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Blue Jays rally from five-run deficit to avoid Yankees’ sweep – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Back at the start of May, when the Toronto Blue Jays lost two of three at home to the New York Yankees and then twice more during a quickie visit to the Bronx, they could point to an out-of-sync batting order and reasonably think that things will be different next time.

Well, they didn’t deliver the type of dramatic counterpunch they might have envisioned then, but did show an important and fortifying resilience in rallying from five runs down Sunday for a tension-filled 10-9 victory that averted a three-game sweep.

The Blue Jays offence had come around since the clashes last month but was mostly AWOL during a weekend of frustration, managing only three runs on 10 hits in the first two games before busting out in the finale. Yusei Kikuchi left behind a 3-2 deficit, Adam Cimber and Max Castillo, in his big-league debut, let it get to 8-3 and a deflating end loomed.

But Luis Severino, dominant through five, came out of the game after a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. single and Alejandro Kirk walk to open the sixth. The Blue Jays loaded the bases against Miguel Castro and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made it a one-run game with his fifth career grand slam.

After Yimi Garcia put up a zero in the seventh — jawing with Gleyber Torres after getting him swinging to end the frame — Bo Bichette beat out an infield single, and after a Guerrero fielder’s choice and Kirk walk, Teoscar Hernandez timed up a Peralta changeup and sent it out to left-centre field, triggering bedlam among the crowd of 44,395.

“Against the Yankees everything is going to be like that,” Hernandez said of the emotions that had him pounding his chest all the way up the first-base line. “Everybody knows the team that they have and the run that they’re in right now. They’re a pretty good team. That’s why they’re in the first place. And we know if we play good against them and beat them, we’re in a good spot.”

The drama didn’t end there as pinch-hitter Anthony Rizzo homered off Tim Mayza with one out in the eighth, and the next two Yankees reached, too, prompting manager Charlie Montoyo to bring in closer Jordan Romano into the eighth for the first time this season.

Romano promptly got DJ LeMahieu to fly out before blowing away Aaron Judge with a 98 mph fastball atop the zone to end the eighth, and then worked around a walk and a single to shut the door in an anxious ninth.

“The biggest thing for me is in-between innings,” said Romano. “Come in, pretty big spot there, get the two outs and always remind myself, the job’s not finished. Like I was saying to myself, ‘You haven’t done anything yet,’ you know what I mean? The sit-down, mentally is a little bit hard. You’ve got to remind yourself you’re going back out there.”

Romano’s usage underlined the desperate nature of this game for the Blue Jays, who ended a nine-game win streak for the juggernaut Yankees, who at 49-17, are off to the fourth-best start through 66 games in major-league history.

The Blue Jays, who at 38-28 own the third-best record in the American League, improved to 4-8 against the Yankees and that mark is a key reason why they’re just 17-20 against teams .500 or better.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are 20-8 versus teams .500 or better. They’re now 36-3 when leading after six innings, highlighting how unlikely a loss this was.

“They have good pitching and that’s a fact, but then we took care of the bullpen today,” said Montoyo. “You’ve got to give them credit, that’s one of the reasons they’re doing well, because they have a good starting rotation. But we didn’t quit today. We were down and kept fighting back. I’ve seen it so many times that people say, ‘OK. They’re having a good series. Let’s move on.’ We didn’t move on. Credit to everybody.”

That, in part, explains why there was plenty of emotion on display well before Garcia and Torres got into it. In the first, Josh Donaldson whipped his bat into the ground after getting hit by Kikuchi and later flipped his bat on a two-run homer in the third. Hernandez, in turn, wore a ferocious look as he beat his chest as the ball sailed over the wall.

Garcia’s stop in the seventh was pivotal, almost drawing a line in the sand against the Yankees after the Blue Jays had crept within one, which prompted the right-hander’s stare-down of Torres.

“That’s part of the game,” Garcia said through interpreter Hector Lebron, adding the two didn’t have any past history. “In those situations, your adrenaline is high so you see emotions. … When you face a team like that, the way the Yankees are playing right now, that’s our mentality, come into the game and trying to stop it, somehow.”

Kirk, meanwhile, was particularly cautious behind the plate with men on base, setting up his glove in one spot but quickly moving it elsewhere in case signs were being relayed. He also did Kikuchi a pair of solids by picking Donaldson off at first to end the first and throwing out Aaron Hicks trying to steal to end the second, while blocking skillfully in the ninth when Giancarlo Stanton reached third on Hicks’ two-out single.

As Matt Chapman eased off the shift and scrambled back toward third to ensure Rizzo didn’t try to drop one down the line, Romano made sure to carefully guard every move.

“Definitely,” he said. “These guys are pretty big at second base. They’re always looking, they’re always trying to pick signs, and credit to them, that’s part of the game. They’re pretty good at it so we’re always coming up with our plans on how to combat that.”

The same applies to the Yankees as a whole after a weekend in which the Blue Jays didn’t claw back any lost ground, but showed the fortitude necessary for a better outcome in August, when the clubs next meet.

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Malaika Mihambo and Dennis Schröder Lead Germany’s Diverse Olympic Team to Paris 2024

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“The goals have definitely not changed,” Malaika Mihambo declared in a recent television interview, reaffirming her determination to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games despite a recent setback from a coronavirus infection. The 30-year-old long jumper aims to defend her Olympic gold medal, which she won in Tokyo in 2021.

While Mihambo is a seasoned Olympian, Paris 2024 will mark a special debut for Dennis Schröder, the captain of Germany’s 2023 world champion basketball team. “It has always been a goal of mine to be at the Olympic Games,” said the 30-year-old Brooklyn Nets player.

Mihambo and Schröder are among the stars of the German Olympic team, which showcases remarkable diversity with around 450 top athletes. This team includes individual talents such as tennis stars Angelique Kerber, the silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and Alexander Zverev, the 2021 Olympic champion in Tokyo. Notable teams include the men’s basketball team led by Schröder, the women’s football team, and the men’s handball team.

Among the experienced Olympic stars is table tennis player Timo Boll, who has won several team medals and is immensely popular in China and beyond. Dressage rider Isabell Werth, with seven Olympic gold medals, aims to match the all-time record of nine gold medals held by Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina.

Some German athletes, though not yet household names, have garnered attention with impressive performances leading up to the Games. In athletics, the women’s 4×100 meter relay team, decathlete Leo Neugebauer, and marathon runner Amanal Petros stand out. Trend sports also feature promising talents like surfers Camilla Kemp and Tim Elter, and 17-year-old skateboarder Lilly Stoephasius, who will compete in her second Olympic Games.

Swimmer Angelina Köhler has recently emerged as a star, winning gold in the 100 meter butterfly at the 2024 World Championships. Köhler, who has openly discussed her ADHD diagnosis, described participating in the Olympics as fulfilling “a very, very big childhood dream.”

As Germany heads to Paris, this diverse and dynamic team aims to leave a significant mark on the 2024 Olympic Games.

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Thomas Müller: The End of an Era for Germany’s Iconic #13

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It is difficult to write something about Thomas Müller that hasn’t been written before, yet at the same time, it is difficult to capture his essence in mere words. That alone is an indicator of his distinctive nature as a person and brilliance as a footballer.

It is said commonly, there will never be another Thomas Müller. And that rings true today more than ever, for Germany, for football.

Germany has dominated world football so often throughout history, each era marked by superstars in their own right. And even then, Thomas Müller remains unique, apart from the rest. The idea of a dominant die Mannschaft in the ‘modern era’ of football immediately prompts the mental image of an overjoyed Müller wearing any variation of the iconic white-black German kits, busy shouting in celebration amidst the euphoria of scoring yet another goal for his country on the biggest of stages.

Efficient, unorthodox, enigmatic – yet somehow simple. Everywhere he needed to be on the pitch, yet he left the greatest of defenders oblivious, unable to predict his next move. A goalscorer and creator simultaneously and equally brilliant at doing both. Unapologetically himself – both on and off the pitch.

You’d never be mesmerized by Müller’s touch, flair, or skills. But you’d be mesmerized nonetheless. Unpredictable off-the-ball movement, a surprise element with the ball, and a shot from such unbelievable angles that you’d never believe how it found the net. And even then what forever remained stuck in the minds of fans and opponents alike was the scene that followed after his heroics in the opposition box — a group of elated Germans heralding around Müller as the scoreboard reads a scoreline just as memorable.

A little boy from the south of Bavaria had a dream and had the entire world watch as he lived it to the fullest. Müller represented his country a total of 131 times and somehow every single time he was a pleasure to watch and a menace to face. The lights were bright, but he shone brighter.

His football was messy but incredibly effective. Tall, scrawny, and the furthest thing from muscular, but it worked to his advantage. He was never the “typical footballer” — concerning both his personality and playstyle. He was so good at everything going forward that the orthodox football terms didn’t apply. No problem for Müller – “Ich bin ein Raumdeuter,” said the star clearing things up about his position and inventing a role in football no one other than himself has or ever will truly master.

Germany’s first game at the 2010 World Cup saw Müller walk onto the pitch with the number 13 on his back. The same number was coincidentally also worn by legendary German striker Gerd Müller at the ‘76 finals. Thomas scored that night — it was the first of 45 goals he would go on to score for his nation. The fans (and notably Gerd himself) were overjoyed to see a German named Müller, squad number #13, scoring for Germany again after so many decades.

Speaking postgame about his first international goal, Müller said while laughing: “I was just trying to boost the sales of the Müller replica shirts!” – the first of many playful Müller interviews after a masterclass for Germany. 14 years and 44 goals later, Thomas has made that jersey number his as much as it was Gerd’s.

Thomas Müller — forever Germany’s beloved #13.

What once was a need to prove himself and do everything in his power to lead his country to victory turned into a feeling of grounded pride for what he’s greatly helped achieve, but the desire to win never died. Müller, even after everything, still put in the same effort he did on day one.

There was never a dull moment watching Müller play for his country. Not everything has changed — over all these years, Müller has had the same playfulness, the same laugh, the same witty statements that never failed to make fans smile. He is just as loveable as a person as he is as a footballer. “I don’t have any muscles – how can I get hurt?”, or “I already have one Golden Boot, what will I do with another?” Müller captivated audiences with both his football and his words.

Müller playing for Germany is what made myself (and so many others) a fan of the beautiful game – because the game was only beautiful when Müller had the ball. A mesmerized young boy and a superstar footballer formed an unlikely, one-sided bond over the television screen a decade ago, and that bond only strengthened over the years.

As Müller announces his international retirement today, it is difficult to fathom that we might never see such an icon play for Germany ever again. We might never see him celebrate or joke around in the Germany shirt. We might never see someone represent everything German football stood for as well as Müller did. We might never see him film a challenge video with Mats Hummels at the German camp. And we might never forget the heartbreak of his last game for Germany.

Yet we as fans can look back on one of the greatest international careers of all time. His antics on the world stage are some of the best highlights of a career filled with highlights. There is no need to mention his countless achievements for his country – he is the most decorated German player of all time after all. Even then, Müller, who has always had impeccable timing knew exactly when it was his time to depart. He didn’t want to push it or ever make things about himself.

Müller’s iconic moments turned into unforgettable games. Those unforgettable games made legendary tournaments. And those legendary tournaments? They are the crown jewels of an illustrious career.

So here is a thank you, from the bottom of our hearts – thank you for showing us what football is really about. Thank you for some of the greatest memories a football fan could ask for. Thank you for always giving everything on the pitch, and finally – thank you for being yourself. We will never forget Thomas Müller in the iconic German white. Danke, Thomas.

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Missed Opportunities Plague Yankees in 6-4 Loss to Rays

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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 on Sunday afternoon, continuing a troubling trend of failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities. The loss came despite Aaron Judge’s efforts, including his MLB-leading 35th home run of the season.

The Yankees’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position (RISP) was the primary issue. In the first inning, hits from Juan Soto and Aaron Judge loaded the bases, but Gleyber Torres and Alex Verdugo couldn’t drive in any runs. Soto then grounded into a double play to end the second inning with the bases loaded.

Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, his 35th of the season, bringing the Yankees within two runs. However, his contribution was not enough to overcome the deficit. Marcus Stroman pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits, including two home runs. He struck out five and did not walk any batters. Despite his solid performance, he received minimal run support.

Gleyber Torres made a critical error in the fourth inning, leading to a run. His 0-for-4 performance at the plate dropped his batting average to .229, adding to the Yankees’ woes. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected after disputing a strike call on Alex Verdugo. This marked his 38th career ejection and fifth of the season.

Soto’s ninth-inning RBI double provided some hope, but it was too little, too late. The Rays’ Jose Caballero homered in the ninth, extending their lead and sealing the victory.

The Yankees began the series with a 6-1 win on Friday but faltered with a 9-1 loss on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s 6-4 defeat. This inconsistency has been a recurring issue for the team. Despite the loss, the Yankees (59-42) remain two games behind the Baltimore Orioles (60-39) for first place in the AL East, as the Orioles also lost 3-2 to the Texas Rangers.

Aaron Judge commented, “No weight. I’ve got good guys behind me. It’s baseball. You’re going to go through some ups and downs, and you’re going to click for a little bit, but there’s months where other guys are going to carry this team and there’s months where I’ve got to pick it up and carry the team, and it’s all part of it.”

Marcus Stroman reflected, “It’s hard to be incredible for 162. I think we have a lot of confidence … how good (Soto has) been — all year, him and Judge — I think we’re kind of losing sight of how incredible those two guys have been. So they can’t do everything, each and every single time. We can’t put all the pressure on them.”

Aaron Boone added, “This game’s hard for us right now, and we’ve got to find a way. We know we’re better than this, and we’ve got to come ready and salvage a series tomorrow.”

The Yankees will aim to split the series against the Rays in the final game on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET. With their recent struggles in key situations, the team must find a way to improve their performance with runners in scoring position to turn their season around.

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