Cubs can't turn bling magic into runs in shutout loss to Dodgers

Cubs can't turn bling magic into runs in shutout loss to Dodgers

OK, now the 2017 season can truly begin for the Cubs.

The championship banner has been raised and flaps in the wind in right center at Wrigley Field. The epic 108-diamond-studded and goat-encrusted World Series rings are in the possession of their rightful owners.

Wednesday night marked the end of the look back at the magical 2016 season, even if the 45-degree mid-April evening finished with the Cubs losing to the Dodgers 2-0.

Roughly a half hour after the ring ceremony, Andrew Toles brought the entire stadium back to Earth with a leadoff homer into the blistering wind in right field.

That was the only run of the game until the top of the ninth. Hector Rondon had Toles swinging on strike three in the dirt, but instead of ending the inning, Willson Contreras threw the ball off Anthony Rizzo's glove and into right field, allowing Chase Utley to motor all the way around from first base for an insurance run.

Rondon was injured on the play in an awkward collision while trying to tag Utley out at home plate and had to be removed from the game.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

The Cubs had nine baserunners on the night on five singles, three walks and Albert Almora Jr. reaching on an error in the eighth inning. But no Cub advanced past second base against Brandon McCarthy and a trio of Dodgers relievers.

John Lackey settled in to strike out 10 through six innings, allowing four hits, three walks and the lone run.

The distractions have now concluded, and the Cubs can get back to focusing on the task at hand on the diamond.

"The celebration's over," Lackey said. "Now it's time to start working on another one."

The Cubs' "new" season begins Thursday afternoon on CSN and streaming right here on Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with Cubs Pregame Live.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer 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.

Sosa hit the 30-homer threshold on June 21, 1998 in only his 71st game of the season. For perspective, the 2018 Cubs leader in homers on June 21 is Javy Baez with 14 and Mike Trout leads all of baseball with only 23.

At this point, Mark McGwire was ahead of Sosa, but the Cubs slugger was pulling closer. McGwire had 33 dingers on June 21 while Ken Griffey Jr. had 28 and Greg Vaughn had 25.

Sosa' June 21 homer came off Tyler Green and was his 5th blast of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field that year. But the Cubs lost that series, despite Sosa's efforts.

Fun fact: Sosa drove in 10 runs in the three-game series with the Phillies that summer while the rest of his teammates combined for only 9 RBI.

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of


Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here: