Cubs

Tigers pitcher nearly ties team strikeout record

768568.jpg

Tigers pitcher nearly ties team strikeout record

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Max Scherzer headed off the mound and toward the dugout, where manager Jim Leyland was waiting to offer a congratulatory handshake. After 15 strikeouts in seven innings, Scherzer's day was done, and the only question was whether the Detroit right-hander's fine effort would go to waste. "We're in this business to win," Scherzer said. And win the Tigers did. Alex Avila's tiebreaking, two-run single highlighted a three-run seventh that sent Detroit to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Scherzer's 15 strikeouts were the most by a Tigers pitcher in 40 years, and his teammates wiped out a 2-1 deficit to get him the victory. Mickey Lolich had 15 strikeouts for the Tigers against Boston on Oct. 2, 1972, and set the club record of 16 in 1969, doing it twice in less than three weeks. Scherzer's 15 strikeouts were the most by a major league pitcher this year. Miami's Anibal Sanchez had 14 against Arizona on April 28. "We've wasted a few good performances this year already," Avila said. "Hopefully, that will kind of get us on a roll a little bit." Detroit trails first-place Cleveland by three games in the AL Central. Scherzer (3-3) threw 115 pitches. He allowed four hits, including two solo homers, and a walk. Avila's hit made it 4-2. Pittsburgh scored a run in the ninth off Joaquin Benoit, but he held on for his first save this season. Detroit closer Jose Valverde has a strained back. Kevin Correia (1-5) allowed three runs and four hits in six-plus innings. Scherzer gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings in his first start of the season, and although he's been better since then, he entered Sunday's game with a 6.26 ERA. He was locked in from the start, throwing his first 10 pitches for strikes before finally missing the zone against Pedro Alvarez, the first hitter of the second. Scherzer got Alvarez anyway for his third strikeout of the day. "Even when I've struggled, I've always believed the next time I go out there that I'm going to have a great start, no matter what," Scherzer said. "That's always been my belief ever since I've been in the big leagues, and today was no different." All 15 of Scherzer's strikeouts were swinging. The only other pitcher since 1988 to strike out at least 15 -- all swinging -- in a game was Houston's Mike Scott, who fanned 15 Cincinnati Reds on June 8, 1990, according to STATS LLC. "My changeup was really working well today. I was able to throw it to both lefties and righties, and I was able to generate swing-and-misses out of it," Scherzer said. "I was able to throw it for a strike and throw it just underneath the zone to help generate some swing-and-miss strikeouts." Scherzer had struck out five straight -- and 10 for the game -- when Rod Barajas homered with one out in the fifth to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Jhonny Peralta answered with a solo shot in the bottom half. Neil Walker hit a 407-foot homer in the sixth, and Scherzer's pitch count began creeping up, precluding a run at the big league record of 20 strikeouts for a nine-inning game. Scherzer was actually on the hook for a loss when Leyland offered his handshake after the top of the seventh, the signal that a reliever would be entering in the eighth. But Prince Fielder led off the bottom of the seventh with a blooper to left that dropped between shortstop Clint Barmes and left fielder Nate McLouth. Barmes had a long way to run because the infield was shifted around to the right, and when the ball hit the ground, it bounced weirdly up off him into foul territory, enabling Fielder to reach second with a double. Delmon Young followed with a tying single, and Tony Watson relieved Correia. Peralta drew a walk one out later, and a passed ball by Barajas allowed the runners to move up to second and third. The Pirates brought the infield in, but Avila's base hit up the middle foiled that strategy and made it 4-2. Detroit was without center fielder Austin Jackson (abdominal strain) and Valverde, but the Tigers ended up taking two of three from Pittsburgh. Scherzer and Justin Verlander bookended the series with brilliant pitching performances. Verlander threw a one-hit shutout Friday night, striking out 12 and giving up only a ninth-inning single to Josh Harrison. The Pirates struck out 17 times Sunday and 41 times in the series. NOTES: Detroit's Brennan Boesch had his 12-game hitting streak snapped. ... Pittsburgh dropped to 19-9 when scoring at least two runs. ... The Tigers are off Monday. The Pirates return home and will send LHP Erik Bedard (2-5) to the mound against Johan Santana (1-2) of the New York Mets.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

descalso-pod-1214.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

When nothing happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas. Luke, Kap and Tony talk about the Cubs lack of moves during the Winter Meetings.

In this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast with Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki:

00:10 - What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas and this year that means nothing. Luke, Kap & Tony talk Cubs lack of moves at Winter Meetings.

00:50 - Where the heck is all the money? This was supposed to be a wide-open window - we step on the accelerator.

01:25 - Cubs keep throwing money at the problem (Chatwood, Darvish) and it has become a cautionary tale.

02:50 - Are the Cubs playing at the shallow end of the kiddie pool?

03:50 - Tony talks about the volatility of the relief market.

05:15 - Where is the bullpen market? Brewers are making moves, but it's still "crickets" for the Cubs.

06:20 - Tony: Other than bullpen - Cubs have to address backup middle infielder most of all.

06:57 - Daniel Descalso rumors. Kap describes him as a grinder who fits the leadership mold.

07:47 - Luke is a little worried about Steve Cishek. He threw a career-high 70 innings last season.

09:34 - The guys talk about the possibility of a "second deadline" for the Winter Meetings to force clubs to make more moves.

11:06 - Luke: "I wanted to see Machado and Harper walking down the strip and making it rain!"

12:45 - Cubs still have so much to address. Some Cubs fans are starting to get a little itchy. Teams in the division are making moves. What about us?

14:45 - Question: Is Anthony Rizzo the third-best 1st baseman in the Central Division?

15:50 - Prediction time: What's biggest move the Cubs will make before opening day? Kap believes that Ian Happ will not be a Cub before the regular season starts.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Bulls pack more drama on team flight to San Antonio

jbb.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls pack more drama on team flight to San Antonio

As the Bulls said goodbye to Mexico City Friday afternoon, the beleaguered front office duo of John Paxson and Gar Forman found themselves the subject of more national media criticism.

Turns out their puzzling signing of Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40 million dollar contract back in July has already been deemed a failure, and the team is exploring trade options to find Parker a new home.

Head Coach Jim Boylen told reporters following the Bulls’ loss to Orlando Thursday night that it’s not possible to play 3 power forwards and Parker didn’t match up well in his 4 minute stint off the bench at the small forward position. So, at least for now, Parker will watch from the sideline while rookie Chandler Hutchison gets the back-p minutes behind Justin Holiday.

Of course, like with everything else in this ill-fated 2nd year of the Bulls’ rebuild, Parker’s status is subject to change.The Trib’s KC Johnson reports leading scorer Zach LaVine is doubtful for Saturday’s game in San Antonio after injuring his left ankle in the closing seconds of Thursday’s loss to Orlando. Johnson reports LaVine is likely to sit out at least the final 2 games of the road trip. So, with Zach out, Boylen might decide he needs to have Parker’s scoring ability on the court despite the defensive issues.

Boylen continues to demand full commitment to his insistence on tough-minded, physical play at both ends and according to media reports, he hasn’t been satisfied with Parker’s effort on defense and has been thinking about taking the former No. 2 overall pick out of the rotation ever since he took over as head coach on December 3rd.

The problem is the Bulls should have known about Parker’s defensive issues when they signed him back in July, especially since the Bucks quickly found out he wouldn’t be able to defend playing at the small forward position during his 4 year run in Milwaukee. Fred Hoiberg came to the same conclusion early in training camp, and now Boylen has decided he can’t find a place for Parker either.

The Bulls did protect themselves in the Parker signing by making the 2nd year of the deal a team option, but the problem is, they still have 53 games left this season, and unless they can find another team to take Parker off their hands they’re sitting on another potential locker room powder keg at a time when the team desperately needs to steer clear of more controversy.

You can bet any team considering a trade for Parker will try to unload an equally bad contract with multiple years remaining, so this drama could continue well into the new year. And, even if the front office is successful in finding a taker for Parker, another failure in the free agent market with a hometown player could damage their chances of adding a big-time difference maker when they go back into the marketplace next July.

Meanwhile, the NBA schedule demands the Bulls keep playing their scheduled games, and after leaving the 7,000 foot altitude of Mexico City, they’ll head to San Antonio, where the Spurs are suddenly playing their best basketball of the season, winning four games in a row by double digits.

Rudy Gay is suddenly playing like the guy we saw back in Memphis, taking advantage of bigger players at the power forward position to drive to the basket or get off his deadly baseline jumper. DeMar DeRozan continues to give San Antonio a little bit of everything at the small forward spot, while fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge keeps putting up double-doubles even though he’s slowed noticeably as he reaches the later stage of his career.

Gregg Popovich has been forced to juggle his backcourt rotation after losing Tony Parker, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili in the offseason, but former Michigan State standout Bryn Forbes is starting to play more consistently, and the Spurs are also getting quality minutes from veteran Patty Mills and 2nd year guard Derrick White.

Plus, former Bull Marco Belinelli is back for a 2nd tour of duty in San Antonio to give Pop some pop off the bench.

So, what can the Bulls do to have a chance in San Antonio on Saturday?

1. REBOUND, REBOUND, REBOUND.  We mention this one three times for the sake of emphasis.The Bulls got outrebounded 43-33 in the loss to Orlando, and their failure to control the defensive boards has been one of main factors in their dismal record to this point.

2. DEFEND THE 3 POINT LINE. Even though Popovich insists the 3-point shot has ruined the game of basketball, he still features that weapon as a big part of his offense. All of his backcourt players are threats from beyond the arc, as are Gay and back-up bigs Dante Cunningham and Davis Bertans.

3. CUT DOWN TURNOVERS. Boylen was very candid Thursday night in telling reporters how poor the Bulls have been with late-game execution. So many of the turnovers have been of the careless variety, with the Bulls giving the ball away 27 times in their 2nd half collapse against Sacramento on Monday. Turning the ball over against a smart, veteran team like San Antonio is a recipe for another blowout loss.

It will be a 7:30 start in San Antonio tomorrow night, so we invite you to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and me for Bulls Pregame Live at 7 pm on NBC Sports Chicago and the My Teams by NBC Sports app. Then, after the final buzzer, flip back to NBC Sports Chicago for reaction and analysis on Bulls Postgame Live, followed by Bulls Outsiders.