Bears

On The Farm: Tennessee Cruises By West Tenn Again

On The Farm: Tennessee Cruises By West Tenn Again

Saturday Sept. 11, 2010
Posted: 9:25 p.m.

By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

CUBSTennessee AA
The Smokies continued their assault on West Tenn pitching Saturday night, cracking three more homers en route to a 9-2 victory at Pringles Park. Tennessee has a 2-1 series advantage in the opening round of the Southern League playoffs and will look to close out the series shifts back to Smokies Park on Sunday.

The long-ball barrage was simply a continuation of Fridays Game Two victory in which Tennessee connected for four homers. The Smokies had 14 hits on Saturday and have banged out 30 in the last two games. Tony Campana led the charge in Game Three with four hits, including a lead-off homer in the first inning, and two RBIs.

Russ Canzler and Matt Spencer also went deep for the second consecutive night. Blake Lalli was 1-for-6 and drove in two runs, making it a rather easy evening for Trey McNutt, who was making only his fourth Southern League start. He had gone 0-1 with a 5.74 ERA after moving up to Tennessee from Daytona late in the season but had little trouble against the Diamond Jaxx, who handed him a loss in his Double-A debut on Aug. 23.

McNutt scattered four hits over five innings, striking out six and allowing a run before turning things over to Marco Carrillo. He allowed a hit and fanned five over three shutout innings to end any hopes of a West Tenn comeback.

James Leverton got cuffed around a bit in the ninth inning but it was proved to be of no account, leaving the Smokies a win away from competing for the Southern League crown.
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
The Voyagers rebounded from an opening-game loss to defeat Helena Saturday night, 6-2, at Centene Stadium, evening their Pioneer League playoff opening-round series at a game apiece. The third and deciding game will be played Sunday afternoon at Great Falls.

Mike Earleys two-run single was the highlight of the four-run sixth inning that broke the game open for the Voyagers. Great Falls had rebounded from a 1-0 deficit, tying the score in the fourth inning before Ryan Hamme got the sixth-inning rally started with a lead-off double. Rafael Vera singled him in to put the Voyagers in front.

Dusty Harvard then reached on a error that put runners on the corners. He stole second and after a Kyle Davis walk, Earley singled in a pair. Ross Wilson then bunted home Davis.

Paul Burnside picked up the win after allowing a run over six innings. Doug Murray went the final three innings and despite giving up a run, earned the save.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at [email protected].

Bears still waiting on kickoff season to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

Bears still waiting on kickoff season to come for Cordarrelle Patterson

There were 312 kickoffs in the NFL this season heading into this weekend. Of those, 221 (70 percent) went for touchbacks. 

After Sunday's games, three teams — including the Bears — have yet to have a kickoff return. Half the league hasn't had a return go more than 25 yards. 

This is the NFL in 2019, with the league’s efforts to reduce the number of kick returns — for safety reasons — proving effective. It’s also meant the Bears haven’t been able to fully utilize Cordarrelle Patterson’s talents yet.

The 5,276 return yards Patterson has since entering the league in 2013 are by far the most in the NFL in that span (he’s about 1,500 yards ahead of Andre Roberts, who has the second-highest total). Patterson is the only player with more than two kick return touchdowns since 2013; he has six. Among players with at least 50 kick returns, Patterson’s average of 29.98 yards per return ranks No. 1, and he’s one of just 14 players to average more than 25 yards per return.

So Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is itching to unleash Patterson on a return — as long as the opportunity presents itself.

“I want to bring the ball out, I really do,” Tabor said. “And there's going to come a time and point that we want to do that. You want to be able to put pressure on that coverage team. But I think you still have to be smart about when you're doing it.”

Patterson’s last kick return touchdown came last year while with the New England Patriots against the Bears, so this coaching staff has a good idea of how dangerous he can be on kickoffs. So do other teams, though — all four of Brandon McManus’ kickoffs last week went for deep touchbacks in the thin air of Denver, while all three of Mason Crosby’s kickoffs in Week 1 were deemed unreturnable and went for touchbacks.

"These kickers are getting paid a lot of money to try to kick the ball away from me," Patterson said. "And that's what they're doing. It's football. You can't always have everything you want."

The Bears don’t want to see Patterson return a kick so badly that they’d have him take one out from the back of the end zone, though. A drive starting on the 25-yard line from a touchback is more likely to be successful than a drive starting inside the 23-yard line, Tabor said. Still, the Tabor said the team is comfortable with Patterson attempting a return from eight or even close to nine yards deep in the end zone. 

With the Bears’ offense struggling — 13 of their 22 drives have ended with a punt — the team hopes it can get a spark from the return game to at least generate good field position.

“A lot of factors that go into that but if you don't bring it out you have zero chance of getting the ball past the 25,” Tabor said. “I think realistically for offenses, all offenses, 75-yard drives in the NFL just don't happen repeatedly so I think you have to try to get something sparked in the return game.”

But as long as temperatures remain warm — the forecasted temperature is in the upper 70’s for kickoff Monday night in Landover — it’ll be easier for kickers to blast touchbacks out of the end zone. And few, if any, of the league’s coaches and special teams coordinators will want to try to kick to Patterson.

So until weather conditions become a little more favorable for kickoff returns, there not anything Tabor can do to generate them.

“I wish I could,” Tabor said. “(Maybe) send the coach a nice bottle of wine or something.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Jose Abreu appreciation podcast

0709_jose_abreu.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The Jose Abreu appreciation podcast

José Abreu is having a special kind of season, and it's rubbing off on the White Sox young core of hitters.

Chuck Garfien and Chris Kamka break it all down from Detroit.

They talk about Abreu's work ethic and where it comes from (2:10), if his words from late August helped lead to this hot September for Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez (8:15), Abreu's quest to be the first White Sox player to ever lead the majors in RBIs (12:30), Anderson's push for the AL batting title (15:30), is anyone hotter at the plate right now than Moncada? (18:20), Jimenez taking his game to a whole other level (22:00), and why we can't stop talking about the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the worst MLB team in history (22:30).

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

White Sox Talk Podcast

Subscribe: