in start with South Bend

Cubs' No. 3 prospect fires six no-hit innings

Cease unhittable in start with South Bend

Dylan Cease has shown improvement in each of his three starts for Class A South Bend this season. On Wednesday, the Cubs' No. 3 prospect was untouchable as he fired a career-high six innings without allowing a hit against Great Lakes.

Cease, ranked 71st on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced in the outing before departing after 92 pitches (55 strikes). He walked three and struck out seven, including five swinging strikeouts.

Continue Reading

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hendricks seeking 'balance' amid slow start

Hendricks seeking 'balance' amid slow start

CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks is a slow starter, and he knows that. But it doesn't make it any easier for the Cubs' right-hander to deal with how his 2017 season is going so far.

Hendricks walked four, matching a career-high, and lasted five innings in the Cubs' 7-4 come-from-behind win over the Brewers on Wednesday. The Major League ERA leader last year, Hendricks has a 6.19 ERA in three starts.

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cease lights out in win

Cease lights out in win

Class A Advanced Palm Beach right-hander Junior Fernandez put his tough start to the season behind him in a truly dominant manner on Wednesday night, retiring the first 19 batters he faced en route to tossing eight scoreless innings to pace the Cardinals in a 7-0 shutout of Tampa.

The win was the first of the season for the Cardinals' No. 10 prospect, who allowed one hit and one walk, while striking out six and generating nine ground-ball outs.

Continue Reading

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Ring presentation especially poignant for Baez

Ring presentation especially poignant for Baez

Their paths crossed quickly, but their stories are now intertwined.

Had Javier Baez succumbed to his sorrow and let it distance himself from his dream, his wonderful performance that helped the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years would not have been possible. And had Grace Davis not maintained her awesomely optimistic outlook in the face of serious medical difficulty, she would not have been there to give Baez his championship ring.

Continue Reading

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gold Glove winner Rizzo honors coaches

Gold Glove winner Rizzo honors coaches

CHICAGO -- When first baseman Anthony Rizzo was presented with his first Gold Glove award prior to Tuesday's game, he called two of the Cubs' coaches, Gary Jones and Franklin Font, out of the dugout to pose for photos with his trophy.

"It was unbelievable," Font said Wednesday. "The way he did that for 'Jonesy' and me, we really appreciate it. What [Rizzo] did last night before the game was amazing."

Continue Reading

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.