Cubs

Superb Sale, red-hot Pierzynski get White Sox a split in LA

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Superb Sale, red-hot Pierzynski get White Sox a split in LA

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chris Sale pitched effectively into the sixth inning, giving Chicago's rotation a much-needed solid outing, and the White Sox capitalized on some shoddy defense by the Los Angeles Angels for a 6-1 victory Thursday.After a three-game stretch in which starters John Danks, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd gave up a combined 18 earned runs over 14 1-3 innings, Sale (4-2) restored order in his sixth major league start. The 23-year-old left-hander struck out seven and was working on a three-hit shutout in the sixth when he gave up a one-out homer to Albert Pujols and a double to Mark Trumbo and was replaced by Nate Jones. Trumbo had a career-high four hits.Sale joined fellow left-hander Steve Rosenberg (1989) as the only White Sox pitchers to give up three runs or less in each of their first six big league starts since divisional play began in 1969. A first-round draft pick in 2010, Sale was used exclusively in relief by the White Sox during his two previous seasons in the big leagues.C.J. Wilson (4-4) threw 88 pitches in 3 2-3 innings and tied a career high with six walks. He was charged with four runs - one earned - and four hits.A.J. Pierzynski delivered a two-out RBI single in the third to open the scoring, after flying out with the bases loaded to end the White Sox first. He was 3 for 5 with two RBI singles, and is 29 for 70 in his last 19 games at Angel Stadium.Chicago tacked on three more in the fourth with the help of two balls that should have been caught and weren't. Angels center fielder Mike Trout started in right for the first time this season due to the absence of nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter because of his son's arrest in Texas, and dropped a routine flyball by Dyan Viciedo with one out in the first.Viciedo ended up at second base on the error, and Wilson walked the next two batters before Adam Dunn chased the left-hander with a two-run single. David Carpenter came in Paul Konerko hit a popup to short right field, but the ball fell in front of second baseman Howie Kendrick after he called off Trout. It was scored as an RBI single.

In the fifth, Alexei Ramirez' chopper fell between Trout and Kendrick for a hit after a leadoff single by Pierzynski. Viciedo followed with a flyball to short center, where Peter Bourjos converged with Trout and Kendrick before making the catch - resulting in a derisive cheer from the crowd of 30,786. Carpenter then fielded Brent Morel's comebacker and started a double play.Viciedo led off the eighth with his sixth homer and third in a four-game span. Three batters later, three-time Gold Glove winner Vernon Wells scaled the fence in front of the left field bullpen and pulled back Gordon Beckham's bid for a two-run homer.NOTES: Dunn struck out his first two times up, increasing his major league-worst total to 59, and has at least one in 38 of his first 39 games. He led the majors in strikeouts three consecutive seasons while with Cincinnati (2004-06). ... Both teams begin their respective interleague schedules on Friday. The Angels are at San Diego, and the White Sox have a day game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Dunn's 41 career home runs against the Cubs are the second-highest total among active players behind Albert Pujols' 63.
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Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.

If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.

Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:

NUTS: Home cooked?

The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.

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Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.

“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.

“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”

What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.

“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”

BOLTS: Taking the fifth

All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.

He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).

No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”

He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.

“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”

CHATTER: The mask at hand

“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”

—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.

“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”

—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.

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2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

Both the Cubs and White Sox may benefit this season from the unique MLB schedule which will have all clubs play regionally, instead of across their leagues. Since the A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams are all fairly close, and Chicago is practically in the middle of the action, both the Sox and Cubs will rank near the bottom for miles traveled over the course of the regular season, according to MLB Network.

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During their 2020 schedule release show, MLB Network displayed a graphic saying the Cubs will travel the second-fewest miles at 4,071 and the White Sox will travel sixth-fewest at 4,750 miles. It’s important to note that may not give them an edge in the regular season, as the other teams to round out the list are all Central division opponents as well: the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals and Reds.

But when it comes time for the playoffs, that rest may pay off-- especially if either team faces off against a team from the West. All of the top-five teams for most miles traveled come from the A.L. and N.L. West, ranging from 11,332 miles traveled for the Rockies to a whopping 14,706 miles traveled for the Rangers. In a condensed season, with significantly less rest, that long travel could take a toll.


RELATED: White Sox schedule release: Slow start not an option with brutal first week

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