Bears

I-Cubs Power By Albuquerque

I-Cubs Power By Albuquerque

Thursday April 21, 2011
Posted: 10:15 p.m.
CUBSIowa AAA
Lou Montanez grand slam capped a six-run third inning and powered Iowa by Albuquerque, 9-4, Thursday night at Principal Park.

Montanez was 4-for-5, pushing his average to .423. Hes in the top five in the Pacific Coast League in batting and is second with 19 RBIs. The rest of the I-Cubs combined for four hits, but it was more than enough for Jay Jackson, who joined the club from extended spring on Thursday to make his first start of the year.

Jackson, who had been fighting a sore shoulder, allowed two runs on two hits over five innings while striking out four. Polin Trinidad closed it out for his first save.

In other news, catcher Welington Castillo was called up Daytona. Castillo, who had a double and scored twice, had been recovering from a thumb injury wand was serving as a DH for Daytona until he was able to move back behind the plate. Pitcher Jake Muyco was released and INF Jonathan Mota was placed on the DL.
Daytona A
The Cubs earned their third consecutive victory Thursday night to retain a one-game lead over Clearwater in the Florida State Leagues North Division. The superb relief pitching of Brent Ebinger marked Daytonas 5-3 victory over Lakeland at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The left-hander pitched 4 23 shutout innings, striking out five and scattering four hits in after coming on for Zach Rosscup. Mike Burgess had two hits, including a homer and three RBIs, for the Cubs.
Peoria A
Arismendy Alcantara collected a career high four RBIs Thursday night as Peoria upended Beloit, 5-4, in a rain-shortened game at OBrien Field. Alcantara had a pair of hits, including a three-run triple.

Eric Jokisch 2-0 earned the victory. Greg Rohan went hitless in three at-bats, ending his hitting streak at 12 games. Peoria pitchers saw their scoreless-inning streak snapped at 23 13 innings when Beloit scored in the fifth inning.
Tennessee AA
Brett Jackson continues to tear through the Southern League though his efforts at the plate went for naught Thursday night as the Smokies dropped a 5-3 decision at Carolina.

Jackson had a pair of hits, including a solo homer, and has now hit safely in 12 of 14 games this year. The former top pick is hitting is batting .426 and took over the batting lead on the Double-A circuit. Hes also tops in OPS.

Trey McNutt 0-1 took the loss, tying a career high by allowing eight hits in four innings. He struck out four and gave up three runs in that stretch. Only two of the five runs three Tennessee pitchers allowed was earned.
WHITE SOXCharlotte AAA
The Knights have been streaky this season, starting out the year 5-0 before losing the next six straight games. Theyve begun a new winning streak, though, taking their second in a row Thursday night at Durham Athletic Park, this one a 6-4 victory over the Bulls.

Jeff Marquez 2-1 earned the win with a solid seven-inning effort. She allowed two runs and scattered six hits while striking out three. Only one of the runs he surrendered was earned, lowing his ERA to 1.50 in three starts. Anthony Carter pitched 1 23 perfect innings for his first save.

Gookie Dawkins three-run homer in the eighth inning proved to be the difference. Lastings Milledge had an RBI and drew a pair of walks but it still hitting .182 since joining the Knights. Alejandro De Aza, conversely, had three hits and is batting .333.
Winston-Salem A
The Dash lost their fourth straight Thursday night, this one a 7-6 decision to Wilimington at BB&T Ballpark.

Winston-Salem scored a combined three times in the seventh and eighth innings but could draw no closer after Wilmington had taken a 7-3 lead after four innings. Hector Santiago 0-1 allowed all seven runs in four innings as the Dash fell to 6-7.

Jose Martinez and Ian Gac each had three hits with Martinez effort pushing him to second in the Carolina League in hitting a .434. Jared Mitchell had a pair of hits and two RBIs as he extended his hitting streak to five games. ... Utility man Kyle Shelton and RHP Tyson Corley were promoted to Birmingham while RHP Addison Reed and INF Jake Oester join the Dash.
Kannapolis A
Matt Heidenreich pitched his best game of the season, earning his first victory Thursday night as Kannapolis defeated West Virginia, 4-1, at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium.

Heidenreich 1-1, a former fourth-round selection, allowed three hits over six shutout innings. He was supported by Kannapolis 10-hit attack as five players collected two hits apiece. Dan Black had the biggest impact, hitting a homer and collecting three RBIs.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.