Category Archives: MLB

The Bernstein Brief: Where Was Everybody?

By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist (CBS) A beautiful night in Milwaukee on Thursday had the Miller Park roof open so that 41,900 fans could enjoy the first game of a September series between the Brewers and Cubs that could go a long way in deciding the NL Central. It was an ideal evening for Brewers fans to be in full voice, exhorting their young upstarts against the evil empire from across the border in a show of force, and similarly perfect for the usual tide of lighter blue to take advantage of less traffic and more available parking to see their reigning champion Cubs in person. And yet there were plenty of seats to be had. The official tally was 35,114, but the many no-shows in that number were apparent with every TV cutaway that showed a park far less than full. Sun-Times columnist Steve Greenberg tweeted beforehand “At Miller Park, where what looks like < 10,000 Brewers fans are out on a gorgeous night to see their overachieving team take on the #Cubs.” The usual number of Cubs fans were audible and visible, but it was astonishing to see that a team starting a crucial series in an unlikely pennant race couldn’t produce a proper crowd. Some speculate that distatste over visiting fans could be the culprit, which would be a bitter truth indeed. Milwaukee Record writer Kyle Lobner believes that the “Wrigley North” phenomenon has created a double negative there, writing Wednesday that: “Hostile home crowds have become noticeable for the team, clearly apparent on broadcasts and actively serve as a deterrent to many Brewers fans. Local fans’ decisions to avoid the ballpark and/or resell their tickets for Cubs games create a snowball effect, causing more fans to do the same.” So that should mean even more secondary-market value for Cubs fans wanting to make the trip, but there weren’t enough of those to fill the vast swaths of open space, a strange sight for a meaningful and tightly contested game in the heat of both record-setting weather and an unexpected divisional race. Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

Cubs Rally In 9th, Beat Brewers In 10th To Drop Magic Number To 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Javier Baez grounded a tying single with two outs in the ninth inning, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the 10th and the Chicago Cubs widened their NL Central lead over Milwaukee, rallying past the Brewers, 5-3, on Thursday night. Chicago is now 4 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers after winning the opener of a four-game series. The Cubs have won eight of nine. The Cubs trailed 3-2 when Ian Happ led off the ninth by hitting a grounder that first baseman Neil Walker fielded wide of the bag. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress covered first and Happ was called safe in a close play, a ruling upheld on replay. Happ moved to second on a one-out grounder and scored when Baez, down to his last strike, singled up the middle. Milwaukee was in position to win it in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with one out. But Wade Davis (4-1) struck out Domingo Santana and then, after falling behind 3-1 in the count to Orlando Arcia, came back to retire him on an easy comebacker on a full-count pitch. Davis struck out the side in the 10th. Jon Jay opened the Cubs 10th with a double and Bryant followed with his 28th homer, connecting off Oliver Drake (3-5). Anthony Rizzo hit a drive off the top of the wall in center and wound up with a triple when a crew chief review showed the ball didn’t leave the park. Santana hit 28th home run in the fourth. He doubled off Justin Wilson in the eighth, stole third and scored on Eric Thames’ single for a 3-2 lead. Jeffress took over the ninth because closer Corey Knebel had pitched three days in a day. On Wednesday night, the Brewers lost at Pittsburgh 6-4 on Adam Frazier’s walk-off homer against Knebel with two outs in the ninth. Cubs starter Jake Arrieta gave up one run and five hits over five innings in his first game since Sept. 4. The 2015 NY Cy Young winner had been sidelined by a strained right hamstring. Kyle Schwarber hit his 29th homer for the Cubs, tagging 17-game winner Zach Davies. Davis went seven innings, giving up two runs. TRAINER’S ROOM Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon says he isn’t worried about LHP Jon Lester, who won his previous three starts before losing 8-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. “I believe in Jon Lester,” Maddon said. “If he’s hurting, and from my knowledge he’s not, I think he’s going to be fine.” UP NEXT Cubs: RHP John Lackey (11-11, 4.62 ERA) looks to rebound from his shortest start of the season (4 2-3 innings) and ejection for arguing balls and strikes Sept. 15 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 14 career starts against the Brewers. Brewers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 2.38 ERA) aims for his fourth quality outing in his seventh career start and first against the Cubs. (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)

White Sox Bullpen Covers 8 2/3 innings To Beat Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Volstad and Chicago’s bullpen covered 8 2/3 innings after starter Carson Fulmer left with a blister, and the White Sox beat the Houston Astros, 3-1, on Thursday night. Volstad (1-0) got his first win since 2012 with the Chicago Cubs. He allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings, and six relievers kept Houston scoreless from there. Juan Minaya worked around two walks in the ninth for his fifth save. Tim Anderson homered to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games, and Kevan Smith added two hits for Chicago. The victory snaps a six-game winning streak for the Astros, who clinched the AL West on Sunday but are still making a push for the league’s best record. Chicago built a 2-0 lead against Dallas Keuchel (13-5) by the third inning. Brian McCann got Houston within 1 on a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. Anderson launched a towering shot to center to begin the eighth inning. He has two homers, three doubles and six RBIs during this streak. Fulmer walked two before leaving because of the blister on his right index finger. Volstad took over and allowed three hits while striking out two. It was the longest relief outing of his career and lowered his ERA to 1.08. Volstad had mostly pitched in Triple-A since making 21 starts with the Cubs in 2012. Avisail Garcia and Smith hit consecutive singles with one out in the second before a two-out single by Willy Garcia loaded the bases. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead when Rymer Liriano walked, but Keuchel struck out the next two batters to limit the damage. Yoan Moncada walked to start the third before a double by Jose Abreu. Garcia drew a walk to load the bases, and Moncada scored when Smith grounded into a double play to make it 2-0. McCann sent Volstad’s first pitch of the third inning into the second deck in right field to cut the lead to 2-1. Keuchel faced the minimum over his last three innings, retiring seven in a row and then getting a double play to end the sixth after a single by Smith with one out in the inning. The left-hander yielded five hits and two runs while walking three in six innings. TRAINER’S ROOM White Sox: DH Matt Davidson was out of the lineup with a low-grade fever. Astros: RHP Lance McCullers could start Sunday after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday. McCullers hasn’t pitched since he was scratched from his scheduled start on Sept. 13 because of arm fatigue. “Obviously the hope is that he’s going to be able to make a start soon but we have a couple of days to decide,” manager A.J. Hinch said. UP NEXT White Sox: Reynaldo Lopez (2-3, 4.84 ERA) will start for Chicago in the opener of a three-game series against Kansas City on Friday. Lopez allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings of a win over Detroit in his last start. Astros: Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.50) is scheduled to start for Houston in the first of three games against the Angels on Friday. Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 26 strikeouts in three starts since being traded from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 31. (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)  

Anybody Going?: The Lo-Down – 9/21

Hour 1
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Levi’s Stadium (Photo by: Dave Mason)

In the first hour of the Lo-Down the guys discussed what Major League Baseball should do to make it safer for fans, after a toddler was injured at Yankees Stadium yesterday. Next, Steve Berman, Bay Area Sports Guy, joined the guys to talk about the San Francisco 49ers and the trouble they have at Levi’s Stadium to bring in fans.  All that and more on The Lo-Down exclusively on Sports 1140 KHTK daily from 12-3PM.   Hour 2
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(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images)

In the second hour of the show the guys started with, “One Small Thought,” and broke down the AFC.  The guys also talked about Richard Sherman’s comments about injury reports, and the real reason why teams are required to have them. They also talked about Charles Barkley’s comments about the schedule changes in the NBA.  All that and more on The Lo-Down exclusively on Sports 1140 KHTK daily from 12-3PM.   Hour 3
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers fends off linebacker K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter game at CenturyLink Field on September 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

In the final hour of the Lo-Down Nate Lundy, The Fantasy Football Hour, joined the guys for their weekly segment to get your Fantasy Football team set.  The guys then previewed some of the NFL games this Sunday, and talked about tonight’s Thursday Night Football game and the attendance problem of the 49ers.  All that and more on The Lo-Down exclusively on Sports 1140 KHTK daily from 12-3PM.   You can Subscribe, Rate, and Review The Lo-Down Podcast HERE, and you can Like Us on Facebook.

Cubs’ Kris Bryant Supports Bears Starting Mitchell Trubisky: ‘Give Him A Chance’

(CBS) One Chicago sports star has weighed in on the great debate surrounding the individual whom the city hopes is the next great star here. Reigning National League MVP and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant supports the idea of the Bears starting rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. “I mean, give him a chance,” Bryant said with a laugh when the topic was brought up by hosts Jason Goff and Anthony Herron on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon. “You’ll never know unless he’s out there playing.” Bryant didn’t provide much more analysis, but he echoed a belief that many around Chicago have as the Bears have started 0-2 with Mike Glennon under center. Glennon struggled mightily in a 29-7 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday, committing three first-half turnovers that doomed the Bears. The No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, Trubisky impressed in the preseason and currently sits at No. 2 on the depth chart. The Bears have made clear Glennon will start when they host the Steelers (2-0) on Sunday at Soldier Field. “That will definitely get your heart pumping a little bit — everybody knows what I did in my first game,” Bryant said of making a professional debut, referencing his 0-for-4 game with three strikeouts in his big league debut back in April 2015.

Cubs’ Kris Bryant Isn’t A Sabermetics Guy

(CBS) Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant isn’t into sabermetics. The reigning National League MVP and one of baseball’s young stars, Bryant hears plenty about exit velocities, launch angles and advanced numbers. When he does, he more or less purposely ignores such information. “It takes the kid out of the game,” Bryant said in an interview with Jason Goff and Anthony Herron on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon. “When I was growing up, there was no who cares how hard you hit the ball or whatever. If you got a hit, you were happy. There was no exit velocity or any of this launch angle or these new stats that they’re coming up with. It’s just making the game — some like it — but it’s just, some of it takes the joy and stuff out of the game and why you started to play. Sometimes that’s frustrating. I do realize that’s kind of where the game is going. It’s up to me if I really want to look at that stuff or not. Sometimes I’ll look at it, just to see exactly what it is. But half the time, I don’t understand it. So that’s a good thing.” Bryant simply doesn’t want to be overloaded with information at any point in time, preferring to rely on his instincts. “It’s everywhere,” Bryant said. “If you want something, you can have all the information you want. But for me, I don’t need to look at that to make myself feel better or try to change something. I know if I hit the ball hard or if I don’t hit the ball hard or if I put a good swing on it or I didn’t. I don’t need a number to tell me that you’re doing this or that wrong or any of that. I chose not to look at that. It’s just way too much information at times. “You don’t want to go up to the plate thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, my exit velocity is at 87.3, I have to hit this one 100 miles per hour to bring it up.’ There’s so much information nowadays that, you know, that’s kind of been a goal of mine this year, is to just forget about all that craziness and let the people on TV and stuff talk about that and let me, I just want to go out there and play. “I don’t even know how it all works.”

Levine: Cubs Playing Best Baseball When It Matters Most

By Bruce Levine– CHICAGO (CBS) — The matchup of the season for the NL Central crown is upon us. The Cubs and Brewers open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday evening, with Chicago holding a 3.5-game lead — and four in the all-important loss column. A quality pitching matchup awaits in the opener, as Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (14-9, 3.48 ERA) faces Brewers right-hander Zach Davies (17-9, 3.89). Arrieta’s return to form will be crucial for the Cubs, as he hasn’t pitched since Sept. 4 because of a strained hamstring. Arrieta is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against Milwaukee this season. The Brewers lead 8-7 in the season series against the Cubs but are 2-4 in games played at Miller Park. The Cubs’ division lead has been earned with a strong second half in which they’ve gone 41-22, the second-best record in baseball behind the Indians, who recently had a 22-game winning streak. Chicago trailed Milwaukee by 5.5 games at the All-Star break. Manager Joe Maddon has sensed a different vibe from his players lately. “The offense has picked up a bit to help our staff out,” Maddon said. “We have had better at-bats, and the guys are finding ways to win. The guys seem totally engaged. That is all important, but we know that pitching drives the engine.” Chicago’s map to the playoffs continues with four games at St. Louis after this four-game series at Milwaukee. The Cubs’ magic number to clinch the NL Central is eight, and they just need to play decent baseball down the stretch to win the NL Central. In other words, the Cubs need to avoid being dominated by the Brewers and the Cardinals. It was just a couple weekends ago that Milwaukee swept Chicago at Wrigley Field. The Cubs responded to that poor showing by going on a season-high seven-game winning streak before falling to the Rays on Wednesday night. Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have a plus-100 run differential, a number that’s second to the Indians’ plus-157 mark. The Cubs have played better defense and produced more clutching hitting in between their blowout wins. All along, the starting rotation has been the Cubs’ engine in the second half, going 31-13 with a 3.54 ERA. Winning low-scoring games separates the playoff hopefuls from the true contenders, and the Cubs have done that well all season, going 23-15 in one-run games. The Brewers have held their own in that regard as well at 22-20 in such games, which is why they haven’t gone away after fading a bit. Now, the Cubs are looking to finish those Brewers in the division race, much in the same way as they delivered the big blow to the Cardinals with a sweep last weekend. “You expect the guys to show up emotionally,” Maddon said of his club over the weekend. “They are totally invested right now, more right now than any point or time of the season. That was my concern — the mental part of it. We have caught a second wind. It appears to be true. So we must retain that the rest of the way through the regular season.” Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

Kahn: The Year Of The Long Ball

By Andrew Kahn On Tuesday, Major League Baseball set a record for home runs in a season, when Alex Gordon belted the 5,694th long ball of the year, breaking the previous high mark set in 2000. Here’s a look at how we got there (all stats through Tuesday’s games). Giancarlo Stanton has done more than anyone to contribute to the record, hitting 56 homers. He clubbed 18 in August alone, during which he hit 11 bombs in a 12-game stretch. His 53rd broke a camera and his latest smacked the Marlins sculpture. Aaron Judge leads the American League with 44 taters. He’s the Sultan of Statcast, holding the season highs for exit velocity—121 mph on a homer on June 10—and home run distance, a 495-foot blast the next day. Surprisingly, his third-deck dinger at Citi Field was measured at just 457 feet. By exit velocity, Judge has the four hardest-hit homers of the year. Another rookie, Cody Bellinger, has 38 round-trippers, part of a season record for cumulative rookie homers (according to ESPN). In total, nine rookies have at least 20 bleacher burners and more are likely to join them. Gordon and Albert Pujols are among the worst everyday players in baseball this year, but they’re both a special part of this record. Gordon, as previously mentioned, hit the record-setter, and Pujols connected for his 600th career homer earlier this season. There were other individual milestones that contributed to the unprecedented big fly barrage: Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Braun reached 300 career homers (Robinson Cano is at 299 through Tuesday); Brandon Phillips, Andrew McCutchen, and Mark Trumbo got to 200; and Jose Abreu, Logan Morrison, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Charlie Blackmon, Daniel Murphy, Josh Reddick, Jacoby Ellsbury, Trevor Plouffe, Luis Valbuena, and Howie Kendrick reached the century mark. Pitchers got in on the act, including one of the most unlikeliest sluggers, Jon Lester, who hit his first career four-bagger on the same night he notched 2,000 career strikeouts. It wasn’t on the same level as Bartolo Colon’s blast last year, but Colon has allowed 25 ding dongs this season. The “leaders” in that category are Rick Porcello and Ariel Miranda, who have both allowed 35. Sometimes, players have gone yard without leaving it. Michael Taylor hit an inside-the-park grand slam earlier this month. Adam Rosales runs as if he’s trying for the feat even when he clears the fence. Scooter Gennett and J.D. Martinez didn’t have to run at all when they hit four home runs in one game. It was only the second time in MLB history that it was done twice in the same season. Yes, balls have flown over fences more than ever this year. Bernie Brewer has been busy in Milwaukee. Citi Field’s Apple has resembled an elevator in a New York City office. And the Miami marlins have spent so much time jumping out of the water it’s amazing they’re still alive. Despite the record-setting number of home runs, the Angels Baseball Foundation is still waiting for a $1 million donation from Sherwin-Williams. On Tuesday, Justin Upton put a ball into the paint can in left-center—on a bounce. Remember, though, there’s still more than a week left in the season. The sport can build on its home run record and set another—for most strikeouts in a season. Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at andrewjkahn@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn

Kahn: The Year Of The Long Ball

By Andrew Kahn On Tuesday, Major League Baseball set a record for home runs in a season, when Alex Gordon belted the 5,694th long ball of the year, breaking the previous high mark set in 2000. Here’s a look at how we got there (all stats through Tuesday’s games). Giancarlo Stanton has done more than anyone to contribute to the record, hitting 56 homers. He clubbed 18 in August alone, during which he hit 11 bombs in a 12-game stretch. His 53rd broke a camera and his latest smacked the Marlins sculpture. Aaron Judge leads the American League with 44 taters. He’s the Sultan of Statcast, holding the season highs for exit velocity—121 mph on a homer on June 10—and home run distance, a 495-foot blast the next day. Surprisingly, his third-deck dinger at Citi Field was measured at just 457 feet. By exit velocity, Judge has the four hardest-hit homers of the year. Another rookie, Cody Bellinger, has 38 round-trippers, part of a season record for cumulative rookie homers (according to ESPN). In total, nine rookies have at least 20 bleacher burners and more are likely to join them. Gordon and Albert Pujols are among the worst everyday players in baseball this year, but they’re both a special part of this record. Gordon, as previously mentioned, hit the record-setter, and Pujols connected for his 600th career homer earlier this season. There were other individual milestones that contributed to the unprecedented big fly barrage: Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Braun reached 300 career homers (Robinson Cano is at 299 through Tuesday); Brandon Phillips, Andrew McCutchen, and Mark Trumbo got to 200; and Jose Abreu, Logan Morrison, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Charlie Blackmon, Daniel Murphy, Josh Reddick, Jacoby Ellsbury, Trevor Plouffe, Luis Valbuena, and Howie Kendrick reached the century mark. Pitchers got in on the act, including one of the most unlikeliest sluggers, Jon Lester, who hit his first career four-bagger on the same night he notched 2,000 career strikeouts. It wasn’t on the same level as Bartolo Colon’s blast last year, but Colon has allowed 25 ding dongs this season. The “leaders” in that category are Rick Porcello and Ariel Miranda, who have both allowed 35. Sometimes, players have gone yard without leaving it. Michael Taylor hit an inside-the-park grand slam earlier this month. Adam Rosales runs as if he’s trying for the feat even when he clears the fence. Scooter Gennett and J.D. Martinez didn’t have to run at all when they hit four home runs in one game. It was only the second time in MLB history that it was done twice in the same season. Yes, balls have flown over fences more than ever this year. Bernie Brewer has been busy in Milwaukee. Citi Field’s Apple has resembled an elevator in a New York City office. And the Miami marlins have spent so much time jumping out of the water it’s amazing they’re still alive. Despite the record-setting number of home runs, the Angels Baseball Foundation is still waiting for a $1 million donation from Sherwin-Williams. On Tuesday, Justin Upton put a ball into the paint can in left-center—on a bounce. Remember, though, there’s still more than a week left in the season. The sport can build on its home run record and set another—for most strikeouts in a season. Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at andrewjkahn@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn