On The Farm: Jcksonville Downs Tennessee For Southern League Title

On The Farm: Jcksonville Downs Tennessee For Southern League Title

Saturday Sept. 18, 2010
Posted: 9:38 p.m.
By Kevin Czerwinski

CUBSTennessee AA
Chris Hatchers leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth gave Jacksonville a stunning 1-0 victory over Tennessee Saturday night at The Baseball Grounds. The win clinched a second consecutive Southern League crown for the Suns while the Smokies end a spectacular season on a disappointing note.

The Smokies, who won the series opener before dropping three straight, were shutout in back-to-back games and didnt score a run over their final 19 innings. Tennessee managed only four hits on Saturday, the last of which was a ninth-inning single by Brandon Guyer. Blake Lalli followed with a doubleplay, though, and Robinson Chirinos struck out, setting Hatcher up to be a hero.

Luke Sommer, who came on in place of Kyle Smith in the eighth, proceeded to serve up the pitch that Hatcher knocked over the wall in left.

Guyer finished with a pair of hits while Russ Canzler and Tennessee starter Craig Muschko had the others. Muschko allowed one hit over seven innings while striking out six.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Chris Sale: White Sox struggles 'falls on the players,' not Robin Ventura


Chris Sale: White Sox struggles 'falls on the players,' not Robin Ventura

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The calls for Robin Ventura’s job have once again grown louder as a lengthy White Sox slump continues.

With the team out of town for the next two weeks, fans have taken to social media to voice their frustrations with the fifth-year manager. They have also begun an online petition calling for Ventura’s head. And there’s a pretty good chance local radio talk shows will be filled with callers demanding the same early this week.

But as their slide continued Sunday, the team’s most influential player insisted Ventura’s leadership has had nothing to do with a six-game losing streak that was extended with another blown lead and a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

“I don’t think he gave up any runs,” starting pitcher Chris Sale said. “I don’t think he made any errors and he’s in the dugout the whole time. It’s on us to win games. I understand people -- I’ll keep it that -- want to point fingers and find blame. But at the end of the day it falls on the players. We have to find a way to turn it around. We’re going to keep fighting. It will turn. We have too much morale, chemistry and too much talent. Just a rough patch.”

This patch comes at a time when fans are skeptical about what kind of team they have in front of them. Many believe the team’s hot April to be a tease. They wonder if this team is headed down a similar path to the past three seasons as the White Sox have dropped 14 of 18 with their six-game lead vanished and turned into a one-game deficit.

Players from the 27-24 squad continue to insist they will turn things around. Alex Avila said the preparation has been there and he doesn’t expect a drop off. Sale said the confidence and chemistry are present. And Dioner Navarro and Todd Frazier like how the White Sox have continued to battle as evidenced by the close proximity of their losses -- 11 of the 14 have come by two runs or fewer.

This of course isn’t new territory for Ventura, who spent all of last summer answering questions about his job security. He headed into the season listed as one of the odds-on favorites to be the first manager in the majors fired. But Ventura was completely removed from those types of lists after the team’s quick start.

Ventura said Sunday morning that the reaction is expected for his position and he won’t let it distract him from preparing.

“That’s part of the action,” Ventura said. “I’m in here trying to work. …

“I’m just doing my work.

“I don’t feel any more pressure than there already is. That’s just part of the job and you do it.”

Royals delete sympathy tweet to White Sox following sweep


Royals delete sympathy tweet to White Sox following sweep

For the third straight game, the White Sox bullpen was unable to hold off a late rally by Kansas City. Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Royals extended the White Sox losing streak to six games and gave the Royals a three-game sweep over the White Sox.

But the Royals weren't done with the White Sox just yet. They took to Twitter to offer their "support" to the struggling South-Siders, posting a GIF of White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera hugging Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in a previous series, and asking if the White Sox need a hug. The tweet has since been deleted, but no need to fear, we have a screenshot for you. 

Take a look.

The White Sox could use a lot more than a hug at this point. 

Although this has been a difficult stretch, there are 111 games remaining in the season and the White Sox trail the Royals by only one game. These two teams play 13 more times before the season ends, so there is still plenty of baseball left to be played.

Hopefully what happened in Kansas City stays in Kansas City. 

Alexander Rossi pulls off stunning upset in 100th Indy 500


Alexander Rossi pulls off stunning upset in 100th Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new era for the Indianapolis 500 arrived in the form of a most unfamiliar driver.

An American, no less.

Alexander Rossi outlasted his faster rivals — and his fuel tank — for a stunning victory Sunday in the historic 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing." The unlikely win allowed the long-suffering Andretti family to celebrate in the biggest race of their storied careers and it left the top drivers in the field fuming over Rossi's good fortune.

Rossi was a 66-to-1 long shot and certainly not the driver anyone would have picked to win. But the 24-year-old Californian used fuel strategy to outsmart a handful of drivers who had the most dominant cars in the race.

Rossi stretched his final tank of gas 90 miles to cycle into the lead as others had to duck into the pits for a splash of fuel in the waning laps. He was sputtering on the final lap, working his clutch and getting screamed at by team co-owner Bryan Herta to conserve fuel, and he ultimately ran out of gas after taking the checkered flag.

His victory celebration came only after his Honda was towed to the party. He sat in the car for some time before climbing out to take that sweet sip of milk.

"I have no idea how we pulled that off," he declared.

"I really was focused on taking it one lap at a time," Rossi said. "The emotional roller-coaster of this race is ridiculous. There were moments I was really stoked, really heartbroken, really stoked. I was like, 'Wow, I'll need to see a psychiatrist after this.'"

Rossi didn't have the speed of Carlos Munoz, who was charging hard over the final 50 miles. But Munoz also had to stop for gas and didn't have a chance to race his teammate for the victory, even though Rossi was running on fumes and completed the final lap at a snail's pace of 179.784 mph.

The Colombian settled for second in a 1-2 finish for Andretti Autosport. He seemed devastated after his second runner-up finish in four years.

"I was really disappointed when it comes with fuel and you lose the race because of that," Munoz said. "I was really disappointed to get second. Half a lap short. What can I say? The only thing I'm clear about is that I will win this race one day."

Munoz has contended at Indy before and he's proven to be fast at the speedway.

Rossi? Well, not many know much about him at all.

He's an IndyCar rookie who has chased a ride in Formula One since he was 10. He left for Europe when he was 16 and never pursued a career in American open-wheel racing. But stuck without a ride this year, he made the decision to return to the United States to race and became the ninth rookie to win the 500 and the first since Helio Castroneves in 2001.

Rossi understood full well that it was strategy that got him this win, and he knows what an Indy 500 victory means.

"I have no doubt it's going to change my life," he said.

Although he's a relief driver for Manor Racing in F1, Rossi has no scheduled F1 races and IndyCar right now is his top commitment. He was lured back to America this year to drive for Herta in a partnership with Andretti Autosport. Herta was the winning car owner in 2011 with Dan Wheldon, the actual 100th anniversary of the first race in 1911, and now can claim a win in the 100th actual race.

"I can't compare (the wins) other than to say I am so happy," Herta said. " I can't overstate how hard it was for Alex to do what I was asking of him on the radio."

This Herta effort relied heavily on its alliance with Andretti, and the family was hoping Marco Andretti would give them their first Indy 500 title since patriarch Mario Andretti won in 1969.

Instead, Marco Andretti never contended on a day at least three of his teammates were clearly among the best in the field. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell combined to lead 64 of the first 119 laps, but the Americans were knocked from contention when Bell clipped Castroneves as he left pit road. The contact caused Bell to crash into Hunter-Reay.

"Ryan and Townsend looked really good up front, we thought they would be the team to beat," team owner Michael Andretti said. "Unfortunately, they had their problem in the pit, which I could not believe, and I thought that may have been our shot at winning."

Herta decided to gamble with Rossi on fuel strategy, and it's the only thing that made him a late contender.

As the laps wound down, American Josef Newgarden and Munoz repeatedly swapped the lead. Both had to stop for gas, Rossi moved into the lead and it was all his from there.

Michael Andretti earlier this month was voted by the 27 living winners as the best driver never to win the race, but he has now won the 500 four times as a car owner.

"I knew Alex was going to try (the fuel strategy), and we said 'Alright, if he's going to try it, we're going to try something else (with Munoz)," Andretti said. "To come home 1-2 is just incredible. It was amazing. I don't know what to say, it's a great day, to be a part of history, to win the 100th running, and to win it with a 1-2 finish is just incredible."

Newgarden finished third and was followed by Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and JR Hildebrand as Chevrolet drivers took spots three through six.

Newgarden, along with Hunter-Reay, Bell, Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe, had the strongest cars most of the race. Hinchcliffe, the pole winner who missed this race last year after a near-fatal accident in a practice session, faded to seventh despite being one of the best cars in the field.

"If I was in Alex's position, I'd be the happiest person in the world right now, I wouldn't care how we won the damn race," Newgarden said. "Everyone was on different strategies, and they played that strategy. Those guys, to put it politely, weren't as strong as us. They didn't have as strong a chance to win, so they had to mix it up. It worked out at the end for them."

In front of the first sellout in Indy 500 history, Rossi stunned the more than 350,000 fans in attendance. He was in Monaco this time last year for F1's signature race, unsure of what his future held.

"I had no idea I'd be in IndyCar, I had no idea I'd be in the Indy 500," said Rossi, who becomes the 70th winner in race history.

He will now also become the 103rd face on the famed Borg-Warner Trophy.