Cubs

The Cubs put together the most powerful inning in franchise history

The Cubs put together the most powerful inning in franchise history

What a roller coaster.

After Jon Lester gave up nine runs in the top of the second inning, the Cubs stormed all the way back with the help of the most powerful inning in franchise history. But the comeback was to no avail as the Reds outlasted the Cubs in a 13-10 slugfest in front of 38,675 at Wrigley Field Thursday afternoon.

Ian Happ hit a solo homer in the second before the Cubs mashed four taters in the fourth inning, tying the franchise record for homers in an inning:

Back in 2008, it was Jim Edmonds, Mike Fontenot, Aramis Ramirez and Edmonds (again) homering in the fourth inning against the White Sox.

Thursday, it was Kris Bryant going yard first followed by Alex Avila, Happ and Javy Baez going back-to-back-to-back:

It was the first time the Cubs had hit three straight homers since Derrek Lee, Sammy Sosa and Michael Barrett turned the trick against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 15, 2004.

Kyle Schwarber later got in on the yabo parade with an opposite field shot of his own in the fifth inning:

Here's an entire montage of dingers and planes as the Chicago Air & Water Show prepares for the weekend:

After Schwarber's homer, Anthony Rizzo doubled home Bryant and Avila doubled home Rizzo to tie the game at nine.

From there, the Reds scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh and added solo tallies against the Cubs bullpen in the eighth and ninth innings. The Cubs did not have another comeback left in them, though Joe Maddon was more than pleased with the effort from his players.

Maddon said when he went out to remove Lester from the game in the second inning, he told all the infielders he needed each one of them to hit a homer. The quartet combined for four homers, but Happ hit two and Rizzo hit none and the homers were "not transferrable" Maddon joked.

It's the first time the Cubs have lost with back-to-back-to-back homers since 1999 and also the first time they were defeated when hitting six homers since 1979:

If you can't wait for baseball to be back, take a look at the Cubs' spring training schedule

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USA TODAY

If you can't wait for baseball to be back, take a look at the Cubs' spring training schedule

Set your alarm, there are only three more months till baseball is back.

The Cubs announced their spring training schedule Monday, getting folks all amped up for the 34 exhibition games in February and March.

Spring game action gets started Feb. 23 out in Arizona, with the Cubs taking on the Milwaukee Brewers to kick off Cactus League play. The Cubs' first home spring game at Sloan Park in Mesa comes the next day, Feb. 24.

In addition to a 32-game Cactus League slate, the Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians in a pair of exhibition games in Las Vegas. That 2016 World Series rematch comes March 17 and 18.

And of course, there will be three meetings with the White Sox, as both Chicago teams play their spring schedule out in Arizona. Those "Cactus Crosstown" games will be played Feb. 27 and March 10 in Mesa and March 16 in Glendale.

Here's the full schedule:

What if Jake Arrieta stays in the NL Central and repeatedly haunts the Cubs?

What if Jake Arrieta stays in the NL Central and repeatedly haunts the Cubs?

Jake Arrieta in a Brewers uniform?

That's not a sight Cubs fans would like to see, but the North Siders' I-94 rivals are apparently keen on trying to add Arrieta, the free-agent pitcher who's been one of the National League's top arms for the past several seasons.

The Cubs have their own decision to make on whether or not they're going to pursue re-signing Arrieta, a guy who over the past three seasons has posted a 2.71 ERA and struck out 589 batters, winning 54 games in 94 starts for a team that won the 2016 World Series and has advanced to three consecutive NL Championship Series.

The downside to losing Arrieta is obvious, as the Cubs would lose a huge part of their formidable starting rotation, but there would be an added downside if Arrieta were to remain in the NL Central and repeatedly haunt his former team.

Given Arrieta's track record, adding him would make sense for any team in the majors, but the Brewers in particular could use a front-of-the-line starting pitcher to boost their chances of besting the Cubs for the Central crown. The Brew Crew staged a surprising threat to do just that in 2017, perhaps proving that their rebuilding effort has yielded fruit ahead of schedule.

But there are questions in that rotation, with Jimmy Nelson expected to miss time next season after having shoulder surgery. Chase Anderson was great last season, and Zach Davies was solid, too. Brewers starters posted an ERA of 4.10 on the season, good for fifth in the NL. The four teams ahead of them, including the Cubs, all made the playoffs. Adding an arm as good as Arrieta's could make the difference in jumping past the Cubs in the Central and getting the Crew to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

And it'd be a plus for the Brewers to make it so Arrieta couldn't shut down their hitters anymore. In 15 career starts against the Crew, Arrieta is 8-4 with a 2.74 ERA. However, they'd surely love to have him call Miller Park home. He's never lost there in five starts, boasting a 2.03 ERA with 30 strikeouts.

There's an argument to be made that Arrieta would be able to seek revenge on the Cubs no matter what team he ends up pitching for, be it an NL team facing off against the Cubs in the playoffs or an American League squad meeting the Cubs in the World Series. After all, as Scott Boras put it, signing Arrieta is a ticket to "Playoffville."

But should Arrieta make the short drive to Wisconsin and set up shop in America's Dairyland, turning the Brewers into a legitimate playoff contender and challenger to the Cubs' grip on the NL Central crown? Well, consider the Cubs-Brewers rivalry cranked up to 11.