GLENDALE—Put the Kansas City Royals inside Camelback Ranch, and suddenly the hits and runs keep coming.Jose Guillen had four hits of the Royals’ 19 hits in a 10-8 win against the White Sox.In the Royals’ three games in Glendale this month – two with the Sox and one against the Los Angeles Dodgers – they scored 27 runs and had 51 hits.Wilson Betemit and Scott Thorman homered for the Royals. Thorman, Betemit, Chris Getz and Mitch Maier had two hits each.The White Sox, playing with a split squad, scored four runs in the fourth inning, led by designated hitter Carlos Quentin, who was hit by a pitch twice in the game, drilled a two-run home run. Former Royal Mark Teahen started the rally with a double and scored on the home run, and the White Sox tacked on doubles by A.J. Pierzynski and Brent Lillibridge. The White Sox got to Royals starter Luke Hochevar, who was done after five innings and allowed nine hits and five earned runs, walking three.
SURPRISE—Scott Feldman’s final tuneup ahead of his first opening day start was almost everything he could have hoped for.Feldman threw seven scoreless innings to help the Texas Rangers beat the other White Sox split squad 5-0 on Sunday.Feldman needed only 89 pitches to get through seven innings, scattering six hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He then went to the bullpen and threw another 20.The right-hander will make his final spring appearance Wednesday before starting the season.Chris Ray and Frank Francisco threw the eighth and ninth innings for the Rangers, who snapped an eight-game losing streak.Francisco has not allowed an earned run in an ‘A’ game and only one earned run in eight appearances overall.White Sox starter Gavin Floyd was nearly as sharp over the first four innings before allowing two runs and four hits in the fifth, including an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero and David Murphy’s run-scoring double.He finished his six-inning outing having allowed two runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
ST.LOUIS—Ohio State was beaten by Tennessee 76-73 when Chicago’s Evan Turner,pretty much a one man team in the second half had his last second three point shot blocked just before the final buzzer.The Buckeyes,who led 42-39 at halftime,were putrid on defense during much of the game,especially the second half. The Vols led 68-63 but Ohio State rallied to take leads of 70-69 on a David Lighty three pointer and later 73-72 when Turner hit a three of his own with :42 left,but Tennessee scored the last four points of the game. Brian Williams tipped in a missed shot,then after a miss by Turner,and a Kyle Madsen turnover,Bobby Maze hit two free throws.Turner then had his possible game tying three pint try blocked.The Buckeyes screamed that Turner was fouled,but the three Officials ran off the floor like jack rabbits. Turner had all but nine of the OSU second half points and finished with 31,including 21 of the Buckeyes 31 after halftime. Coach Thad Matta has to be questioned for using what looked like a tired Lighty who was tossing up bricks,and until he hit a couple of late shots(including a three pointer)he was a liability. Jeremie Simmons from Chicago’s Von Steuben played 14 minutes in the first half and scored 9 points a trio of three pointers(missing just one),but Matta never got him off the bench in the second half. Turner shot a sub par(for him)10-23 and Ohio State got killed on the boards 41-29.Tennessee got 20 offensive rebounds while Ohio State had just 16 defensive boards,meaning they did not box out all evening.
In game two of the night, Michigan State became the last Big Ten team still standing as they came from a seven game halftime deficit to beat stubborn Northern Iowa 59-52. With Purdue’s loss to Duke, the Spartans get a chance to return to the Final Four if they can beat Tennessee Sunday. Korie Lucious played 39 steady minutes in place of Karlin Lucas and hit a whirling jumper with 91 seconds left, Durrell Summers had 19 points and the Spartans held the No. 9 seed Panthers to 10 free throws and no field goals over the final 10:21 to send the Heartland heroes home. Adam Koch had 13 points and Kwadzo Ahelegbe 12 for UNI, but Ali Farokhmanesh ran out of magic. The early-round star was just 1 for 6 from 3-point range and finished with nine points as the Panthers’ deepest run in the NCAA tournament came to a close.
***It seems that Lovie Smith is still on a power trip. The Bears Coach is a defensive wizz,but now he seems to be at odds with his friend and new OFFENSIVE Coorator Mike Martz about what they should do with Devin Hester who has been a bust at the wide receiver position. Who was really responsible for making the decision to move Hester from a full time kick returner to full time wide out? Whatever, the decision has failed! Stay tuned.
***Both the Blackhawks and Bulls turned in eye sores of performances Thursday night. The Blackhawks,after stopping Phoenix’s 9 game winning streak,came out rather cocky against Columbus at Nationwide Arena and got their heads handed to them. They lost 8-3 with Cristobal Huet no doubt taking the brunt of the blame. But the entire team was awful.
***Just two more weeks until the regular season starts for baseball.Thank heavens spring training will be finished.
COLUMBUS—The plan for the Blackhawks was to use the final 10 games starting with Columbus to find a groove heading into the playoffs.Well, they’re going to have to reset that to nine games.Antoine Vermette had two goals and an assist, and the Blue Jackets scored four second-period goals to hand the Blackhawks their worst loss of the season, 8-3 on Thursday night.Even though the Hawks missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth on their own, the good news was that they secured a spot when Calgary lost to the New York Islanders.
“Across the board, from the first shift to the end of the game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the meltdown. “There’s nothing to be excited about. Discount it and throw it in the garbage can.”
On this night, the Hawks didn’t look like the team with 99 points, eager to fine-tune their play and anoint their playoff netminder. Starter Cristobal Huet was pulled in the second for Antti Niemi with the score 5-1 and put back in to start the third.Jackub Voracek scored on a penalty shot and added two assists, and Kristian Huselius also scored twice, while Mike Commodore, Andrew Murray, and rookie Mike Blunden also found the net for the Blue Jackets, 14th in the West.Former Hawk Sami Pahlsson had two assists and Steve Mason made 38 saves.The eights goals for the Blue Jackets set a mark for most scored at home and tied the franchise record for most in a game.The Blackhawks have allowed 21 goals in their last six games and are 5-5-2 since the Olympic break.Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and Adam Burish scored for the Blackhawks.The Blue Jackets enjoyed a 2-0 lead after the first and skated off after the second with a commanding 6-1 advantage.Commodore scored his first goal in 75 games, banking a shot from a sharp-angle deep in the corner along the goal line off Huet at the 32 second mark.Just past the midpoint, Huselius converted into an open net on a tic-tac-toe passing combination with Rick Nash and Vermette near the Hawk goal.The Blackhawks looked as if they would get back into the game on Versteeg’s early second period tally, his 17th, a floating wrist shot.But the Blue Jackets responded with the next four to close out the period.Voracek was then awarded a penalty shot when Niklas Hjalmarsson took him down on a breakaway at 11:02.He beat Huet with a backhand shot for his 14th of the season and the sixth penalty shot goal in franchise history.
NOTES—Columbus would have been officially eliminated from playoff contention with a loss….The Blue Jackets announced they have parted ways with the Syracuse Crunch, their minor league affiliate of 10 seasons and have signed a one-year contract with the Springfield Falcons, also of the AHL…..The teams will close out their season series on Sunday in the United Center…..Dave Bolland was a late scratch due to an illness.
Dwyane Wade got a warm reception when he was introduced before the game. It was a United Center crowd’s way of saying welcome home to a native son who’s a star and could become a major free agent.Wade doesn’t always score big at the United Center and Thursday night he didn’t have to.His game was well-rounded, even if he did score only 12 points, as his Miami Heat rolled over the Bulls 103-74 in one of the most lopsided games of the season for either team.This game was an eyesore! In 29 minutes, Wade had 10 assists and five rebounds. He entered averaging 26.5 points. Jermaine O’Neal scored 24 points, shooting 9 of 14 against a soft Bulls defense, while Michael Beasley scored 15 and Udonis Haslem 14.Pushing for a better playoff seeding, Miami’s third straight victory and ninth in 12 games lifted the Heat into the No. 6 slot in the Eastern Conference, a half game ahead of idle Charlotte.The Bulls have lost 11 of 13, including a 10-game losing streak, and are in ninth place in the East.Hakim Warrick led the Bulls with 14 points while Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 apiece.Wade had eight first-half points, hitting a jumper just before the buzzer to give the Heat a 63-33 lead as the boos poured down on the home team at the United Center.Miami shot 60.5 percent in the first half, while the Bulls made only 28 percent. Miami finished the game at 52 percent with many easy shots against a listless defense.O’Neal worked at will on the inside and had easy short-range jumpers, hitting 7 of 11 and scoring 18 points in the opening half. Haslem came off the bench with 10 points in the first half and the rout was on. The Bulls are still without injured forward Luol Deng (calf) and Joakim Noah played limited minutes as he recovers from plantar fasciitis.Miami’s Quentin Richardson, another former Chicago prep star, scored nine points in the final three minutes of the opening quarter as Miami closed on a 23-9 run for a 31-19 lead. There were some heated words last time the teams met in Miami, a 108-95 Heat victory earlier this month. This time there wasn’t much to say. The Heat’s play did all the talking.
“The last game was a little chippy, but we put that aside,” Wade said.
NOTES—The Heat’s largest margin of victory this season was 34 against Indiana in December. The Bulls lost to Atlanta by 35 in December…..Miami led 86-49 after three quarters. The Heat’s biggest lead was 39……It was the Bulls lowest scoring game of the season.
TUCSON—Dan Haren allowed seven runs and 10 hits in four innings against a Cubs lineup featuring few regulars, and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost 7-2 Thursday.Haren was scheduled to throw about 90 pitches in six innings. But he threw about 80 in four innings and gave up five runs in the second. His spring ERA is 5.60.Haren faced two Cubs regulars – shortstop Ryan Theriot and second baseman Mike Fontenot. Left-handed batters Jim Adduci and Tyler Colvin doubled off Haren, and Fontenot hit a triple off the right-hander.Haren said he’ll focus on putting together a good week of work and potentially throw 100 pitches in his next spring outing. He struggled after rough outings this week by starters Edwin Jackson (8.25 ERA) and Billy Buckner (11.66 ERA). Tom Gorzelanny allowed two runs and five hits in six innings for the Cubs. His ERA is 3.07. Gorzelanny is competing for a spot in the starting rotation, which will be announced Friday. He struck out four and walked one. “I was in the zone a lot,” Gorzelanny said. “I wasn’t trying to overthrow. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was trying to throw strikes. I felt like I made some major strides today.” He struck out four, walked one and allowed a leadoff home run to Conor Jackson (his third of the spring) and doubles to Jackson and Mark Reynolds. Arizona played most of its starting lineup. Gorzelanny is competing for one of two rotation spots with Sean Marshall, Carlos Silva and Jeff Samardzija. Lou Piniella has a sore back and didn’t make the trip to Tucson. Bench coach Alan Trammell was the interim manager.
NOTES: Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton was out of the lineup after spraining his left ankle Wednesday. Manager A.J. Hinch said if it were the regular season, Upton could have played. He is day to day, but said he hopes to be in the lineup Friday, when Arizona plays the White Sox. Upton hit and took infield Thursday. Hinch said, “it’s hard to say” if it’s realistic for starting pitcher Brandon Webb to be ready by late April. Webb has yet to face hitters this spring and is expected to begin the season on the disabled list.
PEORIA—Wade LeBlanc is feeling confident, and it’s only making the San Diego Padres’ decision that much more difficult.LeBlanc, one of several pitchers putting up strong numbers in a battle for the final two spots in the rotation, improved to 3-0 and lowered his spring ERA to 1.80 in a 5-3 win over the White Sox on Thursday.Only one of two runs LeBlanc allowed was earned, and he struck out five over six innings against a veteran lineup.It was the 10th win in 12 games for the Padres, who got two hits and two RBIs from third baseman Chase Headley. Mark Buehrle earned a no-decision after allowing two unearned runs over five innings pitched. Once a highly touted prospect in the Padres’ farm system, LeBlanc had fallen far down the depth chart as he struggled with his command in his first seven big league appearances – accumulating a 9.24 ERA.But several key injuries to pitchers required the Padres to recall LeBlanc to the majors in August 2009 and he didn’t waste the opportunity.Finally heeding the lessons of manager Bud Black, who has stressed fastball command to the left-hander the past two seasons, LeBlanc went 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in seven starts.On Thursday, LeBlanc repeatedly went after hitters, even refusing to pitch around Andruw Jones with a 3-0 count in the sixth inning.LeBlanc said he used to rely strictly on his changeup when he got into trouble, but now he’s relying more on his fastball.Buehrle’s glove might have kept him from allowing more than two runs in the first inning. With none on and one out, Buehrle, who won his first Gold Glove in 2009, snagged a line drive off the bat of Jerry Hairston Jr. even though he never clearly saw the ball.
CHAMPAIGN—Chris Johnson scored 18 points and Dayton used a strong start to beat Illinois 77-71 in an NIT quarterfinal Wednesday night.The third-seeded Flyers (23-12) advanced to play Mississippi on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Rhode Island also is in the semifinals, giving the Atlantic 10 Conference two of the four teams remaining in the tournament. The Rams will face 2009 national champion North Carolina.Dayton jumped out to a 23-9 lead behind excellent shooting and never let up. The Flyers shot 48.1 percent from the field, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range.The Illini’s struggles to get back on defense led to quick, easy baskets for Dayton. Illinois trailed by as many as 16 points before cutting it to four with 18 seconds left.D.J. Richardson’s 3 to open the game was Illinois’ lone lead of the night. Dayton answered with a 9-0 run that forced the Illini to play catch up the rest of the way, and the Flyers led 38-25 at halftime.Despite a size advantage, Illinois’ big men never got on track. Junior center Mike Tisdale fouled out with 7:53 left and finished with six points on 3-of-6 shooting and three rebounds. Mike Davis, coming off a double-double against Kent State, had seven points and eight rebounds.Dayton used its deep bench to press man-to-man in the first half, subbing in waves and keeping players fresh. No Flyer played more than 30 minutes, while nine logged at least nine minutes. Six scored eight or more points. Johnson was 4 for 11 from the field but 9 of 10 at the foul line.DeMetriMcCamey had 13 points and 10 assists for No. 1 seed Illinois (21-15).
NOTES—The game was a microcosm of Illinois’ season: a slow start with inconsistent shooting and a frantic comeback. And with the season now over, Weber and his squad have plenty of time to reflect on a disappointing year that began with NCAA tournament aspirations…..The only other time Illinois played Dayton in the NIT was in 1982 when the Flyers also beat the Illini in the Assembley Hall 61-58 in the second round.
SURPRISE—Chad Tracy hit a three-run double and Sean Marshall threw four strong innings to lead the Cubs to a 12-1 rout of the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Marlon Byrd added an RBI single and Kosuke Fukudome was 3 for 3 with an RBI double, a walk and two runs scored for the Cubs.Marshall, battling for a spot in the rotation, scattered three hits and gave up an unearned run with a walk and five strikeouts.Lou Piniella said earlier this week he’ll announce his rotation on Friday. Marshall, who has allowed three runs – two earned – on seven hits over 11 innings this spring, remains in the mix along with fellow lefty Tom Gorzellany.Texas starter and former White Sox Brandon McCarthy allowed four runs on four hits in a 45-pitch first inning. The right-hander lasted 3 1-3 innings, giving up eight hits with four walks and a strikeout.The Cubs added six runs in the sixth off Rangers reliever Luis Mendoza and two more in the seventh. The Cubs finished with 17 hits.
NOTES—Playing in a minor-league game, Cubs OF Xavier Nady had an uneventful day in right field in his first defensive appearance this spring. He did get hit in the right hand by a pitch but was OK. Nady, a free-agent acquisition, is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery and will be limited in the early part of the season.
GLENDALE—The Arizona Diamondbacks lost outfielder Justin Upton to a sprained left ankle during a 10-3 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday.Upton ran the bases in the second inning, beating out a ground ball for an infield hit. He said he jammed the ankle lunging for first base, then felt it when stealing second. He then advanced to third on an error and scored on Jeff Bailey’s single.Upton, who signed a six-year, $51.25 million contract earlier this month, didn’t come out to play right field in the bottom of the inning, saying he was removed as a precaution. He hopes to play “as soon as possible.The Diamondbacks led 2-0 after Stephen Drew’s solo home run in the third, but the White Sox went ahead for good with three runs in the fourth inning and tacked on three more in the sixth. Omar Vizquel, who entered the game batting .207 in spring training, had two hits and three RBI, Juan Pierre was 3 for 4 and scored twice, and Carlos Quentin had three hits and two RBI.White Sox third baseman Mark Teahen, who’s been dealing with a sore elbow, had his first multi-hit game of spring training, including a two-run home run in the seventh inning. The Sox bullpen turned in another strong performance. Greg Aquino threw a scoreless inning and remains unscored upon with seven strikeouts in 8 1-3 innings this month, and closer Bobby Jenks struck out two and allowed a hit and a walk but no runs in his inning.Jenks strained his right calf late last season and it appeared to be bothering him earlier in spring training.The White Sox had 16 hits and broke a five-game winless streak.