Gerrit Cole shuts down Cubs again after last year's trash talk

Gerrit Cole shuts down Cubs again after last year's trash talk

The last time Gerrit Cole faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field, he shut them out for eight innings then promptly backed up his play by stating the Cubs are not the best team in baseball.

That was 11 months ago - May 15, 2016 to be exact - and it's not like the Cubs (6-4) had that statement printed out and tacked up on bulletin boards throughout the clubhouse before facing Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates (4-6) Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Cole wasn't exactly dominant but allowed only two runs in six innings to beat the Cubs once again 4-2 in front of 40,430 fans to kick off the first weekend series of the season at "The Friendly Confines."

Even if the Cubs didn't use Cole's 11-month-old comments as fuel for Friday's game, it's not as if they forgot his bold statement, even after a World Series championship.

"That's fine," Joe Maddon said before the game when asked about Cole's comments. "I'm sure there's certain things I'm not sure of, either. I try to refrain from actually saying them out loud, though."

The Cubs' resume obviously speaks for itself as they proved Cole wrong by finishing 2016 with 103 victories en route to a wild World Series run that ended in the greatest baseball game ever played.

But Cole - the pitcher the Cubs beat in the one-game wild-card playoff in October 2015 - acted as a true ace for his team Friday, halting a four-game losing streak and keeping a powerful Cubs lineup at bay just enough to let the rest of his team come through against Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs bullpen.

After Kyle Schwarber broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the fifth, the Pirates strung together three straight hits to re-tie the score in the sixth and chase Hendricks from the game. Two batters later, the pesky Francisco Cervelli lined a double to right-center to make it 4-2.

The Cubs threatened in the eighth when Kris Bryant walked and Anthony Rizzo was plunked to lead off the inning. But Ben Zobrist struck out on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Felipe Rivero and Addison Russell lined out to center. Jason Heyward reached on an infield single before Willson Contreras grounded out to end the inning.

The Cubs put together another rally in the ninth with two outs when Schwarber walked, Bryant reached on an error and Rizzo was hit again. But Zobrist grounded to short to end the afternoon. 

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.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


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.