No. 2 Oregon holds off Washington State, 38-31 (Yahoo Sports) - Marcus Mariota threw for 329 yards and five touchdowns as No. 2 Oregon held off Washington State 38-31 on Saturday night in a matchup of two of the top offenses in the nation. Devon Allen and Keanon Lowe each had two touchdown receptions for Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12), which has won eight straight games against Washington State. Connor Halliday threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns for Washington State (1-3, 0-1), which boasts the nation's top passing attack. Washington State played stout defense in the first half, sacking Mariota five times and recording seven tackles for losses, while holding the Ducks to a total of 210 yards. Madness of Premier League loan game - Weaver helps Angels to 8-5 win over Rangers (Yahoo Sports) - ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Jered Weaver earned his AL-leading 18th victory, Albert Pujols reached the 100-RBI mark with a two-run homer and Mike Trout also hit a two-run shot to lead the Los Angeles Angels to an 8-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night. No. 1 Florida St survives against No. 22 Clemson (Yahoo Sports) - With Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston watching from the sideline, No. 1 Florida State came back to beat No. 22 Clemson 23-17 in overtime on Karlos Williams' 12-yard touchdown run Saturday night. Winston was suspended for the game against Clemson (1-2, 0-1 ACC) after making ''offensive and vulgar'' comments earlier this week on campus. His backup, Sean Maguire, had an up-and-down night, and Clemson had enough missed opportunities to allow Florida State (3-0, 1-0) to extend its winning streak to 19 games. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney declined to attempt a 33-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime and Adam Choice was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1. No. 4 Oklahoma beats West Virginia 45-33 (Yahoo Sports) - Bruising freshman Samaje Perine rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 4 Oklahoma to a 45-33 win over West Virginia in their Big 12 opener Saturday night. Alex Ross scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and quarterback Trevor Knight caught a 4-yard scoring pass on a trick play for the Sooners (4-0, 1-0). Oklahoma pulled away from a 24-24 halftime tie to win its eighth straight game dating to last season and its 11th road game in 12 tries. Clint Trickett threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns for West Virginia, (2-2, 0-1). Mississippi St. stuns No. 8 LSU, 34-29 (Yahoo Sports) - Dak Prescott treated a national audience to an extraordinary performance and Mississippi State ended a 14-year losing streak against LSU by holding off a wild rally after most Tigers fans had left Death Valley. Prescott passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and highlighted his 105 yards rushing with a 56-yard scoring run, and Mississippi State celebrated a stunning 34-29 victory over No. 8 LSU. MSU led 34-10 in the fourth quarter, but LSU scored three late touchdowns, two in a span of 28 seconds. Cards hit 3 HRs, top Reds, move closer to playoffs (Yahoo Sports) - Tony Cruz hit a three-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals connected three times, beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-4 on Saturday night and moving closer to their fourth straight playoff berth. The Cardinals cut their magic number to one for clinching a postseason berth. Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk also homered as St. Louis won for the seventh time in eight games. Cincinnati has lost six in row and been outscored 30-8 in that stretch. Florida State's Winston participates in warmups (Yahoo Sports) - TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Suspended Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston came out in full pads and participated in warm-ups Saturday night for before going back to the locker room and changing into street clothes. Blake Sims, No. 3 Alabama top Florida 42-21 (Yahoo Sports) - Blake Sims threw for 445 yards, the second-best passing performance in Alabama history, and the third-ranked Crimson Tide overcame a sloppy performance to beat Florida 42-21 on Saturday. The Tide (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) committed 11 penalties for 80 yards and four turnovers that turned into 21 points for the Gators (2-1, 1-1), who still couldn't handle the Sims-to-Amari Cooper connection. The Tide's turnovers and miscues kept the game close into the fourth quarter. Alabama's 645 total yards was the most the Gators have allowed. No. 6 Texas A&M rolls 58-6 over June-less SMU (Yahoo Sports) - Kenny Hill had 322 yards of total offense playing only the first half, Jeremy Tabuyo turned two short passes into touchdowns and sixth-ranked Texas A&M rolled to a 58-6 victory Saturday at SMU. Trey Williams ran for two touchdowns for the Aggies, who last started 4-0 in 2006. The Mustangs (0-3) played for the first time since coach June Jones resigned only two games into his seventh season.

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Matt Garza ejected after plunking Andrew McCutchen twice [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 21, 2014, 6:51 am]
The Brewers-Pirates rivalry has picked up in intensity this season as both teams vie for postseason positions out of the NL Central. Another layer was added to the feud on Saturday as Brewers starter Matt Garza was ejected for hitting Andrew McCutchen not once, but twice in five innings.  Of course, the bad blood really reached a boiling point all the way back on Mother's Day, when Pirates' starter Gerrit Cole confronted Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez for what he considered to be excessive showboating on a triple. The benches would clear on that afternoon, punches would be thrown (and landed) and four players ended up getting suspended, which planted the seeds for potential future hostility. It didn't quite reach that level when the teams matched up again on Saturday, but it didn't take long for the bad blood to start boiling. If not for the umpires taking charge and ejecting Garza, another ugly scene may have played out. The first hit-by-pitch actually seemed innocent enough. It happened on a 1-2 count with two outs and didn't really scream intentional. The Pirates, though, are understandably fed up with McCutchen being hit so frequently this season. In the following inning, starter Edinson Volquez sent a reply by buzzing Ryan Braun. At that point, home-plate umpire Marty Foster stepped in to warm both benches, which would prove critical one inning later. With McCutchen at plate again, another 1-2 count and two outs in the inning, Garza plunked him again with a fastball, this time on the elbow. As an isolated hit-by-pitch, it probably wouldn't have looked so bad. In the context of Brewers-Pirates, it looked terrible. Foster had little choice but eject Garza and consequentially Brewers manager Ron Roenicke due to his previous warning. Garza was furious about the ejection and attempted to pled his case before storming off the field. After the game, he vehemently denied either being pitch intentional. If someone dared disagree, he had strong words for them.   Fro

The Grand Slam: Mariners miss opportunity to gain ground in wild-card [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 21, 2014, 5:34 am]
The setup was perfect for the Seattle Mariners. Earlier in the day, both the Oakland A's and Kansas City Royals lost, opening the door for Seattle to move into a tie for the wild-card lead with a win over Houston. That door slammed shut quickly though. Starting pitcher Chris Young didn't have his best, and the Mariners offense off little help against Dallas Keuchel as the Astros exploded to a 10-1 win.  The game was essentially decided in the first inning as Houston's offense hit two of its five home runs. Strangely enough, the first inning output was one home run more than they'd hit as a team in their previous 12 games. Chris Carter smacked his 37th, a two-run shot, to end the drought and start the scoring. Alex Presley quickly followed with a two-run shot of his own making it 4-0. Matt Dominguez, Carlos Corporan and Jake Marisneck would all add home runs later, but by that point they were merely piling on. Though he didn't hit a home run, Jose Altuve made a little more history of his own. With his 218th hit, he tied Rod Carew for the most hits by a second baseman since 1937. On the hill, Keuchel was never threatened for Houston. He allowed one run over eight innings to notch his team-best 12th victory. DODGERS BLOW BIG LEAD AT WRIGLEY: After scoring six first-inning runs in support of Clayton Kershaw on Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers came out swinging again at Wrigley Field on Saturday. More specifically, Adrian Gonzalez came out swinging, connecting for a two-run homer in the first and a three-run homer in the third to open up a five-run lead.  However, unlike Friday, it wouldn't last. The Cubs started chipping away and then struck for a four-run seventh against J.P. Howell.  Then, in the eighth, Chris Coghlan gave them their first lead with a two-run homer off Brian Wilson. That would hold up as the difference in an 8-7 win.  With the loss, LA's magic number to clinch the NL West remained at six. That was, until the San Diego Padres played the role of

The Grand Slam: Mariners miss opportunity to gain ground in wild-card race [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 21, 2014, 5:34 am]
The setup was perfect for the Seattle Mariners. Earlier in the day, both the Oakland A's and Kansas City Royals lost, opening the door for Seattle to move into a tie for the wild-card lead with a win over Houston. That door slammed shut quickly though. Starting pitcher Chris Young didn't have his best, and the Mariners offense off little help against Dallas Keuchel as the Astros exploded to a 10-1 win.  The game was essentially decided in the first inning as Houston's offense hit two of its five home runs. Strangely enough, the first inning output was one home run more than they'd hit as a team in their previous 12 games. Chris Carter smacked his 37th, a two-run shot, to end the drought and start the scoring. Alex Presley quickly followed with a two-run shot of his own making it 4-0. Matt Dominguez, Carlos Corporan and Jake Marisneck would all add home runs later, but by that point they were merely piling on. Though he didn't hit a home run, Jose Altuve made a little more history of his own. With his 218th hit, he tied Rod Carew for the most hits by a second baseman since 1937. On the hill, Keuchel was never threatened for Houston. He allowed one run over eight innings to notch his team-best 12th victory. DODGERS BLOW BIG LEAD AT WRIGLEY: After scoring six first-inning runs in support of Clayton Kershaw on Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers came out swinging again at Wrigley Field on Saturday. More specifically, Adrian Gonzalez came out swinging, connecting for a two-run homer in the first and a three-run homer in the third to open up a five-run lead.  However, unlike Friday, it wouldn't last. The Cubs started chipping away and then struck for a four-run seventh against J.P. Howell.  Then, in the eighth, Chris Coghlan gave them their first lead with a two-run homer off Brian Wilson. That would hold up as the difference in an 8-7 win.  With the loss, LA's magic number to clinch the NL West remained at six. That was, until the San Diego Padres played the role of

Jose Altuve singles on pitch nearly over his head (VIDEO) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 11:24 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes. It's official: Jose Altuve is a wizard with the bat. Sure, his ridiculous hit total this season already suggested as much. He currently leads all of baseball with 216. That's 28 more than Michael Brantley of the Indians, his next closest competitor. He also recently became the fastest player in five seasons to reach 200 hits, and earlier this week he broke Craig Biggio's Astros single-season hit record of 211. But it's one thing to believe he's a wizard. It's quite a another to see it. On Friday, we saw his magic on display. With a runner on first and nobody out, interim manager Tom Lawless put on the hit-and-run with Altuve, who quite frankly is the perfect man for the job. That is, unless the opposing pitcher, in this case Taijuan Walker of the Seattle Mariners, throws a pitch that is literally head-level with Altuve. Keep in mind, Altuve is only 5-foot-5, so a head-level pitch for him is a different height than most hitters. Still, it doesn't matter how tall the batter is, that pitch is almost impossible to get on top of. Unless you're a wizard, which we're here to prove Altuve is. It an amazing display of bat control, Altuve went high to not only get on top of the pitch, but he expertly shot it through the opening on the right side for a clean single, advancing the runner all the way to third. It was absolutely picture-perfect execution. A clinic in putting bat on ball for the good of the team. It just didn't seem realistic until the fourth or fifth viewing. The hit was one of three for Altuve. In fact, he went a perfect 3 for 3, raising his AL-leading batting average to .343. However, in a weird twist to the game, Altuve actually disappeared. No, not by his own doing. It turns out Lawless made the decision to pull Altuve in the sixth inning to protect his 8-point lead over Victor Martinez in the batting race. “He’s got something special going, and to win the batting title is a very special thing,” Lawless said. “T

Salvador Perez's baserunning error confuses umpires, proves costly for Royals [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 9:21 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes. This weekend's Tigers-Royals series definitely has a postseason feel to it. And really, what's a postseason series without something bizarre or controversial happening? We definitely saw one of the strangest plays of the season in Saturday's game. With the game tied at one in the sixth inning and Kansas City threatening with runners on second and third and one out, Omar Infante hit a soft liner that second baseman Ian Kinsler snatched with relative ease for the second out. It was a routine play, and that should have been the end of it. However, Kinsler got a little greedy and attempted to double off Eric Hosmer at second base. There was never a real play to be made, and Kinsler's odd decision appeared disastrous as the throw sailed past a seemingly unprepared shortstop Eugeni Suarez. After Hosmer tagged up at second base, he moved on third safely. Meanwhile, Salvador Perez, who was running at third, took off for home and appeared to the score the go-ahead run. One problem. Unlike Hosmer, he never retagged the base. Though it wasn't initially noticed by third-base umpire Larry Vanover, it was noticed by backup Tigers infiedler Hernan Perez, who alerted manager Brad Ausmus in the dugout. The Tigers ran an appeal, which at first wasn't picked up by the Fox national broadcast. But it did happen, and Salvador Perez was ruled safe. Tigers did throw over to third, for those asking.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) September 20, 2014 Now, here's where it got confusing for everybody. After the call was made, Ausmus came out to argue that Perez didn't tag, though he said after the game he did not attempt to challenge the call. The umpires initially huddled, then went to the headphones to get a ruling. All the while, the replay was being shown on the Kauffman Stadium videoboard as if an official review was underway, but the umpires were quickly informed it was not a reviewable play per the league's replay policy. From MLB: Play was not revie

Hector Santiago beats up Gatorade jug, showers in uniform after rough start [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 7:18 pm]
Putting a dreadful performance or series of disappointing games out of mind is often times the most difficult part of being a professional athlete. With that in mind, though, perhaps Hector Santiago of the Los Angeles Angels has created a new method for washing off the stink and starting over with a clean slate mentally. After lasting only two innings in his previous outing against Houston — in which he allowed three runs and walked five — Santiago followed up with an even worse outing in Friday's 12-3 loss to Texas. In one inning plus, Santiago was torched for seven runs (six earned) on seven hits.   Needless to say, the frustration was building, and on Friday he first elected to vent it on a helpless Gatorade jug in the dugout. That's actually a tried and true method, but not as advised one. It's just as likely to cause injury as it is to fuel a turnaround, and that's especially true when those actions result in hitting coach Don Baylor getting soaked. Oops. After surviving that potential run-in, it's reported that Santiago immediately ran to the showers. In fact, he went so quick, he didn't even bother taking off his uniform. Hector Santiago, after his 1-inning start tonight, took a shower in his uniform, then shaved his head. "Fresh start," he said. #angels— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) September 20, 2014 Apparently Santiago spared a portion of his beard, so it won't be a completely new look. That said, there's no doubt what his unique postgame antics symbolize to him on a personal level. On a professional level, manager Mike Scioscia's only worry is how he'll put his team in the best position to win games. Sure, they've already locked up the division, but with Garrett Richards done for the season and Matt Shoemaker currently ailing, he may be down to three starters, which includes an obviously downtrodden Santiago.  If Shoemaker can't return, Scioscia's hands are tied. However, if he can, it sounds like he still might be considering a three-man rotati

Young girl innocently throws back Derek Jeter foul ball [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 5:04 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes. It appears everything Derek Jeter does over the final 10 days of his career will be newsworthy. Yes, even his innocent foul balls that seemingly only serve the purpose of keeping one of his final plate appearances alive.  As we saw in the seventh inning on Friday night, his foul balls can actually be dramatic and highly entertaining events. Although we're sure the parents of the young girl involved would also add the word stressful to the description.   On a 2-2 pitch from Blue Jays reliever Todd Redmond, Jeter hit a soft chopper foul up the third base line to prolong his at-bat. Toronto third baseman Danny Valencia picked the ball up and soft-tossed it into the stands to a lucky fan. As the camera later panned to the crowd, we saw the recipient, a father of two young girls, holding up the ball and one of his daughter while his wife snapped a happy photo.  Happiness soon turned to terror though. After the photo was taken, he handed the ball off to his other daughter, and with all of her might she leaned back and fired itback on to the field.   No hesitation. No regret. She wanted rid of that baseball as soon as she touched it, and there was nothing anybody could do but gasp as the valuable keepsake flew through the air. Ironically, just before that pitch the Toronto announcers were discussing the value of Jeter's final home run ball at Yankee Stadium. A foul ball obviously pales in comparison, but just about any Jeter souvenir on his final homestand will have value. If nothing else, it will have personal value to those lucky enough to secure it, so the loss of that souvenir would be devastating. Fortunately for this family, there would be a happy ending. Though the unknowing ball boy attempted to give it away to another young fan, that fan seemed to insist he return it to the young girl. So it was done, and this time the ball was put in a safe place so that it would survive the trip home. That foul ball will no doubt be an

The Grand Slam: Tigers take charge in 10-1 win over Royals [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 7:11 am]
The biggest series in nearly 30 years at Kauffman got off to a very disappointing start for the home-standing Royals. Before the 37.945 fans had a chance to settle in, Detroit struck for three first-inning runs, including an RBI double from Miguel Cabrera that was horribly misjudged by left fielder Alex Gordon. With a locked-in Justin Verlander on the hill, they never looked back, cruising to a big 10-1 victory. ''We just went out there and did what we're capable of doing,'' Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. ''But there are no statements. Our intent is just to play the game.'' The Tigers have been in this position before, so their mindset isn't surprising. Yet they definitely looked like the hungrier team, at least for one night. Every batter in Detroit's order had a hit before the fourth inning. Ian Kinsler paced the 19-hit attack with three hits and three RBIs. He doubled home Detroit's fifth inning run and later capped the scoring with a two-run homer. Victor and J.D. Martinez both remained hot, combining to go 5 for 10 with three runs scored. It was an all around shellacking, but Royals skipper Ned Yost doesn't seem concerned by the result.  ''There's no carry-over,'' Yost said. ''They whipped us, they beat us, they spanked us, whatever you want to say. We'll show up again tomorrow and be ready to play.'' And we'll be ready to watch. Saturday's matchup should be a dandy with Max Scherzer set to face James "Big Game" Shields.  OAKLAND WINS BEHIND JON LESTER: It wasn't much of a breakout, but it was enough. The A's offense scored three runs in the second inning on consecutive RBIs from Derek Norris, Eric Sogard and Coco Crisp, and then rode their pitching to the finish line in a 3-1 win.  Starter Jon Lester went seven innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out seven. Ryan Howard got him for a solo homer in the fourth, but Philadelphia never truly threatened to turn the game around. Luke Gregorson handled the eighth, and then close

Russell Martin's home run beats Brewers, clinches playoff berth for Dodgers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 5:12 am]
Your browser does not support iframes. Russell Martin once played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He now plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yet with one mighty swing on Friday night, he managed to improve the postseason outlooks for both. With Pittsburgh trailing by two runs in the eighth, Martin muscled up and delivered an opposite field three-run homer off another former Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, which send the raucous PNC Park crowd into a frenzy, and also give Pittsburgh its first lead of the game. Neither Broxton or the collapsing Brewers would recover. Pittsburgh tacked on an insurance run in the inning and then wrapped up a 4-2 victory. In doing so, Pittsburgh extended its lead over Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot to 4 1/2 games with only nine left to play. That essentially puts the Brewers in a position where they have to win the final two games in Pittsburgh to give themselves a realistic shot in the final week. A split doesn't work, and a sweep would be the death knell.  After dropping two of three in St. Louis, including a 13-inning heartbreaker on Thursday, it's reasonable to ask just how much Milwaukee has left in the tank. These losses are just physically draining, they're mentally draining as well, and with a roster that doesn't quite match up to its competitors, they're already fighting an uphill battle.  It's a test of their team's mettle. We'll know by Monday whether they've passed or failed.  Friday night's result also officially punched the Dodgers ticket to the postseason. Los Angeles, which defeated the Chicago Cubs 14-5 earlier in the day as ace Clayton Kershaw picked up his 20th win, is guaranteed to be one of the final ten. It's the Dodgers' second consecutive postseason berth. They advanced to the NLCS last season before falling to the Cardinals in six games.  Los Angeles still has work to do wrap up the NL West, thus guaranteeing a spot in the NLDS, but they did receive some help from the San Diego Padres. San Diego defeated the

Braves fan catches Lucas Duda's home run in popcorn bucket [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 3:40 am]
Your browser does not support iframes. If players are given the Gold Glove Award as recognition for their superior defensive skills, perhaps fans should be rewarded with golden buckets of popcorn. That seems to be the most commonly used prop — well, aside from an actual glove — used to make spectacular catches in the stands. To be perfectly honest, it's also the most visually appealing, especially when the bucket happens to be full and its contents explode from within.   That would be the exact scene that played out on Friday night in Atlanta. As one Braves fan in the right-field bleachers attempted to enjoy his mid-game snack, Lucas Duda of the Mets took aim and launched a mammoth two-run homer right in his direction. It appeared like the fan was still enjoying his last bite as it unfolded, yet without thinking twice he lined himself up and moved his bucket into position to make a fantastic catch.  He even used two hands to steady the bucket. Strong fundamentals on display at Turner Field! From that fans, that is. The big league club would go to lose 5-0.  It's almost like an instinctual reaction now. As if fans grew up practicing catching baseballs in popcorn buckets and come prepared for just that scenario. There's never any hesitation to sacrifice the snack, and rarely do we see the fans mess it up. It's obviously a long way ahead of the fan who tries catching the ball while holding a beer, but could be losing ground to parents who catch the ball while holding a child. We've seen a number of those this season, and with each one the bar seems to be raised. In order to regain its healthy lead, the popcorn-eating fans may have to start going behind the back.   Consider that an unofficial challenge.  More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Derek Jeter honored with bronze cap, new ad from MLB featuring Mo'ne Davis [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 20, 2014, 12:07 am]
As the end of Derek Jeter's fantastic career nears, the race to honor his legacy has accelerated. On Friday, the folks at New Era added its contribution to the farewell tour, and we must admit it's among the coolest items Jeter has received all season.  Prior to Friday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, New Era CEO Chris Koch presented Derek Jeter with a one-of-a-kind bronzed version of the New Era 59FIFTY Yankees cap. Here's another look at it.  As you can see, the bronze version also includes the Jeter sidepatch that the team is currently wearing. That attention to detail is certainly appreciated. As is New Era's generous $22,222 donation to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.  That honor came on the heels of Major League Baseball releasing its official tribute ad to Jeter, which included notable appearances from Mo'ne Davis and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.  Your browser does not support iframes. It's the third separate ad that has been released in tribute to Jeter. Nike released its well-received Re2pect ad in July, lining it to premiere ahead of Jeter's final All-Star game appearance. Gatorade followed suit with its goosebump-inducing ad featuring Jeter walking through the streets of New York on his way to Yankee Stadium. The ad was legitimately filmed prior to a Yankees home game and was released for the first time on Thursday.  MLB's ad was a lot more subdued in comparison to both. A simple thank you for his service was the message, with an appreciative nod from the game's present and future.  As several people have noted, Mike Trout's inclusion as the only major leaguer in the ad leaves no question who they are pushing as the next face of baseball, and can probably be viewed as an unofficial passing of the torch.  More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Clayton Kershaw earns 20th victory as Dodgers close in on postseason berth [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 11:04 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes. The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for wins any way they can get'em as they near a second straight postseason berth and division championship. With that goal in mind, it must be nice to know they can turn to two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw every fifth day, because even on days when he's not his usual dominant or efficient self, he simply can't lose. Kershaw was credited with his 20th victory in the Dodgers 14-5 win over the Cubs on Friday afternoon, despite only lasting the minimum five innings needed to qualify. That snapped a string of 17 consecutive outings with at least seven innings pitched. After being spotted a six run lead in the first inning, Kershaw gave three runs right back, and needed 106 pitches to survive the afternoon. Kershaw allowed those three runs (all earned), seven hits and tied a season-high with three walks. It's a subtle reminder that the win stat is often more misleading than it is telling of a pitcher's true value or performance on a given day, and that our celebration of such milestones is outdated.    Kershaw's displeasure with his own performance was clear. After striking out Chris Valaika with a filthy curveball to end the fifth, he let loose with an inaudible tirade directed at his glove.  Frustration abounded, but victory was ultimately attained, making Kershaw the first 20-game winner in MLB this season. It's Kershaw's second 20-win season — he won 21 in 2011, his first Cy Young season.  After starting and winning the Dodgers opener against Arizona down in Australia, Kershaw ended up missing five weeks with a back injury. When he returned on May 6, he was slow to get back on track. He finished that month with three wins overall and a 3.57 ERA, but rebounded to win his next eight starts, posting a ridiculous 0.74 ERA over that time. It's that stretch that put Kersahw in line to win a third Cy Young Award and possibly even to contend in the MVP race. And it's his continue

Paul Konerko back in White Sox lineup 17 days after breaking left hand [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 9:27 pm]
Your browser does not support iframes.   Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko insisted he would "finish on the field" in his final major league season after he sustained a broken hand, and 17 days later he's back in the lineup. Konerko is playing first base and batting sixth for the White Sox, who take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday night. Coincidentally, the Trop was the site of the only inside-the-park home run of his career, in 2000, so it makes for an extra-special stop on his farewell tour. Konerko has said he's retiring after parts of 18 seasons in the majors, mostly with Chicago. Konerko's farewell appeared to be dealt an unfair blow Sept. 2 when he applied a tag to Danny Santana of the Minnesota Twins and sustained a broken bone in his glove hand. From the moment everyone realized the seriousness of the injury, Konerko was quick to say it wouldn't keep him from playing again, even with time growing short.   Konerko today: "I’ll finish on the field. ...I don’t care if I go up there and take three pitches and strike out, I’ll finish on the field."— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) September 6, 2014   Konerko has described his hand in recent days as feeling "sore," and it's a sound assumption that he wouldn't be playing yet if this injury had happened in the prime of his career, and the White Sox were in the playoff hunt. He's a special case, though. A six-time All-Star, Konerko helped lead the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005, and has slugged 439 home runs in his career — 42nd all-time — with an adjusted on-base plus slugging of 118. At 38 years old, Konerko isn't what he once was, batting .220 with a .272 on-base and .616 OPS in 2014. Perhaps he can get a few more hits and slug another home run before he's done, but even if he doesn't, Konerko has made his mark on the White Sox.  He deserves to leave on his own terms, and fortunately the Sox can accomodate him. More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:      - - - - - -

Rookie Joc Pederson fetches Dodgers coffee wearing full uniform in Wrigleyville [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 7:50 pm]
One great detail about September in Major League Baseball: Rookies are made by veterans to do embarrassing stuff because they're new.  One great detail about National League baseball in Chicago: Wrigley Field is located in a residential/commercial neighborhood that allows ballplayers to run out for a snack, or coffee, or... have a rookie run out for coffee. Yeah! Such happened to Los Angeles Dodgers rookie slugger Joc Pederson on Friday morning, before a matinee against the Chicago Cubs. Dodgers teammates interested in consuming more than what was available inside of the visitor's clubhouse used their prerogative to send Pederson and a clubhouse helper to the nearest Starbucks, across the street, for some Mocachocolattes, Arianagrandes and Venticuatronueves. And Pederson had to wear his full uniform — sneakers instead of cleats being the exception — when he made his coffee run. That's the funniest part, too, because baseball players always look so odd when they're dressed up in "the world" but not "at the ballpark."   Commence with the Joc-ularity! You also might remember Pederson from when his minor league team gave away his '94 Buick Century. Pederson, in all likelihood, will have his day to order coffee. He's a top prospect, one (as noted by CBS Eye on Baseball) who was the first player in the past 80 years in the Pacific Coast League to finish with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season. Do that in the majors, or come close, and it will buy you a lot of Alpacinos Due Ralphmaccios. All bought by someone with less service time. More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:      - - - - - - - David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnswerDave 

Royals ready (or not) for Tigers series, Kansas City's biggest in nearly 30 years [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 2:48 pm]
The people of Kansas City typically seem to be optimists, but not necessarily because of their sports teams. Talk to my father-in-law about pro football, and surely he'll quip, "Chiefs coming back? They've been saying that since the '70s." The Kansas City Royals historically haven't inspired noticeably different feelings among baseball fans. Kansas City Star reporter Andy McCullough noted this when previewing the team's biggest series of the season — their biggest in nearly 30 seasons — a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium that begins Friday night.  The Royals trail the Tigers, heavy favorites before the season started, by just a half-game in the American League Central. They're in better shape for the wild card. The team put playoff tickets on sale Thursday. They're the constant talk of area barbers. People want to believe, but it has been since 1985 that the Royals made the playoffs and won the World Series, so... From the Star: The managerial tactics of Ned Yost occur under a microscope of criticism. A sense of pessimism pervades. The family of Julie Bradford, a 34-year-old veterinarian from Kansas City, has held season tickets since the team’s stint in Municipal Stadium. Bradford can still recall the car-honking, flag-waving bedlam that engulfed Kauffman Stadium during the 1985 World Series. With a two-game lead on Seattle in the AL wild-card standings, the Royals appear to occupy a steady foothold. ESPN placed their odds of making the playoffs at 84.9 percent on Thursday morning. Yet a lifetime spent watching a losing squad still left Bradford with anxiety heading into this weekend. “I’m pretty nervous about it,” Bradford said. “I’m used to disappointment.” That's good, because the Royals are 5-11 against the Tigers this season, including a recent series at Detroit where they dropped two of three.  General manager Dayton Moore's rebuilding project, eight years in the making, doesn't necessarily rest on t

The Grand Slam: Unlikely hero saves St. Louis, sinks Milwaukee [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 11:20 am]
Whatever slim chance the Milwaukee Brewers still had of making the playoffs diminished even further Thursday night thanks to some unlikely heroics from one of the most anonymous members of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Tony Cruz, a backup catcher only playing because St. Louis pinch-ran for all-star Yadier Molina in the ninth inning, delivered a game-winning 13th-inning single up the middle to plate Matt Adams from second and give the Cardinals a 3-2 victory. St. Louis had already rallied from a 2-0 deficit thanks in part to a boneheaded eighth-inning miscue by Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds. Instead of attempting to start an inning-ending double play on a hard ground ball, Reynolds nonchalantly strolled to first base and got just one out, extending an inning that would eventually culminate with the Cardinals tying the game by getting four straight two-out base runners off Jonathan Broxton. Between their own loss to the division-leading Cardinals and Pittsburgh capitalizing on a lucky break to edge the Red Sox, Thursday was a nightmare for the Brewers. They now trail St. Louis by six games in the National League Central and Pittsburgh by 3 1/2 games in the race for the final wild card spot, a bleak outlook for a team that led the division much of the year. St. Louis, meanwhile, maintained its 2 1/2 game lead in the division and moved one step closer to making the playoffs. The Cardinals last failed to earn a playoff bid in 2010. YANKEES, JETER SHOW SIGNS OF LIFE: The surest sign the Derek Jeter farewell tour is approaching the finish line are the camera flashes that accompany the Yankees shortstop's every swing. On Thursday, Jeter gave camera-toting fans a moment worth remembering, hitting a solo home run down the third-base line to help the Yankees defeat Toronto 3-2. Remarkably, the home run was the first Jeter has hit at Yankee Stadium this season and just the fourth he has belted all year. It helped the Yankees pull within five games of the slumping A's in t

Infield single hits Jemile Weeks in back and ruins Red Sox rally [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 5:19 am]
The Boston Red Sox put runners at the corners with nobody out in the ninth inning Thursday night, and with Will Middlebrooks batting, they appeared to be in great shape to tie the score or even go ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. A rare moment of success, in a last-place season full of disappointments, was at hand. Middlebrooks even came through with an infield single. It was about the worst thing he could have done. Middlebrooks hit a ground ball that bounced up the third-base line and hit teammate Jemile Weeks in the back, while he was in fair territory, and before he could get back to the bag. Something had gone wrong. It had to, as it has happened countless other times for the Red Sox in a nightmarish 2014 season.  From the Providence Journal: Home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, after a short delay, declared Weeks to be in fair territory and thus out. “My natural instinct was to get back on the slow chopper,” Weeks said. “There was a lot [of bad luck] involved.” “Jemile made the right move,” said third-base coach Brian Butterfield. Manager John Farrell argued to no avail. The play is not reviewable, according to crew chief Mike Winters. It goes into the book as a single for Middlebrooks. That’s how inept the Red Sox have been with runners in scoring position this season: A base hit unraveled the rally. “I’ve never seen it in my life,” Farrell said. “Fitting.” “First time in my life I’ve seen that happen,” added Butterfield. “Sometimes when it rains, it pours.” Jackie Bradley Jr. followed by striking out, and Christian Vazquez hit a grounder to second for the third out. The Pirates won 3-2, catching a huge break as they improved their position in the National League wild-card race, and the Red Sox caught a red-eye flight out of town. More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:    - - - - - - - David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twi

Domonic Brown's painful-looking catch robs Jedd Gyorko [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 4:45 am]
There are two things hard to fathom about Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown's mesmerizing third-inning catch on Thursday night. That he caught the ball, and that he did not break his wrist or dislocate his shoulder in the process. Brown came up wincing and shaking his right arm after robbing Jedd Gyorko of at least a single with a diving catch in which he held onto the ball despite his glove hand getting pinned at an awkward angle behind his back. The 27-year-old outfielder stayed in the game and produced two hits and an RBI in the Phillies' 7-3 loss at San Diego. The strong performance from Brown ended an eventful day on a high note for the young outfielder. Earlier Thursday, Brown posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, "It's been great. Time to move forward. Thanks for everything #love." The text was intended to be about a break-up with his girlfriend, but so many Phillies fans thought it meant he had been traded that Brown actually had to post in the comments section to diffuse speculation. Phillies fans might have had mixed feelings had Brown been traded given his modest .237 batting average in 452 at-bats this season. Nonetheless, for at least one night, Philadelphia was probably happy to have Brown still in a Phillies uniform. - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @JeffEisenberg

Fan spills beer, Mark Teixeira disapproves [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 3:27 am]
Like most of us, Mark Teixeira can't stand to see beer go to waste. That much is abundantly clear from the New York Yankees first baseman's disapproval Thursday night after a fan spilled 16 ounces of liquid gold all over the man sitting next to him while trying to catch a foul ball down the first base line. Worse yet, it appears the beer spilled for nothing since neither one of them were able to retrieve the foul ball. Thankfully for the Yankees, Teixeira showed off better hands than the two Yankees fans. Teixeira probably saved a run with this spectacular diving stop in the third inning, robbing Jose Reyes of an RBI single, preserving a scoreless tie and helping the Yankees eke out a 3-2 victory. No wonder Teixeira was shaking his head over the spilled beer. With soft hands and quick reflexes like that, it probably never happens to him. - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @JeffEisenberg

Each time the A's seem to hit rock bottom, they find ways to sink further [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 19, 2014, 12:41 am]
When Oakland dropped its fourth straight game to the Angels on August 31 to cede control of the American League West race to its biggest rival, the A's surely believed their once-promising season had reached rock bottom. Little did they know at the time how much worse things could get. Oakland has lost 11 of its first 16 games in September, a miserable stretch that continued Thursday when the A's were swept at home by the last-place Texas Rangers. Two errors and two wild pitches cost Oakland in game one, a ninth-inning bullpen collapse spoiled game two and the A's hardly seemed to have any fight left by game three. Whereas Oakland boasted baseball's best record and a four-game lead over the Angels as recently as August 10, the A's have since lost an astonishing 16 games in the standings to their rivals to the south. Now there's no guarantee Oakland will even make the playoffs, let alone win the division, as the A's currently hold just a 1.5-game lead on Seattle for the final Wild Card spot That the A's could miss the playoffs is staggering considering the heights this team achieved during the first two-thirds of the season. They won a franchise-record 59 games before the all-star break. They were averaging a league-high five runs per game at the trade deadline. And though they sacrificed some offense in dealing Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox, acquiring Jon Lester to pair with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija gave the A's an otherworldly rotation with four starters boasting a sub-3.00 ERA. It's easy to blame the Cespedes-Lester trade for the subsequent Oakland collapse, but the truth is Lester doesn't deserve the blame. He has actually lowered his ERA from 2.52 to 2.45 since joining the A's, but Gray, Kazmir and the rest of the rotation have hit the skids at the worst possible time.  Given the unexpected struggles of the starting pitching staff, the A's desperately needed their offense to maintain its pre-trade deadline level despite the loss of Cespedes





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