CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs‘ starting pitchers may not be performing as consistent as they would like Authentic Derrick Nnadi Jersey , but Joe Maddon’s offense is finding ways to make up for it.
Addison Russell’s grand slam helped bail out starter Mike Montgomery in Friday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins. Now, as Tyler Chatwood takes the mound in Saturday’s matinee interleague game at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will push for their third straight victory after they rallied for their second consecutive come-from-behind win Friday at Wrigley Field.
Russell’s blast erased a three-run deficit en route to a 10-6 victory that included home runs by Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber. The win came a day after the Cubs scored seven runs in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The run support could be big for Chatwood, who has struggled throughout the season and will make his first start after being activated off the paternity list earlier this week. Chatwood told reporters Friday that he feels good and that he was able to come in and throw a bullpen session as he prepared for Saturday’s start.
He admitted the uncertainty of when his wife would give birth weighed on him in his last start. Chatwood (3-5, 3.95 ERA) has taken no-decisions in four of his past five starts but was effective in his most recent outing. Chatwood allowed a run and two hits in five innings against the Dodgers when he threw 101 pitches. He is 0-2 in three career starts against the Twins with a 6.91 ERA.
“Luckily, everything worked out,” Chatwood said Friday of the week’s events, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Everybody’s good.”
Chatwood will start after the Cubs hoped Yu Darvish could return from a right triceps injury on Saturday. Darvish, who experienced pain in a bullpen session on Thursday, flew to Dallas for a second opinion. Tests showed he has a right elbow impingement and inflammation and will be re-evaluated in three to five days.
The Twins, who have lost six of their last eight games despite Joe Mauer’s five RBIs in Friday’s loss, will attempt to get back on track when left-hander Adalberto Mejia makes his first start of the season. Mejia, who went 4-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts last year, has spent the entire season in the minor leagues.
Mejia pitched well at Triple-A Rochester and struck out 50 and registered a 2.74 ERA in 49 1/3 innings. He has posted a 4-1 record in June with a 1.41 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 32 innings. Mejia will face the Cubs for the first time in his career.
The Twins announced this week that they would recall Mejia at a time that manager Paul Molitor said makes sense for everyone involved.
“The reports have been his command has been much better,” Molitor told reporters earlier this week, according to the team’s official website. “More efficient. His off-speed seems to be working. His changeup is the only pitch that’s been hot and cold. His fastball-slider command has been really good. He’s had a handful of good outings in a row. Efficient is good.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t faced the New England Patriots in a game that matters in more than two years. That’s OK. They know a pretty good place to go to get a heads up on their opponent in the AFC title game.
”We need the notes the Steelers have on the Patriots because they were doing a lot of advanced scouting Authentic Dorian O'Daniel Jersey ,” safety Barry Church said Sunday after the Jaguars stunned Pittsburgh 45-42 to earn a trip to Foxborough next weekend to face the defending Super Bowl champions. ”We need all the notes they got on the Patriots. Other than that, it’s time to roll to New England baby.”
With their brute force rookie running back, their enigmatic quarterback and more than a little bit of swagger in tow.
”You can do all the talking you want on Twitter, to the media, all of that,” Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. ”But when you get on the field you’re going to have to produce, you’re going to have to show us what you’re about. We’re confident because we know the work we put in. We’re going to go out there confident.”
Ticked off by several Steelers openly talking about a rematch with the Patriots with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line, the Jaguars took it out on Pittsburgh one touchdown at a time. They earned the franchise’s third trip to the conference championship game in the process.
Now it’s on to New England, a place they’ve never won and where the Patriots hung 51 on them in 2015. But that was before coach Doug Marrone put together the NFL’s best defense. Before Leonard Fournette arrived. Before Blake Bortles embraced his role as the enigmatic touchstone for a team that suddenly looks like a threat on both sides of the ball.
Third-seeded Jacksonville (12-6) never trailed and was only rarely threatened on an afternoon it matched the most points the Steelers have given up in their storied playoff history. Fournette churned for 109 yards and three scores . Bortles bounced back from an ugly performance against Buffalo by throwing for 214 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to at least temporarily hit mute on his critics.
”I have no animosity against anyone who said anything,” Bortles said. ”I’m happy to be able to come here and do this with this team. There are a lot of guys on the couch watching this.”
That group now will include the Steelers. Pittsburgh (13-4) lost at home in the divisional round for the second time in 11 tries, unable to overcome a sluggish start that allowed the Jaguars to take a 21-point lead.
The Steelers only had the ball with a chance to tie once over the final three quarters, the lone shot evaporating when Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete on fourth-and-1 at the Jacksonville 39 early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars responded with a drive that culminated in Fournette’s third touchdown, and that was it.
Roethlisberger, who finished with 469 yards passing and a franchise-record five touchdowns , said he will be back in 2018, though the sting of a stunning upset will linger into an offseason longer than planned.
”If you don’t win the Super Bowl, you’ve underachieved Authentic John Franklin-Myers Jersey , right?” Roethlisberger said. ”Because that is always our goal. It wasn’t our day. It wasn’t our year.”
JUGGERNAUT JAGUARS: Though Jacksonville’s offense has endured dry spells this season, the Jaguars did finish the regular season fifth in scoring. While the defense chipped in a touchdown on a 48-yard fumble return by linebacker Telvin Smith, Bortles kept the Jaguars moving. Jacksonville converted 8 of 14 third downs and its lone fourth-down conversion came on Fournette’s 1-yard leap in the first quarter.
”All week everybody was talking about our offense wasn’t going to do good, they were going to shut down our offense,” Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. ”As you saw, Blake Bortles, he was hitting the open man. He had a plethora of big throws. Fournette was running the ball the hardest I’ve seen them. The offense did a hell of a job.”
INSPIRING STEELER: Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier tried to rally the Steelers with a halftime visit to their locker room.
Shazier, who underwent surgery to stabilize his spine last month, spoke with his teammates as they were fighting back from a 28-14 deficit. Still in a wheelchair during his recovery, Shazier was also around following the 45-42 loss, a stunning setback that concluded a challenging season for the AFC North champions.
The 25-year-old Shazier has made significant progress, but his playing future remains uncertain because of the injury he suffered making a routine tackle on Dec. 4 against Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh’s crowd roared when Shazier was shown on the Heinz Field scoreboard in the third quarter.
UNDERACHIEVERS: Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown returned from a left calf injury to catch seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns . Yet, the only player in NFL history with five consecutive 100-catch seasons will again watch the Super Bowl at home.
”We cannot seem to get the job done,” Brown said. ”That’s what’s so sad about the journey. You come so close.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed.
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