At 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, MSU is tied with Illinois State (a team the Bears have already beat) for third place in the league. A win at Southern Illinois this weekend would give the Bears their most league wins since 1990, which was also the last time MSU made the FCS playoffs.
It’s been a roller coaster season that began with an 0-4 start in the non-conference schedule, followed by losing two of the first three MVFC games.
But somehow, some way, the Bears are on the upswing/
MSU has finally found some offense to go with its stellar defense, and the results have been three straight convincing wins. Their game this Saturday will have long-term and short-term implications.
A win, and the Bears keep their slim hopes for the p-word (I can’t bring myself to type it and jinx it) alive. The Bears would be 5-6 overall and 5-2 in the MVFC, with a regular season finale at home the following week against last-place Northern Iowa.
You wouldn’t think a .500-level record would be good enough to get into the FCS playoffs, but the Bears have a few things working to their advantage.
For one, they play in what’s usually viewed as one of the toughest conferences in the FCS. Generally, the MVFC sends multiple teams to the playoffs. That at-large bid may be a pipe dream with a 6-6 overall record, but at least at 6-2 and alone in third place, the Bears would have chance.
In speaking with the media this week, Allen said: “If we can get this one (at Southern Illinois), then we’re coming home and might be playing for something pretty specially. So we gotta make sure they know that, but also stay in the mindset that it’s one game at a time.”
So, you mean to say MSU’s season might not be over after playing Northern Iowa on Nov. 16?
“(Players) understand that,” Allen said. “We’ve made sure of that.”
The FCS playoffs also expanded from 20 to 24 teams for the 2013 season. While it may have been bleak to get a bid two or three years ago, the Bears could land in one of those new playoff spots.
Here’s a recap of how many MVFC teams have made the playoffs in the last five years. Keep in mind, between 2010-2012, there were 10 at-large spots available. There are 13 at-large spots this year.
• 2012 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Illinois State, South Dakota State
• 2011 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Northern Iowa
• 2010 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: North Dakota State, Western Illinois
• 2009 – League champ: Southern Illinois; At-large: South Dakota State *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
• 2008 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: Southern Illinois *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
In the interest of full disclosure, the easy case against the Bears’ playoff chances would be that none of those at-large teams in the last five years had a .500-level record. That just makes the Bears’ early season struggles all the more frustrating.
If they don’t somehow pull a loss from the jaws of victory against Murray State, Central Arkansas and South Dakota, they’re at least 6-4 and a near-lock for the playoffs if they win out.
Let’s play along and say the Bears win their last two games, defy the odds, and squeak into the playoffs with one of the last at-large bids.
Suddenly, your head coach goes from the hot seat to the contract-extension seat. Allen will have given the Bears their most league victories and first playoff appearance in over 20 years. He also would go into 2014 in the final year of his contract.
You have to bring him back for 2014 and let the contract play out, but now do you reward him with an extension? Does one improbable late-season run into a playoff spot outweigh seven seasons of average-to-above average football?
It would be hard for Allen to go on the recruiting trail, coming off a breakthrough playoff appearance for the school, and try to land players while they know his contract will be up after their first season at MSU.
That contract extension depends on if the Bears can win at Southern Illinois, then return home and beat Northern Iowa (something Allen has never done at MSU.) Past history would tell us that this is the classic MSU sports scenario where we slightly get our hopes up, only to be let down.
If they lose one or both of the next two games, we could see a lot of changes with MSU football before next season. A “lame duck” situation would not be ideal for anyone.
Still, it’s a refreshing change that basketball season is about to start and the football Bears still have something to play for.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
In allowing the deal to go forward, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas sided Monday with Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, who negotiated the record sale after the NBA banned the 80-year-old billionaire for making offensive remarks about blacks.
Shelly Sterling sought the probate judge’s approval to ink the deal after taking over the family trust that owns the team because doctors found Donald Sterling had signs of Alzheimer’s disease and couldn’t manage his affairs.
The judge said Shelly Sterling had negotiated a good deal and the removal of her husband as a co-trustee was in good faith and not part of a secret plan to seize the team.
Shelly Sterling hugged her lawyer and wept after the judge explained his ruling from the bench.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” she said. “This is the best thing.”
An unusual provision of the ruling bars Donald Sterling from seeking a court-ordered delay of the sale as he appeals. His lawyers plan to seek permission from an appellate court to file an appeal.
Sterling was not in court for the ruling. Bobby Samini, one of his lawyers, said Sterling reacted calmly to the news and told his lawyers they had to keep battling on other fronts. Sterling testified during the case that he would fight the NBA until his death.
With lawsuits pending in state and federal courts, the ruling in Los Angeles County Superior Court is unlikely to put an end to the bizarre saga that began in April when a recording surfaced of Sterling scolding his young girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games.
The NBA moved quickly to ban Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million.
Sterling was apologetic after the audio recording went viral, but his mea culpa backfired when he criticized Lakers great Magic Johnson, who had been photographed with Sterling’s girlfriend, as a bad role model for kids because he had HIV. Sterling was roundly condemned from locker rooms to the Oval Office, where President Barack Obama called Sterling’s remarks “incredibly offensive racist statements.”
With the NBA threatening to seize the team and auction it, Sterling initially gave his wife of 58 years permission to negotiate a sale but then refused to sign the $2 billion Ballmer deal, which would be a record price for an NBA team. He said he would sue the league instead and then revoked the trust, which his lawyers said effectively killed the deal.
The nonjury trial held over several weeks focused mainly on whether Shelly Sterling properly removed her husband as a trustee and whether her actions carried any weight after he revoked the trust.
Donald Sterling claimed his wife had deceived him about the medical exams. His lawyers argued Monday that Shelly Sterling’s lawyers were in cahoots with the doctors who examined him and that his wife conspired with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to remove him from the trust.
“There’s no evidence, I’ll repeat that as loudly as you allow,” attorney Maxwell Blecher said during closing argument, his voice rising. “There’s no evidence that Mr. Sterling was incapable of carrying out his duties as a co-trustee.”
Levanas said there was no credible evidence that Sterling was defrauded.
Blecher said he was deeply disappointed in the judge’s legal analysis.
The ruling Monday was tentative until the judge files it in writing.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement that the league was pleased and looked forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.
At the conclusion of his lengthy ruling, Levanas envisioned what might happen if Donald Sterling remained the owner.
Citing testimony of Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons, he said the team would go into a “death spiral.” Sponsors would withdraw, players would quit and coach Doc Rivers would leave.
“The Clippers would suffer a massive loss of value if the team survived at all,” Levanas said.
The judge was adamant that a team owned by Donald Sterling would not draw a price anywhere near the “stunning” $2 billion pledged by Ballmer. Sterling, a lawyer who made a fortune as a landlord, bought the team in 1981 for $12 million.
“Ballmer paid an amazing price that can’t be explained by the market,” he said.
On the witness stand, Shelly Sterling was more credible than her husband, who was more evasive, gave inconsistent answers and presented wild fluctuations of damage estimates, Levanas said.
He noted that the couple presented genuine professions of love for each other despite Donald Sterling’s outburst calling his wife a “pig” after she testified.
Outside of court, his wife said she thought her husband would be happy with the ruling. She said she thinks he will ultimately drop his antitrust suit in federal court against the NBA and the lawsuit he filed in state court against her, Silver and the league.
Her lawyer wasn’t so sure. Asked what might stop the deal, Pierce O’Donnell said: “Donald.”
“He never met a lawsuit he didn’t like,” he quipped.
Bruce Givner, a Los Angeles tax attorney who handles celebrity cases, said he thinks Sterling’s lawsuits will fail and an appeals court won’t care about the probate case.
“I think the sale is going to go through,” Givner said. “I suspect the NBA is ready to move very quickly. They want to get rid of Sterling like a canker sore. Nobody wants him around except the people that are charging legal fees to continue this charade.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.
Bradford can’t remember when that wasn’t perceived to be the case, and he tries to ignore low outside expectations that include a fantasy rating in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks and other assorted doubts. He’s as eager as anyone on the outside to be a difference-maker in a breakthrough season.
“Every year is a `make it or break it’ year according to someone,” Bradford said, then quickly shifted to team emphasis. “I think everyone in our locker room feels really good about where we’re at right now and where this football team is going.
“I think we have a great chance to be really good.”
So far he’s been impressive in camp, rewarded for dedication to the rehab program. Though he’s wearing a brace, there have been no restrictions.
“If we have to back down, we’ll back down,” coach Jeff Fisher said.
Whatever he does, criticism flows freely. The team can only scoff at some of the opinions on social media.
The biggest reason Bradford is a lightning rod player is because he had the good fortune to be the last high-dollar No. 1 pick before the NFL went to a rookie salary cap. He has two years to go on a six-year deal worth $78 million that can be a bit of an albatross if the Rams aren’t winning, or if he’s injured.
“No one steps on the field to lose,” Bradford said. “I think we want it just as bad as the city and the fans do.”
Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson suggested on ESPN recently that Bradford has a reputation of being “soft.” He also missed six games with a high ankle sprain in 2011.
Another opinion making the rounds this week is the notion Bradford is a high-paid game manager with limited improvisational skills.
“Geez, there’s a million experts out there and they all know football so well, but they’ve never coached or played a day in their life,” defensive end Chris Long said. “If I sit there and start talking about Cardinals baseball, well, I’m not a baseball player, I’m just a fan. It’s kind of out of my lane.”
Long was chosen second overall a year before Bradford went No. 1, so he can relate to attention that sometimes borders on obsessive.
“It’s just dialogue and you’ve got to block it out, and I think he does a really good job of it,” Long said. “He’s a tough guy mentally and physically and he’s just going to have a big year, I just feel that way.”
Before his season-ending left knee injury in Week 7, Bradford appeared headed for his best year with 14 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
The Rams were 3-4 with Bradford and it could be argued he’d have made enough impact to turn the tide in narrow home losses the next two weeks against Seattle and Tennessee. They went to a ground-oriented offense under journeyman backup Kellen Clemens and finished with seven wins for the second straight year under coach Jeff Fisher.
“Sam Bradford gets hurt, you change your entire game plan,” general manager Les Snead said.
Well before the draft the Rams assured Bradford of their commitment and quashed rumors about Johnny Manziel. There’s no issue who’s No. 1 at camp. Journeyman Shaun Hill is the backup and there are two young quarterbacks in camp, sixth-round pick Garrett Gilbert and Austin Davis.
“He’s come out healthier, stronger, faster, and everybody can see it,” guard Rodger Saffold said. “At the end of the day he doesn’t need to be tough because we’re going to do what we’ve got to do.”
Bradford’s goals for training camp and the preseason are simple – get reacquainted with the game.
“There’s no doubt that there is still a little rust that needs to come off,” he said. “I just haven’t been out there.”
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The presumptive favorite to win the starting right guard spot with the Kansas City Chiefs worked out with the third team on Monday. The guy who is challenging him for the spot slid over to center during another portion of the workout.
Rishaw Johnson and Zach Fulton are just the start of the offensive line shuffle.
After watching three linemen who started last season depart in free agency – all within hours of each other – the Chiefs are trying to cobble together some sort of protection for quarterback Alex Smith that can also manage to open up running lanes for Jamaal Charles during training camp.
And with lingering questions about the health of left tackle Eric Fisher and an ankle injury to starting right tackle Donald Stephenson, that job hasn’t gotten a whole lot easier.
“People are saying that we are really young and we’ve got something to prove,” said Fulton, a sixth-round pick who could end up starting the Chiefs’ season opener Sept. 7 against Tennessee. “In a sense that’s good. It shows that we can be relied on because that was one of the concerns.”
There are only a few of spots on the offensive line that appear nailed down as the Chiefs prepared to take their first day off from training camp on Tuesday.
Rodney Hudson is entrenched at center, though several guys are getting a look at backing him up. Jeff Allen is back to reprise his role at left guard, while Fisher – the No. 1 overall pick two years ago – will switch to the blind side after starting at right tackle last season.
Stephenson is getting the first crack at replacing Fisher on the right side, but his ankle injury has created a hole there for the time being. And a heated race between Johnson and Fulton at right guard could carry into the final preseason game Aug. 23 at Green Bay.
It surely won’t be decided by the preseason opener against Cincinnati on Aug. 7.
“Right now we’re working on being competitive. This is where you earn a spot,” said Allen, who along with starting at left guard has also spent some time backing up Fisher at left tackle.
“Eventually we’ll find that top five, the best five to play,” Allen said, “and then we’ll develop that camaraderie that it takes to play at a high level.”
The Chiefs managed to develop that last season, when they were able to rely on a handful of veterans to coax it along. But when Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert joined guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah in a massive free-agent exodus, it left the Chiefs with what will likely be one of the greenest offensive lines in the league – regardless of who is on it.
Hudson was drafted by the Chiefs in 2011. Allen was picked the following year. That makes them a pair of veterans compared to most of the guys trying to earn a job alongside them.
“To us they’re the older guys because they’ve been here longer than we have. They help you through it,” Fisher said. “They’re surprisingly really helpful with younger guys.”
Likewise, Chiefs coach Andy Reid praised Hudson for holding everything together.
“Rodney just gives you complete confidence that everything is taken care of,” Reid said. “Not only is he telling guys when they need to pick up the pace, but he’s also coaching them up about any transition that takes place with the defense, and you’ve got to abort what you’ve got on and relocate the strength of the defense. He can handle all that stuff and he’s doing it in seconds.”
Now, the challenge is to find five of them who can do it.
“It’s constantly a work in progress. It never ends,” Smith said of the competition. “You could be in December or January. With those five guys, it’s always going.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Rams players are assigned parking spots outside the training facility based on seniority, and the roster is so heavy on youth, quarterback Sam Bradford is close to the front of the line.
At age 26, the first overall pick in 2010 is a grizzled veteran on this team.
“Yeah, it’s interesting,” Bradford said. “Feeling a little older every year.”
Training camp opened with 62 players age 24 or younger, many of them front-liners. The Rams are counting on the kids to grow up fast and lead the way for a franchise seeking its first winning season since 2003.
“Despite the age on paper, the team doesn’t act that way,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “The team acts much more mature, and will be much more prepared.”
Last season the Rams had the NFL’s youngest team and reached seven wins for the second straight season while accepting mistakes general manager Les Snead calls “spilled milk.” They might be the youngest team again, but with enough experience to withstand the growing pains.
There’s already been plenty of learning on the job, and not just for rookies who arrived last Monday. Snead refers to front-liners who left college early, some of them in their second or third year in the lineup, as “redshirt sophomores and juniors.”
Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis emphasizes to younger teammates that every snap counts, even in practice.
“When it comes down to it, you can’t have repeat mistakes,” Laurinaitis said. “Darren Bates shouldn’t be making the same mistake I made because he should be paying attention and getting those mental reps.”
Outside linebacker Alec Ogletree unseated Laurinaitis as the team’s leading tackler as a 21-year-old rookie last year. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers, 23, is entering his third season.
Guard Greg Robinson, 21, was the second pick of the draft after two seasons at Auburn. Fellow Tigers alum Tre Mason, the youngest player on the roster at 20, figures to be in a job share at running back with grizzled vet Zac Stacy, 22.
The gold standard for players they’ve plugged in early is defensive end Robert Quinn, who set a franchise record and led the NFC with 19 sacks. He’ll be entering his fourth season at age 24.
“You saw what Robert did,” Snead said. “What happens is those guys are maturing, too, and not only physically but also mentally.
“You have got to just let them evolve.”
Wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, both 23, are looking to build on promising rookie years.
Fisher and Snead presided over a roster teardown in 2012 with the Rams coming off a rock-bottom five-year stretch in which they totaled 15 wins. They didn’t necessarily come in with a three-year turnaround plan.
“This isn’t a cookie-cutter league,” Snead said. “If you really feel like you’re progressing, then `Let’s stay the course.’ So that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”
The Rams have only three players age 30 or older – center Scott Wells, backup quarterback Shaun Hill and guard Davis Joseph. They’ll lean on a solid core to help lead the way.
End Chris Long is entering his seventh season, Laurinaitis his sixth and Bradford his fifth. All three have endured extreme lows and are cautiously optimistic this team has the goods to climb the rugged NFC West, which has produced the last two Super Bowl champions.
Expectations were high in 2011 coming off a seven-win season under coach Steve Spagnuolo, followed by a nosedive back to the bottom of the NFL.
“We have a lot of potential, but that stuff has to play itself out on the field,” Long said. “We’ve been here before where we’ve said, `This has got to be the year.’
“Well, it’s got to be the year if we make it the year.”
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Martina Hingis led Washington to its fourth straight World TeamTennis title and fifth in six years Sunday, beating Olga Govortsova 5-2 in singles in the Kastles’ 25-13 victory over the Springfield Lasers.
The Kastles tied the record for consecutive titles set by Sacramento in 2000.
Hingis, the 33-year-old former top-ranked Swiss player, was selected the MVP of the finals
“It was a great day here in Springfield for me, obviously with getting the finals MVP,” Hingis said. “I don’t know if I have been as nervous before in my career with playing in the finals for my team, because you have no time to miss anything. Everything is quick. You have to keep it sweet!”
Washington swept the five matches.
Hingis teamed with Anastasia Rodionova to beat Govortsova and Liga Dekmeijere-Thomas 5-1 in women’s doubles, and joined Leander Paes in a 5-4 victory over Govortsova and Ross Hutchins in mixed doubles.
Bobby Reynolds beat Michael Russell 5-4 in men’s singles, and teamed with Paes to top Russell and Hutchins 5-2 in doubles.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Before he answered a question at the press conference following the Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony on Sunday, Joe Torre wanted to address someone he regrettably omitted from his speech.
The former Yankee manager briefly mentioned late owner George Steinbrenner, but forgot to thank him the way he planned.
“I missed mentioning and thanking the most obvious guy in the world when you talk about the Yankees,” Torre said. “It was so obvious that I was going to do it, I went right past it.”
Torre, who won four world championships at the helm of the Yankees from 1996 to 2007, said he felt “terrible” that he left Steinbrenner out of his speech. After being fired as manager from the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, Torre’s path to the Hall of Fame began with the Yankees.
Steinbrenner tabbed the then 55-year-old in November 1995, and Torre’s appreciation for the entire Steinbrenner family is ongoing despite his rocky departure from the team after the 2007 season.
Torre, who compiled a 1,173-767 record as Yankee manager, said neither side knew how to say good bye.
Returning to Yankee Stadium for a memorial honoring Steinbrenner in September 2010 helped mend the relationship between Torre and the team. On Sunday, Torre wanted to make sure his appreciation for the Steinbrenner family was clear.
“They made my whole professional life,” Torre said. “I had a good playing career and all that, but managing the Yankees – what you set out in baseball to do is get to the World Series. To have the opportunity to do that with George so many times was an incredible feeling.”
AWE-INSPIRING CROWD: As the bus he was riding in turned the corner and approached the site of Sunday’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Frank Thomas was shocked at the size of the crowd.
Ozzie Smith, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, offered some advice as they neared the field at the Clark Sports Center.
“He said just take it all in,” Thomas said. “‘You’re going to be tough when you get to the stage, but just remember, these are true fans, the world is watching, do what you’ve got to do.’”
As the Hall of Fame welcomed six new members – the most living inductees on the same day since 1971 – around 48,000 people swarmed the sleepy upstate New York town to watch the festivities feting slugger Frank Thomas, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa.
“It looked the greatest rock concert you’ve ever been to,” La Russa said. “Just the appreciation the fans have for our game, I think that’s what I enjoyed the most. Our game is alive and well.”
Cox managed in the big leagues for 29 years. He said Sunday it wouldn’t have mattered if there were 5,000 or 50,000 people at each game. He was too focused on the game to consider how many people were dissecting his decisions.
That tunnel vision wasn’t as narrow Sunday. An initial “peacefulness” on the stage faded once his right hand started shaking as he tried to turn the pages of his speech.
“It’s pretty difficult to be completely tunneled in on your speech at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown,” Cox said.
Meanwhile ,Torre had his own cheering section. His wife, Ali, has 15 siblings. Each of them flew in from Cincinnati and brought their families. Torre said 1989-inductee Johnny Bench told him not to look at his family once he got on stage or he’d start crying. Torre didn’t listen, but said being the last to make his speech gave him time for his tears to dry up.
Regardless, the overall size of the crowd was overwhelming.
“You can’t ignore it, as Bobby said, they’re there,” Torre said. “And they’ve been there for a few days. We saw all the tents and the chairs. It’s an experience that you’ll never forget.”
THOMAS’S WAY: A year ago no player was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 2013 class consisted of three men who had been dead for more than 70 years – former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O’Day, and catcher “Deacon” White.
It was only the second time in 42 years the Baseball Writers’ Association of America failed to elect anyone.
Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens – who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs – fell far short of the 75 percent needed for election, and their chances of ever receiving sufficient votes narrowed Saturday when the Hall of Fame’s board cut a player’s eligibility on the ballot from 15 years to 10.
Toward the end of his induction speech on Sunday, former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas mentioned the need to avoid shortcuts to achieve success. But at a press conference after the ceremony, Thomas said induction day wasn’t the appropriate time or place to address PED’s.
“This is a special weekend,” Thomas said. “I just didn’t think that stuff was necessary. We all know what has happened over the last 15 years in baseball. Today was a bright stage amongst heroes.”
Still, he did send a message to young players.
“To all you kids, just remember one thing from today – there’s no shortcuts to success,” Thomas said. “Hard work, dedication, commitment. Stay true to who you are.”
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Joe Torre, the managerial mastermind of the resurgence of the New York Yankees, has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
While Torre excelled as a player – in 1971 he won National League MVP honors with a signature season that included 230 hits and a .363 average, 97 runs, and 137 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals – he became something special in the Yankees dugout.
Despite mediocre stints managing the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals (five winning seasons in 15 years), Torre was hired by the Yankees prior to the 1996 season. In 12 years with Torre at the helm, the Yankees won 10 division titles, six AL pennants, and four World Series.
Torre is the only man to amass more than 2,000 hits (2,342) as a player and win more than 2,000 games (2,326) as a manager, according to STATS.
FAYETTEVILE, Ark. (AP) – Former University of Arkansas All-American golfer Emily Tubert has picked up her first win as a professional on the Cactus Tour.
Tubert shot a 7-over, 223 in the three rounds of the tournament that ended Saturday in Mission Hills, California.
Tubert will take part in one more event this summer before attending the first stage of qualifying school in an attempt to earn her LPGA tour card.
(Kansas City) (AP) – The Cleveland Indians recalled right-hander Zack McAllister from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday and started him against the Kansas City Royals.
McAllister went 3-5 with a 5.28 in 12 starts with the Indians. He began the season with Cleveland and went on the disabled list May 22 with lower back inflammation and was sent to Columbus after he was activated. He went 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA with the Clippers.
The Indians optioned right-hander Josh Tomlin, who gave up four runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in 5 1-3 innings in a Friday loss to the Royals to Columbus. Tomlin is 5-7 with a 4.47 ERA in 15 games, including 14 starts, for the Indians, losing five of his past six decisions in eight starts.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs tried to follow the same script that produced a comeback win the day before. They just couldn’t pull off a similar finish.
The Cubs fell behind St. Louis early and tied it with an unlikely home run, but the Cardinals ended up with a 6-3 victory on Saturday in front of a big crowd divided by fans of the rival clubs.
Matt Adams drove in four runs, A.J. Pierzynski had three hits in his St. Louis debut, and the Cardinals snapped a four-game skid.
“Adams had the day,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He was our guy. Getting the big hit early on, hitting a couple balls hard with guys in scoring position.”
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta settled in after a two-run first inning and allowed just three base runners the rest of the way. He thwarted threats in the fourth and fifth innings, and a diving catch by left fielder Chris Coughlan helped Arrieta escape the sixth.
“(I tried to) keep the team in the game,” Arrieta said. “We fought back and we made it a pretty close game there at the end. We just came out on the other side.”
Just like on Friday, the Cubs recovered from a first-inning deficit.. Anthony Rizzo had an RBI groundout in the fourth, and Nate Schierholtz hit a solo home run in the sixth, tying it at 2. It was Schierholtz’s fourth career pinch-homer.
With Arrieta out of the game, the Cardinals pulled back ahead in the seventh, scoring four runs against James Russell (0-2). Jon Jay hit a leadoff single, advanced on a sacrifice and stole third. He scored the tiebreaking run on Matt Carpenter’s grounder.
Adams, who hit a two-run double in the first, followed three batters later with a triple to score two runs. Pierzynski capped the inning with an RBI single to make it 6-2.
“Adams put a good at-bat together,” Russell said. “He fouled a lot of pitches off. He ended up getting a mistake and he did what he’s supposed to do with it and put it in the gap.”
Russell allowed four earned runs in his worst outing since July 21, 2012, when he gave up six runs, also against the Cardinals.
“All (the pitchers) have actually done a great job for us, and every now and then you have a hiccup. Today he had a hiccup,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said.
In his first start since being removed from the rotation on July 10, Shelby Miller allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2-3 innings. He began the game with three perfect innings and retired 16 of his first 18 batters.
Randy Choate (2-2) got the last out of the sixth in relief of Miller. Trevor Rosenthal worked around two hits in a scoreless ninth, earning his 31st save in 35 tries.
The 37-year-old Pierzynski signed with the Cardinals on Saturday, 10 days after he was released by Boston. St. Louis had been looking for a steady presence behind the plate since All-Star catcher Yadier Molina tore a ligament in his right thumb July 9.
Molina had surgery two days later and is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks.
Pierzynski played eight seasons in Chicago with the White Sox.
“That was pretty much a cram session for A.J. there, not just with Shelby but all our guys, and the signs,” Matheny said of the veteran catcher.
Adams doubled sharply in the first, a one-hopper that bounced past Rizzo at first and into right field to score two runs. Despite the rough start, Renteria said the fact that Arrieta was able to hang in showed how he has grown as a pitcher.
“Today was maybe not one of those days where he felt his best, but he actually settled down, worked with what he had today, which is what a pitcher is supposed to do,” Renteria said.
Ryan Sweeney hit a leadoff homer against Pat Neshek in the eighth, his third home run of the season and second of this series.