Bears

Sox crushed by Royals in series finale

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Sox crushed by Royals in series finale

CHICAGO (AP) Jeff Francoeur hit his first homer of the season, pinch-hitter Johnny Giavotella had a big, two-run double and the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 9-1 on Sunday.Alcides Escobar went 3 for 3 with two walks for Kansas City, which broke it open with six runs in the ninth inning. Francoeur also had an RBI single and made a nice play in right field.Kansas City won for the fourth time in five games despite losing Danny Duffy to an apparent injury in the first inning. The left-hander faced three batters and recorded two outs before he trudged off the mound following a short discussion with manager Ned Yost and a trainer.Luis Mendoza came in and pitched 5 2-3 innings, keeping the Royals in the game while they struggled to score against Philip Humber. Mendoza (2-2) allowed one run and seven hits, struck out four and walked two.Humber broke out of his post-perfect game slump, pitching four-hit ball into the seventh inning, but the White Sox still lost for the fourth time in their last five home games.Humber issued a one-out walk to Escobar in the seventh, but got Humberto Quintero to foul out before he was replaced by left-hander Matt Thornton (1-3) with the White Sox clinging to a 1-0 lead.Jarrod Dyson then walked, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Giavotella followed with a double down the right-field line, giving the Royals the lead with his first hit of the season. The infielder is 1 for 10 in four games since he was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday.Humber struck out seven and walked three in his best start since his gem at Seattle on April 21. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his previous three outings.Francoeur hit a drive to left off Nate Jones in the eighth for his first homer since Sept. 23 at U.S. Cellular Field. He also made a nice sliding catch on Brent Morel's drive to the warning track in the fourth before nearly doubling off Tyler Flowers with a strong throw to first.The White Sox put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth but Kosuke Fukudome struck out and fellow pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski bounced out to end the inning.NOTES: White Sox LHP Chris Sale said he felt fine one day after his first start since May 1. ''Everything went well today,'' he said. Sale was moved to the bullpen because the team was concerned about his sore elbow, but he talked his way back into the rotation after an MRI came back clean. ... Royals 3B Mike Moustakas (sore left hamstring) rested for the second straight day. ''Just one more day,'' Yost said. ''Playing cautious with it.'' ... White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he wants to keep Adam Dunn in the lineup when they face the crosstown Cubs at Wrigley Field next weekend, and he's leaning toward playing the burly slugger in left. ''Plus he'll enjoy the fans out in the outfield,'' Ventura said with a grin. ''He likes to talk. He likes fan interaction.'' ... The Royals open a two-game series at AL West-leading Texas on Monday. LHP Bruce Chen (1-4) is scheduled to face Rangers RHP Scott Feldman (0-0). ... Chicago hosts Detroit in the opener of a two-game series on Monday. White Sox LHP John Danks (2-4) is slated to face LHP Drew Smyly (1-0). ... White Sox reliever Jesse Crain (oblique) threw a scoreless inning in his second rehab appearance with Triple-A Charlotte.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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USA TODAY

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: