Bears

Red Sox-Orioles: The wildest game of the season?

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Red Sox-Orioles: The wildest game of the season?

From Comcast SportsNet
BOSTON (AP) -- Chris Davis had a much better day as a designated pitcher than as a designated hitter. In the first major league game since 1925 in which both teams put a position player on the mound, Davis overcame an awful day at the plate by pitching two scoreless innings and getting the win as the Baltimore Orioles outlasted Boston 9-6 Sunday in 17 innings. Davis went 0 for 8 as the DH, striking out five times and grounding into a double play. Yet in a season full of surprises for the Orioles, the first baseman by trade delivered the biggest one yet in his pro pitching debut. "I was like Sweet! I get to try something different today -- because hitting ain't working," Davis said. "Basically, that was my first thought." Adam Jones hit a three-run homer in the top of the 17th off Darnell McDonald, an outfielder the Red Sox turned to once their bullpen was empty. Boston then got two runners on to start the 17th against Davis (1-0). With a fastball in the mid-80s mph, he struck out All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez and got McDonald to ground into a double play to end a game that took 6 hours, 7 minutes. The last time two teams brought in position players to pitch in the same game was Oct. 4, 1925, when Hall of Famers Ty Cobb of Detroit and George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns closed out the second game of a doubleheader on the last day of the season, STATS LLC said. The last time any position player wound up as the winning pitcher was May 25, 2011, when Philadelphia infielder Wilson Valdez threw one scoreless inning in a 19-inning victory over Cincinnati. "I was just out there trying to throw strikes and not blow the game," Davis said. "In a game like that when everybody's battling, trying to get a win, both teams are throwing everything they got at each other. You don't want to blow it." Baltimore and Boston each used eight pitchers before going to Davis and McDonald. "Just when you think you've seen it all, some days you come out here and just assume the position. That was fun," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "It was a long day, but you like to get something good out of it." J.J. Hardy had a career-high five hits, including two homers, as Baltimore completed its first sweep at Fenway Park since 1994 and won its fifth in a row. The shortstop also made a relay to the plate that cut down the potential winning run to end the 16th. Robert Andino hit a three-run shot for the Orioles, who improved to a major league-best 19-9. Boston has lost five straight. McDonald had scored the tying run as a pinch runner in the eighth, and took the final swing against Davis. "He had pretty good stuff. He had a lot of life on his balls -- more than I expected," McDonald said. "I don't know what was worse -- giving up the three-run home run or grounding into a double play to end the game." Said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine: "He tried to throw it over and got hit out of the park." "I wish there was another option," he said. Boston rookie Will Middlebrooks hit his first major league homer, a grand slam that tied it at 5 in the fifth inning. Gonzalez finished 0 for 8. Davis was having a tough day when Showalter told him to go to the bullpen and begin warming up. "I waited as long as I could to even break it to Chris," he said. "You don't put somebody in that position. It's like asking somebody if they want to walk somebody or not. It's not their decision, it's yours." The first batter Davis faced was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who struck out. After Middlebrooks flied out, Marlon Byrd reached on an error by third baseman Wilson Betemit. Mike Aviles followed with a double, but Byrd was thrown out at the plate. Jones ran down the ball in left-center field and threw a strike to Hardy, and his relay was in time as Byrd barreled into catcher Matt Wieters. McDonald, who pitched one inning last year in his pro mound debut and gave up two runs, took over in the 17th and walked Betemit, who was thrown out trying to steal. Hardy doubled, Nick Markakis walked and Jones hit a drive over the left-field wall. Boston made it 6-all in the eighth when McDonald, pinch running for David Ortiz, scored on a sacrifice fly by Saltalamacchia. NOTES: The game was Boston's longest at home since an 18-inning win over the Tigers on June 5, 2001. ... The Red Sox placed RHP Aaron Cook on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee laceration and activated LHP Andrew Miller from the DL. ... Middlebrooks is the first Red Sox player whose first major league homer was a grand slam since Daniel Nava against Philadelphia on June 12, 2010. ... The Red Sox are last in the AL East, with the New York Yankees in fourth. This is the first time since the current division format began in 1994 that the Red Sox and Yankees were in the bottom two spots past May 1, STATS LLC said.

J.P. Holtz provides spark Bears have been missing at tight end

J.P. Holtz provides spark Bears have been missing at tight end

Trey Burton's nagging injuries and Adam Shaheen's lack of development created a tight end crisis for the Bears through the first half of the 2019 season, but with Burton on injured reserve and Shaheen seemingly no longer in the team's plans, someone had to rise from the ashes and take over the starting job.

Enter J.P. Holtz, the 26-year-old unknown commodity whose under-the-radar signing with the Bears was hardly noticed by the fanbase. GM Ryan Pace claimed Holtz off waivers on Sept. 11 after a brief stint with the Washington Redskins, where he spent 2018 and the start of 2019 bouncing between the practice squad and active roster.

Holtz initially entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh. He signed with the Browns in May 2016 and spent the end of that season on Cleveland's practice squad. 

Needless to say, Holtz's journey to the Bears' starting lineup has been anything but traditional. But in Week 14's game against the Dallas Cowboys, he provided the Bears' offense with its first legitimately productive game at tight end. Holtz finished Thursday's game with three catches for 56 yards and had the longest catch of any Bears receiver (30 yards). He was the highest-graded player on Chicago's offense, per Pro Football Focus. His 79.2 grade was better than Burton's top mark in 2019 (67.6) and would've qualified as Burton's third-best game of 2018, too. 

Holtz out-snapped fellow tight end Jesper Horsted, 37-31, and appears to have taken a slight lead over Horsted for reps moving forward. That said, both players have surprisingly looked like better fits for what Matt Nagy wants to do in his offense than either Burton or Shaheen. Horsted had four catches for 36 yards on Thursday.

Holtz and Horsted combined for seven catches and 92 yards. That's more yards in one game than Burton managed in the eight games he played, total.

It would be unfair to expect similar production from Holtz from here on out considering he was never a pass-catcher at any point in his career. In college, Holtz never topped more than 24 catches in a season and recorded a career-high 350 yards his senior year. But we've seen players' roles change once they get to the NFL before. Take 49ers superstar George Kittle, for example. His career-high in receiving yards at Iowa was just 314. We know what kind of weapon he's turned into as a pro.

No, Holtz isn't the next Kittle. But he doesn't have to be. He just has to be the guy we saw Thursday night who made plays for an offense desperate for a playmaking tight end.

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Blackhawks place Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw on injured reserve

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USA Today

Blackhawks place Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw on injured reserve

The Blackhawks placed defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Andrew Shaw on injured reserve Friday, retroactive to Nov. 29 and 30, respectively. The move opens up two spots on the 23-man roster, although the team did not make any corresponding transactions due to cap reasons.

Keith, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, and Shaw, who is in the league's concussion protocol, will not play in Friday's game against the New Jersey Devils but they will both be eligible to return after that, whenever they're cleared to do so. Injured reserve requires a player to miss a minimum of seven days from their retroactive date.

The Blackhawks do not receive any cap relief by putting Keith and Shaw on regular injured reserve, but if their injuries continue to linger, the team could transfer one or both to long-term injured reserve (LTIR) for financial reasons, which would force them to miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days from the time of their injury.

The Blackhawks do not have the cap space to make a call-up and with Drake Caggiula, who's on LTIR, inching closer to a return, that complicates things from a financial standpoint. They're currently sitting at 21 players and have $240,030 in projected cap space, according to Cap Friendly.

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