Bears

Sunday's action featured two walk-off slams

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Sunday's action featured two walk-off slams

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Joey Votto is finally swinging like an MVP again. Votto hit a grand slam in the ninth inning for his third home run of the game on Sunday, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a rain-delayed 9-6 victory over the Washington Nationals with the biggest game of his career. Votto hit solo homers in his first two at-bats and finished with his second career slam, thrilling a sparse crowd that sat through a long delay and then more rain to see an improbable finish. The Reds said it was the first time in major league history that a player hit a game-ending grand slam for his third home run, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. "You like to see Joey hitting like that," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I keep telling the guys you've got to believe." Washington came into the game with only 15 homers allowed all season, fewest in the majors. Votto broke out of a power drought and helped the Reds avoid a sweep with three perfect swings. "Everybody talks about how he's treading water," teammate Drew Stubbs said. "Then he has a game like that. He wasn't far from hitting five. Hopefully, he's back to what he used to be." The first two homers came off starter Edwin Jackson, ending Votto's drought of no homers since April 30. The slugger also doubled and flied out to the warning track. Votto has been trying to smooth out his swing. "It's certainly a work in progress, but I think I hit more barrels today than I have all season," he said. He got his chance for the last-swing drama when Nationals closer Henry Rodriguez (1-3) got into the game and couldn't get comfortable on the wet mound. Rodriguez walked two batters with two outs to load the bases, including Chris Heisey after getting ahead in the count 0-2. Washington manager Davey Johnson came out to visit Rodriguez, who repeatedly scraped at the wet mound with his cleats. Rodriguez left a 2-2 pitch up and over the plate for Votto, who hit it over the wall in center. The 2010 NL MVP finished with a career-high six RBIs and the second three-homer game of his career. It was Votto's best day since he signed a new deal before opening day that added 10 years and 225 million. "He did today what he's been known to do," Jackson said. "That's what he got paid a lot of money to do." The last player to hit a game-ending home run in a three-homer game was Albert Pujols for St. Louis against Cincinnati on April 16, 2006, according to STATS LLC. Giancarlo Stanton also hit a game-ending slam Sunday for Miami against the New York Mets, making it the first time in 14 years that there were two walk-off slams on one day, STATS said. Mo Vaughn connected for Boston and Steve Finley for San Diego on April 10, 1998. A few thousand fans were left to cheer Cincinnati's first game-ending slam since Adam Dunn connected off Cleveland's Bob Wickman on June 30, 2006. Sean Marshall (1-2) got the win at the end of the long day. The start was delayed 3 hours, 36 minutes by rain, which continued to fall throughout the 3-hour, 45-minute game. Ahead 6-3, the Nationals couldn't close out what would have been their first three-game sweep of the season. The Reds got two runs in the eighth when rookie right fielder Bryce Harper lost Jay Bruce's two-out fly ball in the twilight sky, letting it fall way behind him for a double. Then, Washington's fill-in closer let it slip away, concluding a painful one-week trip. Right fielder Jayson Werth had surgery on his broken left wrist Monday, and Harper needed 10 stitches for a self-inflicted gash above his left eye on Friday after he hurt himself slamming a bat against a wall near the dugout. Catcher Wilson Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while chasing a passed ball Saturday night. Despite sending 11 players to the disabled list already this season, the Nationals had managed to stay atop the NL East because of their pitching staff, which leads the majors. For one of the few times, it let them down, and Washington dropped into second place behind Atlanta. NOTES: The Nationals headed out for a seven-game homestand, including two games each against San Diego and Pittsburgh and three against Baltimore. The Reds left for an unusual seven-game trip: Atlanta for two games, then on to New York for two against the Mets and three against the Yankees. ... The Nationals called up C Sandy Leon from Double-A Harrisburg. ... Harper wore a bandage over his left eye for the second straight game and had a pair of singles, ending his 0-for-9 slump in Cincinnati. ... Reds 3B Mike Costanzo, called up to replace injured Scott Rolen, made his big league debut as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and hit a sacrifice fly on the first pitch.

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MIAMI (AP) -- Giancarlo Stanton took a lusty swing with his pink bat, then paused a moment to admire his first game-winning grand slam before settling into a home run trot. "That's one of those no-doubters," he said. "It's good I could stand and watch it." Stanton's two-out slam capped a comeback Sunday by the Miami Marlins, who scored six times in the ninth inning to beat an angry Frank Francisco and the New York Mets 8-4. The walk-off victory was the second in the three-game series for the Marlins, who have won 10 of their past 12 games, thanks mostly to their rotation. "We're where we're at because of our pitching," said catcher John Buck, who hit a tying homer in the seventh. "It's kind of nice to have the bats speak up a bit." The Marlins trailed 4-2 when Emilio Bonifacio led off the ninth with his second triple of the game against the struggling Francisco (1-3). Buck walked and pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs followed with an RBI single. Francisco was then replaced, and he walked slowly toward plate umpire Todd Tichenor, hollering angrily. Manager Terry Collins stepped between Tichenor and Francisco, who was ejected even though he was already out of the game. Francisco waved his index finger and then his cap at the ump before finally heading to the dugout, his closer's job in jeopardy. "I thought I was hitting my spots really good, and I didn't get a call," Francisco said. "Any time you see the other team lose their cool like that, you know we're in the driver's seat," Stanton said. When Francisco's tirade ended, the Mets' meltdown continued. Manny Acosta replaced Francisco, and Jose Reyes' sacrifice fly made the score 4-all. After a popup, Hanley Ramirez walked on a 3-2 pitch and Austin Kearns was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Stanton's Mother's Day bat then closed out the victory, launching the first pitch over the left-center wall near the animated home run sculpture for his seventh homer, and sixth this month. At first, Stanton said, he didn't hear the explosion of noise from the crowd of 26,401. "It's a weird feeling," he said. "It's more like silence where all you see is the ball flying, and once you start going, you start to hear the big roar by everybody and the excitement." After rounding the bases, Stanton tossed his helmet 20 feet high before hopping into a sea of jubilant Marlins at home plate. Teammate Logan Morrison gave the 245-pound slugger a celebratory hoist. "I didn't know if his knees were going to hold out," Stanton said. The walk-off win was the fifth for the Marlins in 14 games in their new ballpark. The Mets closed out a 4-2 trip against division opponents, with both losses coming on the game's final swing. "We didn't finish the way we were hoping to finish," Acosta said through a translator. "It's a little tough to swallow." The Marlins climbed two games above .500 even though they're batting just .204 with runners in scoring position, worst in the majors. "We're still not close to our full potential," Stanton said. "Once it clicks for everybody, we're going to be scary." Struggling reliever Heath Bell (2-3) earned the victory despite giving up two runs in the top of the ninth and drawing scattered boos when the inning ended. Mets pinch-hitter Justin Turner broke a 2-all tie with a two-out, two-run double off Bell, whose ERA rose to 10.03. "I liked the way he threw," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He just made one bad pitch." Mets starter Jonathon Niese pitched six innings despite flulike symptoms and departed for a pinch-hitter with a 2-0 lead. But it lasted for only two batters when Ramon Ramirez replaced him. Bonifacio led off the seventh with a stand-up triple, and Buck followed with his fourth homer. Carlos Zambrano pitched seven innings and limited the Mets to two runs, one earned, which lowered his ERA to 1.88. "It was important to keep the game close, do my job and let my teammates do their job," Zambrano said. NOTES: Mets 1B Ike Davis was scratched from the starting lineup with flulike symptoms. He pinch-hit and grounded out to end the seventh with runners at second and third. ... Mets RHP R.A. Dickey said he felt fine one day after being hit on his right wrist by a pitch. He threw another two innings after being hit and earned his fifth victory. ... When David Wright singled in the fourth, he improved to .154 lifetime against Zambrano (4 for 26) with 12 strikeouts. ... The retractable roof was closed for all three games in the series. ... The Marlins, who begin a two-game series Monday against Pittsburgh, beat the Pirates in all six meetings last year.

Bears injury report: Mitchell Trubisky still listed as questionable after three straight days of full practice

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USA TODAY

Bears injury report: Mitchell Trubisky still listed as questionable after three straight days of full practice

Everything leading into Week 7’s Bears-Saints game makes it sound like Mitchell Trubisky will make his return under center, but officially he’s still questionable.

Trubisky still has that designation despite being a full participant in practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Trubisky has missed the past two games with a left shoulder injury.

Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols and offensive lineman Ted Larsen are also questionable. Nichols was limited in practice on Friday with hand and knee injuries. Larsen was a full go in practice on Friday with a knee injury after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday.


Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe are listed on the injury report, but expected to play.

Who's the Bears' best option to replace Kyle Long at right guard?

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USA Today

Who's the Bears' best option to replace Kyle Long at right guard?

The Bears have three options on their roster to start on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the first game of — in all likelihood — the post-Kyle Long era in Chicago. Is a guy who’s only played 30 snaps as a guard in his pro or college career really the right choice?

Rashaad Coward may be new to the position, but the Bears like his athleticism, physical edge and work ethic he brings to the offense. Also in the conversation: 10-year veteran Ted Larsen and undrafted rookie Alex Bars. 

Coward has more immediate upside, but Larsen (who's officially questionable with a knee injury, though he practiced in full Friday) is more a you-know-what-you're-getting guy. Coward's upside, though, lies in the athleticism and physicality he showed in limited time against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4.

“He’s a tough guy, he plays very, very hard,” offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. “It’s super important to him, he’s very prideful, he’s very determined to keep his guy from making a play and that’s a big part of this.”

That Hiestand has actual game film on which to evaluate and teach Coward is important. And the Bears saw him do some good things in letting his raw talent take over against the Vikings. 

“Going into the game, I was like F it,” Coward said. “It is what it is. It’s either you do it or you don’t.”

Coward said on Monday he practiced with the No. 1 offense, and given Larsen was limited in Wednesday's and Thursday's practices, there's a decent chance Coward will start on Sunday. 

Larsen, though, is the kind of guy who could get the nod on Sunday without getting many reps during mid-week practices. 

Larsen suffered the injury in Week 4, which led to Coward entering the game, and he didn’t travel to London with the Bears in Week 5. But his veteran experience — he’s started 87 games in his career — and flexibility to play guard or center make him a trusted backup.

“I played a lot of football,” Larsen said. “I’m ready whenever they want to use me.”

There is a possibility the Bears rotate Larsen and Coward on a series-to-series basis, as the team did with a veteran (Eric Kush) and a greenhorn (James Daniels) at left guard last year. 

"It’s something that could definitely happen," Nagy said. "I’m not opposed to that. And then you can also balance and see, whether it’s Ted or Rashaad, how are they playing and we can get a feel for that during a game and we feel comfortable with both."

Bars is unlikely to factor this week but does have long-term upside. He turned down an opportunity to join the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster earlier this month because he saw a better opportunity in Chicago. That his college offensive line coach is now his pro offensive line coach certainly played into that decision, too.

Many thought Bars would be a mid-round draft pick prior to his final season at Notre Dame, but a torn ACL and MCL suffered last September knocked him down to being an undrafted free agent. The opportunity to link back up with Hiestand helped bring him to Chicago, where he played well during the preseason — but not well enough to make the Bears’ initial 53-man roster.

“The transition to this level coming off the injury was an adjustment I had to make, still making it every day,” Bars said. “I’m trying to improve and work against really, really good guys.” 

The Bears’ starting right guard for the rest of 2019 will hardly be settled by who starts against the Saints in Week 7. Coward may get the first crack, but if his inexperience overshadows his talent, the Bears may need to call on a safer option in Larsen. And that could open the door for Bars to start, too, if he proves to Hiestand behind the scenes he’s back on the track he was on prior to his collegiate injury.

Whoever plays, though, needs to be better than Long was over his four games prior to going on injured reserve. The Bears made that difficult decision in part to improve at right guard. It’s now on Coward — or Larsen, or Bars — to make good on that promise.

"Between the three of them I think it will be fun for us to kind of work through what decision, where we want to go with that," Nagy said. "And then whoever it is, let's go. There's no looking back."

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