Hello sports fans, Carlos here again for your review of Chicago sports. Do the White Sox still have a grasp of first place? What are the kids doing for the Cubs? How did the Bears do in their preseason debut?
The White Sox are in a dogfight with the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central lead. The Sox opened the week with a 3-game series with the Kansas City Royals who, although are in last place in the Central, usually play the Sox tough. It continued last week as the Royals won 2 out of the 3 games.
It started out well for the Sox, as they won the opener 4-2. They could only scratch out 3 runs the next 2 games and lost the series. They also lost 1B Paul Konerko for some time. He got hit in the head in a collision on a play at first base and suffered a concussion. He was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list. He will also undergo a battery of tests today to see if he has improved. The hope is he may get back to action on Friday.
After the disappointing results against the pesky Royals, the Sox took on the playoff-contending Oakland Athletics. The A’s have been one of the hottest teams in baseball as of late and are making a push for a playoff spot, only ½ game behind one of the last 2 spots. They are also only 6 ½ games behind AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
The Sox dug themselves an early 3-0 deficit in the opener. They battled back to tie the game, however, and then Jordan Danks picked an opportune time to get his first major league homer. He provided a 2-out, walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Sox a dramatic victory.
After losing a slugfest on Saturday, 9-7, the Sox kept on slugging to get the series-winning game on Sunday, 7-3.
The Sunday victory gave the White Sox a 3-3 record for the week. It was good enough to gain another ½ game on the Tigers and they now have a 2 game lead in the Central.
This week, the Sox travel out of the country to face the Toronto Blue Jays for 4 games before going to face those hard-to-beat-if you-are-the-Sox Kansas City Royals at their place. Let’s hope the Royals do not play the role of spoiler and put a dent on the Sox pursuit of a division title.
Well, the best thing that can be said about the Cubs is that management is getting a long (really long) look at the youngsters.
After their wheeling and dealing before the trade deadline, the Cubs have a completely different look to the team, and it may be difficult to recognize some of the players. There are many players now on the roster who were born late in the 1980’s and even the 1990’s who are trying to prove they belong in the big leagues.
At the moment, the Cubs are not using wins/losses as a barometer of the young guns. That is a good thing, because they have lost 9 out of the 10 games they have played since the trades. They got swept by the San Diego Padres (two of the games were shutouts), then lost 3 out of 4 games against the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds.
This week the young guns will face a team that is actually looking up to them. They face the Houston Astros, who also renovated their roster and are 7 games behind the Cubs. This should be a series that lovers of baseball may want to avoid.
After facing the Astros, the Cubs travel to face the Reds again for 4 games, including a double header on Saturday. I know victories are not important right now, but it would be nice to play the spoiler role that the Royals play so well.
After a couple weeks of hitting each other, the Bears finally got to hit players from another team. They made their preseason debut against the Denver Broncos with a 31-3 loss. QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, DE Julius Peppers and MLB Brian Urlacher, did not play. Those who played were able to get some plays in and not get hurt.
Rookies Shea McClellin and Alshon Jeffery showed flashes of why they were chosen early. McClellin had a sack, a tackle for a loss and 2 QB hits, while Jeffery caught 4 passes for 35 yards. Third year player Major Wright also contributed, intercepting a Peyton Manning pass in the end zone on the opening drive.
Having experienced a blowout loss, the Bears did not seem too concerned. As long as no one gets injured and the starters are ready for the season, things will be good.
One thing of note in the game was the appearance of Matt Blanchard. Blanchard is fighting for the 3rd string QB job, though winning that job is a long shot. He comes out of Lake Zurich, IL and his dream was to play for the Bears. After playing 2 seasons in Division II, he transferred to Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Blanchard did not do anything extraordinary in his college career, except win. He was 25-0 as a starter at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has a 37-2 record in his last 39 starts. In fact, the last game he has played in and lost was the Class 7-A championship game in 2006. Does that remind you of someone?
GM Phil Emery explained his thought on signing Blanchard. “The guy has done nothing but win,” said Emery. “That says a lot.”
What also says a lot is that Emery is looking for winners. It appears that he wants players who are used to winning games, any way possible. The other quarterback signed by him was Jason Campbell, who was 26-6 with 3 bowl victories in his last 3 years at Auburn. In his senior season, he led Auburn to a 13-0 record and was the MVP of the Sugar Bowl, even though he threw for only 189 yards.
Let’s hope the winning attitude spreads around the team. Their next game is Saturday at home against the Washington Redskins.
Until next week, fans, have a pizza puff and cheer on your Chicago teams.