#1 red Victor Oladipo playing.They are a physical team Grant said. I kn von dasg234 16.08.2019 07:12

The enormous expectations and pressure on the Chicago Cubs might have actually been lessened somewhat by playing the San Francisco Giants?in the Division Series. Not because the Giants arent a worthy opponent; quite the opposite, the Giants are rolling again. They have their own compelling story to tell and this series isnt solely about the Cubs and their bid to win a World Series for the first time in 108 years. The Cubs quest remains the primary theme of this postseason, but the surge by the Giants -- another masterful performance by the mythical Madison Bumgarner, Bruce Bochy, Jeff Samardzija, Hunter Pences hair and, from nowhere, Conor Gillaspies home run -- gives people something else to talk about. That is good for the Cubs.Here are five questions.How good is the Cubs rotation?So good, that one potential Cy Young winner, Kyle Hendricks, will have to wait until the second game to make his start after Jon Lester. So good, Jake Arrieta, who has gone 40-14 the last two years, wont start until Game 3. So good, John Lackey, who was signed by the Cubs in the offseason to make critical postseason starts, will have to wait until Game 4. Still, there is a minor concern with Arrieta, though not from him. In his last start, he allowed seven earned runs, the second-most runs hes allowed in a start as a Cub. In his last six starts, he went 2-3 with 21 earned runs allowed in 35 2/3 innings. Hes healthy and more rested than at this time last year. Maybe he has a great October ahead.What is the status of the Giants rotation?It is in good shape other than Bumgarner having to wait until Game 3 to start. The Giants spent last winter and the 2016 trade deadline making sure they had enough starting pitching after Bumgarner. Johnny Cueto went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA, making him one of the best No. 2 starters in the game. After a couple of terrific starts he made in the postseason last year for the World Champion Royals, there should be no more talk of whether he is up for the challenge of the biggest games. Samardzija, who pitched for the Cubs for seven years before he was traded to Oakland for Addison Russell, went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA this year. Left-hander Matt Moore, acquired in late July, pitched some really good games down the stretch. And then theres Bumgarner, who shut out the Mets in the wild-card game, lowering his road ERA in the postseason to 0.50, a record, by far. He has made 13 postseason starts and allowed no runs in six of them, tying Tom Glavine for the most scoreless postseason starts in history (it took Glavine 35 starts to get his six). A pitcher has thrown a shutout in a winner-take-all game 19 times. Only Bumgarner has done it twice. He has pitched 23 innings in winner-take-all games and not allowed a run. If the Giants can win one of two in Chicago, then hand it to Bumgarner in Game 3, this series could get very interesting.How much better offensively are the Cubs than last year?Remember, the Cubs got shut down by the great pitching staff of the Mets in the 2015 NLCS. That could happen again -- anything is possible in baseball -- but the Cubs are a significantly better offensive club in 2016. They scored 119 more runs than last year, placing them second in the NL in runs scored to the Rockies. Just as important, they struck out 221 fewer times than last year. First baseman Anthony Rizzos approach to hitting -- he chokes up with two strikes and sometimes just tries to put a ball in play -- hasnt gone unnoticed by other Cubs. The addition of Ben Zobrist, who is a tough out, even with two strikes, has made a difference. In spring training, Maddon said he was dazzled by how much better a two-strike hitter Kris Bryant was compared to last season. It showed. It has shown with all the Cubs.Who will close for the Giants?The Giants led the league in blown saves (30). They lost more games (nine) that they entered the ninth inning with a lead than any team in baseball; five of them came in September. They lost 10 games that they led by three or more runs, most in the major leagues. The bullpen blew eight games in which Bumgarner was in line for a victory, most in the major leagues. The bullpen is the primary reason that the Giants went 30-42 in the second half, the worst second-half record ever by a team that made it to the postseason. Sergio Romo, a former Giants closer who got the final out of the 2012 World Series, is seen as the closer now, but even thats not guaranteed. Bochy will mix and match down there. There is no one better at that than him, but its highly unlikely that he will go back to Santiago Casilla, especially at home, where Casilla occasionally gets booed. The Giants had a tremendously deep and effective bullpen in each of their three championship seasons over the last six seasons. They dont have that same depth this year.How good is the Cubs defense?It is the best in the National League. Russells shift to shortstop in June 2015 was the big move. Russell, and the overall Cubs defense, has gotten better with every game he plays at shortstop. Jason Heyward has brought tremendous defense to right field. Javier Baez has provided great defense at whatever infield position he plays. Bryant can play third base or the outfield. This gives Maddon all sorts of options. Defense was Maddons signature with his Tampa Bay Rays teams. He may be a new-school guy with the way he relates to players and because hes the most interesting man in the world, but he is as old school as it gets when it comes to the actually playing of the game. To him, you simply cant win without a good defense.Prediction:?Cubs in five.Russ Grimm Womens Jersey . "I dont know that were close," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "I just think, right now, the acquisition cost just doesnt work for us right now. I dont know if I can quantify how far off or things like that that they might be but I would say we continue to have dialogue. Darrell Green Jersey . -- The St. Johns IceCaps weathered a wild first period with the help of goaltender Jussi Olkinuora, before finding offensive inroads in the second. https://www.redskinssportsgoods.com/Womens-Bryce-Love-Inverted-Jersey/ . -- Nate Robinson has played for seven teams, so beating one of them is no longer a rare occurrence. Darrell Green Womens Jersey . The recently retired Stern was elected Friday to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and will be enshrined with the class of 2014 on Aug. Terry McLaurin Redskins Jersey ., and Rudi Swiegers of Kipling, Sask., took sixth spot on Saturday in pairs at the NHK Trophy ISU Grand Prix figure skating competition.OKLAHOMA CITY -- Since coming over in a trade from Philadelphia, Jerami Grant has become Oklahoma Citys version of a Swiss army knife. No matter what the job, the 6-foot-9, 210-pound Grant has the tools to handle it.This was evident Saturday night during the Thunders 114-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Grant knew he would be coming off the bench, but he had no idea at what position it would be until coach Billy Donovan told him as he went into the game.Its fine, Grant said. You always have to be ready. You always have to be ready for whatever comes at you. Especially being in the position Im in, being able to play different positions, you always have to be ready.Against the Suns, he ended the night with eight points, five rebounds and a plus/minus of plus-11. That was tied for the second-highest on the team.Grant has lined up as center, power forward, small forward and even some shooting guard. It takes a lot homework and study to make sure he has his positions down.You have to know everybodys tendencies, regardless of who is on the court, Grant said. I think everybody should know everybodys tendencies. I watch a ton of basketball so I kind of know most peoples tendencies in the league already. I watch a lot of film with the coaches and go through our scouting report.The Thunder will need Grant in the same frame of mind Monday night, when they host Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks (13-14) at 7 p.m. in the Chesapeake Energy ArenaMillsap is one of the more versatile power forwards in the NBA. He can score on the low block and also step out and hit 15-foot jumpers with consistency. He leads the Hawks with an average of 17 points is seecond in rebounds (eight) and assists (3.dddddddddddd7).Oklahoma City won the first matchup with the Hawks in Atlanta. They are expecting an even tougher test this time around, especially with the uncertainty of the injured Victor Oladipo playing.They are a physical team Grant said. I know they are going to come back and try and get us back.Atlanta enters the contest coming off a loss to Charlotte Saturday. After the game, center Dwight Howard and point guard Dennis Schroder went directly to the practice court to hash out missed opportunities, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Schroder had six assists, but none led to points for Howard.In his first season in Atlanta, Howard is posting solid numbers at 14.2 points and 13 boards a game. Yet, the Hawks find themselves hanging around .500 and havent been able to break through yet.Its frustrating. Were all competitive, Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer told Peachtreehoops. We want to win. Id say frustrated. Our guys are competing, guys are trying to make plays.As with every team that comes into Oklahoma City, slowing down Russell Westbrook will have to be at the top of the list of things to do for the Hawks. But Westbrook showed with his career high 22 assists and 13th triple-double of the season on Saturday that hes not doing it alone. That is also evident on defensively.When we defend we put ourselves in position to win games. That has to be our identity, Westbrook said. When we defend at a high level we usually have a good chance of winning the game. ' ' '

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