Connect with us

Sports

Gausman continues to shine as Blue Jays shut out slumping Yankees – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


NEW YORK – Kevin Gausman is having a tremendous season, despite regularly encountering dumb luck. Consider that the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander headed into his outing Friday against the New York Yankees worth 4.4 wins above replacement, as calculated by Fangraphs, third among all big-league pitchers. Yet his ERA of 3.16 more was more than a run above his FIP of 2.08, and then of course there was his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, of .372, highest by a wide margin among qualified pitchers.

The way the Cleveland Guardians bled him for five runs last weekend in a 7-2 victory, finding holes on pitches that beat them, was a prime example of why the Blue Jays went 11-11 through his first 22 starts.

“It’s weird,” interim manager John Schneider said before the game. “When you put his stuff in a vacuum, he’s like, really, really, really good. So part of it is I think everyone goes through those fluctuations of up and down, lucky, unlucky, whether you’re a hitter or a pitcher. We like his stuff. Obviously, we trust it and I’m sure things will turn in his favour.”

In start No. 23, they certainly did, Gausman dominating over seven shutout innings in pushing the Blue Jays to a third straight win, 4-0 over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Initially, it looked like he could be on for a night of struggle when DJ LeMahieu rocked his first pitch of the game, a get-me-over fastball at 91.2 m.p.h., 404 feet to centre where Whit Merrifield tracked it down on a play that had a 35-per-cent catch probability, and Aaron Judge followed with a walk. But Gausman escaped that inning unscathed, struck out the side in the second and allowed just three hits over the next frames while striking out seven.

“That’s huge,” Gausman said of the Merrifield catch. “I always think the first guy of the game definitely sets the tone, whether you give up a hit or walk the guy. To have a good defensive play on the first pitch of the game, it definitely woke me up.”

From there the Yankees, 12-24 in their past 36 games, flailed away helplessly at his mostly fastball/splitter mix, with eight of their 15 swings at splits resulting in a whiff. Even with his fastball velocity down a tick, sitting at 94.1 instead of his season average of 95, he was in command from the second inning onwards.

He went seven innings or more for the sixth time this season.

“To be honest, I never really felt like I got in that much of a groove, which sounds weird to say,” Gausman conceded. “Some days hitter-to-hitter you like you’re in the groove. Some days it’s long stretches of innings. Today I felt like I was getting the first guy out a lot and when you can do that, you put yourself in good positions to not allow big innings.”

The Yankees, already out of sorts for an extended period, flailed away helplessly at his mostly fastball/splitter mix, with eight of their 15 swings at splits resulting in a whiff. Even with his fastball velocity down a tick, sitting at 94.1 instead of his season average of 95, he was in command from the second inning onwards.

The offence, meanwhile, missing George Springer who fouled a ball off his knee during a five-hit effort in Thursday’s 9-2 win, didn’t make it one-sided in the same way but again posed a steady threat from the jump. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., was robbed of a home run in right by a leaping Oswaldo Cabrera on the game’s first pitch and the pressure was on from there.

Yankees starter Jameson Taillon kept them in check until the third when Merrifield opened the inning with a single, advanced to third on Cavan Biggio’s double and scored on a Gurriel groundout.

An inning later, Alejandro Kirk opened the frame with a base hit before Teoscar Hernandez launched home run No. 18 over the wall in left-centre, having just missed a shot to centre in the second.

“I was looking for one of those breaking pitches (in the first at-bat), I got it and I hit it pretty good, but not enough to hit it out of the park,” said Hernandez, who homered on a fastball in his second at-bat. “But for me, it was a good sign because the plan that I had, it was working from the beginning.”

The Blue Jays wasted a chance to bury the Yankees in the sixth, when they put men on second and third with none out, but Lou Trivino came in for Taillon and stranded the runners. They did eventually manage to add on in the ninth when they loaded the bases against Aroldis Chapman before Ron Marinaccio surrendered a sacrifice fly to Danny Jansen that made it 4-0.

The steadiness of approach is the biggest difference between their current three-game win streak and the 3-9 stretch that preceded it.

“Patience is good. Communication among the players is good. Kind of having a collective approach against how they’re going to get that starter out each night,” Schneider said of what’s allowing the Blue Jays to keep the heat on at the plate right now. “When you’re kind of rolling a little bit, it doesn’t have to be the same guy every night and each guy kind of doing their part and passing the baton on to the next guy. That’s kind of the biggest thing here.”

Jordan Romano locked things down in the ninth, ensuring a brilliant night from Gausman didn’t go to waste. At 64-54, the Blue Jays are again strengthening their hold on a wild-card spot after nearly allowing it to slip away.

“We just know we need to win games,” said Gausman. “Sometimes in there as a whole we focused on other teams and now we’ve kind of put ourselves in a good spot. But we’re going to make the post-season or not based on how we play this last month-plus. We all know that. We know it’s going to be a challenge, whereas I think that urgency was kind of lacking at certain points during the season. Where we’re at now, (44) games left, we’ve got to strap it on and now we got to go.”

Gausman will be one of the keys in taking them there. He’s now thrown at least six shutout innings in three of his last four starts, surrounded by that one bad-luck outing against Cleveland. It’s a reminder of how great a season he’s having, one even better than his impressive stats already suggest.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Kyle Dubas begins Maple Leafs training camp with an Intro to Tragedy 101 lecture – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on from the draft floor prior to Round Two of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre in Montreal on July 8.
BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images

At this point, you sort of feel sorry for Kyle Dubas every time he talks.

What’s he going to say that will change anybody’s mind? And given that impossibility, why does he have to keep saying it?

But the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager keeps getting pushed out on stage at the end of a sword. Once there, he keeps saying the same silly things. He was out there again this week as training camp started, doing this semester’s first lecture of Intro to Tragedy 101.

“Nobody wants to hear us talking about it,” Dubas said. “They want to see us do.”

Fair enough. Under the circumstances, not bad.

Then, not one minute later: “Our goal is not to win one round. It’s to win four.”

There you go talking about it. How about you win one round and then start lipping off about how you’ve got the big one right there in your sights.

At this point, you sound like a guy who’s just booked his flight to Kathmandu, looks off in the general direction of Everest and says, “Just a few more steps.” Maybe get to base camp before you start setting your intentions in front of the class.

This is the conundrum of modern sports communications. You don’t want to say nothing, because people will fill the void for you. But anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of media law.

Nobody’s good at explaining losing, but right now no one is as bad at it as the Leafs. Their answer to everything is that meme of a cartoon dog drinking coffee in the midst of a house fire saying, “This is fine.”

Has that dog been copyrighted? Because he should be the new Leafs mascot. Then they can send him out to do the talking.

To varying degrees, everyone on this team is trapped in a conversational loop from four years ago.

“We’ve obviously been right there,” captain John Tavares said.

To whom is that obvious, exactly? And how are you defining “right there?”

“We’ve established ourselves as an elite team in this league,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said.

I’ve just realized the perfect thing to get the Leafs for their birthday – a dictionary.

First thing you do, look up the words ‘established,’ ‘elite’ and, just for kicks, ‘team.’

Everybody’s bad at it, but the weight falls on Dubas. He’s the boss, plus he wears glasses. So he must know what’s going on.

Once one of the more forthcoming, three-dimensional GMs in hockey, Dubas’s public persona has been beaten flat by years of failure. He still sounds excited, but excited about talking so fast, for so long, that there is the slim possibility he may avoid facing more questions.

When he gets one he doesn’t have a great answer to (ie. a lot of them), he retreats into hockey boilerplate.

Why do you like this team, someone asked (an inside-out way of asking the more interesting question – why don’t you dislike this team?).

“Everything they are doing now is about winning,” Dubas said.

What were they doing before when, you know, they were losing? Was that about winning, too? When I’m in my car, is everything I’m doing about driving, even when I’m wrapping it around a phone pole?

‘Leafs disease’ – that’s what they used to call losing on the steady with no hint of an intention to change. The virus has mutated. Leafs disease is now a condition whereby rampant verbosity replaces results.

The miserable teams of Leafs yore knew enough to hang their heads when things were going sideways. This team believes the answer to every disaster is to schedule a TED Talk called Losing Your Way to Victory.

The sentences are a problem, but the presentation may be worse.

Has there ever been a more mirthless pro sports organization? When it gets dark for other teams in other sports, a few of them are able to triangulate the ridiculousness of treating who wins this or that game like a real-world problem.

Not the Leafs.

No jokes. No little asides. Absolutely zero capacity to laugh at themselves, from any member of the organization.

To be fair, this isn’t just a Toronto problem – it’s a hockey problem. But it’s still a shame. Canadians are supposed to be funny and hockey is meant to be a retreat from real life. A little gallows humour might put this team’s situation into perspective. It might even win you some credit for having your priorities straight.

Instead, the Leafs have confused solemnity for seriousness. That doesn’t leave them any room to say, “Listen, I didn’t blow that play. I was trying to wave at my mom in the crowd as the puck drifted between my skates” when things go wrong.

They have figured out one thing – that no one is going to believe this team is for real until the second after it proves it is.

That moment cannot arrive until the third or fourth week of April (though it can certainly be disproven before then).

That leaves the Leafs with seven months of sound bites to fill. When you lose three in a row, “four rounds,” “proved we are elite” and “been right there” is not going to work. You’ve set yourself a standard both so high and so hard to credit that you have no rhetorical wiggle room. All you can do is repeat the same affirmations while your audience turns into 20,000 hecklers. That’s a lot of pressure.

So forget about the playoffs. If the Leafs can make it to December without at least one of them cracking it’ll be a Christmas miracle.

The obvious solution – from here until April, don’t say anything. If you feel you must, hire Rick Mercer or Ali Hassan as your next assistant GM. I’m not sure how big they are on hockey, but they will vastly improve the entertainment value of your excuses.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Alek Manoah the man as Blue Jays score big bounce back win over Rays – Toronto Sun

Published

 on


Article content

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was no panic in the Blue Jays heading into what sure felt like a significant Saturday date at trippy Tropicana Field.

Advertisement 2

Article content

There was growing frustrating, however, as the twists and turns of the American League wild-card race were headed in a direction they would have preferred to avoid.

Article content

Enter the beast that is Alek Manoah, whose competitiveness is surpassed only by his talent and continuing emergence as one of the best pitchers in the AL.

Article content

The burly right-hander delivered seven-innings of shutout ball — dominating at times and grinding when needed in others — as the Jays delivered a 3-1 win over their pesky nemesis, the Tampa Bay Rays.

“He’s a bulldog, man,” said second baseman Whit Merrifield, whose three-run homer in the seventh inning provided all the Jays offence. “He gets the ball when the team needs him. This was a big game for us. This place has given us trouble this year.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“Big Puma threw a big game for us.”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Just as it has been throughout the season — a campaign that has now reached 30 starts — Manoah is the man the team leans on to restore order when needed most.

And in a contest that felt like a playoff preview, Manoah was money.

“I think every game right now is of huge importance,” Manoah said of how much the post-season scent is firing him up. “Every game right now kind of feels like a playoff game. There’s a lot to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.”

The prospects of Manoah pitching games of heightened importance has to be tantalizing for the Jays, especially given how his teammates seem to feed off his efforts. On Saturday, he was dealing through an outing in which he tossed a season-high 113 pitches and striking out eight Rays batters while limiting the Rays to four hits.

Advertisement 4

Article content

In his last seven starts, Manoah has allowed just six earned runs over a span of 48 innings. He has now lowered his ERA to 2.31 while improving his record to 15-7.

The 2022 all-star served up just the type of effort the Jays needed against a Rays team that had taken the first two games of this four-game set. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and with 10 games remaining in the season, allowed the Jays to reclaim top spot in the wild-card spot, a game up on the Rays.

“He’s putting together a really special year for a young guy and tonight was just another example of one of the premiere pitchers in the game right now,” manager John Schneider said.

“I think he’s proven it to where he’s up for the big games. He’s up for bit spots and challenges like this.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

While offence was at a premium in a stellar pitching duel between Manoah and the Rays Drew Rasmussen, a suddenly heating up Merrifield broke through for the Jays in the seventh inning.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

As for Manoah, he’s now thrown seven consecutive quality starts and 24 overall, the most by a Jay since Ricky Romero dealt 25 in 2011. In those last seven starts, his ERA is a skimpy 1.13.

And as we’ve seen throughout his young career, he’s clutch when he needs to be, holding the Rays to 0-5 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.

“These guys have been battling all year, picking me up,” Manoah said. “It’s my job to go out there and pick them up when I can.”

TROP TROUBLES

As the Jays remain locked in a game-at-a-time approach, there’s no denying the urgency Saturday’s game carried — and it starts with the crazy things that happen so regularly at the Trop.

Advertisement 6

Article content

The Jays are just 3-5 at the quirky indoor stadium and have grown frustrated at the ways they’ve let games get away from them here over the years.

“I don’t think we’re the only team walking in here or going out of here going ‘WTF,’” Schneider said. “It’s something you’ve got to work around as best you can.”

The Jays, of course, have had trouble doing that against a Rays team that clinched the season series with wins here on Thursday and Friday, and thus hold the tiebreak should the teams be locked at the end of the regular season.

Earning home-field advantage is always a thing worth pursuing, but especially when it eliminates a return here for a best-of-three wild-card clash two weeks down the road.

“It’s definitely an interesting place to play,” Jays third baseman Matt Chapman said. “It’s just different in every way and takes some adjusting and getting used to.”

ROMANO TO THE RESCUE

Closer Jordan Romano was called upon for a four-out save and got the job for number 35 on the season, moving him into solo possession if the eighth most in a season by a Jays reliever.

It was an important bounce back for Romano, who had suffered blown saves in each of his two previous appearances. The Markham, Ont. native got back on track in style as well, striking out three to secure the win.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah pitches to the Baltimore Orioles during the  first inning at Rogers Centre on Sept. 18, 2022.

    Blue Jays adjust schedule to have Manoah armed and ready for post-season

  2. Ottawa Senators forward Tyler Motte (14) breaks away from Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) before scoring during the third period at Scotiabank Arena.

    SNAPSHOTS: Senators take back half of split-squad series with Maple Leafs

Advertisement 1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Flames’ Elias Lindholm adjusting to life without old linemates – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


CALGARY – There had to be moments this summer when Calgary Flames centre Elias Lindholm wondered if it was something he said.

After anchoring the NHL’s hottest line last season, the Swedish star watched from overseas this summer as both his linemates took turns departing the organization.

And while Flames fans rejoiced when Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were replaced by the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri, the orphaned centre knew he’d return to Calgary with plenty of unknowns surrounding his new wingers.

While the hockey world is expecting the man on his left will be Huberdeau, coach Darryl Sutter said a few weeks ago the first piece of the puzzle will be determining if the longtime Panthers playmaker fits better with Lindholm or Kadri.

Huberdeau, Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli have spent the first three days of camp together, and while all three are optimistic they’ll find chemistry together, Lindholm shrugged when asked if he’s felt it yet.

“Honestly, the drills we’re doing out there, it’s tough to create the chemistry, ” he said.

“But he’s a good player and good players are easy to play with. It’ll be kind of fun to get games going soon. And we’ll see from there.”

The trio didn’t get much going in Saturday’s scrimmage and is hoping to start the process Sunday night when the Flames host Vancouver to open the pre-season with a split-squad game.

So, what’s the key to trying to find some semblance of the magic Lindholm had with his previous pals?

“Just have fun out there, get it going and get Johnny used to the new system and stuff like that,” said Lindholm, who had a career-high 42 goals and 82 points last season.

“You can tell he’s a top player in the league, with that extra poise with the puck and making plays. He seems like a real nice guy, too. I’m excited to start with him.”

Sutter believes part of building that chemistry involves getting to know one another off the ice as well.

“It’s no different than having your friends at school – same idea,” said the coach.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since the club’s summertime calamity, Lindholm was asked what he thought of losing both his wingers.

“It was a rollercoaster for sure,” he laughed.

“Obviously Johnny had an opportunity to go somewhere else and Chucky wanted a new challenge and to try something else. That’s the NHL, that’s the business part of it.

“I thought the management did a really good job to put us in a good position and have a really good team this year again.”

BIG FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Flames have their first standout of training camp, and not just because he’s six-foot-eight and 245 pounds.

Adam Klapka picked up from where he left off at the team’s prospect camp by opening Saturday’s first red and white scrimmage with a snipe that had the dozens in attendance murmuring.

Entering the offensive zone with plenty of speed, the towering right winger stuttered the defenceman with a sweet move before roofing a snapper short side on Dustin Wolf, a netminder he has 75 pounds on.

The sequence had everyone on Team White’s bench buzzing.

“He was pretty awesome out in Penticton too — he was the best player in that camp for our group,” said Sutter of the 22-year-old Czech winger, who was signed to a two-year entry level deal this summer.

“For a big man he moves really well. Usually big guys like that, when you think of NHLers that size, a lot of times it takes two or three years for their skating to catch up with their body, and vice versa. Right now that doesn’t appear to be an issue.”
Shockingly high praise from the boss.

Klapka was signed in May after scoring six goals and adding 12 assists in 44 games for Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech Republic League.

Prior to that, the undrafted Prague native spent two seasons with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.

As green as he is, no one is expecting him to challenge for an NHL roster spot this season, but his size and right shot make him an intriguing add for the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers this year.

SCRIMMAGE NOTES

The game ended 2-1, with Clark Bishop and Sonny Milano scoring for Team Red, with Cody Eakin making a nice play behind the net to set up Milano, his fellow PTO participant. Klapka’s goal was the lone marker for Team White … Goalies Dan Vladar, Oscar Dansk and Wolf rotated at both ends of the ice throughout the scrimmage, including several changes on the fly … After a full period of 5-on-5 play the two teams played a shorter second period of 4-on-4 before returning to 5-on-5 for an abbreviated third … Nikita Zadorov drew plenty of attention with his physicality, while Klapka’s goal and hands stood out in the skill department … Matthew Phillips, who is still listed at an unfathomable 140 pounds, still has the silkiest of mitts, and is a pleasure to watch with the puck … Notables who didn’t dress included Chris Tanev and Kadri, who will be used sparingly throughout camp, as well as injured Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington (absent from camp due to personal reasons). Jacob Markstrom was also given the day off … Only a smattering of fans were in the building, as the organization held a seat purchasing event for Wranglers tickets.

SATURDAY’S LINE COMBINATIONS

Team Red
Huberdeau-Lindholm-Toffoli
Dube-Backlund-Coleman
Eakin-Zary-Milano
Sutter-Bishop-Duehr
Hanifin-Andersson
Mackey-Weegar
Poirier-Poolman

Team White
Lucic-Rooney-Ritchi
Pelletier-Ruzicka-Phillips
Pospisil-Schwindt-Lewis
McLain-Jones-Klapka
Zadorov-Meloche
Valimaki-Stone
Gilbert-DeSimone

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending