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SportsMondayTuesday: Memorial Cubs

There ya go Cubbies. Oh, and Clint Hurdle sucks.

About 18 hours after Tyler Chatwood screamed at himself when it became clear he was going to have another rocky night on Sunday (and that was right after the first inning and therefore before he walked the Giants' pitcher twice in the next two innings), the North Siders had bounced back as well as a team can bounce back to wrap up a highly satisfying Memorial Day Weekend of baseball fun.

Despite Chatwood giving up three in the first, continuing to teeter on the edge in the second and only getting two outs in the third, the Giants would never score again. The bullpen locked it down and the bats led the way to a comfortable 8-3 win.

And then Mike Montgomery threw 5 2/3 shutout innings Monday afternoon as the Cubs cruised to a 7-0 triumph. It added up to a victorious series versus San Fran and a great start in Pittsburgh. The Cubs hit the 50-game mark with 28 wins and are two games behind the scorching Brewers in the loss column. (Whey are also seven behind in wins but there's no need to dwell on that in the middle of a win streak now is there?)

And then attention quickly turned to Pirate manager Hurdle's crying about the Cubs daring to play a little good old-fashioned baseball.

Despite the fact that Hurdle and several Pirates acted shocked that Anthony Rizzo would choose to try to break up a potential double-play rather than meekly slide around catcher Elias Diaz, Rizzo's play wasn't just allowed, it should be celebrated.

And, hang onto your hat, it worked! Diaz did a lousy job getting himself clear of the plate after recording a force and when he threw as Rizzo made contact, he launched it into right field, giving the Cubs a pair of insurance runs.

Hurdle had his tantrum and got tossed and maybe he will fire up his team but Joe Maddon was right on the money when he expressed his displeasure with the play even being reviewed. Rizzo's slide obviously enabled him to catch plenty of the plate.

So now the umps need to step up. Any sort of warnings about beanballs should be issued at the start of tonight's game, especially after a couple Pirates continued to struggle postgame to understand that Rizzo was playing the game the way it is supposed to be played. That way the first beanball will result in an ejection. It is never okay for a pitcher to reach back and intentionally fire a fastball at a player (don't talk to me about the unwritten rules of baseball! Intentionally hitting a fellow ballplayer is assault). And most of all it is never okay to do so with premeditation.

Monday's game also marked the return of one of the best television tandems in baseball broadcasting. Thank goodness we could get back to Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies, who are absolutely at the top of their game these days, on the mikes. It was such a stark contrast to ESPN's lame, gimmicky broadcast from the right-field bleachers the night before. Enough said.

The Cubs' bullpen was the story on Sunday, and to a certain extent has been the story all year. And it would appear that this team has enough depth in the back end of its pitching staff that even if the manager does burn out a reliever or two, they'll have reinforcements at the ready.

Lefthander Randy Rosario went two-and-a-third to gain his first major league victory against the Giants in immediate relief of Chatwood. He has hit the ground throwing strikes in his first major league stint. Newcomer Justin Hancock used his mid- to upper-90s heat to give the Cubs a big inning later on and then on Monday, Luke Farrell (called up to replace Hancock to give the Cubs another fresh arm) threw a one-two-three ninth to start to bounce back from a bad couple games in St. Louis during his first 2018 major league stint earlier in the season.

And multi-year stalwarts Brian Duensing (two shutout innings on Sunday), Carl Edwards (an inning Sunday), Justin Wilson and Pedro Strop (one-two-three innings Monday) continued to do the job and then some. All that great relief pitching and they never even had to use closer Brandon Morrow.

It sure feels like it is time to leave Mike Montgomery in the starting rotation. At least give him another start and if it doesn't go well, Chatwood can slot back in there. But given how good Montgomery has been in spot starts over the past few years, you have to believe he will probably take a chance like that and run with it.

At the plate, a variety of Cubs contributed in a variety of ways but the big blows were Javy Baez's three-run bomb to the opposite field to put the team in front for good on Sunday and Addison Russell's pinch-hit, two-run homer to make the lead 3-0 on Sunday.

Atta boys!


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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