AP Sports Writers Howard Fein Neuigkeiten 07.10.2018 10:05
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Not that long ago Youth John Tavares Jersey , the Chicago Cubs probably viewed a series against the Cincinnati Reds as a near-guaranteed way to pick up some quick victories and gain some ground in the National League Central standings.
Those days have changed. And so is the Cubs-Reds rivalry.
The Cubs couldn’t hold a multi-run lead for the second straight night, and the Reds won their fifth in a row and eighth in 10 games — quite a run for a team that played .250 ball for the first month-plus of the season — by rallying for a 6-3 victory on Friday night.
Now, the Cubs are expected to ask their bullpen to carry them through the third game of the four-game series Saturday at Great American Ball Park — a series that isn’t going much like most of those Cubs-Reds matchups for the last four seasons.
Going into the series, the Cubs were 43-19 against the Reds since 2015, but the Reds are playing much differently now than they did when they were 8-27 on May 7. They’re 4-0 on their current homestand, even though they still remain well below .500 at 30-45.
“Even when we were losing, they (his veteran players) felt like, ‘We’re a good ballclub, we’re going to get our share (of wins),'” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “(When) we’re on a roll like this, they feel like we’re just going to keep going with it.”
Eugenio Suarez lifted his average to .304 by going 3-for-4 with a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning off Jose Quintana (6-6) and Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI. Quintana gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
“We’re playing really good baseball,” Suarez said. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing — and keep winning. If we play like this, something good is going to happen.”
The Cubs scored three times against Reds starter Luis Castillo (5-8) in 5 2/3 innings — Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the fourth — but former Cleveland Indians pitcher Kyle Crockett pitched out of a two-on jam in the sixth in his Reds debut.
The Cubs managed only four hits in the game J.T. Miller Jersey , David Hernandez pitched two scoreless innings and Raisel Iglesias finished in the ninth for his 12th save.
The Cincinnati bullpen has pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the series so far.
“That was one of the cleaner games we’re played — offensively, defensively, we ran the bases well … and got timely hits,” Riggleman said. “When you do that, you’re probably going to win.”
Now, the Reds have the improving Anthony DeSclafani (2-1) pitching Saturday. The right-hander missed the first two months of the season with an oblique injury after sitting out all of last season with an elbow injury, but he has won his last two starts while lowering his ERA from 7.60 to 4.20.
He’s 2-2 in seven career starts against the Cubs, and he handles Chicago cleanup hitter Anthony Rizzo (2-for-20, .100) especially well.
It’s expected to be a bullpen game for the Cubs, with former Reds pitcher Luke Farrell (2-2) making his first start of the season and only the second of his major league career. The longest he has pitched this season was five shutout relief innings during the Cubs’ 7-1, 14-inning victory over the New York Mets on June 2.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon stayed with his recent experiment of using slugger Kris Bryant as a leadoff hitter — he was 9-for-24 (.375) with three RBIs in that spot going into the game — but he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
“He gets on base a lot, he’s possibly one of the best baserunners on the team,” Maddon told reporters. “It’s one of those things — preconceived notions — that you get hung up on. But I like what he’s doing. When the bottom of the order has been productive Filip Forsberg Jersey , there’s a potential for a lot of baserunners in the one-hole.”
Only there wasn’t any such potential Friday as the Cubs’ No. 7-8-9 batters were a combined 0-for-9. It also didn’t help that Rizzo went 0-for-4 and stranded three runners.
And, now, suddenly the Cubs-Reds rivalry isn’t what it used to be.
Thon Maker is having his biggest games at the biggest time of the year.
Not bad for a bench guy and someone who, as recently as last week, was a roster afterthought.
Maker had never blocked five shots in any NBA game before this postseason began – and now he’s blocked that many in each of the last two playoff contests for the Milwaukee Bucks. There’s an old coaching adage that tells players to stay ready, because they never know when their chance to make an impact has arrived.
Maker is proving that axiom to be correct.
”Just trying to be there for my teammates, playing aggressive,” said Maker, the Bucks’ backup center. ”It’s the playoffs. These are the moments everybody plays for. You’ve got to find a way to win, you’ve got to find a way to impact the game. I try to do that every single time.”
Maker is almost an out-of-nowhere story for the Bucks, who’ve pulled even with the Boston Celtics four games into their Eastern Conference first-round series in large part because of a defensive resurgence by the bench. His offense has helped, too: Maker scored 14 points in a Game 3 victory, his highest total since a 16-point effort on New Year’s Day.
There have been some big games from reserve players in these playoffs already: Miami has gotten games of 28 and 25 points from Dwyane Wade and a 26-point effort from Kelly Olynyk Jerrell Freeman Jersey , Philadelphia has seen Marco Belinelli reach 21 points twice so far, and Boston saw Greg Monroe get a double-double against the Bucks in only 23 minutes.
Backups can find themselves in the spotlight quickly if they get hot.
”When we step on the floor, we need to be assertive with what we do,” Bucks coach Joe Prunty said. ”We can’t be a step behind.”
Even the greatest players need help.
LeBron James said everyone on the Cavaliers‘ roster – himself included – needed to play better after falling behind Indiana 2-1 in their series. So in Game 4, James was great with 32 points, and Jordan Clarkson had 12 of the bench’s 32 points to help Cleveland tie the series .
”I’m supposed to come and give a spark off the bench,” said Clarkson, who scored just two points in Game 3. ”That’s what I’m supposed to do, change the game in that way.”
Toronto had one of the top bench units in the NBA during the regular season, ranking fifth in the league with a combined 41.8 scoring average. But in the East’s No. 1 seed’s first-round series, the Raptors‘ reserve scoring down to 34.5 points.
They’re tied at 2 in the series with the eighth-seeded Washington Wizards, whose bench scoring is up in the series by about the same margin to 34.3 points. The Wizards were just 16th in bench scoring this season.
A big reason for Toronto’s problems has been the absence of backup point guard Fred VanVleet, who has an injured right shoulder and played just three minutes so far Rickard Rakell Jersey , sitting out three of the four games entirely. Raptors coach Dwane Casey blamed his team’s high turnover totals – 37 over Games 3 and 4, both losses – in large part on his reserves, who he also thought were not as productive with the ball as they could have been.
”The second unit turned down some shots that they normally take,” Casey said. ”I thought that group started the turnovers. The levee broke on those guys. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in the right situation where they don’t turn it over.”
The Wizards tinkered with their rotations to try to keep the Raptors’ reserves in check.
”Our bench has done a good job and we’ve kind of tried to change things up and throw maybe a starter or two with our bench,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said.
As for the Celtics, they’re back in Boston to get ready to host the Bucks on Tuesday night for Game 5. Their frontcourt reserves of Monroe and Marcus Morris were dominant in the series’ second game last week, when it looked as if Boston might pull off a sweep.
Milwaukee’s reserves have pushed back with active, physical play – matching Boston’s intensity.
”As soon as (we) see that,” Maker said, ”we start to get aggressive as well on the defensive end.”
AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich and Michael Marot contributed to this story.
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