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Cubs deal with crazy, walk away with win

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Cubs deal with crazy, walk away with win

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com Contributor

On a crazy Sunday across major league baseball, the Cubs did their part in adding to it.

David DeJesus drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning as the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in the rubber match of a three-game series against one of the National Leagues top teams.

A walk-off walk, its kind of weird, DeJesus said. I didnt know what to do, just trot on over to first base. But that was a good win for us. This could be a momentum builder for us.

The crazy thing for DeJesus was that he saw not one, but two ball fours against Dodgers right-hander Jamey Wright (1-2). Unlike the first, DeJesus was able to hold up on the second one to score Darwin Barney.

I was going to be aggressive on the 3-1 pitch and drive the ball the opposite way, DeJesus said of whiffing on what appeared to be ball four. At 3-2 I wanted to lock back in. I was able to see it early and know it was a ball.

DeJesus heroics came after he was thrown out at the plate trying to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a Tony Campana double. It was only the second hit of the game for the Cubs with runners in scoring position after numerous chances throughout. They finished 2 for 15 in that category.

Need more crazy? The Cubs were so depleted on the bench from a virus running rampant through the clubhouse they needed Ian Stewart to pinch-hit in the ninth after he was kept out of the starting lineup because of said virus.

Stewart came through with a single and eventually scored the tying run on Campanas double despite being so sick he couldnt see straight.

Stewart was about as sick as you could be, manager Dale Sveum said. And he came up with a huge hit. That was an interesting game -- it took us almost all 25 guys to do it, let alone (needing) the sick guys coming off the couch.

Wait, theres more.

Emergency starter Travis Wood threw six innings despite allowing all three runs and all four hits against him in the first three innings. He retired the final 11 batters he faced after a two-run home run to Juan Rivera that gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

Wood threw 100 pitches, but only 28 after needing 72 to get through those initial three frames. Oh, and for good measure, he collected a pair of hits to tie his career high. That included a third-inning double that led him to eventually score on a two-run single by Starlin Castro -- the Cubs only other hit with runners in scoring position.

My pitches really started working toward the end of the (third) inning, said Wood, who started in place of virus-victim Matt Garza. I didnt feel like I was nervous or anything, but I dont know, I probably was and didnt know it.

The Cubs were able to load the bases in the 11th thanks to a little more craziness. Jeff Samardzija -- Mondays scheduled starter -- was called upon to pinch-hit after Barney doubled and Welington Castillo was intentionally walked to start the inning against Wright.

Instead of bunting as planned, Samardzija reached when he was hit by a pitch. DeJesus followed with the winning walk.

Still need more craziness? Dont forget the game started 2 hours and 41 minutes late after a delay caused by two separate thunderstorms passing through the area.

When everything was finally finished, the Cubs came away with only their second series win of the season. They did it against a team that began the day tied for the NL lead with the Washington Nationals.

Talk about crazy.

Under Center Podcast: Warren Sharp describes what 2020 Bears will look like

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Warren Sharp describes what 2020 Bears will look like

As they prepare for the season, it's time to start looking in depth at what the Bears could look like in 2020.

JJ Stankevitz and Cam Ellis are joined by one of the smartest minds in football media, Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis, to discuss and predict what the Bears look like in 2020. The group discusses the QB competition, will the Bears defense improve or regress, and what should Matt Nagy do in terms of his scheme this year.

(2:40) - Nick Foles should be the starter in 2020

(7:45) - Matt Nagy needs to be more predictable in play calling

(15:30) - Have the Bears used and embraced analytics

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

(22:10) - How easy is the Bears schedule and what will be their record at the end of the season?

(31:00) - Why you should watch the Bears in 2020

Listen here or below.

Under Center Podcast

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SUBSCRIBE TO THE UNDER CENTER PODCAST FOR FREE.

Blackhawks’ Kirby Dach emerging as star and living up to 'playoff performer' hype

Blackhawks’ Kirby Dach emerging as star and living up to 'playoff performer' hype

Ask anyone in Chicago who the standout of training camp 2.0 was and you'll hear one name: Kirby Dach.

“He has all the potential in the world,” Patrick Kane said. “He can be a top player in the league.”

“He’s got the potential to be a great player in this league and a great player for the Blackhawks for a long time," echoed Brent Seabrook.

Upon hearing this enormous praise from a pair of three-time Stanley Cup champions and joining the hype train myself, I couldn’t help but think: Are we putting unfair expectations on a kid who’s still only 19?

The answer: Nope. Because he can handle it.

Dach looks like a completely different player after finally having an “offseason” to recharge, both mentally and physically. And it’s showing in the postseason.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

Through three games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, Dach has four points — all assists — and a team-best plus-4 rating; in total, he’s been on the ice for eight of the Blackhawks’ 13 goals so far. He became the first Blackhawks rookie to register at least one point in his first three postseason games since Eddie Olczyk in 1985. 

All those numbers are great, but here’s the eye-opener: Dach is averaging 20:21 of ice time in the postseason, which trails only Patrick Kane (22:21) among team forwards. He led all Blackhawks forwards with 23:21 of ice time in Wednesday’s Game 3 comeback win over the Edmonton Oilers, which was, by far, a career high for Dach, who averaged 14:16 of ice time during the regular season.

The Blackhawks are giving him an enormous amount of responsibility, whether it's top-six minutes at even strength, power-play time on the first unit and penalty kill reps. And Dach is handling it about as well as you could ask for.

"He loves responsibility and he thrives on it," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We knew, based on how he looked in training camp, that he was ready to take a bigger role here. He's been great. He's been as advertised."

Dach isn't just making an impact on the scoresheet, either. He's doing the little things right, too.

Olli Maatta scored the first goal in Game 3 after his shot from the point got past Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen, but that puck doesn't go in without the 6-foot-4, 197-pound Dach wreaking havoc in front of the net. Those plays don't go unnoticed inside the locker room.

"It shows that the coach trusts in your abilities to get a job done," Dach said of the added responsibility. "And as a player, it's a welcoming challenge. You want to be put in those situations and succeed in them."

One of the main reasons why the Blackhawks selected Dach third overall in 2019 was because of the way he elevated his game in the Western Hockey League playoffs. He was the engine for the Saskatoon Blades and the focal point for opponents yet thrived off the attention.

“He does all the things that can wow you, but then he does the other stuff, too," GM Stan Bowman said the day the Blackhawks drafted Dach. "He was great at stripping pucks, he was great at backchecking, he was great at the physical play when the series got pretty intense in the playoffs and it was clear they were targeting him. He not only took it, he gave it back. It was impressive to see him raise his game at a time of year when it matters most, which is playoff hockey.

"You watch the NHL playoffs and you see how intense it can be and then you look at the way he plays, and you can see that that game translates."

It sure does.

Whether he can be a big-time point producer in the NHL remains to be seen, but it's clear Dach is the kind of player whose game is better suited for the playoffs than the regular season. And we're seeing why.