CHICAGO (AP) — The Houston Astros found themselves in familiar territory Monday, brushing aside comments by Chicago White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera after he implied they stole signs while winning the first two games of the AL Division Series in their ballpark.
“He can say what he wants to say,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I had never even heard his name before we played the White Sox. I’m not bothered by it. Most of my life, they’ve been talking stuff on me anyway. Let them talk.”
Baker pointed out the Astros had similar offensive statistics at home and on the road, then offered some advice while mentioning he had listened to Eric Clapton that morning.
“He had a song, ‘Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself),’” he said. ”That’s all I’ve got to say.”
The Astros were disciplined by Major League Baseball after it found the team used electronics to steal signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season. It remains a sensitive subject, and Tepera shined another light on it with his comments after the White Sox won Game 3 Sunday to avoid a sweep.
Houston outscored the White Sox 15-5 in winning the first two games at home. Chicago averted a sweep with a 12-6 win on Sunday night.
The Astros lead the best-of-five series 2-1. Game 4 got postponed Monday because of forecast rain, and the teams are set to play Tuesday.
Carlos Rodón is scheduled to start for Chicago, with Game 1 starter Lance Lynn available out of the bullpen. Manager Tony La Russa said Lynn or Lucas Giolito would start a potential Game 5 Wednesday at Houston depending on how things go on Tuesday.
The Astros opted to go with Lance McCullers Jr., hoping he can close out the series after delivering a dominant start Thursday in the opener. José Urquidy was set to pitch on Monday.
But much of the talk in the wake of Game 3 centered on Tepera’s comments. And Houston third baseman Alex Bregman shrugged them off.
“It’s all good,” he said. “We’re focused on winning games. That’s it.”
The Astros put themselves in position to sweep after two impressive victories at Minute Maid Park. But they whiffed 16 times in Game 3 at Guaranteed Rate Field after striking out a combined 16 times in the first two games.
Tepera, who threw two perfect innings, noted the difference following the game.
“Yeah. It is what it is,” he said. “They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there,” he said. “It’s just, we can say that it’s a little bit of a difference. I think you saw the swings and misses tonight compared to, you know, the first two games at Minute Maid. But that’s not really the story, you know? We come here to play. We’re going to compete. We’re not going to worry about what they’re going to do.
“All we have to do is execute pitches and they can’t hit them anyways,” he said.
La Russa said he was aware of Tepera’s remarks, but hadn’t read them.
“This is America, and players on our side can say what they want to,” he said. “I think that they’re a very good team and they’re tough to beat. That’s what I think.”
MLB’s investigation found Houston used a video feed from a center-field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs during home games. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the their odds of getting a hit.
Manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended and fired in the fallout, but no players were punished after Commissioner Rob Manfred granted them immunity as part of the league’s investigation.
Suspicions linger, though. And players who were around back then still hear it from the crowd when they go on the road.
White Sox fans chanted “Cheater! Cheater!” when Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa and Bregman batted on Monday.
“They’ll probably have to deal with it forever, really, because people don’t forget,” said Baker, in his second season with Houston. “They pass along information seemingly from one generation to the next. This is just something, I feel badly, but this is something we have to deal with.”
Sign stealing is a legal and time-honored part of baseball as long as it is done with the naked eye — by a baserunner standing on second, for example. Using technology is prohibited.
La Russa said he suggested a “novel” approach to combating sign stealing when he worked in the league office. And he “could see why they ignored it.”
His idea? Have runners on second base face center field until the umpire tells them to turn around.
“Some teams do it legally. They invest a lot of (time) trying to see what the signs are, figure out what the sequences are. I think it’d put an end to it, and it’s pretty simple,” La Russa said, laughing.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Astros' Garcia to start Game 6 of ALCS against Red Sox – Sportsnet.ca
Garcia started Game 2 and gave up a grand slam in the first inning before leaving with no outs in the second because of discomfort in his right knee. Manager Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Garcia would get the ball for Game 6 and said the Astros are confident the problem is behind Garcia and he’ll be 100% healthy for Friday’s start.
The Astros fell behind 2-1 in the series after two big wins by the Red Sox. But they rode their powerful offence to consecutive victories in the last two games to take the series lead and move within a win of advancing to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Astros won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal, before losing to the Washington Nationals in seven games in the 2019 World Series.
The Red Sox previously announced that Nathan Eovaldi would start Game 6. Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.
The Astros got eight terrific innings from Framber Valdez in a 9-1 win in Game 5. The performance gave Houston’s taxed bullpen a much-needed break after relievers pitched 29 1/3 innings combined through the first four games.
Baker said Jake Odorizzi would be available for long relief Friday if needed. Odorizzi threw 82 pitches in four innings in Game 2 after taking over following the injury to Garcia.
Baker also said rookie center fielder Jake Meyers, who hasn’t played this series after injuring his shoulder in the final game of the ALDS, probably wouldn’t return to the lineup in this series. He said Meyers could pinch-run or pinch-hit but isn’t ready to return to the field. Fellow rookies Chas McCormick and rookie Jose Siri have filled in at center against the Red Sox.
Houston is without ace Lance McCullers Jr. for this series because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. Baker said Thursday that McCullers still hasn’t resumed throwing, so it’s unclear if he would be available to return if the Astros were to advance.
If necessary, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Houston.
NFL Prop Picks For Browns vs. Broncos: Bet This Donovan Peoples-Jones Over/Under On Thursday Night Football – The Action Network
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Peoples-Jones #11 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown
Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, is highlighting his favorite player prop for every primetime game throughout the 2021 season. He has a 428-326-6 (56%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app.
Broncos-Browns Prop Bet
Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions
Editor’s Note: Now that Odell Beckham Jr. is officially active, Browns player props are off the board at most books.
Peoples-Jones has been on fire over the past two weeks, posting lines of 5/70/0 & 4/101/2 against the Chargers and Cardinals, respectively. However, I believe it’s time to “sell high” on him as he’s due for some regression.
He’s caught a ridiculous 86.7% of his targets this season despite seeing an aDot of 15.7. Players with an aDot that high typically average a catch rate in the 57-60% range.
There are a few other reasons why my projections are lower for him compared to the market:
- Case Keenum is starting in place of Baker Mayfield tonight. Peoples-Jones has shown great chemistry with Mayfield over the past couple of games. The QB change seems like a setback for him.
- Weather could be a factor tonight. Steady winds of approximately 20 mph are expected with the possibility of some occasional rain. That would (in theory) negatively impact a high-aDot player like Peoples-Jones.
- Jarvis Landry is making his return from IR. He should be Keenum’s main target tonight, while the TE group should also see an increase in target share after a season-low five targets as a group last week. I also expect RB/WR Demetric Felton to have an expanded role tonight and he has been heavily targeted (37.5% of routes run) when on the field this season.
I’m projecting DPJ for 2.3 receptions tonight with a median projection of 31.5 receiving yards (market is currently at 38.5) — I’d give this under about a 60% chance of hitting. He’s the type of player who could clear his yardage prop on a couple of deep catches, so the safer play here is to take the under for his receptions, especially since we are getting + money. I would bet this down to -105.
Pick: Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions (+115) at BetMGM
Canadiens fans welcome Kotkaniemi back to Montreal with boos, vulgar chant – Yahoo Canada Sports
The Carolina Hurricanes were in Montreal on Thursday night to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, marking the return of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was at the centre of petty off-season drama after signing an offer sheet with the Canes.
In true hockey fashion, the Bell Centre crowd greeted the 21-year-old with boos and taunting chants.
The Canadiens acknowledged the former third-overall pick by displaying him on the jumbotron, which in turn sparked another wave of disapproval from the near-sellout crowd.
It was Kotkaniemi who got the last laugh, though, tipping in a goal in the third period for his first point with the Hurricanes — much to the delight of Hockey Twitter. Carolina ended up walking away with the 4-1 victory, keeping Montreal winless on the season.
The native of Pori, Finland appeared in 171 games for the Habs over three seasons, scoring 22 goals and notching 40 assists. He also registered 12 points in 29 playoff games, including five goals in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Carolina tendered an offer sheet to Kotkaniemi in late August, offering a one-year contract at $6.1 million. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin chose not to match, and Montreal received a first- and third-round pick as compensation.
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