Cubs

Notre Dame gets its blowout win at home over Wake Forest

943481.png

Notre Dame gets its blowout win at home over Wake Forest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It took until the final home game of the season, but the Irish finally blew an opponent out at Notre Dame Stadium.

Everett Golson was spectacular, dismantling Wake Forest's secondary as Notre Dame cruised to a 38-0 win. It was easily the best game of the season for the redshirt freshman, with his only mistake coming on an ill-advised heave toward the end zone in the second quarter that went for an interception.

But Golson completed 20 of 30 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns, frequently linking up with Irish receivers downfield as Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin continued to open up the playbook for the first-year starter.

"We showed our explosiveness and what we could do on the field," wide receiver John Goodman said. "We had a lot of spurts of that throughout the season but I think really, tonight that showed a lot throughout the whole game."

Golson completed six passes to tight end Tyler Eifert for the third straight week, with the senior captain racking up 85 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Jones caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Goodman caught a 50-yard touchdown as well.

Cierre Wood, playing in potentially his final game at Notre Dame Stadium, rushed 11 times for 150 yards and a touchdown, which was a 68-yard dash in the first quarter.

"I think we're playing really good football at this point offensively and defensively," coach Brian Kelly said. "Our special teams have been okay, but I think offensively we're growing. We're very explosive. We had nine explosive plays in the first half. I think if you can match with what we've done defensively, we're playing pretty good football."

It was Notre Dame's first home rout of the 2012 season, with the team's 38-point margin of victory larger than the combined margins in the Irish's five other home wins (23 points).

"You can never look past one team, because if you lose then what, you drop in rankings, you're not going to get where you want to be and that's the 'ship, so you can't look past one team," defensive tackle Louis Nix explained. "We almost looked past Pitt and the outcome was almost different, they could've won the game. You can't look past any team, you just gotta stay focused on the next one, and that's USC."

The blowout came off an emotional senior day celebration, which saw the Notre Dame student section packed with lei-wearing fans chanting Manti Te'o's name as he embraced his parents at midfield prior to the game.

"I was emotional, but I held it in and managed to hold it in," Te'o said. "But I shed a few tears when I embraced my parents."

Early in the fourth quarter, Kelly called a timeout to give seniors Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta and Te'o proper ovations from the home crowd.

"I wanted to make it a special moment for the seniors on defense," Kelly said. "They have been obviously the rock. They've carried us while we were trying to find ourselves offensively. It just seemed to me to be a pretty good gesture to allow us to honor those seniors."

Last Sunday, Notre Dame received one first-place vote in the coaches poll. It was from their own coach, which looked like more of a ploy to boost Notre Dame's BCS number than anything else.

"I voted them number one in the country for a reason because I think they're the best team in the country," Kelly said. "And I think they played like that tonight."

Kelly won't be alone in voting Notre Dame No. 1 in the coaches poll released Sunday morning. And when the BCS standings are released Sunday night, they'll reveal Notre Dame as the No. 1 team in the country.

Just where Kelly had them a week ago.

Brandon Morrow and the state of the Cubs bullpen ahead of the trade deadline

Brandon Morrow and the state of the Cubs bullpen ahead of the trade deadline

Brandon Morrow is getting an extended All-Star Break.

For the second time in the last month, the Cubs closer is heading to the disabled list to get another break, this time with inflammation in his right biceps.

That leaves the Cubs without their best relief pitcher — a guy with a 1.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 22 saves in 24 chances — for the next week as the team hits the ground running in the second half with 12 games in 11 days against the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.

"It's been bothering him a bit, but we thought it was manageable," Joe Maddon said before the Cubs kicked off play Thursday evening. "But now it's not [manageable], so just have to take a little bit of a break. 

"We don't anticipate him being gone for a long time, but it seems to be prudent to go this course right now."

Maddon pointed to a bit lower velocity Morrow had in San Diego Sunday and believes now is "the right time to back off for the latter part of the season."

The Cubs do have Carl Edwards Jr. back from the paternity list and the 26-year-old flamethrower already got a "break" of his own earlier this season when he missed about 5 weeks with a shoulder issue.

The word "break" is key here because that's how Maddon and the Cubs characterize these little stints on the disabled list.

After all, they are "breaks," even if they're not built into a season like the All-Star Break.

The Cubs want both Morrow and Edwards to be healthy and dynamic in late September and throughout the postseason in October. They've been uber-cautious about the two pitchers throughout their respective Cubs careers and a stint on the disabled list serves to save bullets and wear and tear on their right arms in the dog days of the season.

After all, Morrow has already appeared in 35 games this season, which he's only done once since 2008 — last year, when he pitched in 45 games. Morrow has a long history of arm issues, so the Cubs have given him plenty of slack as they try to keep him healthy for the most important stretch of the season.

But that's also why the Cubs are looking to add some reinforcements to the bullpen before the trade deadline. They were linked to Brad Hand before the lefty was traded to the Cleveland Indians Thursday and they've also been linked to Orioles closer Zach Britton.

If Britton's healthy, he could serve as a perfect fit for the Cubs as a rental with closing experience and a guy from the left side to help fill both needs in the Chicago bullpen.

The Cubs currently have Justin Wilson, Randy Rosario and Brian Duensing as left-handed options in the bullpen, but all are at varying levels of confidence at the moment.

Wilson still has some issues with control, but otherwise has been very good of late. Rosario is a rookie and his outlying numbers indicate his 1.95 ERA is a bit of a mirage. Duensing just recently returned from the DL himself and currently boasts a 6.59 ERA and 1.83 WHIP on the season.

Then there's Mike Montgomery, who right now has a stranglehold on a spot in the Cubs rotation while Yu Darvish gets healthy. There is currently no update on Darvish, which means Montgomery won't be moving back to the bullpen anytime soon.

With less than 2 weeks left until the trade deadline, Maddon would be all for adding another arm or two to his pitching staff.

"Sure. All of the pitching, they're definitely going to want to look at it," Maddon said. "Our numbers are among the best in the NL both overall and as a bullpen and then even into the starters.

"But you're always looking to make it better. That's what GMs do. We'll see how it all plays out. We're hoping the [Morrow] thing is a shorter situation, which we believe it will be."

Cubs reportedly a 'main player' in trade talks for Orioles' Zach Britton

britton.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs reportedly a 'main player' in trade talks for Orioles' Zach Britton

According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the Cubs are a “main player” in a possible trade for Orioles closer Zach Britton before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

The Cubs will face competition from some familiar names as far as a bidding war for Britton goes. 

After sending Cubs closer Brandon Morrow back to the 10-day disabled list with right biceps inflammation on Thursday, the team could be searching for another reliever.

The 30-year-old is a ninth-inning veteran who tallied a career-high 47 saves with a 0.54 ERA in 2016, the year he finished fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting. He’s also been selected to two All-Star Games in his eight-year career.

But the closer’s 2018 season has had its ups and downs. He’s spent time getting reacquainted to pitching after having surgery for a ruptured right Achilles tendon that kept Britton out until June. He’s only pitched in 15 games while posting a 3.68 ERA in 14 2/3 innings. Britton hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven appearances.

Should the Cubs actually be concerned with his recent health issues?  According to MLB.com, the Orioles reliever has “been showing a dramatic increase in velocity.” It seems it took him some time to get back to his previous form.

If he can even be close to the same player he was two years ago, Britton would be more than useful to the Cubs bullpen.