White Sox

Walk, fielder's choice all Giants need to top Garza, Cubs

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Walk, fielder's choice all Giants need to top Garza, Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain pitched into the ninth inning on the way to winning his fifth straight start and the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Saturday.Aubrey Huff drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 1 in the sixth, then San Francisco went ahead on an RBI fielder's choice by Joaquin Arias on which Huff broke up a would-be double play. Huff produced his first RBI since April 16 and just his fifth this season after he spent a stint on the disabled list with anxiety disorder and is no longer a regular.David DeJesus homered but it wasn't enough to help the Cubs avoid their ninth straight road loss. It is Chicago's longest skid away from Wrigley Field since also dropping nine in a row from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10, 2006.Cain (6-2) was his vintage self on turn-back-the-clock to 1912 for the Giants, playing in the New York Giants' white uniforms with dark blue pinstripes. The Cubs wore head-to-toe navy blue and the scoreboard was black-and-white sans video in the spirit of the Polo Grounds.Cain allowed a leadoff walk to Starlin Castro in the ninth before manager Bruce Bochy turned to Javier Lopez, who induced DeJesus' double play before Sergio Romo recorded the final out for his first save in his first chance. Cain struck out seven and waved after walking off to a standing ovation after an impressive 117-pitch day. He moved his career record to 75-75, the right-hander's first time at .500 since he was 17-17 in 2007. He stayed strong in the late innings, getting through a 1-2-3 seventh on seven pitches to put him at 94.Melky Cabrera singled in the sixth for his majors-leading 81st hit for San Francisco, which began the day four games back of the first-place Dodgers for their closest spot to division-leading Los Angeles since May 8. The Dodgers won 6-2 at Colorado earlier Saturday.DeJesus hit a deep solo home run to right-center with two outs in the fourth to put the Cubs on the board. After "hours and hours of deliberating," manager Dale Sveum dropped his primary leadoff hitter down to the third hole for the first time this year in an effort to spark the struggling Cubs.DeJesus' second homer of the year was the 16th by an opponent this year at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park compared to just six by the Giants, who still won for the 10th time in their last 14 home games. The clout also snapped an 18-inning scoreless stretch by Cain against the Cubs.Matt Garza (2-4) struck out six and walked one in six innings, allowing two runs on five hits but lost his third straight start. The right-hander is winless in his last five outings since beating the Phillies on the road April 29.

Tony Campana had two hits batting leadoff for the Cubs, who had a three-game winning streak snapped in Friday night's 4-3 defeat. The run came on the heels of a 12-game losing streak.Angel Pagan singled in the sixth and matched a franchise record with a 26-game home hitting streak. Fitting he did so in a retro uniform, as he tied Mike Donlin's mark set from Aug. 28, 1905, to May 5, 1906.Giants closer Santiago Casilla said he felt "bien, bien, bien" after injuring his right knee in the ninth inning Friday night. An MRI on his knee showed only a bruise and the right-hander was listed as day to day.NOTES: Cain's first career complete game came vs. the Cubs on Sept. 9, 2005. ... Neither team actually played on June 2, 1912. ... Cubs 3B Ian Stewart sat out with a sore left wrist before pinch-hitting in the eighth. Sveum said he was unlikely to start him before Monday's game at Milwaukee. ... The Giants expect Cabrera to be a top candidate for NL Player of the Month for May, to be announced Sunday. He batted .429 with seven doubles, five triples, three home runs and 17 RBIs. ... 1B Huff to former 1B J.T. Snow: "Did they take BP in 1912?" Snow: "Yeah, and they also took infield." ... The game drew a sellout crowd of 41,239 - roughly 7,000 more fans than the Polo Grounds held in 1912. ... LHP Barry Zito (4-2) pitches Sunday for San Francisco against Travis Wood (0-1).Box scoreCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Will the White Sox make a big splash at the Winter Meetings?

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AP

Will the White Sox make a big splash at the Winter Meetings?

SAN DIEGO — At the GM meetings last month in Arizona, White Sox vice president Kenny Williams teased that the team was going to do more business than usual.

We found out later that the White Sox met with Yasmani Grandal while out in the desert. And when the free-agent catcher got the richest deal in club history the following week, it was a sign the White Sox were serious about their intent to be aggressive and make some big splashes this winter ahead of a possible transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020.

The Grandal signing earned nothing short of rave reviews, but there’s still an awful lot on the to-do list for general manager Rick Hahn and his front office as the Winter Meetings get going here in Southern California. The White Sox have designs on adding a pair of starting pitchers to their rotation and landing an everyday right fielder. An everyday-type DH could also be in the cards, though Grandal’s arrival has at least provided a more realistic internal option in the form of a multi-player rotation. Bullpen help is never turned away.

Much of that could be addressed this week, with ample opportunities to cross those items off the list, even if in less headline-grabbing style. You’ll remember back to last year’s Winter Meetings, when the White Sox filled a hole in their rotation by trading for Ivan Nova.

But with no disrespect to Mr. Nova, most fans are waiting for a much bigger splash.

It’s what the White Sox tried to get done before they flew out to the West Coast. Just last week they reportedly made the highest bid in the Zack Wheeler sweepstakes, only for the 29-year-old free agent to take less money to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. Cries of “here we go again” from the fan base — still stinging from the way things played out with Manny Machado a winter ago — were quickly quelled by the financial details, and it sure seems there aren’t any more excuses for anyone to stick to the old talking point that the White Sox are unwilling or unable to spend. Wheeler’s deal, had he accepted it, would have broken Grandal’s weeks-old record for the most expensive contract in club history.

So will someone else actually take the White Sox money this week?

Certainly the possibilities are out there. Still searching for starting pitching, the White Sox could turn to Madison Bumgarner, who they’ve been connected to since Wheeler’s decision. The 30-year-old three-time World Series champ could play a Jon Lester type role in a different Chicago rebuild. Though plenty have expressed concerns over what effect his 1,948.1 combined regular-season and postseason innings will have moving forward. There are reasons to be skeptical, just as there are reasons to be optimistic.

If the White Sox don’t want to play at the tippy top of the starting-pitching market — they haven’t been heavily linked to either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg — then Bumgarner is the biggest free-agent pitching splash out there. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel are in a similar strata of this free-agent market, but perhaps neither would generate quite as much buzz as arguably the greatest pitcher in World Series history.

The White Sox could also get splashy in their quest to fill the vacancy in right field. Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna are the two biggest names on the free-agent outfield market, and either would slot into the middle of the White Sox order. Neither would make for an ideal defensive selection, considering Castellanos’ ugly defensive stats in right field (which might exaggerate that reputation) and the fact that Ozuna is a left fielder who didn’t play a lick of right during his two years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Both, however, could make a big offensive impact. Ozuna had a ludicrously good season playing for the Miami Marlins in 2017, while the White Sox are plenty familiar with what Castellanos can do after he bludgeoned them in recent seasons with the division-rival Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox could potentially go off the board and chase someone outside of their stated positional needs, Hahn leaving everything on the table when he discussed his offseason approach at length last month. But neither paying a huge sum for Anthony Rendon nor coughing up prospects for Mookie Betts seems too likely at the moment. The fun thing about the Winter Meetings, though, is what seems likely or unlikely can change in an instant.

Speaking of trades, while Hahn signaled the White Sox have little interest in dealing their prized prospects for short-term gain, that market could provide opportunities for heretofore unmentioned splashes. Who knows if the White Sox have any interest in the biggest names being speculated about — Betts, Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, etc. — but they’ve reportedly been chatting with the Los Angeles Dodgers about Joc Pederson. After supposedly trying and failing to get him in a trade last winter, his arrival on the South Side would probably be splashy enough, considering he had a career year at the dish in 2019 that included 36 home runs.

After last year’s Machado and Bryce Harper bonanzas, expectations have been raised. After the collective breakout of so many of the White Sox core players in 2019, expectations have been raised. The White Sox seem to have the ingredients to make their long-awaited transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020. Money allocated for free agents is one of those ingredients. While there’s more than one way to build a championship roster, including leaning heavily on the wealth of young talent already in the White Sox possession, those raised expectations have fans craving a splash.

So will the White Sox cannonball into the Pacific Ocean this week? Stay tuned.

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Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

The Bears did their part to keep hope alive for a playoff berth in Week 14, defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night and moving to 7-6 on the season. Unfortunately, they didn't get the help they needed around the league to enter Week 15's game against the Green Bay Packers with legitimate post-season juice.

The Minnesota Vikings, who currently hold the final NFC wild card that the Bears are chasing, handled their business against the Detroit Lions with their 20-7 victory in a game that was never close. Now 9-4, the Vikings' have a two-game lead over the Bears with one head-to-head matchup remaining in Week 17. Chicago needs to defeat Minnesota in the season finale and hope the Vikings lose one of their other two remaining games against the Chargers and Packers. Otherwise, it's on to 2020.

The bigger blow to the Bears' playoff hopes came in Los Angeles, where the Rams moved to 8-5 with their 28-12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. This was a game Chicago needed the Rams to lose, considering they hold the head-to-head tie-breaker and play only one more game on their schedule that seems like a likely loss (49ers in Week 16). Los Angeles' other two games are against the struggling Cowboys and lowly Cardinals, and if they win both and end the year with the same record as the Bears, they'll have the advantage because of Chicago's loss in Week 11.

So what does all this mean? Week 14's results have the Bears' chances to make the playoffs at just 2%, according to FiveThirtyEight.  Essentially, nothing's changed, even after a win. Football Insiders is a little more optimistic; they have Chicago's chances at 4.4%.

Sunday's game against the Packers has meaning. The Bears are still alive, and a victory in Green Bay coupled with some upset losses by the Vikings and Rams could change the playoff picture quite a bit. If both Minnesota and Los Angeles lose, Chicago's playoff chances jump to 14%, per the New York Times' playoff predictor.

One game at a time. It's a mantra that's worked for the Bears over the last month of the season, and one they'll continue to preach until there's nothing left to play for.

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