Cubs

Bulls stay focused, try to close out Pacers

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Bulls stay focused, try to close out Pacers

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 11:29 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLISDont talk to the Bulls about the potential impact of winning Saturdays Game 4. They dont even want to discuss it in theory.

If we start thinking about all the other things, were going to lose sight of what we need to do, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau before Friday afternoons practice at IUPUIs (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis) gym, The Jungle.

The big thing in this league is everybody looks at all the other stuff and thats not the way it works, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. I think just being ready for the next game, thats enough and thats what you need to do. The next games always the hardest game in this league.

Added Derrick Rose: It feels good, but we still have one more game to play. I dont want to jinx myself by saying that were winning already, but were almost there. Weve got one more important game.

Chicago knows that despite their 3-0 series lead, the host Pacers wont exactly lay out the red carpet for them on their way to the second round. Indiana has been consistent in their primary focuslimiting Roseand after throwing a variety of defenders (including 6-foot-8 rookie Paul George, swingman Brandon Rush and Thursday, for the first time in the series, veteran Dahntay Jones) and maintaining their rough play in the paint, resulting in a 4-for-18 outing for Rose in Game 3, its likely that Pacers interim head coach Frank Vogel comes up with a few more adjustments in hopes of keeping his teams playoff run alive.

Because youre playing the same team over and over again, youre going to see a couple wrinkles here and there, but theyre not going to change who they are. That doesnt happen, said Thibodeau. Weve got to be consistent with our defense and our rebounding, and weve got to take care of the ball.
Read: Aggrey Sam's The Starting Five for Game 4 vs. the Pacers

Chimed in Joakim Noah: Weve seen a lot and I expect them to try to take the ball out of D-Roses hands and its on us to try to make plays when theres one less defender.

As for criticism that the Bulls arent winning by wide enough margins or playing an aesthetically-pleasing style, the team isnt concerned.

I dont worry about any of that stuff, said Thibodeau. I know that in the playoffs, wins are hard to come by, so you do what you have to do to win.

For a team that only has four players from last seasons 41-41 squad that barely sneaked into the postseason before being bounced in five first-round games, this is heady stuff.

Winning is important to us, more important than any of the controversies or whatever people are saying right now, said Noah. Were up 3-0, Ive never been in this position before, its very exciting and were not going to let peoples expectations get in the way of us enjoying this, enjoying the process, enjoying getting better, enjoying improving, and hopefully we can do big things.

Were going to keep the same approach, he continued. Hopefully get this series behind us and get ready for our next opponent.

If that happens to be in a sweep, all the better.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

The Wrigley Field basket has played a huge role in this week's Cubs-Reds series.

In Monday night's game, Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali hit a game-tying homer into the basket in the seventh inning of a game the Cubs went on to lose.

But the basket giveth and the basket also taketh away.

Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs who were singing the praises of one of the strangest ballpark quirks in baseball.

Schwarber connected on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, hitting a fly ball through the impossibly-humid air and into the basket in left-centerfield for a 4-3 Cubs win.

"Whoever thought about that basket — whenever that occurred — tell them, 'thank you,'" Joe Maddon said. "Although it did work against us [Monday]. When it works for you, it's awesome."

Schwarber has stood under the left-field basket many times with his back against the wall, thinking he might be able to make a play on a high fly ball only to see it settle into the wickets and turn into a chance for a Bleacher Bum to show off their arm. 

But is he a huge fan of the basket now that it worked in his favor?

"I guess so," Schwarber laughed. "Yesterday, it cost us, but today, it helped us out. It's just the factor of Wrigley Field. Happy it worked out today."

It was Schwarber's first career walk off RBI of any kind.

It was the Cubs' fourth walk-off homer of the season, but their first since May 11 when Willson Contreras called "game" on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs are now 4-1 since the All-Star Break and hold a 2.5-game lead in the division.

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease struggles early, but finishes strong in second White Sox start

Dylan Cease picked up a win in his first start, but his second did not go as well.

Cease pitched six innings Tuesday at the Royals and gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out seven, but took the loss in an ugly game for the White Sox.

The game got off to an ominous start with Eloy Jimenez getting injured on the first batter Cease faced. The White Sox defense didn’t help Cease much either with three errors (Cease had one of those on an errant pickoff throw).

After giving up six runs in the first four innings, Cease settled down to retire the final eight batters he faced. He finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk and threw 67 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

Cease struck out six in his first start and is the first pitcher in White Sox history to strike out six or more in each of his first two career appearances.

A deeper look at Cease’s numbers show his swing and miss stuff hasn’t quite caught on as expected so far. Cease got 13 swinging strikes in 101 pitches in his major league debut. He got 12 whiffs on 108 pitches on Tuesday. His slider did get five swinging strikes on 25 pitches against the Royals.

Fastball command remains a key part to Cease’s success. He only threw 26 out of 54 fastballs for strikes in his debut. Cease improved upon that with 31 strikes on 50 fastballs against the Royals.

Most of the Royals’ damage came against Cease’s fastball as well. Six of the Royals’ eight hits off Cease, including all three extra base hits, were off heaters. Cease also gave up four hits with two strikes.

There has been plenty of hype surrounding Cease since he joined the White Sox, but he hasn’t hit the ground running in the majors just yet. Having 13 days between the first two starts of his career due to the all-star break and the White Sox giving him some extra rest also isn’t the ideal scenario for a young pitcher.

Cease’s ERA is now at 5.73, which isn’t going to set the world on fire. Still, there have been enough positives in his first two starts to see where reasonable improvement could lead to Cease becoming the pitcher the White Sox expect him to be.

 

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