Cubs

Cubs think Marmols game can be saved

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Cubs think Marmols game can be saved

MESA, Ariz. Carlos Marmol and Dale Sveum were seen laughing together on Sunday at Fitch Park. This was the first workout, the perfect time for optimism.

The first-year manager hasnt had to sit through a ninth inning where Marmol loads the bases, or walk into the Wrigley Field interview roomdungeon after his closer blows the save.

Lets see how Sveum reacts when Marmol cant handle the heat. But for now the message is stop experimenting and get back to Marmols core strength unleashing the slider, which no one really knows where its going.

We might have just told him to wipe out the cutter he tried throwing last year, Sveum said. He admits it caused him a lot of problems and got him a little out of whack. (Hes) an impressive closer, but hes a slider guy (with) one of the best, (almost) unhittable sliders that weve seen in a long time.

When I was in Milwaukee, (our hitters would) come back (to the dugout) and they were like: What is that pitch? I dont even know what that is. And I remember watching it on video leading into a series and Im like: What is he doing? What is that? Is that just bad sliders? We kind of laughed about that.

Marmol led the majors with 10 blown saves last season. The year before, he converted 38-of-43 chances and struck out 138 hitters in 77-plus innings. New pitching coach Chris Bosio has made a few suggestions to keep his mechanics in line.

He wants to lean back, Sveum said. He wants to crank velocity. He wants to create arm strength through his shoulders and then he just gets out of whack. Its more just keeping the shoulders in line with the strike zone and I think that will help him tremendously.

Marmol will have to regain his confidence and the feel for his slider, but the Cubs hope this isnt a big fix, that he can be dominant once again. Stay tuned.

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

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AP

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: