Previewing the rubber game in Cubs-Red Sox series


Previewing the rubber game in Cubs-Red Sox series

The Cubs and Red Sox split the first two games of this historic weekend series at Wrigley.

The series may mean more to the 32-33 Red Sox in the standings, as they try to battle through a heap of adversity to start the season, but a win Sunday would still mean a lot to the Cubs.

Just as former players like to play well against their old team, the same can be said for coaches and front office executives. It's the competitive spirit in them all. Sure, Theo Epstein still keeps tabs on the Red Sox and how they're doing but why not get a couple of wins out of them while they're in town for the weekend?

This series is also a sort of measuring stick for the Cubs. They've been trying to copy the Red Sox model for over a year and as Theo and Co. try to develop "The Cubs Way," the players and coaches merely have to look across the field to see how well it worked for Theo in Boston with "The Red Sox Way."

Here's the way the Cubs will line up against Franklin Morales (who gets the spot start for Josh Beckett, who landed on the DL Saturday with a shoulder injury) in the rubber game:

1. Reed Johnson - RF
2. Darwin Barney - 2B
3. Starlin Castro - SS
4. Alfonso Soriano - LF
5. Jeff Baker - 1B
6. Joe Mather - CF
7. Welington Castillo - C
8. Luis Valbuena - 3B
9. Paul Maholm - P

Adrian Gonzalez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks will get a rest for the Red Sox tonight. Saltalamacchia hit a two-run shot in Saturday's ball game.

Here's the rest of the Red Sox lineup:

1. Scott Podsednik - LF
2. Dustin Pedroia - 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis - 3B
4. David Ortiz - 1B
5. Mike Aviles - SS
6. Darnell McDonald - RF
7. Kelly Shoppach - C
8. Ryan Kalish - CF
9. Franklin Morales - P

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

What if… Cubs GM Jed Hoyer’s takeaways from epic World Series Game 7

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Michigan State gets big win to boost tourney hopes, while Wisconsin loses for fourth time in five games




Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling found out at 8 o'clock this morning that he was starting for an ailing Corey Crawford. Considering he did this back in December for a few weeks, adjusting quick for one game was fine.

"It's kind of my job," Darling said.

And Darling, once again, did his job.

Darling stopped 30 of 32 shots and Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games. They're one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who made their splashy trade-deadline move in acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, thanks to veterans regaining their form, a top line finding its rhythm and youth consistently improving, are just rolling right along.

"We had a great start to the game. I thought Darls was excellent all night, great stretch there in the last 10 minutes where we fight through some tough shifts, particularly in the last couple of minutes in our end. But good win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the nice plays on the goals, it was kind of a comparable ending to the outdoor game: tied and about the same time they scored, we scored (tonight). Big two points for us."

Jonathan Toews scored his 16th of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blackhawks already knew they'd be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for at least a day or two when they found out Crawford couldn't go this morning. As Quenneville said Darling was strong once again, denying the Blues all but twice (a 2-on-1 goal from Magnus Paajarvi and a power-play goal from Alex Pietrangelo).

Toews and Kane (power-play goal) staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early before the Blues tied it in the second. But late in the third period Anisimov took the feed from Artemi Panarin to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

"I saw the puck all the way. It was easy to pick up," Anisimov said. "When you don't see the puck at the last moment and it comes, it's hard to receive and prepare for the next move. But I saw it all the way. Easy to prepare for the next move."

Speaking of next moves, do the Blackhawks make any more before the trade deadline. General manager Stan Bowman said on Friday, following the acquisition of Tomas Jurco, that he'll keep talking and listening but likes the group he has right now. If Bowman's made moves it's for what the Blackhawks have needed, not because of another team's trades. The Blackhawks like what they have right now. Winning nine of 10 and continuing to trend in the right direction, they should be careful not to disrupt what they've got going.

"I think we're, as we've said lately, trending the right way. We're playing solid. I think all four lines are contributing in every which way," Toews said. "I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more and it's a lot of fun to see the way we're playing right now. We know that the ceiling is way higher and we can keep getting better too."