Bears

Rizzo's blast pushes Cubs past Astros

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Rizzo's blast pushes Cubs past Astros

Anthony Rizzo stepped in against Houston starter J.A. Happ in the fifth inning Saturday for another sure-to-be-scrutinized at-bat. Rizzo struck out looking in the first, and his fourth-inning flyout elicited roars from the crowd of 37,906 at Wrigley Field, only to be caught just in front of the warning track.
But in the sixth, Rizzo ripped Happ's fastball 398 feet, sailing a home run over the right field ivy at Wrigley Field for the first time.
"It just feels good to get that win and get that monkey off my back hitting a home run and this and that," Rizzo said.
The Cubs are hoping it's the start of something great, even if the over-analysis of Rizzo's every move has begun to grow tired.
"The sort of daily watch of how he's doing is probably not a great thing for anybody," general manager Jed Hoyer said prior to Saturday's game. "I think just let him play, look up and hope the numbers will be there a year from now."
But even in just four games, Rizzo has already delivered two game-winning hits. On Saturday, Rizzo helped push his team to a 3-2 win and send the crowd home happy -- and probably soaked from sweat, as Matt Garza said it felt like he was wearing "a suit of water" thanks to the humid, 90-degree conditions.
Rizzo struck out in the seventh with runners at the corners and one out, as Houston decided to intentionally walk Starlin Castro to set up a double play chance with Rizzo. Manager Dale Sveum liked Rizzo's at-bat, noting he fouled off a few tough sliders from lefty Fernando Abad, but also took the time to note there's still plenty of room for growth in Rizzo's plate approach.
"I think a guy like him, you can tell he wants those RBIs too, and is probably going to be a little more aggressive, but he's also taking his walks too," Sveum said. "He's also 22 years old, let's not forget how young he is. We've already gone over this stuff about young hitters walking 100 times, it just doesn't happen. It takes a little time for hitters to get to that 80 to 100 walk pace."
Still everyone was reminded of Rizzo's offensive potential on the final day of June. But defensively, the Cubs have similarly high expectations. Rizzo flashed his defensive skills in the third inning, charging a slow chopper to his right, fielding it cleanly and firing a strike to Geovany Soto to nab Houston's Scott Moore at home plate.
"That's my go-to place," Rizzo said of his defense. "Hitting's going to come and go but fielding's going to be the consistent thing I pride myself on all the time. That's where I go to."
"He's a really good defender," Hoyer explained. "He made too many errors in Triple-A, and that's something we need to work with him on, but as far as soft hands, picking balls, throwing, he's going to be a really good defender in the big leagues. I don't think there's any question about that."
The nine errors Rizzo made with Triple-A offer room for improvement, but most accounts have him as someone who is an asset with the glove. Baseball Prospectus' minor league guru Kevin Goldstein agreed with Hoyer's evaluation, noting Rizzo has good hands and footwork, although his range is somewhat limited due to his large frame.
Garza did his part to pull Rizzo out of the spotlight, at least for a moment. As the first baseman was being interviewed on the TV broadcast of the game after its conclusion, Garza raced up and shoved a shaving cream pie into the camera and snatched the headset away from Rizzo.
"Get that guy out of the limelight a little bit," Garza said. "Hes doing his thing. Just let him enjoy it. You only get to make a debut as a Cub one time. Hes doing a great job producing and doing what he does. Let the guy enjoy it. Hes going to be a great one. Let him enjoy it and there will be a lot of time in front of the camera. Right now let him enjoy it, let him enjoy this ride and lets take this nice little attitude we have going on into tomorrow."

Bears still have much to prove after disappointing loss to Patriots

Bears still have much to prove after disappointing loss to Patriots


 Beating the, arguably, best coach and quarterback pairing in NFL history is a difficult enough task. Trying to do it while allowing two touchdowns on special teams? Good luck. 
 
The Bears will leave Soldier Field frustrated with their 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday for a number of reasons, but top of the list will be Cordarrelle Patterson’s 95-yard kickoff return score and a blocked Pat O’Donnell punt that was raced into the end zone by Kyle Van Noy. A special teams unit that had been solid all year — and forced a fumble on a Patterson kickoff return in the first quarter Sunday — suddenly became a disaster, allowing an uncharacteristically undisciplined Patriots side back into the game, and then ahead in it. 
 
Add in an inaccurate game from Mitch Trubisky — who completed 26 of 50 passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions — and an uneventful afternoon for Khalil Mack and the pass rush, and the Bears had to scratch and claw to hang with New England. 
 
Interestingly, after all week hearing from Bears coaches and players about how they couldn’t let the Patriots take them out of their own game, it felt like Bill Belichick and Tom Brady did exactly that. Mack frequently dropped into coverage — but so did Leonard Floyd, so maybe it wasn’t all about Mack’s injured ankle. While Brady frequently got the ball out quick, when he didn’t he was rarely pressured. 
 
And on offense, Taylor Gabriel had the same number of targets (one) as offensive lineman Bradley Sowell until midway through the fourth quarter. Trubisky dazzled with his legs, covering over 70 yards on an eight-yard touchdown run and dancing his way to a 39-yard scramble that set up a touchdown in the third quarter. 
 
But Trubisky’s struggles were clear, with the second-year quarterback throwing two ill-advised passes that should’ve been picked off in the end zone and then underthrowing Anthony Miller in the fourth quarter, allowing Patriots safety Jonathan Jones to make a tremendous interception. New England drove 96 yards after that pick into the end zone, with Brady taking apart a defense that missed two tackles on a 55-yarder to Josh Gordon, extinguishing any hope the Bears had of a comeback.
 
While Trubisky did lead a scoring drive after Adrian Amos assisted Kyle Fuller for an interception, cutting the deficit to seven. And Trubisky nearly pulled off a miracle with a Hail Mary to Kevin White, which was completed just shy of the end zone. 
 
The loss dropped the Bears to 3-3 and heaps plenty of pressure on Matt Nagy’s side to win seemingly-winnable games in the next three weeks: At home against the New York Jets, on the road against the Buffalo Bills and at home against the Detroit Lions. But then again: When the Jets come to town next weekend, it’ll have been nearly a month since the Bears’ last win. How the Bears fare over these next three games will be a clear window into if this team is a legitimate contender or one that faded after a strong start. 

WATCH: Mitchell Trubisky runs like Michael Vick for 8-yard touchdown

WATCH: Mitchell Trubisky runs like Michael Vick for 8-yard touchdown

The New England Patriots defense wasn’t giving Mitchell Trubisky many options through the air, so he decided to take matters into his own hands at Soldier Field.

The young quarterback’s legs were the Bears’ most-effective weapon in the first quarter, as Trubisky led the team with 35 rushing yards on four carries in the opening period of play.

He capped it off with an eight-yard touchdown scramble that had him looking like Michael Vick on the field.

The Bears will need to have a more well-rounded offensive attack to keep up with teams like the Patriots, but Trubisky found what was working in the first quarter.

Perhaps most importantly, he’s been smart and safe with his running, opting to slide and go to the ground on his big plays to avoid any big hits.

His legs continue to make this offense more dynamic, to keep up with top-notch opponents like New England.