Cubs

Cubs rise above adversity to take commanding lead over Giants in NLDS

Cubs rise above adversity to take commanding lead over Giants in NLDS

The sight of Kyle Hendricks walking off the field and into the clubhouse after being struck by a line drive could've been enough to derail the Cubs' good vibes Saturday evening.

Instead, the Cubs never took their foot off the gas and held on for a 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants in front of 42,392 fans at Wrigley Field to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series.

Hendricks was only able to throw 52 pitches, surrendering two runs in 3.2 innings before being forced out of action when Angel Pagan's comebacker hit his right forearm.

In a strange twist of fate, the injury actually helped the Cubs in the short term, as reliever Travis Wood came in and promptly struck out Conor Gillaspie to end the fourth and then blasted a solo homer on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the inning.

"It happened pretty quick," Wood said. "It always does in a situation like that. As a bullpen guy, you're always prepared - especially with Joe [Maddon] - for any situation, anything that pops up, so you kind of keep your body and your mind locked into the game.

"So I was ready to come in. And then the at-bat, it was just I figured he was probably going to start me out with a cutter and I made a good swing on it and was fortunate enough to get him and hit it out of the park."

It was only the second postseason homer by a reliever in baseball history and the first since Rosy Ryan in the 1924 World Series.

"I don't think he's ever gonna let us live this one down," Dexter Fowler joked. "This guy is taking BP all the time. We know he can hit, but he jumped on that first one and got him. He was as pumped as anybody."

Wood's solo shot also stretched the Cubs' lead to 5-2, which they did not relinquish.

The Cubs got the scoring going early when Ben Zobrist lined a two-out single to right field in the bottom of the first, plating Fowler who had led off the inning with a double.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

In the second, Hendricks helped himself with a two-run single before Kris Bryant tacked on another with an RBI single to right field.

All four runs were charged to former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who lasted just the two innings.

The Giants pushed across two runs in the third when Joe Panik and pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco started the inning off with back-to-back doubles. Blanco came around to score on Brandon Belt's sacrifice fly, but that was all the offense the Giants could muster.

Wood recorded four outs, with the only baserunner reaching on an error by Bryant.

Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery did their part before Hector Rondon shut the door in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman picked up his second save in as many games.

In total, the Cubs bullpen accounted for 5.1 shutout innings, allowing only two hits.

The Cubs committed three errors in the game, lost their starting pitcher to injury, watched as Javy Baez was called out at second base after pimping what he thought was a home run and yet still came out on the winning end.

The Cubs have also received just as many RBI from their pitchers (3) as position players in this series, a point of bragging rights in the clubhouse.

"That's fine. We'll catch back up," Fowler said."

The Cubs are now one win from advancing to the NLCS. 

Game 3 will take place in San Francisco Monday night with Jake Arrieta against Madison Bumgarner.

Where Cubs stand in updated All-Star voting

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USA TODAY

Where Cubs stand in updated All-Star voting

The Cubs were swept in four games at the hands of the Reds. The news on the All-Star ballot hasn’t been kind as well.

Starting positions for Cubs players at the 2018 MLB All-Star game is looking a little bleak. But catcher Willson Contreras is still in striking distance.

MLB updated its third round of All-Star ballots for the National League. Dating back a week ago, Contreras was behind Giants catcher Buster Posey by 90,000 votes. As of now, that number is quite similar with Posey up 92,000 votes.

For other Cubs players, the margins have continued to grow in the wrong direction as the week has gone along.

The race for first base is a clear cut path for Braves first basemen Freddie Freeman. With nearly 2,200,000 votes to Freeman’s name, he’s ahead of Anthony Rizzo by nearly 1.3 million votes. At this point last week, Rizzo was down 870,000 votes.

The race for second base is a bit closer. Javier Baez has complied 1,186,243 votes, but he still trails Braves’ Ozzie Albies by 222,000 votes.

But Baez shouldn’t be too comfortable. Reds second basemen Scooter Gennett is just 19,000 votes behind him. Gennett could leap frog Baez, with still 10 days left to vote.

If Baez can get his name ahead of Albies, he’d become the second Cub to start at second base in three years, when Ben Zobrist started in 2016.

Kris Bryant, who has struggled this year offensively, is still struggling in the Midsummer Classic standings. Rockies third basemen Nolan Arenado leads Bryant by 646,400 votes, compared to 447,000 votes last week.

Rounding out the infield with Addison Russell at shortstop, he still sits in third place, trailing Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and Giants Brandon Crawford.

In the outfield, it is more of the same for Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and Ben Zobrist. Heyward sits in seventh place with 750,688 votes. Schwarber in eighth has 706,374 votes, and Zobrist has 694,377 votes in ninth.

Even though the Cubs probably won’t see multiple starters on the field this time around, it doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to be selected as reserves.

Cub faithful still has time to get their players to the All-Star game. Voting ends July 5 at 11 p.m. CT.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd 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 victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).