Marlins tee off on Garza

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Marlins tee off on Garza

MIAMI Matt Garza walked off the mound shaking his head, and it looked like he had some words for home-plate umpire Brian ONora. He disappeared into a tunnel leading out of the dugout.

I always say something on my way out, Garza said, good or bad.

Marlins Park is loud, flashy and unpredictable, and that might as well describe Garzas personality. Its early reputation for being a pitchers park couldnt stop the two balls crushed by Donnie Murphy and Hanley Ramirez.

Those two two-run homers set off the flashing lights and water works on the pop-art sculpture that reportedly cost 2.5 million.

Chairman Tom Ricketts and several other high-level Cubs executives toured the futuristic stadium on Wednesday, and they watched their team get dismantled during a 9-1 loss in front of 25,723 fans.

Garza wanted two pitches back, the 93 mph fastball Murphy lifted over the left-field wall, and the Frisbee slider Ramirez hammered to left-center. You couldnt blame him if he felt like he had to be perfect.

If I start being perfect, its going to turn into one big old circus, Garza said, trying to dot every i and cross every t. So Im just going to keep doing what Ive been doing my whole career, and thats keep going after the next one, keep getting ready and hit that pavement and grindstone. Lets go.

This guaranteed the Cubs (3-9) will lose their first four series of the year, and there are warning signs all around. Theyve scored more than four runs only three times this season. Marlon Byrd is hitting .081 (3-for-37). The bullpen is waiting to see how Kerry Woods right shoulder responds to a cortisone injection.

Were not giving them much of a lead (or) scoring any runs, manager Dale Sveum said. So its tough for the starting pitchers to just know that they have to be perfect all the time.

Garza (1-1, 3.66 ERA) was pulled after five-plus innings and was charged with six runs. He had failed to execute a sacrifice bunt earlier and grabbed a bat.

Sveum had trouble suppressing a smile: He thought he was going to hit. He was going to get some swings down in the tunnel. We got a little tee and the net down there.

Garza said: Yeah, I wanted to go square up in the mirror and just kind of see where I was at in the stance, stuff like that.

Whether the Cubs admit it or not, the frustration level has to be rising.

Mark Buehrle, whos spent almost his entire life in the Midwest, doesnt exactly scream South Beach. But the Marlins gave him a four-year, 58 million contract to reunite with Ozzie Guillen and recreate some of the World Series magic they discovered with the 2005 White Sox.

Garza couldnt match Buehrle (1-2, 2.66), who sliced through the Cubs lineup, allowing one run on six hits. He struck out five while walking none, taking advantage of a team thats overanxious.

He had his A-game, utility man Jeff Baker said. Guys are busting their tail in the cage. We have an approach. Were just not executing right now. Unfortunately, thats the way it goes. Sometimes when you try to get on the gas a little more and go harder, harder, harder, it gets worse. Hopefully, guys will just relax and we can have better at-bats when we need to have em.

Sunday on CSN: Fire look to extend home unbeaten streak against Red Bulls

Sunday on CSN: Fire look to extend home unbeaten streak against Red Bulls

The Kennedy Igboananike trade shifted focus a bit towards next year for the Chicago Fire, but on Sunday the focus returns to the field.

The Fire host the New York Red Bulls and the game will be televised live on CSN. Coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live. The game willl also be simulcast with a Spanish language broadcast on CSN+.

Since going 1-5 to start the season, the Red Bulls (9-9-4, 31 points) have looked like one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and sit second in the standings. The team’s recent run has caught the attention Fire coach Veljko Paunovic.

“We are looking at the next game against one of the best teams in the league, in my opinion,” Paunovic said. “I would say performance wise the best team because in the style they play, it’s fantastic. I think they have very, very good players.”

[SHOP: Get a hold of your own Fire home jersey here]

The Red Bulls are playing better of late, but have not succeeded much on the road. New York is 1-7-3 on the road and 8-2-1 at home.

The Fire (4-10-5, 17 points) remain in last in the conference, but have an eight-match unbeaten streak at Toyota Park.

“It’s important to stay strong at home and it’s important for our fans to see that we can compete against one of the best teams in the league here at our field with all our field,” Paunovic said.

Fire midfielder Razvan Cocis will miss his second straight match due to injury and Joey Calistri was still listed as questionable. With Igboananike gone, forward depth for the Fire is very thin, especially if Calistri is unavailable.

Brandon Vincent’s availability is also in question after playing in the MLS All-Star Game on Thursday. He only logged 33 minutes, but factoring in cross-country travel and just two days rest, Vincent may not play.

The Red Bulls have the same situation with Sacha Kljestan, who played 41 minutes in the All-Star Game. Kljestan leads the league with 12 assists and also has five goals. Bradley Wright-Phillips has also been hot of late. The English forward has 11 goals after not scoring in the first seven matches of the season.

“Sacha Kljestan is playing at an MVP-caliber level and Wright-Phillips has seemed to find the scoring touch again,” Fire defender Eric Gehrig said. “They had a great year last and they’re starting to turn it on now, but we’re at home. We know that if we bring our best game that we can compete with anyone at home. It’s an important three points, especially with our road form we know that we have to snatch these points up and we’re looking forward to it.”

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls

When: 6 p.m. Sunday (coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)

TV: Comcast SportsNet (simulcast in Spanish on CSN+)

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.

Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates, coaches

Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates, coaches

MINNEAPOLIS — He hasn’t yet made any inroads on the charitable end of the throwback jersey ordeal, but Chris Sale has addressed his teammates and coaches.

The White Sox pitcher said Saturday afternoon he’d look more into a potential charity benefit involving the destroyed 1976 throwback jerseys from a week ago in the near future. As for the more prominent topic, Sale, who is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday in Detroit, said he spoke to the White Sox after Thursday night’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"Got it all squared away," Sale said. "Got on the same page. We are back to where we were before, trying to win games. Putting that in the forefront.

"I got my point across. I said the things I wanted to say, and you move forward."

Both Sale and White Sox manager Robin Ventura described the discussion as good and stressed they’re ready to move forward. Sale told MLB.com on Monday he thought Ventura needed to do a better job supporting his players. Asked if they have a good relationship, Ventura said yes but didn’t go into detail about what the two discussed.

"I had a long talk with him," Ventura said. "We continue to move on, and it’s about baseball. That’s part of the professional part of it.

"It was good. I’m not going to get into what we talked about, but we had a long talk and it was good."

Sale said he spoke to everyone individually, including Ventura. He also reiterated he thinks the story has been blown out of proportion.

"I talked to everybody involved personally one on one," Sale said. "Cleared the air, had some good talks. Learned some things. Talked about some things we already knew. It was good. It was very productive.

"I think everyone is making a little bit bigger deal of this. Ten or 15 years ago, this wouldn’t have been a story. There was no such thing as Twitter, and I don’t think as much information leaked out as it does nowadays. It’s just something that people gravitate to. It’s the nature of the beast — I understand that.

"As much as I don’t like it, I can’t be mad it. It is what it is. You move forward and keep a positive mind frame and come in every day with the same mindset."

As for the jerseys and their future, Sale said he plans to determine the best way to proceed forward when the team returns home from this eight-game road trip. He credits his wife, Brianne, for the suggestion that some good come from an incident that resulted in his five-game suspension.

"She’s the smart one in the house apparently," Sale said. "She brought it up, and it came to my attention it could be possible. So any time something bad happens like what happened, you always try to find something positive. If we can make a positive out of negative, it’s perfect. Works out well."

Bears Camp Shorts: Leonard Floyd debuts, front-7 goes on the attack

Bears Camp Shorts: Leonard Floyd debuts, front-7 goes on the attack

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Leonard Floyd, sidelined by illness almost as soon as Thursday’s first practice began, was in full pads on Saturday, with coaches limiting his workload and with the kind of mixed results usually associated with rookies.

The rush linebacker, working primarily with the No. 3 defense, set a defensive edge and flashed in a stop of running back Senorise Perry. But Floyd struggled in some of his pass drops and followed a play fake and lost containment on one quarterback rollout in team sessions.

Floyd likely dropped some pounds over the course of week with a stomach virus but “Leonard is exceptionally quick and explosive,” said coach John Fox. “We saw that on tape as a college player and all through the OTAs. A lot was made of his weight but that takes care of itself. He’s just a good football player”….

[RELATED: Bears agree to extension with Willie Young]

…The defense has wanted more pass rush from its down-linemen and has seen just that from Akiem Hicks in the early camp going. Hicks overwhelmed rookie guard Cody Whitehair with a bull rush in a two-man pass-protection drill, and Hicks again was in the face of quarterback Jay Cutler during team sessions, combining with Mitch Unrein for one simulated sack and breaking in solo for another.

“Somebody told me [Cutler] said, 'Do that in pads,'” Hicks said of his Friday encounter with the quarterback. “He said that yesterday when I got him and then today I got him in pads, and he didn't say much”….

Lamarr Houston was involved in the first dust-up of camp as he and guard Ted Larsen engaged in post-whistle hostilities. But the rush linebacker also was involved in myriad impact plays ranging from coming clean for a simulated sack in pass-rush work to stacking up two different run plays in team...