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Astros bounce back for Game 4 win, stay alive in ALCS vs. Rays

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SAN DIEGO — Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are eager to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox in the history books.

Beating the Tampa Bay Rays three more times to reach the World Series won’t be easy, but the Astros believe they can do it.

George Springer broke a tie with a two-run homer, Altuve also went deep and hit an RBI double, and Zack Greinke escaped a bases-loaded jam as Houston stayed alive in the AL Championship Series with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night in Game 4.

“We are very motivated,” Altuve said. “We know the team we have and yes, we want to be the second team coming back from 0-3.”

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Teams leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven post-season series are 37-1. The only one to rally from an 0-3 deficit was the 2004 Red Sox, who beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS and went on to win their first World Series in 86 seasons.

Greinke pitched six effective innings for the Astros, who held a meeting before the game. Houston manager Dusty Baker said he had no idea what was brought up, but he also addressed the team.

“We’ve got some real leaders on this team, some dominant personalities who listen more than they talk,” Baker said.

With Altuve atoning for his poor defence in this series, the Astros finally got their offence going after being pushed to the brink of a sweep. Seeking their third pennant in four seasons, they trail 3-1 going into Game 5 on Thursday afternoon.

“I’m just happy that we won the game and we’re on to tomorrow,” Springer said.

The Rays remain one win from advancing to the World Series for the second time in franchise history.

“The team feels good,” rookie slugger Randy Arozarena said. “We’re going to stay positive. We came in here knowing we were going to face a solid team. They’re probably feeling the same way.”

Greinke, bothered by a sore arm in the Division Series against Oakland, made only one big mistake when he allowed a two-run homer to Arozarena that tied the game at 2 in the fourth.

Given a 4-2 lead by Springer’s homer in the fifth, Greinke’s biggest pitch came when he struck out Mike Brosseau on a 3-2 changeup to end the sixth with the bases loaded.

After Greinke allowed consecutive singles by Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows with one out, Baker came out for a chat and decided to let the veteran right-hander continue. Arozarena struck out on a check-swing and Ji-Man Choi singled to load the bases before Greinke fanned Brosseau.

On Friday night, Brosseau hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning off Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees that carried the Rays to a 2-1 victory in the Game 5 clincher of the ALDS.

Greinke held the Rays to two runs and five hits for his first post-season win since 2015. He struck out seven and walked one.

Astros rookie Cristian Javier pitched two innings of one-hit relief before walking Choi to open the ninth. Ryan Pressly came on and got an out before Willy Adames hit an RBI double off the bottom of the left-centre wall and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Pressly got rookie Yoshi Tsutsugo on a liner to right for the save.

Rays towering right-hander Tyler Glasnow also went six innings, allowing four runs and eight hits while striking out five and walking two.

Altuve hit a homer in the first and an RBI double in the third for a 2-0 lead. And when he needed to make an accurate throw to second for a key forceout in the ninth, the star second baseman was right on target.

His offence helped make up for his three errors that helped the Rays win Games 2 and 3 to move to the cusp of their first World Series since 2008.

Altuve homered for the second straight game and third time this series, all in the first inning. He and Springer are tied for the most homers in Astros post-season history, 18.

Altuve drove a 1-0 pitch from Glasnow to left just after the Rays turned a 3-6-3 double play.

Altuve doubled into the right-field corner with two outs in the third to bring in Martin Maldonado, who drew a leadoff walk and advanced on Springer’s grounder.

Arozarena homered onto the lower balcony on the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner with one out in the fourth to tie the game at 2. An inning later, Springer one-upped him when he hit a two-run shot onto the upper balcony of Petco Park’s main landmark to regain the lead for the Astros.

“I knew it was a homer. I was able to hit a high fastball there. It’s a tight line, so I’m happy that it stayed fair,” Springer said.

It was the third of the post-season for Springer, the MVP of the 2017 World Series.

It was the fifth of the post-season for Arozarena, who homered in each of the first three games against the Yankees and then connected in the ALCS opener.

THE VILLAINS

The Astros remain villains in many people’s eyes for their sign-stealing scandal three years ago. On Wednesday night, someone with a megaphone on a balcony on a nearby building heckled members of the 2017 team by name: “Carlos Correa. You are a cheater. Shame on you. Josh Reddick. You are a cheater. Shame on you,” and so on.

THE CUBAN ROCKET

Arozarena’s 19 hits are the fourth-most by a rookie in a single post-season and his nine extra-base hits are the most in Rays post-season history. Nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” Arozarena defected from Havana to Mexico in 2015 and signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016. He made his big league debut last year and was traded to the Rays in the off-season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Gold Glove CF Kevin Kiermaier was out of the lineup with a bruised left hand after being hit with a pitch in Tampa Bay’s five-run sixth inning Tuesday night. Manager Kevin Cash said Kiermaier would be available to hit if necessary.

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Pesce’s first goal of the season lifts Hurricanes past Flames – Sportsnet.ca

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Croatian coach feels disrespected by Canadian coach's comment at FIFA World Cup – Toronto Sun

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Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.

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DOHA, Qatar — Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic said he felt disrespected by Canada head coach John Herdman for his comment in a group huddle following a loss to Belgium on Wednesday.

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After the emotional 1-0 loss at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Herdman gathered his troops on the field and gave an impassioned speech.

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When asked following the game what he told his team, Herdman admitted he told his group to ‘F’ Croatia, in reference to Canada’s second game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

On the eve of the game Sunday (11 a.m. ET) at the Khalifa International Stadium, Croatian coach Zlatko Zlatko Dalic was again asked about the comment at the pre-match press conference here on Saturday.

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“Canadians must have respect for us and this way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” Dalic said through an interpreter. “We are the runners up (2018 World Cup), it wasn’t Brazil or Spain or any other country. We are the runners up, we were second in the world, we are worth of respect the way we played, the way we behave, the way we respect all others, is the reason we are worthy or respect.

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“I shall not focus or comment on other people’s comment. We will be prepared, be fit and we will demonstrate respect from Canada and from everyone else. We expect respect just as we exercise this view.”

Croatia was a surprising World Cup finalist four years ago in Russia, beating England in the semifinal before losing to France. Along the way, Croatia also beat Argentina in the group stage.

Croatia was held to a scoreless draw in its opening match by Morocco on Wednesday. Croatia concluded the group stage against Belgium on Thursday.

“The Croatia team deserves respect from everyone; we have proven that by the way we’ve played with our conduct at the World Cup; since the very beginning we’ve deserved respect and dignity,” Dalic said. “We have two (World Cup) medals in the last 30 years and we’re up there with Germany and France and countries like that have such an achievement. We respect everyone equally so we expect our opposing teams to respect us. We are worth of their respect.”

Croatia striker Ivan Perisic was also asked for his thoughts on Herdman’s comments.

“I second the head coach,” he said. “And I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

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Canada coach Herdman jokes about Croatian tabloid – CTV News

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DOHA, Qatar –

Canada had just lost its first World Cup match in 36 years, outplaying Belgium for much of a 1-0 defeat, and an emotional John Herdman revealed in the on-field interview what he had just told his players during a postgame huddle.

“I told them they belong here. And we’re going to go and F Croatia,” the coach said with a smile, using a single letter to avoid a televised profanity. “That’s as simple as it gets.”

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His words reveberated all the way to Zagreb as Sunday’s Croatia-Canada game approached.

Croatia’s 24 Sata (24 Hours) tabloid ran a fullpage photo of a naked Herdman with Maple Leaf flags over his mouth and private parts and a headline that translated to: “You have the mouth, but do you have the (guts) as well?”

Commenting Saturday on Herdman’s words, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic used the word “respect” 13 times in a 90-second span.

“This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” he said through a translator. “The way we play, the way we behave and the way we respect all others are the reasons we are worthy of respect.”

Sitting next to Dalic, winger Ivan Perisic said simply: “I second the head coach and I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

Speaking before Dalic, Herdman used humour in an attempt to defuse tensions.

“When you get a text from your wife telling me you need to start working out before you get home, yeah, you think you know something’s going on,” Herdman said, noting the newspaper image was of a trimmer midsection than his own.

“My wife’s coming after you guys,” he told a reporter from that Croatian paper, laughing. “She wishes she got that guy. I’ve got a bit more of a belly than that. I’ve been eating too much.”

On Thursday, Herdman had explained what his intent was.

“You say those things in an impassioned moment trying to inspire your team in a huddle, and when you’re asked the question what you said in that huddle, yeah, it was what I said,” he said.

“It’s not massively respectful to Croatian people and the Croatian national team. I understand very well where they’re at on the world stage. But in that moment, you’ve taken your men to that next place,” he added.

Playing Croatia for the first time, Canada could be eliminated with another defeat.

Croatia, which lost the 2018 final to France, is the world’s 12th-ranked team and opened with a 0-0 draw against Morocco. Star Luka Modric, playing what is likely his last World Cup at age 37, put a first-half shot over the crossbar.

Canada has played just four World Cup games in its history and still is searching for its first goal. The Canadians outshot the Belgians 21-9 but gave up a 44th-minute goal to Michy Batshuayi from a long pass. Alphonso Davies had a chance to put Canada ahead in the 11th minute but his penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

“We know exactly what our slingshot is and we’ve got to be ready to attack that across different games now because, as I say, the cover’s off from Canada,” Herdman said. “I think people come into this game, the next games respecting us a little bit more.”

Captain Atiba Hutchinson, at 39 the only member of the current roster alive when Canada went 0-3 at the 1986 World Cup, can make his 100th international appearance Sunday — Julian de Guzman is second with 89.

Midfielder Jonathan Osorio is looking forward to facing the last World Cup’s runner-up.

“We like to play the best,” he said after the Belgium match. “We’re excited for the challenge.”

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