Back home, Leddy never wonders what could have been

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Back home, Leddy never wonders what could have been

For Nick Leddy, theres always going to be something special about stepping onto the Xcel Energy Center ice. Its where he played when he was with Eden Prairie High School during their 2009 state title run, and the memories are always there.

Those memories will probably be there again when Leddy and the Chicago Blackhawks play the Minnesota Wild there on Thursday night. But as far as seeing Xcel in the what-might-have-been sense; to wonder if the Wild, who drafted him, hadnt traded him? Well, thats kind of an afterthought.

The Blackhawks are the only pro group Leddy has ever known, and hes just fine with that. And in two seasons, the young defenseman is finding his niche with the team.

Leddy has just about completed his sophomore season with the Blackhawks, one that has certainly had its ups and downs. Yes, hes a minus-15, a number hed love to get closer to a positive. But hes also posted a career-high 34 assists, the second most among Blackhawks defensemen this season. In the absence of Duncan Keith, Leddy was there with the helpers, tallying five in four games.

Nicks had some real good stretches in the season, coach Joel Quenneville said recently. Its a long year, and there are some learning curves as far as positioning, consistency; its something young defenseman can be exposed to at times and grown into it nicely. His movement with the puck and coming up with speed, thats noticeable.

Also noticeable is the success Leddy and partner Johnny Oduya have had together. Paired about a period into Oduyas stint with the Blackhawks, the two have formed a solid and reliable duo on the ice. Leddy said hes learned a lot from the veteran Oduya.

Its been great. I think weve talked almost after every play, every time were out there. Or if he sees something I can do better or can help him out in any way, we talk about it on the bench, said Leddy, who added the two did build chemistry pretty quick.

We were talking the other day and (Oduya) said he played with a guy from the (University of Minnesota), too, Paul Martin, said Leddy of Martin, who played with Oduya in New Jersey. We play alike and I think maybe our play fits each other.

Leddys plus-minus, however, has been rough this season. But Keith said Leddy shouldnt take all the blame for it.

Every defenseman has tough stretches, Keith said. Weve had some times where weve allowed a lot of goals. He plays a lot and youre going to be on for goals but sometimes its not always your fault. Sometimes he took some heat but it wasnt all to do with him. Its a collective group out there. Hes been great all year.

Leddy will always go home, always get back to Xcel and its memories, twice a season. But there are no such visions about what couldve been with Minnesota. Its only about what is with the Blackhawks.

Ive been here long enough where I like it here, Leddy said. And I couldnt see myself anywhere else.

White Sox crush four homers to support Jose Quintana in win over Mariners

White Sox crush four homers to support Jose Quintana in win over Mariners

Fireworks Night started early for the White Sox on Saturday night.

The White Sox homered four times to support Jose Quintana in their 9-3 win over the Seattle Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 27,318 fans. Quintana, who set a career high in season wins last week, notched his 11th victory of the season.

"This year is special for me," Quintana said. "Now we have momentum. (We have to) try to keep (it) going to get more for my team. It’s really good. I’m trying to do my job."

Quintana was on point again right from the get-go. After allowing a double to the first batter of the game, the 27-year-old southpaw retired the next 11 batters.

Quintana pitched 7.2 innings with eight strikeouts and two runs on five hits and a walk. He lowered his ERA to 2.77 on the year.

"He's pretty consistent," said manager Robin Ventura. "I think that's the biggest thing for him. Mentality wise and just focus, just his attitude and everything that goes with him is pretty consistent. You're never going to really tell what's going on with him on the game.

"He's had so many games that were close or tied or even behind that he never changes. I think that's what endears him to a lot of guys. He's consistent."

While Quintana has been consistent all year, the offense hasn't been. But on Saturday, the team gave their starter a healthy dose of run support.

"What was really impressive was the offense tonight was really good for us and for me," Quintana said. "It’s fun when you’re throwing when a lot of runs are scored."

The Mariners opened up the scoring with a sac fly from Robinson Cano in the first. But the White Sox answered back right away.

Melky Cabrera drove in Tim Anderson, who tripled in the previous at-bat, with a sac fly. The next batter, Jose Abreu, crushed his 18th homer of the year to put the White Sox in front. Cabrera was the only White Sox who didn’t record a hit in the game.

The White Sox offense began to heat up in the fourth after a quiet second and third from both sides.

After the first two batters of the inning were retired, the next four White Sox got on. It cleared the path for Tyler Saladino’s RBI single, which put the Sox up 3-1. Saladino finished the night with one homer and three RBI.

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The White Sox added four more in the fifth inning.

The scoring started with an RBI triple from Justin Morneau — the team’s second three-bagger of the night.

Back-to-back homers from Avisail Garcia and Alex Avila made it 7-1. It was the fifth time the White Sox hit two consecutive homers this season.

"I think Q's probably the happiest guy of anybody. He was great," Ventura said. "Any time you swing the bat as well as we did tonight and you get some add ons with the homers, you like seeing that kind of offense and you like seeing balls over the fence.

"Guys had a good night of just being patient and being able to cash in."

The Mariners added a run in the sixth from an RBI single by Guillermo Heredia and a sac-fly Franklin Gutierrez in the ninth.

Avila went 1-for-3 with a solo homer and walk in his first game since July 5.

Garcia, who had five extra base hits in June and July, had three on Friday night.

Preview: Cubs-Dodgers Sunday on CSN

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Preview: Cubs-Dodgers Sunday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 2:30 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.

CSN will also carry the live audio call of Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully during Sunday's game as the SportsNet LA audio feed will be featured during the third inning.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester vs. Kenta Maeda

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

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

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

Defensive mistakes, red card cost Fire in ugly loss at D.C.

Defensive mistakes, red card cost Fire in ugly loss at D.C.

RFK Stadium hosted one of the stranger games of the Chicago Fire’s season on Saturday.

It also may end up being a killer blow to the Fire’s playoff hopes.

The Fire lost 6-2 to the host D.C. United, falling nine points out of the playoffs with nine matches remaining.

Patrick Mullins had a hat trick and former Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko played a role in three of D.C.’s goals. The six goals were the most the Fire have allowed this season.

Fire midfielder Khaly Thiam received a red card in the 34th minute in a match-changing moment. Thiam fouled Nyarko then argued with the ref and dropped the ball on Nyarko’s face while Nyarko was still on the ground.

Nyarko keyed the opening goal in the 25th minute with a backheel in the box to Marcelo, whose low cross was finished off by Mullins.

Michael de Leeuw answered for the Fire (5-12-8, 23 points) by tucking away a big rebound from goalkeeper Bill Hamid after Matt Polster hit a half-volley at Hamid. The relief was short-lived for the Fire because Thiam was sent off a few minutes later.

Nyarko set up Mullins for a goal in the 40th minute and then Luciano Acosta did the same for Mullins in first half added time to make it 3-1 D.C. (7-8-11, 32 points). Razvan Cocis got the Fire back within one on the final kick of the half with a long shot that took a big deflection, lofting the ball perfectly over Hamid and into the net.

However, Nyarko quickly restored D.C.’s two-goal lead out of halftime with a goal in the 51st minute. Mullins finished off his hat trick in the 76th minute and Nick DeLeon finished the scoring in the 89th.

David Accam, who was favoring and icing his left leg after Wednesday’s draw with LA, did not start the match. He subbed on at halftime. He and David Arshakyan, who made his Fire debut off the bench, will both leave for international duty and miss next weekend’s match against Philadelphia.