Cubs

Cubs can't complete another miracle comeback against Giants bullpen

Cubs can't complete another miracle comeback against Giants bullpen

Hours before the first pitch was even thrown in Cubs-Giants Monday night, the managers of both teams fielded questions on the miraculous comeback that occurred the last time these two teams squared off.

But the Cubs offense couldn't complete another epic comeback against the San Francisco bullpen Monday, dropping a 6-4 contest in front of 36,204 fans at Wrigley Field.

Two hundred, twenty three days after the Cubs scored four runs in the ninth inning to eliminate the Giants in the National League Division Series, they put a four-spot on the board in the eighth inning.

But the Giants had built a six-run lead and called upon Hunter Strickland (who was on the mound for the final runs of that Game 4) to induce a rally-killing double play ball from Willson Contreras.

The Cubs had done nothing against Ty Blach for seven innings before Jason Heyward led off the eighth with a single. Javy Baez followed with a homer, pinch-hitter Ian Happ tripled and Ben Zobrist drilled another blast into the right-field bleachers.

Pinch-hitter Jon Jay followed Zobrist's homer with a single and after Kris Bryant flied out, Anthony Rizzo was plunked, putting two on and one out for Contreras.

"We're not tired of saying that we never quit," Baez said. "The game is 27 outs, maybe more. We just gonna keep fighting until the game is over."

Mark Melancon —  the big-money closer recently activated off the disabled list who was signed to help stabilize the back end of the Giants bullpen — pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the San Francisco victory.

John Lackey had a rough outing for the Cubs, allowing five runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in five innings. He also hit two batters and gave up two home runs — including a solo shot by Joe Panik to lead off the game.

"Honestly, I threw the ball better tonight than I have my last three," Lackey said. "I felt like I executed quite a few pitches, but they got a few more balls up than we did."

Overall, Maddon liked what he saw, from the stellar defense to the "never quit" mentality.

"We had really good at-bats, played our defense," Maddon said. "That's what I'm looking for. More of that. When you lose a game like that, my thought has always been, if we keep playing like that, we're gonna win plenty.

"We didn't quit. I have nothing to complain about. I shall sleep well. That's the game we're looking for right there.

"You saw the effort. ... Sometimes the score is not in your favor but when you play baseball proeprly and keep doing that, it comes back to you."

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Why can't a trade be looked at as a win-win? 

There doesn't always have to be a clear winner and loser.

Prior to Jose Quintana taking the ball for Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, Joe Maddon was asked about the players (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease) the Cubs gave up to acquire Quintana as well as the deal with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman in July 2016.

Gleyber Torres is absolutely killing it in New York, hitting .323 with a 1.014 OPS, 9 homers and 24 RBI in only 29 games. Six of those homers have come in the last week alone. 

With the White Sox, both Jimenez and Cease have found success in Double-A and Advanced Class-A, respectively.

Jimenez is hitting .331 with a .992 OPS, 9 homers and 35 RBI in 35 games. Cease is 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

As the Cubs work to get their offense settled into a consistent groove, some Cubs fans have been looking at what might've been with guys like Torres and Jimenez.

"You can't have it both ways, man," Maddon said. "I'm happy for Gleyber. When he left, we talked about it. And we talked about the kids that went to the White Sox. It's good stuff. 

"I'm really disappointed if anybody's disappointed in the fact we won the World Series in 2016 and the fact that the guy we're talking about that we had to give up Gleyber for was so instrumental in that happening. That's bad process if you're gonna get stuck on something like that. Be happy for Gleyber. Be happy for him."

Maddon has been a fan of Torres' since he saw him in spring training in 2015, Maddon's first year in the Cubs organization.

"This kid's 21, with high, high baseball intellect," Maddon said. "He's very similar to Javy on the field. I've had some great conversations with him in the past. 

"The first time I saw him in spring training, I thought this guy's for real. It was like one at-bat, line drive to RF, I said who is this guy? And then you have a conversation with him. He's solid."

Maddon's point is a great one — would Cubs fans prefer to still have Torres and NOT have the 2016 World Series championship? Because that title doesn't happen without Chapman, regardless of how you feel about him as a person or what the Cubs had to give up to acquire him.

"Don't play that game," Maddon said. "Be happy for [Torres]. I'm gonna be happy when Eloy and Dylan make it up here. All these dudes, I want them to get here and be really good. And the guys that we get, I want them to be really good. 

"I don't understand why somebody's gotta lose all the time. This is an absolute classic example of what was good for both teams."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

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AP

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.