Blackhawks

Garza, Maholm and the next moves for Cubs

824767.png

Garza, Maholm and the next moves for Cubs

PITTSBURGH The Cubs say they want more Matt Garzas, not less Matt Garzas, but there is really only one like him on the trade market.

Young enough (28) and under club control for next season, proven in the playoffs and the American League East, Garza could make sense in the near- and long-tem. But dealing him wasnt necessarily automatic, and his right elbow is now another variable.

The Cubs have to already be thinking about life after Ryan Dempster. Garzas heard his name in trade rumors for so long that his default setting is blocking them out. Paul Maholm has also emerged as a potential trade chip. This could create a huge hole in the rotation.

When you have the commodities that people want, anything can happen at any given time, manager Dale Sveum said Monday. But the odds of all three of them being gone? No, those are very, very, very impossible odds.

The front office respects Sveums evaluation skills and has kept in contact, though not at the lightning-fast speed of Twitter.

Less than 48 hours after experiencing cramps in his right triceps, Garza said hes still trying to make his next start, but it wont be on Friday. Travis Wood will face the St. Louis Cardinals that afternoon at Wrigley Field. Pretty soon the Cubs will have to set their plans for the weekend, with or without Garza.

He seems very optimistic about it, Sveum said. He doesnt seem overly concerned that were going to have to put him on the DL or anything, so thats always a good sign.

As much as he competes and everything, he knows the ramifications of kind of hanging (everyone) out (to dry) and putting (the bullpen) in harms way.

Where Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) is a loud and high-energy presence in the clubhouse, Maholm is low-key. Garza is the big name. Maholm is a completely different pitcher, at a reasonable cost.

Maholm (8-6, 4.09 ERA) is only owed 1.75 million the rest of this season. There is a 500,000 buyout to the 6.5 million club option for 2013. His next two starts will be against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the organization that selected him eighth overall in the 2003 draft. The 30-year-old left-hander spent his entire career there until signing with the Cubs last winter.

As the Pirates fight for first place in the National League Central, and try to turn this back into a baseball town, Internet speculation has them interested in a possible reunion. Maholm is 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his last five games.

I dont think theyd send scouts out to see me, Maholm said. Nothings really changed from the time they drafted me until now. I want to enjoy it and compete against these guys.

Maholm, who broke the news of his signing with the Cubs on his personal Twitter account last January, knows the noise is only going to get louder.

The guys in here talk about it, Maholm said. Most are really professional and come in here and know that their job is to go out and compete and win baseball games. Until youre told youre on another team, youre going to do everything you can to win games for us.

Four takeaways: Brandon Saad breaks out in strong bounce-back performance by Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Brandon Saad breaks out in strong bounce-back performance by Blackhawks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on Tuesday:

1. Brandon Saad's breakout game

After turning in one of his best efforts of the season on Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks rewarded Saad with a promotion to the top-six again. And he took advantage of that opportunity.

In the first period alone, Saad recorded four shots on goal, scored his first of the season on the power play, drew a penalty and had a takeaway in 7:42 of ice time, which led all forwards. He finished with nine shot attempts (a season-high seven on goal) and 18:56 of ice time.

On his power-play goal, Saad battled for position in front of the net, called for the puck and scored on his second effort. He did all the right things and got rewarded, including on the empty-netter that sealed the victory.

"I've had some chances, especially as of late," Saad said. "But it's definitely nice for them to get in and get a win on top of that."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "He was excellent tonight. ... I thought he had great speed all over the ice, had the puck way more. We’re happy for him. Big factor in the win."

2. Erik Gustafsson's slap-pass becoming a thing

For the second time this season, Gustafsson contributed to a game-winning goal that involved a fake shot and slap-pass from the point. Patrick Kane was the recipient of the cross-ice pass and buried home the one-timer from the right faceoff circle

"I can’t score by myself, so it’s better to pass it," Gustafsson joked. "No, I know Kaner is out there. He’s always getting open when someone else has the puck so it’s easy to find him and there was one guy in front of me so I wanted to pass it."

3. Blackhawks cut down on high-danger chances

On Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks allowed 25 high-danger chances at even strength. It put them at the very bottom of the league for most on average per game, ironically falling below Anaheim.

Through two periods on Tuesday, the Blackhawks allowed zero and only five at 5-on-5 for the entire game. Certainly a 180 from two nights ago, and an area they will continue to build upon.

"We just took away those quality chances," said Corey Crawford, who made 24 saves and picked up his first win at home since Dec. 17, 2017. "I don't think they really had too many where they had time in front of the net to really think about where they wanted to shoot and our guys were on the right away in the middle of the ice and that'll give you a great chance to win a hockey game."

4. Special teams battle

There were a total of 20 penalty minutes (10 for Anaheim, 10 for Chicago), which meant lots of power play opportunities and not as much even-strength time.

The Blackhawks had four of them in the first period, and converted on the second try when Saad scored his first of the season. The penalty killed went 4-for-4, allowing a combined eight combined shots on goal but limiting the quality chances.

Chris Sale labors in World Series opener for Red Sox

sale-world-series-1023.jpg
USA TODAY

Chris Sale labors in World Series opener for Red Sox

When Chris Sale was with the White Sox, fans dreamed of seeing him headline a postseason playoff rotation.

That never materialized in his time with the White Sox, but Sale is headlining a World Series rotation for the Red Sox. The 29-year-old pitched Game 1 for the Red Sox against the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Sale didn't last long, making it into the fifth and getting pulled before recording an out. In those 4+ innings, Sale gave up three runs while striking out seven.

One of the key plays of the game featured Manny Machado getting an RBI single against Sale in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2. Machado later had an RBI groundout to again tie the game in the fifth before Boston regained the lead in the bottom half of that inning.

Was that a meeting of the White Sox past (Sale) against the White Sox future (Machado)? Machado will be a highly sought after free agent this winter and the White Sox have been connected to the former Orioles infielder since last offseason.

Game 1 featured a stellar pitching matchup of Sale against Clayton Kershaw, but it didn't materialize as it looked on paper. Sale labored while Kershaw gave up five runs in 4+ innings.

This postseason hasn't been a standout one for Sale. The lefty has a 4.40 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over four appearances (three starts and a relief appearance).

The longer Chris Sale is with the Red Sox, the less this will feel relevant to the White Sox, but it is still something to see the longtime White Sox ace on the mound starting a World Series opener.