Mark Townsend

  • The Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time since 1945

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 28 mins ago

    It’s finally happening. For the first time since 1945, the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.

    The Cubs wrapped up their historic berth by topping the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship on Saturday. They’ll move on to face on the Cleveland Indians, who by virtue of the American League winning the All-Star game will host Game 1 on Tuesday night. The Cubs will be seeking their first championship since 1908.

    The night itself belongs to Chicago and Cubs fans all over the world. In a baseball sense though, it was Kyle Hendricks world, and we were privileged to be living in it. The 26-year-old right-hander, who emerged as a surprise Cy Young candidate this season, was nearly untouchable. In fact, he retired 22 straight batters after Andrew Toles greeted him with a single leading off the game. Hendricks ended up going 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two singles.

    For a little perspective, Chicago had eight plate appearances with runners in scoring position in just the first three innings. They had just two the entire game in Kershaw’s Game 2 start. Chicago tallied five runs against Kershaw over his five innings, and the Dodgers never recovered.

  • Does Kyle Schwarber's AFL assignment signal chance of World Series return?

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 7 hrs ago

    Here’s some news that will no doubt pique the interest of Chicago Cubs fans. It should also have the Cleveland Indians paying close attention.

    Injured slugger Kyle Schwarber, who hit a franchise-record five home runs during a remarkable postseason last season, is reportedly headed to the Arizona Fall League to continue his recovery from knee surgery.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, Schwarber has been added to the Mesa Solar Sox taxi squad and will serve as their designated hitter Saturday night. Being on the taxi squad means a player can only play Wednesday and Saturday. It would be fitting for a player that’s limited physically. However, there’s already strong speculation the Cubs are mainly looking to test Schwarber’s knee and perhaps knock some rust ahead of a potential return in the World Series.

    Yeah, it might sound like a long shot. But that’s better than no shot.

    Oh, and the medical reports sound good too.

    Theo after Schwarber's six-month checkup: “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard."

  • Three reasons we shouldn't count out the Dodgers in the NLCS

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 9 hrs ago

    As the first pitch of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series nears, almost all of the focus is on the Chicago Cubs opportunity to make history, reverse curses and reach the franchise’s first World Series since 1945.

    We doubt the Los Angeles Dodgers are too upset about that.

    If any team has needed a 48-hour break to clear its mind and perhaps even allow the pressure to shift to the other side, it’s this Dodgers squad. They were dismantled physically, mentally and strategically during lopsided losses in Games 4 and 5. They were frustrated by their own struggles. They were rattled by some calls they didn’t agree with. Mostly, though, they were beaten down by a dominant and determined team on a mission.

    That mission won’t change on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean the Dodgers are a lost cause either. As they have shown many times throughout the season, when injuries ravaged their roster, they’re a resilient team. As long as they’re alive, they have a fighting chance.

    Here, we’ll look at the three biggest reasons they’re capable of flipping the scripts and breaking Cubs fans hearts all over again.

    Ignore the odds The odds don’t favor the Dodgers this weekend.

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  • Why the last living member of 1948 Indians is upset with the team

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 10 hrs ago

    With the Cleveland Indians four wins away from the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1948, the mood around the team and the city has been mostly celebratory. Unfortunately, that joy isn’t being shared by Eddie Robinson, the lone surviving member of the 1948 Indians team.

    Robinson is upset that he has not been contacted by the team at any point during its run to the 2016 World Series, according to the New York Daily News.

    “That’s the funny thing about it. I haven’t heard a damn word from Cleveland. Not a word,” Robinson told the Daily News. “I’m disappointed. It just seems like they would want to talk to any member of the ’48 team, let the press talk to them. I don’t understand it. Maybe they’ll get in touch with me.”

    For his career, Robinson was a four-time All-Star who finished with 1,146 hits and 172 home runs.

    According to the Daily News story, the 95-year-old Paris, Texas, native now lives in Fort Worth. He is also currently the oldest living player to suit up for the New York Yankees.

    About this first pitch nonsense:

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  • Indians hoping Danny Salazar will be ready for World Series

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Long layoffs are not typically welcomed by teams in the midst of a postseason run. However, the Cleveland Indians can’t really complain about the six days they’ll have to rest and heal ahead of World Series Game 1 on Tuesday.

    As everyone knows by now, the Indians are a beat up team, particularly in the starting rotation. But Friday offered optimism that the extra days of rest could allow two key members of their rotation to return at or near 100 percent. That includes Danny Salazar, who had been shut down since early September due to a right forearm strain.

    According to manager Terry Francona, the All-Star right-hander threw a two-inning simulated game on Sunday that went according to plan. Salazar is scheduled to throw another simulated game this weekend. If that goes well, Francona left the door open for Salazar to pitch and perhaps even start a World Series game. He concluded his comments with six very encouraging words.

    “I think he’s ready to pitch.”

    Francona on Salazar, who could be available for the World Series. #Indians

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  • Cubs fans camp outside Wrigley Field hoping for NLCS tickets

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Chicago Cubs are one win away from clinching their first trip to the World Series since 1945 and not surprisingly a lot of fans are desperate to be a part of history.

    How desperate you ask? Desperate enough to camp outside Wrigley Field on Friday night in hopes that tickets to NLCS Game 6, or potentially Game 7, will become available.

    According to CBS Chicago, fans started showing up early on Friday with the knowledge they’d likely have to wait until Saturday morning to find out if tickets were available. The problem, of course, is that it’s possible tickets will not be released. And even if some are, it’s likely there won’t be enough to cover a crowd that’s expected to continue growing overnight.

    Nonetheless, fans have not been deterred. In fact, many sound prepared to stay as long as necessary, even if that means braving some uncomfortable elements.

    Here’s more from the CBS Chicago report:

    The Cubs won’t allow them to camp out near the ticket counter, so fans like Luis Delgado have relocated just outside a construction site and scaffolding across the street.

  • NLCS Game 4: Cubs offense erupts to even series with Dodgers

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    The Chicago Cubs offense is alive and well. After being shutout in consecutive postseason games for the first time in franchise history, the Cubs bounced back to destroy the Dodgers 10-2 in a much-needed Game 4 breakout. The win evens the series at 2-2, setting up a pivotal Game 5 Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

    The Cubs scoreless innings streak reached 21, but it was snapped convincingly by a four-run fourth inning rally. Chicago’s offense peppered Julio Urias with three straight singles leading up to Addison Russell’s slump-busting two-run homer. One inning later, Anthony Rizzo broke his own slump with a solo blast that seemingly opened the floodgates.

    The Cubs kept things going in the sixth, adding five more runs. Rizzo’s two-run single served as the dagger.

    • Mike Montgomery continued a good day for left-handed relievers. After Andrew Miller was named MVP of the ALCS, Montgomery picked up a win with two scoreless innings in relief of John Lackey. He also added a single, which helped fuel the Cubs five-run sixth inning.

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  • Cleveland's conundrum: World Series Game 1 or Cavaliers' ring ceremony?

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    The city of Cleveland has been waiting 52 years to raise a championship banner. Now it has six days to decide whether the Cavaliers NBA championship ceremony will trump being witness to what could be the beginning of the end of the Indians 68-year World Series championship drought.

    That’s right, after decades of being a laughing stock, the sports world will revolve around Cleveland on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 25. On one side of Gateway Plaza, the Cavaliers will celebrate their NBA championship before their home opener against the New York Knicks. At the exact same time just a few-hundred feet away, the Indians will be playing host to Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field after defeating the Blue Jays in the ALCS.

    Talk about a conundrum of epic proportions. Not only will fans have to decide which game to watch, some might have to decide which game to attend. And others with plans on driving will have to find a parking spot.

    Good luck with that.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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  • Indians not impressed with fan's $5 World Series bet

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Despite a 5-1 loss in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the Cleveland Indians still hold a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Toronto Blue Jays. All they need is one more win and they’ll reach their first World Series since 1997. From there, they’ll attempt to secure the franchise’s first world championship since 1948.

    That’s a pretty exciting proposition for all Indians fans. Especially so for those confident enough to place a World Series bet on the team before the season. That’s exactly what a fan using the moniker “Matty Cleveland” did back in January, and he wanted to let the entire Twitterverse know of his confidence with the team on the verge of history.

    Wanna talk about how much I believed in this team coming into this year… made a bet on them winning the World Series JANUARY 4TH ✊????

    — Matty Cleveland (@MarronMatt) October 18, 2016

    He believed, ladies and gentleman! He believed so much that he reached in his wallet and pulled out …. one $5 bill.

    @MarronMatt $5?

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  • NLCS Game 3: Dodgers shut out Cubs again to take series lead

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    It wasn’t even a week ago we were questioning if the Los Angeles Dodgers had enough pitching to advance through the NLDS. Now that same pitching has carried them to a lead in the National League Championship Series. Behind six scoreless innings from Rich Hill, the Dodgers emerged with a 6-0 victory in Game 3. Now they’ll look to take full control of the series in Game 4 on Wednesday.

    Dave Roberts pushed the right buttons with his bullpen too. Joe Blanton put his rough Game 1 behind him with a scoreless seventh inning. Grant Dayton picked up two outs in the eighth before giving way to closer Kenley Jansen, who remained light outs.

    Of course, the Dodgers also needed some offense of their own against Jake Arrieta. They only managed two total hits in their last two games against Arrieta, but came through for four runs here, with Corey Seager’s RBI single in the third serving as the icebreaker. The Dodgers would add three more on a Yasmani Grandal two-run homer and a Justin Turner solo shot.

    For a little more perspective on the Dodgers’ pitching excellence and the Cubs’ current struggles.

    Cubs have never been shut out in back-to-back postseason games.

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