by Carlos Nazario
Hello sports fans, here is your latest Windy City Sports Report. Are the White Sox closer to a division title? How are the Cubs doing playing the spoiler role? Did the Bears bounce back from the Thursday night debacle?
As the week opened for the White Sox, they owned a 2 game lead over the Detroit Tigers. They had a rained-out makeup game against those same Tigers on Monday in their final face-to-face match-up for the year.
The Tigers ran out to a 3-0 lead after 3 innings. The White Sox stormed back and tied it in the 4th. In what seemed like a heavyweight boxing match, the Tigers came right back in the 5th and took the lead again. In the bottom of that inning, the Sox took the lead on a great, hard slide on a double play by Alex Rios into Tigers’ 2B Omar Infante that forced him to bounce his throw to first. Prince Fielder could not handle the bounce and the Sox scored 2 runs to take the lead.
From there, the Sox bullpen took over the game. Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Brett Myers, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed combined for 5 hitless and scoreless innings as the Sox held on for the win and extend their lead to 3. It also reduced their magic number to eliminate the Tigers to 14.
After the big, emotional win on Monday, the Sox traveled to Kansas City to face their nemesis, their dominators, the Kansas City Royals, for a 3 game set.
The Royals sent out Luke Hochever and he pitched pretty well. He went 7 innings, scattered 7 hits, and had 4 strikeouts. Three of those 7 hits, however, were solo home runs, and that was all the Sox needed to escape with a 3-2 win.
In the second game, the Sox had their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound. He was locked in a battle with Kansas City’s Bruce Chen, the owner of a 10-12 record.
Going into the game, Sale had allowed 8 hits or more in a start only 3 times this season. All 3 of those times were against the Royals. Well, guess what? You can make that 4 times, and all against Kansas City. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowed 8 hits and 3 runs. Chen also went 6 2/3 innings, but only allowed 5 hits and did not have any runs scored on him. The Royals beat Sale and the White Sox again, this time a shutout, 3-0.
In the rubber game, the Sox looked to finally get through and win a series against the Royals. They ran out to a 3-0 lead after 2 innings. But of course, the Royals fought back. They scored in the 5th and 6th to tie the game. Brett Hosmer hit a 2-out, ninth inning walk-off single to give the Royals another win and another series against the Sox.
After a tough, emotional loss, the White Sox went to Anaheim to face the playoff contending Angels. The Angels are 2 ½ games out of the last wild card spot, so they are facing must-win games just like the Sox.
In the opener, the Sox came out strong. Alejandro De Aza lead the game off with a home run and it seemed the White Sox would forget the happenings in Kansas City. It did not turn out that way.
The Angels scored 5 runs over the 2nd, 3rd. and 4th innings on their way to a 6-2 victory. Manager Robin Ventura put it plain and simple after the game. “We just got our rear ends kicked,” is how he put it.
In the second game, the rear end kicking continued. The Angels scored 4 runs in the first inning and cruised to a 4-2 victory. Dan Haren went 6 innings, allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 to get his 12th win of the season.
In the third game, the Sox looked to break their 4 game road losing streak. It was going to be a difficult task, though, as they had to face the Angels’ ace, Jared Weaver. Weaver was looking to take a step closer to winning 20 games by getting to 19. The Sox ran out Gavin Floyd to try to keep that from happening.
For 5 innings Floyd and Weaver were locked in a duel. In the 6th inning, however, the Angels broke through and broke the game open. They scored 4 runs in that inning, starting with a 2-run double by Albert Pujols. The RBI gave Pujols 101 for the season. He has now knocked in 100 RBI or more in 11 of his 12 seasons. The Angels cruised to a 4-1 victory and gave the Sox a 5 game road losing streak.
With that loss the White Sox lead over Detroit dropped to just one game. Their magic number is at 10, but that is the last thing on their minds. They are trying to right the ship and get rolling again.
That attempt begins tonight with a 3 game set against the Cleveland Indians and a 4 game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Thankfully those games are in Chicago so they do not have to worry about that road losing streak.
Over on the north side, the Cubbies looked to continue their role as spoilers. First they finished off a 4 game weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They got shut out of the game 3-0, and had to settle with a split.
After the Pirates game, the Cincinnati Reds came to town. They were just 3 game away from clinching a playoff spot, and the Cubs helped them out by getting swept in the series. Even with Reds’ manager, Dusty Baker, in the hospital for an irregular heartbeat, the Reds were able to get the 3-game sweep.
In the series, Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th home run of the season. It was the sixth time in his career that Soriano hit 30 homers or more, and the second time he did it with the Cubs. He was also the second player in Major League Baseball history to hit 30 homers or more after not hitting one in the first 30 games (in 1982 Dwight Evans hit 32 homers in 1982 after not hitting any in his first 38 games). In addition, he was the fifth Cubs player over the age of 36 to hit at least 30 homers and get at least 100 RBI. The other players are Hank Sauer, Andre Dawson, Fred McGriff, and Moises Alou.
After the Cincinnati sweep, the Cubs entertained the St Louis Cardinals, who owned the last playoff spot in the National League. After winning the first game against their hated rivals, they dropped the next two to lose the series.
The Cubs now go on the road for a 3 game series against the Colorado Rockies, then go to Arizona for a 3 game set against the Diamondbacks. Don’t worry Cub fans, this season is almost over. The only thing left to decide for them is whether or not they get 4 more wins in the last 9 to avoid losing 100.
After an embarrassing performance on national television against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears looked to give a better effort against the St Louis Rams. They did not look overwhelming, but they did come out with a fairly convincing 23-6 victory.
The Bears defense dominated the game, getting 6 sacks, 2 takeaways and got a clinching touchdown on an interception return. They allowed no touchdowns and held the Rams to 160 total yards and only 12 first downs. They held star Rams RB Stephen Jackson to 29 yards on 11 carries.
The defense made up for another not so great offensive output. Jay Cutler completed 17 of 31 passes for 183 yards, but he had no TDs and threw an interception. “It was hit and miss,” Cutler said. “At the end of the day, we won the game. Offensively, there were some things we could make better, but the idea is to win. It’s not a one-on-one tennis match.”
Cutler was sacked twice on Sunday, but he was hurried and harassed most of the game. The offensive line, in particular J’Marcus Webb, again looked a little shaky. The Bears will need to do something about Webb’s side since that is the side Pro Bowl DE DeMarcus Ware plays for the Dallas Cowboys, the Bears’ next opponents.
Michael Bush started for the injured Matt Forte (ankle), had mixed results. The running attack overall had 103 yards, with Bush getting 55 of them. He did score a touchdown, but between him and Kahlil Bell they averaged only 2.7 yards per carry. In fact, the biggest run of the game was a Cutler scamper for 21 yards.
The win put the Bears into a tie for first place in the NFC North with the surprising Minnesota Vikings at 2-1. The Packers have a game tonight against the Seattle Seahawks so they could also join the tie. The Detroit Lions round out the North with a 1-2 record.
As I wrote earlier the next game for the Bears is at Dallas against the Cowboys for a Monday night showdown. Let’s hope they find some help for Webb (like maybe BENCHING HIM!) and keep Cutler upright so Chicago can celebrate another win.
Until next week, sports fans, take a stroll down the Mag Mile and enjoy the sights.