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Carlos Correa hits walkoff homer to keep Astros alive in ALCS – Sportsnet.ca

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SAN DIEGO — Before Carlos Correa headed to the plate in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, he told Dusty Baker, “Walkoff.”

The 71-year-old manager replied, “Go ahead, man,” and then said a quick prayer to his father and brother.

If the Houston Astros had been forced to go extra innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, Baker thought, he’d have to burn Framber Valdez, his projected Game 6 starter.

Baker’s prayer was answered with a loud crack.

Correa homered with one out in the ninth, and the Astros beat the Rays 4-3 Thursday behind sensational pitching from five rookies, closing to 3-2 in the series.

Correa drove a fastball at the letters from Nick Anderson just past the palm trees to the right of the batter’s eye at Petco Park, watched the ball for a few steps and then flung his bat. He was greeted at home by his ecstatic teammates and had a long hug with Baker.

“I don’t mean no disrespect when I call my shot,” said Correa, who added that he went to the indoor cage after his second and third at-bats to work with hitting coach Alex Cintron and make adjustments.

“We felt it and it was like, `Wow. This feels good,”’ the shortstop said.

He passed on his positive view to teammate Altuve after the eighth.

“I told Altuve walking off the field, `I’m going to end it,”’ Correa recalled. “I could feel that my swing was in sync, I could feel that my rhythm was good, I could feel that I wanted to drive the ball. When he threw me the fastball I swung good and got exactly what I wanted.”

Correa is only 3 for 18 in the series, but two of the hits are homers.

Houston won a second straight elimination game thanks in large part to starter Luis Garcia and four fellow rookies, who combined to hold the Rays to two runs and four hits through 6 2/3 innings before Baker finally turned to a veteran, Josh James. Ryan Pressly, the seventh Astros pitcher, got the victory.

The Astros forced Game 6 on Friday, a rematch of the first game started by left-handers Blake Snell of Tampa Bay and Valdez.

In the ALCS for a fourth straight year, the Astros are trying to join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. The Red Sox beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS and went on to win their first World Series in 86 seasons.

Otherwise, big league clubs leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven post-season series are 37-1.

“Boy, that will go down as one of greatest games in history and hopefully go down as one of greatest comebacks in history after two more games,” said Baker, the first manager to take five different teams to the playoffs. “That’s as big a game as I’ve been involved in. That’s one of the reason’s that I came back.”

The Astros, who got into the playoffs with a 29-31 regular-season record, are trying to reach the World Series for the third time in four years. They are attempting to get there in a year when they have been criticized for their role in a cheating scandal en route to the 2017 title that was uncovered last off-season.

Correa also hit a walkoff homer in Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS off Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees.

“I still made a good pitch, and he wasn’t coming off the heater,” Anderson said. “I don’t think anybody is worried.”

George Springer homered on opener John Curtiss’ first pitch and Michael Brantley broke a tie with a two-run single. Houston became the first team with a leadoff and walk-off home run in a post-season game.

“You go from feeling pretty good about our chances to knowing the game was over a short time after that,” Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said.

Tampa Bay’s Ji-Man Choi tied the game with a homer leading off the eighth.

Rookie Randy Arozarena continued his remarkable post-season by hitting his sixth homer in 12 games and Brandon Lowe also connected for the Rays, who need one more win to reach the Fall Classic for the second time.

Springer led off the bottom of the first by sending Curtiss’ first pitch onto the second balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left field corner. On Wednesday night, he drove a two-run shot onto the third balcony to break a tie and lead the Astros to a 4-3 win.

It was his fourth homer this post-season and 19th of his career, the most in franchise history and tying Albert Pujols for fourth all-time.

After Lowe homered off Blake Taylor leading off the third to tie the game, Brantley hit a two-run single against Josh Fleming.

Arozarena pulled the Rays to 3-2 with an opposite-field shot to right-centre off Enoli Paredes with one out in the fifth. Arozarena homered for the second straight game, third time this series and sixth time this post-season, tying the rookie record set by Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria in 2008.

His 20 post-season hits are two shy of Derek Jeter’s rookie record in 1996.

Garcia held Tampa Bay hitless in two innings while striking out two and walking one. Taylor allowed one hit and one run in two-thirds of an inning, Paredes allowed one run and one hit in 1 2/3 innings, Andre Scrubb gave up two hits in 1 1/2 innings and Brooks Raley worked a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, including fanning Arozarena leading off the seventh.

Garcia, making his first post-season appearance, got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second. Paredes got consecutive strikeouts with runners on first and second in the fourth. Scrubb came on with a runner on first and one out in the fifth and struck out Yandy Diaz before allowing Ji-Man Choi’s single. He got Manuel Margot to hit a grounder to third baseman Alex Bregman, who bare-handed it and threw him out to end the inning.

Baker’s instincts won out again when he decided to leave in Garcia with two on and two out in the second. After a visit by pitching coach Brent Strom, Garcia walked Willy Adames and retired Mike Zunino on a flyout to the warning track.

Taylor took over opening the third and gave up Lowe’s leadoff homer.

“We get to play another day,” Baker said. “Tomorrow is huge. I mean, we’re one step closer to getting over that mountain, and that hurdle that seemed way off in the distance a couple days ago.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Kiermaier was out of the starting lineup a second straight day after getting hit by a pitch on the left hand on Tuesday night. He pinch ran in the ninth.

UP NEXT

Astros: Valdez lost the ALCS opener 2-1.

Rays: Snell pitched five innings to win the opener.

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Naylor: David Braley symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL – TSN

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How to sum up David Braley’s meaning to the Canadian Football League?

Braley, the Ontario-based businessman and former Senator who passed away Monday at the age of 79, was at various times the owner of three teams in a nine-team league, including the Toronto Argonauts in whom he held a secret ownership position at the same time he owned the BC Lions.

He served as the CFL’s chairman of the board and took on the commissioner’s role in 2003 after he led the charge to oust Michael Lysko in 2002.

And until recently, when poor health interfered with his ability to participate in the business of the CFL, he was a powerful presence among league governors, so much so that every commissioner had to be aware of where Braley stood on key issues and be prepared to deal with being on the opposite side.

It became a common refrain among people within the league that there would be no Canadian Football League without Braley. And yet, he was both loved and loathed by those within it. Some considered him the league’s biggest benefactor, while others considered him a ruthless profiteer.

Braley grew up in Hamilton, Ont., rooting for the Tiger-Cats. He had played football in high school and at McMaster University, and was a Tiger-Cat season ticket holder before, during and after his ownership of the team, which went from 1989 until he sold the team in 1992 over his opposition to the CFL’s plan to expand to the U.S.

He re-entered the CFL officially as the savior of the Lions in late 1996, one of three CFL franchises insolvent by the end of that season. Braley claimed a federal cabinet minister had warned him that the CBC would bail as a TV partner if the league couldn’t field a Vancouver franchise the next season, so he stepped up.

When the Toronto Argonauts went bankrupt in 2003 under the ownership of Sherwood Schwartz, Braley was front and centre in the search for new owners, trying to broker a deal with Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

The pair balked at the losses they’d be inheriting with the Argonauts. So Braley offered to be their partner, an arrangement that was known only by then-commissioner Tom Wright and select others before it was revealed in a 2009 Globe and Mail story.

The league subsequently passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Braley eventually took over full ownership of the Argos in 2010, then sold the team to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum in 2016.

In its darkest hours, the CFL could always count on Braley, or so it seemed. He was there when the Lions and Argos needed new ownership, but also at various times over the past three decades when teams found themselves short on cash.

It’s believed he loaned money to every team in the CFL at least once, except for the Edmonton Eskimos. That includes to the Tiger-Cats during the years after he sold them to a non-profit group when he would continue to quietly write cheques to help the team make payroll. Braley’s name may not have been on the franchise, but he remained its primary financial backer.

That kind of financial influence in such a small league granted him enormous power, and Braley was never shy about trying to wield his influence over the direction of the league.

He also appeared to be rewarded with a disproportionate number of occasions to host the Grey Cup, which, in most circumstances, is a surefire money-maker. The Braley-owned Lions or Argos hosted the game five times over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014.

Braley had created his wealth from scratch, taking a loan to purchase an industrial distributing company from a former neighbour, then shifting its focus into becoming a global auto parts manufacturing giant.

He was a well-known for his frugality as his wealth, a pattern demonstrated when he purchased the Tiger-Cats from an ailing Harold Ballard for $500,000, financed with proceeds from the team’s five-year sponsorship agreement with Player’s Tobacco.

That frugality was legendary in the CFL. Despite his wealth, Braley was known to be reluctant to spend on what he considered unnecessary frills for his teams and the league.

His views on the business of the CFL were rooted in traditional approaches to marketing and selling tickets, and he privately railed against the league putting every game on television, favouring blackouts because he believed it would mean better business at the turnstiles.

He had waxed about selling the Lions for at least a decade, engaging with different groups of potential owners but always deciding either the timing or the group itself and what it was willing to pay for the team wasn’t right.

That seemed to do the franchise no favours as he continued to hang on as both his own health and that of his franchise was slipping.

Though the belief in Vancouver is that any Lions business turnaround has to start with new ownership, Braley’s ownership has been viewed as a safety net for the franchise during the pandemic, given his willingness to financially stabilize the franchise.

He was believed to be among the owners who were willing to play a shortened 2020 season, even without government support.

Braley in so many ways symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL: rooted in tradition, dependent on philanthropy and run by a powerful few.

There will never be another like him.

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Edmonton Oilers dressing room icon Joey Moss dies

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Gretzky’s call has been difficult the last two years with Alzheimer’s and the complications involving Down syndrome at this stage of Moss’ life and especially this year with his hip surgery and the isolations involving the hospital and the facility relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19, however, was not a factor in his death.

“Janet & I are saddened to learn about the passing of Joey Moss. Not only was Joey a fixture in the Edmonton dressing room, he was someone I truly considered a friend. We will miss you Joey and you will always live on through our memories. Our thoughts are with Joey’s loved ones,” Gretzky said in a statement.

“On behalf of all the players who had the honour to get to know him, we are so saddened to hear the news of Joey’s passing. We were all lucky enough to be part of his life for a lot of years. His love for life always brought a smile to anyone who met him. Whether it was a coffee before practice or a big hug after a great win or a tough loss, he would put life in perspective. He will be missed but not forgotten, Once an Oiler always an Oiler. RIP Joe.”

There was almost certainly never a member of a sports franchise custodial staff so loved by a community or as famous as Joey Moss.

There are a lot of much less famous members of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame than Moss, who was inducted in 2015.

Stafford, whenever asked about Joey Moss, always made the point:

“He’s not a locker room attendant to anyone who knows him and works with him. He’s part of the team. In a lot of ways he’s the face of the Oilers.”

Source: – Edmonton Sun

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Longtime Oilers locker room attendant Joey Moss dies at 57 – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — Joey Moss, a longtime Edmonton Oilers locker room attendant, died Monday at the age of 57.

Moss was born in 1963 with Down Syndrome, the 12th of 13 children to Lloyd and Sophie Moss.

He became the Oilers’ locker-room attendant in 1984 when superstar Wayne Gretzky was dating his older sister, Vikki. Moss joined the Edmonton Football Team in 1986 and held roles with both organizations for over 30 years.

He worked with the CFL club from the opening of training camp in June until mid-August, at which time he headed over to the Oilers locker-room for the NHL season _ capturing the hearts of Edmonton sports fans along the way, particularly with his enthusiastic participation in the national anthem before the start of every hockey game.

Moss helped the training staff with such tasks as filling water bottles and equipment duties, but became more than an attendant over the years by providing inspiration to everyone in the locker-room.

Moss was awarded the NHL Alumni Association’s “Seventh Man Award” in 2003, for those “whose behind-the-scenes efforts make a difference in the lives of others.”

In October 2008, Moss was honoured with a mural in Edmonton for his service with both clubs. In 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal honouring significant contributions and achievements by Canadians, and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Moss also inspired the Joey Moss Cup, a tournament held at the end of Oilers’ training camp.

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