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Blue Jays trust their process in grind-it-out win over White Sox – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – The hardest thing to do as opportunity slowly slips away and a season’s work gets pushed closer to the brink the way it is for the Toronto Blue Jays right now is to trust in process over outcomes.

Through five fruitless innings against all-star Lance Lynn on Monday night, for example, they had managed only two baserunners, one on a Santiago Espinal single, one when Yoan Moncada booted a routine Teoscar Hernandez grounder at third.

The logical conclusion would be that Lynn was dicing them up, sending them deeper into their recent offensive funk. Yet within those five frames, the Blue Jays hit seven balls with an expected batting average ranging from .500-.750 — only one of them resulting in a knock. Factor in another liner to left field from Hernandez that carried a .410 xBA, and rather than scrambling to figure out what was wrong, there was a case to be made that they should stay right there.

Carrying the cumulative frustration of seven losses in nine outings, however, that’s easier said than done, which is why Vladimir Guerrero Jr., pumped his fist three times when he reached second base after a line-drive single to centre in the sixth tied the game at 1-1.

The moment of catharsis didn’t open the floodgates, but it did help set the stage for the Blue Jays to score the go-ahead run on a Craig Kimbrel wild pitch in the eighth inning of a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Given the club’s recent run of gut-punch losses, pinch-runner Breyvic Valera’s dash home, sneaking in his left hand as he absorbed the spikes of a sliding Kimbrel applying a tag, made you believe that baseball karma does, eventually, balance all.

“We were backing up each other in the dugout, it was unbelievable,” Guerrero, speaking through interpreter Hector Lebron, said of having faith that some offence would come. “We just kept telling everyone to just keep swinging, keep swinging, they’re going to fall, they’re going to fall, continue taking good at-bats. And finally it did, and it was great the way we were backing up each other.”

That’s no matter of small import, as the impact of empty results easily compounds at this point of the summer. But their steadfastness allowed them to capitalize on six strong innings from Alek Manoah, who returned from the bereavement list after his grandfather’s death last week to work around five hits and three walks, allowing just one run on 108 pitches.

And then three clean innings of relief from their bullpen followed, Adam Cimber working around a Reese McGuire catcher’s interference in the seventh, Tim Mayza mowing through the eighth and Jordan Romano locking matters down in the ninth.

The Blue Jays’ determination was embodied by Guerrero, who aside from ripping the key RBI single, also made a nice scoop on a Marcus Semien relay to complete a tough 6-4-3 double play on a Jose Abreu grounder to end the seventh.

“It’s a combination of a couple things,” Guerrero said of the emotional displays, “the heat of the moment and I’ve been going through rough times lately and on top of that, I came through with the base hit, the double play there, you got the feeling that finally I can help the team the way I want. And then we ended up getting the win. It was great.”

McGuire started the pivotal rally in the eighth with a hustle single, diving into first base, and was replaced by Valera, who took second when Bo Bichette struck out on a wild pitch and third on a Semien groundout. Every step of his leadoff from third mattered on his pivotal dash home and he just tucked in his hand ahead of a crashing Kimbrel, who had to reach left to corral Seby Zavala’s relay and awkwardly slid into Valera.

“We were just hoping he didn’t get kicked in the face by Kimbrel’s cleats,” said Manoah. “Once we got past that, I was just real excited he got that hand in there.”

The gift run was perhaps some payback for the extended frustration over the past two weeks, amplified by a 1-4 stretch against the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers. Facing a stiffer test against the 100-per-cent-playoff-probability White Sox, the Blue Jays again found themselves in a slim-margin contest and Manoah battled imprecise command to keep the game in check.

Two of his walks came in the third and he ran the count full on Abreu before inducing a grounder to second, and despite not being able to hit his spots, still kept the ball away from the happy zones.

“Just continue to attack, man,” said Manoah. “Every pitch is huge, especially when you’re facing an offence like that. You can’t throw any cookies to any of those guys. I’d much rather throw a guy on first base than give up a home run or a double. I was able to battle once they did get on base and continue to give that offence a chance.”

Manoah described his late grandfather as a “huge influence” on both his baseball career and his life and thanked the Blue Jays for allowing him to “be there for my mom and to be there for my family and to just get some closure, be able to celebrate his life a little bit.”

His grandfather loved to watch Manoah pitch and would have been thrilled to see how he kept a lid on the game in the sixth, when two seeing-eye base hits by Brian Goodwin and Andrew Vaughn cashed in a Moncada base hit and opened up a 1-0 White Sox lead. Manoah quickly rallied to get both Danny Mendick and Zavala to end the frame.

“I tell you what, this guy’s got big cojones,” Montoyo said of the rookie. “That’s why it’s so easy to send him back out with 95 pitches. He’s going to give you all he’s got and right there at the end, he got back-to-back double-play balls that found holes, so he’s not doing anything wrong. He gave up one run on balls that should have been double plays, but of course a (defensive) shift here and there, and then he got the next two guys. That was the game, that this guy doesn’t crumble.”

The same went for the Blue Jays, who kept grinding as the BABIP gods kept sending them ill fates until Guerrero ripped a liner to centre that touched green in the sixth and allowed Bichette to scoot home with the tying run. It turned out to be a meaningful contribution, the type he’d struggled to make during his team’s slide.

“I felt a little bit frustrated because, I mean, it wasn’t me for the last couple of weeks,” said Guerrero. “Like I always say, I don’t take it that way, if the team wins, I feel great. Like I always do, I come here every day, get my work in, keep trying until finally a night like tonight, I could help the team a lot. And it felt great. But I’m going to keep working hard, just taking it day by day, and trying to help the team win.”

An avalanche of offence it wasn’t, but for a change, the Blue Jays scored just enough to eke out a win against two all-star pitchers on a playoff-bound club, and that’s a start.

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Early game, massive opportunity, especially for two Edmonton Oilers prospects – Edmonton Journal

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This in from Reid Wilkins of 630 CHED, the Edmonton Oilers expected line combos tonight against the Calgary Flames, a game that will live-streamed on EdmontonOilers.com.

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Benson-McLeod-Marody
Perlini-Shore-Turris
Sceviour-Ryan-Bourgault
Hamblin-Cracknell-Lavoie

Koekkoek-Bouchard
Broberg-Berglund
Lagesson-Kemp

Skinner
Konovalov

My take

1. It’s the first pre-season game, but first impressions are huge for at least two young-ish Edmonton Oilers prospects who need to put on a big show if they’re finally going to crack the Oilers roster. They will have other chances to do so, yes, but the clock is ticking, all Oilers organizational eyes are on them, and it’s time to shine if they hope to stick in Edmonton. They both have golden opportunities.

2. Tyler Benson is the first of the two. The kid was drafted in 2016, five years ago. Indeed, Benson is no longer a kid. He’s 23, and all kinds of fellow forwards from that draft have established themselves as NHLers, like Auston Matthews, Matt Tkachuk and Patrik Laine from the top of the draft, but also forwards taken late in the first round or in the second round and after, such as Alex DeBrincat, Jordan Kyrou, Jesper Bratt, Tage Thompson, Max Jones, and Brett Howden. It’s Last-Chance-Gas for other relatively high picks like Sam Steel, Rasmus Asplund, Nathan Bastian and Boris Katchouk. Can they finally grab an NHL job?

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3. Oilers GM Ken Holland said this past week in a radio interview that Benson is penciled into the line-up and that it’s his job to loose. That’s good news for the young forward, but as the old saying goes, that and $2.00 will get him a coffee at Tim Horton’s. Benson has to earn it now on the ice, Holland said. So far in camp, the reports have been good, with Benson coming to camp in excellent shape and looking quicker on the ice.

4. Benson has been teamed up in camp with his AHL linemates Ryan McLeod and Cooper Marody. They were arguably the AHL’s best two-way line last year. McLeod has already made the jump to the NHL and played OK two-way hockey there late last season. He earned a spot in some playoff games. Marody, like Benson, is in Last-Chance-Gas territory as a prospect. But the trio can wheel on the attack and defend effectively. They need to do both tonight against Calgary. There is an outside shot, say 20 per cent, that the trio could somehow find their way forward together as the Oil’s third scoring line to start the year.

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5. The other Oilers prospect on the hot seat is “Wild” Bill Lagesson, who has played seven full seasons since he was drafted 91st overalll in 2014. If he makes it, he’ll be a super rarity, a player who eventually makes the NHL as 25-year-old who is still with the original team that drafted him. It’s such a glorious storyline that one has to think whichever entity is running The Simulation will align things to make it happen.

6. Lagesson got an early boost heading into camp, with veteran Kris Russell still injured and with even more veteran Duncan Keith out until his COVID quarantine ends next Friday. Lagesson is going to get some exhibition games, maybe a few more than anyone had originally planned, but what will he do with them? Will he be the player who looked like he might just hand in there as a shut-down d-man when he played so well with Adam Larsson early in the 2020-21 season? Or will he be the guy who struggled as that same season went on and he got hurt? Injury is a major factor in any player’s career, of course.

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7. Right now, Benson is slotted into the fourth line left wing spot. Lagesson ranks fifth on the left d-man chart, after Darnell Nurse, Keith, Slater Koekkoek and Russell. But injuries happen. Veterans slide. And sometimes a long-time prospect turns the corner and plays the kind of impactful hockey that allows him to stick in the NHL for a season or two or five.

8. The Flames have plenty of Big Bobby Clobbers in their line-up — Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Zadorov, Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie and Martin Posisil — while the Oilers are going with skill. It will be an interesting test to see if Edmonton’s skill can stand up to and get the best of Calgary’s muscle. Rock beats scissors, so the Oilers will have to do more than make fancy plays. They’ll have to fight through the rough stuff and be all over these Flames, harassing and covering them at every turn. Paper beats rock.

At the Cult

LEAVINS: The Archibald conundrum

McCURDY: Day 3 of on-ice at Edmonton Oilers camp and the first cuts come down

STAPLES: What the Josh Archibald situation mean for the Edmonton Oilers

LEAVINS: Oilers off-season makeover made with an analytics brush

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Is this it as a Ryder Cup player? Lee Westwood shares singles win with son as caddie – Golf Channel

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Whether or not Lee Westwood will captain the European Ryder Cup team in Rome, Italy in 2023, he seemed resigned to the fact that this was his last competition as a player.

“Listen, this match I played this afternoon, it might be the last match I’ve played in the Ryder Cup. I’d rather it wasn’t, but I’m 49 next April, and the likelihood is it is. I got to share it with my son. Won my point,” Westwood said Sunday evening, pausing to hold back tears.

“I hate this tournament. It makes you so emotional, but that’s what makes it great as well.”

Westwood’s son, Sam, was his caddie this week as the 48-year-old Englishman won his singles match, 1 up, over Harris English.


Match scoring for the 43rd Ryder Cup


Westwood went 1-2-0 at Whistling Straits, moving his all-time record to 21-20-6. His 11 appearances tie him with Nick Faldo for most ever, on either side.

Westwood was one of four 40-somethings on this year’s European team, along with Ian Poulter, 45, Paul Casey, 44, and Sergio Garcia, 41. While this may mark the end of Westwood’s career as a player (he’ll most certainly be a future captain), Poulter, Casey and Garcia weren’t ready to concede to the future.

The Europeans were routed at the Ryder Cup. Here’s a look at the individual player records for the away team.

When asked by a reporter, “For the veteran guys, I don’t want to suggest for a second that you won’t be back, but do you find yourself taking it in more just in case?”

Garcia responded, I’m not answering this one. I’m not a veteran.”

To which Westwood followed, “I guess that’s me, then, is it?”

If this is it for Westwood, he leaves as a member of seven victorious European teams.

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Blue Jays beat Twins; stay two back in AL wild-card race – TSN

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Teoscar Hernández, Marcus Semien and George Springer homered, and the Toronto Blue Jays held their position in the playoff chase by beating the Minnesota Twins 6-1 Saturday night.

Robbie Ray (13-6) scattered three hits in six innings as the Blue Jays ended a three-game slide.

Toronto stayed two games behind Boston and New York in the AL wild-card race with seven games remaining.

Semien hit his 43rd home run in the sixth for a 3-1 lead. That tied him with Dave Johnson of Atlanta in 1973 for the most home runs in a season by a second baseman.

Springer snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a two-run shot in the seventh. It was his 18th of the season and first since Sept. 11.

Ray, who leads the AL with a 2.68 ERA and tops the majors with 244 strikeouts, gave up one run and fanned six.

Minnesota scored on a sacrifice fly in the first and had runners on in four of the next five innings. Ray escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth, ending his outing by getting Miguel Sanó to foul out and Nick Gordon to line out. The Twins were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Hernández homered and Santiago Espinal scored on a double by Randal Grichuk, coupled with an error by right fielder Brent Rooker, for a 2-1 lead in the second.

Out since Sept. 14 with a left abdominal strain, Minnesota starter John Gant (5-10) came off the 10-day injured list and allowed two runs — one earned — in three innings.

MINNESOTA’S MORNEAU

Former 1B Justin Morneau was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.

The native of New Westminster, British Columbia, hit .278 in 11 years with the club. Morneau ranks second on the Twins all-time list in games played at first base (1,124), third in home runs (221), sixth in RBI (860), and eighth in hits (1,318) and walks (501). The American League MVP in 2006 also was a four-time All-Star. He finished his 14-year career with stints in Pittsburgh, Colorado and with the White Sox, and was inducted in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. He remains with the Twins as a special assistant to baseball operations and part-time analyst on the team’s television broadcasts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Joakim Soria was placed on the COVID-related injured list and LHP Kirby Snead was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. … Manager Charlie Montoyo said OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. might not return to the lineup until Tuesday. Gurriel’s hand was stepped on by a teammate during an outfield play Thursday and he received stitches in his middle finger.

Twins: To make room for Gant, RHP Joe Ryan was placed on the family medical emergency/bereavement list.

UP NEXT

Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (7-2, 3.36) and Twins RHP Griffin Jax (3-4, 6.75) are Sunday afternoon’s scheduled starters. Manoah has allowed just two earned runs and six hits over 14 innings across his past two starts.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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