Jason Hammel shows no signs of discomfort as Cubs hold off Diamondbacks

Jason Hammel shows no signs of discomfort as Cubs hold off Diamondbacks

Jason Hammel’s outing on Memorial Day ended prematurely because of a leg cramp.

On Saturday afternoon, Hammel didn’t show any signs of discomfort as he pitched seven innings in the Cubs’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Hammel notched his seventh victory of the season in front of 40,415 fans.

The Cubs improved to 39-15 on the year and have now won 10 of their last 11 games.

Hammel got off to somewhat of a slow start, in large part due to the rain.

"My warm-up pitches in the first inning, I almost launched two to the backstop because it was coming down pretty good," Hammel said.

Early in the game, the Diamondbacks really went after the Cubs starter by working his pitch count.

Arizona opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run homer by Jake Lamb. Hammel found himself in a few more jams in the next couple innings but was able to escape.

When the third ended, Hammel was already at 55 pitches, and his glove got an earful of his frustrations as he walked back to the dugout.

It seemed to work as Hammel was on point after that.

The veteran retired the next nine batters he faced and finished his outing allowing just one hit, two earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts on 96 pitches (62 strikes).

"I just tried to stay with it," Hammel said. "Try and command the ball in the strike zone, and then hopefully the rain would calm down. I just ended up finding a pretty good rhythm."

He even contributed at the plate.

The Cubs scored three runs in the fourth, two of which came from Hammel on a single that took a favorable bounce off second base and ricocheted into the outfield. That turned out to be the game-winner.

"I’m glad second base is where second base is because it helped, obviously," Hammel said. "I don’t know if (Diamondbacks second baseman Jean) Segura makes that play up the middle, but obviously it helped us out."

"Give Jason credit," Joe Maddon said. "He pitched really well under awkward circumstances with weather. Gives up an early home run (and) settles in. Outstanding. Plus he gets another big hit, how 'bout it?

"Another good day for Jason."

Dexter Fowler smacked his seventh homer of the season to lead off the first inning. In the fourth, Jorge Soler picked up an RBI with a ground-rule double.

The D-backs got things rolling in the eighth after a Yasmany Tomas solo homer. The Cubs needed three relievers to get out of the inning without allowing any more damage.

Anthony Rizzo tacked on an insurance run with a solo shot, his 13th of the season in the eighth inning.

The insurance run gave Hector Rondon enough breathing room to record his 10th save of the season, remaining perfect on the year.

Nationals fans sent Kyle Schwarber from hero to villain in monumentally entertaining Home Run Derby


Nationals fans sent Kyle Schwarber from hero to villain in monumentally entertaining Home Run Derby

WASHINGTON, D.C. — How could someone like Kyle Schwarber play the villain?

The fan favorite who’s always quick with a smile — or an Uncle Sam costume on the Fourth of July — Schwarber doesn’t fit the mold of a loathsome target of boos. But he made quite the heel turn in the minds of Washington Nationals fans Monday night, and of course he knew it was coming.

Schwarber went from getting cheered by the legions in attendance at the Home Run Derby to getting booed when he took on, and eventually lost to, hometown hero Bryce Harper in the final round.

“I was down in the tunnel saying, ‘If we get to the finals, Harp, they’re all going to be against me. I think they’re all going to be against me,’” Schwarber said Monday night. “And then I went out there and got booed after they all got pumped up for me. That’s just the beauty of it, and I was happy for Bryce that he won it in front of the home crowd.”

Harper delivered an incredibly memorable baseball moment Monday night, catching up to Schwarber’s 18 home runs with a ridiculous display of repetitive power to win a Home Run Derby for the ages. The format of this event, revamped a couple years ago, made for a dramatic and hugely entertaining evening. Harper smacked nine homers over the final 47 seconds of the final round to tie Schwarber, then bested him in bonus time. Unsurprisingly, the home crowd was going ballistic for their boy.

But earlier in the night, it was Schwarber getting all the cheers, when he made his own last-second comeback to beat Philadelphia Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins in the second round. Schwarber was pumping up the crowd, pumping his fists and screaming while putting on a show of his own to catch and pass Hoskins' 20 home runs and advance to the finals.

How quickly the locals forgot.

By the finals — during which Schwarber looked understandably exhausted — the crowd had turned on him, trying to get every advantage for Harper.

“As soon as I got done with that round, I told myself that he had it,” Schwarber said. “I knew that he had the home crowd behind him, and I knew that he was a very prolific power hitter with a great swing. For him to come in and do that and started getting down to the wire, all of a sudden he started racking them up one at a time. You kind of just accept your fate there.”

Perhaps the night could’ve ended differently for Schwarber had he listened more closely to the advice of his teammates, Javy Baez and Willson Contreras, who were quick with Gatorade, a towel and words of encouragement on Monday. Baez hit 16 home runs in his own first-round appearance, though Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Max Muncy knocked him out.

“I was just telling him to slow down,” Baez said. “He was kind of rushing a little bit, that’s why he was jumping to the ball.”

“They were actually giving me really good advice that I didn’t take because I was really dumb-headed,” Schwarber said. “‘Make sure you take some pitches and get the pitch that you want.’ At the end, I felt like I was swinging at everything. I was just running out of gas. I felt like I had to put up as many swings just to try to put a couple out.”

Schwarber was totally content with losing out to Harper’s home-field advantage. Though as his homers flew out deep into the right-field seats Monday night, you couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if Schwarber was instead taking aim at Sheffield Avenue and getting his own home-field advantage from Cubs fans.

The North Side hasn’t played host to the All-Star Game since 1990, so perhaps Schwarber will still be slugging the next time the Friendly Confines are the site of the Home Run Derby.

“That’d be really cool one day if the All-Star Game’s at Wrigley,” Schwarber said, “and to participate in the Derby, that’d be fun.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 36th homer in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 36th 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 went down and golfed a pitch out for his 36th homer on July 17, 1998. He smacked Marlins reliever Kirt Ojala's (who??) pitch just over the wall in center field at Pro Player Stadium for a 2-run shot that closed out the Cubs' scoring in a 6-1 victory.


The blast accounted for Sosa's 88th and 89th of the season. By comparison, Javy Baez currently leads the Cubs (and the National League) with 72 RBI on July 17, 2018.


Steve Trachsel tossed a complete game for the Cubs in the victory that day and Sosa finished with the only extra-base hits for either team (he also had a double).


Fun fact: Former Cub Ryan Dempster started the game for the Marlins, but lasted just 4.1 innings to run his season record to 1-4 with a 6.70 ERA.