Wednesday, September 30, 2020

MLB Game Recap: Milwaukee Brewers (2) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (4) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: Milwaukee Brewers (2) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (4) - Date: 9/30/2020 Seager homers, Dodgers beat Brewers 4-2 in playoff openerLOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Dodgers' powerful lineup went mostly quiet against the Milwaukee Brewers. Still, baseball's best team in the regular season generated just enough offense and got plenty of help from the opposing pitcher.Mookie Betts had two hits and an RBI and Corey Seager homered in the Dodgers' 4-2 victory in the opener of their NL playoff Wednesday night.The eight-time NL West champion Dodgers capitalized early in a bullpen game for the Brewers and can wrap up the best-of-three series Thursday. Milwaukee - a playoff entrant despite a losing record - limped into the postseason as the No. 8 seed without its best starter and reliever, who are hurt.''A walk is just as good as a hit sometimes, which we showed in the first inning,'' Seager said. '' ;You don't always have to have the big hit to score runs.'' The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on a leadoff double by Betts and four walks by left-hander Brent Suter in the first, tying for the most walks by a pitcher in a single inning in postseason history. Betts scored when Will Smith drew a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded. Seager walked and scored on AJ Pollock's bases-loaded walk.''We took our walks and scratched out some runs,'' said Seager, who hit just behind Betts.Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, ''You'd be hard-pressed to find a better 1-2 in baseball.'' Suter needed 32 pitches to get out of the inning. He gave up three runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings. He doubled his season total of five walks, and he didn't record a strikeout.''Nerves going on, excited to be out there, then Mookie gets that leadoff double. I missed some corners, then all of a sudden snowball effect,'' Suter said. '&# 39;I felt like I let the team down big-time.'' Chris Taylor doubled leading off the second and scored on Betts' double, making it 3-0. Max Muncy walked with two outs and Ryan Braun caught Smith's drive to right at the wall to end the inning, potentially saving three runs.Braun winced as he hit the wall with his right shoulder. He left in the fifth with mid-back discomfort.''He hurt himself Sunday in St. Louis and we tried to give it a shot today and at some point it was a no-go,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ''You could call it day-to-day.'' The Dodgers could have inflicted more damage but were just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in the first two innings.Milwaukee pitchers retired 10 straight Dodgers during one stretch.With the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh, Seager went deep to straightaway center off Freddy Peralta, who gave up just two homers during the shortened 60-game season. Free Picks and Parlays. The Dodgers led the majors with 118 homers.Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen walked pinch-hitter Jace Peterson with two outs in the ninth. Christian Yelich came to the plate as the potential tying run, but he struck out swinging to end the game. Jansen earned the save.''Despite pitching about as bad as I've ever pitched, we still had a chance to win,'' Suter said.The Brewers closed to 3-2 on Orlando Arcia's two-strike, two-run homer with two outs in the fourth. Betts made an over-the-shoulder catch to deny Avisail Garcia with a runner on for the second out of the inning.Milwaukee had the potential tying run on in the seventh with Yelich's two-out double. Leading Handicappers. Tyrone Taylor popped up to end the inning.The Brewers also threatened in the sixth. Garcia singled and was safe at second on Muncy's fi elding error at first base. Muncy turned and scrambled into short right, trying to pick up the ball with a swooping motion, but it went off his glove and rolled away.Julio Urias retired the next two batters to end the inning.''We gave ourselves a shot,'' Counsell said. ''We just didn't come through.'' Urias got the victory, allowing three hits in three innings and striking out five. He had a runner on base in each of his innings, but didn't allow a run.Garcia had three hits and Yelich two to lead the Brewers.Pitching with a blister on his right index finger, Walker Buehler allowed two runs and three hits in four innings for Los Angeles. He struck out eight and walked two.Roberts pulled Buehler once he got over 20 pitches in the fourth.''At that point in time is when the blister starts to show itself a little bit,'' Roberts said. ''We just didn't know what we were going to get from Walker.'' Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes and reliever Devin Williams are missing this series with injuries that occurred in the last week of the season. Burnes has a strained left oblique and Williams has a sore right shoulder. Starting pitcher Brett Anderson also was left off the roster because of a blister issue.WITHOUT WILLIAMSLosing Williams is a big blow after he emerged as one of baseball's top relievers this season and is a top contender for NL Rookie of the Year. He went 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 27 innings.''It's really crushing, honestly,'' said Williams, who felt tightness after last weekend's outing. ''If we make it to the next round, I should be back. With the progress we've made in just a few days, it's been encouraging.'' UP NEXTThe Dodgers give the ball to left-hander Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA) for Game 2 on Thursday. He's 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in the postseason and lost his lone start in last year 's NLDS. Sports Handicapping Sites. The Brewers start right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who was 3-5 with a 3.05 ERA during the shortened season. He came up big last weekend with 10 strikeouts over eight shutout innings in a must-win game that helped Milwaukee eke out the No. 8 playoff seed.---More MLB: and

MLB Game Recap: New York Yankees (10) vs. Cleveland Indians (9) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: New York Yankees (10) vs. Cleveland Indians (9) - Date: 9/30/2020 Yanks sweep Indians 10-9 in draining game, meet Rays in ALDSCLEVELAND It took the New York Yankees nearly five hours and carried them from September into October to complete the sweep.They stumbled into the postseason. Gambling Profit. They're standing tall now.DJ LeMahieu's tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off closer Brad Hand sent the Yankees into the AL Division Series - and a matchup with rival Tampa Bay - after a wild 10-9 win over the Cleveland Indians early Thursday in the longest nine-inning game in major league history.''I don't know how you top that one - the back and forth, the amount of big plays,'' Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after enough lead changes and drama for a seven-game series. ''Tonight just had that feeling that these g uys weren't going to be denied.''They weren't going to lose.'' At 4 hours, 50 minutes - even without two weather delays totaling another 76 minutes - it was draining. It's no wonder after Aroldis Chapman got the final out that that the Yankees barely celebrated. Sport Handicapping. They observed COVID protocols and shared some fist bumps as they left the field.''You don't have to pour champagne on each other to appreciate what an epic game that was and the fact that we're moving on,'' Boone said.The Yankees will play the Rays in a best-of-five Division Series next week in San Diego. New York went 2-8 during a testy season series with top-seeded Tampa, which won the AL East by seven games over the second-place Yankees.''They've been the best team in our league all year, so we're excited to play the best team and hopefully can have our way with them,&# 39;' Boone said.LeMahieu, the AL batting champion during the shortened, 60-game regular season, grounded his hit into center field to score Gio Urshela, who hit a go-ahead grand slam earlier and made a huge defensive play at third base.''That was one of the best games I've played in my life,'' Urshela said.Down 9-8, the Yankees tied it in the ninth on Gary Sanchez's sacrifice fly off Hand, who went 16 of 16 on save tries during the season.The Yankees were staggering last week. But their heavy-hitting lineup got rolling over two nights in chilly, mostly empty Progressive Field. New York pounded Cleveland ace Shane Bieber in the opener and now the Yankees, who hit seven homers in the two games, have found their swing as the calendar flips to the month that defines them.''We probably caught people's attention,'' Boone said. ''We haven't done anything yet. Fox Sports P icks. This was just a stepping stone.'' Chapman got the last six outs for the Yankees, aided by a spectacular play from Urshela to begin an inning-ending double play in the eighth that kept it a one-run game. The Indians got the potential tying run to first in the ninth on a strikeout passed ball with two outs before Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Austin Hedges.For the Indians, a season of adversity ends with more heartache. They twice rallied to tie the Yankees and took the lead in the eighth on Cesar Hernandez's bloop RBI single off Chapman only to have Hand give it away.Cleveland, which hasn't won the World Series since 1948, has lost eight straight postseason games and dropped a record 10 consecutive elimination games stretching back to the 1997 Series.''We had many different things and a lot of obstacles,'' said acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who filled in for Terry Francona. ''But this group stayed together - by any m eans. We had an eight-game losing streak, they came back.''Today's game reflected how much this team grinds and how much they fight.'' Sanchez, benched in Game 1, had a two-run homer and Giancarlo Stanton connected on a solo shot for New York, which was down 4-0 in the first.The Yankees were two different teams this season as they played much better at home in the Bronx than on the road, going 11-18.They entered this expanded postseason as a No. 5 seed and not scaring anyone, but now they've got momentum.''When we're right,'' Boone said before Game 2, ''it doesn't matter where we are.'' Down 8-6 and their postseason in jeopardy of a quick ending, the Indians tied it in the seventh on pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow's two-out, two-run double off right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga following a gutty move by Alomar.With two on, Alomar sent Luplow to the plate instead of Josh Naylor, who became the first player in major l eague history to get five hits in his first five postseason plate appearances.Luplow smoked a ball to center that went over Aaron Hicks' head and brought in two to tie it, sending Cleveland's bench into a frenzy.A two-time All-Star, Sanchez was benched for the opener after hitting .147 over 60 games, and he batted ninth for the first time in his career in Game 2.But he rewarded Boone's faith by connecting in the sixth inning off Indians rookie Triston McKenzie with a wind-aided shot to right that barely cleared the wall and snapped a 6-all tie.''He's shown me a lot the last couple of days,'' Boone said of his catcher.The Indians will now head into an offseason of uncertainty.All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor went 1 for 8 in the series and may have played his last game in Cleveland. The Indians have him under control for one more season, but he's turned down several contract offers and the club may have no choice but to trade him before h e becomes a free agent.The Yankees had rallied from a 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the fourth on Urshela's grand slam, which looked as if it might haunt Cleveland fans for years.Urshela, who started at third base for the Indians in the 2017 postseason against the Yankees, connected off reliever James Karinchak after Alomar pulled starter Carlos Carrasco with the bases loaded.Alomar wasn't taking any chances and pulled the right-hander for Karinchak, a quirky reliever who warms up to ''Wild Thing'' and wears No. 99 after the fictional Ricky Vaughn character in ''Major League.'' The move backfired as Urshela blasted a 3-2 pitch onto the tarp-covered bleachers in left.ANOTHER CHANCEDepending on what happens with Francona, Alomar could be Cleveland's next manager. The former Indians All-Star catcher has been a managerial candidate elsewhere in the past, but never felt any of the opportunities were genuine.''Some of the int erviews were, to me, token interviews,'' he said. ''If somebody's interested, they can call and we'll talk. But it's not like I'm pushing myself or promoting myself to be a manager.'' TRAINER'S ROOMIndians: C Roberto Perez left with a bruised right hand after being hit by a pitch in the seventh.UP NEXTYankees: Some rest before the ALDS begins on Monday.Indians: A potentially turbulent offseason of major decisions on Lindor, Francona's health and perhaps a name change.---More MLB: and

NBA Game Recap: Miami Heat (98) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (116) - 9/30/2020

NBA Game Recap: Miami Heat (98) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (116) - Date: 9/30/2020 Oct 01, 2020LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. LeBron James finally got an easy Game 1 in the NBA Finals.A very easy one, at that.Anthony Davis scored 34 points, James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Miami Heat 116-98 on Wednesday night.''The bigger the moment, he's just raising his play,'' Lakers coach Frank Vogel said about Davis, who was making his finals debut and made it look easy.The Heat left beaten and battered. Point guard Goran Dragic left in the second quarter and, a person with knowledge of the situation, said he was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot - which obviously jeopardizes his availability for the rest of the finals. And All-Star center Bam Adebayo left in the third quarter after apparently aggravating a left shoulder strain.''We're much b etter than we showed tonight,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''You have to credit the Lakers, and we'll get to work for the next one.'' Game 2 is Friday night.Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, Danny Green had 11 and Alex Caruso finished with 10 for the Lakers. Fighting Predictions. They returned to the finals for the first time in a decade and sent a very clear message. James' teams had been 1-8 in Game 1 of past finals, with losses in each of the last seven openers.Not this one.''We kind of picked it up on both ends of the floor,'' Davis said.Jimmy Butler fought through a twisted left ankle to score 23 points for Miami. Kendrick Nunn scored 18 points for the Heat, Tyler Herro had 14 and Jae Crowder 12.''I, and we, are here for him,'' Butler said about Dragic. ''We know how much he wants to win, how much he wants to go to war and battle with us. And obviously, we love him for that and we want him out there with us. But whatever the docs tell him to do, that's what he's got to do. ... He's got to take care of himself first.'' Adebayo was held to eight points in 21 minutes, and Miami went with subs for a fourth-quarter burst that turned a total rout into something only slightly more palatable in terms of final margin.The Lakers did whatever they wanted. Make Money Betting Sports. They outrebounded Miami 54-36, led by as many as 32 points, and made 15 3-pointers - a big number for a team that doesn't necessarily count on piling up that many points from beyond the arc. MLB Handicappers. They're 21-3 this season when making at least 14 3s.The only stretch that provided hope for Miami came in the first six minutes. The Heat scored on six consecutive pos sessions in what became a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead midway through the opening period.So, the first six minutes were fine for Miami.Everything else was all Lakers.''You have to get a feel for how hard Miami plays,'' James said. ''They smacked us in the mouth and we got a sense of that. ... From that moment when it was 23-10, we started to play to our capabilities.'' The simplest way to sum up what happened over the rest of the opening half is this: Lakers 55, Heat 25. The Lakers came into Game 1 ranked 21st out of the 22 teams that spent time in the bubble from 3-point range, making only 33.6% of their tries from deep at Disney. They were the only team in the postseason to have two games shooting less than 25% on 3s.Perhaps they were due. The Lakers went 9-for-11 on 3's in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Of the nine Lakers who played in the first two quarters, eight tried a 3-pointer - and all eight made at least one.They close d the first quarter on a 19-3 run. Herro banked in a 3 from a sharp angle for a 43-41 Miami lead with 7:33 left in the half, and then the Lakers took off again, this time on a 24-5 burst to go into the break with a 65-48 lead.The Lakers started the third on another run, this one 18-3, and the rout was officially underway.''You can learn so much more from a win than you can in a loss,'' James said. ''I can't wait for tomorrow for us to get back together and watch the film and see ways we can be better.'' TIP-INSHeat: Butler turned his left ankle in the final seconds of the first half, remained in the game and started the second half. ... It was the 19th time that Miami lost a game this season after leading by double digits at some point.Lakers: The Lakers improved to 17-15 in Game 1s of title series. ... Davis was 10 for 10 from the foul line, plus added nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks.JAMES' RECORDSThe NBA Finals record bo ok is basically a James scrapbook of career achievements, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday. He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.FAMILIAR SPOTThe Heat fell to 1-5 in Game 1 of title series. All three of Miami's championships have come after dropping the opener.---More NBA: and

MLB Game Recap: St Louis Cardinals (7) vs. San Diego Padres (4) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: St Louis Cardinals (7) vs. San Diego Padres (4) - Date: 9/30/2020 Goldschmidt, Cardinals win 7-4 in Padres' return to playoffsSAN DIEGO Given a chance to catch their breath after a crazy month and a half, the St. Louis Cardinals settled into the playoffs with yet another win against the San Diego Padres.Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run during a four-run first inning, St. Louis' bullpen held strong after starter Kwang Hyun Kim stumbled in his playoff debut and the Cardinals ruined the Padres' long-awaited return to the playoffs with a 7-4 victory Wednesday in the opener of their NL wild-card series.The Cardinals got a welcome two days off before this series began. Sports Handicapper Tracker. They came after a season-closing grind that saw them play 53 games in 44 days, including 11 doubleheaders, with only two days off. Sports Picking Services. The team had its season suspended for 14 games from late July to mid-August after 10 players and eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and had to scramble to fit in the makeups.''It was nice. We needed them,'' Goldschmidt said. ''The whole last whatever, 45 days, we were playing every day, guys were playing as hard as they could but can't operate at 100% for that long. It was nice to kind of recharge and be 100% or close to it and just be ready to go.'' The Cardinals need one more win to eliminate the Padres from the postseason for the fourth time since 1996. Handicappers Free Picks. They swept the Padres in the NL Division Series in 1996 and 2005, and won 3-1 in 2006, which was the last time San Diego made the postseason. Game 2 is Thursday.Right-hander Chris Paddack (0-1) fail ed to give the Padres the boost they desperately needed after Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet were left off the wild-card roster due to injuries suffered in their final regular-season starts.Paddack lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs.After retiring leadoff batter Kolten Wong, Paddack allowed the next five batters to reach. San Diego native Tommy Edman singled and Goldschmidt homered to left. Dylan Carlson doubled, 38-year-old Yadier Molina hit an RBI single and Paul DeJong doubled before Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly.''We didn't come out and say we needed to be aggressive, I just think guys were ready to hit,'' Goldschmidt said. ''He threw what, 10 strikes to start the game, so it wasn't like we were swinging at stuff out of the zone. It just happened that we got hits.'' Paddack allowed three straight hits to open the third, including DeJong's RBI single, before being replaced by Matt Strahm. Carpenter added an R BI single for a 6-2 lead.Paddack allowed eight hits, struck out one and walked none.''I noticed early that they were jumping on my fastball,'' Paddack said. ''I thought we did an awesome job of executing our pitches. I guess that's postseason baseball. I take all the blame for Game 1.''The game speeds up in a postseason start,'' he added. ''Every pitch I was mentally fatigued because I knew every pitch was important.'' The Cardinals ''came out swinging first pitch and they barreled some balls up,'' Padres rookie manager Jayce Tingler said. ''He never really got the chance to settle in and they came out really aggressive and found some barrels.'' Giovanny Gallegos (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Alex Reyes got the last four outs for the save. Five relievers combined for 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run.Kim, a 32-year-old rookie, allowed three runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, struck out two and walked two. He signed with the Cardinals after playing 13 seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization, including winning four championships and one MVP Award. He made three relief appearances for Korea at Petco Park in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.Kim allowed Eric Hosmer's sac fly in the first, Aaron Nola's sac fly in the second and Tommy Pham's RBI single in the third.Nola hit another sac fly in the sixth. Fernando Tatis Jr., who had reached twice, scored twice and hit a ball to the warning track in right, struck out with runners on first and second to end the inning.Tatis came up with two on and two out in the eighth and grounded out. Rookie Jake Cronenworth had a baserunning blunder in both the and eighth.Dexter Fowler hit an RBI single in the ninth off Trevor Rosenthal, who started his big league career with the Cardinals.St. Louis' Harrison Bader struck out five times. The center fielder did make a nice ca tch up against the fence of Wil Myers' fly ball to end the game.SAD HISTORYThe Padres dropped to 0-4 in the postseason at Petco Park, all against the Cardinals.TRAINER'S ROOMPadres: GM A. J. Preller said the Padres decided Clevinger (right elbow impingement) and Lamet (biceps tightness) wouldn't be capable of making at least 80-pitch starts.YADIER MOLINAThe 17-year-veteran played in his 99th career playoff game, tying Tino Martinez for sixth all-time.UP NEXTCardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (5-3, 3.15 ERA) is scheduled to start Game 2 on Thursday. The 39-year-old made his career postseason debut at Petco Park in Game 1 of the 2006 NL Division Series and got the save in Game 2. The Cardinals won the series 3-1 and went on to win the World Series.Padres: RHP Zach Davies (7-4, 2.73) is set to go for the Padres after Clevinger and Lamet were left off the wild-card roster. Davies made one appearance for Milwaukee in the 2018 NLCS against Los Angeles.---More MLB: https:/ / and

MLB Game Recap: Toronto Blue Jays (2) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (8) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: Toronto Blue Jays (2) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (8) - Date: 9/30/2020 Renfroe slam helps Rays sweep young Blue Jays in 1st roundST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam and the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays won a postseason series for the first time in 12 years, overpowering the young Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 Wednesday to finish a two-game sweep of their AL wild-card matchup.Renfroe launched the first playoff grand slam in franchise history during a six-run second inning. Profitable Sports Handicappers. Tyler Glasnow kept Tampa Bay ahead from there, allowing two runs - on a pair of homers by Danny Jansen - in six innings.Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer off Blue Jays ace Hyun Jin Ryu during Tampa Bay's big inning. Manuel Margot and Randy Arozarena also drove in runs as the Rays advanced to the AL Division series against either the New York Yankees or C leveland Indians.The next round starts Monday at Petco Park in San Diego. Renfroe is plenty familiar with the stadium - he hit 85 home runs in the previous three years for the Padres before being traded to the Rays last December.The Rays celebrated with some hugs and handshakes after the final out.Glasnow, who walked one and struck out eight before a small gathering of family and friends who were allowed to attend the series at Tropicana Field.Ryu was rocked for a season-high seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, the lefty's shortest outing of the season for the wild-card Blue Jays.The Rays, who won Game 1 with a nice mix of pitching, defense and timely hitting, had dropped five consecutive multigame postseason series dating to the 2008 World Series.A year ago, they beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before losing to Houston in the division round - a five-game setback that nevertheless heightened team expectations heading into this season.Manager Kevin Cash's team delivere d this year, winning the AL East.Ryu signed with the Blue Jays in free agency last winter after being an All-Star with the Los Angeles Dodgers and finishing second in NL Cy Young Award balloting in 2019.The 33-year-old lefty had the AL's fourth-best ERA this season. And, his career mark of .295 is third-best behind Clayton Kershaw (2.43) and Jacob deGrom (2.61) among active pitchers with at least 700 innings pitched.Ryu's impressive credentials meant nothing Wednesday.The Rays began the first inning with three straight hits and scored their first run on Manuel Margot's one-out single. Ryu escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Willy Adames, however his outing got worse the next inning.After Zunino's homer made it 3-0, Tampa Bay loaded the bases again on a double, walk and shortstop Bo Bichette's second error of the day.Renfroe, obtained from San Diego in an offseason trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Padres, hit his grand slam into the left field seat s to extend the lead to 7-0.SHORT RUNToronto's first playoff appearance since 2016 was brief, but 2B Joe Panik said the Blue Jays have a lot to be proud of after earning a berth while having to play home games in a Triple-A ballpark in Buffalo, New York, after being denied permission to host games in Toronto due to the coronavirus pandemic.''I know maybe some people outside the clubhouse might see it as World Series or bust, but the fact that this group was kind of able to band together in a short period of time with what sort of things we have to deal with is something very special, and something that I will never forget,'' Panik said. ''There's nothing that compares to winning the World Series, but I will say this season has been very special.'' SAY WHATRays pitcher Charlie Morton takes exception to anyone who believes baseball was lucky to start and be able to finish the entire 60-game truncated schedule without a complete shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.''The effort that has been undertaken by all of the staff, the players, doing a heck of a job day in and day out trying to do the right thing and it all boiled down to luck. Sports Cappers. That's kind of disappointing to hear that,'' the 36-year-old right-hander said. ''The guys here have been awesome, great attitude about it.'' TRAINER'S ROOMBlue Jays: 1B Rowdy Tellez, who had a pinch-hit single in Game 1 Tuesday, remained out of the starting lineup. He was placed on the 10-day IL on Sept. 9 with a right knee sprain and missed the rest of the regular season.Rays: INF Yandy Diaz (right hamstring strain) started at third base, his first game since Aug. 31.UP NEXTThe Rays will play in the AL division round for the sixth time in franchise history, with all of the appearances coming since 2008.---More MLB: and https://twitter .com/-Sports

MLB Game Recap: Chicago White Sox (3) vs. Oakland Athletics (5) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: Chicago White Sox (3) vs. Oakland Athletics (5) - Date: 9/30/2020 A's hold off Abreu, White Sox 5-3, force series to Game 3OAKLAND, Calif. Oakland's long-reliable regulars Marcus Semien and Khris Davis powered a couple of home runs, Mark Canha made a game-saving catch against the wall and red-hot right-hander Chris Bassitt delivered the start of his life.Now, the slugging A's are right back in a familiar fall position: one winner-take-all postseason game with the season on the line.Semien and Davis connected early and Oakland's bullpen barely held off Jose Abreu and the Chicago White Sox late for a 5-3 win Wednesday that sent the AL playoff series to a deciding Game 3.The A's lost in the AL wild-card game each of the past two seasons, providing added motivation to win the division and earn a longer series.Game 3 is Thursday at the Coliseum.''It feels good. We're hungry for more win s,'' Semien said. ''Tomorrow, anything can happen. It's just like Game 7.'' A's reliever Jake Diekman walked home a run in the ninth, then retired the big-hitting Abreu on a sharp grounder to end it and even the best-of-three wild-card matchup at 1-all.The White Sox went 14-0 in the regular season against left-handed starters and beat southpaw Jesus Luzardo in the playoff opener. A's manager Bob Melvin acknowledged it might make him reconsider who to start with the season on the line - perhaps righty Mike Fiers over lefty Sean Manaea.''I'm pretty sure we're pretty dang confident in anyone we throw against the White Sox,'' Bassitt said. ''The numbers don't mean anything. It's the postseason. I thought they put absurd at-bats against me, and I'm a righty.'' Bassitt allowed one run on six hits in seven-plus innings during an impressive postseason debut as the AL West champion A's snapped a six-game postseason losing streak dating to 2013.The right-hander, drafted by the White Sox before being traded to Oakland in December 2014, came in on a nice roll with an 0.34 ERA in September.Things got interesting when Bassitt gave way to Liam Hendriks after a leadoff single to Tim Anderson in the eighth with a 5-0 lead. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer one out later.Hendriks surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the ninth and walked Yoan Moncada to load the bases. Diekman relieved and walked Grandal to bring home a run.Abreu, a leading candidate for AL MVP, hit a hard grounder to second base as Diekman earned a tough save.Oakland hit three consecutive one-out singles in the first against Dallas Keuchel, and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal's fielding error allowed two runs to score.Keuchel exited after 3 1/3 innings having allowed five runs - three earned - and six hits.He couldn't hold down the slugging A's as Lucas Giolito did a day earlier taki ng a perfect game into the seventh inning of Chicago's 4-1 Game 1 victory.The White Sox haven't won back-to-back road playoff games since getting six straight in 2005.''The biggest thing is carry that momentum from the last inning into tomorrow's game,'' Madrigal said. ''Even going into today's game everyone felt good. We had some good innings just didn't cash in. No one's really worried, we know what we can do. We don't have to overthink it, just go out there and play our game.'' BACK ON TRACKThe A's had dropped five straight postseason games when facing elimination.Oakland's six-game playoff skid matched the longest in A's history - also done from Oct. 10, 2006-Oct. 7, 2012. NHL Handicappers. This marked the club's first postseason win since Game 3 of the 2013 AL Division Series, a 6-3 victory against Detroit at Comerica Park.The A's lo st the wild card game to the Yankees in 2018 then Tampa Bay last year after winning 97 games both seasons but finishing second to the rival Houston Astros.''Hopefully that experience helps a little,'' said Canha, whose leaping catch in the fifth robbed Anderson.DAVIS DELIVERSDavis, who led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018, cleared the fences for only the second time since Sept. 4 after playing in only 11 games down the stretch.He went just 3 for 18 against the White Sox last season.TRAINER'S ROOMWhite Sox: LF Eloy Jimenez was out for a second straight playoff game as he nurses a sprained right foot that kept him out of the final three games of the regular season. Jimenez went through extensive baseball work Monday and still experienced soreness.Jimenez was still receiving treatment to determine his status, with manager Rick Renteria noting he wasn't available as designated hitter because ''you need to be able to run.'' ''Ri ght now he's about the same, no worse,'' Renteria said. ''Hopefully that can calm down a little bit more.'' ROUTINEWith another noon start, some of the A's chose to hit on the field after not doing so Tuesday - which was treated more like a day game after a night game. Melvin said many of his players didn't want to go two straight days without batting practice.UP NEXTBoth managers planned meetings with their staffs to determine who would take the mound.Oakland kept six starting pitchers on the roster to have options for a deciding game.''It's all hands on deck,'' Renteria said, not providing specifics on who he might start. ''TBA.'' ---More MLB: and

MLB Game Recap: Miami Marlins (5) vs. Chicago Cubs (1) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: Miami Marlins (5) vs. Chicago Cubs (1) - Date: 9/30/2020 Dickerson homers as Marlins beat Cubs 5-1 in playoff openerCHICAGO Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off a fading Kyle Hendricks in the seventh inning, and the Miami Marlins beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Wednesday in Game 1 of their NL wild-card series.Jesus Aguilar also homered and Sandy Alcantara pitched three-hit ball into the seventh as Miami conjured up memories of past playoff magic in the franchise's first postseason game since it won the World Series in 2003. Sports Monitor. The Marlins, who rallied past the Cubs in a memorable NLCS that year, have never lost a playoff series.Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Thursday. Yu Darvish starts for the Central champion Cubs, while rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez pitches for upstart Miami, looking to make an unexpected division series trip in the same season that roughly half the roster was sidelined by COVID-19.The Marlins may be without center fielder Starling Marte after he was hit on the left hand by a fastball in the ninth inning. Marte was in obvious pain and quickly retreated down the clubhouse tunnel. He was replaced by Monte Harrison. No immediate update was given on his status.Miami was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position before Dickerson drove Hendricks' 106th pitch just over the wall in left-center for his first career playoff homer, erasing the Cubs' 1-0 lead on a cool, blustery afternoon.After Hendricks was pulled by first-year manager David Ross, Marte singled and Aguilar hit a drive to right off Jeremy Jeffress for his third career playoff homer.The last time the Marlins scored five or more runs in an inning during a playoff game was Oct. 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field, when the club scored eight times in the eighth during Game 6 of the NLCS. Sports Handicapper Leads. That outburst included fan Steve Bartman deflecting Luis Castillo's foul ball as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tried to make a leaping catch.There was only a smattering of onlookers - primarily fans and team employees - Wednesday because of baseball's COVID-19 protocols, and the lower bowl that surrounds the field was almost completely empty.Hendricks (0-1) matched a season high with 106 pitches in his first start in a week. Known for his pinpoint control, the right-hander issued three walks and hit a batter. He had permitted just two hits before the Marlins chased him with three in a row in the seventh, culminating in Dickerson's one-out homer.Hendricks had walked two or fewer batters in 41 consecutive starts dating to April of 2019.Alcantara (1-0) struck out four and walked three in 6 2/3 innings in his first career playoff start.Chicago got its only run on Ian Happ's two-out drive in the fifth for his first po stseason homer. Happ had two of the Cubs' four hits.TRAINER'S ROOMMarlins: Marte got the start after he was hit on the front of his helmet by Clarke Schmidt's 94-mph fastball during Sunday's regular-season finale against the Yankees. Manager Don Mattingly said Marte was ''100%,'' but that was before he was hit by another pitch Wednesday. ... RHP Jose Urena was placed on the team's taxi squad. Urena broke his right forearm when he was hit by a line drive Sunday at New York.Cubs: INF Ildemaro Vargas was activated from the 10-day injured list after missing the last part of the season with a right hamstring strain.UP NEXTSanchez, one of baseball's top prospects, made his big league debt on Aug. 22. Game 2 will be his first start at Wrigley.''To be honest, I don't know much about the history of the ballpark, but I know I will be pitching against the Cubs,'' he said through a translator. ''It's going to be gre at.'' Darvish is making his first playoff appearance since signing with Chicago before the 2018 season. He is 2-4 with a 5.81 ERA in six career postseason starts.---Jay Cohen can be reached at MLB: and

MLB Game Recap: Houston Astros (3) vs. Minnesota Twins (1) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: Houston Astros (3) vs. Minnesota Twins (1) - Date: 9/30/2020 Astros sweep as Twins lose 18th straight in playoffsMINNEOLIS Carlos Correa hit a two-out, tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning for the Houston Astros, who produced another stifling pitching performance and swept Minnesota with a 3-1 victory Wednesday that sent the Twins to a record 18th straight postseason loss.Nine months after Houston's rules-breaking, sign-stealing system was revealed, the Astros advanced to the Division Series in Los Angeles. As the sixth seed, they'll face the Oakland Athletics or Chicago White Sox in a best-of-five matchup starting Monday at Dodger Stadium.The Twins are 0-18 in the playoffs since winning Game 1 of their Division Series at the New York Yankees on Oct. 5, 2004, a total of seven rounds lost. Since that date, the Astros are 43-35 in postseason play, winning 10 of 15 rounds with three trips to the World Series.Kyle Tucker hit two RBI singles for the Astros and made a key throw from left field for the inning-ending out in the fifth.Rookie Cristian Javier worked three hitless innings in relief for the victory in his postseason debut and Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth against his former team, giving the Houston bullpen a total of 9 2/3 scoreless innings in this wild card series with three hits allowed.Nobody on this Twins team has had a hand in more than six of the playoffs losses, but for the second straight year one of baseball's most potent lineups limped through a brief postseason cameo. In a three-game Diviion Series sweep by the Yankees last year, the Twins totaled seven runs and 22 hits. Against the Astros, they mustered only two runs and seven hits.Nelson Cruz gave the Twins an RBI double for a second straight game, this time in the fourth inning against starter Jose Urquidy. Luis Arraez aggressively tried to score from first base, but Correa took the throw f rom Tucker and fired home to beat Arraez to the plate to preserve the tie.Then in the seventh against losing pitcher Cody Stashak, Correa drove a 1-0 slider into the tarp-covered seats above right-center field for his 12th home run in 52 playoff games.After winning 101, 103 and 107 games in the last three regular seasons, winning the 2017 World Series and losing the championship in seven games to the Washington Nationals last year, the Astros stumbled through the 2020 season at 29-31 under new manager Dusty Baker and general manager James Click with a slew of injuries after the COVID-19 pandemic cut the schedule to 60 games.They had the third-worst road record in the major leagues, too, but none of that mattered this week against the third-seeded Twins, who were out of sorts in their two biggest games of the year.Jose Berrios was one of the few who were locked in with five strong innings, with just two hits allowed. His two walks were costly, though, issued right before Tuck er's single in the fourth.KIRILLOFF FOR BUXTONAlready missing third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Twins held another one of their most valuable players out: center fielder Byron Buxton. Manager Rocco Baldelli declined to confirm whether Buxton was experiencing a recurrence of concussion symptoms that kept him out of the last two regular season games. Buxton was picked off first base after pinch running for Cruz in the eighth.Max Kepler moved to center, and Alex Kirilloff - the 2016 first-round draft pick - played right field to become the first Twins player in history to make his major league debut in a postseason game. Kirilloff singled in the fourth, one at-bat too late. With the bases loaded in the first, he flied out to end the inning.UP NEXTThe Astros, who have reached the AL championship series in each of the last three years, will play Monday against either the A's or the White Sox. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. is the only member of their regular season rotation who did not pitch in Minnesota.The Twins enter the offseason with 10 players set to become free agents, including the 40-year-old Cruz who led the team in home runs and batting average (among players with a qualifying amount of at-bats) for a second straight season. Make Money Betting Sports. Their 2021 opener is scheduled for April 1 at Milwaukee.---More MLB coverage:

MLB Game Recap: Cincinnati Reds (0) vs. Atlanta Braves (1) - 9/30/2020

MLB Game Recap: Cincinnati Reds (0) vs. Atlanta Braves (1) - Date: 9/30/2020 Finally! Freeman, Braves top Reds 1-0 in 13th to open seriesATLANTA Freddie Freeman singled home the winning run in the 13th inning, finally ending the longest scoreless duel in postseason history as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 in the opener of their NL wild-card series on Wednesday.The East champion Braves won the first game of a postseason series for the first time since the 2001 NL Division Series and can wrap up the best-of-three series on Thursday. If they do, it will snap a record-tying streak of 10 straight playoff round losses.What began as a pitching showdown between between Cy Young contenders Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Atlanta's Max Fried devolved into a strikeout contest.The teams combined for a postseason record 37 Ks - 21 by the Braves. After a couple of hits in the 13th against Archie Bradley, Freeman drove o ne into center field off Amir Garrett against a five-man infield with one out to end a game that dragged on for more than 4 1/2 hours.A four-time All-Star, Freeman produced another big year in a pandemic-shortened season after a battle with COVID-19 in July so severe that he said he prayed: ''Please don't take me.'' In the 13th, he was in a situation he relishes.''That's the guy we want up there,'' manager Brian Snitker said.A. J. Minter escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the 13th for the win - the third straight inning the Reds pushed a runner to third but couldn't get him another 90 feet.''That was a very stressful 4 1/2 hours,'' Freeman said with a chuckle.The clubs combined to use 14 pitchers and it lasted so long that the lights came on at Truist Park in the 13th - for a game that began just after noon on a sunny, 70-degree day.It was historic as the first postseason game to be scoreless after 11 innings, but hardly a masterpiece.With the designated runner at second base no longer in play for postseason games, two teams that rely heavily on the long ball took turns just flailing away at the plate.Mostly, all they stirred up was a stiff breeze.''We're a big-swinging team,'' Snitker said. ''We slug. Sometimes, it doesn't happen.'' Bauer certainly lived up to his billing as one of baseball's best pitcher. Baseball Picks. The outspoken right-hander became the first pitcher in big league history to record 12 strikeouts with no walks, while allowing no runs and two or fewer hits in a postseason start.Bauer was lifted after retiring the first two hitters in the eighth, doing the Braves chop on his way to the dugout. He allowed just one hit past the infield, setting a Cincinnati postseason record with 12 strikeouts. Sports Monitor. The previous mark was held by Homer Bailey, who fanned 10 against the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the 2012 NL Division Series.''Someone said I had to bring my `A' game, so I brought my `A' game and everything,'' Bauer said. ''I was exhausted.'' The Braves' only real threat against Bauer came in the sixth, when Ronald Acuna Jr. led off with a double to the wall in center.Freeman moved the runner along by pulling a grounder to the second baseman, but Bauer retired NL home run and RBI king Marcell Ozuna on a foul popup just in front of the screen behind home plate. Sports Betting Handicapping. Travis d'Arnaud struck out swinging to end the inning.Fried went nearly pitch for pitch with the Cincinnati ace, working seven scoreless innings. He surrendered six hits, struck out five and didn't walk anyone.TRAINER'S ROOMReds: Nick Sen zel appeared to jam his left shoulder diving back to first on a pickoff throw in the third. The trainer came out to check on him, but Senzel stayed in the game after spinning his arm in a windmill motion a few times.Braves: There were injury concerns after Atlanta's last series of the regular season, but everyone was good to go in the playoffs. Acuna (wrist) and 3B Austin Riley (quadriceps) both started in Game 1, while RH Chris Martin (groin) worked a scoreless eighth.UP NEXTReds: RH Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA) makes his first postseason start. He was a 15-game winner and made the All-Star Game for the first time in 2019.Braves: Rookie RH Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95) gave a boost to Atlanta's troubled rotation when he was called up from the alternate training site in late August. The 2016 first-round pick went at least 5 2/3 innings in four of his six starts.---Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at His work can be found at m/search/paulnewberry---More MLB: and

NFL Game Preview: Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets - 10/1/2020 - 8:20 PM EST

NFL Game Preview: Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets - Date: 10/1/2020 Sep 30, 2020EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. Banged up, struggling and desperate for a win. Sports Handicapper Tracker. That describes both the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, who'll square off Thursday night at MetLife Stadium with their seasons spiraling, coaches on the hot seat and rosters ravaged by injuries. Yeah, this might not exactly be a meaty matchup for a prime-time TV audience. But, the results of this game could have intriguing consequences. ''We understand the situation we're in,'' Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. ''We can't change anything that's happened. All we can do is look forward and prepare for our next game, which is coming here quickly on Thursday. I think our attitude is good. '' The Broncos and Jets are both 0-3 for the second strai ght season, and each is looking to avoid dropping their first four games in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. Barring a tie, it's about to get worse for one of them. Handicapper Directory. The woeful starts have made Fangio and Jets coach Adam Gase the targets of plenty of criticism and cast some doubts on their long-term futures with their teams. Speculation has been flying that Gase could be out as soon as Friday if the Jets lose. ''For me, I have to do a great job of making sure that I keep our players in the right headspace,'' Gase said. ''When a lot of negativity is coming at you and things are hard, that's when everybody's character has to really show up and they've got to go to work and we've got to get it fixed. '' That's easier said than done, of course. Free Picks and Parla ys. The Jets have been inept on offense, and Sam Darnold has not played like a quarterback on the verge of taking the next step in his third year. The defense has also been alarmingly porous. New York's injury list is longer than a shopping receipt, with Le'Veon Bell, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims among those sidelined. The Broncos have had similar issues on all counts. Their roster sported a combined 18 Pro Bowls when the 53-man roster was finalized. Now, it has just Melvin Gordon's pair of all-star appearances after Von Miller, Jurell Casey, Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay and A. J. Bouye all got hurt. They're also about to start their third straight different quarterback. Brett Rypien will make his first NFL start, going Thursday night in place of the benched Jeff Driskel - who had taken the place last week of the injured Drew Lock. ''No matter who we're playing, right now, we definitely need a win,'' said Rypien, t he nephew of 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien. SAM THE MAN? Darnold's performance last week, when he threw three interceptions and had two returned for touchdowns at Indianapolis, has many wondering if he can be the franchise quarterback the Jets expected when they made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2018. ''He's like everybody in this profession, he does not like to lose,'' Gase said. ''It just eats at him and I love the fact that it just drives him to just keep coming into the building and trying to find ways to improve. I can see it on his face after that last game, like he was (angry). ''He was not only mad at the score, but just kind of how it went down and things that he knows that he can do better and things that may have been out of his control that we've just got to move on from and we can't hang on to. I think that's what I love about him. '' WORLD OF HURTThe Broncos have lost six starters and three back ups to IR, and that doesn't even include Lock, whom they're keeping on the active roster so he can attend practice and get mental reps. The injured Broncos are making a combined $53. 4 million this season, by far the highest IR payroll in the NFL and nearly $20 million more than the runner-up Dallas Cowboys at $33. 5 million. FANGIO FLOP? Fangio is 7-12 through his first 19 games, same as Gase's record with the Jets. Fangio is the first of the Broncos' 14 head coaches ever to post back-to-back winless Septembers. The Broncos had just one winless September in the previous 48 years when Fangio hit all the red lights in starting 0-4 in 2019. Before that, the last Broncos head coach who went into October still searching for his first win was Wade Phillips in 1994. GROUNDED JETSIt's only three games and injuries have been a major reason, but New York's offense has sputtered to start the season. The Jets rank last in the NFL in total yards, scoring, yards passing yards, first downs and red-zone efficiency. They're also second-to-last in total touchdowns, third-down conversions and yards per play. O-LINE SHUFFLEThe Broncos have allowed a whopping 13 sacks in the past two weeks, but it took Elijah Wilkinson's shin injury to force a change up front. Denver is inserting 12th-year veteran Demar Dotson into the right tackle spot. He joined the team in the summer but couldn't unseat Wilkinson, who was coming off an offseason ankle operation. ''He's probably played 10,000 snaps at right tackle in this league, so we feel good about putting him in there,'' Fangio said. ''He had a good camp with us. '' --- Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton in Englewood, Colorado, contributed. ---More NFL: https://apnews. com/NFL and https://twitter. com/-NFL


MLB Game Preview: Miami Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs - 9/30/2020 - 2:08 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Miami Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs - Date: 9/30/2020 Youthful Marlins take aim at experienced CubsChicago's Wrigley Field is the site for a best-of-three National League wild-card series that will feature the experience of the third-seeded Chicago Cubs against the youth of the sixth-seeded Miami Marlins.The Cubs, who are in the playoffs for the fifth time in the past six years, are expected to start either Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA) or Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 2.88) in the Wednesday opener.Miami is expected to start either Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.00) or Pablo Lopez (6-4, 3.61).All four of those pitchers are right-handers, and Chicago's two possible Game 1 starters have a combined age of 64. For Miami, that figure is 49.The Cubs earned home-field advantage by winning the NL Central, finishing 34-26 under first-year manager David Ross.It hasn't always been easy for the club, which endured a season-worst four-ga me losing streak in mid-August and had three other three-game skids. Chicago lost six of its final nine regular-season games."This is the hardest baseball season anybody has had to go through," Ross said. "Whoever wins this year's World Series should be extremely proud for overcoming all this adversity." Perhaps no team has overcome more than the Marlins, who lost more than half their roster -- 18 players -- due to positive coronavirus tests. All that happened just three games into the season, and the Marlins spent the next eight days in a Philadelphia hotel, observing quarantine protocols.Given that, Miami's 31-29 record and second-place finish in the NL East -- above the more experienced Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals -- was particularly surprising."That's why this feels so good," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of his team, which lost an NL-worst 105 games in 2019. " ;You just have to have faith." This is just the Marlins' third-ever playoff berth. Sports Handicappers Rankings. The first two ended in World Series championships, in 1997 and 2003. Sports Handicapping Sites. The Marlins eliminated the Cubs in seven games in the 2003 NL Championship Series that is best remembered for Wrigley Field fan Steve Bartman interfering with a foul ball just before the Cubs collapsed in Game 6.The Cubs, who finally ended their 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016, ranked 20th in the majors this season in runs scored (4.42 per game). Selections. The Marlins ranked 21st (4.38).As for team ERAs, Chicago came in 10th at 3.99 while Miami ranked 21st at 4.86.Hendricks has a 2.98 ERA in 11 postseason games (10 starts), including a 1.00 ERA in nine World Seri es innings. Hendricks is 36-20 with a 2.54 ERA in his career at Wrigley Field, and he is 3-1 with a 1.28 ERA in seven games against the Marlins.Darvish doesn't have the same postseason chops, as he possesses a 5.81 ERA in six games, all starts. Darvish is 7-11 with a 4.15 ERA in 28 Wrigley starts. Against the Marlins, he has a 6.08 ERA in five starts.Alcantara and Lopez are set to make their playoff debuts this week. Alcantara has a 4.50 ERA in two Wrigley appearances (one start), and he has a 5.68 overall ERA against the Cubs in four games (two starts).Lopez has faced the Cubs just once, taking a loss last year after allowing two runs in five innings.Miami's top three starters -- including Sixto Sanchez for a possible third game -- are hard throwers, and the Cubs strike out a lot (568 times this season, fifth-most in the NL). But the Cubs also can get hot with the long ball, especially center fielder Ian Happ (team-high 12 homers and .866 OPS), first baseman Anthony Rizzo and left fielder Kyle Schwarber (11 homers each).Third baseman Brian Anderson led Miami with 11 homers while shortstop Miguel Rojas' .888 OPS topped the club.Both teams feel good about their bullpens starting the playoffs. For Miami, Brandon Kintzler (2.22 ERA, 12 saves in 14 chances) led the way, with Yimi Garcia (0.60 ERA) serving as a key setup man. But Jose Urena, who could have been a valuable long man, will not be available after he suffered a fractured right forearm on Sunday.Jeremy Jeffress (1.54 ERA) led Chicago with eight saves, and Craig Kimbrel (5.28 ERA) has pitched much better of late. In his past 14 appearances, Kimbrel produced a 1.42 ERA, perhaps returning to his 2011-18 form (41.5 saves per year).--Field Level Media


MLB Game Preview: Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins - 9/30/2020 - 1:08 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins - Date: 9/30/2020 Astros aim to extend Twins' playoff misery with sweepAfter watching his team push across three unearned runs in the ninth inning to pull out a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker was in no hurry to name his starter for Wednesday afternoon's Game 2 in the best-of-three American League wild-card series in Minneapolis."We'll make that decision after we get our heads together," Baker said. "We'll savor this one first because it's a big win." Houston went just 10-17 in September regular-season games and along with the Milwaukee Brewers became the first teams in baseball history to make the playoffs with losing records. Even so, the Astros can advance to the American League Division Series with another win Wednesday.The pitcher most expected to start Game 2 for Houston, left-hande r Framber Valdez, came on in relief to pick up the victory in the opener, allowing just two hits while shutting out the Twins over the final five innings.Houston took advantage of an errant throw by Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco on what should have been an inning-ending forceout in the ninth with the score 1-1. Jose Altuve walked with two outs and the bases loaded to force in Yuli Gurriel with what proved to be the game-winning run off reliever Sergio Romo. Michael Brantley followed with a two-run single."These guys know how to battle," Baker said. "We're glad we got an opportunity to play in the postseason and then negate and forget everything that happened the last couple of weeks. We weren't playing very well, hadn't been getting very many clutch hits. (But) this team knows how to win. Winning Picks. They take pride in what they do." Before the Tuesday win, Baker had hinted that r ight-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93 ERA), who hasn't allowed an earned run over his last 13 2/3 innings and was penciled in to start Game 3 if necessary, could be moved up a day. Right-hander Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.73) is another possibility.Minnesota will turn to right-hander Jose Berrios (5-4, 4.00 ERA) in what is now an elimination game and also another attempt to snap its record postseason losing streak (17 games) dating back to the 2004 ALDS.The postseason losing streak already was the longest in major league history. Leading Handicappers. Tuesday's loss also gave the Twins the record for most consecutive postseason losses in major North American sports, breaking a tie with the Chicago Blackhawks, who lost 16 straight in the NHL playoffs from 1975-79.Berrios had an up-and-down season but finished strong, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in September. He is 2-3 with a 6.43 ERA in five career starts agains t the Astros. Berrios won his last start vs. Houston on May 2, 2019, at Target Field, 8-2, allowing two runs on seven hits over seven innings while striking out five.Minnesota, which earned the nickname "The Bomba Squad" after setting a major league single-season record with 307 home runs in 2019, has gone four games without a homer and managed just a Nelson Cruz double and three singles in the Tuesday loss. Sports Betting Leads. The Twins also blew a golden opportunity to take early control of the opener, loading the bases with one out in the first inning but failing to score."We've got to find ways to get baserunners," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We've got to find ways to get on base. And when we had guys out there, we weren't able to get them in. If we expect to come out here and win, we have to play better." --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Virginia vs. Clemson - 10/3/2020 - 8:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Virginia vs. Clemson - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020After not playing Virginia for a six-year stretch, Clemson is preparing for a second game against the Cavaliers in a 10-month span. Sports Picks Free. The top-ranked Tigers (2-0, 1-0 ACC) take on Virginia (1-0, 1-0) on Saturday night at Clemson's Memorial Stadium, where a masked and socially distanced crowd of approximately 19,000 is expected. "It'll be a great atmosphere for our guys," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose team trounced Virginia 62-17 last December in the ACC Championship game. "Our guys are in a good place. We've got good momentum. We're in a good place, but let's turn the page and step into October here. " Clemson has been in "a good place" for several years now. The Tigers are pursuing their record sixth consecutive ACC title and sixth straight trip to the College Football Playoff. Clemson has won 23 consecutive games against ACC competition dating back to the 2017 season and 44 of its last 46 games against league foes. Despite last year's lopsided loss to the Tigers, fifth-year Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is looking forward to the challenge once again. "I'm thrilled to be able to get a chance to play Clemson again," Mendenhall said. "Having earned the chance to play them in the ACC Championship last year, it just accelerated our program. It exposed deficiencies. We're anxious to learn and apply and improve from what we showed a year ago. " Virginia went 9-5 in 2019 and capped the season with a 36-28 loss to Florida in the Orange Bowl. It marked the Cavaliers' first nine-win season since 2007. Mendenhall's team opened its season last week with a 38-20 victory over Duke. "One game in, they look like the team that went to the ACC Championship ga me last year," Swinney said. "They're very experienced. Bronco has done an amazing job. This is a program and a culture that has been building each year. They're one of the more experienced teams out there. " But it was a couple of relative newcomers who shined against the Blue Devils. Sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong rallied the team from a 20-17 fourth-quarter deficit and finished with 269 yards on 24-of-45 passing. "He's a problem," Swinney said. "He's like a young Steve Young running around out there -- a lefty, crafty, creative, extends plays, good runner, really has no fear. Trusts his guys to make competitive plays. This quarterback is savvy and tough, not afraid to run it. He can escape. " Freshman Lavel Davis Jr. , who ironically is from South Carolina, made the first game of his career a memorable one as the 6-foot-7 wide receiver made two highlight-reel plays for touchdowns on an afternoon that saw him catch four passes for 101 yards. "He's a long, long guy," Swinney said. "He made some big plays against Duke. I think he was the difference in the game. Good start for him in his first game and he's only going to get better as he gets stronger and develops. " Clemson will counter with several veteran stars, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence and two-time ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne, a senior running back. Lawrence and Etienne have played sparingly in Clemson's 2-0 start, but may see more time now that Clemson is entering the meat of its ACC schedule. Mendenhall says the Tigers are a well-known quantity. "There's certainly an adjustment or a tweak here or there by their personnel, but Dabo's record and Clemson's record since he's been there doesn't warrant wholesale changes," Mendenhall said. "It usually just means reloading. The next player has played usually significant amounts of time from the year before in games that have one-sided. " --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State - 10/3/2020 - 7:30 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020Before the season, Saturday's game between Oklahoma and Iowa State looked to be one of the top matchups of the season in the Big 12. It still might be, but with each team suffering an early loss there is a different tone to the contest in Ames, Iowa. For No. 18 Oklahoma, it is almost be an elimination game. Top Rated Sports Services. The Sooners (1-1, 0-1 Big 12) have won five consecutive conference titles and have reached the College Football Playoff for three consecutive seasons, but their ability to continue either of those streaks is in doubt after last week's 38-35 loss to Kansas State. It was the first September loss for the Sooners since Lincoln Riley replaced Bob Stoops as head coach in 2017. "The losses, they all suck and they all hurt like hell, and you just really kind of tes t your insides to go fight back," Riley said. "Despite the disappointment, I have zero doubt in what we can be and that we've just got to work harder, do better to get there and that we will get there. " The Sooners have a long track record of bouncing back from losses. The last time Oklahoma dropped consecutive regular-season games was in 1999, Stoops' first season. The Sooners haven't started 0-2 in Big 12 play since the year before that. Expectations were sky-high for Iowa State entering this season. The Cyclones (1-1, 1-0), with quarterback Brock Purdy returning and plenty of other talented players back on both sides of the ball, were expected to contend for a berth in the Big 12 Championship game. They still might, though those expectations were tempered a bit with their stunning 31-14 season-opening loss to Louisiana. Soccer Predictions. The Cyclones bounced back f rom that opening-game disappointment, starting conference play with a 37-34 win over TCU last week. Running back Breece Hall has started the season with back-to-back 100-yard games after coming on strong as a freshman last season. Sports Handicappers Rankings. The series has been largely lopsided with the Sooners winning 20 of the last 21 meetings and 24 consecutive games in Ames since 1961. But since Matt Campbell's arrival, the Cyclones have been competitive against Oklahoma. Each of the last four meetings has been decided by 10 or fewer points and Iowa State pulled off an upset at Oklahoma in 2017. That includes last year's game, where the Cyclones scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within an extra-point of tying it in the final minute but Campbell decided to go for the win and Purdy's pass was picked off in the end zone to give the Sooners the 42-41 decision. In the four meetings befor e Campbell's arrival, Iowa State lost to OU by an average of 31 points. But close isn't what Campbell is after. "We want to get to the point, and we're close to that today, of not staying in games, but to win those games," Campbell told the Des Moines Register. "We want to measure ourselves after the best, and we certainly have that opportunity in this conference. " --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Tulsa vs. Central Florida - 10/3/2020 - 7:30 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Tulsa vs. Central Florida - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020After posting two big road wins over Georgia Tech and East Carolina, 11th-ranked UCF gets to play at home for the first time this season when they host Tulsa in an American Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday. MLB Handicappers. The game will be contested in Orlando at what is now officially "The Bounce House," formerly Spectrum Stadium. UCF coach Josh Heupel thinks the atmosphere will not be the same with attendance limited because of COVID-19 protocols. "I think what's different for us (is) you're running out of the tunnel at the home stadium and you've got a crowd in there at 20 to 25 percent capacity," Heupel said. "However, it's not going to look the same. So we'll have to create our own energy. " The Knights (2-0, 1-0 AAC) have scored an even 100 points in their first two outings and racked up 1,292 yards in total offense in a 49-21 win over Georgia Tech on Sept. 19 and 51-28 last week at East Carolina. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel has completed 67 percent of his 88 pass attempts for 825 yards and eight touchdowns against only one interception. But one figure stood out for Heupel in his team's win over the Pirates. Free Sports Picks Forum. The Knights were penalized a school-record 19 times for 139 yards, saddling them with 27 penalties for 190 yards in just two games. "The penalties do stand out," Heupel said. "We've got to get them corrected. " Tulsa (0-1, 0-0 AAC) also was heavily penalized in its only outing with 15 for 120 yards in a 16-7 loss to Oklahoma State on Sept. 19. The Golden Hurricane's game against Arkansas State last week was postponed because of the coronavirus issues among the Red Wolves. Sports Handicapper King. Tulsa has won the last three meetings against UCF, edging the visiting Knights 34-31 last year by rallying from a 31-24 fourth-quarter deficit. "I think we lost that game last year on both sides of the football," Heupel said. "If you look at how they played the second half of last year, every game was tight. And the way they played against Oklahoma State, a real good football team, they're getting better. " Tulsa's Zach Smith was 10 of 14 passing for 127 yards last year against UCF before leaving with a leg injury. He was 18 of 28 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma State. The Hurricane were within 13-7 late in the fourth quarter at Oklahoma State before giving up the ball on downs deep in their own territory. The Cowboys kicked a clinching field goal to cap the scoring. "It's frustrating," Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. " But we're going to learn from it. From an effort standpoint, you can't question the effort we gave throughout the game in all three phases. Now we just have to learn and get better. " --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Auburn vs. Georgia - 10/3/2020 - 7:30 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Auburn vs. Georgia - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020Georgia's quarterback situation is getting more complicated as the No. 4 Bulldogs prepare to host No. 7 Auburn on Saturday night. D'Wan Mathis started the season opener at Arkansas last week. Stetson Bennett replaced him and provided a spark in a 37-10 victory. Now USC transfer J. T. Daniels enters the picture. Daniels was medically cleared to play after missing the opener as he returns from a knee injury suffered last season. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said Carson Beck also is in the mix. "We'll be looking at everybody across the board," Smart said. "J. T. 's got to be able to show that he can function efficiently and do it with his knee being able to do it. "We're not putting ourselves in a pigeonhole, saying we can only have one quarterback. We've got to develop all of our quarterbacks. " Any of those o ptions at quarterback will benefit if the Bulldogs (1-0, 1-0 SEC) are able to run the ball better than they did against the Razorbacks. Georgia had just 121 rushing yards, averaging 2. 9 per carry. "Historically we've been able to run the ball at a good rate compared to a lot of people in our league," Smart said, "and we didn't do that Saturday. " This is an unusually early part of the season for the annual matchup dubbed "The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. " "This is one of the most traditional rivalries in all of college football," Smart said. Auburn (1-0, 1-0) has no doubt about its quarterback. It's Bo Nix, who was the SEC Freshman of the Year last season and threw three second-half touchdowns in a 29-13 victory over visiting Kentucky in the opener last Saturday. Nix threw two touchdown passes to Seth Williams and one to Eli Stove as he completed 16 of 27 passes for 233 yards. Williams caught six passes for 112 yar ds. "They're on the same page," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said of Nix and Williams. "They're starting to develop that special connection between a quarterback and a receiver. " Another receiver, Anthony Schwartz (three catches for 40 yards) said he has seen growth in Nix since last season. "He's like a professional quarterback, not panicking, getting through his reads and just being able to throw the ball under pressure, throwing accurate balls," Schwartz said. "I don't think there was one that wasn't a great pass (Saturday). "When the pressure came he didn't try to unnecessarily roll out. He just sat in there and got the throws off. I think he was very locked in and very poised. " Nix and the offense's job was made easier by the defense causing three turnovers. "The defense and offense complemented each other," Malzahn said. Nix has thrown an Auburn-record 218 consecutive passes without an interception. Last season, Georgia had a 21-0 lead after three quarters and held on for a 21-14 victory against Auburn. --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: LSU vs. Vanderbilt - 10/3/2020 - 7:30 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: LSU vs. Vanderbilt - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020LSU left a poor first impression for 2020, but the 20th-ranked Tigers have a chance to make a better one when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. , for a Saturday night kickoff with SEC foe Vanderbilt. Last Saturday's 44-34 loss to Mississippi State was not the debut the Tigers or their new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini wanted, as heavily favored LSU allowed Bulldogs quarterback K. J. Costello to throw for an SEC-record 623 yards. LSU coach Ed Orgeron addressed Pelini's debut this week. "(Pelini) was hurt just like everybody else," Orgeron said. ". . . Hurt that he didn't do better. Hurt that the defense didn't do better. Just like we all are. " Also hurt in the actual sense was All-America cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. , who was hospitalized with an illness last week and didn't play in the MSU debacle. Orgeron says th e sophomore, who had 38 tackles, six interceptions and 15 pass break-ups last season, should play this weekend. Winning Sports Picks Who You Should Follow. The LSU offense, led by quarterback Myles Brennan, also failed to get anywhere near the bar that departed quarterback Joe Burrow and that 15-0 team set a season ago. Brennan threw for 345 yards, but also two interceptions. The Tigers' running game (38 carries, 80 yards) was pedestrian, though that counts minus-45 yards on MSU's seven sacks. Sports Bettors Phone Leads. The Tigers defense should get well against a Vanderbilt attack that struggled to post 255 yards (3. 8 per play) at Texas A&M on Saturday. However, the Commodores -- 30. 5-point road underdogs -- fell just 17-12 thanks to a new-look defense under first-year coordinator Ted Roof. Vanderbilt defense end Dayo Odeyingbo (seven tac kles, two stops for loss, one sack, one hurry) and linebacker/end Andre Mintze (two tackles, one stop for loss, one forced fumble) were outstanding, part of a defensive line that Pro Football Focus graded the best in the country last week. The Commodores allowed 17 first downs and held the Aggies to 372 yards. Vanderbilt even found some optimism on offense, where true freshman quarterback Ken Seals was 20 of 29 for 150 yards, with two interceptions and a touchdown. Seals showed poise and pinpoint accuracy on almost all his throws (one pick appeared to be a miscommunication with receiver Cam Johnson) and got rid of the ball quickly behind a makeshift offensive line decimated by opt-outs. "Obviously it's at the high school level, but what you saw on Saturday is what we saw of Ken coming out of high school: extremely accurate on the move as well as in the pocket, and those are the things that have shown up throughout camp," Commodores coach Derek Mason said on T uesday. Free Guaranteed Sports Picks. The Tigers are 20. 5-point favorites in a game that can be seen on the SEC Network. Vanderbilt, which earlier announced it won't allow fans for games until at least November, said it would allow a "limited" number of students to attend. The teams played last season at Vanderbilt, with LSU wining, 66-38. --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Navy vs. Air Force - 10/3/2020 - 6:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Navy vs. Air Force - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020Air Force will become the first Mountain West Conference team to play a college football game this season when the Falcons take the field in Colorado Springs against Navy on Saturday. It's the first leg in the annual competition for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, contested among the three service academy teams. For the moment, Air Force has only two games on its schedule -- this one and at Army on Nov. 7. That will change when the Mountain West Conference announces the schedule for its abbreviated football season, which will resume Oct. 24. A key challenge for the Falcons, last year's Cheez-It Bowl champions, will be establishing depth. "Turnbacks," generally explained as the option to leave the academy for a semester for medical reasons -- and in this case, offered to cadets in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic -- have decimated the football roster, especially on defense. And on offense, two-year starter Donald Hammond III is not expected to suit up, as he is not in good standing as a cadet, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. "We're working through that, and that probably goes for a good number of spots," Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said Tuesday about situation at the quarterback position. "We're going to have some guys in certain positions, probably more so on the defensive side of the ball . . . the other thing that we're going to have to balance is just the involvement of the special teams part of it. " Air Force leads the all-time series 30-22 and is 18-7 at Falcon Stadium against the Midshipmen. The Falcons have won eight consecutive games going back to last season, which matches Notre Dame for the nation's longest active winning streak. CBS Sports Picks. The Midshipmen (1-1) should have a signifi cant advantage having played twice, and they have already been through a season full of emotion. Following their forgettable opener, a 55-3 pounding by visiting BYU on Sept. 7, coach Ken Niumatalolo sent his team through full-contact workouts, blaming himself for backing off contact work in the unusual preseason. Profitable Handicappers. The following week, the Midshipmen promptly fell behind Tulane 24-0. At halftime, Navy was a team that had been outscored 79-3 in six quarters of play. Yet, the Middies responded oh-so positively after that. Navy put together the largest comeback in school history, scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half to overtake the Green Wave, 27-24. Now they head to Colorado Springs for one of their two most important games of the season. Navy has lost three consecutive games in Colorado Springs, but a win on Saturday would be No. 100 in Niumatalolo's career. He'd be the sixth active college coach to reach 100 wins at one institution. Niumatalolo has seven career wins over Air Force in his 12 previous seasons. His teams have won six Commander-in-Chief's Trophies, while Air Force has won four in that time and Army two. "It's never about me. I'm just the head coach. It's a program deal," he said this week. Only Air Force cadets will be allowed to attend the game, and the Falcons will wear uniforms inspired by the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Texas Tech vs. Kansas State - 10/3/2020 - 4:30 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Texas Tech vs. Kansas State - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020It's amazing what one victory will do for a football team. But then again, it was quite a victory. Heading into last Saturday's game at No. 3 Oklahoma, the Kansas State Wildcats were reeling. They were 0-1 after suffering a last-minute loss at home to Arkansas State. A week later, the Wildcats (1-1, 1-0 Big 12) are on top of the world heading into Saturday's conference showdown with Texas Tech (1-1, 0-1) in Manhattan, Kan. Winning Sports Picks Who You Should Follow. The Wildcats went to Norman as four-touchdown underdogs to the Sooners. Kansas State was behind by 21 points in the second half on two different occasions. No unranked team in the last 15 years had trailed a top-5 team by 21 points on the road and come back to win. Until the Wildcats did it. But head coach Chris Kl ieman knows his team has to move on quickly from that game. "We better put it behind us in a hurry or we're going to not be ready on Saturday," he said. "What you did today is great, but it pales in comparison to what you can do the next day. Right now, we have to move on. "That's been kind of our mantra for a year-plus. Stack great days and don't worry about yesterday, worry about today. Let's win this dang day. " Texas Tech, meanwhile, is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Texas in overtime. Sports Touts. That game also featured a huge comeback, but the Red Raiders were on the wrong end of it. Texas Tech led 56-41 with 3:31 left, only to see Texas score two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to tie the score with 40 seconds left. In overtime, the Longhorns scored a touchdown on their first possession. Tech couldn't respond and Texas won 63-56. Just like Kansas S tate, the Red Raiders have to put the last game in the rear-view mirror but for an entirely different reason. "I wish we were playing today," head coach Matt Wells said at his weekly press conference. "I think our guys have handled (the Texas loss) very well and are ready to get back on the practice field. "A loss is a loss is a loss. We had things we did very well. We were good enough to have the 15-point lead. Now how do we close (those games) out? "Alan Bowman has passed for 761 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions for Texas Tech. Three players -- KeSean Carter, Erik Ezukanma and T. J. Vasher -- have at least 150 receiving yards, while SaRodorick Thompson leads the way on the ground with 222 yards and four touchdowns. For the Wildcats, Skylar Thompson has completed 64. 8 percent of his passes for 593 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has also rushed for three scores. Deuce Vaughn has rushed for 92 yards and ad ded 153 yards on five completions. --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas - 10/3/2020 - 4:30 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020Whatever football fireworks Oklahoma State planned for its offense have not materialized. Running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace were surprisingly quiet through two games and quarterback Spencer Sanders is dealing with an ankle sprain that has kept him out since the first half of the opener. Yet the No. 17 Cowboys stand 2-0 overall and at 1-0 in the Big 12 remain a likely contender for the conference crown. They play Saturday at Kansas (0-2, 0-1). Hubbard is no slouch, netting 194 yards rushing, though L. D. Brown has been the Cowboys' most dazzling rusher, averaging 8. 4 yards per carry. Wallace has 10 catches for 177 yards. "We certainly haven't done enough on offense to win games," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of drowsy showings against Tulsa and West Virginia. "Our defense has played well, but ou r special teams has been the deciding factor in the first two games. " Sophomore Alex Hale, a walk-on kicker from Australia, has made all five of his field goal attempts, while punt returner Dillon Stoner has a 20-yard punt return average. Oklahoma State is allowing 10 points per game behind linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga, who shares the team lead with 17 tackles. "They are playing fast, they're coming together as a group and they're playing reckless," Gundy said. Free Predictions. The fact the Big 12 has stumbled out of the gate makes it even more conceivable Oklahoma State will challenge in the league chase. Preseason favorite Oklahoma lost its Big 12 opener and Texas opened its league schedule by going into overtime to edge Texas Tech. In this unpredictable COVID-19 season of college football, the Big 12 could be as goofy as any conference. That's all the more reason for the Cowboys no t to take Kansas lightly. Best Sports Picks of the Day. The Jayhawks, guided by former Oklahoma State coach Les Miles, have been outmatched in decisive losses to Coastal Carolina and Baylor. The Baylor outcome marked the 50th consecutive Big 12 road defeat for Kansas, which has yet to gain any traction in Miles' second season. "If you give a good look at what we're playing with, we're playing with some really capable guys," Miles said. "They need to grow and they need to experience college football. But they're going to be good players, so we're excited about it. " One of the proven commodities, junior running back Pooka Williams, has gained 143 yards but is second on the team in rushing behind Velton Gardner (151). They have three of the Jayhawks' five touchdowns. Although that tandem is capable, the Jayhawks have struggled at quarterback. True freshman Jalon Daniel s became the third QB to give it a go, starting at Baylor, but Kansas allowed 40 unanswered points and fell 47-14. Daniels, Thomas MacVittie and Miles Kendrick all remain options at quarterback. Opposing rushers gouged the Jayhawks for 194 yards on average, a weakness Hubbard and Brown could expose. Attendance will be capped at 10,000 in Lawrence after Kansas prohibited fans from its home opener against Coastal Carolina as part of COVID-19 safety protocols. --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Mississippi vs. Kentucky - 10/3/2020 - 4:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Mississippi vs. Kentucky - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020Kentucky hosts Ole Miss on Saturday in a matchup of Southeastern Conference teams coming off disappointing results in their season openers last week. Leading Handicappers. The Wildcats (0-1, 0-1 SEC) lost their No. 23 ranking because of an ineffective offense against Auburn in a 29-13 defeat. The Rebels (0-1, 0-1) started the Lane Kiffin era off on the wrong foot with a 51-35 setback to Florida. Sports Handicapper Reviews. The Gators gained a school-record 642 yards against Mississippi, which had 613. "Florida's had great offenses and then they have the most in the history of the school," said Kiffin, who made his fifth head coaching debut following stops with the then-Oakland Raiders in the NFL and Tennessee, USC and Flori da Atlantic in college. "There are not a lot of positives to find there. We did almost stop them on a third down, but then we roughed the passer, so I was kind of excited there for a second. " Kentucky and Ole Miss have played just five times since 2005, with Ole Miss holding a 3-2 advantage. Approximately 12,000 fans will be allowed to attend games at Kentucky's Kroger Field in Lexington because of COVID-19 health-safety restrictions. Kiffin, with a history of calling plays including during a stint as offensive coordinator with Alabama, is allowing Jeff Lebby to do the honors this season. Lebby was the offensive coordinator at UCF last season. The Knights finished second nationally in total offense at 540. 5 yards per game and averaged 43. 4 points. Matt Corral, a drop-back passer, earned the starting quarterback role after a fall-camp battle with dual-threat John Rhys Plumlee. Lebby used Plumlee as a quarterback, wildcat back and receiver against Florida . Corral completed 22 of 31 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against the Gators. His primary target Elijah Moore caught 10 passes for a career-high 227 yards. After struggling to cover Auburn wideout Seth Williams last week (six catches, 112 yards, two touchdowns), the Wildcats' secondary will have its hands full with Moore this week. "Ole Miss, they play extremely fast on offense," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "Their quarterback is playing at a very, very high level. He can throw the ball all over the place. They have a very good scheme that spreads you out and puts a lot of pressure on you. " Kentucky outgained Auburn 384-324 last week, but its offense stalled in the second half. The Wildcats also committed three turnovers. Although Kentucky's Terry Wilson completed 24 of 37 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown while running for 42 yards, he also had an unforced fumble and an interception. Kentucky's seven second-half drives resulted in one touchdown, three punts, two fumbles and one turnover on downs. --Field Level Media


NCAAF Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Duke - 10/3/2020 - 4:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Duke - Date: 10/3/2020 Sep 29, 2020Virginia Tech went from being in the top 20 to dropping completely out of the latest Associated Press rankings. But the Hokies didn't lose last week. In fact, they delivered a resilient performance in their season-opening 45-24 victory over North Carolina State despite having 23 players and four coaches out due to either COVID-19 positive tests or contract tracing. But multiple Big Ten teams and Pac-12 frontrunner Oregon vaulted Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC) in the rankings. The Hokies, still ranked No. 23 in the coaches poll since Pac-12 teams have yet to be included in those rankings, will try to climb back up starting Saturday when they face struggling Duke in Durham, N. C. Free Sports Picks. The Blue Devils are 0-3 (all conference losses) for the first time in the 13-year tenure of coach D avid Cutcliffe. They are allowing 30. 3 points per game and scoring just 13. 0, which is tied for sixth worst among the 72 FBS schools that have played thus far. Duke has committed 14 turnovers, with seven of those coming in last week's 38-20 loss at Virginia. "Yes it's been challenging and it's going to continue to be challenging," Cutcliffe told reporters this week. "When you alter anything, you have to increase the quality of everything you're doing. . . . You may not believe this, but I think we're close. " Duke junior quarterback Chase Brice, a Clemson transfer, threw four interceptions on 16-of-36 passing to go along with 246 yards and two touchdowns. Brice has been sacked nine times and is 59 of 115 (51. 3 percent) for 722 yards. Backup quarterbacks Gunnar Holmberg and Chris Katrenick made appearances in the fourth quarter of last week's game, but Cutcliffe said after the game he didn't think it was time to consider a change at the position. "We work all three of those guys every week," Cutcliffe said. "We certainly will always be looking at that position just like any other position. But I don't need to create anything just yet. " Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente didn't say if new defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton, who is taking over this season for Bud Foster, or linebackers coach Tracy Claeys would be back this week. First-year cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith assumed temporary coordinator duties against N. C. State and the Hokies limited the Wolfpack to 5. 1 yards per play. "I think we're going to have to have that mentality as we go throughout this season that we've got to do our best to get everybody prepared -- and that's coaches and players alike -- to play multiple roles because we could find ourselves very easily in that situation as soon as this week," Fuente said. Fuente is expecting to have redshirt junior quarterback Hendon Hooker (1,555 yards passing and 13 touchdowns last season) available this week. Quarterbacks Braxton Burmeister and Quincy Patterson II combined for 181 passing yards and two touchdown passes and ran for 93 yards. Patterson directed two scoring drives that built a 31-10 halftime lead after Burmeister was forced to leave the game with a cramping hand. Still, Hooker's presence should provide a boost to an offense that totaled 314 rushing yards led by Khalil Herbert (104 yards and a touchdown on six carries). The Hokies amassed 495 yards overall. "Each week is different, and there is no guarantee that we'll have a full complement of people coming into the next week," Fuente said. "It was nice for us to get to do it. It was nice for us to play well. Certainly, I don't want to make too much of it. " --Field Level Media