Poll watch: Irish move up to No. 3 in BCS

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Poll watch: Irish move up to No. 3 in BCS

BOSTON -- A 21-6 win over Boston College coupled with Alabama's loss to Texas A&M bumped Notre Dame up a spot to No. 3 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night, as expected. K-State took the No. 1 spot in the BCS, while Oregon sits at No. 2.

Big picture, nothing has changed for Notre Dame. The Irish still need attrition to reach the national title -- although now, they need less. Alabama's loss knocked down the first wall. For Notre Dame to reach the title, they need either Kansas State or Oregon to lose -- and, of course, the Irish still need to win out.

No matter how impressive or unimpressive Notre Dame looks against Wake Forest and No. 18 USC, as long as the Irish win, they'll stay at No. 3. They won't move up unless the No. 1 Wildcats or No. 2 Ducks lose.

Notre Dame received a first-place vote in the coaches poll for the first time since 2006, with that vote courtesy of coach Brian Kelly. While all Notre Dame players can control is winning, Kelly can attempt to influence the system by putting the Irish atop the coaches poll, which is factored into the BCS. But Kelly was the only coach to vote the Irish No. 1, and it won't change Notre Dame's predicament in the long run.

"We've played a tough schedule," Kelly said Sunday. "Obviously wins on the road against Oklahoma and Michigan State and certainly showing how to beat a tough team in Stanford, those wins are big wins for us. I think we're tested, and I like the way our quarterback is developing, and he's getting better and better each and every week. Those are all positive things."

If K-State and Oregon run the table, though, Notre Dame is staring down either a trip to the Fiesta Bowl or Rose Bowl, the latter of which emerged as an option with Stanford's win over Oregon State on Saturday. If Stanford loses to Oregon and the Ducks go to the title (they'd still have to beat Oregon State and the Pac 12 South champion), there's a chance the Pac 12 won't have an eligible team to play in the Rose Bowl. And with the Rose Bowl first on the at-large pecking order, chances are they'd take Notre Dame.

If that's not the case, though, the Irish would almost certainly earn a Fiesta Bowl berth, where they could wind up facing No. 8 Texas A&M, which rocketed into the BCS discussion with its win over Alabama, which appears destined for the Sugar Bowl. No. 5 Georgia or No. 6 Florida would be viable options for Notre Dame to play in Glendale, too.

But the Fiesta and Rose Bowls are just backup options, and ones that Notre Dame may avoid falling back on with one more loss ahead of them. But no matter how well Notre Dame has played, or will play, that's the only route.

"If you look at National Championship caliber football, you've got to look at a defense, and so that's why we feel strongly that our football team has put themselves in the discussion," Kelly said. "We'll let others decide, but I think we've played our way into the discussion."

Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

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Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

The White Sox are at another point in their schedule where every inning is precious.

So even though they only managed a split in Monday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox have to feel good not to have taxed their bullpen.

Mat Latos and Erik Johnson combined for 12.1 innings pitched and five relievers combined for another 5.1 on Monday for the White Sox, who are in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. Given they have Chris Sale and Jose Quintana scheduled the next two games, the White Sox feel pretty fortunate at the midway point of their lengthy run.

“We didn’t really abuse anybody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These doubleheaders can kind of get away from you and both sides probably had that. You get out of these things without having to use anybody in both games and extending anybody.”

With the way things had recently gone for Latos and Johnson’s command issues in his last start, Monday’s doubleheader could have been trouble for the White Sox bullpen.

Latos hadn’t completed six innings since April 24 and posted a 7.84 ERA in his last four starts. And in his only major league start this season, Johnson allowed four earned runs in five innings against the Boston Red Sox on May 5.

Not only do the White Sox have two more here against the Indians, they start a four-game series in Kansas City on Thursday and then head to Citi Field for three against the New York Mets. Only then do they have another day off.

Johnson made two early mistakes, but mostly followed in the footsteps of Latos, who delivered six innings in the opening game before he departed with a 6-3 lead courtesy of a three-run homer by Brett Lawrie.

While Johnson left a 3-0 fastball up to Rajai Davis and he ripped it for a two-run homer, which put Cleveland up 3-1 in the fifth, he faced only five over the minimum through six innings.

“EJ did a good job for us, we just weren’t really getting anything going,” Ventura said.

Johnson — who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after the start — entered the seventh inning at 93 pitches. With his team trailing by two, Ventura hoped to steal another inning from his right-hander. The Indians took advantage as Juan Uribe homered and scored another run off the combination of Johnson and reliever Matt Purke, who allowed a hit in 2.1 scoreless innings.

“You want to help the team out and save the bullpen as best you can, especially on these nine and nines,” Johnson said. “That’s your job as a starter for a regular nine inning game, whether it’s a doubleheader or not.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities and if they keep coming I’m going to keep coming back here.”

For now, the opportunity belongs to reliever Tommy Kahnle, whom was added as the 26th man before the doubleheader. By optioning Johnson to Charlotte, the White Sox will employ an eight-man bullpen.

Preview: Cubs look to snap losing streak vs. Cardinals on CSN

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Preview: Cubs look to snap losing streak vs. Cardinals on CSN

The Cubs look to snap a three-game losing streak against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (5-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (2-4, 4.03 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

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Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

The White Sox continue their series with the Cleveland Indians tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet Plus. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (9-0, 1.58 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (6-0, 3.56 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.