Chicago Bears

Braves end the Yanks' winning streak at 10

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Braves end the Yanks' winning streak at 10

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves eventually caught the ball, and the New York Yankees. Jones atoned for a costly error by cutting down the potential tying run at the plate and the Braves held on to end the Yankees' 10-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory Tuesday night. "Sometimes you're going to whiff on some balls," the All-Star third baseman said. "But you've got to have a hockey goalie mentality down there. You've got to flush it or you're going to get the next one down your throat." The Yankees were trying to match their longest winning string in nearly a half-century. Instead, the Braves threw out two runners at home and won for only the second time in nine games -- their skid included four losses to the Yankees. "They pitched really well and had some really good defense. That's kind of what we've been doing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Jason Heyward singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning off Hiroki Kuroda (6-7). Heyward also tripled and scored, and nailed Mark Teixeira at home with a strong throw from right field. "We wouldn't have gotten there if it wasn't for Jason Heyward," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Rookie Andrelton Simmons drove in two runs and Jones delivered an RBI double for the slumping Braves. Down by a run, the Yankees threatened in the seventh. Curtis Granderson opened with a single off Jonny Venters, Alex Rodriguez walked and the runners moved up on a groundout. Teixeira followed with a sharp grounder and Granderson broke home, but Jones made a strong throw and catcher Brian McCann applied the tag. Raul Ibanez then struck out. "You play third base, you know you're going to have the lowest-fielding percentage in the infield," Jones said. "You get some rockets, some balls with topspin. The big thing on that play was the pick. Once I picked it, I could make the throw and Mac set a nice target." The Yankees' recent run was built entirely against NL teams. Only once since 1965 had the Yankees won 11 in a row, and that was in 1985. The team's record winning streak was 19 in 1947. "None of the breaks kind of went our way tonight," Teixeira said. Tim Hudson (5-3) labored through five innings and four relievers preserved the lead. Craig Kimbrel closed for his NL-leading 20th save. The Braves were hurt by missing mitts more than missing bats in the early innings. In the second, center fielder Michael Bourn got twisted around trying to track down Nick Swisher's deep drive. Bourn tapped his glove, then saw the ball glance off the tip as he ran into the padded wall on a two-run double. Swisher was sidelined the past two games with a bruised left quadriceps. In the fourth, Ibanez hit a grounder that first baseman Freddie Freeman misplayed for an error. With two outs and two on, Jones let Russell Martin's low liner skip off his glove for an error that scored a run and made it 3-all. As the crowd cheered, the 40-year-old Jones looked down at the ground, took off his mitt and scuffed the dirt. "I could've made that play," he said. Jones grounded an RBI double in the top of the fourth, a day after the scuffling star said he needed to do more at the plate. Later in the inning, Simmons hit a bases-loaded single that scored a run, but Heyward was nailed at third base for the third out an instant before Jones slid home. Heyward threw out Teixeira in the fifth. In the sixth, Heyward victimized Teixeira again, hitting a hard grounder that nailed the first baseman in the left foot for an RBI single with two outs that put Atlanta ahead 4-3. NOTES: Freeman (injured finger) was back after missing five starts. ... Ibanez doubled to end an 0-for-15 slide. ... Yankees starters have pitched at least six innings in 19 straight games. ... Yankees RHP Michael Pineda, out for the season with a tear in his shoulder, has been with the team for a few days. He hopes to resume throwing in September and aiming to ready for spring training next year. ... Yankees RHP David Aardsma struck out two and walked one in one inning of a Gulf Coast League game. It was the reliever's first outing since elbow-ligament replacement surgery last July. ... The Braves and the Nationals will make up their June 1 rainout as part of a day-night doubleheader on July 21 in Washington. ... Rene Meulensteen, first team coach of soccer power Manchester United, watched the Yankees take batting practice. He recently gave a clinic in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Derek Jeter grew up. "Tall, runs well, good with the eyes. Might've been a good player in our sport," he said.

Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

Prince Amukamara (ankle) is expected to make his 2017 regular season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a full participant in practices Thursday and Friday (he wasn't listed on Friday's injury report). But that leads to the question: What does defensive coordinator Vic Fangio do with Kyle Fuller?

Fuller acquitted himself well in starts against the Atlanta Falcons — in which he helped limit Julio Jones to four catches on five targets — and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears signed Amukamara to start opposite Marcus Cooper, but Fuller has at least earned the opportunity to keep his job — or a job — on Sunday. 

And it's worth noting that both Fuller and Amukamara are in contract years, so both should be motivated to not lose playing time going forward. 

“I was pleased with the waay Kyle played overall,” Fangio said. “There's obviously some plays he'd like to do over and play them a little better, but overall I thought he did a good job. I like where he's at right now.”

Fangio didn’t play Fuller as a nickel corner in 2015. But if the Bears want to get their best defensive players on the field could Fuller force his way into a nickel role with Amukamara and Cooper as the outside guys? 

That’s an especially pertinent question given Pittsburgh’s explosive trio of receivers: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

“No matter where a receiver lines up, it’s not going to be a down to take off,” Amukamara said. “We’re always going to have to have our ‘A’ game.”

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

Avisail Garcia's "big head" almost cost the White Sox on Friday night. At least, that's Reynaldo Lopez's humorous theory. 

With the game on the line and the Royals' tying run dashing for the plate, Garcia slipped a bit before making a clutch recovery to nail Whit Merrifield. The craziness continued after the tag as Narvaez caught Lorenzo Cain drifting off first base to seal a win. 

"I was watching the game on the TV here," Lopez said, "and then when I saw the hit from Cain, and I saw that Avi fell down because he has a big head, I was concerned but at the same time I saw that his throw, he has a good arm and he made a very good throw." 

Just your average 9-2-4-6 double play to end a game on the South Side, right? 

"Obviously, when he slipped we took a little gasp," Renteria said. "But we were talking about his body control to be able to maintain himself enough to get up and make the throw that he did. Unbelievable. It's pretty exciting finish to a ballgame that kind of got a little ugly early on."

Ugly is an apt way to describe the first few innings. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both made errors in the Royals' six-run third inning, and Lopez capped it off with a wild pitch that allowed Eric Hosmer to score. But it went from an eyesore loss to an overzealous "we could make noise in 2019" rebuild win from there, and Garcia's defense -- of all things -- played a significant role. 

Garcia's outfield assist in the ninth was his second of the game. The first, an absolute strike to cut down Alex Gordon in the sixth, didn't involve a slip, though. 

And while much has been made of Garcia's breakout year with the bat, he believes his defense is hugely improved, too. 

"I think 100 percent," he said. "I just try to get better every day with hitting and defense. That’s baseball so get better in everything."

He has 12 outfield assists on the season, up from five a year ago. And despite his overall fielding percentage being down, his strong arm may give him a stronger defensive reputation. 

"Since last year, he's always had an excellent arm," Renteria said. "I think his accuracy is something to be pointed out too because as off balance as he was, he's made some throws to the plate that have been really spot on."

Renteria attributes Garcia's accuracy to the outfielder putting in extra time with Daryl Boston. 

"(Boston) has those guys throwing, and none of you guys are out there watching them work, but they'll throw quite a bit to the bases, especially second base," Renteria said. "They'll get deep and they'll work on doing that, so that's just a part of their routine."

The evolution of Avi carries on.