- Created on 23 April 2013
Blake Tekotte was picked off second base by catcher Carlos Santana with two on and none out. Moments later, Matt Thornton threw the ball into center field for a pivotal error.
It was an all-too-familiar scene for White Sox manager Robin Ventura just 19 games into the season.
"You just keep shooting yourself in the foot," Ventura said after Chicago lost 3-2 to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night. "You give major league teams opportunities and they're going to take advantage of them. And until we clean it up, we're going to lose games. It's just that simple. It's not hard to figure out."
Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a clutch two-run single in his return to the lineup and Justin Masterson pitched seven effective innings, helping Cleveland to its third consecutive win since a five-game losing streak. The Indians also improved to 3-1 against the White Sox this season.
"It was nice to win a ballgame. We've got some big home runs, but to group together some singles, that was huge," manager Terry Francona said.
Cleveland had runners on first and second with one out in the eighth when Thornton (0-1) threw wildly to second while trying to pick off Drew Stubbs. Both runners moved up as the ball went into center field.
"It was a set play, spun and threw it between Stubbs' legs. No chance for us to get that ball," Thornton said. "So, I gave the game away."
Jason Kipnis struck out for the second out, but Cabrera hit a liner to center to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead. He clapped his hands as he rounded first following the big hit.
"I love those situations," Cabrera said.
Dylan Axelrod pitched six sparkling innings for Chicago, and Conor Gillaspie had a solo homer. Hector Gimenez hit a tiebreaking double in the fourth, but left in the seventh after he was hit on his lower left shin by a pitch from Masterson.
"I think it's going to be OK," Gimenez said. "Let's see how I feel tomorrow. I'll be here early and just be ready."
The slumping White Sox have lost four straight and 10 of 13. They managed just five hits and the baserunning blunder by Tekotte, who came in to run for Gimenez, was followed by an inning-ending double play from Alejandro De Aza.
"We always have confidence in our guys here," Thornton said. "Everyone's doing what they can every single day. We have a good team and believe in ourselves. We keep pulling for each other and pushing each other and stuff, so we'll be fine."
Cabrera went 1 for 4 in his first game since he bruised his left wrist when he fell down the steps on the way to the dugout in Houston on Saturday. He rested during a 5-4 victory on Sunday, but that didn't stop his teammates from making a tape outline of a body with Cabrera's No. 13 on it on the stairs where he fell.
Cabrera took it in stride, laughing and taking pictures of their handiwork. He is off to a slow start and remains in search of his first multihit game, but no one seems all that concerned.
"Maybe this is the start hopefully of him getting hot," said Francona, who celebrated his 54th birthday, "because he's going to get really hot at some point."
Masterson (4-1) walked four, but managed to hold the White Sox to two runs and four hits. The right-hander also tossed a five-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Chicago on April 12.
"The boys played great defense," he said. "Again, Santana was exceptional, especially making that play at second base."
Vinnie Pestano worked a perfect eighth and Chris Perez pitched around a one-out single while earning his third save in four opportunities.
Gillaspie led off the second with a drive to right for his first homer since he was acquired in a February trade with San Francisco. Then he played a role in Chicago's second run when he walked with one out in the fourth.
Gillaspie was erased when Alexei Ramirez bounced into a fielder's choice, but Gimenez followed with a double to deep left-center to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead. Masterson struck out Jordan Danks for the second time to limit the damage.
Axelrod allowed one run and three hits, struck out four and walked two.
"I can't ask myself to do anything else but keep us in it and be ahead coming out of the game," he said. "It's unfortunate that we're in a little bit of a rut. We just need to find a way to get it done."
- Created on 22 April 2013
NEW YORK — The Chicago Bulls put together a couple of rallies while taking three of four from the Brooklyn Nets during the regular season.
There was no chance for any comeback on Saturday. Not with the defense lacking and Joakim Noah limping.
The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference the past two seasons, the Bulls failed to match the Nets' energy and trailed by as many as 28 points in a 106-89 loss in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Noah stopped short of giving Brooklyn all the credit.
"I feel like it's more us. We played so poorly. We didn't play well offensively. We didn't execute," Noah said. "Playoffs is all about executing. We didn't execute the defensive game plan and we didn't execute the offensive game plan."
Battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Noah managed just four points and five rebounds. The All-Star was a game-time decision, but opted to give it a try and played 14 minutes.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, and Nate Robinson scored 17.
"It was the end of the first (quarter) and they hit us with a haymaker, got us back on our heels," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So end of the first, second quarter, poor defense, poor intensity, poor energy on offense. You can't win like that."
Chicago is still without Derrick Rose, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last year's playoff opener. Thibodeau hasn't ruled out the former MVP returning in this series, noting the end would be two weeks from Saturday if it went the distance.
It's been a trying season while dealing with a slew of injuries for key players, and Noah expects the Bulls to come out fighting in Game 2 on Monday night at Barclays Center.
"You know what, we've got to bounce back," he said. "No time to feel sorry for ourselves. We've showed resiliency all year and I think we've got a lot of basketball left.
"We dealt with adversity all year. We got smacked in the face and it's on us to bounce back."
Deron Williams scored 22 points, Brook Lopez had 21 and the Nets made 16 of 20 shots in the second period on their way to 60 percent in the first half.
"That's a hell of a performance," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said.
Joe Johnson finished with 16 for the Nets, who made their successful first season in Brooklyn even better with a victory in their first playoff appearance since 2007.
The Nets wore their road black uniforms and fans were encouraged to wear black as well to make it a "blackout" for the first major postseason game in Brooklyn since Oct. 10, 1956, when the Yankees beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series at Ebbets Field.
The Nets then came out white-hot, shooting nearly 56 percent and putting six players in double figures.
"Everybody was excited for this game," Williams said. "I think it has been a long time coming for this franchise, this organization with the move and everything. We expected to be here, so we came out playing like we wanted to be here ... we were locked in today."
The sellout crowd of 17,732 was roaring long before Nets reserve Jerry Stackhouse, who wears the No. 42 that Jackie Robinson once sported in Brooklyn, sang the national anthem.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who committed hundreds of millions on player contracts last summer expecting a longtime loser in New Jersey to win big in Brooklyn, came on the court to thank fans for their passion and support, telling them that this playoff appearance was only the beginning.
And what a beginning it was.
Williams even had a reverse dunk in the third quarter, showing how much better he feels after ankle pain had him playing well below his usual level before the All-Star break, when he could barely jump.
Gerald Wallace and C.J. Watson each scored 14 for the Nets, while Andray Blatche had 12.
Chicago won three of four during the regular season, holding the Nets to 87.5 points per game, but Brooklyn had 89 after the third quarter of this one.
"It was disappointing," Noah said. "We didn't play well. We didn't come out with the right mindset. They scored way too many points in the paint. We didn't execute well offensively. But you know what, we've got to bounce back. No time to feel sorry for ourselves. We've showed resiliency all year and I think we've got a lot of basketball left."
- Created on 18 April 2013
With their star sidelined all season and just about everyone else in their rotation banged up at some point, the Chicago Bulls did not take the easy road to the playoffs.
They got there, though — even if the outside expectations are a little lower this time.
Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 15 rebounds and the Bulls locked up the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 95-92 victory over the Washington Wizards in the regular-season finale Wednesday night.
Kirk Hinrich added 18 points and Nazr Mohammed added a season-high 17 for the Bulls, who will face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
Chicago finished with the best record in the East the past two years but has ceded that distinction to the defending champion Miami Heat.
Considering all they've overcome, they'll take it.
"We proved this year that we can beat the best and lose to the worst," Joakim Noah said. "Up-and-down year. It's been a tough year. I'm proud of the way we've handled so much adversity."
They've dealt with the soap opera surrounding Derrick Rose and his season-long recovery from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, not to mention a long line of injuries to other key players.
Yet here they are, about as healthy as they've been all season and hoping to stick around and not make this a one-and-done playoff appearance.
They come in on a winning note, although this game sure wasn't easy.
They had to withstand A.J. Price going off for a career-high 24 points and John Wall finishing with 23 after a slow start, not to mention several big comebacks when the Wizards looked as though they were ready to be put away.
The Bulls led by 21 late in the first quarter but allowed Washington to pull within a point in the second. Chicago then got the lead back up to 11 in the third, but the Wizards rallied again.
This time, Washington tied it at 85 on a 3-pointer by Price with just over three minutes left before the Bulls responded with seven unanswered points. Richard Hamilton fed Jimmy Butler for an alley-oop dunk, Hinrich hit a floater and Luol Deng nailed a 3 — after missing five of his first six field goal attempts — to make it 92-85 with 1:42 remaining.
The Wizards cut it to 94-92 on a 3-pointer by Wall and a floater by Price with 26.1 seconds left. Hinrich then had a chance to make it a two-possession game but missed the first free throw before hitting the second to make it 95-92 with 17.1 seconds left.
Taj Gibson blocked a 3-point attempt from the wing by Price with 10 seconds left, and Wall put up an air ball from long range at the buzzer with Butler guarding him, preserving the win for Chicago.
"I was surprised (Gibson) got a piece of it," Price said. "I told him he's so long after he blocked the shot. I thought I had room. Had about four feet, but he still got a piece of it. Great defensive play by him."
The Bulls appear to be healing with the playoffs set to begin.
- Created on 19 April 2013
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said he was glad Thursday's game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field was played.
That was pretty much the only thing he had to be glad about.
Starter Alexi Ogando was chased in the third inning, Texas batters got only four hits and the Rangers lost to the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on a soggy afternoon.
Despite torrential rains that caused citywide floods, the teams were able to play in an occasional drizzle. The Cubs and Texas were rained out Wednesday.
Alfonso Soriano hit his first home run of the season and Anthony Rizzo also homered for the Cubs.
Even with outcome, Washington was OK that the teams played.
"Wish for better results, but I am," Washington said. "It's one game we don't have to play when we return."
Ogando (2-1), however, might have liked the day off.
Before Thursday, Ogando had been 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA in eight career April starts. He had allowed just two earned runs in 16 2-3 innings this season.
Ogando lasted only 2 1-3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits while walking two.
The Texas right-hander said he was slipping on the mound, and had members of the grounds crew try to fix it during the Cubs' four-run third.
"On top of being out of control today, that mound didn't really help at all today," Ogando said.
"It was difficult to command my fastball and that's going to affect all my other pitches," Ogando said. "That's why I had a difficult time today."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Ogando "looked a little out of whack."
"And we probably had a little bit to do with that," he said.
- Created on 17 April 2013
TORONTO — Josh Johnson's best start of the season wasn't enough to get a win for the Blue Jays.
Dayan Viciedo doubled home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning and the Chicago White Sox rallied to beat Toronto 4-3 on Tuesday.
Johnson was roughed up on a cold, wet day in Detroit last Thursday, allowing six runs and seven hits in 1 1-3 innings — the shortest start of his career.
White Sox slugger Adam Dunn figured that outing was an anomaly.
"I was telling the guys before the game 'Don't put too much stock in what you saw in the Detroit game,'" Dunn said. "You won't ever see that.
"Tonight was the guy that I remember," Dunn continued. "In my opinion, he's one of the best in the game."
Indeed, the climate-controlled environment of Rogers Centre seemed to suit Johnson much better.
He gave up two runs and four hits in a season-high seven innings. He walked two and struck out eight, also a season high.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Johnson was "terrific," and Chicago's Paul Konerko agreed.
"He was throwing 93 to 95 miles per hour with two different breaking balls that were really good," Konerko said. "Exceptional. His stuff was well above average tonight."
Johnson said he benefited from being aggressive with his pitches.
"I was just more aggressive overall," he said. "Fastball, curveball, slider, everything was going, not just to the catcher but through the catcher, through the zone. That was the main focus for this start and it worked out."
What didn't work out so well for Toronto was the ninth inning. Reliever Steve Delabar walked leadoff man Dunn, who was replaced by pinch runner Dewayne Wise. Konerko followed with a walk and Conor Gillaspie struck out before Viciedo drove in Wise with a double over the head of center fielder Emilio Bonifacio.
Alexei Ramirez was intentionally walked and Darren Oliver came on to face Hector Gimenez, who drove in Konerko with a sacrifice fly to right. Konerko slid home safely when the throw from Davis missed wide.
"I'm never really confident when it comes to me trying to outrun a ball," Konerko said. "I ran as fast as I could. Obviously the throw was off line a little bit. Even then it was still close."
Matt Lindstrom (1-0) got one out for the win and Addison Reed finished for his fifth save in as many opportunities.
Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit consecutive singles off Reed to begin the ninth, just the second and third hits he's allowed this season. Brett Lawrie followed with a sacrifice fly, but Reed got Rajai Davis and Maicer Izturis to fly out.
Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia hit solo home runs for the Blue Jays, who couldn't hold on after taking a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Delabar (1-1) allowed two runs and one hit in 1 1-3 innings.
The White Sox opened the scoring in the second, loading the bases with two singles and a walk before Konerko scored from third on a wild pitch by Johnson.
Rasmus tied it in the bottom half with a two-out blast to center, his fourth.
Arencibia put the Blue Jays in front with a two-out homer in the sixth, his fifth of the season and second in two days.
Johnson had retired 10 straight White Sox batters but his streak ended quickly in the seventh as he fell behind 3-0 on Konerko before allowing a game-tying homer to left. For Konerko, the drive was his third.
"His stuff was really good tonight," Konerko said of Johnson. "I got lucky to get a couple of fastballs that didn't have a lot of movement."
Lawrie made his first start of the season after being activated off the 15-day disabled list Monday. Lawrie had been sidelined since early March with a strained left ribcage muscle suffered at the World Baseball Classic.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game suffering from a sore back and flu-like symptoms.
"He wasn't ready to pinch hit," Gibbons said. "Hopefully he'll be ready (Wednesday)."
Chicago's Dylan Axelrod allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings, walked one and struck out four.