Cubs finally figure out Francisco Liriano, hammer Pirates

Cubs finally figure out Francisco Liriano, hammer Pirates

These aren't the same old Cubs anymore.

They proved that again Friday afternoon as they hammered old foe Francisco Liriano.

The Cubs hit three home runs en route to a 9-4 victory over Liriano and the Pirates in front of 37,479 people at Wrigley Field.

Liriano came into the game with a 2.27 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings (11 starts) against the Cubs in his career, including a sparkling 1.90 ERA in 10 starts in a Pirates uniform.

But the Cubs knocked around Liriano on Friday to the tune of eight runs on nine hits and and four walks, plus the three home runs to take advantage of the wind finally blowing out at Wrigley.

Addison Russell delivered the first blow — a three-run shot in the fourth inning. Kris Bryant (two-run shot) and David Ross (three-run homer) followed suit in the fifth inning.

"It's nice to have a little fun today after the panic set in after we lost two in a row," Ross joked. "Now everybody can relax a little bit more; we actually won one. Back on track on the winning streak."

Dexter Fowler drove in Ross with a two-out double in the eighth inning to close out the Cubs' scoring on the afternoon.

After a rough series against the San Diego Padres, Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler took a lot of flak for their slow starts offensively, but the two outfielders combined to reach base five times in nine plate appearances on two singles and three walks. Heyward also hit into some rough luck with a line drive right at Pittsburgh left fielder Starling Marte and was robbed on a hit up the middle in the ninth by Pirates shortstop Sean Rodriguez.

Jason Hammel was stellar again on the mound for the Cubs, striking out eight and allowing just one earned run in 6 2/3 innings.

The Cubs have now outscored the Pirates 29-9 on the season, winning all four head-to-head matchups.

"I've talked about the power of 24 hours. That's the power of 48, I guess, right?" Joe Maddon said. "Whatever happened the previous game, the only way things like that injure or bother you is if you permit them to.

"I'm telling you, man, don't be a carrier. If something negative happens, don't be a carrier. Find the nearest lake and drop it in the lake on your way home. And just come out and play the next day. The last game's got nothing to do with today. And our guys really responded well."

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


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.