Cubs Pitchers Get Off To Shaky AFL Start; Vitters Plays First Base

Cubs Pitchers Get Off To Shaky AFL Start; Vitters Plays First Base

Thursday Oct. 14, 2010
Posted: 7:45 A.M.
By Kevin Czerwinski

It was Chicagos turn to supply the pitching for Mesa Wednesday night and only one of the four Cubs prospects that appeared came away unscathed in a 6-3 loss to visiting Phoenix.

Kyle Smit, whom Chicago acquired in a July deadline deal with the Dodgers, picked up where he left off in the regular season. He fanned three over two hitless innings while also issuing a walk. Smit was 5-1 with a save, posting a 1.96 ERA over 12 games after joining Tennessee following the trade. He had a combined 1.23 ERA over his final 36 13 innings this year with the Smokies, Chattanooga and Inland Empire.

Jake Muyco, who had a solid season out of the bullpen for Tennessee, made the start and allowed two runs on six hits over three innings. He had allowed that many hits only once in 40 appearances during the regular season, an expected number because most of his outings were limited to two innings or less.

Chris Carpenter, who spent the season with Tennessee, took the loss after allowing a run on three hits over two innings. David Cales, meanwhile, allowed two runs one earned on three hits in an inning.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty, who was the DH, was 1-for-3 with a walk. In an interesting move, Josh Vitters, the Cubs first-round pick in 2007, played first base. It was the first time he had done so in his professional career. Prior to Wednesdays action, Vitters had always been at third base or DH. Vitters, who missed the final month and a half of the regular season plus the post-season with a broken hand at Double-A Tennessee, was 0-for-4.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at

Buckeyes going back to College Football Playoff, will face Clemson in Fiesta Bowl

Buckeyes going back to College Football Playoff, will face Clemson in Fiesta Bowl

The College Football Playoff field is set, and for the second time in three years, the Ohio State Buckeyes will compete for a national championship.

The selection committee revealed the four-team field for this season's Playoff, with Ohio State coming at No. 3. The Buckeyes will battle No. 2 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The other Playoff semifinal pits No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl.

While Ohio State has been considered one of the best teams in the country throughout the season, the Buckeyes' inclusion in the Playoff field is not without controversy, as they are the first team to play in the Playoff without winning their conference championship. But Ohio State had a sterling resume with three wins over top-10 teams: Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The Buckeyes' lone loss came against a top-10 Penn State team.

The 2014 national champion, Ohio State returns to the Playoff after missing out last season. Big Ten champion Michigan State represented the conference last year, getting crushed by Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Two years ago, the Buckeyes beat the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and then beat the Oregon Ducks in the national championship game.

Big Ten champion Penn State, which won the conference title game Saturday night with an instant-classic comeback victory over Wisconsin, ended up fifth and was left off the bracket. So too was sixth-ranked Michigan, which didn't compete for a conference championship but was ranked fifth in the final set of rankings prior to Sunday's bracket reveal. The Nittany Lions and Wolverines combined for five wins over top-10 teams this season.

There was plenty of conversation that red-hot Penn State could surge into the Playoff, just like Ohio State did two years ago. The Lions are riding a nine-game winning streak, defeated Ohio State earlier in the season and claimed the championship in what has been the hands-down best conference in college football this season. And boy did they impress Saturday night in their most recent showing, erasing a three-touchdown deficit to come back and beat Wisconsin.

Michigan, too, had a mighty compelling case to make. The Wolverines, owners of one of the best defenses in the country all season long, beat three top-10 teams during the regular season and took the No. 2 team in the country to double overtime just last weekend.

But in the end, we did not get the first Playoff field to feature two teams from the same conference. Penn State and Michigan will learn their bowl fates — likely going to New Year's Six bowl games — later Sunday.

Big Ten poll update: Penn State jumps Michigan in last pre-Playoff AP poll

Big Ten poll update: Penn State jumps Michigan in last pre-Playoff AP poll

The College Football Playoff selection committee will reveal the four-team Playoff field shortly, but in the AP poll, Big Ten champion Penn State did vault ahead of Michigan.

The Nittany Lions, fresh off their instant-classic comeback win in Saturday night's Big Ten title game, jumped up three spots, from No. 8 to No. 5, passing the Wolverines, who dropped from No. 5 to No. 6 with no game to play this weekend.

Who knows if that will be the thinking of the committee or if Penn State's performance Saturday was impressive enough to get it above Washington or Clemson and into the final four.

In the AP poll Sunday, Ohio State checked in at No. 2 behind No. 1 Alabama. The Buckeyes didn't play Saturday either, but those top two spots figure to be how the top two spots of the Playoff field will look. Clemson and Washington stayed the Nos. 3 and 4 teams in the poll, which seems to be a likely possibility in the Playoff, as well.

Wisconsin, defeated by Penn State on Saturday night, dropped just two spots from No. 6 to No. 8, jumped by Penn State and Oklahoma, which was victorious in its regular-season finale against Oklahoma State, claiming the Big 12 championship in the process.

Iowa moved up one spot from No. 22 to No. 21, while Nebraska dropped a spot from No. 23 to No. 24. Neither team played this weekend.