Greg Maddux

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 9th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 9th 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.

Get ready for an onslaught of Sammy Sosa homers and highlights coming nearly every day over the next month-plus.

After a slow start to his historic 1998 season, Sosa really started heating up in late May. He sent his 9th ball into the bleachers on May 22, beginning a run of 25 longballs in roughly five weeks of action leading up to June 30.

Sosa's 9th homer actually came off Greg Maddux, a solo shot with two outs to give the Cubs an early lead in Atlanta. Chicago reliever Bob Patterson wound up blowing the game wide open late as the Cubs stumbled to an 8-2 loss.

Maddux, meanwhile, tossed 8 stellar innings, allowing only 5 hits and 2 runs - including the 440-foot homer to Sosa.

Fun fact: The Braves leadoff hitter that day was none other than current NBC Sports Chicago baseball analyst Ozzie Guillen, who was in the midst of his first season in the big leagues not in a White Sox uniform.

Fun fact No. 2: Atlanta's No. 2 hitter in the game was Keith Lockhart, who is now a scout in the Cubs organization.

Tyler Chatwood channels his inner Greg Maddux with an absolutely gross pitch

Tyler Chatwood channels his inner Greg Maddux with an absolutely gross pitch

The Cubs retired No. 31, but you can't blame somebody if they were seeing things and mistook a "2" for a "3." (It also could've been the 29-degree windchill distorting things.)

Wearing his No. 21 jersey, Tyler Chatwood gave fans flashbacks to Greg Maddux in the first inning of Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals.

As Cubs manager Joe Maddon and GM Jed Hoyer spoke pregame about how difficult it may be for a pitcher to get a good grip on a pitch in such frigid conditions, Chatwood looked like that wouldn't be an issue early on.

The Cubs starter struck out the first two Cardinals he faced, including Tommy Pham on this incredibly wicked two-seam fastball:

Seriously, that's just not fair.

Shades of Maddux?

Chatwood went on to display that lack of feel, because you know, baseball. He walked the next batter and doled out free passes to five of the first 11 Cardinals that came up to the plate. He finished with seven walks and seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

But that one pitch? That will be replayed over and over and over again, and for good reason.

Looking back on the five pitchers to win the Cy Young award with the Cubs

Looking back on the five pitchers to win the Cy Young award with the Cubs

Although he is officially on his way to Philadelphia, Jake Arrieta will go down as one of the best Cubs pitchers ever.

Arrieta, of course, recently signed a multi-year deal with the Phillies. While he struggled at times in 2016 and 2017, he will always be remembered for his dominant 2015 season in which he won the Cy Young Award, just the fifth Cubs' pitcher to do so.

Arrieta's 2015 campaign approached Rick Sutcliffe territory in the sense that he dominated from the mid-point on. In 15 starts post-All Star break, he went 12-1 with a miniscule 0.75 ERA, an MLB record.

Sutcliffe, on the other hand, went 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 20 starts with the Cubs after they acquired him from the Indians in June 1984. His tremendous run with the Cubs helped him become the first pitcher to win the Cy Young after being traded during the season.

For the sake of comparison, here is how Arrieta's Cy Young season matches up with the four Cubs to win the award before him:

Jake Arrieta (2015): 33 starts, 229 innings pitched, 22-6 record, 1.77 ERA, 236 strikeouts, .185 BAA

Greg Maddux (1992): 35 starts, 268 innings pitched, 20-11 record, 2.18 ERA, 199 strikeouts, .210 BAA

Rick Sutcliffe (1984): 20 starts, 150 1/3 innings pitched, 16-1 record, 2.69 ERA, 155 strikeouts, .220 BAA. (Total: 35 starts, 244 2/3 innings pitched, 20-6 record, 3.64 ERA, 213 strikeouts, .251 BAA)

Bruce Sutter (1979): 62 games (no starts), 101 1/3 innings pitched, 37-for-47 in save opportunities, 110 strikeouts, .186 BAA

Fergie Jenkins (1971): 39 starts, 325 innings pitched, 24-13 record, 2.77 ERA, 263 strikeouts, .246 BAA

Ultimately, all five pitchers posted dominant campaigns en route to winning the award. While no Cub has won the Cy Young since Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks finished second and third, respectively, in the 2016 voting.

With Lester, Hendricks, Yu Darvish, José Quintana and Tyler Chatwood, the Cubs' rotation in 2018 could rival the 2016 group that led the MLB with a 2.96 ERA.

If things go right, there is a good chance one of the aforementioned pitchers joins the list as the sixth Cub to win the Cy Young.