Cubs

Cubs' anemic offense can't solve Zito

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Cubs' anemic offense can't solve Zito

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Zito pitched 8 1-3 scoreless innings for his 150th career win and Joaquin Arias snapped an 18 at-bat hitless stretch with an RBI single that led the San Francisco Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.Angel Pagan scored the game's first run after doubling to set a Giants record by extending his home hitting streak to 27 games. San Francisco went on to its 12th win in 17 games and moved a season-high six games over .500.Travis Wood (0-2) was the tough-luck loser for the Cubs, allowing just one run and three hits in seven innings as Chicago fell for the 15th time in 18 games. The Cubs have also lost 10 straight road games for their longest skid away from Wrigley Field since dropping 10 in a row in September 2000.Zito (5-2) was rarely threatened by the struggling Cubs, allowing just four hits and two walks before leaving to a standing ovation after a one-walk to Darwin Barney in the ninth. Sergio Romo finished for his second save.The Cubs got only one runner as far as second base against Zito when Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson hit one-out singles in the fifth. But Zito escaped that jam with a strikeout-double play with Stewart easily being thrown out at third by Hector Sanchez.

After struggling for most of his first five seasons of a 126 million, seven-year contract with the Giants, Zito has been extremely dependable so far this season starting with a shutout his first start at Colorado. He has won four of his past five starts and has lowered his ERA to 2.98 to help make up for the slow start by two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum.Zito, often the target of boos in San Francisco, got a standing ovation when he walked off the mound after the eighth inning and then a big cheer when he batted to lead off the bottom of the inning. The fans booed manager Bruce Bochy's decision to replace Zito with Romo after 96 pitches.The Giants managed just one baserunner in the first four innings against Wood with Ryan Theriot being hit by a pitch with one out in the fourth. Theriot was erased when Melky Cabrera hit into a double play.San Francisco finally got a hit when Pagan drove a ball over left fielder Alfonso Soriano's head for a one-out double in the fifth. That hit broke the Giants' home hitting streak record of 26 games set by Mike Donlin in 1905-06, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wood then struck out Sanchez before Arias followed with a single to shallow right for his first hit since last Monday.Third-base coach Tim Flannery aggressively waved Pagan home and he slid in safely ahead of Johnson's one-hop throw that catcher Koyie Hill could not handle to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.The Giants added a run in the eighth when Gregor Blanco scored from first on Cabrera's hit-and-run single to left. Soriano threw to second on the play and Blanco never stopped running to score.NOTES: The Cubs fell to 2-11 this season against lefty starters. ... The Giants go for the four-game sweep Monday when Ryan Vogelsong (3-2) takes on Jeff Samardzija (5-3).
Box scoreCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon usually isn’t one for conspiracy theories, but even he’s wondering what’s going on. MLB teams are hitting home runs at an absurd rate, including the Cubs, who are hitting them at a historic rate for the franchise’s standards.

Entering Saturday, here’s where MLB teams stand in average home run rate and total home runs in 2019 compared to recent seasons:

2017: 1.26/game, 6,105 total
2018: 1.15/game, 5,585 total
2019: 1.33/game, 2,009 total

While the MLB season is just over 30 percent finished, teams are on pace to hit a combined 6,483 long balls in 2019. This would absolutely obliterate the 2017 total, which, like the 1.33 home runs per game figure, would be an MLB record.

The Cubs are no exception to this home run wave. Including Saturday (game No. 50 of the season), the team has hit 80 home runs (and counting) in 2019. Only the 2000 Cubs (83) hit more home runs in their first 50 games in franchise history.

“We’re having home runs hit here into some firm breezes, which has not happened before,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters before Saturday’s game against the Reds. “That’s the thing that stands out to me. It’s been crazy.

“Even [Kyle] Schwarber’s home run, I know that was hit well, but dang, that wind was blowing pretty firmly across at that point.”

Schwarber absolutely crushed his home run yesterday, a 449-foot blast that needed little help getting into the bleachers. However, Maddon has a valid point regarding home runs being hit despite the wind. Entering Saturday, 54 total home runs have been hit at Wrigley Field this season, 29 of which have come with the wind blowing in.

By the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, the Cubs and Reds had hit a combined six home runs, one of which appeared to be a routine fly ball hit by Jason Heyward that wound up in the left field basket thanks to the wind. At the same time, Yasiel Puig hit one 416 feet onto Waveland Ave. that had a 109 mph exit velocity. The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field helps, but it isn’t everything.

MLB players have questioned time and time again if baseballs are “juiced,” including Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. And while Maddon didn’t flat out say that he thinks the baseballs are juiced, he notices a difference in how they're flying off the bat.

“I don’t know, I’m normally not into the subplot component of all of this and the conspiracy theorists, but I’m telling you right now, it’s jumping,” he said. “It’s absolutely jumping.

“Nobody is ever going to admit to it. The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird.”

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97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Elmwood Park

Head coach: Dylan Mack

Assistant coaches: Gabe Ostrander, Mario Fiorito, Chad Nardi, Tony Sylvester, Eric Lewis and Dwayne French

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (4-1 Metro Suburban Red). Elmwood Park made the Class 4A state playoff field and beat Back of the Yards. In the second round, they lost to Evergreen Park.

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30 vs St. Joseph

Sept. 6 vs Lisle

Sept. 13 @ Ridgewood

Sept. 20 vs St. Edward

Sept. 27 vs Westmont

Oct. 4 @ Christ the King

Oct. 11 vs Guerin Prep

Oct. 18 @ Chicago Christian

Oct. 25 @ Bishop McNamara

Biggest storyline: Last year, the Tigers had their best season on the gridiron since 1985’s 12-1 state semifinal team. What will this team do for an encore? Can they go deeper into the state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: Senior quarterback Mike Stranski and wide receiver Keon Grimes

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers will need to find some new faces to bolster the defensive line and at the linebacker positions.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a banner year in 2018, as Elmwood Park advanced to the their playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in school history. Coach Dylan Mack’s program has some momentum will have a very good chance to make it three state playoff appearances in a row later this fall.