The one thing I took from the Cubs’ 1-0 win against division leading Milwaukee Monday night was the team’s collective effort to win.
Ryan Dempster pitched like an ace. The bullpen did its job and Pena was clutch off the bench.
We haven’t seen that kind of team effort enough this season, which certainly helps explain the Cubs’ second worst record in the NL.
But Chicago scratching and clawing its way to victory reminded me of the way this team played under Mike Quade last September–with passion, with desire, with purpose.
It shows the Cubs are still willing to fight for its manager despite a terrible record highlighted by the recent 2-8 road trip. And it shows the effort to win is still present even when all is seemingly lost.
The curious part, however, is that the Cubs have thrived under Quade when all the pressure is off. So what gives when the pressure is on?
At this point it’s hard to call a Cubs’ victory a Big-Win, especially when it snaps an eight-game losing streak.
But Wednesday’s 4-1 win against Cincinnati was just that–at least for Mike Quade and Jim Hendry.
Another loss would have likely set the Cubs on course for an (0-10) road trip given they’re up against Halladay, Lee & Oswalt in Philadelphia this weekend.
So getting this one win is huge, comparatively speaking, to a trip that very well could have turned into a winless nightmare for the manager, GM and ownership.
I feared the worst for Cubs baseball on May 17th during its last trip to Great American Ball Park.
After Mike Quade delivered his tongue-lashing following the club’s disastrous 7-4 loss–another sloppy game in which Chicago surrendered a late inning lead–the Cubs again played flat in Game 2 allowing Cincinnati to score the winning runs courtesy of four Cubs errors.
The gift wrapped series for the Reds dropped Chicago six-games below .500, and essentially spit in the face of its manager.
I quickly issued my second Red Flag of the season. If the Cubs weren’t taking Quade’s message seriously, how on earth would this miserable campaign ever get turned around?
Not surprisingly, it hasn’t.
Chicago’s despicable 3-2 loss on Sunday put Cubs fans, including myself, over the edge.
To allow Pujols a second opportunity to win a game, on consecutive days, is unfathomable to me. That just can’t happen.
By the time Albert circled the bases as the winning run, my confidence in Mike Quade sank to a new low. What on earth was the skipper thinking?
Quade’s questionable decision to pitch to Pujols, both Saturday & Sunday, will haunt the manager for a long, long time.
I’m afraid what lies around the corner for our Cubs.
After Saturday’s 10-0 trouncing against the Pirates, a game in which the Cubs appeared genuinely disinterested and lethargic, it seems only a nightmare awaits us.
To lose consecutive games vs. Pittsburgh, during a crucial homestand, speaks volumes about the Cubs’ character. Watching it has simply been unbearable.
The fire from which they played with last season under Mike Quade has seemingly fizzled out.
There’s no will to win, no comeback mentality, no player holding his mates accountable for sorry effort, at least not publicly.
The storm for a 90-loss season is gaining steam, as are the chances for another Carlos Zambrano meltdown.
It would be one thing for the Cubs to lose following Mike Quade’s closed door meeting to address the team’s embarrassing play following Monday’s loss against Cincinnati.
But it’s an entirely different matter to lose by allowing seven –SEVEN- unearned runs via four errors.
So as the first place Reds scored five runs without the help of a hit or the ball leaving the infield, it appeared as though Quade’s bunch isn’t responding well to his plea for more focus, and that’s a very scary thought in the middle of May.
Quade certainly didn’t help his cause by letting Kerry Wood burn in the eighth. As the setup man struggled to get outs the bullpen was dead silent—even while the game remained within reach.
But this was yet another sign the skipper himself has struggled to push the right buttons. He gambled too long with James Russell in the rotation, failed to find playing time for Tyler Colvin and apparently misfired on his delivery during Monday’s post game tongue lashing.
This 7-5 loss, in particular, marks my second red flag of the 2011 season. One more warning flag and we can call the season a wash.
Do you hear me now, Cubs?
I wouldn’t call Mike Quade’s closed door meeting overdue.
Instead, I’d say it’s just the right time with the Cubs five games under and six back in the division.
The Cubs are fading fast, and Qaude senses it. He knows…we all know…the next two weeks could very well determine the season.
If you’re a team not in the race come June 1st…good luck joining the party in the second half. It rarely happens once you’ve laid the groundwork for mediocrity or worse.
1.) Right now, Silva is to blame for his poor outing–not Aramis.
2.) The more I learn about Quade the more I like him.
3.) Marty, Marty, Marty…the guy loves hating our Cubs.
1.) This winter Carlos Silva called his audition for the Cubs’ fourth or fifth rotation spot ‘ridiculous.’ Perhaps, but what’s more ridiculous is Silva’s dugout behavior following a tough first inning Wednesday afternoon.
There’s a professional way to call-out teammates. Barking at them between innings isn’t the best method. Not to mention, Silva is stepping on the toes of one, Carlos Zambrano, who’s managed a career of crafting such a role.
Meanwhile, what Silva fails to realize is that three of his own fingers are pointing right back at him while he singles out his own infielders. Since when did allowing two HRs and a walk permit you the right to chewout your defense?
Sometimes, a kick-in-the-pants is what’s needed to motivate a teammate. But Silva should kick his own butt following a poor outing before he lays wood to the guys he’s relying on around him. And as far as Silva being a lock for the rotation–hardly.
Mike Quade’s decision to name Ryan Dempster the Opening Day starter was an easy one. Dempster has both the talent and mental toughness it takes to be the stopper. Had it not been for the Cubs’ decision to coddle Carlos Zambrano’s fragile mentality, Dempster would have been the Opening Day starter three years ago. You know it, I know it, and Quade certainly knew it standing down the third base line.
What’s important is Quade’s choice is fair and well-informed. Dempster is the best candidate, he’s earned the honor and Quade handed him the job. Such practice is sure to boost the confidence in the clubhouse. No longer are the Cubs catering to Big Z, his huge contract and poor attitude. Just another sign there’s a new sheriff in town.
Presumably, the same strategy will apply throughout the locker room. And perhaps, this will raise a few eyebrows on certain players such as Fukudome and Soriano who have lacked in production but play because their contracts say so. Under Quade, at least it appears, the best man gets the gig. Wouldn’t we all agree, it’s about time.