White Sox

Can Corey Crawford rebound?

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Can Corey Crawford rebound?

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville recognized Corey Crawfords up-and-down season on Wednesday. He also recognized the goaltender, who was stellar at the end of 2010-11, could return to that.

Hes going to get more comfortable going into next year, Quenneville said. I expect him to get better as we go along here. Having confidence and showing it in him would be the right thing to do. Hes a quality kid and goaltender.

Crawford wasnt where he needed to be at some times during the postseason, and two of the overtime goals he allowed to Phoenix has some wondering if hes the goaltender to lead this Blackhawks team into 2012-13. In a season where guys like Brian Elliott and Mike Smith have excelled, Crawford took a step back.

But consider this, folks: it wasnt that long ago that Elliott and Smith were struggling themselves. Crawford had a so-so season, but he could very easily rebound with a great one again.

Earlier on Twitter today, I asked tweeps a question: If someone told you when the season started, that Smith would have this kind of year, would you have believed them? There were a lot of nos, because for the last two seasons Smith was struggling in Tampa Bay. He spent part of last season in Norfolk, the Lightnings minor-league affiliate, and when he was with the big club his goals-against average hovered around 3.00. This year with the Coyotes he had a 2.21 GAA and was a big part of them making the playoffs.

And Smith doesnt get a break in the shots-faced category. With the exception of their regular-season finale against Minnesota when he faced 24, Smith faced 32 or more shots in every game since March 18.

Elliott has also rebounded. He had a 3.19 GAA with Ottawa last season before he was traded to Colorado, where it ballooned to 3.83. With St. Louis, its 1.56.

Yes, both of those goalies are doing those with different teams than where they had their rough GAAs. Then lets look at Carey Price, whos been with the Montreal Canadiens for several seasons now: his GAA has gone from 2.83 two seasons ago to 2.77 last season to 2.35 this one.

The point? Some of this years best have had their lulls.

Crawford said on Wednesday that hell look at what he did right, try to build off it, and learn how to handle the tough times better.

One (thing) is to be able to just get over that hump and keep playing, to not let things get to you and thats probably very important for a No. 1 goaltender, Crawford said. This was a year when maybe a little bit more frustration set in than should have. I just have to make sure those down times arent as long or as bad for next season.

Even with the roller-coaster season he had and it was that, for sure Crawford still collected 30 victories for the second consecutive season. But in the sports world youre always remembered for what you did lately, so Crawfords potential moving forward is up for debate.

Crawford can rebound, just like other goaltenders already have. Its ultimately up to him to do it.

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

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.