WATCH: Javy Baez gets reacquainted with Wrigley Field bleachers


WATCH: Javy Baez gets reacquainted with Wrigley Field bleachers

It didn't take long for Javy Baez to get reacquainted with the Wrigley Field bleachers.

After going 0-for-5 in his first few at-bats since being recalled when rosters expanded Tuesday, Baez reached base his first four times up Friday, including this absolute bomb in the fifth inning:

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It was Baez's first big-league homer since Sept. 13 of last season and came in the midst of an eight-run inning for the Cubs.

He also drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk in the first inning and then singled his second and third times up.

"He did a lot of things really well today," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "You just watch him out there, he's got a tension-free kind of a game. He's very loose on the field. Got a really good way out there.

"Now, as he gets better at the plate, he brings that defensive game to offense as far as how he processes everything, heads up - it's gonna be really fun to watch for many years."

[RELATED - Maddon: Javy Baez has to get used to not playing every day with Cubs]

The Cubs have spent a lot of time working with Baez on shaving down the extravagant leg kick he had as a part of his swing last season. He's made an adjustment and said he feels comfortable at the plate with it all right now.

The Cubs hope removing the leg kick can help limit Baez's strikeouts and move him toward making consistent solid contact, especially with two strikes.

"He's always going to have a bigger, hard-looking swing," Maddon said. "But as his foot gets down sooner, he makes adjustments during his at-bats - for example when the count is in his favor - he's probably going to let it loose a little bit more.

"As he understands to throttle it back when the count gets away from him and to the pitcher's favor, that's where the real hitting is going to start showing up. He's a young man, but he's really bright on the field. I really believe he's going to make those adjustments. I do."

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


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.