Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shuck N thrive: No. 9 hitter lifts White Sox over Twins

J.B. Shuck's eighth-inning single, his third hit of the day, scored Avisail Garciawith the game-winning run in a 6-5 White Sox victory over the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday. The White Sox won a third straight series for the first time this season, and they improved to 8-1 against the last-place Twins.
"It's understanding I'm going to get some at-bats, so I can relax a little bit and get back to putting together good at-bats, and hopefully the results start coming," Shuck said. "We kept battling and the offense continued to fight, and we got a run where we needed to, another series win."
Fernando Abad took the loss. He retired the first two hitters in the eighth without issue, but then walked Garcia and Jason Coats, Chicago's seventh and eighth hitters in the lineup.David Robertson earned the save for the White Sox, converting his 11th straight and 15th in his last 16 attempts.
Carlos Rodon retired the first 11 Twins hitters he faced before Robbie Grossman andBrian Dozier launched back-to-back homers in the fourth inning. Rodon pitched a perfect fifth, but the Twins scored two in the sixth on three hits and chased Rodon from the game. The lefty finished with a no-decision, allowing the four runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one.
"He started getting stuff over the middle of the plate," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Rodon. "This team [Minnesota], they battle, they've always done that. They started squaring some stuff up on him, the quick two homers. After that, they started putting some good at-bats together on him."
The White Sox built up a 5-2 lead against Twins starter Tommy Milone by scoring one run in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth. Garcia and Matt Davidson each delivered run-scoring hits, marking the first hit and RBI for Davidson with the White Sox. Davidson was pinch-hit for by Coats in the sixth, leaving with what was eventually diagnosed as a fracture in his right foot.
Minnesota tied the game in the seventh on Max Kepler's double against reliever Zach Duke, and Eduardo Nunez's two-out single against Nate Jones. Abad, who hadn't pitched since June 22 because of back stiffness, just couldn't keep Chicago from re-taking the lead in the eighth.
"He got a couple guys 2-0 and was able to get a couple outs, but the pattern ended up biting him with the back-to-back walks there," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Shuck had a good day. He hasn't had a lot of at-bats against left-handed pitching, but was able to dump that one out into left field."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mr. Everything: Tim Anderson singled in each of his first two trips to the plate, giving him 10 multihit games in his first 19 he's played at the Major League level. Anderson also made a sterling defensive play with one out in the second, throwing out Trevor Plouffe from about five or six feet into the outfield grass with a perfect one-hop throw to first. And for good measure, Anderson drew career walk No. 1 in the fourth in his 86th plate appearance overall.
"I didn't know what to expect, how to come in, what my role was," Anderson said. "Now I feel real comfortable and get off to a jump start, which is good." More >
Back-to-back jacks: After watching Rodon buzz through the first 11 hitters he faced, the Twins struck back with the back-to-back homers from Grossman and Dozier in the fourth, tying the game at 2. It was the sixth time the Twins have put together back-to-back home runs this season, with the previous time 12 days earlier against the Yankees at Target Field.
"We knew that his slider's his best pitch," Dozier said of Rodon. "He throws it really hard, and he doesn't throw it for strikes. It's always down. I think the first time through the lineup, we started seeing that, a different arm angle or whatever it was, and more guys got comfortable. He started laying off that and we started squaring more balls up. But it took us the first round through the lineup."
Dozier's blast extended his hitting streak to 12 games, a new career high, and pushed his franchise record for consecutive games with an extra-base hit to 11, a mark he set Wednesday with a double.
One still is the loneliest number: Todd Frazier's homer in the second tied him for the Major League lead with Mark Trumbo at 23. It also stood as the White Sox 14th straight solo homer, proving to be the second-longest such streak in franchise history, according to STATS LLC. The White Sox hit 15 straight solo homers from Sept. 2-25, 1965.
What a relief: Right-hander Neil Ramirez gave the Twins 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, which they needed after Milone allowed five runs in just 3 1/3 innings, including three runs on four hits in the fourth. Ramirez took over for Milone in the fourth with the bases loaded, one out and the Twins trailing, 5-2. He promptly got Jose Abreu to hit into an inning-ending double play to prevent the White Sox from building a bigger lead. The Twins then added two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to tie it at 5.
"There were some positives today," Molitor said. "Neil has pitched well. He came in and gave us 2 2/3 and a big double-play ball. Neil's done a nice job when we've called upon him, since he's been here."
QUOTABLE
"Nobody has really done anything different. It's just that baseball is a tough sport and we were on the losing end of it for a little bit and now we're trying to turn it around and get back on top of the division." -- Robertson
"He says he feels fine. I didn't know he went to school to be a doctor, so we're going to let the doctors handle that. He's very good at self-evaluation. He says he's close." -- Ventura, onMelky Cabrera, who missed the last two games of the Twins series with a sore right wrist
MANAGER'S CHALLENGE
Shuck was ruled out at second on a stolen-base attempt that stood as the last out of the sixth. Ventura challenged the call at second, but after review, umpires ruled that the call stood. Shuck was out and the White Sox lost their challenge.
WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Ervin Santana (2-7, 4.64 ERA) will start the opener of a series against the Rangers on Friday at Target Field at 7:10 p.m. CT. Santana took a no-decision in his last start (last Friday), holding the Yankees to just one run in five innings. Santana has made 30 starts against the Rangers, his most against any opponent, and is 13-11 with a 5.67 ERA in those outings.
White Sox: Miguel Gonzalez (1-3, 5.17 ERA) opens a three-game series against the red-hot Astros Friday night in Houston at 7:10 p.m. CT. Gonzalez has gone 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA lifetime against the Astros, and 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in three career starts at Minute Maid Park.

Maeda steps up as Dodgers win set vs. Brewers

If ever there was a day for a Dodgers pitcher to deliver, this was that day. And Kenta Maeda delivered.
Hours after ace Clayton Kershaw hit the 15-day disabled list with a mild herniated disc, Maeda scattered three hits and surrendered a lone run in six innings of the Dodgers' decisive 8-1 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday. It gave injury-battered Los Angeles two wins in three days for a second series victory over Milwaukee in as many weeks.
"Kenta had his breaking ball working, he threw good changeups," said manager Dave Roberts. "For him to give us six innings [was] huge for the 'pen."
Trayce ThompsonYasmani Grandal and Corey Seager homered off Brewers starter Zach Davies, who allowed six earned runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings for his first loss since April 29. The six earned runs matched Davies' total from his previous five June starts, in which he'd surrendered only two home runs.
"It just comes down to not executing pitches, falling behind a lot of guys," Davies said. "Even when I did get ahead of some guys, I gave it right back to them. … I think you get frustrated with your game today, but at the same time, you realize those things are going to happen. You're going to have good times, and you're going to have some struggles."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
All-Star Seager:
 The Dodgers are pushing to get National League Rookie of the Year candidate Seager in the All-Star Game, and he again did his part with his 17th home run, a single, an intentional walk and a 13-game hitting streak. Seager is third in the NL All-Star voting at shortstop behind the Cubs' Addison Russell and the Rockies' Trevor Story.
"I think it's obvious, I have a biased perspective, I think he's clearly the best shortstop in the National League," Roberts said. "The All-Star Game is an important game as far as home-field advantage as far as either league. When you talk about the game going forward, Corey Seager is what the game is about now and going forward. The numbers speak for themselves. He deserves to be in that game."
Hill yeah: Third baseman Aaron Hill made Maeda pay for a momentary bout of wildness in the first inning. After a Scooter Gennett single with one out, Maeda hit Ryan Braun in the backside with a pitch and walked Chris Carter to load the bases for Hill, who lifted a first-pitch breaking ball into center field for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 Brewers lead. It capped a second consecutive productive month for the veteran, who slashed .169/.208/.246 in April, but had a .318/.403/.471 slash line in May and June.
"Even the first-inning opportunity -- I think we made [Maeda] work that first inning, but he was good today," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He was really willing to go to his offspeed whenever, and he slowed you down enough that when he did fall behind in the count, you weren't able to sit on anything."
Puig returns: Yasiel Puig came limping off the field after running into the left-field fence Wednesday night, but he was back in the lineup Thursday and had a double, a single and a walk with an RBI.
Painful ending: Braun fouled a Casey Fien pitch off his back knee during a long at-bat in the eighth inning, and he limped around the batter's box in pain before flying out to left fielderHowie Kendrick, who charged to make a diving catch. Braun then exited the game as part of a ninth-inning double switch.
"I was going to take him out of the game, regardless," Counsell said. "It wasn't because of [the foul tip]. He was coming out of the game."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Thursday's outing snapped a long streak of effective starts for Davies. From May 4 through Wednesday -- covering Davies' last 10 starts -- he was 5-0 with a 2.46 ERA, tied for 10th best in the NL in that period behind some big names: Madison BumgarnerJose Fernandez, Kershaw, Johnny CuetoJulio TeheranJon LesterKyle HendricksNoah Syndergaard and Zack Greinke.
PITCHERS WHO CAN HIT
With an eight-man bullpen and Joc Pederson unavailable, the Dodgers had only three position players available on the bench. So Roberts had reliever Chris Hatcher in the dugout for emergency pinch-hitting duties that weren't needed. Hatcher, a former catcher who pitched two innings Wednesday night, hit a walk-off home run in a Double-A championship game.
WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: Barring travel complications, newly acquired Bud Norris will replace the injured Kershaw as the Dodgers' starting pitcher for the homestand opener against the Rockies, with a 7:10 p.m. PT first pitch. Norris was acquired Thursday from the Braves in a five-player trade. He's 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six June appearances after a rough April and May.
Brewers: Matt Garza makes his fourth start of the season for the Brewers at 7:15 p.m. CT on Friday, when they travel to St. Louis to kick off a six-game road trip. The Cardinals have won 25 of the past 38 games between the NL Central opponents, dating back to 2014.

Yanks use passed ball to walk off on Texas again

For the second time in as many days, the Yankees came up clutch in the ninth inning to beat the American League West-leading Rangers, defeating Texas, 2-1, on a passed ball Thursday afternoon to get back to .500 at 39-39. The Rangers have lost consecutive games for the first time since losing three straight to the Athletics from May 16-18.
Chase Headley scored on a mad dash from third base on a Robinson Chirinos passed ball with two outs in the ninth. Headley led off the inning with a walk before Didi Gregorius, the hero in Wednesday's walk-off win, bunted Headley into scoring position and a Starlin Castrogroundout put him on third base.
"When you get an opportunity like that with two outs in the ninth, you got to find a way to score," Headley said. "We'll take it any way we can get it -- that was a great win. These can be momentum wins. That's a really good team over there, and to come back and get a couple wins from them, that's big for us."
Michael Pineda was stellar, striking out a season-high 12 batters in six innings, over which he allowed just two hits and one run. It was the second consecutive outing that Pineda allowed only two hits, and he earned no-decisions in both of the games. The Yankees' three-pronged bullpen attack of Dellin BetancesAndrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman took over from there, allowing two hits and striking out four, effectively silencing the Rangers in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
"Their guy on the hill was exceptional," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That slider was devastating and he had a 96-mph fastball. That's that guy. He can throw like an ace or give up some runs. Then you get to their big guys, they are as challenging as anybody."
"He was really good today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Pineda. "He gives up a home run to start the game and then he shut them down after that. And this is a good offense. This club scores a lot of runs. I thought he was really impressive. It might have been, and probably was, his best start of the year."
Texas' one run came in the first at-bat of the game, when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a home run against Pineda. After the first inning, the Rangers didn't record another hit until after Pineda left the game. Starting pitcher A.J. Griffin dominated the Yankees in the early going, allowing just two hits and one run in five innings. After 88 pitches and eight strikeouts, though, Griffin was replaced by Shawn Tolleson.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Choo goes deep: It's the 18th time in Choo's career that he has led off the first inning with a home run. But the Rangers managed just three singles the rest of the afternoon.
"Our guys continue to play hard, but obviously it was a tough day at the plate," Banister said.
Bases-loaded letdown: The Yankees' best chance to open up this game before the ninth inning came in the seventh. Brett Gardner came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and the game tied at 1. Rangers reliever Jake Diekman forced Gardner to ground out softly to second base to end the threat.
Didi doing damage: Less than a day after lacing the first walk-off home run of his career into the right-field bleachers, Gregorius stayed hot Thursday afternoon by hitting a fifth-inning solo homer to tie the game at 1, his eighth blast of the season. Since June 14, Gregorius is 22-for-59 (.373) with 12 runs scored and seven extra-base hits.
"My comfort level was there because I ended up [last] season on a really good note and just tried to take it over [into this season]," Gregorius said of his improvements at the plate. "Some things I learned last year and [I'm] trying to get better this year and trying to make some improvements. The confidence has always been there."
Nine whiffs in a row: Griffin and Pineda at one point combined to strike out nine straight batters. It started when Mark Teixeira struck out to end the bottom of the first. Both pitchers then struck out the side in the second and Pineda began the third by striking out Choo andIan Desmond.
"Terrific pitching on both sides today," third baseman Adrian Beltre said.
QUOTABLE
"I told him a double is a single, a triple is a double, and if you hit it out of the park, you're allowed to run all the way around,"
-- Girardi, on what he told Carlos Beltran when he allowed him to pinch-hit despite dealing with a hamstring injury
WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday against the Twins at Target Field. Perez has a six-game winning streak on the line.
Yankees: The Yankees will head to the West Coast for the opener of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Friday at 10:40 p.m. ET. Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound at Petco Park, trying to limit the long ball after allowing four home runs his last time out, a loss to Minnesota.

JONES, RIDERS KICK OFF NEW ERA IN RIDERVILLE VS. ARGOS

As though the waiting game wasn’t already hard enough, it only gets tougher for Darian Durant and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Riders say hello to a new season on Thursday night in Riderville, while at the same time begin saying goodbye to a long-time landmark in Mosaic Stadium.
After a bye week to open the 2016 schedule, waiting until 8:00 p.m. local time to face the Toronto Argonauts might be difficult.
“I’m kind of sad that it’s a night game,” Durant told Riderville.com. “Just waking up having to wait all day to come out and play. But at the same time night games are always exciting here so it’s just going to be an exciting day and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ll just be patiently waiting all day and I’ll be ready to come out here and do whatever I can do to help this team get a win.”
With equal anticipation wait the fans in Rider Nation, and the same goes for Chris Jones. No team has overhauled its roster more than the Riders this year and no team enters the season with more uncertainty.
On Thursday night everyone will see some sort of semblance of what the 2016 Riders are all about.
“That’ll be decided [Thursday] night,” said Jones. “Like I told the team, this is for real – this is our first regular season game. We’ve talked a good game, now it’s a matter of seeing exactly where we are.”
Jones was hired as the team’s football czar – the head coach, general manager and vice-president – after the team cleaned house following a three-win season in 2015. After Jones took the Eskimos from cellar-dwellers at 4-14 to Grey Cup Champions at 14-4 in a matter of two years, Riders fans are hoping he can work his similar magic in Saskatchewan.
With a re-worked roster with the subtraction of big names like Weston Dressler and John Chick and the addition of the likes of Shawn Lemon, Justin Capicciotti and Kendial Lawrence among many, many others, there’s no doubt the Riders are already being built in Jones’s mold.
Veteran quarterback Durant is one of a handful of returning players along with veteran Rob Bagg and young receiver Nic Demski – yet with so many new faces on both sides of the ball, some patience may be required.
Durant is playing his first game in over a year after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in last year’s opener, while approximately 35 players on the team’s 46-man roster will be making their Rider debuts.
“It’s just another great opportunity to do something special this season,” said Bagg, the veteran receiver now in his ninth season with the team. “Every year it’s a fresh start and this year it’s no different – I love the pieces we have here.But with uncertainty and the unknown also comes possibility.
“It all starts Thursday, we’ll find out what we’re really made of. I’m certainly excited and optimistic about it.”
So too is Jones, who will lean on a veteran offence and a young defence that he expects to be ‘very fast’ and ‘very athletic’. Facing an angry Argos team coming off a home-opening loss is a solid first challenge.
“We’ve got to go out and we’ve got to play a solid football game against a very good football team in Toronto,” said Jones. “They’re very well-coached and they didn’t play very well last week, and we’re not the only ones that know that – they know it as well.
“You’ll see a different Toronto team roll in here.”
The Argos definitely know they weren’t themselves in Week 1. They lost 42-20 to hated arch-rival Hamilton, but it’s not just the loss that stings – it’s the fact that it came in a game they’ll never be able to get back: the first ever game at BMO Field.
“We came out and we laid an egg,” defensive tackle Bryan Hall told Argonauts.ca. “Especially on defence. We just didn’t perform when we needed to.”
The O-line couldn’t keep a clean pocket for quarterback Ricky Ray, who was sacked five times, threw an interception and fumbled once. Meanwhile, Brandon Whitaker and the Argo offence couldn’t establish anything on the ground, finishing with just one yard on seven attempts – their lowest rushing total since 2009 and the lowest by any CFL team in a game since 2011.
With a new-look O-line led by off-season addition Josh Bourke and a young defence coached by another newcomer in Defensive Coordinator Rich Stubler, the Argos are still learning but expect to be much better after seeing it all on film.
“We just weren’t ourselves,” said national defensive end Ricky Foley. “It was good to see on film; make our corrections.
“We needed to see it on film and a lot more confidence this week.”
16_TOR_wk2_Foley_THUMB
Head Coach Scott Milanovich was particularly frustrated with the Argos’ inability to capitalize on momentum during their Week 1 loss. A slow start had them down 25-6 at one point, but two touchdowns by Vidal Hazelton within a minute made it a five-point game.
It was as though all the Ticats had to do was press down on the gas again though. Jeremiah Masoli completed 15 straight passes against the Argo defence while former Argonaut Chad Owens put the game away, and in the end the five-point third-quarter deficit was the closest the Argos could get.
On Sunday they face a stiff test against a new-look Rider team that’ll be excited to play at home, but the hostile territory coming off a loss is welcomed by the Argos’ fifth-year head coach.
“Our players love to play there. I love to play there. It’s fun,” said Milanovich. “It’s a college-type atmosphere from my perspective. Their fans are always fired up. It’s the way football should be played.
“Obviously Chris [Jones] will have them ready to play football, there’s no doubt.”
Ray will look to get the Argo offence humming again, one that’s used to finishing in the top half of the league under the offensive-minded Milanovich but last season fell to sixth overall. The veteran pivot threw for 282 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception on 26-of-36 passing in the face of a constant Ticats pass rush.
The Argos, meanwhile, will have to wait until mid-July to get another crack at it in front of their home fans, but for now they have a chance to do some early-season bonding. After playing in Regina on Thursday night, Milanovich has them heading straight to B.C. as part of a nine-day road trip.
Linebacker Marshall McFadden and receiver Kevin Elliott will not play for the Argos after each being added to the six-game injured list, opening the door for Thomas Miles to start at middle linebacker for the Boatmen and Kenny Shaw and Wallace Miles to get more touches in the receiving corps.
The Riders, meanwhile, enter their season-opener relatively unscathed but will have a pair of newcomers in the secondary in veterans and former Stampeders Buddy Jackson and Brandon McDonald, both slated to start at halfback.
Thursday’s game will also be a big matchup for Greg Jones, the former Argos linebacker who will play his first game as a Rider against his former team.

O's eye June HR history in opener vs. Mariners

The red-hot Orioles -- who have 55 homers this month and are one shy of setting a new Major League record for most in June -- will take their enviable lineup to Safeco Field for a four-game series against the Mariners that opens on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT.
Seattle will face a familiar foe in the opener in former Mariners prospect Chris Tillman. In 2008, Tillman, along with teammate Adam Jones and three other players, was sent to Baltimore in exchange for left-hander Erik Bedard. The right-hander (10-1, 3.52 ERA) is enjoying an excellent season for the first-place Orioles, who enter the series 5 1/2 games ahead in the American League East.
Tillman will square off against Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker. The 23-year-old has enjoyed much more success at home than on the road this season. In eight starts at Safeco Field this year, he has a 2.92 ERA.
Things To Know About This Game
• Walker missed his last scheduled start due to tendinitis in his right foot. The right-hander has a 3.45 ERA in 14 starts on the year and is 0-1 with a 5.52 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles.
• Baltimore is expected to bolster its bullpen by activating right-hander Vance Worley from the disabled list prior to the opener. Catcher Caleb Joseph could also rejoin the team.
• Seattle's offense has been led by former O's slugger Nelson Cruz, who hit his 20th homer on Tuesday. Cruz is among the league leaders in dingers, with Baltimore's Mark Trumbo (23) currently on top.

Bumgarner aims to be dual threat against A's

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound and in the batter's box in an American League ballpark as the A's look to sweep this year's Bay Bridge Series at the Coliseum.
Bumgarner, who has lobbied to hit in this year's Home Run Derby, has two homers this season. With him in the lineup, it will be the first time a team has forfeited its right to a designated hitter since 1976.
On the mound, Bumgarner's ERA (1.99) trails only Clayton Kershaw's league-leading mark of 1.79 and is one of several exceptional numbers he's posted through 17 starts. The lefty's fourth among all starters in strikeouts (122), has walked only 29 batters, and has thrown the sixth-most innings this season (108 1/3).
Bumgarner has lost his last two starts, however, including a 3-2 decision against the Phillies on Saturday. He gave up three runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, marking the first time he's given up more than two earned runs in a start since April 15 against the Dodgers. Bumgarner held Philadelphia scoreless over the first six innings Saturday before losing control in the seventh.
Oakland counters with rookie Dillon Overton in his second career start. He won his debut Saturday against the Angels, working around back-to-back homers by Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout in the first inning, allowing three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.
"Trout welcomed me to the big leagues pretty quickly," Overton joked Wednesday.
Overton, a University of Oklahoma product, said he's excited to take part in the Bay Area's baseball rivalry, saying the atmosphere is similar to the storied rivalry between Oklahoma and the University of Texas. That he's facing one of the league's best pitchers and a fellow lefty is an added bonus for Overton, who said that he's watched Bumgarner plenty of times over the past several years despite not sharing a similar pitching style.
"I don't usually try to mimic anything from any other pitchers," Overton said. "I just watch him and try to soak it in like a sponge a little bit, and just take it and put it into my game the way it fits."
Overton is already the fifth rookie to make a start this year for the A's. He was 8-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) this season in Triple-A.
Three things to know about this game
• Bumgarner has struggled against the A's in his career, going 2-2 with a 5.06 ERA in four starts. Three of those came at the Coliseum, where he's 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA.
• No A's batter has faced Bumgarner more than Jed Lowrie, who is 4-for-15 (.267) overall.
• A's closer Ryan Madson will most likely be unavailable for a second straight day Thursday after throwing 43 pitches in a two-inning save Tuesday in a wild 13-11 win.

ALS, REDBLACKS KICK OFF WEEK 2 IN ALL-EAST CLASH

If the Montreal Alouette fans who head to Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium on Thursday night are anything like they’ve proven to be in the past, the Ottawa REDBLACKS’ offence is in for a loud night.
“It was a loud crowd,” said Als’ wide receiver Kenny Stafford in an interview with MontrealAlouettes.com when asked about his time visiting Montreal as an Eskimo last season. “It was a difference for me actually going to play there and playing against the Alouettes. Now I know how loud it can be for the opposing team.”
The East Division match up will be the Montreal faithful’s first peek at the Alouettes of the 2016 season, including the new-look offence led by Offensive Coordinator Anthony Calvillo.
“It’s going to be great to get back out in front of our home crowd,” said veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn. “We had the one pre-season game (this year) but this time it’s a regular season game.
“We’re going out and trying to win. We’re trying to be that team that doesn’t lose at home. We want to have that mentality.”
So far so good for the Alouettes’ offence, which will look to build on a strong start in Winnipeg. The Alouettes have a great chance at becoming that winning team in their first of three match-ups against Ottawa if they continue to buy into Calvillo’s game plan the same way they did in their 22-14 win over Winnipeg in Week 1.
“You can see now it’s Anthony Calvillo’s offence,” REDBLACKS defensive end Arnaud Gascon-Nadon told OttawaREDBLACKS.com. “He’s running it the way they ran it when he was quarterback so you’re going to see a lot of the running game, quick passes, protect the quarterback and trying to get the ball in the hands of the play makers.
“This is starting to look like their offence and starting to look like they’re comfortable in it and we just have to try to bring what we have and try to counter it.”
Leading Montreal’s charge is 37-year-old Glenn, who completed 30-of-42 pass attempts for 332 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. That unit was in command most of the night, although two turnovers inside the red zone left points off the board.
Glenn will have plenty of options to throw to on the first half of Thursday’s double header, having found eight different receivers last week including Duron Carter, who had seven receptions for 69 yards in his first game as an Alouette after returning this off-season, and Nik Lewis, who collected 51 yards on six catches.
Lewis, Carter, Stafford and S.J. Green form one of the CFL’s most formidable pass-catching units and could make the Alouettes a much-improved offensive team throughout 2016.
Burris has reportedly been placed on the six-game injured list, meaning, for now, the REDBLACKS are Harris’s team.Trevor Harris will make his first start behind centre as a REDBLACK when Ottawa takes the field filling in for starting quarterback Henry Burris, who suffered a pinky injury on his throwing hand in the REDBLACKS’ thrilling 45-37 overtime victory against Edmonton in Week 1.
“He’ll (Burris) be back and we’ll be welcoming him with open arms when he’s back,” said Harris. “For the time being, I’ll be ready to roll. That’s why you want to make sure, for coach Campbell’s sake, you can’t have too many quality quarterbacks and my job is to come in and be a quality quarterback for this team.”
Harris wasted little time after taking the field to justify the REDBLACKS’ decision to sign him this off-season – one possession to be exact – throwing a long bomb to Chris Williams for a 71-yard touchdown on his first passing attempt. The former Argonaut pivot impressed in the rest of his debut as well, connecting on 17 of 19 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
“To have that confidence that no matter which one (Harris or Burris) is in there that we can still go out there and execute our game plan and beat a team like Edmonton on the road when we actually had a few mistakes,” said Williams. “We had some turn overs and a blocked punt for a touchdown so we really didn’t execute our best but we executed enough to win the game.”
Montreal’s red hot defence – a defence that allowed a league-low 14 points and only one touchdown drive last week – will be another story for Harris to deal with. Defensive end John Bowman will be the biggest pest, having already collected seven tackles and two sacks in the first game of the regular season.
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While Ottawa put up gaudy numbers against the Eskimos’ depleted secondary, points won’t come as easy against Montreal. That also means the REDBLACKS’ defence will have to be stingier than it was against Mike Reilly and the Eskimos.
“We just have to go out there and do what we do,” said REDBLACKS’ defensive back Jerrell Gavins. “It’s not necessarily about what they do, it’s more about what we can do prevent them from doing what they’re usually successful at.”
The REDBLACKS ended the 2015 season series victorious, finishing a perfect 3-0 against Montreal in their stellar second season as a franchise.
Montreal took all three the season before.
Based on history alone, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top this week.