Cubs

Daytona Advances in FSL; Great Falls Clinches In Pioneer League

Daytona Advances in FSL; Great Falls Clinches In Pioneer League

Thursday Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 10:00 p.m.
CUBS Daytona A
The Cubs exploded for four eight-inning runs Thursday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, racing by Dunedin, 4-3, to capture their opening-round series in the Florida State League playoffs. Daytona will face St. Lucie, which topped Bradenton, in the best-of-five finals beginning Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Dunedin held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the eighth before Mike Brenly and Evan Crawford led off with back-to-back singles. Logan Watkins walked to load the bases and the Jays changed pitchers, bringing in Aaron Loup. He fared no better, though, giving up consecutive run-scoring singles to Matt Cerda and Justin Bour.

Greg Rohans sacrifice fly then tied the score. Abner Abreu singled to reload the bases and Dunedin went to the bullpen again, bringing in Vince Bongiovanni. He promptly allowed an RBI single to Matt Szczur, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

Jordan Latham earned the victory while Frank Batista picked up the save.

Tennessee AA
Tennessee used five pitchers and a monstrous fourth-inning outburst Thursday night at Smokies Stadium to earn a 9-6 victory over Chattanooga in the Southern League semi-final playoff series opener.

Hung-Wen Chen pitched 1 13 shutout innings in relief of Brooks Raley, who lasted only 3 23 innings, to pick up the win. He was the beneficiary of the big fourth inning in which the Smokies scored seven times. Josh Vitters and Blake Lalli each connected for two-run homers in the inning to fuel the rally. Lalli finished with three RBIs while Jim Adduci chipped in three hits.
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
The Voyagers clinched the Pioneer League North Division title Thursday night, topping Missoula, 11-8, in the regular-season finale. Great Falls will host Missoula in Game One Friday night before the series shifts for Game Two and Three, if needed.

Mike Earley, Andrew Douglas and Martin Medina were dominant for the Voyagers, combining to go 7-for-14 with two homer, nine RBIs and six runs scored. Earleys three-run double in a five-run sixth erased an Osprey lead, giving the Voyagers an advantage they wouldnt relinquish.

Stew Brase 3-2 earned the win despite allowing three runs on a pair of homers in 2 13 innings of relief. The Voyagers have reached the playoffs five consecutive seasons. Pioneer League pitcher of the year Blake Walters 9-0 will start the opener.
Birmingham AA
The Barons exploded early and then left the game in the hands of Terry Doyle and the ace did the rest in a 9-1 victory over Mobile at Regions Park in a Southern League semi-final playoff series opener.

Doyle, who had eight wins during the regular season, allowed a run in 6 23 innings. He allowed one run or less 10 times during the regular season between Birmingham and Winston-Salem, finishing the regular season with four consecutive victories.

The offense made it easy for Doyle, though, scoring five times in the first and four more times in the third inning. Jake Oesters three-run homer in the first inning was the big blow. He would added a run-scoring sacrifice fly to kick off the fourth-inning barrage. Ken Williams, Tyler Kuhn and Brandon Short added RBI singles.

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

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USA TODAY

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

Is Cubs manager Joe Maddon taking the heat and covering for Wade Davis while the All-Star closer deals with atypical soreness in his right arm?

“No, no,” Maddon said Tuesday when asked if Davis felt anything unusual that lingered into the National League Championship Series after last week’s all-out effort eliminated the Washington Nationals from the divisional round.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven bullpen battle without Davis throwing a single pitch, the backlash from Cubs fans, Twitter and the national media again putting Maddon on the defensive, the year after he got second-guessed for pushing Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.

This NLCS truly is a bizarro world, with Maddon comparing the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax, getting so little benefit of the doubt – the Cubs really did beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 – and working the baseball term “dry-hump” into one answer during Monday’s Wrigley Field press conference.

Maddon said he would have to check first with Davis – who would have almost five full days in between relief appearances – if the Cubs need a four- or five-out save in Game 3.

“Nevertheless, I always check,” Maddon said. “I can’t just assume that.”

Maddon’s Game 2 calculus on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium – sticking with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in a 1-1 game to start the ninth inning and then bringing in John Lackey to serve up the walk-off, three-run homer to Justin Turner – made you wonder if Davis was still dragging after ending Washington’s season and traveling on the overnight cross-country flight that got diverted to New Mexico for about five hours when Jose Quintana’s wife experienced a panic attack.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” Maddon said. “Physically, 44 pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. But also the seven outs and what it meant and the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac, there was a lot of non-rest going on right there, so it was harder to recover.

“So, no, he was fine for the last game, but we set up the parameters before the game.”

Maddon is sticking with his story, that he would only deploy Davis in a save situation and not use him for one out against Turner (1.115 career postseason OPS) or have him totally warm up without the guarantee of getting him into the game.

“To put Wade in that position would be wrong on my part,” Maddon said. “We had already talked about the circumstances, so my loyalty there lies with Wade, or my decision-making lies with Wade, nobody else.

“That was a heavy day for him (in Washington). Going into the last game in L.A., like I talked about, we talked about one inning only, and not to get up and not put him in the game.

“If you get him up and sit him down, then you have no idea what it’s going to look like. My responsibility is to him, also, and to the players, so I told him that before the game, so I had to stick with our decision.”

Before finalizing the Jorge Soler trade at the winter meetings, the Kansas City Royals took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to meet with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley and go through a physical exam. The Cubs wanted reassurances after Davis spent parts of last season on the disabled list with a forearm strain and a flexor strain.

The Cubs wondered if “dry-humping” had contributed to those injuries, and tried to stay conservative with Davis during his free-agent year, watching him convert his first 32 save chances and using him for three-plus outs only three times during the regular season, all in mid-to-late September.

“If you look at the numbers this year, I thought going into the playoffs his usage has been really good,” Maddon said. “Minimal, in a sense. We didn’t get him up hardly at all where we didn’t utilize him.

“He just wasn’t set up for it the other day. So honestly, I think he’s in really good shape right now, actually. I don’t think he could have gone those seven outs the other day if he had been overly dried up during the course of the season. He felt good. But that was above and beyond, and that wasn’t part of the game plan the other night.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

Sports Talk Live is on location at the Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field to get you set for Game 3 of the NLCS. David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Jesse Rogers (ESPNChicago.com) and Bob Nightengale (USA Today) join Kap on the panel. 

Plus, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson drop by to talk about the big matchup.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: