Tuesday Games – Semifinals:
- Los Angeles Sparks 75 – Connecticut Sun 84 (Conn leads 1-0)
- Las Vegas Aces 95 – Washington Mystics 97 (WSH leads 1-0)
Liberty Win Top Pick In WNBA Draft For First Time – The New York Liberty will have the top pick in the 2020 WNBA draft after the odds went their way in Tuesday night’s lottery. It marks the first time in franchise history that the Liberty will get to pick first. New York is one of the original eight teams that formed the league in 1997. The Liberty secured the No. 2 pick this year and selected Louisville guard Asia Durr. “This is an exciting time for our organization and our fans,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said. “Once again, we have the opportunity to bring in some of the best basketball talent available as we continue working to build toward a WNBA championship.” Lottery odds are based on the cumulative records of the two most recent WNBA regular seasons. The Liberty’s combined record was 17-51, giving them the most chances to land the top pick (442 out of 1,000). Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu is expected to be the top selection in April’s draft. Dallas will pick second, Indiana third and Atlanta fourth. The Fever had the second-best odds of getting the No.1 pick with a 27.6% chance. Dallas had a 17.8% chance of picking first and Atlanta 10.4%. Of the four lottery teams, only Atlanta has ever had the No. 1 pick; the Dream drafted high-scoring forward Angel McCoughtry first overall in 2009. The rest of the draft will be in reverse order of the standings for this season with Phoenix picking fifth. Minnesota, Seattle and Chicago follow the Mercury. Las Vegas traded the No. 9 pick to Dallas as part of the Liz Cambage deal in the preseason. Los Angeles sent its first-round pick to Connecticut as part of the Chiney Ogwumike trade. The Sun also will pick 11th, with Washington getting the final selection of the first round.
Chicago Cubs 16 – Pittsburgh Pirates 6
Highlights: Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo was pulled from a game Sunday with a sprained right ankle, putting a damper on the Chicago Cubs‘ 16-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rizzo was injured fielding a bunt at first base in the third inning. He had to be helped off the field and could not put pressure on the leg. X-rays taken at Wrigley Field showed no fractures, and an MRI has been scheduled for Monday. Chicago’s postseason pursuit has already been hindered by an injury to shortstop Javier Báez, who is out for the rest of the regular season with a hairline fracture of his left thumb. The Cubs maintained their one-game lead over Milwaukee for the second NL wild card. The Nationals are 1 1/2 games ahead of Chicago for the first wild card. Kris Bryant homered twice, and Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Jonathan Lucroy also connected as Chicago battered Pittsburgh for a third straight day. The Cubs scored a total of 47 runs on 49 hits in completing the three-game sweep. Chicago starter Jose Quintana was pulled after allowing five runs in the third inning, when he fell apart following Rizzo’s injury. After Erik Gonzalez’s leadoff double, Pirates starter Trevor Williams bunted toward third base. Rizzo charged aggressively from first and rolled his ankle a few steps before fielding the ball. He threw wide to first base and dropped to the ground in pain. Brad Wieck (1-1) later replaced Quintana with two on and struck out both batters he faced to end the inning. The Cubs rallied for five runs in the bottom of the inning to lead 8-5, starting with Bryant’s second homer of the game and ending when reliever Michael Feliz threw wildly on an appeal play at third base. Williams (7-7) allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. Pablo Reyes drove in three runs for the Pirates. Bryant gave the Cubs an early lead with a three-run blast in the first. Happ, who replaced Rizzo, hit a two-run shot in the fifth to make it 12-6. Jason Heyward drove in a run in the sixth and Schwarber hit a two-run shot in the seventh. Lucroy capped the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth. Also… Addison Russell was placed on the seven-day concussion list Sunday retroactive to Thursday. He was hit in the head by a pitch last Sunday at Milwaukee.
Chicago White Sox 10 – Seattle Mariners 11
Highlights: Jose Ruiz walked Tom Murphy with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Seattle Mariners won via walk-off for the second straight game, beating the Chicago White Sox 11-10 on Sunday. A day after former White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez hit a game-ending homer in the 10th, Seattle rallied from five runs down to again beat Chicago. Top prospect Kyle Lewis hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, his fourth connection in six major league games. Mallex Smith then tied it at 10 with a single that scored pinch-runner Keon Broxton from second base. Austin Adams (2-2) struck out Chicago’s top three batters in the ninth for the win. He got Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada on three pitches each. Ruiz (2-2) gave up a single to Ausitn Nola to open the ninth. Lewis singled and right fielder Ryan Cordell bobbled the ball, allowing Nola to move to third. He was replaced by pinch-runner Braden Bishop. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Ruiz walked Murphy on six pitches. The Mariners batted around twice, scoring five runs in the fourth and eighth innings. The walk wiped away an eight-run fifth inning for Chicago that included a grand slam by Wellington Castillo, who had five RBI, and a three-run home run by Adam Engel. Nola had four hits.
Chicago Bears 16 – Denver Broncos 14
Highlights: Eddy Pineiro kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Chicago Bears a wild 16-14 win over the Broncos and their former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose gutsy 2-point call 31 seconds earlier had given Denver the lead. The Broncos (0-2) thought time had expired when Mitchell Trubisky stepped up and threw a 25-yard pass to Allen Robinson on fourth-and-15 from his 40-yard line. Robinson was tackled at the Denver 35 by Chris Harris Jr. The clock showed all zeroes and both teams milled around on the field not knowing whether to celebrate a win or lament a loss. Then referee Adrian Hill announced there was 1 second remaining and Chicago was using its last timeout. Pineiro’s winner sent the Bears (1-1) streaming back onto the field in celebration of a victory that seemed so unlikely after they’d surrendered the lead moments earlier. Three incompletions were followed by a 12-men-in-the-huddle infraction, however, and the Bears were facing fourth-and-15 from their 40 with 9 seconds remaining. Trubisky found Robinson over the middle in the nick of time. Harris’ tackle came one second too early for the Broncos, who saw their 13-home-game September winning streak snapped.
Chicago Sky 92 – Las Vegas Aces 93
Highlights: Dearica Hamby saved the Aces season as the Sky threw theirs away. Hamby, who accepted her Sixth Woman of the Year award before the game, stole a final-seconds pass by Courtney Vandersloot as time was winding down and the Sky up, 92-90. The Sky only had to run out the clock to move on from a back-and-forth game that has been the highlight of the postseason. Instead streaking up the sideline, Hamby threw up a shot that went in with 5 seconds left and laid down shock on everyone’s faces. Hamby finished with 17 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals off the bench. Her final points were the 20th lead change of the game. Astou Ndour hit only her 15th 3-pointer of the season all alone in the corner with 24.1 seconds on the clock to give Chicago a two-point lead, 92-90. It marked the 19th lead change of the game, seven of which occurred in the final quarter, and closed a 7-0 run. She got into early foul trouble and spent time on the bench, but finished with 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Liz Cambage led the Aces with 23 points and 17 rebounds. The Aces big lineup of Cambage (6-foot-8), A’ja Wilson (6-4) and Hamby (6-3) fueled multiple runs to get back in it with Chicago. The Sky led by 15 in the second quarter and again by 10 in the third before an intense final 12 minutes. Wilson also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kelsey Plum had 15 points and six assists of the bench. Kayla McBride laid in 16 points as well. Diamond DeShields continued her stellar postseason debut with a team-high 23 points. Vandersloot had 12 assists.
Sunday Games -Second Round:
- Seattle Storm 69 – Los Angeles Sparks 92
- Chicago Sky 92 – Las Vegas Aces 93 (See Chicago Sports News)
Chicago White Sox 6 – Kansas City Royals 8
Highlights: Jorge Soler hit a pair of two-run homers among his career high-matching four hits, leading the Royals to an 8-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. Soler has 43 homers this season, two behind American League leader Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. It was the fifth multi-homer game of Soler’s career and third this season. He also has five more homers than the Royals’ previous team record of 38, by Mike Moustakas in 2017. Soler came within a few inches of a third homer, but his drive in the third hit high off the wall for a double. Adalberto Mondesi homered and had three hits, and Bubba Starling and Ryan O’Hearn also connected as the Royals beat Chicago for the fifth time in six games. Rookie Eloy Jimenez homered, his 26th, and drove in four runs, and Jose Abreu added a two-run shot for the White Sox. Abreu has 32 homers and 114 RBI, which is three off the major-league lead at the start of Wednesday. The teams combined for seven homers and have hit a total of 13 in the first two games of the series. Glenn Sparkman (4-11) allowed three runs on four hits and snapped a nine-start winless streak. He had last won on July 16, against the White Sox at Kansas City. Scott Barlow worked two scoreless innings and Ian Kennedy pitched the ninth for his 28th save. Chicago starter Reynaldo Lopez (9-13) was coming off a complete-game one-hitter, but was roughed up for six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four homers and has given up 31 in 166 2/3 innings this season.
Chicago Cubs 0 – San Diego Padres 4
Highlights: Chris Paddack pitched six strong innings and the San Diego Padres beat the Cubs 4-0 Wednesday night, dropping Chicago into a tie with Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card spot. Manuel Margot homered off San Diegan. Cole Hamels and also made a spectacular catch in center field. The Cubs lost for the second straight night and for the fifth time in six games. Milwaukee beat Miami 7-5 in its first game since reigning MVP Christian Yelich suffered a season-ending knee injury. Philadelphia and the New York Mets are two games behind the Cubs and Brewers. Hamels (7-7) didn’t get out of the fifth. The left-hander, who went to Rancho Bernardo High, allowed one run on four hits, struck out six and walked four in 4 1/3 innings. Paddack (9-7) held Chicago to three hits while striking out seven and walking one. He retired the side in order in three of his first four innings. After Anthony Rizzo tripled to right leading off the second, Paddack retired the side in order. Margot provided the Padres their first run one night after his walk-off walk in the 10th inning lifted them to a wild 9-8 win against the Cubs. He drove Hamels’ first pitch of the fifth into the seats in left field, his 12th. Margot made a leaping catch of Nicholas Castellanos‘ drive to center field in the fourth, denying him of at least an extra-base hit. The Padres made it 2-0 in the sixth when rookie Ty France scored on reliever Brad Wieck’s throwing error. The Padres were trying a double steal when Wieck’s throw home went over catcher Willson Contreras, allowing France to score. Wil Myers hit a two-run single in the seventh.
Chicago Sky 105 – Phoenix Mercury 76
Highlights: Diamond DeShields scored 25 points and the fifth-seeded Chicago Sky used a dominating second half for a 105-76 win over the eighth-seeded Phoenix Mercury in a first-round, winner-take-all playoff game on Wednesday night. Astou Nadour and Stefanie Dolson added 16 points apiece for the Sky, who play at fourth-seeded Las Vegas on Sunday in the single-elimination second round. Allie Quigley had 15 points, Cheyenne Parker had 11 off the bench and Courtney Vandersloot had nine points to go with 11 assists as Chicago was making its first playoff appearance since 2016. Phoenix only trailed 44-41 at halftime despite losing league-leading scorer Brittney Griner with a left knee injury with 8:18 left in the second quarter. Griner was called for an offensive foul setting a screen on Quigley, and it appeared there was knee-to-knee contact. Griner went to the locker room with the help of injured star Diana Taurasi, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Griner returned to start the third quarter with a knee brace, playing briefly before going to the bench for good. She had six points, more than 14 below her average. Chicago used a 12-0 to start the second half and the Sky didn’t look back. DeShields, who scored the fifth-most points in a playoff debut, opened the second half with a 3-pointer and Dolson had a 3 at the 7:20 mark for a 56-41 lead. Chicago had a 29-19 advantage in the third quarter for a 73-60 lead. Sophie Cunningham hit a 3-pointer barely a minute into the fourth quarter to cut the Phoenix deficit to 11 but Quigley answered with five quick points and Chicago pulled way. DeWanna Bonner led the Mercury with 21 points. January finished with 12 and Camille Little had 10. WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi did not play because of a hamstring injury. Phoenix was 6-0 in the single-elimination format since the WNBA changed its playoffs in 2016. The margin of victory was the fourth-largest in a playoff game and the biggest ever for Chicago. Five years ago Phoenix had a 29-point win over Chicago in Game 2 of the Finals.
Wednesday Games – First Round:
- Phoenix Mercury 76 – Chicago Sky 105 (See Chicago Sports News)
- Minnesota Lynx 74 – Seattle Storm 84
Sky’s Wade Named Coach Of Year; Howard DPOY – Chicago’s James Wade, in his first season with the Sky, was named the WNBA’s coach of the year. Seattle forward Natasha Howard was named defensive player of the year. Both awards are voted on by a media panel. Wade led the Sky to a 20-14 record and the No. 5 seed in the WNBA playoffs, which begin Wednesday. He will be presented his award before the Sky’s first-round game against visiting Phoenix at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2). Howard will get her award before the No. 6 seed Storm’s game vs. No. 7 Minneapolis (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Wade, who previously was a WNBA assistant in Minnesota and San Antonio, got the Sky back into the postseason after the team missed the playoffs the past two years. Wade also was espnW’s choice for coach of the year. “What he was able to do for this franchise, to turn us around and put us back into the playoff run in just one year, it’s incredible,” Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot said. “Him being recognized in this way just makes me that much more excited for the future, and we still have more work to do.” Howard averaged 18.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocked shots for the Storm, who were without 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart and veteran point guard Sue Bird all season because of injuries. “Big play after big play, Natasha’s ability to read her opponent and make stops has propelled our defense this season,” Seattle coach Dan Hughes said.