Lots of offense 'trolls' for Vikings to battle

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Lots of offense 'trolls' for Vikings to battle

The Bears have beaten the Vikings six straight times, prompting Minnesota All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams to suspect they must have a lucky Troll in this place. The Bears also are 27-10 in Cutlers last 37 starts so maybe Cutler is the troll.

He wasnt the only one.

The performance of the offense was nothing close to dominating but it was precisely what has worked for the Bears and represented a step up for first-year coordinator Mike Tice.

The Bears netted 102 combined yards from running backs Michael Bush (60) and Matt Forte (42). The fact that they needed 35 carries to accomplish 100 yards the first time since Tennessee that Bears backs have topped 100 is perhaps less important than that they did need 35 carries because of the commitment to the run it represented.

I think when we stay committed to the run and we block well, were going to be successful, Cutler said. Whenever you get into pass-happy and divert from the run, its hard, especially in November and December.

The consistent use of the run amid the chaos on the offensive line was the biggest reason the Bears allowed zero sacks (Cutler tripped over center Roberto Garza for the Vikings one credited sack), arguably more important than protection schemes, which have failed against Jared Allen in the past.

The Brandon Ratio

Brandon Marshall was targeted on 17 of Cutlers 31 pass attempts and caught 12 for 92 yards, the seventh time this season he has topped 90 yards. Whether that sort of ball distribution is effective in the long run but it pushed Marshall past 1,000 yards (1,017 through 11 games) for the sixth straight year.

Marshall currently has 81 receptions, already tied (with Curtis Conway, 1996) for seventh on the Bears all-time list for single-season receptions. That will change very soon, since Jeff Graham (82) and Bobby Engram (88) are next on the list.

To his credit, however, Marshall is less impressed with that number than the Bears win total.

I definitely take pride in it, Marshall said. There is a great quote out there that says, Dont confuse activity with production. You have to be productive in anything you do in life.

I hope that this is the last place that I catch 1,000 yards. Im really proud to be a Bear and when I look back on my legacy as a football player, I want it to be as a Bear.

Is it time for the White Sox to call up Reynaldo Lopez?

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USA TODAY

Is it time for the White Sox to call up Reynaldo Lopez?

With Yoan Moncada now with the White Sox and making an early impact, White Sox fans may be wondering which highly-touted prospect is next to join the big league roster.

Reynaldo Lopez is certainly making a strong case for himself in Triple-A Charlotte. Lopez, one of the pitchers the Sox received from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade, gave up one run in six innings for the Knights on Friday night. That was the latest in a string of five strong starts for the 23-year-old.

In Friday's 2-1 loss against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, Lopez struck out six and allowed just two hits and one walk. That's five straight starts for Lopez in which he has allowed two or fewer runs while pitching six or more innings.

Here's his last five starts:

June 29 vs. Columbus: 6 2/3 innings, 1 run, 11 strikeouts, 1 walk, 6 hits

July 4 at Durham: 6 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 5 hits

July 9 at Louisville: 6 innings, 2 runs, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 7 hits

July 16 vs. Gwinnett: 7 innings, 1 run, 12 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 hist

Tonight at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 6 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 hits

Loepz has a 3.65 ERA on the season with 107 strikeouts in 106 innings against 40 walks and 90 hits. In a short stint in the majors last season, Lopez had a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings in six starts and five relief appearances for the Nationals.

Does Guaranteed Rate Field await the Dominican right-hander?

White Sox minor league trade could signal more big league moves to come

White Sox minor league trade could signal more big league moves to come

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What may appear at face value to be a deal for pitching depth could be a precursor of more White Sox trades to come.

The White Sox acquired Triple-A relief pitchers Mark Lowe and Jean Machi from the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners) on Friday night. While the move merely could be to add bullpen arms to a system short on them after trades and injuries have depleted their depth, the White Sox could also be preparing themselves for the next wave of moves. David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle may be gone.

But the White Sox still possess a strong rental reliever in veteran Anthony Swarzak and left-hander Dan Jennings could also draw interest even though his 4.05 ERA is the highest he’d had since coming to the White Sox.

“We are still open for business,” general manager Rick Hahn said on Tuesday night. “We’re starting to get a little younger in that clubhouse. A few guys are starting to get opportunities over the next few weeks and months. It will be interesting to see. If we don’t do anything over the next couple weeks we’ll have a better assessment of where we are heading into the off-season, perhaps set some things up for them.”

A free agent in the offseason, Swarzak has a 2.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 44 innings this season. Jennings has a career 2.94 ERA in 278 games.

Lowe has spent the entire season at Tacoma. He has a 4.22 ERA in 382 career games in the majors. Machi has a 3.38 ERA in 194 games in the bigs and has pitched for San Francisco, Boston and Seattle. He had a 3.44 ERA in 29 games at Tacoma.

The White Sox intend to have Tyler Clippard work as their closer after the departures of Robertson and Kahnle, manager Rick Renteria said.

Hahn has already been extremely busy this month, making a pair of deals that netted seven prospects and Clippard. He dealt Jose Quintana to the Cubs on July 13 for four prospects and traded Robertson, Kahnle and Todd Frazier to the Yankees on Tuesday.