Brewers rookie flirts with a perfect game

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Brewers rookie flirts with a perfect game

From Comcast SportsNet
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has seen enough of what pitcher Mike Fiers has done for his team this season that he is ready to start promoting him for NL Rookie of the Year. Fiers was very impressive again Tuesday night as he took a perfect game into the seventh inning and led the Brewers to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Fiers (6-4) retired the first 18 batters before Zack Cozart doubled to left-center leading off the seventh. He advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly. The only other hits Fiers gave up were eighth-inning singles to Xavier Paul and Ryan Hanigan. The right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick to get out of the inning and left the field to a standing ovation. "He pitched an outstanding ball game," Roenicke said. "Absolutely, he has to be put in that conversation (for Rookie of the Year). He's been baffling hitters. And not just average hitters, he's been doing it against some very strong lineups." Fiers said he was aware he was throwing a no-hitter, but stayed focus as his team was only leading by two runs at the time. "Every start I go out there I don't want to give up a hit, but when it got into the sixth and seventh inning, thoughts came into my mind even more," he said. "I'm just trying to put zeroes on the board, no matter if they get 10 hits or zero hits. I just tried to keep my cool and not think about it." Fiers said he thought he threw a good pitch to Cozart, but the Reds shortstop went out and got the pitch. "He got the barrel on it and he hit it in a good spot," he said. "I felt great out there." Fiers has been terrific since he was called up from Triple-A Nashville on May 29. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last nine starts, going 5-2 with a 1.03 ERA and racking up 61 strikeouts in 61 innings. Roenicke said it was time for everyone to realize that Fiers could pitch in the major leagues. "I think he's shown he can pitch," he said. "He's a battler. He baffles guys with all the different stuff he throws." Jim Henderson pitched a scoreless ninth for his first career save. It was Milwaukee's second consecutive win over the NL Central leaders and its fifth straight victory at home. The Reds have lost three straight for the first time since July 2-5. They remained 3 1-2 games ahead of second-place Pittsburgh. Reds manager Dusty Baker said the problem for Cincinnati was Fiers. "That's one of the best games pitched against us in a long time," Baker said. "There's not a lot we could do. He's very deceptive with that Tim Lincecum-like delivery." Johnny Cueto (14-6) pitched seven innings for the Reds, giving up three runs and six hits while striking out nine. He was trying to become the first NL pitcher to reach 15 wins this season. The Brewers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez's 15th home run, a 425-foot shot to the Milwaukee bullpen in left-center. It was the second consecutive game in which Ramirez homered against the Reds. Jean Segura's RBI groundout in the seventh increased the lead to 3-1. It was Segura's first career RBI. NOTES: Baker said 1B Joey Votto would not be activated from the DL on the team's current seven-game road trip, which ends Sunday in Chicago. Votto had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on July 17. ... Brewers RHP Shaun Marcum, on the DL since June 15 with right elbow tightness, will make a rehabilitation start Thursday with Class-A Wisconsin. ... The series concludes Wednesday when the Reds send Mat Latos (10-3) to the mound against Randy Wolf (3-8).

CSN's Buckets List: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

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CSN's Buckets List: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally . . . and, of course, power rankings (which will eventually morph into bracketology). Enjoy!

After a Saturday for the ages came and went this past weekend, it's clear offensive efficiency is ruling the college basketball world. Villanova, UCLA, Creighton, Indiana, UNC, Kentucky, and a slew of other teams are shooting the lights out early in the season. In a rare switch, offensive efficiency is proving more valuable than defensive efficiency early on this year. We aren't used to seeing shooting quite like this, but it makes for great basketball watching. We also have some surprise teams making big moves in the rankings, and I'm sure the shake-ups will keep coming week-by-week with no slowing down.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Villanova (8-0) - The defending champs spent a nice week destroying fellow Big 5 teams. On top of that, the Wildcats watched Kentucky fall (more on that later), which moves them up to the top spot. I can make a great case for the two teams behind them to be ahead, but I'll reward a defending champion going undefeated every day of the week.

2. Baylor (8-0) - SURPRISE! The Bears just keep on winning against really good competition. Scott Drew's club has now beaten four top 25 teams in Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville and, most recently, Xavier. (I understand it's likely two of those teams won't be ranked this week, but they're still really good.)  This is the most impressive early season resume in a long time.

3. UCLA (9-0) - It's one thing to put up massive offensive numbers against lowly competition. It's a completely different thing when you go into Rupp Arena and put up 97 points against Kentucky. Lonzo Ball had a rough go in the first half but he was helped by fellow freshman T.J. Leaf, who is absolutely balling.

4. Kentucky (7-1) - I'm keeping the Wildcats right here because I still saw a lot I liked in the loss to UCLA. Mainly, I think De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk make up the best backcourt in the country. This team still has so much room to grow.

5. Kansas (7-1) - Shockingly, Kansas has decided to go with a small, four-guard lineup as of late.  The Jayhawks have benched Landen Lucas and it's working having Lagerald Vick join Graham, Mason and Jackson in the backcourt. I applaud Bill Self for the outside-the-box thinking.

6. Duke (8-1) - Great to finally see the Blue Devils get some of their freshman back, albeit against Maine. The Dukies will probably shoot further up the power rankings next week as they get their fresh legs under them. As of now, I'm still slightly underwhelmed by the overall product (which is being harsh), but I love what I'm seeing from Luke Kennard who -- shhhhhhh -- is a better overall player than Grayson Allen.

7. Gonzaga (8-0) - They haven't missed a beat, putting away frisky Arizona on Saturday.  The Dogs are now on cruise control and have a real shot at being the last undefeated team standing this season.

8. Creighton (8-0) - Speaking of undefeated, the Bluejays of Omaha are maybe the hottest offensive team in the country, led by three of the best guards in all of college basketball.  (They may even be better than Kentucky's backcourt.)  Creighton will be a force in the Big East this year.

9. Indiana (7-1) - The hardest thing about doing rankings is Jekyll-and-Hyde teams like the Hoosiers. What can you say about a team that beat Kansas, lost to Fort Wayne, and then rebounded with a win over North Carolina? You rank them 9. That's what you do.

10. North Carolina (7-1) - Speaking of North Carolina, last week I thought the Tar Heels were the hottest team in college hoops and now they're licking their wounds after being beaten pretty good by Indiana. They're still extremely well-rounded, and should still be in the Top 5 conversation later in the year.

11. Virginia (7-1) - For the first time in years, the Cavaliers lost a home non-conference game. The slugfest with West Virginia went as expected as the two unique defenses went at each other.  Hard to drop UVA too far, as they still boast the nation's second-best defense.

12. Butler (8-0) - Hard to believe we're into December and still have three undefeated Big East teams and none of them are Xavier. Butler has looked really balanced this year in wins over Arizona and Utah. I would still like to see more scoring from the guards.

13. Louisville (7-1) - The Cardinals successfully rebounded from a not-bad-at-all loss to Baylor and took down Purdue in a game they tried very hard to lose. Louisville's biggest issue is offensive consistency, which has grinded to a halt at times this season. Defensively, however, there are no issues.

14. Xavier (7-1) - Hey, look, it's another team that lost to Baylor.  The loss isn't necessarily bad, but the way X is playing hasn't been totally solid.  They're getting almost all of their offense from three players, and their depth hasn't been great. They will still be a really good team, but are starting to look less like a dark horse Final Four team.

15. West Virginia (6-1) - What a win for WVU in Charlottesville. Huggy Bear's press continues to give opponents problems and keeps the Mountaineers in games even when they aren't hitting their shots.  They were 25th in the AP poll last week, but are now No. 9 in kenpom.  Expect a move once the pollsters read this column.

LOCAL FLAVOR 

Providence - What a week for the Friars.  They took out previously ranked in-state rivals Rhode Island and are now 6-2 with a quality win.  Rodney Bullock is carrying the scoring load, and I have to say I'm very surprised by the development of Kyron Cartwright. His ball-handling and passing have been phenomenal. Ed Cooley is doing wonders with this group..

Rhode Island - Speaking of the Rams, they'll be just fine. A true road loss (albeit still in-state) is nothing to worry about. Now they'll hope Providence becomes a Top 50, or at the very least Top 100, RPI team, and the loss won't even look bad. What Rhody does need to worry about is finding a way to beat good teams. They now have three losses -- to Duke, Valpo (road), and Providence (road). They do have a quality win over a very good Cincinnati team, so they'll just need to take care of conference play and find a way to get a little more from their bench.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

  • Tuesday December 6: Florida vs Duke (at Madison Square Garden)
  • Saturday December 10: Villanova vs Notre Dame (Prudential Center); Michigan at UCLA

POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH

Jayson Tatum - Duke finally has a couple of its freshman back, and this is the guy to watch. I was pumped about him prior to the season because he's a 6-foot-7 wing player who does everything effortlessly. Tatum had 10 points and 8 rebounds in his opener despite being very rusty. It's only up from here.

De'Aaron Fox - Kentucky's point guard is the real deal and is so fun to watch.  He's a 6-6 bean stalk, so he doesn't necessarily look like a point guard . . . until you see him pass.  Fox can also get to the rim and play suffocating 'D'.  He's still working on his jump shot, but it's coming along.  NBA teams will drool over this guy.

Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.