White Sox

Bears OL getting nasty too nasty?

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Bears OL getting nasty too nasty?

According to the stat experts at Pro Football Focus, the Bears offensive line has improved from laughingstock to No. 22 overall. The group is ranked No. 22 overall 25th in pass blocking, seventh in run blocking and would rate considerably higher but for its No. 30 slot for penalties. More on that in moment.

The balance-oriented Bears have had no game with fewer than 93 rushing yards through six games in 2012. Last year they were sub-90 in three of the first six (with a 3-3 record). In 2010 they rushed for fewer than 80 yards in five games of the 4-3 start.

As coaches and players maintain, running the ball well is in some measure a state of mind. For all of the focus on Ndamukong Suhs savage ways, the meanest states of mind last Monday appeared to have resided in ones blocking Suh and his associates.

The state of mind on the Bears offensive line is becoming nasty. Sometimes even a little too nasty.

Case by case nasty

Gabe Carimi wants to kill guys, said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. He gets himself out of whack because hes being a little overly aggressive. So, were going to settle him down, make sure he brings his feet with him on some of these blocks where it does look ugly or hes getting those penalties. But he plays extremely hard. Theyre all playing hard right now, but he plays very hard.

Gabe Carimi is at right tackle in part because he is a mauler in the Tice assessment. He has become a penalty risk the past two games, not simply because of poor play, but for being too aggressive.

Ive just got to calm down on a couple things, Carimi said. A couple of penalties here and there. Its just my style of play, though. Im a very aggressive player.

Yeah, Im overaggressive, but I do a lot of good things when Im overaggressive, too. There are some times I need to just bring it back a little bit.

On the other side, JMarcus Webb has brought it up a bit, quite a bit from the debacle in Green Bay. He was the Bears only offensive lineman not penalized in the Detroit game. He has played 424 snaps this season and allowed a total of three sacks.

Matt Fortes 39-yard run on the Bears fifth play Sunday? Between Webb and left guard Chilo Rachal.

Interior nasty

Right guard Lance Louis long has fit that physical mold. Roberto Garza was a guard before moving to center.

Chilo Rachal replaced Chris Spencer at left guard after the Green Bay game. He wasnt the only reason, obviously, but the Bears averaged 104 rushing yards in the first two games. With Rachal at left guard, the Bears have averaged 145 over the last five.

Rachal, self-described as a mauler, was hit with a personal-foul penalty in the fourth quarter of the Detroit game. It wasnt entirely a random act of unkindness.

Where Suh has drawn fines for stomping a player on the ground and hits on quarterbacks, Rachal drew his flag for going to the defense of running back Michael Bush after he was tackled.

I want to keep guys off my running backs, Rachal said. If I feel that a linebacker still trying to go after someone, then apparently the running back is still running with the ball. So I just want to keep him off of our guy.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

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AP

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.