Maddon wants Cubs to stick with game plan

Skipper says his hitters need better approach at the plate

Maddon wants Cubs to stick with game plan

CHICAGO -- It was even crazier for Cubs manager Joe Maddon to drive to Wrigley Field on Saturday because of the people out and about enjoying the balmy weather and gearing up for Game 4 of the World Series. Perhaps the young Cubs were a little overwhelmed in Game 3 on Friday in a 1-0 loss to the Indians? After all, it was the first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945.

"I'm not 24, so when a guy walks into the ballpark and he sees this increased whatever, this magnitude of everything, it could've been a little unsettling," Maddon said, "but I didn't read that among our guys. I'm not naive enough to say it's not possible. It probably is possible. To get past that moment to [Saturday], I know our guys will be very focused.

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"They are kids, they're very young. It's a pretty eventful moment."

One of those kids is Javier Baez, who struck out to end the game, stranding two runners in scoring position in the ninth.

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"There's nothing different except getting a better pitch to hit," Maddon said.

The first pitch to Baez from Indians closer Cody Allen was a fastball, which Maddon felt was the best pitch for Baez in the sequence. Then, Allen threw a breaking ball in the dirt, Baez fell behind 1-2 on a checked-swing strike, and then he swung and missed an elevated fastball.

"It's not about doing anything differently, it's about getting a better pitch and trying to have a better game plan," Maddon said.

The Cubs managed five hits and struck out eight times in Game 3, and they just need to get back to their normal game plan, Maddon said.

"I liked what we were supposed to do, we just didn't follow through," Maddon said. "We were just chasing. It wasn't about pitches that were borderline. We swung at way too many pitches in the dirt.

"In a 1-0 game, you probably pitch pretty good, you probably caught the ball pretty good," he said. "Obviously, we didn't score any runs. In my mind's eye, it's not because there wasn't good prep, we just got out of our game plan."

Glovework
Maddon expected the Cubs' outfielders to be busy on Friday because of the conditions. The wind was blowing out at 14 mph, but there was just one putout by Chicago outfielders. Jason Heyward started in right field on Saturday to help provide better defense in right.

"With [John Lackey] pitching, the emphasis shifts to the outfield defense," Maddon said. "[On Friday] we could've had anybody in the outfield. [Kyle Schwarber] could've played yesterday as it turned out based on the activity. It's so unpredictable."

Schwarber, who underwent left knee surgery in April, was not cleared to play the outfield.

Thanks, everyone
Maddon tried to shake the hand of every member of the baseball operations staff who paraded around the field prior to Game 3 on Friday. The group included the scouting and player development staffs.

"I've been that guy, and that's how I started -- I still view myself as that guy, that's who I am," Maddon said. "I'm scouting and development. When they come by, they're so jacked up. When you sign a guy and he makes it to the big leagues and gets to this stage, that is like being a dad and a proud father. The developmental guys who you worked with -- I think of Devon White. He used to swing and miss in batting practice in Idaho Falls, and [he] ends up being this tremendous player. There's an attachment to that player and person. I get it. I was really happy for all of them."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.