On The Farm: Young pitches well in Bristol victory

On The Farm: Young pitches well in Bristol victory

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010
10:00 PM
By Kevin Czerwinski
Bristol (Rookie)
Robert Young waited a bit for Thursday night, nearly two months in fact. His first professional victory, however, proved to be worth the wait as Bristol squeaked by Burlington, 1-0, at Burlington Athletic Stadium.

Young, whom the White Sox selected out of Dartmouth in the 31st round of Junes First-Year Player Draft, went a career-best seven innings while allowing only two hits. He fanned a season-high five and walked only one.

His effort shouldnt have come as much of a surprise, though. Young (1-3) didnt allow an earned run in his last start at home against Johnson City and has now allowed only two earned runs in his last 17 13 innings.

Its definitely been a long time coming, Young told CSNChicago.com. I had luck go my way tonight and its better to be lucky than good sometimes and that definitely happened tonight. If a few things go different, its a different outcome. Things are getting better, though and Im making progress each time out.

While Young credits some of his success on Thursday to luck there was also a bit of skill involved. He recently incorporated a slider into his repertoire and used it masterfully against Burlington. Young had never used a slider much before the last few weeks, even in his college days, but when his curveball was beginning to become less effective against right-hander hitters, he knew he needed to find an out pitch.

Bristol pitching coach Curt Hasler helped Young find the panacea, introducing him to the slider. Young worked on it in the bullpen and discussed it with Hasler in between innings the results Thursday were impressive.

I worked on it before my last outing against Johnson City and it proved to be very beneficial, Young said. I was struggling with the curve. It was getting slow and loopy and I needed a breaking ball for right-handers and I started fiddling with a slider. I wound a grip that worked and it worked very well tonight.

I toyed around with it in college but I never got too accustomed to throwing it. My pitching coach was a big advocate of mastering three pitches for strikes. So sometimes I had the curve working, sometimes the changeup and on a few occasions both. So I was never at a point where I needed a slider. But when I got here it was pretty apparent that I needed a better breaking ball. He said how about a slider and its worked well so far.

Young also kept the ball down in the zone against Burlington, adhering to another point Hasler has been stressing. He allowed singles in the third and fifth innings, pitching out of both tight spots. Burlington also put two men on in the fourth but Young got Geoffrey Baldwin looking for the third out.

Things are getting better and better each time out and thats always a plus, Young said. I would have liked to have started closer to where I am now but at least Im making progress.

Chase Blackwoods seventh-inning homer gave Young the victory.

The idea is to go out every outing and not give up a single run, Young said. It just makes it more important when you know were not pushing any runs across. I knew I needed to have a good outing, though. I havent pitched the way I know I can this summer.

So personally, I replayed every inning in my head, took them one at a time and figured out what was working mechanics wise.

Kannapolis (A)
Ryan Buch continued his impressive run as a starting pitcher Thursday night as the Intimidators blanked Savannah, 2-0, at Grayson Stadium.

Buch (4-0) improved to 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in six starts after scattering four hits over six innings. He tied a season high with six strikeouts and didnt walk a batter. He had been 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts at Bristol in late June and early July.

Kannapolis scored both their runs on Ian Gacs two-run double in the first inning.

In other action, Winston-Salems game at Wilmington was rained out and will not be made up. The dash also announced that their Sept. 2 game against Lynchburg was moved from 7 PM to noon. Durham defeated Charlotte, 6-2, at Durham Athletic Park. Jeff Marquez (8-6) took the loss after surrendering three runs on seven hits in five innings. Jeremy Reed had a single and an RBI, giving him seven RBIs in the series. ... Birmingham dropped an 8-6 decision at Mobile despite collecting 15 hits. Justin Edwards allowed eight runs in 4 23 innings.


Daytona (A)
Mark Reed scored on an eighth-inning wild pitch Thursday night to give Daytona an 8-7 victory over Dunedin at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

The Cubs had scored three seventh-inning runs to tie the score at 7-7. Rebel Ridlings RBI double knotted things up. Ridling also had a two-run homer in Daytonas three-run third inning. Alex Maestri picked up the victory after allowing one run in three innings of relief. The victory, combined with Tampas loss at Clearwater, pushed the Cubs into first place by a game in the Florida State Leagues North Division.

In other action, Tennessee banged out 10 hits at Chattanooga yet still dropped a 5-3 decision to the Lookouts. Brandon Guyer remained hot, though, collecting two of those hits, both of which were homers. He drove in three as he extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Hes batting .459 (28-for-61) during the streak with four homers and 22 RBIs. Beloit bested Peoria, 2-0, scoring both its runs in the seventh inning. Brett Wallach, making his third start since coming over in the deadline deal with the Dodgers, had his best outing with the Chiefs, tossing two-hit shutout ball over six innings. Peoria, however, managed only four hits.

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

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.