Hello sports fans, Carlos here. After a hopefully great Labor Day Weekend, sit back, relax and enjoy the latest Windy City Report. Are the White Sox losing a handle on their division lead? How is the babysitting project going on the North side? Are the Bears ready to go?
We start on the South side, where things are getting tight for the White Sox. They had huge games against the Orioles (fighting the Yankees for tops in the AL East) and Tigers, who are right on the Sox’ heels in the AL Central.
After impressively sweeping the Yankees and Mariners last week, the Sox were flying high. They were looking to keep the good times rolling with a four game series at Baltimore.
In the opener, the Sox had a 3-2 lead going to the bottom of the 8th, but the Orioles use a 2-run home run by Nate McClouth to end their 6 game winning streak.
In game 2, the Sox had their ace, Chris Sale, going. He did not have his usually great stuff, however. He only lasted 4 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. The Orioles pitching shut down the powerful Sox offense in a 6-0 whitewash.
The Sox bounced back in the third game, blasting the Orioles 8-1. Rookie Dylan Axelrod started in place of injured Gavin Floyd, and he shined. He went 7 1/3 innings and allowed 1 run on 3 hits, with 5 strikeouts and 4 walks.
In the finale, the Sox had Orioles starter Zach Britton on the ropes early on, getting 5 hits in 2 innings. They could not convert the hits to runs, however, scoring only 1 run over that time. Britton made adjustments, and allowed only 2 hits over the next 6 innings. He dominated the Sox, getting 10 strikeouts over 8 innings. In fact, he never went over ball 2 to any hitter. The Sox tried to rally with Britton gone, scoring 2 in the 9th, but they fell 5-3, and lost 3 out of 4 going to Detroit for their biggest series of the season so far.
In the opener, the Sox and Tigers fought tooth and nail over 6 innings, and they were tied at 4. The Tigers used a 3-run seventh to earn a 7-4 victory. The Sox offense struggled to get key hits, going 0-13 with runners in scoring position, and they stranded 12 runners.
In the second game, Franciso Liriano could not match the Tigers’ Max Scherzer. Liriano only went 4+ innings, issuing 7 walks. Scherzer went 8 innings, allowed only 4 hits, striking out 9 and only walking 1. The Sox could get nothing going offensively, not scoring their run until the 9th in a 5-1 loss.
The series finale had a battle between the teams’ two aces, Chris Sale and Justin Verlander. They battled to a 1-1 tie over 5 innings, but Delmon Young hit a 3-run homer off of Sale to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. Verlander, meanwhile, cruised through 8 innings, striking out 11 and allowing only one run, a homer to Alejandro De Aza on the game’s 2nd pitch. The Sox lost their seventh straight game in Detroit. They have also lost 18 of their last 21 games there.
The Sox finish their tough road trip 1-6 and are 1-9 in their last 10 road games. They are now tied with Detroit atop the AL Central. They come back home this week licking their wounds. They face the Minnesota Twins for 3 games then go against the baffling Kansas City Royals. The Royals are among the worst teams in baseball, but they swept the Sox in mid-August and own a 19-12 record over them over the last two seasons.
The Sox are in a precarious situation now. They must stop the bleeding or the Tigers will blow past them and win another Central division title. We will see what rookie manager Robin Ventura has up his sleeve to bring his Sox back.
What can be said about the kids on the North side? They faced the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants last week. At least they did not get swept in either series. They lost 3 of 4 against the Brewers and lost 2 of 3 to the Giants. They allowed 33 runs to the Brewers and 16 runs to the Giants. The kids are taking their lumps, but hopefully some of them get the proper experience to come back for a stronger 2013 campaign. Also, the Cubs are in line to draw 2.95 million fans at home this year. It would be the first time since 2003 that the Cubs’ attendance would be below 3 million. These last 2 seasons of horrible baseball are starting to take a toll. Hopefully, though, Theo and company have the right plan to get the franchise back on track.
The Bears finished up the preseason with a 28-20 victory over the Cleveland Brown. It gave them a 3-1 record and heightened the hopes for this season. No one was injured so they are set to start their regular season opener on Sunday. The only concern has been Brian Urlacher’s knee, but he was scheduled to join the team in practice today and says he is ready to go on Sunday.
The thing he also said was that his knee will never be the same. “My knee just isn’t the same anymore. It’s never going to be the same.”
Urlacher sprained two ligaments in his knee late in last season’s final game. He underwent treatment which some reports say included a special surgery in Germany to get the knee better. He came into camp and aggravated the knee and had a scope. He has not played in any preseason game and since the first week of camp in July he has not been practicing.
It is critical that Urlacher be in good condition for the Bears to have a strong defense. He is asked to do more than what a regular middle linebacker does. His ability to run sideline to sideline and rush the passer makes him a crucial part of the Bears’ Cover 2 scheme. We will see how healthy he is this week leading up to gametime.
Training camp is about 3 weeks away for the Bulls. Once it starts we will get some sort of idea of how all the new guys will mesh. Derrick Rose has been ahead of schedule in his rehab. He has already started doing on-court drills so it looks like his return by around January look pretty good. He is even documenting his return on Youtube. Hopefully he can return and then get the knee back to full strength and his overall body sculpture stronger.
Well, until next week sports lovers, enjoy some Italian Beef sandwiches!