April 20, 2015

This week in sports: The Chicago Special

CUBS: The Cubs called up 2013 first-round pick and possible organizational messiah Kris Bryant on Friday. OK, he might not be the one to break that old Billy Goat Curse—if you believe in that sort of thing—but expectations for him are certainly high. After the third baseman hit nine home runs, the most of any player, in spring training, the Cubs elected to send him down to Triple-A Iowa to minimize his major league service time, a move that will give them an extra year of control over him. He went 0–4 with three strikeouts in his debut Friday at Wrigley, batting in the cleanup spot as the Cubs fell 5–4 to the Padres. On Saturday, he got his first two major league hits and his first RBI in the Cubs’ 7–6 victory over San Diego. He drilled another hit on Sunday, raising his career total to three. He needs just 4,253 more to tie Pete Rose for the all-time record. This week, the Cubs will head out on the road, to play four games in Pittsburgh during the week followed by three in Cincinnati over the weekend.

WHITE SOX: The White Sox see your Kris Bryant, Cubbies, and raise you a Carlos Rodon. Three days after the North Siders called up one of the strongest members of their farm system, the South Siders followed suit. The Sox called up 2014 first-round pick Carlos Rodon, a pitcher, on Monday to aid the team’s bullpen. And yes, this move was made with a similar service-time regulation in mind. In his first year with the organization in 2014 after being drafted in June, Rodon compiled a 2.96 ERA combined in Rookie League, High-A, and Triple-A. Though Rodon is a starter, Chicago initially plans to use him out of the bullpen as he gets his feet wet in the majors. The team used the same strategy with another former first-round pick, Chris Sale, in 2010 and 2011, which worked out pretty well. As for the games themselves, the Sox dropped a road series to the Tigers 2–1. The series started with a pitcher’s duel. Jeff Samardzija and David Price each went eight innings and allowed a single run, each on a solo home run. Zach Duke surrendered a run in the ninth, and the Sox dropped the series opener 2–1. On Saturday, Sale was backed by a three-run homer from Adam LaRoche and a grand slam from Jose Abreu as the Sox won 12–3. The rubber game got away from the Sox early, as starter Jose Quintana yielded nine earned runs in four innings en route to a 9–1 loss. The White Sox return home this week to host Cleveland for three games and then Kansas City for four.

BLACKHAWKS: The Blackhawks’ goalie controversy this postseason continued over the weekend. After being pulled after a period in Game One but still receiving the nod for Game Two, Corey Crawford gave up six goals Friday against the Predators, including three in quick succession in the third period. The Hawks lost 6–2. With Scott Darling in net in Game Three on Sunday, Chicago won 4–2 to take a 2–1 series lead heading into Game Four tonight at the United Center. Coach Q announced on Monday that Darling will start again.

BULLS: The Bulls began their postseason run on Saturday with a 103–91 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose led the Bulls in points, with 25 and 23 respectively. The game marked Rose’s first postseason appearance since tearing his ACL in the team’s First-Round Game One against the Philadelphia 76ers in April 2012. Rose also recorded an impressive seven assists. The series will shift to Milwaukee for Games Three and Four on Thursday and Saturday of this week.