Chicago Cubs starting to get national attention
The Cubs are starting to draw national notice.
And why not?
Their 1-0 victory in 10 innings Tuesday night over the Dodgers was their fourth win in a row and their major-league leading ninth walk-off victory of the year.
Chris Denorfia's sacrifice fly to deep center against Kenley Jansen scored Matt Szczur with the game-winner as the Cubs have won the first two of this four-game series.
Beginning with Wednesday night's game, they will appear on a national network for nine of their next 14 games.
For the second time in three weeks, ESPN will show the Cubs on "Sunday Night Baseball" this weekend, when they play the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
ESPN will pick up six of the nine network games, with FOX showing two Saturday games and the MLB Network televising Friday's game at St. Louis, with Bob Costas on the call.
"Bring it on, man," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "That's what it's all about. We want that. We've talked about it from Day One. The word 'pressure' is actually a positive. The better we play, hopefully the more people will recognize us.
"Our guys like it. I want them to like it. That's what this industry's all about, is to try to be the best, and then when you are, you get more recognition.
That's just part of the evolution."
The Cubs seemed to have opened even more eyes with Monday's 4-2 victory over the Dodgers and their ace, Clayton Kershaw.
"I don't get to see him," Maddon said. "That's the second time I've seen him pitch. And I was really impressed with the carry on his fastball.
"That doesn't happen very often. I'm watching all that and thinking, 'Where are we going to get the runs from?' So when you beat a guy of that ability, it should elevate the entire group internally, mentally. You've got to beat guys like that to know that you can.
"So if everybody else is taking note, that's wonderful. I just want our guys to take note. I thought we played really well yesterday. We were really in the present tense yesterday. Absolutely loved it. If we're going to go out there with that kind of focus nightly, I'll take whatever happens.
"We were really good in the moment, and that's my take-away from yesterday."
The only concern might be how the young Cubs will handle the attention.
"I think we handled yesterday well," Maddon said. "I think a lot of it has to do with how I go about my business as well as the other coaches and some of the veteran guys on the team. That's what really sets the tone for how the younger players are going to feel. It's very important that when I walk in the door I'm very consistent."
Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel, who has been consistent most of the year, worked 7⅔ innings of 2-hit ball Tuesday. Even though he didn't get a decision, Hammel lowered his ERA from 2.89 to 2.65.
In two nights, the Cubs have come away with victories when the Dodgers started Kershaw and Zack Greinke against them.
"That's got to give you some confidence you can do it against the best," Maddon said.