Cubs

Smith vs. Rivera: Advantage Lovie

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Smith vs. Rivera: Advantage Lovie

In meetings between two defense-based head coaches, Lovie Smith has taken a 2-0 lead on his former defensive coordinator. And a certain irony ran through a some critical moments Sunday.
 
Smith has been excoriated by critics for the bend-dont-break of the Cover-2 base defense he favors and for failing to be flexible with what detractors decry as an outdated scheme.
 
But it was Ron Rivera who was victimized by apparent inflexibility and, ironically, the Cover-2.
 
Kellen Davis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in the fourth quarter when he found the open space behind linebackers in the Cover-2 that the Panthers were playing.
 
We got a Cover-2 down there and its good for me up the middle, said Davis, who was the secondary receiver on the play after Earl Bennett. It gave me a bunch of space in the middle out there.
 
After I cleared the linebackers, I had room out there and I wanted the ball. When I get past the linebacker, if he sits, Ive got him.
 
Davis said he expected to see a more customary alignment of quarters (four defensive backs in a line across the field). Curiously, in the Bears minds, the Panthers were locked in something like that all through the final drive that ended in Robbie Goulds game-winning field goal.
 
The Bears were prepared for the Panthers to change as the offense clicked methodically down the field. But when Carolina didnt vary, Cutler kept dropping dimes out there to Brandon Marshall and well do that all day, Davis said.
 

Fine with Marshall if the Panthers wanted to cheat as well.
 
Well if they did, we were going to have Earl Bennett down the pipe so we were waiting for them to cheat a little bit to my side and we were going to take advantage of Earl in the slot, Marshall said. They didnt do that and we just stuck to it. So if its not broke, dont fix it.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

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AP

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

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USA TODAY

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.