Cubs

Bulls' collective effort has star potential

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Bulls' collective effort has star potential

CLEVELANDIt appears that this will be a theme this season. The Bulls, without injured superstar Derrick Rose, will be an unselfish squad, score by committee, play determined defense on a nightly basis and try to get out in transition.
Of course, the caliber of opponent will varynot every team will struggle as much as the hapless, inexperienced Cavaliersand they wont record 34 assists on nearly 64-percent shooting every night, but the aforementioned principles will remain constants.
It also helps to have some extra motivation.
I thought the readiness to play was really good, I thought the defense was very good to start the game and then, we ran the floor well and we played inside-out, and we shared the ball, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. When you look at intensity, you have to understand where it comes from. It comes from your concentration, being prepared and your effort. When you put those three things together, youll be intense. It doesnt come from emotion. You have to understand where it does come from, so if we put the work in and we do the right things, and were ready to go, well be intense.
It was a balanced attack. The ball was moving and when a guy got going, they searched him out a little bit. We got our cutting game going, got to the free-throw line. Theres still things we can do better, he continued. The balls hopping, making quick decisions. That part is really good.
What Thibodeau neglected to mention was the fact that the Bulls wanted to avenge one of their two preseason lossesthey already repaid Minnesota upon the Timberwolves return exhibition trip to Chicagoa disappointing defeat in Champaign, Ill., on the campus of the University of Illinois.
We watched our last game that we played against them. They kind of blitzed us and they got after it. At the end, we came back. We ended up losing by two or three in the preseason. We remembered that, Nate Robinson revealed. We were like, Were going to come here, were going to play hard, were going to get after it from jump ball to the end, and we did that.
Getting revenge wasnt the only objective on the evening for the Bulls, however. It appeared that they were trying to challenge themselves to execute expertly or, as Thibodeau likes to say, strive for perfection.
Coach does a good job of every day, repetition, going over the plays, getting guys in spots where they can be successful, Robinson, a catalyst on the night, said. Thats what basketballs about, playing team ball and everybody getting a piece of the pie.Thats me. Just bring the energy. Everything else will take care of itself, he added. I made a couple shots, but just trying to make the right play. Not trying to make the home-run play. Just getting guys involved, attacking, keep driving and kicking, and finding guys. Im just having fun.
Whether it was Robinsons energy, Rip Hamiltons marksmanship, the versatility displayed by forwards Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer or the collective selflessness in both transition and against Clevelands set defense, the Bulls looked like a juggernaut Friday.
It was awesome. It felt good. I think everybody felt good. I think the good thing about it was everybody was catching the ball in their sweet spot and just trying to make the easy play, Hamilton explained. Its hard to guard. When youve got guys at every position that can score and play, and make the right play, it puts pressure on the defense at all times. The floor always stays spaced, guys are scared to help.
Added Boozer: We came out of the gate with intensity defensively. I thought we did a great job of trying to stop them from scoring to start the game and to be honest, that just kind of set the tone for the rest of the game for us. Offensively, you know unselfish we are. We pass, we cut, we screen, take open shots. We do a good job of moving the ball, but I think the key to the game was how we came out defensively.
"You've got to measure yourself if it's good enough to win against the great teams. Not taking anything away from Cleveland, but our goals are much higher than beating Cleveland. Our goal is to try to win a championship and for us to do that, we have to measure how we're playing and if it's championship-worthy. Thibs talks to us about that all the time and amongst ourselves in the locker room, we talk about that, too."
No, it's not flashy and yes, Friday's blowout wasn't against the cream of the crop. But it's effective and on the nights when the Bulls are clicking--even without the gaudy shooting statistics, but still executing at a high level--on any given night, that type of solid play is capable of beating anybody.

Maddon gets funky with bullpen, calls catcher Chris Gimenez to mound

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Maddon gets funky with bullpen, calls catcher Chris Gimenez to mound

The Cubs continued their recent struggles, suffering their third straight loss to the Cincinnati Reds. 

But the game was not without it's fair share of drama. The matchup was a back-and-forth affair, up until the Reds blew the game wide-open in the bottom of the third inning. This included a grand slam by Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, the first home run of his career.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon turned to the bullpen following Cincinnati's third inning explosion, and things did not get much better from there.

With the Cubs down six runs in the bottom of the eight inning, Maddon brought in catcher Chris Gimenez to pitch. 

This was not new territory for Gimenez, who despite being a catcher, now has 10 MLB pitching appearances to his name. 

Down six runs, Gimenez didn't have a lot to lose. But he got careless with a four-seam fastball in the zone that Reds first basemen Joey Votto homered for his eighth of the year.

Gimenez had a career ERA of 8.00 before Saturday's appearance, and he certainly didn't do much to help lower that figure.

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers: "Including one today, Cubs relievers have allowed 41.1 percent of inherited runners to score in June, sixth most in the NL." 

A tired bullpen is certainly cause for concern for the Cubs, who are locked into a battle in the NL Central with the Brewers and Cardinals. Maddon was surely hoping to keep his bullpen arms fresh with the move, seeing as the game was already out of reach. 

So yes, the game did end in a 11-2 win for the Reds. But with a grand-slam by a pitcher—on his first career HR no less—and four-seam fastballs from a catcher, Cubs baseball always keep things interesting. 

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

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Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.