ST. PETERSBERG, Fla. – Matt Chapman ran into Charlie Montoyo at the hotel coffee shop before heading to Tropicana Field and the manager had a question for his third baseman. The Toronto Blue Jays needed a leadoff man with George Springer day-to-day with sprained left ankle, how would he feel about jumping up into the spot?
“I said, ‘Let’s go,’” recalled Chapman, who’d batted everywhere 2-9 in the major leagues and needed the top spot to complete the set. “I’m excited to get more ABs, try to get on base and help this team win. That’s the main focus. Shaking things up, see if we can get a little something going, that’s pretty standard in baseball if the lineup that you’re running out there right maybe isn’t having success. Change things up and see if we can get a little momentum.”
Eventually, their breakthrough came Saturday night, as Teoscar Hernandez’s go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning opened a four-run outburst that carried the Blue Jays to a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, ending a five-game losing streak.
Hernandez, moved up to third as part of the rejigged order behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and in front of Bo Bichette, opened the eighth with a 109.3 m.p.h. laser to centre field off Ryan Thompson, his first since returning from the injured list.
The home run was also the Blue Jays’ first since Springer’s leadoff drive Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, part of a stretch of six games with one home run. Their inability to score was the prime driver of a 2-8 stretch, during which they went deep four times and plated 33 runs.
“My homer came in a good moment,” said Hernandez. “We all know that we needed a big hit like that. It came from my bat but I know it’s in there and all the guys are going to get hit keep hitting and we’re going to get on a good winning streak.”
This time, rather than following Hernandez’s breakthrough with three quick outs, they added on, with Santiago Espinal reaching on a base hit, advancing to third on a Zack Collins groundout and scoring on a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. base hit. Danny Jansen, activated from the injured list before the game along with starter Hyun Jin Ryu, then clubbed a two-run homer for a 5-1 lead.
Adam Cimber worked around a leadoff walk in the eighth while Jordan Romano, his velocity back up to season norms, nailed things down in the ninth.
Good tonic after a trying week.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jansen. “This team can really hit. It’s still early and everybody’s just getting in the swing of things now, myself included. It’s great to be back and able to contribute.”
While the win was a collective exhale for an offence that had frustrations mount in recent days, the Blue Jays also received a lift from the performance of Ryu, who allowed one run on four hits and a walk over 4.2 innings of under-wraps work.
The left-hander’s average fastball velocity was up one m.p.h. and he topped out at 92.1, a slight boost that allowed for better separation between his changeup and curveball. More importantly, he commanded the ball much more effectively, which allowed him to keep the Rays down while the offence grinded to its outburst.
“My fastball felt like it had some life,” Ryu said through interpreter J.S. Park. “I’m pretty happy with the command and everything else. Aside from that one changeup that I gave up the home run, I was pretty happy with the way the changeup was working, too.”
That Ryu’s return from a bout of forearm inflammation was paired with that of Jansen from an oblique injury was a happy coincidence. While Jansen’s importance to the club starts with his work behind the plate, his recent work with the bat suggested he’d turned a corner offensively and his production on that front was missed, too.
Prior to the home run, he’d been hit by a pitch, walked and sent a 103 m.p.h. drive to the centre-field wall that ended as a long out. The home run was his third of the season.
“One of the things that I did in the off-season was find out really who I was (offensively) and then freedom came with that,” Jansen said before the game. “Obviously it was tough after the start going on the IL for a while, but that freedom I had in the beginning of the season, in spring training, at the end of last year figuring out who I was really helped me mentally. I’m looking to pick up where I left off with that.”
Jansen’s fly ball in the sixth was one of several near-miss drives the Blue Jays hit, which made Hernandez’s drive all the more cathartic. The all-star right-fielder has been frustrated while trying to find his timing at the plate since his return and a two-hit game, including the no-doubter, should help him get comfortable.
“Everybody knows how hard it is to hit a ball out of the park right now because of the things that they’ve been doing to the baseball. It’s obvious they changed the baseballs,” said Hernandez. “It’s been hard. But I got that one pretty good. I had a feeling that it was going to go out. You just have to keep hitting.”
That applies to Chapman, too, who sent one ball to the wall in left at 101 m.p.h. and another to right-centre at 100.8 m.p.h. and ended up with 723 feet of out as a result. That came on the heels of drive he hit to left-centre at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday that came off the bat at 106.7 m.p.h. with a launch angle 35 degrees and went 390 feet before dying by the wall.
“I haven’t hit very many balls 107 at a 35 that haven’t been homers,” said Chapman. “When I hit the ball, it was weird. Usually when you hit the ball really hard like that, it feels like it jumps off the bat. That one just felt a little weird. I know people have been saying stuff about the baseballs. I was surprised. I thought I got that one.”
Several Blue Jays have felt that way lately which is Montoyo felt his team “hit the ball better than what the scoreboard showed.” He also praised his makeshift leadoff hitter for helping set the table for others by seeing 19 pitches over five plate appearances.
“It’s not going to change my approach. I’m still obviously ready to hit when I get my pitch,” Chapman said of batting leadoff. “A little lineup shakeup right now will help the guys maybe just kind of reset a little bit. It’s not permanent, obviously, but it’ll be fun and I’m looking forward to it. Anything you can do at the major-league level that’s new is fun.”
All the more so when it ends in victory.
Jimmy Butler steals the show on NBA media day with ‘emo’ phase look following Damian Lillard’s trade to the Milwaukee Bucks
Whether or not Miami Heat’s golden child Jimmy Butler’s new “emo” look is just a phase, the NBA star carried it off with some aplomb, drawing plenty of laughs from his teammates.
One year on from his memorable fake dreadlocks look, the 34-year-old outdid himself by turning up at the Heat’s media day on Monday sporting a straightened fringe, piercings in his eyebrow and lips and painted black nails.
Butler said he’s now “emo” and after the summer he and the Heat have had, who can blame him?
After former Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and his agent publicly stated on numerous occasions that he would only want to play for Miami, it seemed like a matter of when, not if, the 33-year-old would end up in South Beach.
Butler led the Heat to an improbable NBA Finals appearance as the eight seed last season, so it’s easy to imagine his excitement at the prospect of Lillard’s addition to the roster pushing the team over the top and to its first title in the post-Lebron James era.
However, the Milwaukee Bucks swooped in last week with a package that blew Miami’s out of the water, meaning Lillard will now be plying his trade in Wisconsin and not Florida.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” Butler said as he entered his press conference, pushing his fringe out of his eyes. “I’m emo. This is my emotional state, I’m at one with my emotions so this is what you get.”
Despite failing to acquire Lillard and losing key contributors Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, Butler remains confident ahead of the upcoming season, telling reporters the Heat are going to win it all.
If it’s good news that he’s now at one with his emotions, Butler might just also be a gifted method actor and isn’t actually going through a belated “emo” phase. The six-time All Star could be heard saying “don’t make me break character” as he entered the press conference.
His new character was certainly a hit with his teammates and had Bam Adebayo crying tears of laughter as the pair were having their photos taken for the new season – which means, yes, Butler will have this hair in official photos for the entire year.
Certainly not someone to do things by halves, Butler was fully immersed in his new state and even posted songs from emo bands on his Instagram story throughout the day.
Finding Your Perfect Match: The Best Ways to Choose an Online Sportsbook
In the ever-expanding world of online sports betting, selecting the right sportsbook is crucial. This is to ensure an enjoyable and secure gambling experience. With numerous options available, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit. For instance, you can be looking into sites like BestOdds to find a sportsbook to go with but do not know what exactly to check.
This article will explain the basics of finding an excellent online sportsbook.
Licensing and Regulation
The first and most critical factor when choosing an online sportsbook is ensuring it operates in a legal and transparent manner. A reputable sportsbook should possess a valid license from a recognized regulatory authority. These licenses indicate that the sportsbook adheres to strict standards, including fair play, responsible gambling and financial security.
Before registering, check for the sportsbook’s licensing information. In most cases, you will find this in the footer of their website. Some of the most reputable regulatory bodies for online sports betting include the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.
Additionally, research the sportsbook’s track record for regulatory compliance and any previous non-payment or unethical practices incidents. User reviews and industry news sources can provide valuable insights into the sportsbook’s reputation.
Odds and Betting Markets
The quality of odds and the variety of betting markets offered are key factors in determining the suitability of an online sportsbook. Competitive odds provide better potential returns for your bets, while a wide range of markets allows you to explore different betting options.
Compare odds from multiple sportsbooks to ensure you get the best bet value. Some websites and apps even offer odds comparison tools to make this process more convenient.
Moreover, consider the breadth of sports and events covered by the sportsbook. Whether you’re into mainstream sports like football, basketball, or soccer or niche sports and events, the sportsbook should offer diverse markets to cater to your preferences.
Security and Payment Options
Security is paramount when sharing personal and financial information with an online sportsbook. Look for sportsbooks that employ the latest encryption technologies, such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer), to safeguard your data. Consider factors like two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance account security further.
Payment options are another critical aspect. Ensure the sportsbook offers convenient and secure methods for depositing and withdrawing funds. Common payment methods include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, e-wallets (like PayPal or Skrill) and cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin). Choosing a sportsbook that supports your preferred payment method is essential to streamline your betting experience.
As LeBron James enters Year 21, the theme of Lakers media day was passing the torch and sharing the load
The budding relationship between fifth-year forward Rui Hachimura and four-time MVP LeBron James has been one of the stories of the offseason for the resurgent Los Angeles Lakers. Stories of the two working out together have become commonplace. “I call him my Daniel-san and I’m Mr. Miyagi,” James joked at Lakers’ media day Monday. It was an appropriate comparison not just between James and Hachimura, but the legend and his entire team.
Now that Udonis Haslem has called it a career and Andre Iguodala is seemingly headed in that direction, James is officially the NBA’s oldest active player. He proved that he is still a superstar on the court last season, but aside from Anthony Davis and Taurean Prince, all of his Laker teammates are at least a decade his junior. In a perfect world, the days of James pushing for 30-point triple-doubles on a nightly basis are now over. He has a group of young teammates eager to learn from his example and lift him up when he needs it.
“I think with this team we have the most depth,” new Lakers big man Christian Wood said Monday. “No team in the league has more depth than we have.” This was the goal of the Lakers’ offseason. Though they didn’t make any particularly splashy additions, six of the seven Lakers to play at least 200 postseason minutes are back this season. Joining them are Gabe Vincent, a starter on Miami’s finalist from a season ago, and Wood, one of the NBA’s most dynamic scoring big men. Rounding out the new-look bench are former first-round picks Taurean Prince (29), Cam Reddish (24) and Jaxson Hayes (23). That youth-oriented approach was no accident, as Lakers coach Darvin Ham explained Friday.
“Now that we have, top-to-bottom, what we feel is a highly balanced, skilled, athletic, younger team of guys that have logged a ton of NBA minutes, we can surround both he and AD with these players who are coming in eager to contribute, eager to show that they can impact winning,” Ham said. “That’s gonna allow us to be able to be more efficient with his game-to-game minutes.”
Managing James’ minutes was difficult last season. The Lakers lacked depth on a roster depleted by the Russell Westbrook trade, and when Davis was hurt, James needed to carry a remarkable burden just to keep the Lakers afloat. He averaged 24.1 shots and 34.6 points per game between Dec. 18 and Jan. 24, Davis’ longest extended absence of the season. Roughly one month later, he suffered the foot injury that hampered him for the rest of the season. It’s an outcome Davis is hoping to avoid this time around.
“It’s my goal every year to play 82,” Davis said. Though likely unobtainable, keeping Davis on the floor will be essential to the Lakers’ championship hopes this season. In fact, James might even argue that his co-star’s health is more important than his own. “He is the face [of the franchise],” James said at media day. For stretches last season, he was among the NBA’s best players. Between Nov. 13 and his own injury on Dec. 13, Davis averaged 32.4 points per game while doubling as the league’s best defensive player.
But for the Lakers to realize their considerable potential, he’ll have to sustain that dominance for longer stretches. The supporting players, who were so instrumental in lifting the Lakers from out of the top-10 in the West and into the Western Conference finals, will have to continue to benefit from James’ presence as Hachimura has. The Lakers went from cellar-dweller to contender last season when they morphed from an older, star-driven roster to a younger, balanced one, and whether that means Davis stepping into James’ role as the focal point of the team or the role players improving with another year in the system, the Lakers made it clear at media day that they plan to continue that transformation.
Toronto real estate plunges into 'buyers market' as sales slow and listings surge – Financial Post
India tells Canada to remove 41 of its 62 diplomats: official
BofA analyst calls Canadian bank stocks a ‘dicey proposition’
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Search for life on Mars accelerates as new bodies of water found below planet’s surface
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Business17 hours ago
GO Transit rail service expected to resume Wednesday after network outage
Art18 hours ago
Volkswagen faces heat over post involving Indigenous art installation in Hamilton
Business19 hours ago
Bank of Canada warns of inflation ‘feedback loop’
News15 hours ago
Migrant workers launch campaign and class action lawsuit alleging violations of fundamental human rights at the Montreal airport
News23 hours ago
Trudeau says he’s ‘not looking to escalate’ tensions as India reportedly tells 41 Canadian diplomats to leave
Business15 hours ago
Constant price hikes are making inflation worse, Bank of Canada deputy says in speech
News22 hours ago
Canada’s immigration department is undergoing major changes
Art19 hours ago
How to tell if your ART test kit has expired and if you can still use it