Bears

Iowa Salvages Series Finale in Albuquerque

Iowa Salvages Series Finale in Albuquerque

Thursday April 14, 2011
Posted: 4:00 p.m.

CUBSIOWA AAA
The I-Cubs finally found some solace in Albuquerque, taking the final game of a four-game set Thursday afternoon at Isotopes Park. Iowa had dropped three in a row before picking up a 10-6 victory behind the five-RBI effort of Bobby Scales.

Iowa will head to Des Moines for its home-opener Friday night against Memphis having split eight games on a season-opening road trip.

Scales had a pair of doubles, bringing in two runs with one of them in the fourth inning. His bases-clearing, three-run double in the seventh gave the I-Cubs the final push they would need to end the trip on a positive note. His seventh-inning double proved to be critical because the Isotopes scored twice in the ninth, cutting the lead to 10-6.

Lou Montanez added three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs.

Robert Coello 1-1, despite allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings, picked up the victory. The New Jersey native has allowed 11 run in nine innings in his two starts this season.
Tennessee AA
The Smokies roughed up an old friend Thursday night as they bounced visiting Montgomery, 11-2.

Former Cub and Tennessee ace Chris Archer got the nod for the Biscuits and his former mates did him no favors, scoring three times on five hits in 4 23 innings. Archer also walked three in suffering his first loss of the season.

Brett Jackson was 1-for-3, extending his season-long hitting streak to seven games while D.J. LeMahieu and Josh Vitters led a group of five players that had two hits apiece. Rebel Ridlings sixth-inning grand slam proved to be the decisive blow. The red-hot Smokies had 15 hits in all and continue to lead the Southern League in hitting.

Rafael Dolis allowed a run on four hits while striking out five in his six innings to secure the win.
Daytona A
Tony Plagmans bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth lifted Lakeland to a 4-3 victory over Daytona Thursday night at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The Flying Tigers scored their run without the benefit of a hit. Daytona loaded the bases on a pair of hit batsmen and an intentional walk. After the Cubs induced a fielders choice that got a runner at the plate, Frank Batista walked in the winning run.

Aaron Kurcz started and lasted only 3 23 innings for the Cubs. He gave up three runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. The bullpen was solid until the ninth-inning meltdown, which culminated with Jeff Beliveau and Batista being unable to find the plate.

Wellington Castillo drove in two runs for the Cubs.
Peoria A
Sergio Burreal broke up a no-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning Thursday night but it did little to take the sting out of Peorias 5-1 loss to Burlington at Community Field.

The Bees A.J. Griffin kept the Chiefs out of the hit column by striking out nine and walking only two before Burreal spoiled the no-hit bid. By that time, however, Burlington had built a 5-0 lead with all of the runs coming against Peoria starter Dallas Beeler, who lasted only two innings.

Greg Rohan, who has a season-long, seven-game hitting streak, collected one of Peorias three hits and drove in the run.
WHITE SOX Charlotte AAA
Jeffrey Marquez struggled with his control Thursday night for Charlotte and as a result, his effort didnt yield the kind of success he in his season-opening performance.

The Knights began their road trip at Gwinnett County with a 3-1 loss and Marquez was at the center of the Braves attack, walking five and allowing five hits over five innings. He surrendered two runs, only one of which was earned, the Knights could never catch up to what was a strong effort by Gwinnett pitchers.

Included in that group was highly touted Julio Teheran, who allowed a run on three hits in four innings. He, too, was a bit wild, walking four but didnt factor in the decision.

Alejandro De Aza had two of Charlottes five hits. Dayan Viciedo went 0-for-3 and is hitting .185.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators needed a quartet of pitchers to support their big effort at the plate but in the end it all came together Thursday for a 9-5 victory at Delmarva.

Kannapolis had nine hits, including two-hit efforts from Juan Silverio and Brady Shoemaker, each of whom has a seven-game hitting streak. Ken Gilbert added a homer and drove in four. Chase Cooney pitched three shutout innings to earn the victory.
Birmingham AA
Matt Zaleski pitched a brilliant game for Birmingham Thursday night but it went for naught as the Barons dropped a 2-0 decision to visiting Chattanooga.

Zaleski allowed a run on four hits over seven innings, striking out six. He has a 0.73 ERA through two starts. Tyler Kuhn had four of Birminghams seven hits.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

After loss to Patriots, Bears' defense searching for answers — but not confidence

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USA Today

After loss to Patriots, Bears' defense searching for answers — but not confidence

A year ago, had the Bears come within one yard of tying the New England Patriots in a game in which they allowed two special teams touchdowns, the vibe in the Solider Field locker room might’ve been different. Sort of like, hey, that was pretty good that we were able to hang with one of the league's best teams and nearly tie and/or beat them despite our own mistakes. 

The operative term, then, after Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Patriots may be confident frustration. The Bears know they’re a good team, better than they’ve had in recent memory. And that makes losing a game this team felt it was close to winning that much more frustrating. 

“We still had confidence last year that we could go in and win games (last year), but I would say this year we know what type of team we have,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “We know we got a quarterback that’s developing and throwing the ball down the field really well. We know we have a great wide receiver corps. We know we have rushers that can get to the quarterback. We have a really good team and we’re going to have to figure out how to capitalize on that big play momentum and finish games out.”

Perhaps this is a picture of a talented team still trying to figure out how to win. The Bears’ defense entered Sunday allowing an average of 8.8 yards per play in the fourth quarter and allowed 6.5 yards per play in the final 15 minutes Sunday, including a critical 96-yard touchdown drive. 

And while Mitch Trubisky’s Hail Mary to Kevin White came up one yard short, that the Bears were even in that situation to begin with was the problem. New England was able to chew up 3:49 off the clock before punting the ball back to the Bears' offense with 24 seconds remaining. Get a stop earlier and the Bears might not have to rely on a nearly-converted heave with time expiring to tie the game. 

“In games like this, your room for error is slim in all phases,” cornerback Kyle Fuller said. “No matter what we did (well), there are still a couple things that we have to clean up against a team like that."

The Bears’ defense is remaining confident despite scant pressure on Brady — he was sacked once (by Roquan Smith) and hit only three times (by Smith, Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris). Khalil Mack barely showed up on the stat sheet, registering only one tackle while being dropped into coverage far more frequently than he made an impact as a pass rusher. How much he was affected by his injured ankle, or how much defensive coordinator Vic Fangio felt he had to gameplan around it, is unclear (Mack did not speak to the media following the game). 

Leonard Floyd, too, was picked on by Brady, who frequently got the ball out quick in a successful effort to mitigate a pass rush that’s struggled to make an impact after recording 18 sacks in four games to begin the year. But the confidence is still there, despite seemingly few reasons for optimism since the second half in Miami kicked off last weekend. 

“We definitely don’t feel like (we’ve hit a wall),” safety Eddie Jackson said. “That’s probably the greatest quarterback in the NFL right now. We just gotta come in, we left some things on the field, we left some plays on the field. Like I said, it’s tough trying to put this one behind you but, you know, it’s a long season. We’re not getting down on ourselves, we’re still going to play with confidence. That confidence is still there.” 

Games against two of the league’s worst offenses in the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, then, should help the Bears’ defensive production match its confidence, if that line of thinking is to be believed. But as the first four games of the season get farther and farther in the rearview mirror, this is a defense that has to prove itself again in the coming weeks. 

“(The Patriots) came to play all together, and not saying we didn’t but we didn’t make the plays when we needed to make the plays,” outside linebacker Aaron Lynch said. “It’s on us. Defense, we got it though. We’re not worried about it. It’s another game we lost. We got how many other games, we got 10 games left? Yeah. I’m not worried about it. I don’t think anybody is.”

New-look Mavs looking to make big jump this season

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USA TODAY

New-look Mavs looking to make big jump this season

Outspoken Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban conceded his team was playing for draft lottery position last season, but insisted it would be a one year only strategy.

Dallas finished tied for the league’s third worst record, but fell to fifth after the lottery.

So, Cuban and the Mavs’ front office decided to make a bold move on draft night, trading their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta to move up two spots for a chance to select international sensation Luka Doncic.

Early in the season, Doncic has more than lived up to the hype, showing the creativity and flair that made him such a fan favorite on the European professional circuit. Through the Mavs’ first two games, Doncic is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 assists while giving Rick Carlisle’s team a much-needed boost in transition.

Doncic and second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. will give opposing teams nightmares in the open court all season long. They led the offensive onslaught in the Mavs’ 140-136 win over Dallas Saturday night, combining for 45 points. Doncic finished with 26 points, while Smith scored 10 of his 19 in the 4th quarter, including a tie-breaking three-point play with six seconds left.

Veteran swing-man Wesley Matthews added 19 against the Timberwolves, and his 3 point shooting helps the Mavs maintain floor balance in half-court sets.

The Mavs also strengthened their front court in the off-season, signing veteran center DeAndre Jordan in free agency. Dallas was overmatched in the middle last season, with future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Powell giving up size in the post, but Jordan will provide rim protection and an alley-oop threat when Doncic, Smith Jr. or veteran point guard J.J. Barea drive to the basket. Jordan had a big game in the home opening win over Minnesota, scoring 22 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.

Nowitzki, starting small forward Harrison Barnes and backup guard Devin Harris all missed Saturday’s game because of injuries, but Barnes and Harris are considered game-time decisions against the Bulls.

Here’s what the Bulls will need to do to get their 1st victory of the season Monday night.

1. GET BACK ON DEFENSE! Doncic and Smith Jr. are deadly in the open court, capable of making spectacular plays to bring the home crowd to life. The Bulls’ players have to sprint back on defense after missed shots to cut off transition opportunities, or it’s going to be a long night. The Mavs are averaging 128 points through the first two games.

2. CLOSE OUT ON 3-POINT SHOOTERS This will be a familiar theme in my keys until the Bulls start doing a better job of matching up in transition and closing out on three point threats. Detroit’s win at the United Center on Saturday came down to the Pistons’ 18-40 shooting from three-point range, and Dallas has even more players capable of doing damage from beyond the arc.

3. LET DUNN DO IT Getting Kris Dunn back from paternity leave should make a big difference on both ends of the court. Dunn has the athleticism and physicality to match up with either Doncic or Smith Jr., and his defensive skills will be critical in keeping the Mavs from turning this game into a track meet.

On the offensive end, Dunn need to be patient and get the ball into the hands of the Bulls’ top scorers, Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis. Even though Fred Hoiberg wants his team to play at a fast pace, they’ll need to pick their spots on when to run against the explosive Mavs.

As always, turn to NBC Sports Chicago for the very best pre and post-game coverage. Kendall Gill and Will Perdue join me for Bulls Pregame Live at 7 p.m/, and we’ll have expanded post-game analysis when the action goes final in Dallas. You can also stream the shows live on the brand new My Teams by NBC Sports app.