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The Sox continued their run of relative success in Tuesday night’s win over the division-leading Cleveland Indians, taking the second of a three-game set by a score of 5-1. They have now won five of their last eight and seven of their last 12. They even have the leading vote-getter among AL first basemen in José Abreu.
The White Sox wasted no time getting on the board Tuesday. Yoán Moncada, who had been struggling as of late, led the game off with a home run four pitches into the inning. Yolmer Sánchez followed suit by sending one of his own into the bleachers, and a Matt Davidson double brought home Daniel Palka to extend the lead to 3-0. Indians’ starter Adam Plutko was lifted after 4.2 innings of work in which he allowed eight hits, two home runs and five earned runs. The Sox would add two more runs in the fifth inning, but their first-inning outpour would be enough, as James Shields and the White Sox bullpen held Cleveland to only one run all night.
“My body feels really good right now,” Shields said following his outing. “Last couple years my body hasn’t really been up to par and, no excuses on my part, but at the end of the day my body feels good and I’m working really hard in between starts.”
“It’s really good to start the game like that,” Sánchez said postgame. “I was just looking for a fastball in and be aggressive on the first pitch.”
Shields was on, picking up his first win since March 29th in the season opener against Kansas City. More importantly the victory ended a 12-game winless streak. He went seven innings deep, allowing only one run and four hits. Shields has actually pitched well recently. Tuesday night’s performance was Shields’s eighth quality start of the season, and he has thrown a 2.57 ERA in his last five home starts. Shields’s shortcomings have been mostly out of his control, with run support being an issue for most of the season. Tuesday night’s win was the first time Shields has received five or more runs of support since April 5th. He has excelled at eating up innings, as Tuesday marked his tenth consecutive start of throwing at least six innings pitched. His starts have reduced the stress of the bullpen, a unit that has tossed 21.2 consecutive scoreless innings and has a 1.75 ERA in June.
“It feels good,” Shields said on collecting an elusive win. “I mean, the boys came out swinging it early, get me a couple runs there… It definitely gave me a lot of confidence to attack the zone tonight against a really good lineup, so it was a good overall win.”
“We really needed him, obviously, to kind of get us those last few outs in the seventh,” manager Rick Renteria said. “This is a pretty tough lineup and we needed to be able to have some ability to maneuver and he did, he gave us that ability.”
The White Sox have shown positive signs as of late, having yet to lose a series in June and getting impressive pitching performances from Dylan Covey, Reynaldo Lopez and Carlos Rodón, three young pitchers who could very well be in the rotation of the future. There will most likely be more lows than highs, but such is expected with where the White Sox are in their rebuilding process. Shields is a competitor, and having a veteran arm to lean on and take pressure off pitchers that figure to be such crucial players in the future will be huge in the team’s development. Shields might not be part of their long-term plans, but he can affect those plans by replicating nights like Tuesday.
Hear audio from Rick Renteria, James Shields and Yolmer Sánchez.
ve disappointed to this point in the season, the Cubs have, for the most part, lived up to their billing as one of the best teams in the National League. They have the second-best team ERA in baseball (Second only to a historically dominant Astros’ rotation), the highest team OBP and the third-highest team batting average. More importantly, they’ve been winning. They have the second-best record in the NL behind the Milwaukee Brewers and are in hot pursuit of overtaking them, having won eight of their last nine entering Sunday. Jon Lester looks like his 2016 self and even said the team as a whole has the same feel as 2016.
The Cubs haven’t been bulletproof, however. Unlike 2016, the Cubs’ struggles are more apparent and are beyond one bullpen addition. While they’ve generated hits, they haven’t consistently converted on them, leading the MLB in runners left in scoring position per game with 4.18. Their team batting average with runners in scoring position is a lowly .238 with a 22.77% strikeout rate. While on the surface pitching appears to be a strength, there are concerns with the rotation outside Jon Lester.
Kyle Hendricks was expected to be the ace of the Cubs’ loaded bullpen, but he entered Sunday with a 4-5 record, a 3.59 ERA and 12 home runs allowed (He allowed 17 all last season). José Quintana has only gone more than six innings twice, and Darvish and Chatwood have been rendered to ineffective.
The Cubs have managed to get away with their struggles on the mound thanks to their ironclad bullpen, a unit that is third in the majors with a 2.34 ERA. It is also a unit that has seen action in every game, as no Cubs pitcher has thrown a complete game this season, with seven-inning performances being a rarity.
“Mentally it was better. Mechanics, I’m just fighting myself,” Hendricks said on his share of struggles. “Just not repeating it, so that’s really where the problem’s at.”
With various underlying issues at play, Sunday’s game against the Pirates was a culmination of them, and those issues reared their ugly heads from the beginning with a Josh Harrison leadoff home run off Hendricks. Hendricks settled in for the most part after Harrison’s home run, allowing only two more hits in five innings of work. With runners at first and second in the bottom of the fifth inning, Tommy La Stella pinch-hit for Hendricks, only to ground into a double play.
“That’s part of the game right there,” Hendricks said. “Got a chance to get on the board and you got to take it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out but nine times out of ten with Tommy [La Stella] that’s gonna work.”
The fifth-inning wasn’t the Cubs’ only chance to take advantage of runners in scoring position. Only down one and with a chance to seize momentum in the bottom of the third inning, they were unable to convert with runners at second and third. In total, the Cubs left five runners on base today, and the offense was absent for much of this series as they only produced six runs in total. Joe Maddon made sure to keep the series win in perspective, though, saying, “Two out of three ain’t bad. Anybody that is not into two out of three really needs to evaluate their baseball sensibilities.”
He’s right. Even with Sunday’s loss, the Cubs have played good baseball.
Chili Davis’s hitting philosophy has taken time to set in, as should be expected, but its intended results are beginning to take shape: They’ve averaged 4.7 walks per game since May 6th, 5.4 runs per game since May 5th and, perhaps most surprisingly, Jason Heyward entered Sunday hitting .386 with a .945 OPS in ten games since May 29th. And, above all else, the Cubs have been winning. They are now 12-4 in 16 games since May 25th, good enough for the second-best record in the National League.
If anything, their display of winning games despite struggles is a positive sign; it shows they can win in spite of some poor play. If 12-4 isn’t a display of their best baseball, then even greater things should come when that potential is realized.
Hear audio from Joe Maddon, Kyle Hendricks and Anthony Rizzo
Now, that’s not to say Lester was written off from the Cubs’ rotation or that he was expected to be ineffective. But with an offseason in which the Cubs brought in such names as Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood, the ongoing emergence of Kyle Hendricks, and the hype around a bounce-back year from Jose Quintana, it was easy for Lester to get lost in the shuffle. Unlike the more attention-grabbing pitchers such as Scherzer and Severino, he isn’t blowing away the radar gun, nor is he dazzling spectators with double-digit strikeout performances. What Jon Lester has done, however, is put his team in the best possible situation to succeed, day-in and day-out, pitching to a record of 7-2 and a season ERA of 2.22.
Saturday’s outing against the Pirates was just an extension of that success.
Lester did not allow a run in his previous seven-inning start against the Mets on Monday and only gave up two hits. Saturday’s performance was much of the same as he threw seven more innings of no-run ball while surrendering only one hit on an Austin Riley triple in the third inning. He is the first Cubs pitcher to have consecutive starts of seven scoreless innings and two or fewer hits allowed since Oval Overall in 1909, and he is now 5-1 with a 1.63 ERA in eight starts since April 30. The kind of season he’s had is atypical for a pitcher his age, but manager Joe Maddon had insight on how Lester has managed to defy Father Time.
“Great delivery. He’s very athletic,” Maddon said. “It’s repetition of delivery, it’s knowing exactly what he wants to do. He doesn’t come out of his lane… More changeups, but primarily I think a strong point is his repetition of delivery.”
In terms of performance, Lester has taken a huge step forward from last season. He is on pace to exceed last year’s win total of 13, his ERA has gone down from 4.33 to 2.22. Through 13 starts last season, he was 3-4. This year, he is 7-2.
I think the biggest thing is I feel good,” Lester said postgame. “Compared to last year with where I was at, body wise, mechanically, just kind of everything never really synced up.
The Cubs have seemed to set into a groove as of late, picking up their fourth consecutive win on Saturday to raise their record to 13 games above .500. They’re 12-3 in their last 15 games and have a +33 run differential in the same span of time. Anthony Rizzo has refound himself after a disastrous start to his season, and in his last ten games, the much-maligned Jason Heyward is batting .400 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs. While some concerns over offensive consistency still linger (Not to mention the question marks around Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood), the Cubs seemed to have found their stride as of late. Starting pitching has been solid, the offense has been producing and the bullpen has been lights-out.
“I think we’re back to ’16,” Lester said. “I think it took everybody a little bit last year to recover and get back to normal. You know, when you come off that high of game seven, you’re looking for that high… you’re trying to get up for every game and it’s just not there.”
For the Cubs, the goal has to be to continue their success. Consistency questions are still a little concerning, but a win like today shows they can still win games in spite of offensive struggles. They sit only a half game behind the NL Central-leading Brewers, who also have the best record in the NL. The Brewers have fallen on a bit of a slump, going 5-5 in their last ten games. The Cubs have taken advantage by going 8-2 in their last ten, and have a prime opportunity to seize first place when they square off for a three-game series this Monday. If they can ride their recent momentum, the Cubs may potentially have the best record in the NL by Wednesday.
Hear audio from Joe Maddon and Jon Lester:
Eight months ago, Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller was getting carted off the turf of the Mercedez-Benz Superdome with a dislocated kneecap. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to repair severe damage to his arteries, with the possibility of his leg being amputated very much on the table.
On Tuesday, a smiling Miller stood before a crowded media room at Halas Hall as a newly re-signed member of the Chicago Bears. The team signed him to a one-year contract on Monday, with a salary of $450,000 if he is unable to play and $790,000 if he can.
“It’s tough for me to put it into words, what it means to me, but I’m very thankful and just grateful to be apart of this family,” said Miller on Tuesday.
The move by the Bears will remind fans of the team’s response to the injury that ended Johnny Knox’s career in 2011. Knox could have been cut from the Bears for minimum salary cap damage, but the team elected to keep him under contract for the 2012 season. Miller, as Knox did, will continue to have access to the Bears’ training staff and will be around his teammates for another year, continuing to act as the veteran presence he has been since joining the team. With a team as young as the Bears, a team also working to develop a second-round tight end, Miller’s presence will go a long way in the team’s growth and chemistry.
“Anyway I can help… the guys in the tight end room and, really, our football team, that’s just going to be my role for the year,” he said. He later commented on the importance of being around his teammates, saying, “This could be very different… I could be away, kind of removed from what I’ve been used to for a very long time. Not having that brotherhood, not having people see me every day… that matters. I think that adds to that positivity, that adds to my happiness.”
The gesture by the Bears clearly meant a lot to Miller, as it would for most players. So often in the NFL are players cast aside after injuries to save a couple bucks, but the Bears went out of their way to bring Miller back. Miller said he does not think most teams would do what the Bears did, and was sure to express his gratitude.
“[What they did] is a testament to the entire organization and the McCaskey family. The NFL is a big business. It’s a little different here… this thing really is a family,” he said. Before Miller took the podium, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks told the media, “I am happy that I’m a part of an organization that will take care of its players. That’s what it said to me, that they’re willing to make sure we’re alright… It’s loyalty. That’s what it showed me.”
Miller was drafted out of Nebraska in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He joined the Bears in 2014 at the age of 30 and became a big part of the offense in 2015 when he had 439 receiving yards and caught five touchdowns in ten games played. Injuries have plagued his career, but none of them compare to the one he suffered on that fateful Sunday afternoon in New Orleans. He has undergone nine surgeries since his injury, and only recently has he regained use of his foot. Logic would state that a 33-year-old tight end in Miller’s position would be ready to “hang ’em up.” But Zach Miller isn’t quite ready to walk away from the game he’s played for so much of his life.
“For me, I’m not putting any limits… Really with my doctors, everybody I’ve spoke to, it’s ‘we’re not going to put any set limitations on this.’ It’s kind of take it as it goes. There has not been a definitive ‘you can never do this again.'”
Matt Nagy’s message since arriving in Chicago is to be obsessed with football, and Miller’s determination embodies what that means. Even though he can’t participate in practice, he will still be there for the team. Miller’s determination to make his team better in any way he can shows what it means to be obsessed with football, and the precedent he has set is what an ascending team, like the Bears, needs.
Hear audio from Zach Miller
Dylan Covey had been an interesting prospect for some time now, and Sunday’s performance showed why. He was in control for seemingly the entire game, even during a fifth-inning bases-loaded jam. The 26-year-old righty finished his five-inning performance with seven strikeouts and no earned runs, lowering his season ERA to 2.82. A season ago, Covey struggled his way to a 0-7 record, putting together a 7.71 ERA through 70 innings of work. His ERA has decreased dramatically and he is already on his way to exceed last year’s strikeout total of 41 in 70 innings pitched. A team like the White Sox doesn’t have much to lean on, but Covey becoming a reliable weapon could go a long way in the team’s development.
“Yes, definitely have figured some things out,” Covey said on his improvements. “From spring training this year moving forward, I think I get a little better with every outing.”
Covey’s performance was not all that lifted the White Sox to their 6-1 victory over the team with the best record in the National League. The bullpen shut down a potent Brewers’ offense for four innings, with Jace Fry continuing his dominance out of the bullpen with a hitless, one-inning appearance. It is a unit that, like many groups of the team, has looked for consistency all year, and Sunday’s outing was a step in the right direction.
The White Sox put forth an impressive performance to match their pitching, however, something that has been a problem since Chris Sale and José Quintana donned the black and white pinstripes. In his first major league hit, Alfredo Gónzalez tied the game at one in the fifth inning, scoring Yóan Moncada, who had walked to get on. The next inning, Daniel Palka, pinch-hitting for José Rondón, smacked a two-run home run to right field to take a two-run lead. Adam Engel followed up Palka’s homer with one of his own, sending a ball that just eluded the outstretched glove of Lorenzo Cain at the center field fence to take a 4-1 lead. José Abreu continued his recent hot-streak by hitting a double in the eighth to score Yolmer Sánchez. One batter later, Engel came through once again by scoring Abreu on his own double. It was all the Sox needed as they capped off a series win over the NL-leading Milwaukee Brewers with a 6-1 victory.
“All we wanna do is win,” said Palka afterward. “It’s not fun to lose, so that’s the only thing on people’s mind is wanting to win.”
In total, the White Sox collected six hits and three walks from players age 26 or younger. Four of such hits were for extra bases, with two being home runs. For a team working to evaluate who fits and who doesn’t fit for the future, it’s a positive sign.
“The guys kept battling, they did a nice job,” manager Rick Renteria said in his postgame press conference.
The White Sox are a young, inexperienced group that is looking for pieces of their future. Days like Sunday will not become the norm for a couple years, assuming everything goes as planned. However, the young group they have stands to benefit by battling through the adversity of two of their leaders’ absences. This series against the Brewers, a series in which won two games by five runs, is one they can take many positives from and use going forward in their growth.
Hear audio from Rick Renteria, Dylan Covey and Daniel Palka.
The Sports Report with Packer Dave
along with Steve Leventhal, Jeff Rich, and John Poulter. Our guest Ryan Leong, who covers sports for AP in the Bay Area joins us to preview the 2018 NBA Finals. Steve and Dave discuss the Bears offseason training camp. Cleveland native Jeff also chimes in on the NBA Finals. Lastly, John covers the NHL Stanley Cup Finals as well as updates us on Major League Baseball and European soccer.
Hear audio from Bears coaches Matt Nagy and Vic Fangio, plus Lars Eller of the Washington Capitals. Don’t miss a cameo from Packers broadcaster Wayne Larrivee.
Sometimes, one misplayed ball decides a game. Sometimes, a pitcher with a 4.16 lifetime ERA throws a perfect game.
Sunday night’s Cubs-Giants game falls firmly into the category of weird.
Whether it was Pablo Sandoval (Yes, that Pablo Sandoval) legging out an infield single fielded by Addison Russell, Sandoval making a diving stop at second base (No, this isn’t a prank), or Anthony Rizzo beating the shift by nailing umpire Cory Blaser in the leg, the first inning alone was loaded with a highlight reel of oddities.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, Tyler Chatwood’s inability to prevent runners from taking free bases is no longer weird. With Yu Darvish unexpectedly back on the DL, Chatwood took the mound for a balmy Sunday night game at the Friendly Confines.
For a guy brought in as the finishing touch on the masterpiece that was to be the Cubs’ bullpen, Chatwood has been anything but reliable. Sure, his spin rate is one of his best-known traits. He was brought in because he had the kind of stuff few MLB pitchers have. Another trait few pitchers have is a walk-rate even close to Chatwood’s. Entering Sunday, Chatwood boasted a walk-rate of 7.88 walks per nine innings. The next two highest are held by the Padres’ Bryan Mitchell and the White Sox’ Lucas Giolito, who sit at 6.86 and 6.80 walks per nine innings, respectively.
So, Tyler Chatwood’s early struggles were not met with great surprise on Sunday. 2.2 innings, five walks, three earned runs and three mound visits into the game, his night was done.
“You just don’t know how you’re gonna get through that whole thing,” Manager Joe Maddon said on Chatwood’s outing. “I thought he got a little bit better toward the end… We have work to do, he has work to do. I’m not saying by any means giving up, I really believe in this fella. The stuff is that good.”
Chatwood’s struggles and the on-field abnormalities meant the Cubs needed a team win. And they got it. Behind RBIs from six different batters, 13 total hits and a shut-down performance from the bullpen, the Cubs navigated through a treacherous beginning and ended the night with an 8-3 victory. One of the newer faces on the Cubs, Randy Rosario, picked up the win and received specific praise from Maddon.
“This kid threw well a couple days ago when we had him. I liked him in Spring Training, he’s done a great job in triple-A this year… We don’t win the game without him today.”
Sunday’s story is not complete, however, without mentioning Javier Báez’s excellent performance.
The Cubs tied the score in the first inning and kept it that way entering the bottom of the fourth. The aforementioned Rosario led off the inning with a walk and was advanced to third by a double from Albert Almora Jr. Báez stepped to the plate with an opportunity to leave his impact on the scoreboard.
El Majo did not disappoint.
The beloved infielder put the energy back into a distraught Wrigley crowd by sending a home run into the right-field bleachers, rounding the bases and entering the dugout to the tune of a thunderous chant of “JAVY! JAVY! JAVY!” The 25-year-old retook the National League lead in RBIs with a season total of 42, and now has a slash line of .266/.298/.574. When asked about retaking the RBI lead, Báez shed his flashy on-field persona and remained humble about the feat.
“To be honest, I’m just trying to stay away from [focusing on stats]. Every time I play with my stats I get in a slump,” he said postgame. “It’s still a long season, you know, we’ll see how numbers are in September and October.
“If you watched him in batting practice, he was just killing the right side of the field,” Maddon said on Báez’s performance. “If he can just stay with that mentality all the time there’s no telling how good he could be at the plate.”
It’s almost June and the Cubs are still in search for consistency. Perhaps Sunday’s battle through adversity is the spark they needed to become the machine they were expected to be.
Hear audio from Joe Maddon, Tyler Chatwood and Javier Báez.
Several years ago we got used to this type of headline and we thought nothing of it. We just understood it to be part of the “cleansing process” being undertaken by MLB as it sought to weed out those that had been using inappropriate “medications” to enhance their on-field performance and/or speed up the recovery process from an injury/illness.
The Cano incident surprised many simply because the majority of fans thought that the issue was behind us.
For the most part, it is. Cano’s explanation was that he had been treated in the off-season by a licensed doctor in his homeland, the Dominican Republic.
He explained that the doctor had inadvertently prescribed a drug that was on MLB’s banned substances list.
To Cano’s credit, he accepted the punishment and took full responsibility for “what went into his body”.
In some respects, while we all recognize that Cano should have known better and/or sought advice from MLB before taking the medication, it does raise some interesting questions as to how similar situations can be avoided in the future.
During the playing season, an injured/ill athlete usually seeks out the opinion of his team’s doctor. As he/she is employed by the player’s team, the doctor has a conflict of interest. Does he/she treat the athlete as an independent doctor would in terms of diagnosis/treatment/prescribing medication or does the doctor subconsciously take into account who signs his/her paycheque? Is the athlete the doctor’s patient or another employee of the team?
So why put the players and the doctors (and even the teams) in these uncomfortable situations?
MLB needs a solution to this problem and it needs it quickly. If MLB was serious about closing this type of loophole and avoiding any more instances like the Cano situation, I believe there is a fairly straightforward solution.
If each of the 30 MLB teams each contributed $600,000 per year (essentially the cost of the 25th player on the roster and slightly above the current MLB minimum salary) into a pool, MLB would have $18 Million from which to hire 26 independent doctors to oversee all player injuries/illnesses during the season.
MLB should hire a newly qualified doctor in each major league city (with the Mets-Yankees, Cubs-White Sox, Angels-Dodgers and Giants-Athletics doubling up). Doctors in the four metropolitan areas where there are two teams would be paid $750,000 per year. Doctors in one team markets would be paid $500,000 per year. That would account for $14 Million of the $18 Million in funding from the teams. MLB would be responsible for funding the MLB doctor’s equipment and for securing premises for the doctor’s consultations.
During the season:
Any player requiring a prescription of any type in order to treat an illness or an injury would be required to visit the MLB doctor in whatever city the player’s team happened to be at that time. As an example, if a Reds player required prescription medication during the season when the Reds were playing in Milwaukee, the Reds player would be required to visit the MLB doctor based in Milwaukee for the initial consultation. If the MLB doctor felt that medication was required, he/she would prescribe accordingly, taking into account MLB’s current guidelines for approved/banned substances. If the MLB doctor felt that the injury/illness was beyond his/her comfort zone and a specialist’s opinion was required, the MLB doctor would refer the player to a local specialist with whom he/she had a professional relationship. The specialist’s fee would be drawn from the $4 Million still left in MLB’s medical pool.
If a player tested positive for a banned substance and it was determined that the MLB doctor had issued the prescription, then the player would be absolved and MLB would deal with the doctor as it saw fit, perhaps terminating his/her contract.
After the Season:
Once the season is over, if a player chooses to visit a doctor other than one of the MLB doctors (either for personal preference or for geographic reasons), then the prescription would have to be approved by MLB in New York, (by fax or by e-mail) before the athlete consumed the prescribed drug.
Who Wins Here:
Everyone. The player because he can be assured that the doctor prescribing the medication is independent from both the player and his team. MLB because it would know that medications were being prescribed correctly, as such prescriptions would be issued by MLB employees. Team doctors win as they would no longer be put in a position of deciding whether they were treating a patient or just another employee of the team that employees the doctor. The MLB doctor wins because as a new graduate it is an opportunity for him/her to essentially start a practice and establish themselves in a community; he/she has the off-season (and when those doctors in one city teams have no MLB games in their cities) to lay the foundation for his/her own full time practice and enhance their studies if they were considering specialization.
Initial contracts with the MLB doctors would be of varying lengths, but once the programme is established, the MLB doctors would be on three year contracts, requiring MLB to hire 10 doctors a year.
So simple, it’s puzzling why it hasn’t been proposed before and put in place.
When teams have the kind of seasons the White Sox are in the midst of, it can be hard to remain optimistic. Because of this, fans often look for bright spots they hope can eventually be a franchise mainstay.
Through this point in his young career, and especially after Sunday’s gem against the Texas Rangers, White Sox pitcher Reynaldo López has asserted himself into this category.
As López came set for what would be his final pitch of the day on Sunday, the White Sox faithful rose to their feet with a feeling of excitement that had become all too unfamiliar this season. After firing a 96 MPH heater to sit down Shin-Soo Choo and end the eighth inning, López let his excitement show on his way back to the dugout, pumping his chest and further exciting a White Sox crowd that was witnessing the first series win at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2018.
López was dominant Sunday, tossing eight scoreless innings and eight strikeouts while walking two and allowing two hits. All season, López has quietly put together impressive statistics, pitching to a 1.85 ERA at Guaranteed Rate Field and allowing more than two earned runs only twice in nine starts all year. His season ERA is now at 2.98 and he leads his team in strikeouts with 39. Sunday was also, however, López’s first win of the season, bringing his record to an unfortunate, but not surprising, 1-3.
“I do think that he came out a little more focused, to be honest. The intensity level was a little higher today,” Rick Renteria said postgame. “[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] spoke to him a little bit about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, and to bring it from pitch one and he did today.”
“It was the best [start] of my career,” López said through translator afterward.
Though he only needed one, López had three runs’ worth of support that began with a Wellington Castillo home run in the second inning. Leury García put his name on the stat sheet the next inning by hitting a single that brought home Adam Engel and Tim Anderson. With López on the hill, it was all the Sox needed in their 3-0 win. With his RBI-single, García has now hit safely in seven of his last eight games, and has become another bright spot in this tumultuous season.
It’s no secret the White Sox have been bad this season. They were on pace to lose 120 games earlier this week and have the worst record in baseball. Carson Fulmer, a player they had enough conviction to draft eight overall in the 2015 June Amateur Draft, was given an overdue demotion to triple-A on Friday after a disastrous string of starts. Though he has been strong as of late, Lucas Giolito’s 2018 ERA sits at 6.42. Yoan Moncada has been very good but hasn’t set the league on fire as he was advertised to.
It is also important to remember the White Sox are still a young, immature team. Moncada is still only 22 with a sky-high ceiling. Even if he only hits his floor, it’s a floor of a .848 OPS and reliable defense. Kids will have started and finished high school by the time he’s a free agent. They also have yet to call upon the services of grade-A prospects, like Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech, and have promising talent beyond them with names like Luis Robert and Dylan Cease. With the fourth pick in this year’s Amateur Draft and potentially the number one pick in next year’s draft, their talent pool will only increase. They will have money to spend and will eventually be able to supplement their young core with experienced talent. It’s a process that sucks to sit through, but it is one that worked for the Astros, Cubs and Royals.
For the time being, however, it’s bright spots that keep eyes on the White Sox. And right now, López may shine the brightest.
Hear audio from Rick Renteria, Leury García and Reynaldo López.
The Cubs and White Sox have taken greatly different directions since 2015. The Cubs have made three straight NLCS appearances, won a World Series, watched Jake Arrieta blossom into a Cy Young-winner, and developed Kris Bryant into Rookie of the Year and an MVP.
In free agency and at the trade deadline, they’ve become the hunters instead of the hunted, adding big names that include Jason Heyward, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Quintana, and Yu Darvish. Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville have become a daily party-scene in the summertime, and the franchise will only become more of a financial conglomerate with a looming TV deal.
South of Madison Street, however, it’s been a much different story. Since 2015, the White Sox have said goodbye to big-ticket commodities such as Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana. Having yet to eclipse 80 wins in a season, they are a combined 221-265 in three years, and stand at a lowly 9-26 record after today. Much of their hope is stashed away in the minor leagues, away from the eyes of the casual Chicago fan, making Guaranteed Rate Field a ghost town.
So, the Cubs’ 11-2 drubbing of the White Sox at Wrigley Field in the first game of the 2018 cross town series shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. In a way, the game provided a microcosm for the recent state of both teams: One that has consistently been a championship contender and one that is just trying to get out of the cellar.
Though it’s been an inconsistent, and at times frustrating start of 2018 for the Cubs, they showed their South Side counterparts what they’ve been about since 2015. They wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, with Anthony Rizzo driving in Ben Zobrist and advancing Kris Bryant to take a 1-0 lead. After a Javier Baez strikeout, Schwarber fought back from a 0-2 count to walk. With the bases loaded, Willson Contreras ignited the Wrigley crowd with a grand slam for his second home run of the season, and the Cubs were up 5-0 with one out in the bottom of the first.
Contreras had a day to remember, going four-for-five with two home runs and seven RBIs, and displaying his defensive prowess on a backpick to second to nab Matt Davidson. He has looked like the player that was a potential 2017 MVP candidate, going seven-for-10 in his last two games, all of which have been extra-base hits.
“Baseball is a game of ups and downs and it was just a matter of getting in the right rhythm… It’s just a matter of making the adjustments,” Contreras said afterward through translator. Joe Maddon had similar sentiments, saying, “He’s just good. When a guy is good, if he’s not hurt, he’s going to eventually, I think, show up.”
“When you have a good team and there are good players… you know you’re gonna have a couple bad games. But then you also know that, when things are rolling properly, what you’re capable of doing. I think we’re showing more of that right now,” Maddon said postgame.
This game may have been indicative of what is to come for the Cubs, who have now scored 10-or-more runs in four of their last five games, but it was also a representation of what has been for the White Sox.
High expectations were placed on Carson Fulmer when the White Sox drafted him eighth overall in the 2015 Amateur Draft. He has not lived up to those expectations and continued his struggles by giving up five earned runs in only 1.2 innings. Friday’s performance represented an upsetting trend for the White Sox, whether it be a Mark Zagunis double that fell between three Sox fielders, a 38.5 MPH infield blooper that beat the shift to give Schwarber a base hit, or a single by Tyler Chatwood that was mishandled and allowed him to take second. The White Sox just have not been able to get anything going, and a combination of bad luck and failure to execute have been this team’s downfall.
The dichotomy between the White Sox and Cubs has been easily noticeable for a few years now, but the White Sox’ brutal loss in the series opener at the hands of their neighbors was a perfect microcosm of just how big the gap between these teams is and has been.
Hear audio from Joe Maddon, Tyler Chatwood and Willson Contreras.
on The Sports Report with Packer Dave, Steve Leventhal, Jeff Rich, and John Poulter
Joined by special guest Mark Grote, the newest member of the Chicago Bears radio broadcast team. He talks about his role as the sideline reporter. In addition, he helps us analyze the selection of Georgia LB Roquan Smith with the eight overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Dave, Steve, and Jeff look at the selections by the Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos, Cardinals, and Bears. John gives us his take on the NHL playoffs and Major League Baseball.
Lastly, Steve and John discuss the homestretch on the English Premiere League season.
Hear audio selections from Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, Chicago GM Ryan Pace, Raquon Smith, Cleveland GM John Dorsey, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, and Giants GM Dave Gettleman. Don’t miss cameos from Bob Costas and Wayne Larrivee.
on The Sports Report with Packer Dave, Steve Leventhal, John Poulter, and Jeff Rich
Rory Spears of GolfersOnGolf.com joins us with his thoughts on the upcoming 2018 Masters. Will Tiger have an impact? What role with the big three, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Jordan Speith play? Who might emerge as a surprise winner? Phil Mickelson is playing his best golf in years. Steve gives his analysis of the NCAA Final Four. Dave and Jeff discuss the recent NFL free agent moves and some of the top draft choices. How were the Green Bay Packers’ offseason moves? Lastly, John looks ahead at the 2018 Major League Baseball season, and which NHL teams are looking good, heading into the playoffs.
Hear interview audio from Michigan coach John Beilein and Kansas’ Bill Self, plus cameos from Cubs play by play broadcaster Pat Hughes, and CBS’s Bill Rafftery.
Decades after Curt Flood and Oscar Robertson sued their respective leagues to gain free agency, the college system is still operating under a set of archaic rules governing “amateurism,” even as young stars in hockey, tennis, and Olympic sports are reaping the benefits of today’s free market.
In his new book, Court Justice, former UCLA Star Ed O’Bannon details his nearly ten year battle with the NCAA to establish that athletes are entitled to compensation for use of their likeness in video games and other areas. In fact, it all began innocently enough with a video game. O’Bannon describes how a friend’s son showed him how his avatar did battle in an EA sports college basketball video game.
He writes, “My lawsuit was really about former players like myself being duped by the NCAA and companies that made video games, rebroadcasts, and merchandise using our names, images, and likenesses.”
O’Bannon’s narrative proceeds in a very personal and candid style. He describes his upbringing, his college and professional years, and life after basketball. An interesting fact from the book was that Ed originally wanted to play at UNLV, not UCLA, and ended up in Westwood, only after Jerry Tarkanian advised him that his program was going on probation. Again the all powerful NCAA flexing its muscle.
The reader gets an inside look at the litigation, the trial, and the subsequent appeals. The book is very timely with references to current sports controversies.
Unlike some authors who disparage the process or the system, but don’t offer any solutions, the last chapter of the book has twelve ideas on how to fix college sports.
Court Justice is an excellent and worthwhile read. An eye opening look at the hypocrisy of college sports, and the efforts of one man to force the NCAA to give these “amateurs” a stake and a say in their sports.
with Packer Dave, Steve Leventhal, and Jeff Rich
Our special guest, former UCLA Bruin and NBA veteran Ed O’Bannon talks about his lengthy legal battle with the NCAA over the “amateur” status of college athletes, as chronicled in his book, Court Justice. Plus, the guys talk Winter Olympics, NBA, Jimmy Garopollo’s new contract, the Lions new coach, and the fiasco over Josh McDaniels. The Pats offensive coordinator took the Colts head coaching job, then promptly changed his mind.
Don’t miss cameos from Dick Vitale and Jeff Foxworthy on The Sports Report for February 2018.
on the Sports Report with Packer Dave, Steve Leventhal, Jeff Rich, and John Poulter
We preview Super Bowl LII between New England and Philadelphia with Jeff, as well as talk NBA and college hoops. John joins us to discuss the latest news in the NHL and English soccer. Hear interviews from Bill Belichick, Pats safety Devin McCourty, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Don’t miss cameos from Jeff Foxworthy and Hall of Famer Len Dawson.