Cubs, Campana knock Halladay off his game

747545.png

Cubs, Campana knock Halladay off his game

PHILADELPHIA This could have been what Philip Humber meant when he said he didnt know what his name was doing on this list.

Until Humber made baseball history last week with the White Sox, the last man to throw a perfect game was Roy Halladay, the machine who did it to the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010.

Some four months later, Halladay threw a no-hitter in his first postseason start (against the Cincinnati Reds). The Philadelphia Phillies ace has won the Cy Young Award in both leagues.

Halladay appeared to be in the zone on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, retiring the first 10 Cubs he faced. A sellout crowd in South Philly (45,261) might have wondered if history was unfolding.

Tony Campana, whos listed at 5-foot-8, made everyone take notice in the fourth inning. He was a blur sprinting down the line, getting underneath the tag and sliding headfirst into first base.

The Perfect Game Watch was over with that bunt single. The Cubs were putting a 5-1 victory in motion.

Campana stole second and scored the games first run when Starlin Castro singled to right-center field. The 25-year-old outfielder has brought a different dimension to this team since the Marlon Byrd trade, and will keep pushing until Brett Jacksons ready to play center.

After watching Campana run out two infield hits, score two runs and steal his fifth base in six games since his promotion from Triple-A Iowa, manager Dale Sveum committed to playing him 80 percent of the time.

Thats awesome, Campana said. That gives me a chance to kind of show what I can do and hopefully I can stay there for a long time.

Since 2005, the Cubs are now 5-1 in their six games against Halladay, who took the loss after giving up three runs in seven innings. Campana liked to think that he disrupted Halladays rhythm.

Definitely, Campana said. Hes usually one of those guys that likes to just get the ball and go and he had to slow down and really pay attention to me a little bit more.

It looked like it was going to be a long night for Paul Maholm, who began his start by giving up back-to-back singles before shutting down the Phillies (9-11) for six innings.

Maholms 100th and final pitch was drilled by Ty Wigginton for a home run in the seventh, but the left-hander still outdueled Halladay.

Hes a great pitcher and you know hes not going to give up a ton, Maholm said. You just got to make sure you make your pitches, get groundballs and do everything you can to make sure that we had a chance to come back in and get some things going.

It took a little while, but luckily I kept throwing up a couple zeroes and the defense was making plays.

You probably didnt see this coming from the Cubs (7-13). Maholm has won his past two starts after getting hammered in his first two. Campana has shown that he can be a game-changer. It turns out Halladay wasnt perfect.

I dont think you ever have any explanation about beating the best pitcher in baseball, Sveum said. It didnt look too good after those first three or four innings. It didnt look like we were going to do a whole heck of a lot off his fastball and his cutter. (But) we fought and scratched and did what we could to get the runs when we had to.

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

If there's a more maddening player in the Eastern Conference than Nikola Mirotic, that player's psychologist should be getting paid double considering Bulls fans have been talking to themselves about Mirotic so much over the past three years.

And as they've reached no conclusion on Mirotic, along with many other sage minds, only one thing is for certain: March is his month.

Meaning it's the month where it becomes maddening to watch him play and probably equally as maddening for his teammates who've watched his inconsistencies for the better part of four months or so.

Averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 41 career March games, it's the only full month where Mirotic averages in double figures for his career—meaning there's a lot of inconsistencies to wade through to get to the proverbial pot of gold.

In 2014-15, he emerged as the NBA's best fourth-quarter scorer that month when the Bulls were without both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Last season, he came back fresh after an appendectomy took a big chunk of his year.

This year, there's no big macro reason. He's just playing definitively, making quick movements and it's paying off as his two best scoring games took place within a four-day span (28 against both Detroit and Milwaukee).

"Right now, you see I'm shooting without hesitation," Mirotic said to CSNChicago.com. "Just catch and shooting. It's a great feeling."

No word on whether Mirotic hears the fans in the arena or the twitterverse screaming for him to ditch the pump fake that he actually admits it got in his head, but this season has been a roller coaster of the most dramatic kind, as the Bulls are still vying for playoff positioning with eight games remaining in the regular season.

"Sometimes, especially when I'm reading you guys (media), Niko pump fake, pump fake," Mirotic said with a smile. "Okay, no more pump fakes, just fire that ball. I'm laughing because you guys are (right)…that's true. You guys want me to shoot. It doesn't look good when you pump fake every time you have a wide-open shot."

Being penciled in as a training camp starter due to the need for floor spacing, Taj Gibson quickly outplayed Mirotic for the power forward spot. Then Mirotic's up and down, down and up, season began.

Kind of like his pump fake that often drew more defensive attention for it's predictability than effectiveness, stability has been hard to find for a player many have been waiting on since the day he was drafted in 2011.

"I know the defenses are ready for my pump fake so now just like, shoot the ball," Mirotic said. "I've been spending a lot of hours working on my shot before practice, after practice, trying to catch the feeling."

Better late than never or too late?

That's the question surrounding Mirotic and he knows it, being aware of his status as a restricted free-agent-to-be, along with his trade value a month ago being so low, the Bulls could only get a future second-round pick for him from teams.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bulls tickets right here!]

With the Bulls having so many questions going into the future, who knows if they want to go through the up-and-down, down-and-up cycle with a talented player yet again, with a big-time financial commitment.

In a sense, Mirotic knows he's left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he's back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond.

"I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls," Mirotic said. "Whatever decision they make. It's been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it's a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don't know. The years here have been great. I know it's been up and down. It's been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right."

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

No Bears move yet on CB Deiondre' Hall except maybe to safety

PHOENIX – If the Bears intend to cut ties with Deiondre' Hall after the first-year cornerback become involved in an ugly police incident last weekend, they have not indicated their decision yet. They have, however, begun looking at a possible position change for Hall as they gather information on events of last Saturday night.

Hall was tasered by police in Cedar Falls, Ia., after he and a former Northern Iowa University teammate were allegedly involved in a fight at a bar. Hall was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Hall allegedly spit in the officers' faces, according to an affidavit, police saying that an officer used a Taser on Hall's legs in order to get him into a squad car.

GM Ryan Pace confirmed that the team is still gathering information and said, "it's just [that] the circumstances are a little disappointing, to be honest with you. We're aware of it, it's just kind of gathering more facts as we go forward."

Pace has spoken to Hall and said that the team wanted to investigate thoroughly, "but the circumstances surrounding it are obviously disappointing."

In the meantime, the 2016 fourth-round draft choice is slated to be tried at safety when the team convenes for the start of offseason work. Hall played the position in college, and has traits that the Bears value at the safety position.

"One of Deiondre's best traits is his ball skills, his ball clock, the ability to time the pass breakup," Pace said. "He's very natural at playing safety and that's one of the reasons we drafted him, because he has the versatility to do both. That's something we're going to talk about this offseason and he could start taking some reps there in the offseason program."

Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who missed all of last season following arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-August, will stay at cornerback.