Cubs

Lester fine if Cubs stand pat at trade deadline: 'We're pretty darn good right now'

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Lester fine if Cubs stand pat at trade deadline: 'We're pretty darn good right now'

Jon Lester is OK if the Cubs don't make any moves before this year's trade deadline.

Following Friday's loss to the Phillies, the Cubs (51-44) were locked in a tie with the San Francisco Giants for the second National League wild card spot as the Giants were set to host the Oakland A's in a late game Friday night.

[RELATED - Cubs not feeling the pressure of ticking clock on trade market]

The Cubs still only have four true starting pitchers, mixing and matching with the No. 5 spot after Travis Wood was moved to the bullpen in mid-May. But it wasn't the rotation that struggled Friday as Lester left the game with a 3-2 lead after the seventh and watched the bullpen gave up three runs in the ninth and 10th innings to the last-place Phillies.

The Cubs have been linked to Cole Hamels and other starting pitchers on the trade block, but even if Theo Epstein's front office doesn't make a move, Lester is just fine with what's already here.

"I think we're pretty darn good right now," Lester said. "Obviously, an addition would be a shot in the arm as far as maybe taking some pressure off the other four guys. But I don't think we can worry about that right now.

"We have to worry about playing good baseball and we have to worry about Jake [Arrieta] pitching tomorrow and the lineup that gets posted and then playing good baseball. That's all we can worry about.

"If Theo and those guys decide that that's what we need, then great. If they decide that we're going to stand pat, then great. I've always been a big believer that you try to stay in your lane as best you can."

It would be easy for the ultra-competitive Lester to sit in front of the Chicago media and play armchair GM, saying the Cubs should do whatever it takes to get Cole Hamels or David Price or whoever.

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But Lester's won two World Series' with the Red Sox and he trusts this front office.

"I don't want their job by any means," he said. "I know how hard it is. I don't want it, they probably don't want mine and we'll leave it at that.

"We'll let them make the baseball op decision and we'll worry about going out and playing baseball."

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

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).