Cubs reliever Edwards has confidence in himself, team

SHARE Cubs reliever Edwards has confidence in himself, team
SHARE Cubs reliever Edwards has confidence in himself, team

LOS ANGELES — Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. sounded as confident and upbeat as anyone in the Cubs’ clubhouse after their stunning walk-off loss Sunday night to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

Then again, he might have more cause to feel confident than anyone else in the room after his four-up, four-down performance, which included three strikeouts, in relief of starter Jon Lester.

It preserved the 1-1 standoff into the seventh inning and answered some of the questions about Edwards after he struggled with command in the five-game first-round series against the Nationals.

His confidence level?

“Riding high,” he said. “It’s a new series, a new start. It’s like a new season all over again.”

That was before the game.

Afterward: “It’s always tough to lose by one,” he said. “But as a group, we’ll come back.

“We’ll be back in Chicago. Our fans will be there. They’ll be loud, and we’ll have a lot of support and before you know it, this series will be tied.”

Talk about confidence.

“We have a lot of confidence,” he said.

They’ll need a lot more than that. They’ll need more relief innings like Edwards’ and Pedro Strop’s and Brian Duensing’s on Sunday.

And fewer of the kind they had in the first round or that John Lackey had in the ninth.

Whether Lackey will have to continue to play a relief role the rest of the series for the Cubs to have a chance shows how rough the bullpen had been pitching heading into the game.

“He can be very valuable,” manager Joe Maddon said before the game. “If the other guys are having a moment, Johnny could be very important.”

A moment?

The Cubs’ 7.08 bullpen ERA through Saturday was one of the worst postseason team relief performances in franchise history. Only three-game efforts in 1932 (9.00) and 1998 (12.79) were worse.

The two struggling the most are two of Maddon’s four most-trusted relievers: Mike Montgomery and Edwards.

“They have not been on top of their game, and they’ll be the first two guys to tell you that,” Maddon said. “But we’re not winning eight more games without them. It’s just not going to happen.”

This and that

Maddon was contacted by Major League Baseball discipline czar Joe Torre after he was ejected for his on-field diatribe over the rule on blocking home plate, which wound up giving the Dodgers a run in their 5-2 victory in Game 1 on Saturday. He expected to meet face-to-face with Torre and faces a possible fine.

◆ The Cubs say they identified the former team scout who attempted to auction his World Series ring through Leland’s Auctions, but they won’t disclose his identity. The bidding reached $65,000 before the ring was pulled from the auction site after the team contacted Leland’s.

◆ Maddon on a growing number of Twitter advocates for rookie Ian Happ starting in place of one of the Cubs’ struggling starters: “The backup quarterback’s always the most popular guy in the building.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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