Bears

Meet the only 6-0 pitcher in baseball

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Meet the only 6-0 pitcher in baseball

From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Lance Lynn wasn't at his best Monday night -- just good enough for five scoreless innings and another victory.The big, young St. Louis right-hander gave up three hits to become the majors' first six-game winner and the Cardinals held on for a 9-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.Rafael Furcal hit the 30th leadoff home run of his career for St. Louis, the first of five homers for the Cardinals on the night. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday hit consecutive homers to open the third off Joe Saunders (2-2). Allen Craig and David Freese homered to start the seventh after Arizona had scored six times in the sixth to cut the lead to 7-6."It was nice for them to come out swinging the bats right from the top, a pretty good display of some power," manager Mike Matheney said. "Then obviously the ones we got later were a lot more valuable than what we thought they would be."Lynn (6-0), the first St. Louis pitcher to start the season with six wins since Bob Tewksbury in 1994, left with a 7-0 lead. Cody Ransom hit a two-run homer in the Diamondbacks' rally."We're winning games while I'm on the mound," Lynn said. "That's all that matters."Jason Motte gave up a pair of singles in the ninth but no runs for his fifth save in six tries.Lynn struck out seven and walked four. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound 24-year-old has allowed six earned runs in six starts. It was his shortest outing of the season, and he acknowledged he had problems with his command."Tonight was a struggle," Lynn said. "You know you're not going to have your best stuff every time out. Tonight I was able to battle through it."Saunders, who entered the game with a 1.24 ERA, allowed seven runs, six earned, on nine hits in 3 1-3 innings."I just didn't have it," he said, "plain and simple."The Diamondbacks, back from a 5-5 road trip, have lost three in a row and five of six. They have dropped eight of their last 10 at home."We haven't played the way we're capable of recently," manager Kirk Gibson said. "If we're going to beat this team we're going to have to play a lot better."Furcal put St. Louis ahead to stay with a leadoff shot an estimated 441 feet onto the porch in left-center, just above the 413-foot sign. After two outs, Allen Craig singled, then scored on Freese's double into the left field corner. The Cardinals made it 3-0 when Yadier Molina singled to right field. Justin Upton's throw to the plate was high and Freese slid under catcher Miguel Montero's tag.Beltran's eighth home run, leading off the third, followed by Holliday's sixth homer of the season, put the Cardinals up 5-0.They made it 7-0, with help of an unearned run, in the fourth. Tyler Green singled, then Montero threw the ball away on Lynn's sacrifice bunt try. Furcal followed with an RBI single, then Holliday walked to load the bases. Reliever Brad Ziegler walked home the seventh run on four pitches.Arizona broke through against reliever J.C. Romero, who faced five batters without an out in the sixth inning. Montero led off with a single, then Ransom hit his fourth home run of the season, a 452-foot shot into the left field seats. Lyle Overbay walked and Aaron Hill singled, then both scored on Ryan Roberts' double. A.J. Pollack reached on an infield single, then Gerardo Parra's bunt brought Roberts home to make it 7-5 with no outs.Fernando Salas relieved Romero and retired the next two batters, but Montero's RBI singled up the middle cut the lead to 7-6.Reliever Bryan Shaw gave up home runs to Craig and Freese to start the seventh as St. Louis stretched it to a three-run game.NOTES:St. Louis batters have hit consecutive home runs four times this season. ... The Cardinals' Lance Berkman, on the DL with a left calf strain, says he expects to be activated on Friday. ... The Diamondbacks were without first base coach Eric Young because of the death of his father. Bullpen coach Glen Sherlock filled in at first base. ... Upton batted second in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 14, 2010. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before being lifted in a double switch after the fifth. ... The Cardinals have scored in the first inning in each of their last seven games. ... The Diamondbacks send ace Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.23) to the mound Tuesday night against the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook (3-2, 2.12). ... Arizona's franchise record for coming from behind to win is six runs, accomplished six times. ... The final seconds of the Phoenix Coyotes' series-clinching NHL playoff victory over Nashville were shown on the Chase Field big screen.

Bears eye position changes in search for improved depth on offense

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USA Today

Bears eye position changes in search for improved depth on offense

The Bears will try to address one of their more glaring weaknesses — tight end depth — by giving longtime offensive tackle Bradley Sowell some work at tight end in the coming weeks of practice at Halas Hall. 

Sowell, a reliable backup swing tackle the last two seasons with the Bears, was targeted twice as a receiver in 2018 — first, on a nearly-intercepted Mitch Trubisky pass against the New England Patriots, and second on the famous “Santa’s Sleigh” touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. He also got some work as a fullback in the Bears’ Week 17 thumping of the Minnesota Vikings. 

“We felt like at the ‘Y’ position we could use some more depth,” coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s something we talked about at the end of the season. We discussed it and now we’re giving him a chance.”

Nagy’s assessment of the Bears’ “Y” (in-line) depth is accurate, if not even undersold. The athletic 6-foot-7, 312 pound Sowell will have a chance to be a backup to Adam Shaheen, who has missed 13 games in his first two years due to a string of injuries. Reserve tight end Ben Braunecker can play both the “Y” and “U” positions, and the Bears have a handful of undrafted free agents (led by Utah State's Dax Raymond) competing to catch the eye of the coaching staff in the coming weeks. 

The Bears’ offense struggled with two tight ends on the field last year, especially in Shaheen’s absence as Dion Sims played himself out of the league. It’s far too early to tell if adding Sowell to the tight end mix will help, but at this point, the Bears think it’s worth a shot. 

“He’s shown it repetitively in practice that he has the athletic ability, the hands, he’s very smart, he knows how to block and all that stuff,” Nagy said. “So let’s test it out and see. When I tell you he’s all-in, he’s all-in.”

Center of Attention

As expected, the Bears indeed will flip James Daniels and Cody Whitehair on the offensive line, with Daniels sliding to center and Whitehair to left guard. 

“We feel comfortable with it, so again, this is the time to test it out and see,” Nagy said. “It’s hard right now because we don’t have pads. So, we’ll get into training camp and see how that goes. But I feel pretty good about it.”

Daniels exclusively played left guard during last year’s regular season, with the Bears opting to hold steady with Whitehair at center for the third consecutive season. Whitehair, though, was drafted as a guard back in 2016 and only moved to center after the last-minute signing of Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton. Daniels, too, starred as a center at Iowa and did get a smattering of preseason snaps there before fully committing to playing guard his rookie year. 

The change is the only planned one on Harry Hiestand’s offensive line, which returns every primary starter from 2018 (Daniels, Whitehair, Charles Leno, Bobby Massie, Kyle Long). Perhaps the most significant change for this group, then, will be losing Sowell as its backup tackle. 

Windy City: Smoke Out?

Taquan Mizzell will work as a wide receiver during OTAs, with the now-former running back trading in No. 33 for No. 11 but facing an uphill battle to make the Bears’ roster. 

Mizzell does have a decent track record as a pass-catcher dating back to his college days at Virginia, but it’ll take a massive effort for the third-year player to crack into a crowded receiver room that already has a competitive battle brewing between Javon Wims, Marvin Hall and a group of undrafted free agents. 

While it’s too early to grant rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. a roster spot, shifting Mizzell out of the picture does appear to create a clearer path for the seventh-round pick to stick with the Bears this fall. 

Countdown to the NBA Draft: The best all-time selection at picks 1-30

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USA TODAY

Countdown to the NBA Draft: The best all-time selection at picks 1-30

We're counting down the days until the NBA Draft by looking at the best players selected at No. 30, 29, 28 all the way down to No. 1. Check back every day leading up to June 20th for a new player and a new all-time best pick.

No. 30: Jimmy Butler

No. 29: 5/23
No. 28: 5/24
No. 27: 5/25
No. 26: 5/26
No. 25: 5/27
No. 24: 5/28
No. 23: 5/29
No. 22: 5/30
No. 21: 5/31
No. 20: 6/1
No. 19: 6/2
No. 18: 6/3
No. 17: 6/4
No. 16: 6/5
No. 15: 6/6
No. 14: 6/7
No. 13: 6/8
No. 12: 6/9
No. 11: 6/10
No. 10: 6/11
No. 9: 6/12
No. 8: 6/13
No. 7: 6/14
No. 6: 6/15
No. 5: 6/16
No. 4: 6/17
No. 3: 6/18
No. 2: 6/19
No. 1: 6/20