#1 04-12-2018 03:42:28

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Right after Tommy La Stella struck out swinging for the final out

Jeremy Jeffress pounded his glove with his right hand and Erik Kratz pumped his right arm in jubilation.Forget about the wild-card standings. The Milwaukee Brewers http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.co … aga-jersey are fighting for the NL Central title.Lorenzo Cain had four hits, Mike Moustakas scored on Carl Edwards Jr.'s wild pitch in the sixth inning and the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 on Monday night to move within one game of the division leaders."That's a great team over there. They're not going to go away," Moustakas said. "They're not going to just give it up, so we've got to go out there every single day, keep fighting, keep grinding and go to win a ballgame each and every night."Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Schoop each drove in a run as Milwaukee (83-62) won for the seventh time in eight games. It's the closest the Brewers have been to the division lead since they trailed the Cubs by a game on Aug. 5.Milwaukee also battled Chicago for the NL Central title last season, but the Cubs pulled away down the stretch and the Brewers missed the playoffs. It looks as if the returning Brewers learned from what happened in 2017."I think being in the moment a year later helps these guys," manager Craig Counsell said. "You know how you feel because you feel different in these moments."Wade Miley (4-2) pitched five effective innings before Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader and Jeffress closed it out for wild card-leading Milwaukee. Burnes worked a scoreless sixth, Hader struck out six straight batters and Jeffress got three outs for his 11th save.Back home after a soggy weekend in Washington, Chicago (83-60) lost for the fifth time in seven games. Ben Zobrist had two of the Cubs' five hits, and Kris Bryant drove in a run."We've just not been making that kind of hard contact that we're capable of," manager Joe Maddon said. "So more than anything, that was tonight. You can dice it up any way you want, but just to score two runs again — we have to be more offensively."The game was tied at 2 when Maddon and a trainer came out to check on Jon Lester after the left-hander retired the first two batters in the sixth. Lester (15-6) stayed in the game after a short conversation, and the Brewers pounced.Moustakas singled and Kratz doubled to right, putting runners on second and third. Lester then departed with lower back tightness, and Moustakas scampered home when Edwards missed badly on his first pitch to Arcia .Moustakas said third base coach Ed Sedar told him to be on the lookout for a wild pitch."It happened and I was able to get down there and ended up scoring," Moustakas said, "so it worked out pretty well for us."Lester allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked two in his first loss since Aug. 11. The All-Star said he thinks his back will be fine."It's not anything painful Authentic Kevin King Jersey , just kind of uncomfortable," he said. "After I got out of the game and came up here, I felt a lot better, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same."WORK, WORK, WORKChicago is in the midst of 30 straight game days after Sunday's series finale at Washington was rained out and rescheduled for Thursday. But Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the East Coast and the Cubs sound as if they are hoping for another postponement."It's (Major League Baseball's) call on something like this," president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "Our voices have certainly have been heard, but we don't have any control."ALL IN GOOD FUNBrewers bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel drew some boos and a few cheers from fans in the bleachers at Wrigley Field when he took off his warmup top before the game, revealing an Aaron Rodgers jersey. Rodgers directed the Green Bay Packers to a 24-23 comeback victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.TRAINER'S ROOMCubs: OF Kyle Schwarber's back is bothering him "a little bit," according to Maddon. ... OF Jason Heyward (right hamstring tightness) ran on the field before the game. Asked if he will be able to play this month, Heyward responded: "We'll see. I'm just saying — I'm going to do everything necessary, obviously, to be smart about it. But I plan on playing baseball." ... Chicago closer Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) played catch. He likely will have another bullpen session in the next couple of days. ... LHP Drew Smyly, who had Tommy John surgery in July 2017, will not return this season. Smyly is fine, but Epstein said the team ran out of time to bring him back.UP NEXTBrewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (14-6, 3.59 ERA) and Cubs lefty Jose Quintana (12-9, 4.14 ERA) square off again Tuesday night. Quintana beat Chacin in their previous matchup, pitching two-run ball into the seventh inning of Chicago's 6-4 victory last Wednesday. Quintana is 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA in nine career starts against Milwaukee.Jay Cohen can be reached at hmm/jcohenap Don’t look now, but the 2018 season is half over. As the Packers head into the latter half of their 2018 schedule, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a step back and identify some of the best performers of the season so far. Who are your picks? Let us know in the comments.Jon MeerdinkOffensive MVP: Davante AdamsDefensive MVP: Kenny ClarkRookie of the Year: Jaire AlexanderMost Improved Player: Kyler FackrellComments: Of course Aaron Rodgers is technically more valuable http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.co … ari-jersey , but how the Patriots played Davante Adams Sunday says a lot about where he fits in the Packers’ offense. He’s their most important non-Rodgers cog and the one the offense could least afford to lose right now.On defense, Kenny Clark is the engine that makes everyone else go. His work in the middle makes Mike Daniels better and would really help the edge rush if the Packers had anyone to play the position.Kyler Fackrell is my most improved player in part because he’s been passable this year and in part because Jermaine Whitehead was my first choice and he got cut. Evan “Tex” WesternOffensive MVP: David BakhtiariDefensive MVP: Kenny ClarkRookie of the Year: Jaire AlexanderMost Improved Player: Kyler FackrellIt was a nail-biter for me deciding on OMVP, but I’m going with Bakhtiari over Adams. Fundamentally, I believe that Bakhtiari is the best left tackle in football, and there are plenty of stats that back that up. I love me some Tae, but he’s not the best wideout in the NFL. Plus, without Bakhtiari keeping Aaron Rodgers’ blind side protected, there probably isn’t enough time for Rodgers to hit Adams on some of the deep balls that he has hauled in.On defense, Clark is my clear-cut winner. While Mike Daniels is doing great work next to him as well, Clark is absolutely playing at an All-Pro level and he’s doing it on a much higher workload — 433 snaps (82% of the team’s total) to 342 (65%). It’s probably not fair to bring sacks into the equation for these two players, either, but it is notable that Clark is tied for the team lead with Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell.My pick for top rookie is based on the eye test regarding how the Packers look with and without him in the lineup. Alexander has brought some swagger and an exceptional skill set to the secondary. While Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a terrific story and has made a series of big plays, Alexander has his share as well and his attitude seems to rub off on the defense as a whole.The final category was the toughest for me, but I have to agree with Jon and go with Fackrell. Seeing him beat Andrew Whitworth (one of the other candidates for the top LT in the league) on a speed rush for a sack two weeks ago was honestly a bit shocking. In past years, he often looked like he didn’t even belong on a football field; this year, he hasn’t made any particularly glaring mistakes and certainly looks deserving of the 20 snaps per game or so that he has been receiving.Mike ViethOffensive MVP: David BakhtiariDefensive MVP: Mike DanielsRookie of the Year: Marquez Valdes-ScantlingMost Improved: Reggie GilbertComments: The offense has been extremely disappointing and underwhelming this season. From Aaron Rodgers on down, I don’t think most players are playing their best and are lacking in some way this season. However, there are a few exceptions. First, is my Offensive MVP, David Bakhtiari. This was tough between Bakhtiari and Davante Adams but I’m giving some love to the offensive line here. My Defensive MVP goes to the anchor of the defensive line, Mike Daniels. There is an expected argument picking Daniels over someone like Kenny Clark or Blake Martinez but what Daniels is doing is making those players better. Daniels doesn’t come up much on the stat sheet this year but that’s because he is constantly fighting double teams all game long. The few times teams leave him one-on-one http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.co … ams-jersey , he dominates and gets a sack or tackle. With these double teams, it is making teams pay less attention to Clark and Martinez and they are cleaning up plays while Daniels does all the dirty work. Don’t take that as a knock on Clark or Martinez. They are very good players and, with Daniels, will be a force for years to come in the middle of the defense but right now Daniels taking the focus of offensive lines is making Clark show his potential and giving the clear lanes for Martinez to make a tackle or blitz. Shawn WagnerOffensive MVP: Davante AdamsDefensive MVP: Kenny ClarkRookie of the Year: Jaire AlexanderMost Improved Player: Marquez Valdes-ScantlingComments: Jon and I almost matched completely on our selections and Kyler Fackrell has been as improved as any player on the roster. But over the last few weeks, I give my selection for that award to MVS, who has been noticeably gaining confidence by the week and has made an incredible year-one adjustment in his route-running and reliability since he arrived in Green Bay after the draft. He may have had the most raw talent of any Packer wide receiver drafted this year, but I anticipated that he would take the longest to develop. I couldn’t be more wrong as MVS is emerging as the vertical threat Green Bay hasn’t had in a long time and earning Aaron Rodgers’ trust with regularity. Still, my best rookie award goes to Alexander. The defense is exponentially better when he is on the field versus injured and his ability to become a true shutdown corner in this league was showcased in Los Angeles. Alexander’s swagger from day one was something rarely seen from Packer defenders, especially in the secondary, and it will rub off on his teammates in time (if it hasn’t already). Even Mike McCarthy acknowledged Alexander as the team’s top cover man.As far as MVPs on each side of the ball, Adams has been outstanding at creating after the catch and been an instrumental part of the Packers’ comeback efforts this season. Without Jordy Nelson and a healthy Randall Cobb for a majority of the season, Adams has blossomed since his and probably should get the ball even more than he does now. Likewise, Clark has continued his ascension as a Pro Bowl-caliber defensive lineman and become as much a threat in the pass rush as against the run. As far as interior defenders go, Clark is among the best in the NFC and has helped create impressive stat lines for his teammates, especially Blake Martinez. Clark has only stepped up his game in Muhammad Wilkerson’s absence and is deserving of the team’s defensive MVP honors.Wendi HansenOffensive MVP: David BakhtiariDefensive MVP: Kenny ClarkRookie of the Year: Marquez Valdes-ScantlingMost Improved Player: Reggie GilbertI agree with a lot of the APC writers in saying that the Packers’ offense this year has been nothing to write home about. They just seem “off” in a lot of ways, a factor that has come into play in a lot of the games thus far. That being said, there are a few standouts in my mind, Bakhtiari in particular. His pass and run blocking game continues to get stronger and he has proven time and time again that he can get the job done. On the defensive side of things, Clark is the bomb.com. His energy on the field is contagious, he’s a force going up against any opponent’s offense and has done this all while stepping in for Wilkerson. A man worthy of an MVP in my mind for sure. Rookie of the Year has to go to my man MVS. It has been so damn fun to watch his transformation so far this season. His chemistry with Rodgers reminds me a lot like that of, I’m gonna say it Authentic JK Scott Jersey , Rodgers and Nelson. He’s smart and knows how to handle the ball, something that will only continue to develop as his confidence grows. Lastly, the Most Improved Player award goes to Gilbert. After a lot of time spent on the practice squad, he found his footing fast and has quickly learned Pettine’s defense. He reminds me a lot of Matthews back in the day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more reps moving forward. Bob FitchOffensive MVP: Davante AdamsDefensive MVP: Kenny ClarkRookie of the Year: Jaire AlexanderMost Improved Player: Kyler FackrellDavante has stepped up his game this year, and he’s been doing so every year he’s been in the league.It’s not easy to continually improve at the rate Adams is doing, but it’s clear he’s a #1 receiver and demands attention from defenses.I wanted to give this award to Bakhtiari, because I love #69 and offensive line play in general, but Adams’ jump from year to year gave him the edge.Bakh was already a top 5 OT, now he’s top 3.Defensively, Kenny Clark has ascended to the level many expected this year.It honestly surprised me that he’s second on the team in total tackles and tied for first in sacks (with Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell).Having a dominant man in the middle to both eat up space and beat his blocker has been vital to the success of the run defense, and Clark has compounded has natural talents with the role that Mike Daniels is asked to play.The rookie of the year is a no-brainer for me, and a guy I just finished writing about: Jaire Alexander.This guy is legit.He has the speed, the handwork, the footwork and even the anticipation to be a future shut down cover man.Out of all of the recent draft picks on the Green Bay roster, Jaire’s future is the one I’m most excited for.

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