It's still a little too early to panic in Seattle, but another Mariners loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday may have pushed fans to the brink. Seattle dropped each of the first two games in the series and came in losers of eight straight overall.
The outlook didnt look good here either with Houston holding a three run in the seventh inning, but one player and two swings turned that all around.. Third baseman Kyle Seager, who hadn't homered in a game since Sept. 3, 2013, got Seattle on the board with a two-run homer in the seventh and then lifted them to a 5-3 victory with a three-run walk-off homer in the ninth.
It was obviously a much needed win for Seattle, who on the verge of back-to-back sweeps against Miami and Houston. Just the same, it was a much needed confidence boost for Seager. A .260 hitter over the first three years of his career, Seager came in hitting only .156 with two RBI on the season. Despite his struggles, manager Lloyd McClendon was determined to let Seager hit his way out of it. That patience worked to everyones benefit on Wednesday.
''He has a track record and I've said all along that he is going to hit,'' McClendon said. ''Obviously, when you're in a losing streak and the guys you expect to hit don't hit, it's a little frustrating but in that case you have one of two options: you can sit him or you can play him. I chose to play him and he didn't disappoint.''
The multi-homer game was the third of Seager's career. The five RBIs were a new career high.
STRIKEOUTS AND WACHAS: St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha had a night to remember and a night to forget in their 3-2 loss to the New York Mets. You might think that's impossible, but consider that while Wacha recorded each of his first nine outs via the strikeout and had 10 overall, he also allowed three hits, issued a career high five walks, and was pulled after a career low four innings.
The damage wasn't terrible. Wacha only allowed two runs, which was obvi
The NFL has a lot of television network partners to keep happy, and that job got more difficult when CBS was given a package of Thursday night games this season.
The league for years used "Monday Night Football" to show its highlight game each week, but when NBC landed "Sunday Night Football" and ESPN went to Monday night, the league puts its best games on Sunday night. This year NFL needs to make sure CBS and FOX were happy with their regular Sunday schedules, give CBS some good games for Thursday night, and still make "Sunday Night Football" and "Monday Night Football" must-watch events.
That's not easy.
The NFL placated NBC and ESPN this week, a day before the schedule was released. ESPN was given a wild-card playoff game. A divisional playoff game was added to NBC's schedule through 2022. That move made it seem like the Monday and Sunday night schedule in 2014 might be watered down a bit. Shutdown Corner's Anwar Richardson and Frank Schwab will take a look at the Sunday and Monday night games, week by week, and see how entertaining the prime-time schedule will be this season:
WEEK 1Sunday: Indianapolis Colts at Denver BroncosMonday: N.Y. Giants at Detroit Lions; San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals
Frank's take: Very nice Sunday night game. The Giants have improved and the Lions are entertaining. I wouldn't have thought this a year ago, but Chargers-Cardinals isn't bad at all for the second part of the doubleheader.
Anwar's take: NFL fans have been craving football for months. It really does not matter what games are rolled out on in Week 1. We will watch every minute of each game.
Verdict: Stay up, call in sick on Monday ... and then again on Tuesday.
WEEK 2Sunday: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ersMonday: Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
Frank's take: That Sunday game is interesting; pretty good test for Marc Trestman's Bears offense. And two up-and-coming teams on Monday night. Two thumbs up.
Anwar's take: Nick Foles vs. Andrew Luck? Fi
Last summer, Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge was the subject of trade rumors that would have moved him from the only NBA team he's ever known. Nearly a year later, he's clearly been the best player of the first few days of the 2014 postseason.
For the second consecutive game, Aldridge terrorized the Houston Rockets' defense. Coming three days after his 46-point, 18-rebound performance in Portland's Game 1 win, Aldridge scored 43 points on 18-of-28 shooting to lead his team to a 112-105 win and a 2-0 series lead, giving Portland a huge advantage as the series heads to their home court for Games 3 and 4.
Aldridge's performance places him in impressive historic company. He is the first player in Blazers history to score 40 or more points in two playoff games over his entire tenure with the team, the first player to score 40 points in consecutive playoff games since LeBron James in 2009, and the third player in NBA history to score 40-plus points in both Games 1 and 2 on the road. Aldridge was an All-Star and early MVP candidate this season, but he has elevated his game to new levels in the first two games against the Rockets.
Perhaps most impressively, he's excelled in different areas of the floor in each game. In Game 1, Aldridge did the vast majority of his damage near the basket and at the line:
In Game 2, though, the Blazers adjusted their plan and put Aldridge into pick-and-rolls with Damian Lillard and others, setting up a large number of mid-range jumpers:
The Rockets had few answers for Aldridge. At various times, they tried to cover him with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik in isolation and various double-teams, but nothing seemed to work. The best defense on Aldridge appeared to be his own fatigue - he looked gassed in the closing minutes and gave way to his perimeter teammates to close things out.
Yet, for whatever Aldridge seemed to lack in the game's final moments, the Rockets as a whole gave much greater cause for concern. Despite Al
No. 1 Star: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Kane was his usual dynamic self in Game 4 versus the St. Louis Blues, scoring twice, including the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory, and adding an assist. His game-winner was a remarkable bit of poise, as he backed off the defense before beating Ryan Miller high.
No. 2 Star: Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars
Skating a game-high 32:48 in the Stars' 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks that evened the series at two, Goligoski led the Stars with two points, a goal and an assist. Cody Eakin got the game-winner, but Goligoski's goal was the one that put the Ducks away. Check out the assist from Vernon Fiddler:
No. 3 Star: Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Dubinsky scored a huge goal in the Blue Jackets' 4-3 comeback win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, tying the game with just 24 seconds to go. He also picked up an assist on Ryan Johansen's powerplay goal that cut the Penguins' lead in half:
Honorable mention: Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves in the Penguins' loss... That was Columbus's first home playoff win in franchise history.
Did You Know? A little over a week into the Stanley Cup playoffs, we've already seen 9 two-goal leads lost. It really is the worst lead in hockey.
Dishonorable mention: Marc-Andre Fleury was sort of the reason for the Penguins' loss.
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The wonderful thing about baseball is the story we expect to dominate headlines entering a game or a series can often be overshadowed by something unexpected or historic. You just never know which direction it will take, which keeps things unpredictable and gives us endless topics to discuss.
Such was the case during the anticipated Los Angeles Angels-Washington Nationals series this week featuring the first ever regular season battles between Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. We expected the spotlight to be trained on the two young phenoms throughout, but it was 41-year-old Raul Ibanez who stole the show on Monday with a three-run double in the eighth. Then on Tuesday, a red hot Albert Pujols connected for career home runs No. 499 and 500, which had many fans focusing on his milestone and thinking back to his explosive early days as a 21-year-old rookie in 2001.Β
On Wednesday, though, we finally had a moment that put the spotlight on both Trout and Harper, but by the time the play was over it was shining solely on Mike Trout.Β
It happened in the first inning with Harper hitting and two Nationals on base. Harper drilled a sinking line drive in Trout's direction that appeared destined to fall and perhaps give Washington an early lead. However, Trout charged in from deep center field and extended full out to make a diving catch, robbing Harper of a hit and Washington the chance for a huge first inning. Β
It's the type of play and effort Trout has become known for. In fact, such a play barely registers anymore since we've grown accustomed to watching him scale fences and dive in every direction. But robbing Harper certainly registers, because even if they may not acknowledge a personal rivalry, the competitive drive they both possess suggests they'd like to get one over on the other.
In this case, it's advantage Trout.
As for the series, the advantage goes to Trout again. He finished 5-for-14 with a double, three runs scored and the Angels took home two victories. Harper finished the series 1-for-11 wih a walk, but technically got the last laugh on Wednesday as Washington rallied from a three run deficit toΒ win it 5-4 in the ninth inning.
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