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  1. Mark Reynolds may have sent his manager toward a sleepless night. How is Dave Martinez supposed to rest when he’s got to figure out whether Reynolds’ career night earned him another start Sunday? ”Well <a title="DeShone Kizer Jersey" href="http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/deshone-kizer-jersey">DeShone Kizer Jersey</a> , I mean I’m going to sleep just fine. That’s his problem,” Reynolds joked afterward. ”I’ll be ready to go either way.” Reynolds homered twice and drove in a career-high 10 runs, Max Scherzer won for the first time since June 5, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 18-4 on Saturday night. Martinez said he’ll have to think about where to put the right-handed hitting Reynolds when the Marlins start a right-hander on Sunday. Martinez has other options at first base, including left-handed hitters Matt Adams and Daniel Murphy. Washington has won three straight and scored a combined 35 runs since calling a players-only meeting on Wednesday after falling under .500 for the first time since May 2. Reynolds (5 for 5) tied his career high for hits and equaled the Nationals’ RBI record. Reynolds hit a two-run homer in the second inning into the same visitors’ bullpen where his walk-off homer landed on Friday. He followed that up with an RBI double in the second, a two-run single in the fifth, a three-run homer in the sixth, and a two-run single in the seventh. ”Yeah, that’s like a good two weeks,” Reynolds said. ”These things don’t happen often.” Signed as minor league free agent in April, Reynolds is 12 for 23 with four home runs since June 29. ”I’ve seen him like this,” Martinez said. ”When he gets hot like this he can stay hot for a while, so we’ll have to figure something out, see if we can get him in tomorrow.” Washington, which has won 14 straight against Miami, broke it open by batting around the order and scoring a season-best seven runs in the fifth inning. ”We haven’t had any success with them in a while now,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. ”They’re a good lineup up and down, but we’ve pitched better than this.” Scherzer (11-5), who was 0-4 in his previous five starts, pitched seven innings, allowing four runs on four hits – three of which were home runs. The Nationals had been shut out in three of Scherzer’s previous five starts. Miami starter Wei-Yin Chen (2-6) lasted 4 1/3 innings <a title="Richard Sherman Jersey" href="http://www.49erscheapstore.com/richard-sherman-jersey-cheap">Richard Sherman Jersey</a> , allowing seven runs on seven hits. Bryce Harper had three hits and an intentional walk. Starlin Castro and J.T. Realmuto hit the first back-to-back home runs of the season for the Marlins in the fourth inning. Yadiel Rivera hit his first homer of the season in the seventh. STREAK SNAPPED The Marlins were 9-0 this season in games in which Realmuto homered before Saturday night. TRAINER’S ROOM Marlins: OF Brian Anderson was out of the lineup for the first time this season. After playing in Miami’s first 90 games, Mattingly said it was time for a breather. … Mattingly said OF Lewis Brinson (right hip) is still sore and ”doing a little treatment, and that’s all.” Nationals: Martinez said RHP Stephen Strasburg (shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to go on a rehab assignment Tuesday with the goal of throwing 50-60 pitches. … OF Victor Robles (hyperextended left elbow) and RHP Koda Glover (right shoulder tendinitis) both played in a Gulf Coast League game Friday. Martinez said Glover is ”progressing well” but that he wouldn’t be pitching in back-to-back games. … C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) went 1 for 4 in a rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg and is expected to play again on Sunday before being re-evaluated. UP NEXT Marlins: Rookie RHP Trevor Richards (2-5, 5.26 ERA) makes his first start against the Nationals in the series finale. Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (3-10, 4.60 ERA) is looking for his first win since June 6. Roark is 5-8 with a 3.99 ERA in 22 games against the Marlins. The Oakland Athletics will go for their season-high fifth win in a row when they open a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Oakland (38-36) has achieved a four-game winning streak on four occasions this season, including its current stretch, but has yet to make it five. The A’s have outscored opponents 28-15 during this week’s streak, which includes two wins apiece against the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. A’s hitters slugged five homers in a 12-4 rout of the Padres on Wednesday. The team already has four players with double-digit blasts, including Khris Davis (20), Matt Olson (15), Jed Lowrie (11) and the injured Matt Chapman (10). “We definitely have some power,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said to the A’s official website. “That’s one of the strengths of the team.” As Oakland is riding a hot streak, Chicago (24-49) is mired in a seven-game losing streak. A loss in the series opener would give the White Sox their worst skid of the season, which is saying something considering the club’s ugly record. White Sox manager Rick Renteria’s club is coming off back-to-back sweeps at the hands of the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. In Wednesday’s series finale, Chicago managed only two hits in a 12-0 loss to the Indians. “It’s tough, but instead of getting frustrated, we have to keep working, use that feeling to work harder,” White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada said to the team’s official website. “There are still plenty of games to play, and we can improve. We can keep getting better, and if it is not this year <a title="Garry Gilliam Jersey" href="http://www.49erscheapstore.com/garry-gilliam-jersey-cheap">Garry Gilliam Jersey</a> , then next year. But definitely the games we have this year, we have a chance to improve.” White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (4-7, 7.19 ERA) will look to improve in his 15th start of the season. The former first-round pick of the Washington Nationals (No. 16 overall in 2012) has terrific potential but has been unable to produce consistent results in his first full season on the South Side. Poor command has plagued Giolito, who has 45 walks in 71 1/3 innings. He also has hit 10 batters, which is tied for most in the majors along with Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers and Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals. This will mark the 23-year-old’s first career appearance against Oakland. For the A’s, right-hander Chris Bassitt (0-2, 2.45 ERA) will make his third start of the season. The 29-year-old is seeking his first victory since Aug. 4, 2015, against the Baltimore Orioles. Bassitt is quite familiar with the White Sox, who drafted him in the 16th round in 2011 and developed him in the minors. He went 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in six appearances (five starts) as a rookie in Chicago in 2014. On Dec. 9, 2014, the White Sox shipped Bassitt, Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley and minor leaguer Rangel Ravelo to Oakland in exchange for Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa. The trade did not pan out as hoped for Chicago, which retained Samardzija for one underwhelming season before he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. Bassitt has faced the White Sox once in his career. That was in 2016, when he gave up eight hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings, but did not get a decision in Chicago’s 5-4 victory. This will be the first meeting of the season between the teams. Last year, Oakland won the season series 5-1.
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    Aaron Nola was the man Gabe Kapler wanted on the mound with Manny Machado at the plate and the tying run on third base. It was the right move. Nola stuck out nine in seven splendid innings Jimmy Vesey Jersey , Nick Williams hit a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 Wednesday to sweep a two-game interleague series. Nola (11-2) gave up one run and seven hits to win his fifth straight decision. He escaped a jam on his 103rd pitch when second baseman Cesar Hernandez made an outstanding, over-the-shoulder running catch on Machado’s shallow fly to right with two outs and runners on first and third. ”That’s awesome,” Nola said of the play. Kapler, who was heavily criticized for pulling Nola after 68 pitches in the season opener at Atlanta, visited the mound before letting his ace face Machado with a 2-1 lead. ”We knew he was the best option,” the first-year manager said. ”He always makes us feel confident.” Nola said he would’ve lobbied to stay in but didn’t have to say anything other than he felt fine. ”I want to go deep in the game,” he said. ”I want to get through that inning.” After five consecutive losing seasons Kevin Hayes Jersey , the Phillies are on the rise under Kapler. They pulled within 1 1/2 games of NL East-leading Atlanta and moved 10 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2011 season with a franchise-record 102 wins. ”It’s a nice milestone, one we can celebrate,” Kapler said. Making his second career start and third appearance, Orioles right-hander Yefry Ramirez (0-2) retired 13 of his first 14 batters before running into trouble in the fifth. Ramirez gave up two runs – one earned – and one hit in five innings. ”I was really proud of Yefry. You couldn’t ask for much better,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. Williams connected off David Hess in the seventh, sending a 409-foot shot into Philadelphia’s bullpen in right-center and extending the lead to 4-1. Victor Arano tossed two scoreless innings for his first career save. Ramirez didn’t allow a hit until Scott Kingery ripped a one-out double to left in the fifth. Williams, who walked Marcedes Lewis Jersey , advanced to third on the hit. Jorge Alfaro followed with a grounder down the first-base line. Chris Davis moved a few steps to his left, took his eyes off the ball to look at Williams running halfway down the line, and the ball knuckled under his glove. Both runners scored on the error. Adam Jones lined an RBI double to left-center in the third, giving the Orioles a 1-0 lead. WELCOMING MANNY For the second straight day, fans clapped each time Machado was introduced. They also chanted ”We want Manny!” The three-time All-Star is set to become a free agent after the season and the Phillies are among the teams interested in acquiring him before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 or signing him in the offseason. Machado told reporters before the game he wants to play shortstop wherever he goes and he wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphia aggressively pursued him. Phillies team president Andy MacPhail held the same position in Baltimore when the Orioles selected Machado No. 3 overall in the 2010 amateur draft. TRAINER’S ROOM Orioles: OF Joey Rickard was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to replace OF Colby Rasmus, who was placed on the restricted list before Tuesday night’s game. Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff was scheduled to throw another live batting practice at Single-A Clearwater. Eickhoff has nerve issue in fingers and hasn’t pitched this season. UP NEXT Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48 ERA) starts the opener of a four-game series at Minnesota on Thursday night. Cashner had a 3.21 ERA in five starts in June but didn’t earn a win. Phillies: Nick Pivetta (5-7 Muhammad Wilkerson Jersey , 4.66 ERA) takes the mound at Pittsburgh for the start of a three-game series on Friday. Pivetta earned the win in a scoreless inning of relief in Philadelphia’s 13-inning victory over Washington last Sunday. — The New York Yankees won’t have All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez for at least a few weeks. Sanchez was put on the 10-day disabled list Monday because of a strained right groin. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before New York’s game at Philadelphia that Sanchez is expected to miss up to four weeks with a Grade 1 strain. Austine Romine replaced Sanchez in the starting lineup. The Yankees also optioned outfielder Clint Frazier to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled catcher Kyle Higashioka and right-hander Giovanny Gallegos from the minors. Sanchez was hurt Sunday while running out a double-play grounder at Tampa Bay. ”Gary Sanchez out of your lineup, that’s a big deal,” Boone said. ”But we’ll take the positive out of it. Ro has done a great job obviously this year for us. It’s an opportunity for Higashioka to get up here and hopefully everyone can pick up the slack a little bit in his absence, but we feel like will be OK offensively.” The 25-year-old Sanchez is hitting .190 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs, a season after he made the AL All-Star team while batting .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs. Frazier hit .350 in eight games after recently being promoted from the minors. The Yankees have the best record in the majors at 50-25. —
  3. Ian Desmond Youth Rashaad Penny Jersey , Trevor Story and Colorado starter Chad Bettis each had quite a return to Texas in a record comeback for the Rockies. Playing his first game in Texas since being an All-Star center fielder in his only season for the Rangers, Desmond homered twice. Story had a pair of RBI hits in his first big league game at home and fellow Texas native Bettis overcame a tough first inning as the Rockies won 9-5 in the opener of an interleague series Friday night. ”Lot of emotion,” said Desmond, who went to Colorado in free agency after playing for Texas in 2016. ”Good time to have a good game.” Desmond, a converted shortstop and now the primary first baseman for the Rockies, homered leading off the second inning. That ignited a six-run outburst after Bettis (5-1) allowed two-run homers to Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo in a five-run Texas first. The Rangers didn’t score again against Bettis, who made it 5 2/3 innings – or any of the three Rockies relievers. ”For them to get six there right after I had given up five was huge,” said Bettis, who is from Lubbock and pitched at Texas Tech. ”I needed to go out there and show these guys thanks for picking me up.” The last time the Rockies won after trailing by five runs after the first inning was against Atlanta on Sept. 24, 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They had never had such a comeback on the road until Friday night. ”Yeah, it was (surprising). I felt like our guys there in the first, the approach was solid,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. ”They were getting some pitches to hit. In the second, we grounded into a double play when we had a run-scoring opportunity. … I felt like that once Colorado got the six runs, an experienced pitcher settled in and started making some pitches.” Texas has a seven-game losing streak, its longest of the season. The Rockies had lost five of their previous six. Story grew up about 15 minutes away from the Rangers’ ballpark before he was the 45th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Rockies out of Irving High School. The shortstop, who still lives in the area in the offseason Youth Shaquem Griffin Jersey , leads the National League with 52 RBIs. After Desmond’s homer in the second off Yohander Mendez (0-1), the lefty making his first big league start, D.J. LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon had consecutive RBI singles before Nolan Arenado snapped a career-worst 0-for-19 slump with a two-run double. Story then had the tiebreaking RBI single. ”Yeah, it was special. I grew up loving the Rangers, so coming here I’ve always dreamed of playing in this stadium,” Story said. ”It was kind of surreal at first and I was a little nervous at first. Those kind of went away pretty quick.” ROCKIES GOING DEEP Arenado led off the ninth with his 13th homer. … Desmond’s second homer, in the fifth, was his 14th of the season for his fifth career multihomer game. … Desmond was only 10th Rockies player with a multihomer game in an interleague road game, the first since Blackmon at Yankee Stadium in 2016. … Desmond is the first Rockies player to homer twice at Texas. BIG INNING The six-run second was the highest scoring inning this season for Colorado, and the most in an American League ballpark since eight in the 10th inning of a game at Detroit on June 15, 2012. TRAINER’S ROOM Rockies: RHP Carlos Estevez, who has been out all season with a left oblique and elbow strain, threw a bullpen session. Manager Bud Black said he threw all of his pitched at a high-level intensity and is ”really gaining momentum.” Rangers: Carlos Perez, starting in place of Chirinos, rolled his right ankle extending to catch a ball in the top of the second inning. Jose Trevino, recalled from Double-A Frisco, made his big league when he batted for Perez in the bottom of the inning and then stayed in the game as the catcher. … RF Nomar Mazara was a late scratch from the lineup because of left wrist soreness. … Right-handed relievers Matt Bush (right elbow strain) and Chris Martin (right calf strain) were put on the 10-day DL. UP NEXT Lefty Kyle Freeland (6-6), the Denver native who was 4-0 in interleague starts as a rookie last season http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-braden-smith-jersey , takes the mound for the Rockies in the first of consecutive day games to close out the interleague series. Rangers left-hander Mike Minor (4-4) is working on extended six days of rest after Texas had two off days during the week. — Mark Reynolds homered twice and drove in a career-high 10 runs, Max Scherzer won for the first time since June 5, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 18-4 on Saturday night. Washington has won three straight and scored a combined 35 runs since calling a players-only meeting on Wednesday after falling under .500 for the first time since May 2. Reynolds (5 for 5) tied his career high for hits and equaled the Nationals’ RBI record. Reynolds hit a two-run homer in the second inning into the same visitors’ bullpen where his walk-off homer landed on Friday. He followed that up with an RBI double in the second, a two-run single in the fifth, a three-run homer in the sixth, and a two-run single in the seventh. Washington, which has won 14 straight against Miami, broke it open by batting around the order and scoring a season-best seven runs in the fifth inning. Scherzer (11-5), who was 0-4 in his previous five starts, pitched seven innings, allowing four runs on four hits – three of which were home runs. The Nationals had been shut out in three of Scherzer’s previous five starts. Miami starter Wei-Yin Chen (2-6) lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits. Bryce Harper had three hits and an intentional walk. Starlin Castro and J.T. Realmuto hit the first back-to-back home runs of the season for the Marlins in the fourth inning. Yadiel Rivera hit his first homer of the season in the seventh. TRAINER’S ROOM Marlins: OF Brian Anderson was out of the lineup for the first time this season. After playing in Miami’s first 90 games, manager Don Mattingly said it was time for a breather. . Mattingly said OF Lewis Brinson (right hip) is still sore and ”doing a little treatment, and that’s all.” Nationals: Manager Dave Martinez said that RHP Stephen Strasburg (shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to go on a rehab assignment Tuesday with the goal of throwing 50-60 pitches. . OF Victor Robles (hyperextended left elbow) and RHP Koda Glover (right shoulder tendinitis) both played in a Gulf Coast League game Friday. Martinez said Glover is ”progressing well” but that he wouldn’t be pitching in back-to-back games. . C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) went 1 for 4 in a rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg and is expected to play again on Sunday before being re-evaluated. UP NEXT Marlins: Rookie RHP Trevor Richards (2-5, 5.26 ERA) makes his first start against the Nationals in the series finale. Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (3-10, 4.60 ERA) is looking for his first win since June 6. Roark is 5-8 with a 3.99 ERA in 22 games against the Marlins.
  4. The Houston Astros‘ offense looks to be back on track. After totaling 21 runs in their previous seven games <a title="Authentic Dorian O'Daniel Jersey" href="http://www.kansascitychiefsteamonline.com/dorian-o_daniel-jersey">Authentic Dorian O'Daniel Jersey</a> , the World Series champs have scored in double-figures in each of their last two. Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman each homered and Charlie Morton won his 11th as the Astros beat the Chicago White Sox 12-6 Saturday for their fifth straight win. ”I think we’re swinging the bats well and playing good baseball,” Bregman said. ”I think offensively, we have a done a good job of passing the baton to the next guy, and if we continue to do that, we will be successful.” Morton (11-2) allowed five runs and five hits with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander has won four of his last five starts. ”I feel bad for Charlie because he got a little nickel and dimed at the end with a few soft hits and an ill-timed walk and then a well-placed, bases-clearing double,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. ”I thought his stuff was really good at the end. . That saying that he pitched better than the line indicates, that’s going to be the day today. Still a winning pitcher, still a guy that gave us a chance to win.” James Shields (3-10) allowed a season high-tying eight runs on a season-high 10 hits with nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings for the White Sox, who have lost four straight. Shields had allowed one run over his prior two starts. ”Just wasn’t my day today,” Shields said. ”I’m just not really happy about not going deep in the game. I’m really trying to save this bullpen. These guys are taxed. I really wanted the ball and be that guy to go deeper in the game.” Gurriel, who also had an RBI single in the eighth <a title="Authentic John Franklin-Myers Jersey" href="http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/john-franklin-myers-jersey">Authentic John Franklin-Myers Jersey</a> , hit a three-run homer to left field to increase Houston’s lead to 4-0 in the third inning. Josh Reddick had a run-scoring fielder’s choice and Evan Gattis added an RBI single to push the Astros’ advantage to 6-1 in the fifth. However, Matt Davidson had an RBI single with the bases loaded and Omar Narvaez followed with a three-run double to pull Chicago within one in the sixth, chasing Morton. Bregman’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning extended Houston’s lead back to three. ”A 2-0 count, I was trying to get something over the middle of the plate,” Bregman said. ”I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it.” Bregman finished a triple shy of the cycle to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. ”He’s doing everything right in the batter’s box as far as seeing the ball, his selectiveness, his approach is A-plus,” Hinch said. ”Bat-to-ball has been exceptional.” Max Stassi hit an RBI double in the second and an RBI single in the eighth for the Astros. Marwin Gonzalez added an RBI single in the seventh as every Houston starter had a hit. Houston won 11-4 Friday night. ”It’s an excellent ball club, let’s face it they’ve got guys that swing the bat up and down the lineup,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said of the Astros. ”They’ve got an air of confidence that they play with, which comes with the things that they’ve accomplished. It’s natural.” Avisail Garcia hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a solo home run on to the train tracks in left in the eighth for Chicago. Garcia has five home runs in his last six games. TUCKER PROMOTED The Astros promoted top prospect, outfielder Kyle Tucker from Triple-A Fresno. Tucker <a title="Kenny Clark Jersey" href="http://www.packerscheapstore.com/kenny-clark-jersey-cheap">Kenny Clark Jersey</a> , who was named to the Pacific Coast League’s All Star team, was hitting .306 with 14 home runs and 66 RBIs. He went 1 for 4 with a single and run scored in the seventh and an RBI walk in the eighth to go along with three strikeouts. The Astros optioned outfielder Jake Marisnick to Fresno in a corresponding move. TRAINER’S ROOM White Sox: SS Tim Anderson returned to the lineup. Anderson was out Friday after being hit on the left forearm the previous day. Anderson went 0 for 4 and reached on an error in the fifth. UP NEXT White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (5-7) will make his 18th start of the season in the series finale. Giolito is 2-3 with a 7.50 ERA in his last eight stars and gave up nine runs in two innings in his last start against the Astros on April 21. Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (5-8) is looking for his third straight win. Keuchel allowed two runs over seven innings in his last start Tuesday against the Rangers. — Tom Brady is not looking to have the radio host who called his daughter ”an annoying little pissant” to lose his job. The Patriots quarterback said early Monday he’s reconsidering whether to continue a long-running weekly radio appearance with the station. Hours later at the Super Bowl media night, he was asked about the incident in which WEEI host Alex Reimer made the remarks about Brady’s 5-year-old daughter after watching the first episode of a Brady documentary called ”Tom vs. Time” that is airing on Facebook. Reimer’s show aired Thursday, four days before Brady’s weekly morning radio segment with different hosts. ”I didn’t hear too much about it. I didn’t get into it much,” Brady said at the Xcel Center. ”I certainly hope the guy is not fired. ”I just know everybody is real protective of their kids. I never stayed away from criticism. I understand that criticism is part of sports. But I certainly don’t think that my children or anybody else’s children deserve to be in that. And that’s what I said.” Brady cut short an appearance on Monday morning and said, ”I’ll obviously evaluate whether I want to come on this show again. ”It’s very disappointing when you hear that certainly with my daughter or any child. They certainly don’t deserve that.” The station says Reimer has been suspended indefinitely. The Patriots and the station recently announced an extension of their agreement, which involves weekly calls from Brady and coach Bill Belichick. The five-time Super Bowl champions will play for their sixth ring against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Brady expressed no regrets about doing the Facebook series. ”I thought it was fun. I thought it was a great opportunity,” he said. ”The fans like it. And that’s really what we were looking for.” He said his son will be in an upcoming episode that features their summer trip to China. Patriots safety Devin McCourty praised Brady defending his daughter. ”It’s always easy to defend our families,” McCourty noted. ”I thought that was very disappointing to see anyone say anything negative toward his daughter, or anything about your family. Really poor taste. ”But I think as always Tom handled it in the right way with something like that. But I think with all of us that’s one thing that we’re gonna tolerate is anything toward our family.” —
  5. The Minnesota Vikings Authentic Preston Brown Jersey , after watching their late-third-quarter 17-point lead vanish at the hands of the indefatigable Drew Brees, went back in front of the New Orleans Saints on a field goal with 1:29 left. Trailing by two with that much time? That was no trouble for Brees, who moved the Saints in position for the responding field goal with 25 seconds remaining. The problem was they left just enough space for Case Keenum and the Vikings to answer with one of the NFL’s all-time last-play stunners. Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game’s final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia. ”I don’t know what the percentage was,” Keenum said, ”but just try to give the guy a chance.” The play the Vikings ran, believe it or not, is called ”Seven Heaven.” Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Diggs all ran sideline routes from the right of the formation, with Diggs the deepest with his break coming at about 25 yards. This wasn’t quite as improbable of a play as Franco Harris on the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 playoffs , which was also in the divisional round, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path. The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum took the snap with 10 seconds left and dropped back from his 39-yard line. He lofted a throw to Diggs, who jumped in front of Marcus Williams before the Saints rookie whiffed on his awkward attempt to cut underneath Diggs for a tackle. Nobody was behind him in the secondary, as Diggs knew before he pivoted to keep his balance, keep his feet in bounds and keep running across the goal line. ”I had a pretty good view of it Authentic Chad Thomas Jersey ,” Rudolph said. ”I couldn’t believe it. Things just don’t work out that way.” Particularly for the Vikings, whose previous victory in the playoffs had been after the 2009 season at home against Dallas in the divisional round. They lost in overtime the following week in the NFC championship game that year at New Orleans, one of the many late collapses in team lore that have conditioned Minnesotans to brace for the worst. So while only defensive end Brian Robison is still around from that painful loss to the Saints, this thriller at least served as a leveler of sorts for a fan base accustomed to being on the other side. ”It’s a turning point for everybody,” Diggs said. ”The majority of people doubt us. They don’t think it’s going to happen, especially because of history. People have a way of saying history repeats itself. I guess this is not one of those cases.” Now the Vikings can become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf, if they beat the Eagles. Instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they’re in a win-and-go-home situation. ”It would’ve been nice to be home, but I feel like if we take care of business the way we’re supposed to we’ll have another chance to see our fans,” Diggs said. Here are some other key developments during the game: NOT-SO-HAPPY BIRTHDAY Brees will turn 39 on Monday, a celebration that’s sure to be muted so soon after this crushing loss. After finishing 7-9 in four of the previous five seasons, the Saints were one of the NFL’s biggest breakout stories in 2017 with an energized and revamped defense and the potent running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But how long will Brees, whose contract is expiring, want to stick around with a Super Bowl ring already in hand? ”I’m more toward the end of my career than I am at the beginning, I know that Youth Tyquan Lewis Jersey ,” Brees said. ”That’s all I’ll divulge.” PICKED OFF Brees finished 25 for 40 for 294 yards and three touchdowns, all in the final 16:16 of the game, but his performance was tainted a bit by two costly interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo that set up a touchdown drive for the Vikings in the second quarter. The other came off a tip by Everson Griffen at the line that sent the ball fluttering into Anthony Barr’s arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line to thwart the next possession. Ted Ginn had broken open on a post pattern on the first one, a first-and-10 play from the New Orleans 15, and Brees saw an opportunity. ”I just forced it. There was no reason to do that,” Brees said. FORBATH FINISHES STRONG Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half, but he was good from the same distance in the fourth quarter and again from 53 yards to put the Vikings up 23-21 with 89 seconds to go. That gave him three makes against the team that cut him right before the 2016 season in favor of Wil Lutz, whose 43-yard kick gave the Saints the lead before the Keenum-to-Diggs stunner. ”I was ready to kick another one,” Forbath said, ”but what an incredible way to win.” WOE FOR WILLIAMS Williams was sobbing in front of his cubicle in the locker room afterward, his face buried in a folded white towel, before composing himself for a stand-up performance in front of the assembled press. ”I’m going to take it upon myself,” Williams said, ”to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.” — Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch might want to consider giving Jose Altuve more days off. A night after he was out of the starting lineup for the first time all season, the 2017 American League MVP homered twice Youth Dante Pettis Jersey , including the last of three straight by the Astros in the sixth inning, to lift Houston to a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. Altuve, who pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, said getting a little break gave him a chance to regroup. ”It felt good. It’s always good to sit down and think about how you feel,” he said. ”And I came back strong today.” The game was tied in the bottom of the sixth when George Springer’s 15th homer this season made it 2-1. Two pitches later Alex Bregman sent an 87 mph slider from Rays’ starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-3) into the seats in left field for his 11th home run. But the Astros weren’t done yet, as Altuve put one on the train tracks atop left field for the second time on Wednesday night to push the lead to 4-1. It was the first time the Astros had hit three home runs in a row since May 2, 2008 when Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it against the Milwaukee Brewers. Altuve got a little amped up after seeing the balls by Springer and Bregman leave the yard, and once he got in a hitter’s count he was looking for a ball to drive. ”There was a lot going on in that inning and I got a little excited,” he said. It was a welcome display of power for a team which managed just five singles in a 2-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night that snapped Houston’s 12-game winning streak. Wednesday night’s win made the Astros the first team to reach 50 victories this season. ”It was a pretty electrifying crowd after three home runs one after another after another,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”Obviously, it was a huge inning for us. What energy that got put back into the building and also our team. Pretty impressive.” Houston starter Charlie Morton (9-1) allowed just two hits and one unearned run in six innings for the win. Eovaldi, who grew up in suburban Houston, entered the game 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four career starts against the Astros. But he allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings for his third straight loss. ”It’s just a matter of time before that offense gets you,” manager Kevin Cash said. ”He was efficient Dave Robinson Jersey , they made some adjustments, but it was a lot of power and by that third time through, it kind of caught up. It’s just a very talented offense.” Jake Bauers doubled with two outs in the first inning before Morton walked Wilson Ramos and plunked Joey Wendle to load the bases. But he escaped the jam when left fielder Tony Kemp made a diving catch on a ball hit by Willy Adames to end the inning. ”That’s probably the highlight of the game defensively for us just because a lot of things can happen there,” Hinch said. ”We’re playing a little bit deep, it looked like he got a little bit of a late start and then comes in with an acrobatic catch.” Mallex Smith singled with one out in the fourth and scored when Carlos Gomez grounded out and first baseman Yuli Gurriel badly overthrew first base for an error to make it 1-0. Altuve tied it up with his first home run of the night with one out in the fourth. It was the first multi-homer game in the regular season since July 24, 2016 for Altuve, who hit a career-best three in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston last season. The Astros added a run on an RBI single by Kemp with one out in the seventh. TRAINER’S ROOM Astros: Hinch said RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) was feeling a lot better on Wednesday and is likely to throw off the mound either this weekend or early next week. Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said INF Daniel Robertson (left hamstring strain) is doing well and should come off the disabled list on Friday. KIERMAIER’S STRUGGLES Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts after going 0 for 5 on Wednesday night in his first game back after missing more than two months following thumb surgery. His slump is a continuation of the struggles he had before the injury and he’s hitting just .135 in 14 games this season. ”Unfortunately, K.K. just got off to a rough start and takes a month or two months off,” Cash said. ”The numbers are going to be ugly for a little while, but I’m very confident he’ll get going.” UP NEXT Rays: Tampa Bay is off on Thursday before beginning a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Friday. They have yet to announce their pitching rotation for that series. Astros: Houston also has a day off on Thursday before hosting Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series on Friday. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 4.15 ERA), who got his first win since May 13 in his last start, will oppose Royals‘ lefty Danny Duffy. —
  6. Standing in foul territory Authentic Phillip Gaines Jersey , Steven Matz stared at the ball he had just mishandled and started to give it an angry kick, then changed his mind and instead just picked it up. Matz and the New York Mets keep their cool Sunday, barely, overcoming three errors and escaping the NL East cellar after a one-day stay by beating the Miami Marlins 5-2. The Mets, who endured their worst June ever, won for only the second time in the past 12 games to reach the season’s halfway point at 33-48. ”We’re all disappointed with where we’re at,” Matz said. ”We had higher expectations. We’re just going to keep pushing.” Matz (4-5) did that in the series finale, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed only an unearned run. It scored on his error, and he worked around misplays by two teammates – an encouraging sign from a pitcher still learning not to let setbacks snowball. ”You still see him get a little flustered out there,” manager Mickey Callaway said. ”But he regroups and makes the next pitch. Today he won the game for us because he did that, because they easily could have tacked on some runs there early. He held them right where he needed to hold them.” New York’s bullpen leads the majors in losses but limited Miami to one hit in the final 3 2/3 innings. Jeurys Familia completed the four-hitter with a perfect ninth for his 15th save. Asdrubal Cabrera hit his 14th homer off Dan Straily (3-4). Todd Frazier had two hits and scored three times, and Kevin Plawecki doubled home New York’s first run. Straily allowed three runs in seven innings, matching his longest outing of the year. Cameron Maybin hit his first homer for the Marlins, but they slipped back into last place in the division. ”We just didn’t do a whole lot with Matz,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”That’s probably the best I’ve seen him.” Matz loaded the bases with two out in the second by walking Straily, an .056 career hitter, but then struck out Starlin Castro to escape. Matz also reached behind his legs to snare Lewis Brinson’s grounder and retire him in the fourth. But the left-hander failed to come up with Straily’s safety squeeze bunt with two out in the inning Authentic Marshall Newhouse Jersey , allowing Miguel Rojas to score from third. ”If I had taken my time I would have had him, but I rushed it,” Matz said. MISCUES Callaway talked before the game about how the Mets needed to play better defense, but they didn’t. Second baseman Cabrera and third baseman Frazier misplayed grounders for errors. Miami misplays in the eighth led to the Mets’ final two runs. Center fielder Brinson failed to catch Frazier’s drive after a long sprint, and the play was ruled an RBI double. ”He probably should have caught that,” Mattingly said. ”I know they gave him a hit there, but if you ask him he gets to that ball and catches that pretty much all the time.” Frazier then came home on a wild pickoff throw by catcher J.T. Realmuto. UNEXPECTED CONTRIBUTION Matz was 2 for 26 this year before he hit a two-out single in the fourth for his first RBI of the season. ”I was in a slump,” he said, ”but I’m out of it now.” NIMMO SLUMP The Mets’ Brandon Nimmo, hit by a pitch on his right hand a week ago, went 0 for 5 and is in a 1-for-19 slump. ”I’m super late. My bat speed is not there,” he said. ”But my hand feels fine.” TRAINER’S ROOM Mets: INF Dominic Smith, who had a cortisone shot for his sore right wrist, pinch-hit in the eighth and flied out. … OF Jay Bruce (hip) is expected to begin taking batting practice in the next few days. UP NEXT Mets: After an off day, RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.47) is scheduled to start Tuesday at Toronto. Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 6.14) is scheduled to start Monday against Tampa Bay to begin a three-game series. — Well Authentic Marquis Haynes Jersey , that didn’t last long. The Los Angeles Rams’ first playoff appearance in 13 seasons came to a quick end Saturday night when the young, upstart team led by the NFL’s youngest coach was schooled by Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, who won the wild-card game 26-13. It was the Rams’ first playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1979 and their first in Southern California since 1986. Only six Rams players had playoff experience, including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who went 0-6 with the Cincinnati Bengals. Whitworth said it was natural that players would be nervous in their first playoff appearance. However, second-year quarterback Jared Goff downplayed the team’s lack of postseason experience. ”I think they played better than we did,” Goff said. ”Playoff inexperience, I don’t know what that means. Each game’s the same. This one has a little bit more meaning to it, of course. But we did not play well. And if we played like this two weeks ago against the same team, we would have lost as well.” The Rams fell behind 13-0 thanks to two special teams gaffes by Pro Bowler Pharoh Cooper. Todd Gurley got going too late to help, although he did finish with 101 yards rushing. Goff made some nice passes, but also had some misses and watched his teammates make some drops. Cooper fumbled on a kickoff return late in the first quarter when he was hit by Damontae Kazee, with Kemal Ishmael recovering at the Rams 32. Devonta Freeman capped the short drive with a 3-yard scoring run to give the Falcons a 13-0 lead. Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 29 and 51 yards in the first quarter. The Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead in last season’s Super Bowl, had their first score set up by a special teams blunder by the Rams that allowed Atlanta to almost completely flip the field. With the Falcons forced to punt from their 14, Cooper was indecisive and let the ball bounce at about the L.A. 40. It hit off Blake Countess’ foot during a wild scramble that ended with LaRoy Reynolds recovering at the Rams 17. The Falcons had to settle for Bryant’s 29-yarder. He kicked a 51-yarder on Atlanta’s next possession. Cooper took the blame for the miscues. He said he should have protected the ball better on the kickoff return. On the punt, he said he needed to take control of the situation by yelling ”Poison Authentic Cordy Glenn Jersey ,” as in, get away from the ball. ”They’ve been so good for us all year,” Goff said. ”They’ve won so many games for us. You can go look throughout the whole season how many games those guys, in particular Pharoh, have contributed to and put us in good field position. The first one was a freak one and the second one I know he’d like to have back. He’s a Pro Bowl returner and has done such a good job this year. I know we wouldn’t want anyone (else) back there.” The Rams had gone from 4-12 in 2016, their first season back in Los Angeles after 22 years in St. Louis, to 11-5 and the NFC West championship under first-year coach Sean McVay. The Rams were hosting their first playoff game in the Coliseum since Jan. 7, 1979, when they lost 28-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game. It was their first playoff game in Southern California since Jan. 4, 1986, when they beat the Cowboys 20-0 at Anaheim Stadium. McVay was born 20 days after that game. The Rams moved to St. Louis after the 1994 season and won their only Super Bowl after the 1999 season. They moved back to L.A. prior to the 2016 season. ”It’s hard,” Goff said. ”We didn’t want this to end at all. We’ve got such a special group of dudes in there, coaches and everybody. It’s such a special group. You don’t want it to end this early by any means. But I think we have a good, strong core group we’ve built this year.” —
  7. For fans of the Minnesota Vikings Authentic Pernell McPhee Jersey , at least the ones old enough to drive, there’s a score to be settled with the New Orleans Saints. Eight years ago, the last Minnesota team considered a strong Super Bowl contender was on the verge of victory in New Orleans in the NFC championship game despite four earlier turnovers inside the raucous Superdome. That was until the infamous 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty with 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter pushed the Vikings out of field goal range and preceded Brett Favre’s ill-fated throw across his body that was intercepted by Tracy Porter to force overtime and steer the Saints toward the franchise’s only title. The bitterness in Minnesota toward the team in black and gold only increased two years later when an NFL investigation concluded then-New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged a bounty system designed to financially reward players for hitting and injuring Favre. There’s only one player, defensive end Brian Robison, who’s still around from that season, however. That painful stumble at the end of the most important game the Vikings have played in almost two decades doesn’t mean much at all to the guys on the 2017 roster. ”We just have to come out and play our game, regardless of who’s mad at who for whatever reason,” wide receiver Jarius Wright said. Head coach Mike Zimmer was actually sitting in the seats that evening, with his defensive coordinator duties for Cincinnati on break with the Bengals already eliminated from the playoffs. His son, Adam Zimmer, was an assistant linebackers coach for New Orleans that year. ”I was just sitting there observing. I wasn’t really rooting for anybody or anything like that,” Zimmer said, before revealing his drink of choice on Bourbon Street that day: ”I had some of those hurricanes.” For these Vikings, the Saints simply represent their first obstacle to being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. They had to wait until the very end of their bye week to find out who they would be facing in the divisional round game, with the Saints topping the Carolina Panthers 31-26 in New Orleans on Sunday night. ”I think they understand the magnitude of where we’re at in the playoffs and that New Orleans is a heck of a football team,” Zimmer said on Monday afternoon Authentic Anthony Averett Jersey , when the Vikings reconvened for preparation. The Vikings beat the Saints 29-19 in the season opener , when Sam Bradford was their quarterback and Dalvin Cook was the running back for an offense that took full advantage of a young defense trying to get set. The Saints also still had Adrian Peterson in their backfield then, before trading him to the Arizona Cardinals and clearing space for rookie Alvin Kamara to elevate his role next to Mark Ingram. ”From the first time we played them to now, it’s totally different,” Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. For both teams, really. September was so long ago. ”I would expect that they’ve kind of grown into their own identity now,” Saints linebacker Manti Te’o said. ”I don’t expect to see the same team that we saw Week 1, and I know they don’t expect to see the same team they saw in Week 1, too.” Bradford has resumed practicing, but he likely will remain on injured reserve this week with Teddy Bridgewater backing up Case Keenum at quarterback. ”We’ll just take our time,” Zimmer said of Bradford’s status, ”and see how it goes.” — Joey Votto hit a grand slam and celebrated with a flap, honoring the bird that prolonged his at-bat. Votto ended a long homer drought with his third career grand slam Tuesday night, powering the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-5 victory that ended the Detroit Tigers‘ longest winning streak in two years. Votto came to bat with the bases loaded in the third inning of a scoreless game. A black bird wandered between the plate and the pitcher’s mound, prompting Votto to call time so he could try to shoo it away. The bird stayed in the middle of the infield. ”He was in the line of vision and I was going to try to swat it away,” Votto said. ”I was thinking Authentic Russell Bodine Jersey , `Make sure to hit the ball in the air’ and `Don’t hit it on the ground up the middle.’ I was taking care of the bird.” Votto’s high fly ball to right field off Matthew Boyd (4-5) had just enough to avoid the outstretched glove of Nicholas Castellanos, who reached over the wall and barely missed it. Votto flapped his arms in tribute to the bird when he crossed the plate on his first homer since May 13, ending a 30-game drought. Votto’s last homer at Great American Ball Park was May 6. He has seven homers after hitting 36 last season, one shy of his career high. ”I would like to think it’s all part of the season,” Votto said. ”I felt good. I have felt good. I’ve been swinging the bat well.” Sal Romano (4-7) had a second straight solid outing, limiting the Tigers to four singles over seven shutout innings. Billy Hamilton also homered as the Reds pulled away to a 9-0 lead. The Tigers had won five straight and moved within a game of .500. They haven’t been to the break-even mark since they were a season-best 4-4 on April 8. They’ve wasted five chances to get back. Romano was coming off perhaps his best performance in the majors. He went a career-high eight innings and gave up one run during a 5-1 win at Kansas City on Tuesday. Trailing 9-0, Detroit finally broke through in the ninth when Wandy Peralta walked home a run and Leonys Martin followed with a double. Boyd walked three batters in four innings – all of them scored – and gave up a season-high five runs. He was most upset with the two walks that set up the first grand slam he’s allowed in his career. ”Walks will kill you,” Boyd said. ”Things like that (grand slam) are going to happen in this ballpark, especially when the wind is blowing out.” INTERLEAGUE The Reds are 12-11 against the Tigers all-time. This season, the Tigers are 1-6 in interleague play. The Reds are 5-1. BIRD IS THE WORD The bird that wandered onto the field during Votto’s at-bat didn’t go away. It made a mound visit and later explored other parts of the field. Fans cheered when it was shown on the video board. INTERESTING DESIGN The outfield grass showed the effects of a concert at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, when high heat and the field covering left yellow patterns in the stressed grass. STATS Martin reached in all five plate appearances, going 3 for 3 with two walks. … Cincinnati’s Tucker Barnhart also reached in all five plate appearances, going 3 for 3 with a walk. He also was hit by a pitch. … Eugenio Suarez singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games, the longest active streak on the Reds and one shy of his career high. REDS MOVE The Reds called up RH reliever Jackson Stephens and optioned RH reliever Austin Brice to Triple-A Louisville. Stephens was 0-0 with a 4.20 ERA in nine appearances for the Reds earlier this season. TRAINER’S ROOM Tigers: Reliever Drew VerHagen left the game in the seventh after getting hit in the face with a throw while covering first base. He broke his nose and had it reset. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the Tigers were working on bringing up another reliever. Reds: RH Homer Bailey will be re-examined on Tuesday. He’s been sidelined since June 2 with a sore right knee. UP NEXT Tigers: Michael Fulmer (2-5) has gone seven innings and allowed one run in each of his last two starts. He’s never faced the Reds. Reds: Tyler Mahle (5-6) is 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA in three starts in June, allowing two runs in 16 1/3 innings. He’s never faced the Tigers. —
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    Closer Kyle Barraclough has been exceptional for the Marlins in the last two months Authentic Joseph Noteboom Jersey , so the novelty of him giving up a run — even in a Miami win — is major news. “Claw will bounce back, no worries about that,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after he gave up the tying run in the ninth, ultimately earning the victory in a 2-1 win in a series opener against the Rays. Barraclough had not allowed a run since May 8 — an amazing run of 21 games and 20 2/3 innings with just two hits allowed before Monday, when the Rays matched that with two hits and the tying run. His season ERA had dipped below 1.00 to 0.99 ERA before that run scored. “To be able to scratch runs and get pitching, it’s nice to be able to get that win in the end,” Mattingly said of his Marlins (35-51), who have won three of four games. The Marlins will try to continue that Tuesday with rookie right-hander Trevor Richards (2-5, 5.06 ERA) on the mound. Richards lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up six hits and three runs to Arizona, but he has two wins in his last four starts Authentic Brian Allen Jersey , this after having zero wins in his first six starts of the season. Richards has never faced the Rays, but his limited work in interleague play has been rough — eight hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Red Sox in April, then nine hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings against Baltimore in June. His interleague record is 0-2 and his ERA is 12.91, with a staggering 17 hits in 7 2/3 innings. The Rays answer with another rookie who hasn’t faced this team before — Ryne Stanek, spectacular as an “opener” with short outings to open games throughout the month of June, was supposed to start Tuesday but instead got the nod in the 10th inning Monday, surrendering a leadoff walk that quickly became the winning run off an infield single. Ryan Yarbrough (7-4, 3.76 ERA) has pitched well coming in after the “opener,” but he’ll get the start now against the Marlins. Much like Richards, he’s struggled in interleague play, going 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA Authentic John Kelly Jersey , allowing 19 hits in 15 innings. His last outing wasn’t bad at all, lasting 6 1/3 innings in relief, giving up seven hits but only one run in a 1-0 loss to Houston on Thursday. He’ll likely get a rare chance to bat as well with the game in a National League park — he’s just 0-for-2 at the plate in his young career. One-run games have been a major part of the Rays’ season — they’ve played in 37, matching the most in the majors, and they’ve lost 21, the most of any team, but Rays manager Kevin Cash said he was optimistic even when his team was down 2-1 in the ninth on Monday. The Rays had won eight of nine coming in and will try to bounce back Tuesday. “The way we’ve been playing, we’ve been getting the big hit,” Cash said. “I think it was going to work out the entire game.” The Panthers will not be punished for their handling of Cam Newton’s injury during a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 7. The NFL and the Players Association announced Wednesday that Carolina’s medical staff correctly followed concussion protocol guidelines. The league released a statement Wednesday saying it reviewed game footage and medical reports, as well as statements and interviews with Newton and coach Ron Rivera, before making its determination that ”there was no protocol violation.” After walking off the field with a second-half eye injury Kentrell Brice Jersey , Newton stumbled to the ground near the sideline when asked by trainers to take a knee. The league said they believe that stumble was caused by a previous knee injury. The NFL said the league’s 2015 MVP had an MRI on Jan. 8 that ”confirmed ligament and cartilage damage and very extensive swelling in the knee.” Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Newton will not need surgery on the knee. Newton sat out one play, but returned on the next offensive series and finished the game. Hurney said on Jan. 8 that Newton intentionally took a knee because he was told to by the team’s training staff so Carolina could get an official timeout, thus allowing backup quarterback Derek Anderson a little more time to warm up on the sideline. Anderson came in for one third-down play and threw an incompletion. ”He took a hit,” Hurney said of Newton. ”But when he walked off and he told the trainers he got poked in the eye, then they did take him into the tent and checked him for a concussion, which he did not have. And it was really getting poked in the eye.” Up for debate in the investigation was whether Newton should have been taken to the locker room for evaluations. The league and the players union changed its concussion protocol in December after Texans quarterback Tom Savage returned to the field after having a concussion that left the quarterback’s hands shaking following a hit. The changes to the protocol include the requirement of a locker room concussion evaluation for all players ”demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand.)” Newton did not visit the locker room. Newton said after the team’s loss to the Saints that ”it wasn’t my head. It was my eye. My helmet had come down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player’s stomach.” ”Our review of all of the facts do not support a claim of inappropriate medical care,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. ”Mr. Newton was immediately evaluated for a concussion and cleared by the team physician and unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant.” The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 in Week 10 after the league and union determined they failed to apply the concussion protocol properly after quarterback Russell Wilson took a blow to the head against the Arizona Cardinals. —
  9. The high-powered New York Yankees were stymied by Tampa Bay’s relievers. Six Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a five-hitter Youth Jordan Akins Jersey , and the Rays beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Friday night. Utilizing a bullpen day, the Rays improved to 14-31 against teams with a .500 or better record with the victory over the team with the majors’ best record. New York is 40-5 when allowing four or fewer runs. ”You just don’t limit that team to one run very often,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ”So as far as piecing it together and guys coming in and doing their jobs, that’s probably as good as you can make it.” Winner Ryan Yarbrough (6-3) entered in the second and allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Sergio Romo worked the ninth for his fifth save in nine chances. ”Getting those tough wins against a really tough opponent was great,” Yarbrough said. The Rays, 12-19 in one-run games, are 3-5 during a stretch of 16 games with the Yankees Youth Darius Leonard Jersey , Washington and Houston. Willy Adames put the Rays ahead 1-0 with a run-scoring single off CC Sabathia (4-3) in the fourth. Sabathia allowed two runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Tampa Bay has just two established starters in its rotation with injuries to Chris Archer and Jake Faria. ”Whatever kind of combination they’ve got going on over there, it worked tonight,” Sabathia said. Tampa Bay went up 2-0 in the fifth on C.J. Cron’s sacrifice fly, a drive with two on that Yankees right fielder Giancarlo Stanton snared with a leaping catch at the wall. ”That was a really special play,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. The Rays wasted a chance to extend the lead in the sixth when Johnny Field struck out on a failed third-strike bunt attempt with two on and Matt Duffy hit a two-out grounder with the bases loaded to complete a 12-pitch at-bat against Adam Warren. ”That was on me, poor communication on my part.,” Cash of the Field strikeout. ”That’s not how we drew it up. I didn’t take it off. I made the mistake.” Aaron Judge made it 2-1 on a seventh-inning RBI single off Chaz Roe. Jose Alvarado prevented further damage by getting a two-out grounder from Didi Gregorius with runners on second and third. New York left fielder Brett Gardner went 2 for 5 after missing the previous five games due to right knee soreness. After taking three balls Muhammad Wilkerson Jersey , Gardner hit into a game-ending double on a 3-2 pitch from Romo. The announced crowd was 27,252, more than double Tampa Bay’s second-lowest average attendance in the majors of 13,414. TRAINER’S ROOM Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (strained left and right hamstrings) will have his first bullpen session Sunday and could start a simulated game late next week. Rays: RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) had a 20-pitch bullpen session. The opening-day starter will likely be out until after the All-Star break. ”(Saturday) will be big to see where my level of soreness is,” Archer said. ”The last week my body has really come a long ways. I don’t wake up with any soreness.” MINORS’ MATTERS Yankees: RHP Clarke Schmidt, taken 16th overall in the 2017 draft, allowed two runs and three hits over one inning in his first Gulf Coast League game. He missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Rays: Two-way prospect Brendan McKay is on Class-A Charlotte’s disabled list with an oblique injury. MOVING DAY Tampa Bay reinstated INF Daniel Robertson (left hamstring strain) from the 10-day DL and optioned RHP Austin Pruitt and outrighted OF Rob Refsnyder to Triple-A Durham. UP NEXT Yankees RHP Sonny Gray (5-4) and Rays RHP Wilmer Font (0-3) are Saturday’s scheduled starters. — The Chiefs hired Deland McCullough off the staff at Southern California on Friday to coach their running backs Authentic Richard Rodgers Jersey , taking the place of recently promoted assistant coach Eric Bieniemy. Chiefs coach Andy Reid moved Bieniemy into the offensive coordinator job shortly after Matt Nagy, who had excelled in the role this past season, took the head job with the Chicago Bears. McCullough spent six seasons with Indiana before coaching the Trojans’ running backs last season. He played at Miami of Ohio before stints with the Bengals and Eagles in the NFL, two seasons with Winnipeg in the Canadian Football League and a season in the short-lived XFL. —
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    The St. Louis Cardinals left Arizona feeling a little bit better about themselves 49ers Weston Richburg Jersey , thanks to a late-inning surge by the offense and another strong outing from Miles Mikolas. The Cardinals scored seven times in the seventh and eighth innings to beat Arizona 8-4 on Wednesday night. After coming to town on a four-game losing streak and off a three-game sweep at the hands of Atlanta, St. Louis took two of three from the first-place Diamondbacks. Yadier Molina’s three-run homer on the first pitch from reliever Fernando Salas highlighted a five-run Cardinals seventh inning after Arizona had nursed a 2-1 lead through six in front of a sellout crowd of 44,072. ”Had some big hits today,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ”It allows those big five-run innings to happen. Wear the pitcher down, wear the defense down. Then you have Yadi come in and do something special on the back end.” Tommy Pham drove in three Cardinals runs with a double and two singles. Matt Carpenter doubled twice and singled with one RBI. ”Carp kind of set the tone. He got on base a lot,” Pham said. ”I think we had good at-bats. Even when the results weren’t there, we made guys throw pitches. That’s key. If a guy is taking four or five plus pitches to get outs, that means you are grinding as a hitter. When you put that together as a team, it wears out pitching staffs.” The Diamondbacks dropped to 1-5 on their homestand and lead the surging Los Angeles Dodgers by just a half-game in the NL West. Mikolas (9-3) gave up two runs and seven hits, walked four and struck out three. Arizona reliever Yoshihisa Hirano (2-1) had his franchise-record streak of 26 games without allowing a run end when Yairo Munoz homered to lead off the seventh. Hirano gave up four runs 49ers Cassius Marsh Jersey , one earned, on three hits in two-thirds of an inning for his first loss since coming to the major leagues from Japan this season. ”Yoshi’s human,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. ”That’s what it means, right? And he’s absolutely spoiled us. He’s been a slam-dunk reliever and he made a really tough game look easy for a long time.” After Munoz’s homer, shortstop Ketel Marte booted pinch-hitter Tyler O’Neill’s grounder for an error. With one out and O’Neill on second, Pham singled to center to put the Cardinals up 3-2. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson left the game with discomfort in his right groin area, Lovullo said. Salas relieved Hirano and gave up the big hit to Molina, who homered twice in the series. ”It was like two totally different games,” Lovullo said. ”The first six innings were exactly the way you’d like to see guys go out and execute and do their job, and then the final three innings unfortunately we couldn’t execute in a lot of key areas.” HARD-LUCK LEFTY Arizona starter Patrick Corbin allowed one run and six hits in six innings Colton Sissons Jersey , his third straight strong outing without a decision. He’s given up two runs in 19 innings during those three starts. TRAINER’S ROOM Cardinals: Paul DeJong (broken left hand) homered and doubled and played shortstop all nine innings Tuesday night in his fourth rehab game for Triple-A Memphis. Matheny said DeJong would not be activated Thursday in San Francisco but could be at some time during the four-game series. Diamondbacks: Right-handed reliever Randall Delgado (left oblique strain) was scheduled to make another rehab appearance for Triple-A Reno and is expected to be activated Thursday, the end of his rehab assignment. … OF Steven Souza Jr. (strained right pectoral) had Wednesday off in his rehab assignment with Reno after homering twice for the Aces on Tuesday night. Souza has three homers in his last two rehab games. UP NEXT Cardinals: Head to San Francisco for four games against the Giants. RHP Luke Weaver (4-7, 5.16 ERA) starts for St. Louis in Thursday night’s opener. Johnny Cueto (3-0, 0.84) comes off the disabled list to pitch for the Giants. Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller (0-2, 11.42), following two rough starts in his return from Tommy John surgery, takes the mound Thursday night in the opener of a four-game home series against San Diego. LHP Eric Lauer (3-5, 5.08) goes for the Padres. — Antonio Brown is good to go against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ All-Pro wide receiver is active for the first time in a month as the AFC North champions host the Jaguars with a spot in the AFC title game on the line. Brown injured his left calf in the first half of a loss to New England on Dec. 17 and missed Pittsburgh’s final two games. Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who was limited this week with an elbow injury, is also active. So is Pittsburgh cornerback Artie Burns Shawn Williams Jersey , who was limited this week because of a hyperextended right knee. Running back Chris Ivory is inactive for the Jaguars. Other Steelers inactives include QB Josh Dobbs, WR Justin Hunter, CB Coty Sensabaugh, S J.J. Wilcox, OT Jerald Hawkins, G Matt Feiler and NT Daniel McCullers. Other Jaguars inactives include OL Chris Reed, OL Josh Walker, WR Jaydon Mickens, OL William Poehls and DL Eli Ankou. — AP NFL website:
  11. By two percentage points Patriots Jason McCourty Jersey , the Arizona Diamondbacks are no longer in the lead in the NL West. Losing six of seven at home will do that. Eric Lauer limited Arizona to a run over five-plus innings, Austin Hedges homered for the first time since April 10 and the San Diego Padres opened a four-game series in the desert with a 6-3 victory over the slumping Diamondbacks on Thursday night. The Diamondbacks fell to 1-6 in what will be a 10-game homestand and dropped into a virtual tie with the idle Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West. Arizona had been alone in first since June 8. ”We know that we are in a pennant race, if you want to call it that right now at the halfway point of the season,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. ”I think we enjoy that part of the game. We know it is going to be a dogfight for the rest of the year.” Wil Myers drove in two runs with a triple and single, and Carlos Asuaje reached base four times – a triple, RBI single and two walks – for the last-place Padres, winners for only the fourth time in 17 games. ”Offensively, I think Carlos Asuaje is probably the story of the day for us Patriots Trent Brown Jersey ,” San Diego manager Andy Green said. Shelby Miller (0-3) was better in his third start coming off Tommy John surgery, but still got the loss, allowing five runs – three earned – and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two. ”I feel good,” Miller said. ”I think today the command was a little bit better. I would have liked to go out there and finish the sixth, put up a zero out there and get out of the game. Have us in a little better situation, 2-1 instead of 5-1, leaving that inning but we kind of beat ourselves that inning a little bit.” Arizona’s Ketel Marte hit a two-run homer off Matt Strahm in the eighth. Lauer, a 23-year-old left-hander Eagles Markus Wheaton Jersey , gave up seven hits – mostly to soft contact – walked two and hit a batter, but only one of those baserunners managed to score in his first win in four starts. Brad Hand gave up an infield single, then struck out the next three in the ninth for his 24th save in 28 opportunities. Miller, who had allowed 11 runs and 15 hits in 8 2/3 innings during his first two starts back from the surgery, got off to a rocky start in the first inning when the second batter, Asuaje, tripled to deep center and scored on Myers’ single. But the Arizona right-hander settled down, blanking the Padres for three innings before Hedges’ line shot into the left-field seats put San Diego up 2-1 in the fifth. Hedges missed 41 games with right elbow tendinitis before being reinstated on June 24. An error by usually sure-handed shortstop Nick Ahmed led to two unearned runs in San Diego’s three-run sixth. Asuaje led off with an 11-pitch walk and scored when Myers tripled to deep right-center. Ahmed muffed Eric Hosmer’s hard one-bouncer to allow Myers to score. Freddy Galvis‘ two-out single off reliever Andrew Chafin brought home Hosmer and the Padres led 5-1. BIG PITCH With runners at first and third and two outs in the fifth Eagles Avonte Maddox Jersey , Lauer struck out Paul Goldschmidt with a pitch that Green never had seen the pitcher throw: a cutter. ”It’s fun to watch a kid throw a pitch that you’ve never seen him throw before,” Green said. ”I haven’t seen the 90 mph cutter out of him before. If I haven’t seen it, Goldschmidt hasn’t seen it, either.” Lauer said he has been working on the cutter as his slider evolved and was ”amped up” when he threw it to Goldschmidt. TRAINER’S ROOM Diamondbacks: OF Steven Souza Jr. (right pectoral strain) was activated from the 10-day DL and OF Jarrod Dyson was placed on the DL with a strained right groin. Souza started in right field and went 0 for 3 at the plate with a walk in just his 15th game of the season. Dyson was injured in Arizona’s loss to St. Louis Wednesday night. UP NEXT Padres LHP Joey Lucchesi (4-3, 3.26 ERA) makes his fourth start since coming off the disabled list (right hip strain) and the Diamondbacks counter with RHP Zack Godley (9-6, 5.07) in the second game of the four-game series. — The federal government shutdown prompted the Air Force Academy on Saturday to call off sports events and upended plans for military outside the U.S. wanting to follow the NFL’s conference playoff games on TV and radio. Games involving the Army and Navy men’s basketball teams were played as scheduled. Hours after the partial shutdown took effect, the Air Force Academy said both home and away events have been postponed. Among them were the men’s and women’s basketball games at Fresno State The American Forces Network, which broadcasts American radio and television programming in Europe and other locations outside the U.S. Eagles Josh Sweat Jersey , put a message on its Facebook page that said its services would not be available ”due to the government shutdown.” The notice sparked angry reactions from viewers, with several noting the timing couldn’t have been worse. The two NFL conference championships are Sunday – Minnesota vs. Philadelphia and Jacksonville vs. New England. ”During NFL PLAYOFFS?!” one post read. ”AFN, start a GoFundMe & broadcast these games! Make it happen!” The Air Force Academy’s online sports calendar lists seven competitions that had been set for Saturday. In addition to the basketball, there men’s and women’s swimming at UNLV, men’s hockey against Sacred Heart at the academy and men’s gymnastics against Oklahoma at the academy. The rifle team was scheduled to compete against TCU, the Coast Guard and Ohio State at TCU. On Sunday, the academy has tennis and wrestling events scheduled.
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    Tennessee safety Kevin Byard is hoping to scratch one more thing off his bucket list. The second-year safety tied for the league-lead with eight interceptions and led the NFL with 10 total takeaways Darqueze Dennard Jersey , though he has yet to reach the end zone. Byard sees no better time than Saturday when the Titans (9-7) visit the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) in an AFC wild-card game in his postseason debut. ”I’m just hoping to get in the end zone this time I can get an interception,” Byard said. ”That’s just my whole thing, trying to help this team anyway I can.” Byard just earned his second AFC defensive player of the week award for adding two more interceptions in a 15-10 win over Jacksonville in helping the Titans clinch their first playoff berth since 2008. Scoring off Alex Smith won’t be easy with the Chiefs quarterback having been intercepted only five times all season. Coach Mike Mularkey believes Byard is the kind of player who can help the Titans win their first playoff game since January 2004. Mularkey also has no problem with how confident Byard is. ”He backs it up, that’s the best part about it,” Mularkey said. ”He’s not a big talker, trash talker. He’s not cocky at all. He’s a good football player, has a lot of confidence. We all have a lot of confidence in Kevin. He deserves it. He shows if you do what you’re asked to do and you’re in the right place, good things happen and it continues to happen for him.” The Titans took advantage of geography in making Byard the first pick of the third round in 2016 after he set a school record with 19 interceptions at Middle Tennessee where he landed after Kentucky pulled a scholarship late. His performance wasn’t enough to earn Byard an invitation to the NFL combine. Once with the Titans, the 5-foot-11, 212-pound Byard impressed coaches and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau with how quickly he picked up the complicated schemes. Byard started the final seven games of his rookie season. Byard didn’t get his first interception in the NFL until his 20th career game Dre Kirkpatrick Jersey , but he’s the kind of safety that gets his hands on passes in bunches. Byard picked off three passes in a win at Cleveland on Oct. 22, then he grabbed two more in a win over Baltimore on Nov. 5. That put him atop the NFL for a few weeks with six interceptions . That’s a big reason why Byard won the fan voting to start at safety for the AFC in the Pro Bowl. But Byard wound up as an alternate after voting by coaches and players, though he said Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle reached out to him after the roster was announced. He says Weddle told him to keep his head up and offered to watch film with him. LeBeau isn’t about to compare Byard to safeties he’s coached in the past, like Troy Polamalu who’s among Byard’s football role models with Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins. That would be too much pressure for any young player. But LeBeau says like Polamalu, he knew quickly that Byard would do OK in the NFL. ”He’s a player that’s on the rise no question about it, and he’s playing great football,” LeBeau said. — Atlantic City and southern New Jersey have always been Philadelphia Eagles country. And with the local team in the Super Bowl, the seaside gambling resort can only dream of the extra millions of dollars it might have taken in had it been able to offer sports betting. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide New Jersey’s challenge to a law banning sports betting in all but four states later this year. But the decision won’t come in time to make up for the business Atlantic City thinks it would have gotten from die-hard Eagles fans, as well as casual fans, looking to bet on the Eagles-Patriots championship game on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. Tropicana president (and lifelong Eagles fan) Tony Rodio said sports betting would generate a lot of new business for Atlantic City. ”The northeast corridor is a giant sports betting market Geno Atkins Jersey ,” he said. ”If you take the Eagles and put them into the mix, I just can’t even imagine how big that would be. It would take it to a whole new level.” Alas, that is not to be, at least this season. The Supreme Court ruling might not come until June. Legal analysts predict New Jersey has a decent chance of winning the case with a ruling that would permit sports betting in the state or across the nation. Sports betting would be offered at Atlantic City’s casinos and the state’s horse racing tracks. City Councilman Marty Small, an Eagles season-ticket holder who organizes an annual flight to see an Eagles road game, said Eagles fans would have booked every available hotel room in the city weeks ago in anticipation of watching – and betting on – their team in Atlantic City. ”We would have been totally sold out by now, the whole city,” he said. ”Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest party day of the year, and people would have come from near and far to claim Atlantic City as their party place. We’re missing a golden opportunity this year.” This year, casinos in Las Vegas expect betting on the Super Bowl to surpass last year’s record of $138.5 million. Drew Leonard Carlos Dunlap Jerse , lifelong Eagles fan from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who grew up in southern New Jersey and used to visit Atlantic City twice a month, said he would go to the resort to bet a few hundred dollars on the Eagles, if it were legal. ”Anything that would bring in more people and business would definitely help,” he said, predicting Philadelphia will beat New England by a touchdown. Of course, if sports betting were legal, a sizeable number of people would be expected to come to Atlantic City to place bets regardless of which two teams were playing in it. Kevin Ortzman, regional president of Caesars Entertainment Patriots Danny Shelton Jersey , which owns three of Atlantic City’s seven casinos, said the northeastern U.S. ”is probably the biggest driver of sports betting,” noting that there are hard-core sports fans who would come to Atlantic City to bet on football, even if it involved the Cleveland Browns. But the presence of the local market-favorite Eagles would have added some ”extreme excitement and vibe” to the game, he said. Even without sports betting, Atlantic City casinos are trying to cash in on Eagles mania. The Caesars Entertainment casinos (Harrah’s Bally’s and Caesars) are considering bringing in retired Eagles players to meet and greet customers. The Tropicana is using green lights to illuminate two indoor fountains, and all last weekend, it sprinkled the recorded sound of an eagle screech from time to time into the overhead music playing in the casino. — Follow Wayne Parry at
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    Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle insists he hasn’t been keeping close tabs of his team’s slide following a hot start. He wasn’t aware the Pirates had dropped eight straight series until someone mentioned it to him earlier in the week. ”If somebody would have told me you’re going to lose eight series Andy Dalton Jersey , you’d think you’re going to be horrible,” Hurdle said. ”We’re not horrible. We’re fighting. And we believe that our best baseball is in front of us.” It is, at least when the Pirates play the struggling Cincinnati Reds. Josh Harrison hit a two-run homer, Colin Moran and Elias Diaz added solo shots and the Pirates pulled away for a 6-2 victory on Saturday to push their modest winning streak to three and assuring themselves of their first positive series since taking a two-game set from the Chicago White Sox a month ago. ”We know what’s happened here the past couple weeks,” Harrison said. ”Guys are still plugging away and coming ready to show up every day and we’ve had three in a row. We know that doesn’t speak for what’s happened or what will happen. We’ve just got to continue to keep bringing it every day.” Moran and Diaz both went deep off Luis Castillo (4-8) to give Pittsburgh the lead. Harrison hit his fourth of the season off reliever Austin Brice in the sixth. The Cincinnati native finished 2 for 4 is hitting .368 (14 for 38) against the Reds. ”Any time you can have a total offensive effort like that, it shows that we’re doing what we’re supposed to, taking advantage of mistake pitches and when presented with an opportunity to move a runner, get it done A.J. Green Jersey ,” Harrison said. Ivan Nova (4-5) worked through heavy traffic on a day his breaking ball abandoned him to last six innings and pick up his second victory in as many starts since returning from the 10-day disabled list with a sprained right ring finger. Nova allowed only Eugenio Suarez’s 13th home run in the second, striking out three while giving up three walks. ”I didn’t have the curveball today, but we grinded out there,” Nova said. Castillo struggled keeping the ball on the right side of the fence at PNC Park, a problem that’s plagued the 25-year-old all season. He’s now allowed at least one home run in 15 of his 18 starts. ”It’s surprising because I’m trying to do my best and every time I get out there, I give up one or two home runs,” Castillo said after dropping his fourth straight decision. ”I really don’t know what’s happening right now. I’m just going to keep working in the bullpen and keep doing my best trying to help.” Rookie Brandon Dixon hit his first major league home run off Pittsburgh reliever Michael Feliz in the ninth and Jesse Winker had two of Cincinnati’s seven hits to snap out of an 0-for-13 skid, but the Reds had issues taking advantage against Nova. Cincinnati went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and is now 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position in the series. ”We’ve just got to get it going William Jackson Jersey ,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. ”You go through these things. We’ve got a good offensive ball club. We’ve shown it many times. We’re just in a little funk here where we’re not getting some timely hits.” Moran broke a tie with his fourth home run of the season and first since June 2 when he sent Castillo’s pitch into the bullpen beyond the centerfield fence leading off the second. Diaz made it 3-1 when his fifth home run led off the third. The Reds had their opportunities against Nova. They loaded the bases in the fourth only to have Billy Hamilton ground out to first to end the threat. Scott Schebler led off the fifth with a double but couldn’t get home and Hamilton came to the plate in the sixth with two runners on only to fly out to left field. Hamilton finished 0 for 4 as his averaged dipped to .187. TRAINER’S ROOM Pirates: Reliever Richard Rodriguez (right shoulder inflammation) threw 20 pitches in a simulated game and is nearing a return from the 10-day disabled list. Rodriguez, who is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, said ”things feel really good right now.” UP NEXT Reds: Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.40 ERA) starts the series finale on Sunday. The 28-year-old picked up his first victory since 2016 in his previous start against St. Louis. Pirates: Joe Musgrove (2-1, 2.16) makes his first career start against the Reds. Musgrove gave up two earned runs in five innings of a no decision on Monday against Arizona. — Nationals right-hander Erick Fedde left in the second inning of his start against the Boston Red Sox after throwing just 25 pitches. Training staff and manager Dave Martinez went to check on Fedde after he allowed a single to Rafael Devers to lead off the second on Wednesday. After a long conversation, Fedde walked off the field and was replaced by lefty Matt Grace. The 25-year-old was coming off his first major league victory last weekend in Philadelphia. Fedde entered the game 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA in five starts this season. His 2017 season ended in early September with a right forearm flexor strain. Washington’s 2014 first-round pick had Tommy John surgery after being drafted. He’s 1-4 with a 7.23 ERA in eight starts during his career with the Nationals. —
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    NEW YORK — When Bryce Harper went down the ground for the second time after being hit by a pitch Tuesday night Cheap Customized Tennessee Titans Jerseys , the Washington Nationals feared the worst, especially with how much injuries have impacted them. It turned out there was not a long-term injury to fear for their superstar, just some initial pain. After getting hit by pitches in the back of the left elbow and on his left foot Tuesday, Harper is expected to play Wednesday when the Nationals conclude their two-game series with the New York Yankees. “Oh yeah, he’s in there,” Martinez said. Harper reached base four times, but it was his final two appearances that caused the most angst for the Nationals, who mustered five hits and opened the series with a 3-0 loss. In the fifth, he dropped to the ground after being hit on the left elbow by CC Sabathia’s 90.1 mph sinker. Three innings later, an 88.8 mph slider from Dellin Betances hit him on the foot and off his big toe, creating some numbness. “I was really worried,” Martinez said. “He started walking off the field. The good news is he’s walking off the field, He came in a few minutes ago and said he was fine.” Harper’s exit occurred on a night when the Nationals tied a franchise record by getting shut out in consecutive games for the 12th time since moving from Montreal following the 2004 season. Their scoreless drought is at 19 innings and they have eight hits in the last two games. Harper batted third and played right field Tuesday. He batted two spots ahead of Daniel Murphy, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his season debut after missing the first 63 games recovering from right knee surgery. Murphy started at designated hitter and will likely do so again Wednesday. “His timing could have been off,” Martinez said. “I know he’s going to hit.” The Yankees opened the series by getting two homers from Didi Gregorius, who has three of their 14 multi-homer games this season. Gregorius homered at home for the first time since April 25 and is hitting .286 (10-for-35) in his last nine games after hitting .151 (14-for-93) in 22 games in May. While Gregorius is starting to rebound from a tough month, Gary Sanchez is in a massive slump and did not start Tuesday. He is not expected to start Wednesday, giving him three days off. Sanchez is enduring the first significant struggles of his career and spent time figuring a way out of a prolonged slump that has shrunk his batting average to .190, though the Yankees think he will get rolling again. “The one thing he never loses is his confidence Cheap Customized Washington Redskins Jerseys , because he’s such a gifted hitter,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the series opener. “He wants to get in there and get it going; he expects to get it going.” He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats and is 2-for-29 with 10 strikeouts over his last seven games. Sanchez has yet to heat up in a season when he started 2-for-36 but on May 19-21 he went 4-for-10 in two games, raising his average to a season-high .231. Since those games, Sanchez is 4-for-53. “Maybe I’m over-thinking this a little too much, that’s why I’m missing those pitches I usually don’t miss,” Sanchez before Tuesday’s game. “I swung at some pitcher’s pitches. Maybe (I’m a) little bit in between. “But I feel good. I know if I stay healthy, it won’t reflect what I should be hitting. I’m sure I’ll get through this.” If Boone started Sanchez Wednesday, it would have been as the designated hitter since Sonny Gray is starting. During the road trip, Gray allowed one run in 14 innings during wins over Baltimore and Toronto. Against teams with losing records, he is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA but against teams with winning records, he is 1-4 with a 7.61 ERA in five outings. Last Wednesday, Gray turned in his first scoreless start since becoming a Yankee when he allowed two hits in eight innings during a game that Yankees won in the 13th. Gray made two starts for Oakland Athletics against the Washington Nationals. In those outings, he allowed six runs on 10 hits in 14 innings. Since Jeremy Hellickson and Stephen Strasburg are on the disabled list, Washington has an opening in its rotation for Wednesday and it will be filled by Erick Fedde, who will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse for his second start this season. Fedde allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings as a fill-in starter against the San Diego Padres on May 23. Fedde is 0-2 with an 8.14 ERA in four career starts for the Nationals. The Los Angeles Angels were 4 1/2 games behind the Seattle Mariners when they opened a three-game series three weeks ago. When the Angels return to Seattle on Tuesday to begin another three-game set, they’ll be 11 games behind the Mariners for the second wild card from the American League. The Mariners (54-31) swept the Angels the last time they were in town, and Seattle expanded that cushion by going 7-0 last week for their longest winning streak of the season. The Angels (43-42) are 6-14 since pulling within 3 1/2 games of the Mariners on June 9. They lost to the Minnesota Twins the following day before getting swept June 11-13 in Seattle. Los Angeles has already played six games at Safeco Field this season but has yet to host the Mariners in Anaheim. If the Angels drop the series opener, they’ll own a .500 record for the first time since the second game of the season. The scheduled starting pitchers for Tuesday were also matched up on June 11. Los Angeles left-hander Andrew Heaney (4-5, 3-95 ERA) gave up five runs and seven hits in three innings of the 5-3 loss. Seattle left-hander Wade LeBlanc (3-0 Cardinals Authentic Jerseys , 3.38) gave up two runs and four hits in five innings in his only career appearance against Seattle. LeBlanc, who made 10 appearances for the Angels in 2014, including three starts, hasn’t experienced a defeat in 11 starts this season, and the Mariners are 8-3 in those games. The Mariners have also found something special in closer Edwin Diaz, who became the second pitcher in major league history with at least 30 saves and 70 strikeouts before the All-Star break. The other is former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne. “We’ve had a lot of valuable players on our team,” Seattle manager Scott Servais told reporters after a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. “But winning the close games, it creates the type of atmosphere that’s going on at Safeco Field right now and the city and getting our fan base psyched again.” Heaney also struggled in his most recent outing, allowing six runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of a 9-6 loss on Wednesday at the Boston Red Sox, but he did not absorb the loss. He’s 1-2 in four career starts against the Mariners with a 4.42 ERA. The Angels lost two more pitchers to injury on their current road trip. Jake Jewell sustained a broken right fibula against the Red Sox on Wednesday. The rookie right-hander was making his third major-league appearance when he fell awkwardly while trying to cover home plate on a wild pitch. He had surgery on Friday in Los Angeles. On Saturday, the Angels announced left-hander John Lamb would undergo Tommy John surgery, the fourth pitcher for Los Angeles to have the season-ending surgery this year. Los Angeles could soon be adding some offensive punch, however. Shohei Ohtani, the rookie two-way player who is also out with an elbow injury, has been taking live batting practice and running the bases recently, putting him on pace to resume designated hitter duties this week. “He’s starting to do get through that progression,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told FOX Sports West on Sunday. Angels first baseman/designated hitter Jefry Marte is also close to returning from a left wrist injury.
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    Seven years after making his major league debut as an outfielder Cheap Customized Green Bay Packers Jerseys , Eric Thames is getting reacquainted with the position for the Milwaukee Brewers. Normally Milwaukee’s first baseman, Thames has started three straight games in the outfield — including two in a row in left — and has seen the bulk of his action there since returning from a 41-game stint on the disabled list earlier this month. Manager Craig Counsell has Thames in the outfield as he tries to keep Thames left-handed power bat in the lineup alongside right-hander slugger Jesus Aguilar. Thames will likely stay in the outfield Friday night as the Brewers continue a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Thames played left field and drove in three runs as Milwaukee began the series with an 11-3 win on Thursday. Aguilar took over as the everyday first baseman when Thames suffered a thumb injury April 25 and has thrived ever since. Aguilar is tied with Travis Shaw for the team lead with 14 home runs. With the benefit of added offense also comes liability: Thames spent three years playing first base in the Korean League and made just 15 outfield appearances when the Brewers brought him back to the major leagues last season, so there is a little fine-tuning with Thames’ defensive skills. “It’s not new for him but it is unfamiliar, and we recognize that,” Counsell said. “We understand this isn’t a regular position at this point. There’s going to be some rough edges there, but he’s shown that he can handle the basics. “There was a ball he misplayed in Pittsburgh, but he came back and made two very nice plays. That’s what we’re going to get and that’s what we’ve got to be willing to live with.” Counsell is willing to sacrifice a little on defense if it means getting the kind of pop Aguilar and Thames are capable of. “I think having both of those bats in the lineup is reward enough for that,” Counsell said. Junior Guerra (3-5, 2.89 ERA) will make a second consecutive start a day after the Brewers scored 10 runs or more. He’s hoping Friday turns out better than the last time, when Milwaukee followed an 11-run outburst against Philadelphia with a 4-1 loss. Guerra pitched well in that outing. He allowed three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings but took the loss for the second time in three starts and is looking for his first victory since May 14 despite posting a 2.67 ERA in the six starts since. Guerra has already started two games against the Cardinals this season, and is 1-0 in those games while allowing just one run over 11 1/3 innings. He gave up one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 3-2 victory over the Cards on April 11. Guerra did not get a decision when he faced St. Louis on May 30, although he pitched shutout ball in his six innings, and the Brewers eventually won 3-2. He is 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals. St. Louis has dropped eight of 11 after committing four errors on Thursday and will start right-hander Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.66). Flaherty has allowed just one earned run over his last two starts, spanning 11 1/3 innings and has held opponents to no more than a run in six of his nine starts this season. He held the Cubs scoreless over five innings his last time out on Sunday, striking out nine but didn’t take a decision in the Cardinals’ 5-0 victory. “I was able to battle and execute when I needed to Cheap Customized Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys ,” Flaherty said. “I threw a lot of pitches in a short amount of time. I was hoping to go deeper, but that’s how it goes sometimes.” Flaherty is facing Milwaukee for the second time this season and the third time in his short career. He made his first start against the Brewers in the 2017 finale at Busch Stadium, going five innings and giving up five hits and four runs and taking the loss. Flaherty made his 2018 debut at Miller Park back in April. He held Milwaukee to a run on six hits while striking out nine but took no decision in the Cardinals’ 5-4 loss. If Allen Robinson remains in Jacksonville, it won’t be as one of the highest-paid receivers in the league. The Jaguars declined to use the franchise or transition tag on Robinson, stirring questions about his future. NFL teams had until Tuesday afternoon to tag pending free agents, but Jacksonville executives told Robinson long before the deadline he would not be tagged. Had the Jags tagged Robinson, he could have signed a one-year, $15.982 million contract for 2018. Not doing so indicates how top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell feel about Robinson; they don’t believe he is worth that much money six months after reconstructive knee surgery. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown ($16.775M) is scheduled to make the most of any receiver in 2018. Jacksonville and Robinson still have a week to reach a contract agreement; the team has exclusive negotiating rights with him until March 12. If no deal is reached by then, Robinson would become an unrestricted free agent on March 14. ”I don’t really know what is going to happen,” Robinson recently said. ”I know there are a lot of different scenarios. Right now, my main focus is to kind of let my agent narrow it down and for me to get back at 100 percent. That’s the main focus right now for me. I know I’ll be back at 100 percent. ”I know all that is going to play out. I know the player that I am. I know that the plays that I made. I know the plays I’m going to continue to make.” Robinson had the best training camp of his career in 2017 and looked like he would be an integral part of the offense. But the 2015 Pro Bowl selection tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Jacksonville’s third play of last season and had surgery the following week. Robinson is how running again and closing in on a full recovery. ”He is right on schedule,” coach Doug Marrone said last week at the NFL scouting combine. ”He is there every day; I see him quite a bit. I know that he has worked hard. We have all seen his work on the field and how hard he works on the field. I think what you can’t see is that he is working twice as hard in the recovery process and the rehabilitation.” Still, Robinson has missed 21 games in four seasons and wasn’t a speedster to begin with. So how effective will he be coming off a major knee injury? ”There are a lot of things we like about him, but we just have to make sure it is the right thing for the team,” Caldwell said at the combine. A second-round draft pick from Penn State, Robinson has 202 catches for 2 Ryan Strome Jersey ,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games. He had 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015, establishing himself as one of the best receivers in franchise history. But he caught 73 passes for 883 yards and six scores in 2016, causing some to wonder if his Pro Bowl season was a fluke. If the Jaguars do move on from Robinson, they would have a huge hole to fill at the position. Marqise Lee also is a pending free agent, and the team likely will either part ways with receiver Allen Hurns or re-negotiate his contract that includes a base salary of $7 million in 2018. ”Nothing has been decided on that yet,” Caldwell said. ”We will look at that.” Robinson has said repeatedly he wants to stay in Jacksonville, especially since he played a cheerleading role during the team’s breakthrough year and believes the Jags are poised to make another Super Bowl run in the near future. ”This is where I’ve been the last four years and this is something that we’ve all really put in and tried to build,” he said. ”It wasn’t something that we just came into and it happened. We went from 3-13, to 5-11, 3-13 to now. It’s just one of those things that, again, I stepped in here Day 1. It was a lot different than it is now.” —
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