Bears

On The Farm: Another Day, Another Big Game For Clevenger

On The Farm: Another Day, Another Big Game For Clevenger

Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010
Posted: 7:30 p.m.
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com
CUBSTennessee AA
Steve Clevenger continued his one-man assault against Mississippi on Sunday, leading Tennessee to an 11-2 victory at Smokies Park.

Clevenger had a homer and four RBIs after hitting a homer and driving in five on Saturday. He has nine hits in his last nine at-bats against the Braves. Marwin Gonzalez added four hits and a pair of RBIs while Matt Spencer had a homer and two runs batted in.

Rafael Dolis 4-3 allowed a run in five innings while striking out five.

The Smokies lost an arm and added an arm as well on Sunday, bidding adieu to RHP Chris Carpenter, who heads to Triple-A Iowa, while welcoming fellow RHP Trey McNutt from Class-A Daytona. Carpenter, a third-round pick in 2008, leaves with an 8-6 record and a 3.16 ERA. He fanned 100 batters.

McNutt, meanwhile, represents yet another mound success story for the Cubs this season. Hes 10-0 with a 1.97 ERA while splitting time between Peoria of the Midwest League and Daytona. Hes fanned 119 in just over 100 innings and will join Chris Archer, whom he replaced at Daytona when Archer was promoted to Tennessee in June, as the Smokies zero in on a Southern League title.

Chicago RHP Esmailin Caridad also joined the Smokies as he works his way back from an elbow strain.
Iowa AAA
Jay Jacksons streaky season continued Sunday afternoon as Iowa upended Nashville, 3-2, at Principal Park. The I-Cubs, who own the best record in the Pacific Coast League, are a season-high 20 games over .500.

Jackson 10-8 snapped a two-start losing streak after throwing five solid innings. Hes been winning in long streaks this year and losing in much shorter ones thanks in part to efforts like Sundays. He allowed only two runs on six hits and struck out six before a trio of relievers kept the Sounds from making any noise. Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his fifth save.

The Cubs scored twice in the fifth inning, equaling the two runs Nashville put up in the top of the frame, to take a 3-2 lead. Matt Camp tied the score with an RBI double before the winning run scored on a Ty Wright double play.

In other action, Daytona and Brevard County were postponed and will play a doubleheader on Monday beginning at 5:05 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Peoria dropped a 4-2 decision at Clinton's Alliant Energy Field. Maolin De Leon allowed a trio of fourth-inning runs and suffered the loss. Hak-Ju Lee, Jae-Hoon Ha and Justin Bour each had a pair of hits. The loss pushed the Chiefs 2.5 games out of a wild-card spot in the Midwest League playoff picture. Vancouver edged Boise, 4-3. Peirre LaPage had a pair of hits and an RBI, extending his hitting streak to five games.
WHITE SOXWinston-Salem A
The Dash held off a furious late charge by Potomac and earned a 9-8 victory at Pfitzner Stadium.

Potomac scored four times in the eighth and once more in the ninth before the game ended on a play at the plate. Jose Lozada was attempting to score on a pitch that got by catcher Jason Bour. He retrieved the ball and fired to pitcher Tyson Corley, who applied the tag for the final out, giving the hurler his eighth save.

Terry Doyle 6-8 gave up a run in five innings to pick up his first victory since July 8. He had been 0-5 in seven starts since. Seth Loman had three hits, including a homer, and two RBIs for the Dash.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators swept a doubleheader at Greensboro Sunday afternoon and once again they benefited from some strong starting pitching. Andre Rienzo pitched a complete game in the opener as Kannapolis earned a 5-0 victory.

It was Rienzos fourth consecutive victory and seventh in nine starts. He allowed only three hits and struck out nine in the seven-inning affair, lowering his ERA to a season-low 3.90. He has a 1.41 ERA in his last eight starts, a stretch of 51 innings.

Ian Gac had three hits, including one of Kannapoliss three home runs. Nick Ciolli had a homer and two RBIs while Trayce Thompson had two hits, including a solo homer.

The bats took over in the nightcap, a 9-5 victory. Thompson had another homer and drove in three while had a hit and picked up two more RBIs. Matt Hopps 2-10 picked up his first victory since May 27.
Birmingham AA
Johnnie Lowe continued his hot streak for the Barons as they defeated visiting Huntsville, 5-1, Sunday evening.

Lowe 6-4 won for the second time in three starts after allowing a run on two hits in six innings. He has a 2.20 ERA in his last three starts. Deunte Heath preserved the victory with three shutout innings. Both pitchers fanned six. Dale Mollenhauer had three RBis for the Barons.
Great Falls Rookie
The Voyagers exploded for eight first-inning runs and then held on for a 12-10 victory at Ogden.

Andy Wilkins and Mike Early each had two hits and two RBIs while Mike Blanke added a pair of hits to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Despite allowing three runs in 1 13 innings, Rene Garcia picked up his first win of the season.

In other action, Clint Sammons solo homer sparked a two-run 10th inning and gave Gwinnett a 10-8 victory over Charlotte at Knights Stadium. The loss snapped Charlottes winning streak at three games. Greg Aquino took the loss. Dayan Viciedo had three hits, including a pair of homers, and three RBIs. Stefan Gartrell had two hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. ... Johnson City downed Bristol, 3-1, in Appalachian League play. The Sox managed only four hits. Kevin Rath took the loss, allowing all three runs in two innings. Matt Heidenreich started and tossed six shutout innings. he's got a 0.67 ERA in his last four starts.

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

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

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USA Today

How Tarik Cohen is thriving as the Bears continue to put more on his plate

Mitchell Trubisky shook his head and grinned when he fielded yet another question this week about the touchdown pass Tarik Cohen threw against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Dang, you guys can’t get enough of this,” Trubisky said. “I talked about it after the game. Dowell (Loggains) was saying it was the best pass of the game. I’m like, ‘All right, geez, let him play quarterback.

“… He threw a dime ball. I love how he was fading away on it and celebrating on the 50-yard line. Zach (Miller) made a great catch. So A-plus; really impressive spiral, especially with the gloves on. Can’t count any of that out. Tarik’s a special player and it was an awesome throw.”

The point here is less about Cohen’s throw and more about the Bears finding yet another way for the rookie running back to make an impact. So far this year, Cohen has rushed 50 times, caught 26 passes, returned 14 punts and now thrown that historic touchdown. He’s been asked to block in pass protection more frequently, allowing him to be on the field more. And he’s worked with wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni and Kendall Wright (who Cohen referred to as another receiver coach for him) to expand his route tree, leading him to be the most-targeted player (33 targets) on the Bears through six weeks. 

That may seem like a lot to put on the plate of a fourth-round draft pick from an FCS school, but it hasn’t been too much for Cohen. 

“We need Tarik to be that guy for us — the best playmaker we have,” Loggains said. “There’s no secret there. And he’s a guy who we’ll continue to use, and people are aware of him. So how creative can we get with him? How many different things can we do with him? 

“Like, we’re stretching him. Mentally, he’s stretched to the max playing all these positions — motioning out to wide receiver, playing running back and doing more in the backfield with more carries. So we have to keep stretching him and keep using him in the offense.”

Opposing defenses have keyed on Cohen since his explosive debut Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, scheming to muffle his playmaking ability. But he still managed to nearly have a walk-off 73-yard run against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, and then in Week 6, with defenses figuring they could crash down on him on sweep plays to the edge, he (literally) threw another wrinkle into how to gameplan against him. The next time the Bears run a toss sweep to Cohen, opposing safeties will have to think twice about bolting toward the line of scrimmage to stop him. 

Every time Cohen seems to hit a rookie wall, he and the Bears find a way to knock it down. The discussion a week ago about Cohen was that he was dancing too much and not cutting upfield quick enough; this week, it’s all about his perfect quarterback rating. 

“Our coaches do a good job of continuing to put him in places so he can be successful,” fellow running back Benny Cunningham said. “But ultimately I feel like he has such a genuine love of the game, I don’t see that happening (hitting the wall). Since the day he’s been here, from Day 1 to today, I’ve seen no drop-off in his desire to be successful and to help this offense.”

The Bears have known this about Cohen's mentality since they scouted and drafted him back in the spring, and his potential only blossomed after getting him into Halas Hall in May — “Early on, we knew Tarik was going to be pretty special,” coach John Fox said. But Cohen wouldn’t be able to reach that potential without the ability to handle the responsibilities of all the different tasks the Bears have asked of him so far. 

Cohen’s ability to do so many different things makes him an important player for this team, and his ability to do them with an exciting, playmaking flair has made him a fan favorite since training camp. So what’s next for the 5-foot-6 rookie?

“I think we’ve got something — I’ll punt the ball this week,” Cohen joked. “Naw, I’m playin’. I can’t put the ball for nothing, I don’t think. It’ll probably go like 20 yards.”

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

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USA Today

The Bears defense is trending up, and could get Nick Kwiatkoski back as soon as this weekend

Nick Kwiatkoski was a full participant in Bears practice on Friday, marking the first time the second-year linebacker has done that since he suffered a pec injury Sept. 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Kwiatkoski sounded confident he could make his return five weeks after suffering that painful injury. 

“It’s not really my decision,” Kwiatkoski said. “I’m preparing like I am, so we’ll see. … “In my head I am (playing). But we’ll see.”

The Bears’ defense, despite placing three key players — linebackers Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman and safety Quintin Demps — on injured reserve, has been solid at worst so far this year. Pro Football Focus has Vic Fangio’s group as the third-best defense in the NFL through Week 6, behind only the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars. 

While Christian Jones played some quality snaps next to Danny Trevathan (and John Timu — he struggled after Timu’s injury against Minnesota), Kwiatkoski represents an upgrade at inside linebacker. The Bears liked what Kwiatkoski did last year in place of an injured Trevathan, and were confident they wouldn’t miss a beat with him filling in after Freeman’s Week 1 injury. 

“He’s a smart guy who has been willing to work,” coach John Fox said. “And I’ve seen that improvement from last year to this year. And anytime you get whacked or injured or taken out for some reason, you’ve got to kind of regain that again. It’s like a do-over. So he has had a good week.”

Kwiatkoski stayed sharp by going through meetings and film study as if he were playing while that pec injury — which he said felt like a “bad pulled muscle” — kept him sidelined for practices and games. If Kwiatkoski indeed is active and/or starting Sunday against Carolina, the hope is he can step in and pick up where he left off in Week 2. 

“I have all the confidence that he'll do fine,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said prior to Kwiatkoski’s injury. And that confidence, in all likelihood, still exists.