Cubs

Cubs find a way to beat Mets on Matt Harvey Day

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Cubs find a way to beat Mets on Matt Harvey Day

Joe Maddon sat down at the table inside Wrigley Field’s interview room/dungeon and a reporter asked if the Cubs manager could lead Wednesday night’s postgame news conference with Matt Harvey.

“Let’s start with Jason Hammel,” Maddon said, getting a few laughs after a 2-1 walk-off win over the New York Mets.

All the talk about this four-game litmus-test series has revolved around the first-place Mets and their young power arms and how the Cubs will measure up with their stable of power hitters.

The Cubs will now go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon after Hammel allowed only one run across eight innings and that young lineup finally broke through against New York’s bullpen.

[MORE CUBS: Is Kris Bryant the long-term answer at third base?]

The Cubs outlasted The Dark Knight of Gotham.

“It was going to be the first guy to blink,” Hammel said. “And I was actually the first guy to blink. But we battled back.”

The ninth-inning rally began with Anthony Rizzo’s leadoff single against Mets reliever Carlos Torres. Pinch-runner Matt Szczur went first-to-third on Starlin Castro’s hit-and-run single to left field. An intentional walk to Miguel Montero loaded the bases in a tie game.

After Jorge Soler struck out – and with five infielders in – Chris Coghlan worked a five-pitch walk against Mets closer Jeurys Familia. That sparked a mosh pit along the first-base line.  

“This team’s just different,” Coghlan said. “I know that you guys (in the media) have to compare. But you just really can’t compare, at least last year to this year or the years before. Because we have so much more talent. We have different chemistry. We have different options.”

Harvey has done late-night comedy for Jimmy Fallon, posed naked for ESPN the Magazine’s “Body Issue” and gained 136,000 followers on his personal Twitter account. Not that Hammel (3.11 ERA) and rest of this Cubs rotation necessarily feels overshadowed or underrated.

“That’s the New York media,” said Hammel, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and notched his fourth straight quality start. “They’re going to get talked about all the time. Not to say that Chicago is any lighter.

“Obviously, they had a great start to the season (an 11-game winning streak in April). We’ve lost a couple real close ones where we could be ‘hyped.’

“But we don’t really care. We’re playing quality ball right now. As long as we keep coming out and grinding out at-bats, playing our 27 outs, we should be fine.”

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Harvey, the 2013 All-Star Game starter who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, dominated for seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits and two walks against nine strikeouts.

“Every advertisement he gets, he earns,” Coghlan said. “It’s tough to admit that, but he throws and commands all four pitches. He didn’t really throw many fastballs. It was all slider, cutter, curveball, a couple changeups, and then he’ll throw the heater in there late. Not many guys that can throw 95-98 (mph) are going to do that. That’s why he’s so effective.”   

The Cubs are now 18-15, winning six games in their last at-bat and feeling like they can play with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

“There’s a great vibe in our dugout,” Maddon said. “We’re developing into this group. We’re starting to really believe. When you’re able to win games late on a consistent basis that becomes part of the fabric. It’s really important to feel that way. You’re going to have to win games like that. You have to beat good pitching by pitching better than good pitching.”

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.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

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USA TODAY

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.