Theo Epstein has strong words for lowly Cubs

774884.jpg

Theo Epstein has strong words for lowly Cubs

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- Theo Epstein expected some rough stretches. He just didn't envision anything like this. A few hours after addressing his team's skid, the Chicago Cubs broke one of the longest losing streaks in franchise history, beating the San Diego Padres 11-7 on Monday. That ended a 12-game slide. The work, however, is just beginning. "I saw tough stretches, but I don't think this is indicative of the type of team we are," Epstein said before the game. "I think we're clearly better than this." Only seven times in their cursed history had the Cubs dropped 12 or more in a row, and they entered Monday's game on their worst losing streak since they started the 1997 season with a franchise-record 14 straight defeats. For all the optimism surrounding Epstein's arrival as president of baseball operations in the offseason, the results are awfully familiar. Of course, he needs time. He also realizes something needs to change. One thing that won't is the plan. Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer said they will continue to build for the future, but they don't want this season to get worse than it already is. "On both fronts, short- and long-term, there's work to do," Epstein said. "In the short term, in the trenches, there's a lot of work to do to get ourselves to a respectable level. This is a bad stretch. Just sort of appeal to the base instincts and start scrapping and keep grinding for pride. Long term, it underscores the magnitude of the job here and sort of how far we need to go to get where we want to be." On Monday, they let out a sigh of relief. A big one, at that. Not since they beat St. Louis on May 14 had they won a game, and the losses certainly were wearing on them. "We lost 10 in a row, but now that's in the past, so now we have to try to win 10 in a row," Alfonso Soriano said after collecting three hits with a home run. "We have to turn it around. You have to believe in this team because we're not that bad." The Cubs brought in Epstein and Hoyer, hoping they would help lift that championship albatross that's been hovering over them for more than a century. Chicago last won it all in 1908, when the Model T was rolling off the assembly line. With a new management team in place, there was a new sense of hope when the season began. After all, Epstein built the team that in that in 2004 ended Boston's 86-year championship drought and then won another title in 2007. For now, the Cubs are simply taking their hits. Hoyer called the losing streak "torturous" and insisted better times are ahead. Manager Dale Sveum sympathized with the players before the game, and when it was over, he made no effort to hide his relief. He played for Milwaukee in 1987 and was a part of a 12-game losing streak that year. That team ultimately finished with 91 wins. "Let's not kid yourself," said Sveum, in his first season as Cubs manager. "You lose 12 in a row, you finally win ... thank God I didn't break my streak. It's a big relief. All the guys, like I said today, you feel bad for them. It's tough. It shows you sometimes how tough it is to win a major league baseball game. Then to lose 12 in a row ... hopefully something like that gets everything going, the bats." Hoyer called the skid "a really painful bump that we're going through right now on the way to get there." The starting pitching, with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster leading the way, has been solid. The bullpen has been a mess, repeatedly blowing games. Carlos Marmol lost his job as the closer, and Kerry Wood struggled before retiring. At the plate, things haven't been much better. Only three major league teams scored fewer runs entering Monday and with a .244 average, the Cubs ranked 21st. "We're losing right now and teams are beating us and we're on this kind of a streak, and it seems like a bad dream," said Bryan LaHair, one of the few bright spots in the lineup with a .312 average and 10 homers. "But if you're not becoming more hungry to want to win and go on 12-game winning streaks, then I don't know. I know it's what it's doing to me." He said it's not tough to show up at the ballpark. It is tough to leave during a stretch like this. "It beats you down more after the game than before because you've lost," LaHair said. It's not what Soriano envisioned when he signed that 136 million, eight-year contract before the 2007 season. He thought he was going to help the Cubs capture that elusive championship, and they came close, making the playoffs during his first two years. Since then, they've been on a steady decline and so has the veteran slugger. "Sometimes, it's like hard to believe where we are right now," Soriano said. "We played so good. And the last 12 games, we're nothing." Hoyer said the Cubs are "very open" to making changes, but they don't want to be "dumping guys off just to make a point." They would probably love to trade Soriano, but finding takers is not easy. Dempster has an expiring contract and might be attractive to a contender. Garza might be, too. He's eligible for arbitration after the season, and the Cubs might want to keep the 28-year-old. "When you rip the scab off, sometimes there's some pain until we grow some new skin," Epstein said. "We're going places. This is a tough road."

Quick Links

Dylan Bundy's brilliant night ends with 3-1 loss

dylanbundy72716_usatodaysports.png
USA TODAY Sports

Dylan Bundy's brilliant night ends with 3-1 loss

BALTIMORE---Dylan Bundy had a dreamlike five innings. Everything was working. 

Bundy, in just his third major league start, had the Oriole Park fans excited. He was retiring Colorado Rockies, seemingly at will, and through five, he had a perfect inning. 

No one came close to reaching base. 

In the sixth, the dream ended as the Colorado Rockies hit two home runs and instead of something wonderful, Bundy had a painful defeat. 

The Rockies’ 3-1 win before 20,234 on Wednesday night, was just the second time this season the Orioles have lost a series. 

“He was the reason we were in that game,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

While Bundy was perfect for five innings, the Orioles (58-42) could do little against Jon Gray (7-4). 

Bundy (3-3) retired the first 16 Rockies (49-52) before he walked Mark Reynolds. Nick Hundley ended the no-hitter and shutout with a home run to left, his fifth. 

After DJ LeMahieu grounded back to Bundy, David Dahl hit his first major league home run, and Colorado led 3-0. 

“Just two mistakes, changeups that were up in the zone and they were able to tag them for homers. Maybe just a little more focus or location a little bit better in the sixth inning and you get out of that with six innings pitched and no harm done,” Bundy said. 

Bundy was out of the game after 5 2/3 innings. He struck out a career-high eight batters, including seven of the first 12. 

Chris Davis had the first hit off Gray, and his first hit after 24 hitless at-bats when he dropped a bunt down against the shift to start the second. 

Matt Wieters thought he had given the Orioles a 1-0 lead when he hit a long drive to right. It was ruled foul, and the call withstood a crew chief challenge. 

It wasn’t the only call that went against the Orioles. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez reached base in the ninth on an overturned call.

"I thought it was a home run. i think everybody felt like it was a home run. I actually thought the guy was out at first, but they overturned that one, too. I was really surprised at that one. He didn't beat the play. At the very best, he tied the play, which is not beating the play,” Showalter said.

In the fourth, Gray hit Adam Jones with a pitch. Jones took third on Hyun Soo Kim’s single, and stayed there on Manny Machado’s short fly to left. Davis walked to load the bases. 

The bases stayed loaded as Mark Trumbo popped out to second nbd Jonathan Schoop flied to center. 

Wieters doubled to start the fifth, but he stayed there. 

Machado hit his 21st home run with one out in the sixth for the Orioles’ only run.

Gray, who gave up one run on five hits in seven innings was replaced by Adam Ottavino for the eighth. 

Jones led off with a single. Kim bounced into what was called a double play, but Showalter challenged the call. Kim was ruled safe, but Jones was called out. Machado struck out, and Boone Logan struck out Davis, who is now 1-for-27.

Carlos Estevez got Trumbo to fly out to left, stretching his hitless streak to 17 at-bats. He quickly retired Schoop and Wieters for his 10th save. 

Trumbo and Schoop have played in each of the Orioles’ first 100 games. But, Trumbo didn’t have an All-Star break, and he doesn’t deny being a bit weary. 

“Doing the best I can to stay fresh. Kind of trying to pick and choose some spots. It’s this time of year where there’s a decent amount of wear and tear. You just have to gut it out. That’s what you have to do every year. You feel fortunate to have the ability to play every game, but this is kind of the grind that they talk about,” Trumbo said. 

You know, we fought through it. It's hard to keep the pace that we were at. Our pitching's been better, and we've been in more games. That's why we have a lead in our division right now because we've had other parts of the game pick it up."

The Orioles have averaged three runs per game over the past 16, and Showalter knows the offense has been lagging.

“You know, we fought through it. It's hard to keep the pace that we were at. Our pitching's been better, and we've been in more games. That's why we have a lead in our division right now because we've had other parts of the game pick it up,” Showalter said. 

NOTE: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 7.38) faces Kyle Gibson (3-6, 4.67) as the Orioles play a makeup game in Minnesota on Thursday night.  

 

Quick Links

Suggs insists thought of retiring didn't cross his mind during rehab

Suggs insists thought of retiring didn't cross his mind during rehab

OWINGS MILLS – Not only does 33-year-old Terrell Suggs expect to be back on the field soon, the Ravens’ outside linebacker expects to play at a high level for several more seasons after recovering from his torn Achilles injury.

“It’s a fair question,” said Suggs on Wednesday, when asked what can realistically be expected from him in 2016. “This is 14 years for me. I came here a young 20-year-old, really didn’t know anything. I had some of the greatest Jedi Masters teaching me. It’s a fair question. We’ve seen a lot of Ravens come and go, and I’m one of the last few here. It’s a fair question, but in my eyes, premature.”

Suggs will begin training camp on the PUP list, but vows to be back soon.

“It’s not going to be long,” Suggs said. “We’re close to where we want to be. I can’t be timid, but I got to be smart. I feel good.”

Suggs suffered his season-ending Achilles injury Week 1 of last season, and has torn each of his Achilles once. Is it asking a lot for Suggs to still be an every-down player and double-digit sack artist? Yes. Does he sound up for the challenge? Yes.

MORE RAVENS: SUGGS' SHIRT ENDORSES GAME OF THRONES TICKET IN 2016 ELECTION

”Never did it cross my mind that I wasn’t going to come back,” Suggs said. “I got a lot of promises to keep. Many miles before I can sleep.  I love football. I love the locker room. I love my teammates. I love being out here being confrontational.”

Suggs also made it clear he wanted to silence doubters.

“We hear the gossip,” Suggs said. “We hear what y’all are saying. We’re confident, but motivated, too.”

One of the toughest parts of missing last season for Suggs was watching the Ravens go 5-11, and being unable to help.

“It was very tough to watch, and knowing what the guys went through, and for us to not have the success that we expected,” Suggs said. “It just didn’t feel good. Now we get a chance to kind of make it right. Last year’s gone, but we have to make sure that (same) team doesn’t show up Sept. 11 again. We work too hard. Our fans deserve better and we deserve better. We work our tails off. It takes a lot to be considered a Raven. We just got to get back to that.”

How well Suggs plays this year will play a part in determining his future. But as far as Suggs is concerned, it’s too early to start talking about his last ride.

“It’s not something I want to visit at the end of this year, or the end of next year,” Suggs said. “Maybe the year after that we can talk about it. What will I be, 36 then? But I’m not worried about it right now.”

Quick Links

PHOTO: Suggs endorses Game of Thrones ticket with 2016 election T-shirt

PHOTO: Suggs endorses Game of Thrones ticket with 2016 election T-shirt

BY JEREMY FIALKOW (@JeremyFialkow)

Who are you voting for — Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Before you answer, let's turn to Ravens' outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for some other options.

Suggs, who's ready to make his triumphant return to football after a couple season-derailing injuries, tossed out his 2016 election endorsement to ... the Stark/Targaryen ticket?

The names, of course, stem from two powerful family names in HBO's hit show 'Game of Thrones.' 

(Screenshot/CSN Mid-Atlantic)

Whether Suggs actually stays up to date with 'Thrones' or if the network gifted him merchandise from all of their shows remains to be seen. Regardless, T-Sizzle is starting a movement, so climb aboard.

RELATED: FLACCO WON'T RUSH KNEE INJURY REHAB