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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have always found reason to

 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 03:41    Post subject: CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have always found reason to Reply with quote

remain optimistic despite the times this season when they have struggled to score runs. The reason? Boasting the National League’s best record and holding down the top spot in the Central Division have kept them from losing hope.But as the Cubs wind down the regular season this week starting with Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates http://www.redsoxproshops.com/authentic-dustin-pedroia-jersey , the reality of a tight-knit race in the Central and the inability to push runs across at critical times no longer can be ignored.The Cubs were unable to do their part in reducing their magic number following a 5-1 loss to the Pirates on Monday in which Chicago left the bases loaded once and stranded a runner in scoring position with the Cubs trailing by a pair of runs. Chicago’s lone run on Monday came on a solo home run by pitcher Cole Hamels.Article continues below ...“The offense has taken a hit — there’s no question,” manager Joe Maddon told reporters earlier this month, according to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. “There’s just no other way to look at it. I think we have to find that within ourselves.”As the Cubs finish off this week against divisional rivals, they face an increasingly growing possibility they could face either the Milwaukee Brewers or the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs as the two NL Central foes currently hold down the top spots in the wild-card race.“Who has the advantage (in the playoffs)? I don’t know. Whoever pitches better that night has the advantage,” Maddon told reporters Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It’s hard to do something different or new because both sides know each other pretty well. I totally agree with that. I’ve worried about that in the past, but I think I’ve learned not to because if you trust your players and put everyone out there and you’re in good health, you have just as good a shot as they do.”But before the Cubs can turn their focus to the postseason, they must still find a way to finish strong this week.Mike Montgomery (5-5, 3.75 ERA) will take the mound for the Cubs on Tuesday. Montgomery is coming off a solid six-inning effort against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who he held to one earned run and four hits while striking out eight. Montgomery is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in nine career appearances (three starts) against Pittsburgh.Chris Archer will face Montgomery as he looks for his third victory since joining the Pirates earlier this season. Archer (5-8, 4.49) allowed just one run and six hits and struck out eight over seven innings in his last outing against the Kansas City Royals. Archer is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.After Jameson Taillon shut down the Cubs on Monday, Archer hopes to build on his recent performance.“The one thing I hang my hat on is making starts and pitching deep into ballgames,” Archer said after his last start, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Giving up way more runs than I wanted to this year, but the thing that frustrates me the most is my average innings. It has to be the lowest of my career, but there’s a correlation. The better you pitch Tony Conigliaro Jersey , the deeper you pitch into games.” September has arrived and there are now just four weeks remaining in the 2018 MLB regular season.There are 15 teams still clinging to some form of contention鈥攕even in the American League and eight in the National League.The AL West, NL East, NL Central and NL West are all still up for grabs with division leads of five games or less, and the NL West, in particular, is shaping up to be an all-out war with three teams separated by just one game.For now, just remember these rankings are fluid. Teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing鈥攊t's as simple as that.Here's where all 30 teams stand:Updated Rankings1 Boston Red Sox (94-44)2 New York Yankees (86-51)3 Houston Astros (84-53)14 Chicago Cubs (81-55)15 Oakland Athletics (82-56)26 St. Louis Cardinals (76-61)7 Atlanta Braves (76-60)8 Tampa Bay Rays (73-63)29 Cleveland Indians (77-59)110 Colorado Rockies (74-62)111 Los Angeles Dodgers (75-62)312 Milwaukee Brewers (77-61)113 Seattle Mariners (76-61)214 Arizona Diamondbacks (74-63)215 Philadelphia Phillies (72-64)16 San Francisco Giants (68-70)17 Washington Nationals (68-69)18 Los Angeles Angels (66-71)119 Pittsburgh Pirates (66-71)120 Toronto Blue Jays (62-74)21 New York Mets (61-75)22 Texas Rangers (60-77)123 Minnesota Twins (63-73)124 Chicago White Sox (55-82)25 Cincinnati Reds (59-78)26 San Diego Padres (54-85)127 Miami Marlins (54-83)128 Kansas City Royals (45-91)129 Detroit Tigers (55-82)130 Baltimore Orioles (40-97) Teams That ImpressedBlake SnellJulie Jacobson/Associated PressIt's getting harder and harder to ignore what theTampa Bay Raysare doing.While they still have just a 0.4 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to FanGraphs, there's not a hotter team in baseball right now.With a series win against the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, the Rays have now gone 10-2 in their last 12 games, posting a plus-27 run differential during that span.Ace Blake Snell just finished a brilliant August that saw him go 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA, 0.65 WHIP and a .131 opponents' batting average in five starts. The 25-year-old is now 17-5 with a 2.02 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 177 strikeouts in 151.2 innings, and with Chris Sale on the shelf, he's become the AL Cy Young front-runner.TheChicago Cubsalso kept things rolling last week with series wins over the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, as well as a victory over the Atlanta Braves in a makeup game.That makes 10 straight series that the Cubs have at least split http://www.redsoxproshops.com/authentic-dustin-pedroia-jersey , with their last series loss coming against the rival St. Louis Cardinals at the end of July. That consistency has helped the North Siders maintain a five-game lead in the NL Central standings.TheLos Angeles Dodgers(5-1) andMilwaukee Brewers(4-2) also won both of their series last week, as the Dodgers moved back into first place in the NL West, and the Brewers would play host to the NL Wild Card Game if the season ended today.TheChicago White Sox(4-3) andSan Diego Padres(4-2) both did well in the role of spoiler last week, turning in series wins over the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners, respectively.And all the way at the bottom of the rankings, theKansas City Royalswent 5-0 with sweeps of the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles.Teams That DisappointedThearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesThree contenders saw their playoff chances take a hit last week: theSeattle Mariners(2-4),Arizona Diamondbacks(2-5)andPhiladelphia Phillies(2-4).Here's a look at how their odds shifted in the past week, via FanGraphs:SEA: 14.9 percent to 6.8 percentARI:54.2 percent to 31.7 percentPHI:44.7 percent to 34.7 percentThose are fairly precipitous shifts for all three teams in the timeframe of just a week, and that goes to show how detrimental one bad week can be when you're trying to chase down a wild-card spot.The Mariners (12-16, -40 RD) and Phillies (13-14, -19 RD) both suffered through rough months in August and might be cooked unless they can turn things around quickly. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks (14-12, +19 RD) played well last month and are hoping this is just a temporary bump in the road.ThePittsburgh Pirates(2-4),Minnesota Twins(2-4) andMiami Marlins(1-4) were the only other teams to lose both of their series last week.MVPs of the WeekHitter:Christian Yelich, Milwaukee BrewersStats:12-for-27, 1 2B, 1 3B Steve Pearce Jersey , 4 HR, 14 RBI, 7 R, 2 SBIt took the Milwaukee Brewers three of their top prospects to acquire Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins during the offseason, but he's been well worth that acquisition cost.The 26-year-old is hitting .316/.381/.559 with a career-high 27 home runs, 81 RBI, 96 runs scored and 16 stolen bases for a team in the thick of the playoff hunt.His standout performance last week was highlighted by a six-hit game against the Cincinnati Reds in a 13-12 victory on Wednesday.On his way to six hits, he became the second player this season to hit for the cycle, joining Red Sox star Mookie Betts."You'll go through stretches when you're really hot and stretches when you struggle a little bit," Yelich told reporters. "You try to key in on what you do well when you're going well and what happens when you go bad. ... It's easy to say, but it's really hard over the course of a year to do that."It was the 321st cycle in MLB history, the eighth in Brewers history and the first by a Milwaukee player since backup catcher George Kottaras accomplished the feat on Sept. 3, 2011. Pitcher:Clay Buchholz, Arizona DiamondbacksStats:2 GS, 2 ND, 12.0 IP, 9 H J. D. Martinez Jersey , 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 KWhere would the Arizona Diamondbacks be without Clay Buchholz?The scrapheap pickup has gone 7-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 15 starts this season after joining the D-backs on a minor league deal in May after he was released by the Kansas City Royals.That performance has given the Arizona rotation a big boost in the wake of losing Taijuan Walker for the season to Tommy John surgery.The 34-year-old Buchholz made just two starts for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, and he really hasn't pitched at a high level consistently since he opened the 2013 season at 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA before missing time to injury.His out-of-nowhere resurgence will make him one of the more compelling cases of the upcoming free-agent class.After throwing seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants last Tuesday and then five innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers on Sunday, he'll look to keep things rolling on with his next scheduled start coming Saturday against the Atlanta Braves.Video Highlights of the WeekLongest Home Run: Michael Conforto, New York Mets (472 feet)Not only did Michael Conforto launch the longest home run of the week, but he also hit the longest home run by a Mets player since Statcast began tracking in 2015.MLB.com noted: "Conforto got all of one against the Cubs'Jon LesterCespedes had set earlier in the season with a 463-foot homer on April 24."It's been an up-and-down season for the 25-year-old, who entered the season with lofty expectations after posting a 148 OPS+ with 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances last year.While he's hitting just .232/.344/.407, he does have 20 home runs, and he remains one of the most promising young players on a Mets team that is likely headed for some roster overhaul during the offseason. Best Defensive Play:Albert Almora Jr., Chicago CubsThis is not the first time Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. has delivered the defensive play of the week, and there's a good chance it won't be the last.The 24-year-old has turned in highlight-reel plays time and again this season, and he has a strong case for winning his first career Gold Glove once it comes time to hand out awards.For statistically minded people, his6 DRS and 4.3 UZR/150paint him as an above-average defender with plus range.For those who still trust more in the eye test when it comes to defensive contributions Paul Goldschmidt Jersey , Almora passes that one with flying colors.The play above is the perfect example, as he shows off the excellent range and exceptional concentration needed to pull in a ball that looked like a sure double in the gap off the bat of Lucas Duda.Must-See Upcoming MatchupHouston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox (Friday-Sunday)Justin VerlanderJason O. Watson/Getty ImagesThere's a good chance we'll be watching a preview of the ALCS this weekend at Fenway Park.With the best record and baseball and a 110-win pace, the Red Sox have been perched atop our power rankings for a number weeks.They'll welcome to town the World Series champion Astros, who won a big series against the upstart Oakland Athletics last week.Both teams rank among the MLB leaders in both offensive and pitching categories:OPS: BOS (.794, first); HOU (.759, fifth)R/G: BOS (5.4, first); HOU (4.9, fourth)ERA: HOU (3.13, first); BOS (3.62, fourth)WHIP: HOU (1.09, first); BOS (1.23, eighth)That's the type of balance it takes to win a title, and both teams have their sights set on just that.The two teams split a four-game set in their only prior meeting this season at the end of May, with the Red Sox outscoring the Astros by the narrowest of margins (19-1Cool in that series.Expect another battle this weekend.All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.
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