Cubs

NLCS: Cubs sticking with resurgent lineup for Game 5

NLCS: Cubs sticking with resurgent lineup for Game 5

LOS ANGELES - Joe Maddon preaches keeping things simple, especially this time of year.

The Cubs finally broke out on offense in Game 4, so why change anything up for Game 5?

Of course, the starting battery will change, with Jon Lester taking the mound and his personal catcher David Ross behind the plate for what could be the final time together with Ross still slated to retire after the season.

After a one-game stint in the cleanup spot, Anthony Rizzo moved back to the three-hole and wound up with three hits - including his first postseason homer.

Addison Russell also had a breakout performance (three hits and a homer) in the eight spot, but moves up one spot in the order with "Grandpa Rossy" taking over the eight hole.

Willson Contreras is 6-for-15 (.400 AVG) this postseason, but sits in favor of Ross at catcher and Jason Heyward in the outfield with right-hander Kenta Maeda on the mound for the Dodgers.

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Here's the way the Cubs will line up behind Lester:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Javy Baez - 2B
6. Jason Heyward - RF
7. Addison Russell - SS
8. David Ross - C
9. Jon Lester - P

The Dodgers are still insisting they're sending Maeda to the mound and not starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest.

The lefty-heavy Dodgers inserted their right-handed lineup against southpaw Jon Lester:

1. Kike Hernandez - 2B
2. Justin Turner - 3B
3. Corey Seager - SS
4. Carlos Ruiz - C
5. Howie Kendrick - LF
6. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
7. Yasiel Puig - RF
8. Joc Pederson - CF
9. Kenta Maeda - P

These are the same guys (just in a different order) the Dodgers threw out in Game 1 when Lester gave up one run in six innings.

Game 6 will be Saturday evening at Wrigley Field and a marquee pitching matchup of Kershaw vs. Kyle Hendricks.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st 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's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.

Maddon gets funky with bullpen, calls catcher Chris Gimenez to mound

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USA TODAY

Maddon gets funky with bullpen, calls catcher Chris Gimenez to mound

The Cubs continued their recent struggles, suffering their third straight loss to the Cincinnati Reds. 

But the game was not without its fair share of drama. The matchup was a back-and-forth affair, up until the Reds blew the game wide-open in the bottom of the third inning. This included a grand slam by Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, the first home run of his career.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon turned to the bullpen following Cincinnati's third inning explosion, and things did not get much better from there.

With the Cubs down six runs in the bottom of the eight inning, Maddon brought in catcher Chris Gimenez to pitch. 

This was not new territory for Gimenez, who despite being a catcher, now has 10 MLB pitching appearances to his name. 

Down six runs, Gimenez didn't have a lot to lose. But Reds first basemen Joey Votto hammered a fastball in the zone for his eighth homer of the year.

Gimenez had a career ERA of 8.00 before Saturday's appearance, and he certainly didn't do much to help lower that figure.

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers: "Including one today, Cubs relievers have allowed 41.1 percent of inherited runners to score in June, sixth most in the NL." 

A tired bullpen is certainly cause for concern for the Cubs, who are locked into a battle in the NL Central with the Brewers and Cardinals. Maddon was surely hoping to keep his bullpen arms fresh with the move, seeing as the game was already out of reach. 

So yes, the game did end in a 11-2 win for the Reds. But with a grand-slam by a pitcher—on his first career HR no less—and four-seam fastballs from a catcher, Cubs baseball always keep things interesting.