Alex Avila

The Cubs put together the most powerful inning in franchise history

The Cubs put together the most powerful inning in franchise history

What a roller coaster.

After Jon Lester gave up nine runs in the top of the second inning, the Cubs stormed all the way back with the help of the most powerful inning in franchise history. But the comeback was to no avail as the Reds outlasted the Cubs in a 13-10 slugfest in front of 38,675 at Wrigley Field Thursday afternoon.

Ian Happ hit a solo homer in the second before the Cubs mashed four taters in the fourth inning, tying the franchise record for homers in an inning:

Back in 2008, it was Jim Edmonds, Mike Fontenot, Aramis Ramirez and Edmonds (again) homering in the fourth inning against the White Sox.

Thursday, it was Kris Bryant going yard first followed by Alex Avila, Happ and Javy Baez going back-to-back-to-back:

It was the first time the Cubs had hit three straight homers since Derrek Lee, Sammy Sosa and Michael Barrett turned the trick against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 15, 2004.

Kyle Schwarber later got in on the yabo parade with an opposite field shot of his own in the fifth inning:

Here's an entire montage of dingers and planes as the Chicago Air & Water Show prepares for the weekend:

After Schwarber's homer, Anthony Rizzo doubled home Bryant and Avila doubled home Rizzo to tie the game at nine.

From there, the Reds scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh and added solo tallies against the Cubs bullpen in the eighth and ninth innings. The Cubs did not have another comeback left in them, though Joe Maddon was more than pleased with the effort from his players.

Maddon said when he went out to remove Lester from the game in the second inning, he told all the infielders he needed each one of them to hit a homer. The quartet combined for four homers, but Happ hit two and Rizzo hit none and the homers were "not transferrable" Maddon joked.

It's the first time the Cubs have lost with back-to-back-to-back homers since 1999 and also the first time they were defeated when hitting six homers since 1979:

Redemption in The Desert: Kyle Schwarber goes deep in first game at Chase Field since ACL injury

Redemption in The Desert: Kyle Schwarber goes deep in first game at Chase Field since ACL injury

The last time Kyle Schwarber stepped foot on Chase Field, he was carted off after suffering a gruesome ACL and LCL injury in just the third game of the year that was supposed to end his 2016 season.

We all know what happened though in October, when he made a remarkable comeback six months into his recovery to help the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games of the World Series and snap a 108-year championship drought.

On Friday, the 24-year-old slugger returned to The Desert for redemption and smoked a solo shot in the top of the sixth inning, guiding the Cubs to an 8-3 victory in their series opener against the Diamondbacks. Alex Avila followed that up with a homer of his own, his second in a Cubs uniform.

Check it out in the video above.

A cautiously optimistic update on Cubs catcher Willson Contreras

A cautiously optimistic update on Cubs catcher Willson Contreras

It doesn’t look like Willson Contreras suffered a season-ending injury, but the high-energy Cubs catcher is expected to miss a significant portion of the National League Central race.

That’s an early read on Contreras after Thursday’s MRI on his right hamstring in Arizona, according to two sources familiar with the situation, though the Cubs haven’t revealed their plans for one of their most valuable players.  

That initial assessment would mean avoiding the worst-case scenario you envisioned on Wednesday at AT&T Park when Contreras grabbed his right leg running out a groundball and collapsed onto the outfield grass during a costly loss to the San Francisco Giants.

ESPN reported that Contreras will be sidelined for at least two weeks during a recovery process that could take more than a month. Cubs president Theo Epstein declined to comment on the possibility this could be a season-ending injury during an appearance on the team’s flagship radio station.

“I don’t want to speculate about that,” Epstein told WSCR-AM 670. “If it was a typical hamstring strain, you’re usually looking at four-to-six weeks, and that would give him a chance to come back with a little bit of the season left. But it’s really premature.”

Even before leaving San Francisco, the Cubs prepared to promote Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa and activate the backup catcher before Friday’s game against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Alex Avila – the respected veteran catcher acquired from the Detroit Tigers before the July 31 trade deadline – will take over most of the responsibilities behind the plate.

For all their inconsistencies and injuries, the Cubs (59-54) are still in a relatively good position. The defending World Series champs will wake up on Friday in first place – and only three games ahead of the fourth-place Pittsburgh Pirates. Contreras – who’s put up 21 homers, 70 RBI and an .861 OPS while also shutting down the running game with his strong arm – doesn’t have to wait until pitchers and catchers report to Mesa next year.

It could always be worse. But there’s only so much sugarcoating the Cubs can do before getting to the hard truth of what this means for the rest of their season.

“Obviously, he’s been carrying us,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Any kind of offensive resurgence we’ve had has been primarily centered around him and his contributions. And then his versatility – he can pick you up at first base. He can pick you up in the outfield. All the different things that he does – his energy – all that stuff is vital to us.”