TORONTO – The Blue Jays had the better part of five days to prepare for their first playoff game since 2016. They’ll have less than 24 hours to prepare for their next playoff game – and this time the stakes are even higher.
Game 2 against the Rays is now a must-win for the Blue Jays, who lost the wild card series opener at Tropicana Field, 3-1, on Tuesday despite some strong pitching. There’s a reasonable debate to be had about whether Matt Shoemaker should have stayed in the game beyond the third inning, but wherever that discussion takes you, it doesn’t lessen the challenge now facing the Blue Jays. Unless they win Wednesday, their season ends.
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“You’ve got to let this game go,” manager Charlie Montoyo said after Game 1. “An outstanding game. We didn’t hit today. Let’s get ready for (Tyler) Glasnow tomorrow.”
Already, we’ve seen how impactful tactical decisions can become in a short series, and from this point on the margin for error is even thinner for the Blue Jays. On and off the field, every choice will be amplified whether it works out or not. With that in mind, here are a few areas worth watching in the days ahead…
How do Blue Jays line up vs. Glasnow?
One night after facing former Cy Young winner Blake Snell, the Blue Jays will face a pitcher whose stuff is just as good. Thanks to a fastball that averages 97 m.p.h. and an effective curve, right-hander Tyler Glasnow struck out 14.28 batters per nine innings this year. That presents a tough matchup for any team, especially one that has sometimes struggled against high-velocity arms.
For Montoyo and the Blue Jays, this creates some potentially tough choices in the lineup. While Alejandro Kirk impressed in Game 1 with an opposite-field single, he might not start Wednesday. With Hyun Jin Ryu on the mound, Danny Jansen is certain to catch and the designated hitter spot may go to the left-handed hitting Rowdy Tellez, who collected a pinch-hit single in his first game in three weeks.
Not only did Tellez put together a good at-bat, he stayed in the game as a baserunner and scored, showing that his knee has healed enough to make him more than a pinch-hit option.
“He’s actually not that slow, and he ran the bases pretty good,” Montoyo said.
If Tellez starts at DH, Kirk would be available off the bench to pinch-hit. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the left-handed hitting Joe Panik start at second base against Glasnow with Cavan Biggio remaining at third.
What’s next for Shoemaker?
In a way, Shoemaker’s efficiency slows his progression back from the lat strain that sidelined him for most of September. After throwing 54 pitches in his tune-up start against the New York Yankees last week, the 35 pitches he threw in Game 1 don’t exactly build him up toward the longer outings he’d be asked to complete should the Blue Jays advance.
On the other hand, that efficiency opens up options for the Blue Jays. For example, if they force a Game 3 and find themselves short-handed, could Shoemaker become an option? From a workload standpoint, he’s recovering from a far shorter outing than usual.
“Anything goes in a Game 3 scenario,” Shoemaker said. “That’s a must-win. Whoever wins moves on, and move on from there. Hopefully we win the next two days and I move into my bullpens accordingly.”
How does the bullpen factor in from here?
If one Blue Jays starter has the leeway to pitch into the sixth or seventh inning, it’s Hyun Jin Ryu, whose start was delayed until Game 2 partly because of the hope that a little extra rest would help.
But even with Ryu on the mound, the bullpen needs to be ready. In five of the left-hander’s 12 starts this year, he went five innings or fewer, and none of those games were must-win. There’s a decent chance the Blue Jays will have to go to their bullpen for four innings, and if they do they’ll have plenty of options, including a fully rested Rafael Dolis — plus Thomas Hatch, Ryan Borucki and A.J. Cole, all of whom threw 14 pitches or fewer Tuesday.
“That’s why we wanted Shoemaker and Ray to give us six innings,” Montoyo said. “That way our bullpen would be fresh for the next two days. And we’ve got our ace tomorrow (so) hopefully we don’t need that many, but they’ll be fine for tomorrow if we need them.”
Considering how impressive Nate Pearson looked in his return from the injured list, the Blue Jays may want to use him at some point in Game 2 as well. Since Pearson was able to loosen up quickly before facing the Orioles on Friday, the Blue Jays could even call on him mid-inning. And if Pearson’s appearance is short enough, the Blue Jays are open to using him again in a potential Game 3, according to general manager Ross Atkins.
Of course they have to get there first, with no shortage of tactical decisions to make along the way.
Garoppolo shines in return to NE; Niners crush Patriots 33-6 – Yahoo Canada Sports
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo was once considered to be the man in waiting to take over at quarterback in New England for Tom Brady.
Now he’s the guy who helped hand the Patriots their worst home loss under Bill Belichick.
Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and 112 yards before leaving with an ankle injury and the San Francisco 49ers crushed New England 33-6 on Sunday.
Garoppolo finished 20 of 25 for 277 yards with two interceptions in his first game against his former team. San Francisco (4-3) has followed back-to-back losses with consecutive wins and is 3-0 on the road.
“It was an exciting night. Lot of emotions. Couldn’t imagine it going any better than this,” Garoppolo said.
The Patriots’ 27-point loss was their largest at home under Belichick. They had gone 286 games without a three-game losing streak, the longest span between three-game slides in NFL history. New England fell to 2-4 for the first since Belichick’s first season in 2000, when the Patriots went 5-11.
New England was outgained 467-241 in total yards.
“We were clearly out-coached, outplayed. Just out-everything,” Belichick said. “We’re still a long way from where we need to be. That’s obvious.”
San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk had six catches for 115 yards and Deebo Samuel had five catches for 65 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
“When we got them down, we got to keep them down, don’t want to give them any chance to breathe. I thought we did that tonight,” Garoppolo said. “Started from the first snap and carried its way throughout the whole game.”
Cam Newton struggled for the Patriots, completing 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions before being replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Stidham was 6 of 10 for 64 yards and an interception.
Belichick said his plan is to keep Newton as the starter.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said.
Newton was out of sync from the outset, making poor reads and poorer throws. Garoppolo, meanwhile, was successful in spreading out New England’s defence with a steady diet of passes behind the line of scrimmage and jet sweeps to get the ball into the hands of Wilson, Samuel and tight end George Kittle.
San Francisco dominated the first half, taking a 23-3 lead, holding the ball for 22:30 and racking up a 301-59 advantage in total yards. The Patriots managed four first downs to the 49ers’ 18.
The Niners took just over five minutes and nine plays to march 75 yards and take a 7-0 lead on 3-yard run by Wilson. It was the first time the Patriots have allowed a touchdown on an opponent’s opening drive at home since Week 4 of 2016 against Buffalo.
Following a Patriots punt, San Francisco was pinned inside its 15. Long completions by Garoppolo helped erase some early penalty losses before he missed high on a pass for Kittle and was intercepted by Devin McCourty.
San Francisco’s defence limited the damage, yielding a 40-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
That wasn’t the case for the Patriots later in the second quarter.
Trailing 10-3, Newton made a bad play worse when he tried to dump off the ball on the run to receiver Jakobi Meyers. It was picked off by linebacker Fred Warner. Five plays later, the 49ers capitalized on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Juszczyk.
The lead grew to 23-3 with just under a minute to go before halftime on a 16-yard run by Wilson.
“D just played impressive the whole day. I thought special teams and offence did, too. It was an extremely physical game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was fun to watch.”
49ers: WR Richie James left with an ankle injury. … Wilson had just crossed into the end zone following his third TD when his leg twisted as he was tackled. He stayed down on the field before walking off under his own power. Shanahan said the tentative diagnosis is a high ankle sprain. “Not sounding great right now,” he said.
Patriots: WR N’Keal Harry left with a head injury and did not return. … LG Joe Thuney departed with an ankle injury. … RT Justin Herron also left with an ankle injury.
With an 11-yard pass to Jakobi Meyers in the third quarter, Newton became the 48th NFL quarterback to reach the 30,000-yard plateau.
He also became the first NFL player to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards in his career.
The 49ers head to Seattle next Sunday. The Patriots visit Buffalo.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press
Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. done for season with torn ACL – Sportsnet.ca
CLEVELAND — Odell Beckham Jr. was in a much better place emotionally and physically. This was going to be the season he changed minds.
He was determined to make 2020 _ and its many obstacles — a special year, re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s best players and lead the Browns back to the playoffs, along with with best friend and teammate Jarvis Landry.
Beckham won’t get the chance.
The star receiver’s second season with Cleveland ended on Monday after an MRI confirmed he sustained a torn left knee ligament in the opening minutes of Sunday’s 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beckham’s injury is a devastating personal blow and a potentially major setback to the Browns, who are off to their best start since 1994 and eyeing their first post-season appearance in 18 years.
They’ll have to get there without Beckham.
“Obviously, it’s a big loss,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s a huge part of what we do, so now we just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. … I’m sick for Odell.”
The three-time Pro Bowler got hurt when his left leg buckled while he was trying to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips.
An MRI taken Monday in Cleveland confirmed the diagnosis of the torn ACL, an injury that typically requires nine months to one year of recovery time. The team said Beckham will be placed on injured reserve, but Stefanski did not have a timetable on when he will have surgery.
On what became his final play of 2020, Beckham, who was slowed last season by a core muscle injury, was chasing Phillips down the sideline when his leg got twisted awkwardly. He immediately grabbed it, was taken directly to the locker room and didn’t return.
The Browns (5-2) played well without Beckham, who for all his talent hasn’t been able to make a strong connection with Mayfield since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the New York Giants before last season. The three-time Pro Bowler played most of 2019 with an injury that required off-season surgery.
After Beckham went out Sunday, Mayfield completed 21 consecutive passes and threw five TD passes _ matching a franchise record _ as the Browns outlasted Joe Burrow and the Bengals.
Mayfield was also without injured running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and Landry played with a broken rib. But the third-year QB had one of his best games by making plays with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant (two TDs), Rashard Higgins (six catches) and rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who entered the game without a catch and grabbed Mayfield’s winning TD pass with 11 seconds left
Cleveland, which hasn’t made the post-season since 2002, will have to go the rest of the way without Beckham, who turns 28 on Nov. 5. He had 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns this season and scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Beckham’s presence alone made defences account for him on every snap.
“Odell, the energy he brings to practice, the energy he brings to games. No one else is going to be able to bring that type of juice,” Stefanski said. “But it’s our job to find the guys that can go compete and we’ll put them in spots where they can succeed and think we’ll be able to do that.
“It’s not easy. I don’t want to have to do it and I’m very disappointed for Odell, but that’s the nature of this beast. Injuries are part of this thing and that doesn’t mean any of us have to like it, but we do have to deal with it.”
While Beckham had continued to make some headlines with off-the-field antics, he had been emerging as a leader on the Browns. He was healthier than he had been in several years and showing some of the breakaway speed that made him so dangerous with the Giants.
The torn ACL is the latest injury for Beckham, who was the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick by New York. He made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, but was limited to four games in 2017 with a broken ankle and 12 games in 2018 with a bruised quadriceps.
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap offers house for sale after loss to Browns, fight with coach – Yahoo Canada Sports
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Carlos Dunlap appears to be done with the Cincinnati Bengals.” data-reactid=”12″>Carlos Dunlap appears to be done with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end has spent his entire 11-season career with the Bengals, but seemed to reach his breaking point with the franchise on Sunday.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Bengals lost a tight game to the rival Cleveland Browns as quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns against the Cincinnati defense.” data-reactid=”14″>The Bengals lost a tight game to the rival Cleveland Browns as quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns against the Cincinnati defense.
As time wound down, cameras caught Dunlap in a sideline argument with the coaching staff.
Dunlap: ‘I don’t got time for this’
Dunlap lost his starting job earlier this season and wrote, via Instagram on Saturday “I don’t got time for this” alongside a whiteboard image of the Bengals depth chart.
That post has since been removed.
House for sale in Cincinnati
The 31-year-old failed to record a tackle in Sunday’s loss. Immediately after the game, he announced on Twitter that his house is for sale. “Serious inquiries only.” They read:
~6000 sqft city view with huge balcony. 4 bedroom. 4.5 bathroom. In one of the best school districts for sale. Do your market analysis and make me offer. Serious inquiries only with proof of funds!
Owner is willing to sell furnished or unfurnished!
— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) October 25, 2020
The tweets have since been deleted.
The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 3. Dunlap is making clear that he wants to be a part of it.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”38″>More from Yahoo Sports:
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