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Jon Lester’s departure leads to Brewers closing gap on Cubs

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it was Jon Lester’s back, then it was Josh Hader’s arm. Both contributed to the Milwaukee Brewers’ 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday, drawing them to within one game of the two-time defending National League Central Division champions.

Lester had to leave after 5⅔ innings due to back spasms, handing the ball to much maligned reliever CJ Edwards, who promptly threw a wild one on his first pitch, allowing the winning run to score. Lester thought he might have hurt his back on a swing earlier in the game.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“I think it will be fine,” he said afterward. “It’s not anything painful, just kind of uncomfortable.”

Painful was watching Edwards enter a tie game with men on second and third and two outs. It’s a decision by Cubs manager Joe Maddon worthy of second guessing: Over his past 15 appearances, Edwards had walked 10 and given up eight hits. With a rested bullpen — the Cubs were rained out Sunday — Maddon could have chosen any number of arms, but instead, called upon the least reliable of his top relievers.10

“I just wanted to reduce his outing tonight to one out,” Maddon explained. “Once Jon was in the situation he was in, I thought, ‘Get Carl out there, get one out, let him walk off the field, feel good about himself, and then you have the other guys for the rest of the game.’

“We need to get Carl straightened out. The symmetry of the bullpen is different without him out there. His skill set is really important to us. We have to get him right.“china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Cubs do, indeed, need a good Edwards for October, but they might not get there by pitching him in a high-leverage situation right now. To add insult to injury, Edwards didn’t exactly hustle to cover home on the wild pitch. And so after taking the lead, Brewers manager Craig Counsell called on Hader, the dynamic lefty, for the next two innings. He struck out all six batters he faced, the first time that has happened (facing at least six and striking them all out) for a pitcher since 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“What are you going to do with that?” Lester said rhetorically. “The guy is throwing 97 mph. He’s basically Chris Sale from a relief standpoint, with his angle and everything.”

Quest for perfection pushed Katie Smith into Naismith Hall of Fame

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Katie Smith is one of the physically strongest women to ever have played basketball. The phrase “bruising point guard” fit her when she showed the versatility to take over that position.

So when she mentions all the things she did growing up in Ohio, such as ballet and tap dancing, they might not fit the “fierce competitor Katie Smith” image most have of her. But she brought the same mindset to those things, too.

“That was about following instructions and paying attention to details,” Smith said, citing two things she has always relished. “We competed in tap; it was about timing and being coached. When you look back, it all has the same makeup: trying to perfect something.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

When Smith is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, she’ll still be trying to get the instructions and details just right. That’s how she’s wired. When inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June, she was the only one of the honorees to come in under the wire of the allotted speech time. Nobody else was close.9

She’ll nail that again in Springfield, Massachusetts, because that’s what Smith does.

“I am a little bit more of a rule-follower than some,” she says, chuckling. Yet the intriguing thing is that Smith also broke the so-called “rules” of what you could expect from a 5-foot-11 guard in the women’s game. She played point guard, shooting guard, wing and small forward professionally, and she guarded all five positions.

In 2001 in Minnesota, she led the WNBA in scoring at 23.1 PPG. By 2006 she became a point guard distributor for a championship squad in Detroit. All the while, she was one of the WNBA’s most reliable defenders.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“That was part of Katie’s longevity, her ability to do what was asked of her,” said Seattle’s Sue Bird, who played with and against Smith in the WNBA and was also her USA Basketball teammate. “Early in her career, she was a straight-up scorer, but she was always cerebral, understood what was happening around her and why it was happening. To see her play point guard wasn’t surprising.

Jose Mourinho running out of time to boost Manchester United’s squad

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It was after a September 2016 Europa League game vs. Feyenoord that I first heard it suggested. “Do you think Mourinho is finished? I can’t see him being here too long if this is what it’s like,” a journalist said after Manchester United had been beaten 1-0 in Rotterdam.

Jose Mourinho had been manager for three months and United, who had been beaten at home days earlier by Manchester City and would lose at Watford the following weekend, were mired in a run of three straight defeats. That they began the 2016-17 season with three straight Premier League wins had long been forgotten.

Nearly two years later, Mourinho continues to divide opinion. There are many who would love to see him walk away or sacked; they think he is yesterday’s man and do not like what United have become under him.

Among fans, Mourinho still holds support from the majority. However, it slipped during the second half of last season, the lowlight of which was a Champions League exit vs. Sevilla, and it will get into dangerous territory if the upcoming campaign starts badly.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Throughout preseason, Mourinho has griped due to not having a full squad of players to work with and because the players he wanted to sign have not arrived. Is he right to be irritated?

Working without so many key men is not ideal, but was to be expected after the World Cup. Mourinho could have put a positive spin on the success of United’s players in Russia but, when you’ve gone on record saying you hope Serbia go out of so Nemanja Matic can return sooner, it shows your frame of mind.8

Few supporters have a problem with the club-over-country argument, but Mourinho has been backed in the transfer market. His net spend is £302 million; only Manchester City (£388m) have spent more.

The club has parted with £70m this summer but, despite spending around £30m each on Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof over the last two years, Mourinho wants to sign another central defender before the transfer window closes on Aug. 9.

Mourinho also sought a right-sided midfielder to add width; United’s best play in a 2-1 ICC win against Real Madrid on Tuesday came down that flank, with stunning goals involving Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata, Matteo Darmian and Ander Herrera.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

The manager is frustrated — I have covered United preseason tours since 1991 and never seen a boss so miserable as Mourinho this summer — but getting players from increasingly wealthy clubs with no interest in selling is not easy.

Atletico Madrid, a fine recruiter and producer of talent, were a selling club at the start of this decade and United made their best signing of recent years, David De Gea, from there in 2011.

Now, Atletico sell on their terms. United wanted Antoine Griezmann and he wanted to move, but was reluctant to say so. That is another issue: Clubs often demand that, if a player wants to leave, he states it publicly.

Yanks’ manager Aaron Boone has noticed Red Sox winning

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As the Boston Red Sox keep piling up wins entering the All-Star Break, one of their rivals has been paying attention.

Although New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone hasn’t been on the hunt for daily updates about the recently hot Red Sox, it still has been hard for him to escape news about how well they have been playing.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Asked before Sunday’s first-half finale against the Cleveland Indians if he did any scoreboard-watching as far as the American League East-leading Red Sox were concerned, Boone smiled and said: “I see that they win every day.”

The response elicited laughter from reporters in the Yankees’ dugout.9

Boone contends that despite being familiar with how successful the Red Sox have been lately, his focus remains on his squad.

“I don’t worry about it that much. At this point, I just kind of smile at it,” Boone said.

Since losing two of three to the Yankees in a series in the Bronx two weeks ago, the Red Sox have rattled off 11 wins in their past 12 games entering Sunday’s series finale with the Blue Jays. That stretch includes a 10-game winning streak that was snapped Friday.

New York has gone 8-5 since that Boston series, ahead of play Sunday. After being tied for the division lead with Boston following the rivals’ last meeting, the Yankees came into Sunday’s action trailing the Red Sox by 3½ games.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“The bottom line is we don’t control anything, and it’s July,” Boone said. “There’s a long way and a lot of baseball left to play, and there’s nothing you can do to worry about it. We’re so uber-focused on us, and in the end, if we take care of business and play to our capabilities, we’ll put ourselves in a great position.

“I’m worried about us going out and playing our best. If we do that, hopefully we’ll get to where we want to go.”

Projecting who will win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Continuing my pattern of enjoying the festivities around the All-Star Game the most, I’ve always loved the Home Run Derby. As a kid, when I’d come home from school, the old reruns of Home Run Derby from the 1960s were on. Because I was born in 1978, I got to see a lot of players whose careers I had missed out on, like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. This was before ESPN Classic was launched and the internet was really a thing.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Recently, in a discussion, I was asked “Dan, can you predict a Home Run Derby?” My first answer was an extremely helpful “Dunno,” but it got me thinking if we could predict a Home Run Derby, using both the matchups and results. We don’t have a lot of data, but modeling these things always gives an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of things.
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So, I found variables for the three most recent Home Run Derbys — I’d love more years, but the formats shift a lot and I wanted to see first if Statcast data would be helpful — and started from there. A few variables, some surprising, some not, came up as useful predictors of Derby performance. Sixteen of the 21 matchups from 2015-2017 were won by the player with the higher average exit velocity and the margin tended to be correlated with their difference in the rankings. Also helpful were things like home runs-per-ball hit, and even recent performance seemed to have more predictive value in a Derby than in real life.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

I’ll spare the nitty-gritty ins-and-outs of dimensionality reduction and go right to the results, plugged in for this year’s Home Run Derby, matchup by matchup.

Warriors outgun Cavs to take 2-0 series lead

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Golden State’s high-powered offense was too much for the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Warriors claimed a 122-103 victory in Game Two of the NBA Finals on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 59 points in a wire-to-wire victory that puts the defending champions just two wins away from their third championship in four years.

Two-time league MVP Curry ended with nine three-pointers, an NBA Finals record, while dishing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds in his 33-point performance.

Despite the offensive fireworks, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was an improved defensive effort that led to the win.

“We just played a more intense defensive game tonight than we did in Game One,” he told reporters.kids nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s not about scoring, it’s about the defensive intensity.

“We’re happy with the way we played. But we know this is just getting started.”20

Surprise starter JaVale McGee ignited the home crowd by hammering down some alley-oops to give the Warriors an early lead.

Coming off a tough loss in Game One, the Cavs stayed within striking distance for most of the contest until a flurry of second-half three pointers by Curry overwhelmed the visitors and sealed the win.

LeBron James, who scored 51 points in Thursday’s loss, faced a more dogged defense on Sunday but still managed 29 points on 10-20 shooting while playing nearly the entire game.

Cavaliers’ forward Kevin Love provided a spark with 22 points but it was not enough to pressure the Warriors, who shot 57 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc.

Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said he was happy with how his team battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit to keep it a single-digit game for much of the third quarter.

“I was very proud of our guys, the way we competed in that third quarter because we could have let go of the rope down 13,” he said.nfl football jerseys china

“We came out, we fought. We kind of saw some things offensively that worked, so we have to continue to keep capitalizing on that.”

Kerr said the Warriors would not take their series advantage for granted, especially since they blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals.

“We’ve been here several times, I don’t think I’ll need to say much,” Kerr said.

“The guys in the locker room, they already know that. They know how hard it’s going to be in Cleveland.”

Game Three is scheduled for Wednesday in Cleveland.

Rally is a state of mind as Rockets secure Game 4 win in Oracle

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It’s all such a blur, the man who assembled these Houston Rockets couldn’t remember exactly what sent him out of Oracle Arena on Tuesday night for some air.

“I’m not doing very well right now,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said.authentic cheap nfl jerseys

Fifteen minutes had passed since the Rockets had rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors 95-92 to even the Western Conference finals at 2-2. Morey’s face looked pale. His cheeks were flush. Thoughts and words were hard to string together after such an intense game.

“I ended up walking outside. I couldn’t take it,” Morey said. His wife, Ellen, stayed inside to watch the end of the game and text him with updates.258

Morey is always a wreck during games, but this was another level. This 65-win team might be the best he has ever assembled, and a loss Tuesday could’ve been catastrophic.

Instead, Chris Paul, the point guard who’d come to Houston with the hopes of vanquishing his playoff demons, rallied his team in the fourth quarter to save the Rockets’ season. He scored eight of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, shrugging off a painful right foot injury that has hampered his mobility all series.

“He gave us everything you can have against these guys,” Morey said of Paul, who opted to forgo free agency and a new multiyear contract to play out the final year of the deal alongside James Harden in Houston. “Man, he was so good.”

Harden and Paul teamed up to form a historically good offense this season, but won this game with an epic fourth-quarter defensive stand. The Rockets held the Warriors to only three field goals and 12 points in the final frame.nfl jerseys authentic cheap

Golden State led 80-70 after a 34-point third quarter. Stephen Curry had another 17-point explosion and it seemed as if the Warriors were about to coast to a commanding 3-1 series lead. The defending champions had won an NBA record 16 straight playoff games at home. They had won 39 of the 40 games this season in which they led by 10 or more points entering the fourth quarter.

The one game lost? Opening night, when the Rockets rallied from a 13-point deficit, a notice that they were a team to be reckoned with.

Houston didn’t just add Paul in the offseason, it added stout defensive players like PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. This science experiment of putting two future Hall of Fame point guards together in the same backcourt wasn’t just about offensive potency, it was about building a defense that could match the Warriors’ four All-Stars by switching everything and negating Golden State’s deadly pick-and-roll game.

Pirates call up OF prospect Austin Meadows with Starling Marte ailing

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The Pittsburgh Pirates recalled Austin Meadows from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday,cheap nfl nike jerseys china  a move that comes with fellow outfielder Starling Marte nursing discomfort in his right side.

Meadows was ranked 70th on Keith Law’s list of the top 100 prospects in baseball entering the season. He will be making his major league debut Friday against the San Diego Padres, batting seventh and playing center field.
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The 23-year-old Meadows is hitting .294 (37-for-126) with 10 doubles, 1 home run, 15 RBIs and 20 runs scored this season at Triple-A. He was the ninth overall pick in 2013.

Marte was placed on the 10-day disabled list after he injured his oblique Tuesday night in a win over the Chicago White Sox and sat out the next two games. The DL move is retroactive to Wednesday.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

He is hitting .308 with six homers, 19 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for the National League Central-leading Pirates.