Cubs

Bayne Nearly Untouchable In Winston-Salem Victory; Burgess Raking For Daytona

Bayne Nearly Untouchable In Winston-Salem Victory; Burgess Raking For Daytona

Monday April 11, 2011
Posted: 10:20 p.m.WHITE SOXWinston-Salem A
A late offensive burst lifted Winston-Salem to a 7-5 victory against Potomac Monday night at Pfitzner Stadium. It was the third consecutive win for the Dash, who have allowed nine runs in three games after surrendering seven runs in a season-opening defeat at Kinston.

The Dash scored five runs over the final three innings, offsetting the Nationals four-run outburst in the eighth. Kyle Sheltons solo homer in the seventh got the late charge started. The Dash also scored twice as a result of a Potomac error in the ninth. That was sandwiched around an eighth inning that saw Winston-Salem plate three times on run-scoring hits by Jose Martinez, Ian Gac and Jason Bour.

Martinez remains red hot, collecting a pair of hits. Hes hitting .556 through four games.

Cameron Bayne, a 12-game winner last year at Kannapolis, made his season debut and allowed an unearned run in seven innings before the bullpen stumbled. Bayne struck out three and allowed only one hit in earning the victory. He had a no-hitter for 6 23 innings, retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point, before a Destin Hood double spoiled his evening.
Charlotte AAA
The Knights continued to improve on their best start in franchise history Monday night, topping the Durham Bulls, 4-3, with a late rally to remain undefeated. Charlotte improved to 5-0, marking the first time in franchise history it has gotten off to such a start. The Knights and Columbus, which was rained out on Monday, are the only undefeated International League teams remaining.

Charlotte spotted the Bulls a 3-0, first-inning lead and thats how the score stayed until the seventh when Gookie Dawkins RBI double made it 3-1. Dayan Viciedos two-run homer in the eighth knotted it up at 3-3 before Alejandaro De Azas RBI single in the ninth brought home the game winner.

Brandon Hynick started and settled down after allowing the three first-inning runs, tossing shutout ball over the next five innings. Jhonny Nunez then pitched two scoreless innings before Josh Kinney earned his first win of the season despite walking a pair in a shaky ninth.

In other news, Jake Peavy is scheduled to make a rehab start for the Charlotte on Wednesday when it faces Durham on Wednesday at Knights Stadium.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators, coming off their riveting doubleheader sweep of Lakewood on Sunday, continued their road trip on Monday with a 5-3 victory at Delmarva.

Kannapolis scored what would prove to be the winning run in the seventh without the benefit of a hit, snapping what had been a 3-3 tie. Trayce Thompson was hit by a pitch, went to third on an errant pickoff throw and then scored on a wild pitch to give the Intimidators the lead. Juan Silverios run-scoring single made it a two-run game an inning later. Thompson also had a homer and drove in a pair.

Jimmy Ballinger picked up the win in relief.
Birmingham AA
The Barons dropped their second consecutive game, this one a 10-3 decision to Montgomery in a game that was stopped in the seventh inning because of weather. Nevin Griffith allowed seven runs in three innings to take the loss.
CUBSDaytona A
Michael Burgess three-run homer capped a four-run seventh inning as Daytona rallied for a 6-5 victory over Clearwater at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The victory, coupled with Ft. Myers loss, leaves the Cubs 5-0 as the lone undefeated team in the Florida State League. Burgess, meanwhile, continues his long-ball tear. He had two homers in the game and has four this season. The outfielder, who was originally a first-round draft pick by the Nationals in 2007, had three hits and five RBIs.

Though Brent Ebinger allowed three runs one earned in four innings he picked up his first victory of the season.
Tennessee AA
The Smokies couldnt handle Mother Nature or Chattanooga on Monday night, dropping a 6-5 decision in a game that was called in the sixth inning because of rain.

Ryan Flaherty, Josh Vitters and Steve Clevenger all had homers for Tennessee but Brooks Raley, making his Double-A debut after winning eight games for Daytona last year, allowed six runs on eight hits over 3 23 innings to take the loss.
Peoria A
The Chiefs opened their first road trip of the season, a 10-game Midwest League jaunt, in disappointing fashion, dropping a 4-2 decision at Burlington.

The Bees took the lead with a two-run third inning without ever getting the ball out of the infield. Greg Rohans error helped fuel the inning and made a loser of Graham Hicks. Rubi Silva was 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to five games while Matt Szczur had two hits and made a spectacular diving eighth-inning catch in center field. The three Chiefs pitchers did not record a strikeout. It marked the first time since April 13, 2006 against Quad Cities that Peoria pitchers didnt strike out a batter. Hicks walked a career-high six.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Takeaways from Cubs Convention and players primed for a 2018 breakout

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Takeaways from Cubs Convention and players primed for a 2018 breakout

On the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jon Graff, Matt Buckman and Scott Changnon rattle off their main takeaways from the weekend’s Cubs Convention, including the funniest moments and how the players engaged with fans and each other throughout the three days at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Plus, which players — besides Kyle Schwarber — made the most of the offseason and are primed for a breakout in 2018? The crew gives its take, with options including Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ and Jason Heyward.

Take a listen below:

Will Bears see instant improvement under Matt Nagy? Putting his first-year expectations in context

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USA TODAY

Will Bears see instant improvement under Matt Nagy? Putting his first-year expectations in context

Circling back around from the playoffs to the Bears, or at least to the Bears using the current postseason as a bit of a prism, magnifying glass, measuring stick, all of the above:

The ultimate question, obviously meaningfully unanswerable for perhaps another 10 or 11 months, revolves around expectations that were ushered in along with Matt Nagy and the rest of his coaching staff. One early guess is that there’ll be an inevitable positive bump in the record, the only true measuring stick. Depending on changes in practices, strength training, luck, whatever, Nagy might fare better than John Fox simply by virtue of having a presumably healthier roster — pick any three Bears who were injured during the 2017 season: Leonard Floyd, Cameron Meredith, Eric Kush, Kyle Long, Pernell McPhee, Mitch Unrein, Kevin White and Willie Young — and a broken-in Mitch Trubisky from the get-go.

This is far from a given, however. Far, far from a given for the Bears. Of the 10 coaches hired in the 50 years since George Halas stopped, only Fox, Dick Jauron and Dave Wannstedt improved on the winning percentage of their immediate predecessor. All dipped, save for Jack Pardee, who in 1975 equaled the 4-10 finish of Abe Gibron before him. And Pardee was getting Walter Payton in that year’s draft, so things started looking up in a hurry.

And maybe that should be the expectation for Nagy, who projects to get some or all of Fox’s wounded back, plus a draft class beginning with No. 8 overall.

Better Bears record in 2018? Maybe, but ...

The Bears are perhaps something of an anomaly (imagine that) in the near constant of incoming coaches failing to improve matters in their first years. One of the more memorable aspects of this writer’s first year on the Bears beat (1992) — besides the obvious pyrotechnics of Mike Ditka’s epic final season — was the startling turnarounds effected by first-year (and first-time) NFL coaches that year, with several teams on the Bears’ schedule that year, meaning there were chances to study those in depth.

Consider: Bill Cowher took the Steelers from 7-9 to 11-5, Dennis Green took the Vikings from 8-8 to 11-5, Mike Holmgren took the Packers from 4-12 to 11-5, Bobby Ross took the Chargers from 4-12 to 11-5, and Dave Shula took the Bengals from 3-13 to 5-11.

The Bears played all but the Chargers that year, losing twice to Green, once to Holmgren and defeating the Cowher and Shula teams. Holmgren’s Packers didn’t make the playoffs, but he had to make an in-season quarterback change, which worked out pretty well long-term (Brett Favre).

Bears coaching-change history notwithstanding, the Nagy bar should be well above the five wins of Fox’s 2017. Nagy is a first-time head coach, but none of Cowher, Green, Holmgren, Ross or Shula had ever been NFL head coaches previously, either. Green and Ross had been college head coaches, albeit Green with a losing record and Ross barely .500 in those tenures.

And those coaches were taking over in the last year before the advent of free agency, which began in 1993. The Bears “landed” Anthony Blaylock and Craig Heyward. The Vikings secured Jack Del Rio. The Packers, Reggie White.

Odd years coming

Expectations vs. results will be interesting to observe in quite a few places this season. In some spots, the situation wasn’t completely broken but they “fixed” it anyway, in the dubious tradition of the Bears axing Lovie Smith after consecutive seasons of 11-5, 8-8 and 10-6 — two more wins (29) than Fox and Marc Trestman had combined (27) over the next five years.

Sometimes that sort of thing can work out. Phil Jackson did get the Michael Jordan Bulls to the next level that Doug Collins hadn’t. And Joe Maddon got the Cubs over the Rick Renteria hump, though adding Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler and Jon Lester probably helped, too. Fox got the Broncos into a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning, but Gary Kubiak won one with Manning. Fox’s Broncos went against the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, one of the top 10 defenses of all time, while Kubiak had the good fortune of instead having one of the all-time great defenses in 2015.

But back to current NFL case studies:

— The Lions fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season, his third winning year out of four there, two of those going to the playoffs.

— The Titans concluded their playoff year with the exit of Mike Mularkey, his reward for a second straight 9-7 that reversed four straight losing years under others.

— Chuck Pagano had five .500-or-better seasons with the Colts, didn’t have Andrew Luck all year, and was fired two years after going 5-3 with Matt Hasselbeck filling in for Luck.

What the expectations are in those venues is their business, just as it was when Phil Emery launched Smith in a fashion similar to the Titans with Mularkey. Smith didn’t reach the 2012 playoffs but would have been fired for anything short of a Super Bowl appearance, as Mularkey was for only winning one playoff game with Marcus Mariota as his quarterback.

All of which makes the Nagy/Pace Era more than a little intriguing. Nagy takes over a team with a No. 2-overall quarterback, as Mularkey did with Mariota. Some of Mularkey’s undoing traced to failing to maximize Mariota with an offense suited to how his quarterback plays his best, and force-fitting a player into a scheme is high-risk at best.

That doesn’t really apply in the case of a conservatively wired Fox, who directed that the offense be kept under ball-security control with a rookie quarterback. Fox and Dowell Loggains arguably were as constrained by Trubisky as he was by them.

But Nick Foles flourished with the Eagles under Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson, struggling a bit under Jeff Fisher. Case Keenum, a teammate of Foles when the Rams played in St. Louis, was so-so under the defense-based Fisher with the Rams, yet went supernova this year under the defense-based Mike Zimmer with the Vikings, which speaks to the value of the right coordinator irrespective of the head coach’s offensive or defensive background.

In the end Nagy’s achievements will be player-based. They always are. What he can do with what he’s got and given, via draft, free agency or whatever, vs. the successes and non-successes of others in his situation, is the work in progress now.