Volstad admitted he was “probably a little mentally shut down” after he went home from his Triple A Charlotte season in early September.

A few days after he was settling into offseason mode http://www.chisoxfanaticsjersey.com/carlos-sanchez-jersey-c-20.html, the Sox, in need of extra bullpen help, asked the veteran of eight major league seasons to join the big league team for a few weeks. That call led the 30 year old to Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, where he was needed just one out into the series finale against the Astros.

Carson Fulmer was http://www.chisoxfanaticsjersey.com/nate-jones-jersey-c-6.html removed with a blister on his right index finger, and Volstad entered to pitch 4 1/3 innings of relief in a 3 1 victory. He allowed just one earned run Nate Jones Jersey, on Brian McCann’s solo homer, to earn his first major league victory in five years.

Volstad’s last win was on September 10, 2012, while pitching for the Cubs. It also was in Houston, and it was against the same Astros pitcher who started Thursday – Dallas Keuchel.

“It’s kind of crazy how things can change,” Volstad said. “I guess it’s been about two weeks now. I was at home getting ready for a hurricane and then getting called back up to the big leagues.”

Volstad had some warning he might be needed.

Fulmer first started to feel his finger blister after his last start in Detroit against the Tigers, when he allowed one earned run over six innings.

Fulmer got George Springer to ground out for the first out of the game Thursday. After he walked Josh Reddick and Jose Altuve, the Sox pulled him from the game after just 20 pitches. He said a couple of his pitches started cutting on him, and he realized he may have been babying the finger.

“It was something I noticed a little bit after my last start,” Fulmer said. “I thought it would go away and dry up, and it came back tonight.  http://www.chisoxfanaticsjersey.com/adam-eaton-jersey-c-22.html I did everything I could to stay out there until Ricky Renteria pulled me. It’s something I have to look out for a little bit and make sure I maintain.”

White Sox 3, Astros 1
Photos from the White Sox Astros game on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Houston.
Volstad did his part, one of seven Sox relievers who combined to hold the Astros to three hits as the Sox broke a three game losing streak.

Keuchel surrendered a pair of runs over six innings, and Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak to a career high 12 games with his 17th homer of the year in the eighth inning. That helped to secure Volstad’s 36th career victory.

Volstad, a former http://www.chisoxfanaticsjersey.com/melky-cabrera-jersey-c-21.html starter who has worked in 11 games in relief in the big leagues since 2013, said his family and friends were texting him about the win.

“But being home in Triple A for the last few years, just getting called up about 10 days ago, I’ve got people following it, but it’s kind of unknown I guess,” Volstad said. “It’s a little surprising but I’m glad to be a part of a team for sure.”

Back at Tropicana Field http://www.cubsfanaticsapparel.com/dexter-fowler-jersey-c-22.html, Joe Maddon got to show off his Chicago Cubs.

Mike Montgomery took a no hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and the Cubs extended their winning streak to a season high seven by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2 1 Tuesday night.

Maddon managed the Rays from 2006 14, then left to manage Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago is closing in on its third straight postseason berth, holding a 3 1/2 game lead over second place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

Tampa Bay remained five games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card with 11 to play.

A crowd of 25,046, the largest at the Trop since opening day, gave Maddon a standing ovation after a scoreboard tribute in the middle of the first inning.

I thought it was playoff esque http://www.cubsfanaticsapparel.com/ben-zobrist-jersey-c-21.html, he said. It starts at home with all the interviews and things like that. Then coming down here, as soon as you walk in the door you re greeting, which is good. I was able to go on the field before the game, got to visit with a lot of folks.

Maddon led Tampa Bay into the playoffs four times, including the Rays only World Series appearance a five game loss to Philadelphia in 2008.

I thought it was http://www.cubsfanaticsapparel.com/john-lackey-jersey-c-6.html a quick nine years, he said. I have nothing but warm and fuzzies about it.

Montgomery 7 8 allowed one hit in six innings, a one out homer in the sixth by Brad Miller. Montgomery struck out six and walked none after pitching just two innings in his previous start 10 days earlier.

I felt a lot more fresh, he said. I obviously don t think too much about a no hitter before games, but I ve been in that position before so I know that feeling a little. Really it s about executing pitches and relying on the defense.

Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis each followed with an inning of perfect relief to complete the one hitter. Davis struck out the side and remained perfect in 32 save chances.

Schwarber, 8 for 23 with four homers in his last seven games, went deep in the second off Chris Archer. Javier Baez drove in the other run with an RBI double in the fifth against Archer 9 11 , who gave up four hits in six innings.

The Cubs streak is their longest since the 11 straight they won July 31 Aug. 12 last season.

Their mental energy is probably at an all season high right now and it s fun to watch, Maddon said.

Archer struck out six John Lackey Jersey, raising his total to 241 11 shy of the team record he set two years ago. He was surprised at the amount of Cubs fans at the ballpark.

I didn t know that we had that many people from Chicago, Illinois, Midwest area in Tampa http://www.cubsfanaticsapparel.com/addison-russell-jersey-c-20.html, Archer said. It was just weird. Their players come and get announced and get so much love. It was strange. I m not being critical. It was just crazy how much royal blue there was out there.

ONE STADIUM LEFT

Swept in their only previous appearance at Tropicana Field nine years ago, the Cubs won at Tampa Bay for the first time. The only active ballpark in which they have not won is Yankee Stadium.

TRAINER S ROOM

Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta strained right hamstring threw a bullpen session and said he might be able to pitch Thursday at Milwaukee. ... 3B Kris Bryant was out of the lineup for the first time since Aug. 23.

Rays SS Matt Duffy Achilles surgery will join the Instructional League team in Port Charlotte on Wednesday. ... LHP Xavier Cedeno left forearm tightness will be added to the Rays active roster after pitching a scoreless inning for Durham in Tuesday night s Triple A championship game.

UP NEXT

LHP Jon Lester 11 7 will pitch for the Cubs on Wednesday night against LHP Blake Snell 3 6 . Lester, who lost to the Rays on July 4, has won three straight starts.

The Oakland A’s released their 2018 schedule on Tuesday, so let’s have a look through to find anything of note. They will play, hold on let me count ... 162 games http://www.athleticsfanaticsjersey.com/stephen-vogt-jersey-c-14.html, with exactly half coming at home in the Coliseum.

Some more observations below. The full schedule is posted at the bottom.

1. Opening Day, during the day
For the first time since 1994, the A’s will open their season with an afternoon home game, as opposed to a night and/or road date. It’ll be 1 05 p.m. on a Thursday, specifically March 29, so start thinking as early as possible about getting the day off work.

Oakland’s first opponent  http://www.athleticsfanaticsjersey.com/matt-mcbride-jersey-c-13.html will be the Angels. In fact, nine of the first 13 games will come against teams claiming to be from L.A., including some interleague play against the Dodgers. The first night game will be the next evening, Friday March 30, at 7 05 p.m.

Opening Day will also earn its literal name in another way — every MLB team will open on the same day, for the first time since 1968. Furthermore, it will be the earliest start date ever to a regular season excluding special international series, like when the A’s played in Japan .

2. Free game April 17
This is clearly the most interesting part of the schedule. On April 17 against the White Sox, the game will be free for anyone who wants to come watch. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the A’s first game at the Coliseum back in 1968, a 4 1 loss to the Orioles.

Ready for an uncanny fact about that game? The first MLB home run in the stadium’s history was hit that day in the 2nd inning, by an opposing player Baltimore slugger Boog Powell, whose biologically unrelated namesake now mans center field today. Spooky!

Trivia Who hit the solo homer for the A’s only run, Oakland’s first home dinger? Click here for the answer.


According to the team’s press release, this is “thought to be one of the first completely free standalone games in MLB history.” That’s awesome, and truly an impressive gesture to a fan base that’s put up with a lot over the years. In exchange, I think we have an obligation to fill all the seats for this one or else the jokes might get pretty intense. “They can’t even sell out when they don’t charge admission!”

3. Interleague NL West
Interleague play this year will take the A’s through the NL West. There will be a two game set both home and away against the Dodgers and Padres, a three game home series against the D’Backs, and a three game roadie to Coors for the Rockies. Obviously they were going to play the Giants no matter what, but we’ll get to that later.

The years against the NL West are always extra nice because they mean less travel. Rather than taking extra trips to the Midwest, or to New England, or the bowels of Florida, they’ll just take a couple quick flights down the coast.

They take care of L.A. while they were already there playing the Angels, they hit Colorado on the way home from Texas, and they swing through San Diego before a trip to the Midwest this one actually adds miles to the route, but it still subtracts from the time spent in another time zone . There’s no trip to Arizona, which is fine because seriously who wants to go there after March.

4. Only 2 East Coast trips
Following up from that last point, here’s an illustration of the difference a division makes in interleague. The A’s will make only two trips to the East Coast in 2018 — once in May to play New York Matt McBride Jersey, Boston, and Toronto; and then not again until mid September to visit Baltimore and Tampa Bay. This year they went five times, since they had to tour the NL East as well.

Granted, there are still some other long trips. Cleveland is nearly as far, and it and Detroit are still in the Eastern Time Zone. There’s a trip that goes Oak Cle Hou SF, and another from Oak Min Hou Oak. But every little bit must help, right? The season has also been stretched out a bit, so there will be 3 4 extra off days than normal.

5. Giants in July, around ASB
The A’s play the Giants in July this year. Specifically, they’ll go to AT T for the final three games before the All Star break 13th 15th , and then open the second half with the corresponding three dates in Oakland 20th 22nd . My immediate first thought is that this is a great way to snap everyone back to attention after the midsummer intermission.

Also, FTG.

6. The usual schedule quirks
Every year there will be some oddities, as the league must balance the schedules of 30 teams who all must play each other a certain number of times in a certain ratio of home/away all while staying within various travel and off day rules. Here are a few of this year’s quirks

We’re done with the Red Sox in May. Three here in April, and three there ending May 16. Then they’re someone else’s problem. Good riddance.
We won’t see the Twins until August 23, with four in Minnesota. They’ll come here in late September for our third to last series of the regular season. If they happen to fall out of contention and become sellers at the deadline then that would be swell for us.
The entire schedule against the Royals will be taken care of in 10 days. Three in Kansas City to begin June http://www.athleticsfanaticsjersey.com/marc-rzepczynski-jersey-c-11.html, a brief stop in Arlington, and then four here beginning June 7. That means for five and a half glorious months we won’t have to see them, though hopefully they’ll be awful and unrecognizable anyway once they get gutted in free agency this winter.
The same happens with the Indians. Three here starting June 29, then a quick pair against the Padres, and then off to Cleveland for three more. Hopefully they aren’t on another stupid winning streak at that moment.
Also, there’s that thing I mentioned earlier about 9 of 13 against L.A. ish teams to start the year. There will be another stretch of 9 of 13 against Texas teams in August, heavier on the Astros than the Rangers. Also a stretch of six straight games against butthead teams when we play the Giants.
7. 4 holidays, 7 fireworks
Oakland will host four holidays this year

Memorial Day
Father’s Day
July 4
Labor Day
OK, one of those isn’t a national holiday like the others http://www.athleticsfanaticsjersey.com/andrew-triggs-jersey-c-12.html, but if there’s anywhere in life where Father’s Day would be appreciated you’d think baseball would be high on the list. Same goes for Mother’s Day. Go parents!

There are also seven fireworks dates, which you can see denoted on the schedule below the ones with the little red firework icon in the upper right corner . First one is May 26 against the D’Backs, and there’s also one for a Giants game on July 20.
The A’s 2018 postseason schedule won’t be released until early October, so stay tuned. But the World Series should be done before November starts.

Jason Vargas turned in his best performance in months to pick up his third win in three starts.

Vargas and four relievers combined on a two hitter, Melky Cabrera had three hits and the game’s only RBI, and the http://www.jaysfanaticsjersey.com/ezequiel-carrera-jersey-c-23.html   Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 1 0 on Thursday night.

Vargas 17 10 struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings to win his third straight start. None of the three batters he walked advanced beyond first base.

“He definitely was lights out tonight,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

The Blue Jays, who were blanked for the seventh time, did not have a runner reach scoring position. Their two hits matched a season low.

“We didn’t hit a lick, that’s for sure,” manager John Gibbons said.

Vargas worked with pitching coach Dave Eiland on adjusting his mechanics after a five start stretch from Aug. 8 until Sept. 5 in which he allowed 29 earned runs in 28 1/3 innings.

“He’s been really http://www.jaysfanaticsjersey.com/darwin-barney-jersey-c-15.html  good from that point on,” Yost said. “He’s been downhill. He’s been changing speeds well.”

Vargas hadn’t had a scoreless outing since a complete game shutout of Cleveland on June 2.

Gibbons said Vargas did a good job of keeping the Blue Jays off balance.

“He knows when to add and subtract on his pitches, can lull you to sleep away and then shoot that fastball in Darwin Barney Jersey,” Gibbons said. “He got us a few times tonight doing that.”

Kendrys Morales hit a leadoff single in the second and was promptly erased on a double play, with Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar using his glove to flip the ball to second baseman Whit Merrifield.

“That’s why he’s got a gold patch on the back of his glove,” Vargas said of Escobar, a Gold Glove winner in 2015.

Darwin Barney had the only other hit off Vargas, a leadoff single in the fifth.

The Royals, who have 10 games remaining, remained 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card spot after the Twins beat Detroit 12 1. Los Angeles and Texas are both ahead of Kansas City.

“It’s a tough road ahead of us but I think we can do it,” reliever Mike Minor said.

Kansas City’s run came in the third against Blue Jays left hander J.A. Happ 9 11 . Alex Gordon walked with one out and advanced to second on a two out single by Lorenzo Cain before Cabrera hit an RBI single to center.

The inning ended with Eric Hosmer at the plate when Cabrera was caught stealing. Cain broke for home as Cabrera got in a rundown, but first baseman Justin Smoak tagged Cabrera before Cain could cross home plate.

Happ allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to lose for the first time in four September starts.

Vargas left after Morales grounded out to begin the seventh. Peter Moylan got one out and Ryan Buchter came on to retire pinch hitter Rob Refsnyder.

Joakim Soria pitched the eighth. Minor finished for his second career save

“Everybody who stepped out there did their job quite admirably,” Yost said.

Minor, who first save came in the Sept. 15 game that ended Cleveland’s 22 game winning streak, retired Toronto http://www.jaysfanaticsjersey.com/kevin-pillar-jersey-c-24.html sluggers Josh Donaldson, Justin Smoak and Jose Bautista.

Bautista struck out swinging to end the sixth. It was his 160th strikeout, breaking a tie with Jose Canseco 1988 and Kelly Johnson 2012 for the Blue Jays’ single season record.

Hosmer was called out to end the eighth when he accidentally kicked his own infield chopper into foul territory while running to first.


SOUTHPAW STRUGGLES

The Blue Jays are 14 23 against left handed starters.

UNDER .500

With their 82 loss, Toronto guaranteed its first losing record since going 74 88 in 2013.

DOUBLING OVER

Kansas City grounded into two double plays. The Royals have hit into an ML leading 147 double plays this season, two more than Toronto.

UP NEXT

Royals RHP Jason Hammel 8 12, 5.05 starts the opener of a three game road series against the Chicago White Sox. Hammel is 4 6 with a 5.14 ERA on the road this season. RHP Reynaldo Lopez 2 3, 4.84 starts for the White Sox.

Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada 9 8, 4.84 starts the opener of Toronto’s final home series http://www.jaysfanaticsjersey.com/jose-bautista-jersey-c-22.html, a three game set against the New York Yankees. Estrada, who is 5 1 with a 3.75 ERA in his past 10 starts , signed a 13 million deal Wednesday to stay with Toronto in 2018. RHP Masahiro Tanaka 12 11, 4.73 starts for New York.