Oduro's late strike lifts Fire


Oduro's late strike lifts Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Sebastian Grazzini and Dominic Oduro scored in the second half to help the Chicago Fire beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Saturday night.Chicago, fourth in the Eastern Conference, improved to 4-2-3 overall and 3-1-2 in its last six game. Eastern Conference-leading Kansas City has lost three straight to drop to 7-3-0.Oduro broke a tie in the 81st minute with his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Kansas City forward Kei Kamara misplayed a loose ball 5 yards from his goal, and Chicago's Patrick Nyarko fed Oduro in the middle for an easy shot past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.The Fire tied it on Grazzini's penalty kick into the upper right corner in the 61st minute. The kick was triggered by Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin taking down Oduro from behind in the penalty area. The goal ended Chicago's scoreless string of 151 minutes, plus stoppage time.Less than a minute later, Grazzini was dropped to the grass by the hard left elbow of leaping Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza, who was ejected for the foul.Kansas City opened the scoring on midfielder Bobby Convey's goal exactly 30 minutes into the match. He deflected Espinoza's pass past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.Chicago lost defender Arne Fredrich to a pulled right hamstring only 2 minutes earlier. Dan Gargan replaced Fredrich just before Convey scored.

Cubs not surprised 'good dude' Mike Napoli is on another winning team

Cubs not surprised 'good dude' Mike Napoli is on another winning team

CLEVELAND — As the Cubs readied themselves to play in the franchise’s first World Series game since 1971, a number of players were able to look over at the Cleveland Indians and seen an opposing team transformed by good-dude-in-chief Mike Napoli.

Those players, specifically, were catcher David Ross and starters Jon Lester and John Lackey, all of whom teamed up with Napoli to win the 2013 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. 

“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,” Lester said during the Cubs’ pennant-clinching celebration. “He helped transform our 2013 team.”

Napoli’s impact on the 2016 Indians stretches beyond his career high totals in home runs (34), RBIs (102) and runs (92). While he was only worth 1.0 WAR despite those gaudy totals, Napoli’s unquantifiable presence on the field and in the clubhouse helped keep Cleveland from breaking apart despite injuries to outfielder Michael Brantley and starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. 

“Having a guy that’s playing every day can unify the group is really tremendous,” Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo said. “I think it’s undervalued sometimes.”

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Napoli played a key part in the Red Sox’ worst-to-first turnaround in 2013, quickly becoming a leader in a clubhouse Lackey said was a “zoo.” It was one of the 34-year-old’s best seasons in the majors, too — he hit 23 home runs with an .842 OPS — and he became a guy his teammates knew they could trust to come through in key situations. 

“He’s a guy you want in your foxhole,” Lackey said. “He’s a winner. He steps up in big situations and wants to be in them. I’m not surprised to see him on another winning team for sure.”

Ross sees a lot of Napoli in the personality first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who’s emerged as one of the Cubs’ best leaders during their rapid ascendance to the top of the National League over the last two years. 

“When you do things with Rizzo off the field, you have a good time. Napoli’s one of those guys (too),” Ross said. “No matter what you’re doing, you’re going to enjoy yourself. He’s one of those guys you’re like, Yep, I gotta have Napoli go with me, I gotta have Rizz go with me, because we’re going to have fun.”

A few minutes after Ross, Lester and Lackey filed out of Progressive Field’s posh club lounge, Napoli walked in wearing a Party at Napoli’s T-shirt. Ross said he wanted to get his hands on one of those shirts in time for Monday’s World Series media day, but had to settle for wearing a Cubs hoodie. But the whole “Party at Napoli’s” thing encompasses why he’s been such a good fit in clubhouses in Cleveland, Boston, and everywhere else he’s been in the majors. 

“I’m just myself,” Napoli said. “I like to have a good time, I enjoy my teammates on and off the field.”

Said Lackey: “He’s a great teammate, a gamer and just a good dude.”

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

CLEVELAND - Kyle Schwarber is in the Cubs starting lineup for the first time since April 7.

It just so happens to also be the Cubs' first World Series starting lineup since 1945.

The Cubs released Joe Maddon's Game 1 lineup against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians Tuesday afternoon ahead of a historic World Series matchup.

Schwarber is hitting fifth at DH:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Kyle Schwarber - DH
6. Javy Baez - 2B
7. Chris Coghlan - RF
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. David Ross - C

And Jon Lester is on the mound.

Schwarber is already the Cubs' all-time leader in postseason homers with five longballs in last season's playoff run.

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Coghlan in the lineup is also a surprise as defensive stalwart Jason Heyward gets the boot to the bench for the second straight game.

The Cubs put Albert Almora Jr. in right field at Wrigley Saturady night when they beat Clayton Kershaw and locked up the NLCs.

Heyward is hitting .071 with a .312 OPS in the postseason, collecting only two hits and a walk in 10 games.

Coghlan has appeared in five games - all as a pinch-hitter - and is 0-for-4 with a walk and a run. 

The Cubs have scored 23 runs in the last three games after being shut out in 21 straight innings prior to that.