Cubs

Rohan's Hot Start Continues As Peoria Completes Sweep

Rohan's Hot Start Continues As Peoria Completes Sweep

Wednesday April 27, 2011
Posted: 9:49 p.m.
CUBSPeoria A
Greg Rohan continued his blistering hot start Wednesday evening in leading Peoria to a 7-2 victory at Clintons Alliant Energy Field. The victory was the fourth in a row for the Chiefs, marking their first four-game sweep in Clinton since 1998.

Rohan had a pair of homers and drove in three runs, marking the third time in four games that he ahs driven in three runs. His average climbed to .366 as his hitting streak reached four games. Rohan is 10-for-19 over that stretch. His 20 home runs are tops in the Midwest League and tie Rebel Ridling for most RBIs in franchise history for the month of April since Peorias affiliate change in 2005. Travis Hansen had 26 April RBIs in 2003.

Matt Szczur had three hits, extending his hitting streak to six games and pushing his average to .310. Robinson Lopez earned the victory after allowing a run in four innings of relief. He replaced Dallas Beeler, who retired all nine batters he faced after throwing only 30 pitches before leaving with an undisclosed injury.
Tennessee AA
Jorge Padillas RBI single capped a two-run ninth inning for Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon as it stunned visiting Tennessee, 2-1, at The Baseball Grounds.

David Cales had come on to start the ninth inning and allowed a leadoff single, a fielders choice and a walk before Jake Smolinski lined a run-scoring single to left, tying the score at 1-1. Cales intentionally walked Kyle Skipworth before Padilla lined a single to right to bring in the winning run.

Robert Whitenack started and went six innings in his Southern League debut after going 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in four starts for Daytona. He scattered three hits and struck out three without walking a batter after officially being up a level on Wednesday. Blake Parker pitched two shutout innings before Cales imploded.

Ridling went hitless, which dropped his average to .397 while Nate Samsons second-inning RBI single provided Tennessee with its run. The Whitenack promotion came a day after lefty Luke Sommer was released.

In other action, Daytona dropped an 8-6 decision to Tampa in 11 innings at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
WHITE SOXCharlotte AAA
Charlotte saw its losing streak stretch to six games Wednesday afternoon at Knights Stadium after ScrantonWilkes-Barre took the second game of a four-game set, 8-5. It marked the second time this season that the Knights, who opened the season with five consecutive victories, have lost six straight.

Freddy Dolsi 1-2 got hit hard early, allowing all eight runs in the first two innings. He recovered and lasted five innings but the early Yankees barrage proved to be too much. Dayan Viciedo and Jordan Danks each had a homer and two RBIs.
Winston-Salem A
Frederick had a big day on the base paths, stealing five bases, including a steal of home, Wednesday afternoon at BB&T Park to run by Winston-Salem, 4-2.

The Keys scored single runs in each of the first two innings before plating a pair in the sixth to take a 4-0 lead. One of the sixth-inning runs came via a Trent Mummey steal of home. Jose Martinez and Andy Wilkins each hit solo homers for the Dash. Hector Santiago 0-2 took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits over six innings. LHP Matt Wickswat was added to the roster from extended spring training and pitched a scoreless inning.
Birmingham AA
The Barons game at Huntsville was postponed because of weather and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 15 when Birmingham makes a return trip to Huntsville. RHP Johnnie Lowe was placed on the disabled list while RHP Henry Mabee was activated off the disabled list.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators were rained out at Lexington Wednesday and will play a doubleheader on Thursday with the first of the two seven-inning games beginning at 5:05.

'He belongs here': What to expect from top prospect Adbert Alzolay's first major league start

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USA Today

'He belongs here': What to expect from top prospect Adbert Alzolay's first major league start

A big part of the Cubs’ MO during the Epstein Era has been the team’s reliance on veteran pitchers. Whether it’s Jon Lester’s cutter, Cole Hamels’ changeup, or Jose Quintana’s sinker, it’s been a while since other teams have had to step into the box against a Cubs starter without much of a scouting report. On the surface, uncertainty from a starting pitcher may sound like a bad thing, but it’s that same apprehension that makes Cubs’ prospect Adbert Alzolay’s first major league start so exciting. 

“There’s energy when you know the guy’s good,” Joe Maddon said before Tuesday’s game. “There’s absolutely energy to be derived. But there’s also curiosity. Let’s see if this is real or not. I think he answered that call.” 

The good news for Alzolay and the Cubs is that much of the usual baggage that comes with one’s first major league start is already out of the way. All of the milestones that can get into a young pitchers head -- first strikeout, first hit, first home run allowed, etc -- took place during Alzolay’s four-inning relief appearance back against the Mets on June 20th. 

“I want to believe that that would help,” Maddon added. “It was probably one of the best ways you could break in someone like that. We had just the ability to do it because of the way our pitching was set up, and I think going into tonight’s game, there’s less unknown for him.”

It also helps that Alzolay will have fellow Venezuelan countryman Willson Contreras behind the plate calling his first game. There’s even a sense of novelty from Contreras’ end too. 

“[Catching someone’s debut] is really fun for me,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s a big challenge for me today. I’m looking forward to it. I’m really proud of Alzolay, and I know where he comes from - I know him from Venezuela. It’s going to be fun.”

Tuesday's plan for Alzolay doesn’t involve a specific innings limit. Maddon plans to let the rookie go as long as he can before he “gets extended, or comes out of his delivery,” as the manager put it. On the mound, he’s a flyball pitcher with good control that works quickly. Expect to see a healthy dosage of 4-seamers that sit in the mid-90’s alongside a curveball and changeup that have both seen improvements this year. 

Against the Mets, it was his changeup was the most effective strikeout pitch he had going, with three of his five K’s coming that way. It’s typically not considered his best offspeed offering, but as Theo Epstein put it on Monday afternoon, “[Alzolay] was probably too amped and throwing right through the break,” of his curveball that day.  

It’s obviously good news for the Cubs if he continues to flash three plus pitches, long the barometer of a major league starter versus a bullpen guy. Even if he doesn’t quite have the feel for all three yet, it’s his beyond-the-years demeanor that has those within the organization raving. 

“The confidence he showed during his first time on the mound, as a young pitcher, that’s a lot,” Contreras said. “That’s who he can be, and the command that he has of his pitches is good, especially when he’s able to go to his third pitch.” 

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

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