Cubs

Starting Five: Bulls at Mavericks

Starting Five: Bulls at Mavericks

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
1:25 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau discussed Carlos Boozers progress with the assembled media prior to the teams shootaround, taking a more cautious viewpoint, but detailing what his injured star has been doing in Chicagos practices.

Well, Bulls team trainer Fred Tedeschi, he keeps me informed to where Boozer is, in terms of the things he can do. So, all the things that he can do -- hes going through some dummy offense, hes going through some defensive close-out drills, things like that -- and the next step, hell be cleared to practice where he can take some contact," Thibodeau said. "Were probably looking at another week or so, so when that happens well move forward from there, but we cant think about him playing until he can start going through some practices.

We will know better about when Boozer will play in games once he starts practicing. Hes still two steps away.

2. Thibodeau talked about the strengths of the Bulls opponent Friday, the Mavericks -- a team Chicago faced twice in the preseason -- as well as what his team needs to do to be successful.

Taj Gibson will start off on him Dallas superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki," he said. "A great player like that, youre not going to guard with one player. You have to rely on your team defense. The Mavs have so many different weapons because of their quickness in the backcourt, the shooting ability of Nowitzki and of course, their size. Any time youre putting two defenders on the ball, youre vulnerable to the second shot, so they can hurt you with the second shot ... theyre bringing Jason Terry and Shawn Marion off the bench, youve got two guys that can come in and get 20 points on you off the bench.

We have to make sure were back defensively. Our floor balance, we have control over that, and you have to be careful -- they play more zone than anybody else -- so if youre settling for jump shots against them and theyre long jump shots, if you dont have floor balance, now youre vulnerable to giving them easy scoring opportunities in transition. We have to make sure that whether theyre in zone or man, we still want to remain the same and be inside-out. That balls got to get into the paint.

3. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose talked about Boozers potential impact on the team and how it could help him personally before Wednesdays loss to the Spurs in San Antonio.

Playing with him Boozer, theyll have to double-team him, explained Rose. Ill be on the weak side. If the swing pass comes to me, Ill have a live dribble -- usually when I come down, Im already dribbling; I dont usually play with a live dribble -- but when he comes back, Ill have a live dribble and Im going to be able to spot up and shoot.

4. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle spoke incredibly favorably about the Bulls after Dallas shootaround at the American Airlines Center.

To me, they have the highest motor of any team in the league," Carlisle said. "Their energy level stays up -- both offensively and defensively -- and so that makes them extremely difficult to guard and it also makes them hard to score against because they just have a persistence about their game. We have to be extremely aggressive, yet we have to have the right amount of poise, as well.

Were going to have to be disciplined, were going to have to understand how these guys approach the game and were going to have to be able to play our game at a high level against an opponent thats really going to have to have a persistent physical presence on both ends the entire night.

Carlisle talked specifically about the task Dallas has in defending Rose.

Great player," Carlisle said. "Right now, hes one of the best players in the game. Statistically, their team has got a winning record because of him, in large part. Hes just continuing to make large strides. Now hes shooting the three really well and making mid-range jump shots. Hes one of the more difficult guys on the planet to guard, he remarked, dismissively joking, Im not going to tell you, when asked how he planned to strategize against Rose.

Look, hes an MVP candidate. Thats how good he is and how important he is to his team. A guy like that is going to get a lot of attention from the opponent. Youve got to have a lot of different scenarios to try to deal with him. Youve got to have a lot of different people ready. Its a great challenge for us.

Added Mavericks guard Jason Terry: Hes looking to score more. Hes looking to be the leader of that team and hes doing a great job. As he goes, they go. If he has a big game, theyre going to win, nine times out of 10.

Carlisle, whos familiar with Boozer from past Utah-Dallas Western Conference battles, also talked about the looming return of Carlos Boozer to the Bulls lineup.

Boozer, hes an All-Star caliber player and he fits, very well, with what theyre doing," Carlisle told CSNChicago.com on Friday. "When he comes back, theyll be able to bring Gibson off the bench, start Boozer and itll just strengthen their rotation that much more. I dont know what the timetable is, but theyre going to go from being a good team to a really good team in a hurry when he gets back.

Chimed in Terry: Boozers going to give them a post presence, another scoring optionhes an All-Star, so he commands a lot of respect from the opposing team.
5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Cubs ride unconventional pitching performances to 8-6 win over the Reds

Cubs ride unconventional pitching performances to 8-6 win over the Reds

Before Thursday’s game against the Phillies, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon was asked if, given the current state of their bullpen, Tyler Chatwood could see some innings as the closer. 

“I think he’s amenable to it...” Maddon responded. “... the big thing with him is throwing strikes. If he does that -- his stuff is that electric -- we’ll use him any time. As he gets well from [throwing 4 innings on Wednesday night] it’ll probably a solid two days, maybe three, before he’s ready to go again. We’ll see - we’ll see that night needs. I’m not afraid of it by any means.

“I would say that the first time he got a chance with us, it would be because the other guys aren’t available that night.”

48 hours later, with the Cubs white knuckling a two-run lead, it was Chatwood coming out of the ‘pen in the top of the 9th. Two singles, a double-play, and a Yasiel Puig flyout later, Chatwood had closed out one of the Cubs’ more unconventional wins of the season, a 8-6 nail-biter that featured a little bit of everything.  

“It was a little bit [surprising],” Chatwood said. “But I kept myself ready. I was able to get loose in the pen and luckily I got that double play right there, and we won. So it’s good.” 

On a day when the Cubs’ cobbled together their pitching performance, it was Yu Darvish’s 7 innings -- the first time he’s gotten that deep into a game since 2017 -- that kept Chicago in punching distance. The line itself isn’t particularly flattering; six runs on 12 hits is an eyesore. His performance may not have played well on Cubs Twitter, but those inside the clubhouse could not stop talking about it. 

“That was huge. I thought he was really good today,” Albert Almora, who already surpassed his 2018 home run total (5) with a solo homer in the 2nd inning, said. “I didn’t think he was going to come back out, so I said ‘good job’ to him in the 7th. I saw him back out in the 8th and was like ‘all right, he wanted it.’” 

“It looked like he emptied the tank against Puig in the 7th with a big strikeout,” Chatwood added. “But he still went back out there and battled and pitched into the 8th. That’s huge. We didn’t have many people available today, and I think he knew that. I thought that was one of the best games he’s thrown the ball.”

Darvish managed to strand eight base runners, though, and only walked two. He’s now gone three straight games while walking three batters or less, something he’d failed to do at any point prior. 

“I knew that the bullpen was going through a little struggle, and didn’t have much rest,” Darvish said. “So my main goal was to go more than 7 innings today.” 

On a warm day, with the wind blowing straight out at 16 miles per hour, Wrigley played as small as it has all year. The Cubs (and the Reds, for that matter) went deep three times, which brings their homestand total to 11. 

“The wind was a friend to both sides today,” Maddon said. “But really, you’ve got to give Yu a ton of credit for getting deeply into the game today. He still had his good stuff in the end. The stuff was still there, but it’s 107 pitches, and it’s just deflating when all that happens.” 

Not to be outdone by the guy who started the game or the guy who finished it, recently-called up pitcher Dylan Maples was the winning pitcher of record. He and Tim Collins came in from Triple-A Iowa that morning, and Maddon wasted no time throwing Maples into the fire. After walking his first batter, Maples got Reds’ rookie Nick Senzel to strikeout on a 91mph fastball to end the 8th. 

If it hasn't seemed easy of late, that's because it hasn't been. Of the Cubs’ first 50 games, 16 have been decided by one run (9-7). Over their last 12 games, eight have been decided by two or less runs. 

“They seem to all be like that,” Maddon said with a laugh. “Especially recently. We’re seeing a lot of good pitching. 

“That’s entertainment, guys. Woah.” 

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon usually isn’t one for conspiracy theories, but even he’s wondering what’s going on. MLB teams are hitting home runs at an absurd rate, including the Cubs, who are hitting them at a historic rate for the franchise’s standards.

Entering Saturday, here’s where MLB teams stand in average home run rate and total home runs in 2019 compared to recent seasons:

2017: 1.26/game, 6,105 total
2018: 1.15/game, 5,585 total
2019: 1.33/game, 2,009 total

While the MLB season is just over 30 percent finished, teams are on pace to hit a combined 6,483 long balls in 2019. This would absolutely obliterate the 2017 total, which, like the 1.33 home runs per game figure, would be an MLB record.

The Cubs are no exception to this home run wave. Including Saturday (game No. 50 of the season), the team has hit 80 home runs (and counting) in 2019. Only the 2000 Cubs (83) hit more home runs in their first 50 games in franchise history.

“We’re having home runs hit here into some firm breezes, which has not happened before,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters before Saturday’s game against the Reds. “That’s the thing that stands out to me. It’s been crazy.

“Even [Kyle] Schwarber’s home run, I know that was hit well, but dang, that wind was blowing pretty firmly across at that point.”

Schwarber absolutely crushed his home run yesterday, a 449-foot blast that needed little help getting into the bleachers. However, Maddon has a valid point regarding home runs being hit despite the wind. Entering Saturday, 54 total home runs have been hit at Wrigley Field this season, 29 of which have come with the wind blowing in.

By the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, the Cubs and Reds had hit a combined six home runs, one of which appeared to be a routine fly ball hit by Jason Heyward that wound up in the left field basket thanks to the wind. At the same time, Yasiel Puig hit one 416 feet onto Waveland Ave. that had a 109 mph exit velocity. The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field helps, but it isn’t everything.

MLB players have questioned time and time again if baseballs are “juiced,” including Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. And while Maddon didn’t flat out say that he thinks the baseballs are juiced, he notices a difference in how they're flying off the bat.

“I don’t know, I’m normally not into the subplot component of all of this and the conspiracy theorists, but I’m telling you right now, it’s jumping,” he said. “It’s absolutely jumping.

“Nobody is ever going to admit to it. The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird.”

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