Category Archives: Sports

How To Play Small Ball Baseball

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Small ball is a term used by baseball announcers and managers to describe a reliance on advancing runners and manufacturing runs without needing consistent home run production. Bunting, intelligent base running, and fundamental hitting, such as hitting behind the runner, are key elements of playing small ball. Teams who use small ball often do not have the deepest offensive lineup and will look to produce a run in almost any way possible.

An offensive baseball strategy that favors situational hitting and baserunning tactics over pure hitting in an effort to make efficient use of scoring opportunities in any given inning

Small ball strategy in baseball focus on higher percentage ways of getting runners on base (singles and walks) and advancing them into scoring position (bunts, steals, hit-and-runs, etc) and manufacturing runs (sacrifice flys, squeezes, etc) . It requires precision, methodical execution and ultimately discipline.

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Teams may incorporate a small-ball strategy for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. They are confident that their pitching staff will allow very few runs, thus one or two runs may win the game.
  2. The opposing pitching staff allows few hits, especially extra-base hits, and small ball may be the best way to score runs at all.
  3. The team lacks consistent hitters and must find a way to score runs with few base hits.
  4. The team has several members who are very quick and are likely to steal bases, or go from first base to third base on a single.
  5. The team is in the late innings of a close game and a single run will tie the game, break a tie, or extend a narrow lead.

Most commonly, managers will switch to small-ball tactics while a game is in progress, doing so upon the convergence of a variety of factors including having appropriate hitters coming up next in the batting order and, often, having fast runners already on base. A team could also start the game with the intention of playing small ball but then change from this strategy at some point during a game, depending on circumstances, such as when the opposing pitcher is struggling or has left the game or when the team is ahead or behind by several runs.

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Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox

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The Chicago White Sox squandered an early lead and fell 5-4 to the Boston Red Sox on Monday in the opener of a three-game series.

White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija could not contain the Red Sox’s Rusney Castillo, who had five RBIs in the first six innings. Jose Abreuhit a home run for the second consecutive game, a first-inning shot that was his 24th of the season. Red Sox starter Joe Kelly gave up two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings to win his fifth consecutive start. The White Sox rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the comeback fell just short. 

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The White Sox hoped to make up ground with some sub-.500 teams on the schedule, but they are just 2-2 over the first four games of the 10-game stretch. The White Sox fell to 58-64 on the season and need to go 23-17 the rest of the way in order to finish at least a .500 on the season, which would be a eight-game improvement from last season.

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline continues to be the turning point in Samardzija’s season. He had delivered 10-consecutive starts of at least seven innings at that point, but since then he has lost all five of his August starts. In a rough month, the right-hander has pitched 28 innings and given up 28 earned runs, with seven home runs allowed.

It doesn’t take long for a game to get away from you as Samardzija showed in the second inning. After hitting Hanley Ramirez with a pitch in the left kidney area, Samardzija than gave up a single to Brock Holt. Castillo followed with what appeared to be a wind-aided three-run home run to center field and the White Sox never led again. Just how many pitches did the sequence take? The Red Sox went from trailing 1-0, with nobody on base, into the lead for good in a mere six pitches.

The White Sox will send LH Jose Quintana (7-10, 3.60 ERA) to the mound Tuesday in the middle game of the three-game series. The Red Sox will counter with left-hander Wade Miley (10-9, 4.41) in the 7:10 p.m. CT start from U.S. Cellular Field.

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Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves

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Where: Turner Field

When: 7:10 p.m.

Probable starting pitchers:

 Monday, August 24, 5:10 pm
Jorge De La Rosa (7-5, 4.50) vs.  Julio Teheran (8-6, 4.32)

Tuesday, August 25, 5:10 pm
Yohan Flande (3-1, 3.94) vs.  Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.06)

Wednesday, August 26, 5:10 pm
Jon Gray (0-0, 5.94) vs. Shelby Miller (5-10, 2.50)

The Braves slump home after an 0-7 trip to San Diego and Chicago, having lost 22 of their past 24 road games.

They begin a nine-game homestand Monday night with a manageable opponent in the Colorado Rockies, but even those meetings have gone poorly for the free-falling Braves this summer.

The Colorado Rockies are now done with a long home stand — one where they didn’t find a ton of success while facing three good-to-decent teams in the Padres, Nationals, and Mets.

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Now, they’ll get the opportunity to go back on the road, facing an ice-cold Atlanta Braves team this week before heading to Pittsburgh this weekend to face a very good ball club that’ll almost surely be in the playoffs come October.

Atlanta (53-71) completed a 0-7 trip with Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs, recording its longest overall slide of the season while falling to an MLB-worst 11-29 dating to July 8. The rotation has posted a 7.57 ERA on the skid and the staff as a whole has allowed 18 home runs – nine coming in the last two games at Wrigley Field.

The Rockies (49-73), who swept the Braves in four games July 9-12 in Colorado, are coming off being swept in three games at home by the New York Mets. Sunday’s 5-1 loss was their 11th in 13 games, and another would put them 25 games under .500 for the sixth season in franchise history and third time in the last four years.

The road, however, hasn’t provided a refuge. The Rockies have dropped four straight away games, and their 16-37 record since opening the season with six straight road wins is second-worst in baseball to the Braves (18-47).

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Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Time: 8:30pm Eastern Time

Where: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to town Monday night as the two face off in the final game of week 2 preseason action on Monday Night Football.

Highlighted by some stellar offensive efficiency, the Bengals are coming off an impressive 23-10 victory over the New York Giants, while Tampa Bay looks for more consistency from rookie quarterback Jameis Winston after last week’s 26-16 loss to Minnesota. 

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The Jameis Winston era in Tampa Bay got off to a slow start. While there were a few bright spots, Winston struggled overall in his NFL debut. Tonight, Jameis has the opportunity to improve on his performance in front of the bright lights of Monday Night Football

The Bucs will look a little different than they did in their initial preseason outing against the Minnesota Vikings. Since the 26-16 loss last Saturday night the Bucs have promoted rookie Kwon Alexander to the starting MLB position and moved Bruce Carter to the strong side. Carter will compete with Danny Lansanah for the starting spot there.

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San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pittsburgh Pirates blanked the San Francisco Giants 4-0 on Thursday night on the back of a fantastic start by Charlie Morton. The Pirates were able to get to Jake Peavyearly and give Morton the lead as he cruised to his ninth win of the season. After he exited the reinforcements from the bullpen did not let up and the Pirates took the first game of the four-game series.

The Pirates got one run off of Peavy in the first inning when Aramis Ramirez blasted a ground rule double to score Starling Marte, who was hit by a pitch for the 14th time this season. Peavy was tagged for a second run in the third inning off of a double byJung Ho Kang that brought in Marte and moved Ramirez to third. During Ramirez’s at-bat, Marte stole his first of two bases on the evening, giving him 24 in total on the season.

Pittsburgh padded its lead in the sixth inning when Neil Walker connected for his 13th home run of the season, a two-run blast that gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead. This would prove to be all the Pirates would need as the Giants were not able to get anything going against Morton.

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Madison Bumgarner is in position to become the first pitcher since 2011 to throw three consecutive complete games in part because of his dazzling stuff on the mound, but also because his hitting has been strong enough for manager Bruce Bochy to save pinch hitters.

The San Francisco ace returns to the mound Friday night in Pittsburgh as the Giants try to slow the streaking Pirates, and that’s exactly what Bumgarner did in last year’s wild-card game.

Cliff Lee was the last pitcher to throw three straight complete games, and he did so with a shutout in each. Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98 ERA) hasn’t been quite on that level, but the latest was the fourth shutout of his career after he gave up three hits with 14 strikeouts in Sunday’s 5-0 home win over Washington.

On a three-start winning streak, he’s posted a 0.73 ERA and 0.63 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 25 1-3 innings.

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Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets

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Date
Friday, August 21st, 2015

Time
7:30pm Eastern Time

Where
MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey)

In Preseason Week 2 action, the Atlanta Falcons vs New York Jets game will take place on Friday, August 21st, 2015. The Falcons beat the Tennessee Titans last week and are looking to build on that momentum as they head to battle the Jets.

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The Jets are looking to bounce back from their loss last week against the Detroit Lions and keep their ship sailing into clearer waters. With all the string of controversies from Sheldon RichardsonGeno Smith and most recently the one-game suspension of offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, the Jets would like to bring the focus back to football. It all starts by bringing in a victory in front of their home crowd.

The Jets, much like the Falcons, are looking to rebuild with a new head coach in Todd Bowles. Whereas Atlanta is aiming to strengthen the league’s worst defense to help out one of the premier passing games in the NFL, New York is looking to do the opposite. The Jets’ passing game ranked dead last in 2014, but their defense is among the best in the league.

The first regular season game is just three weeks away, and it’s time for the second of four exhibition games.

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Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees

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Where: Yankee Stadium.

Who: The Indians vs. the Yankees, Thursday through Sunday.

Pitching matchups:
RHP Josh Tomlin (0-1, 2.84) vs. RHP Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.57) Thursday at 7:05 p.m.;
RHP Carlos Carrasco (11-9, 3.63) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (9-5, 3.56) Friday at 7:05 p.m.;
RHP Danny Salazar (11-6, 3.16) vs. RHP Luis Severino (0-2, 3.18) Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
RHP Trevor Bauer(9-10, 4.62) vs. CC Sabathia (4-9, 5.24) Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

Season Series: The Indians lead, 2-1. The Yankees lead overall, 1,090-857.

Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.57 ERA) and Josh Tomlin (0-1, 2.84 ERA) start in the first of a four-game series between the New York Yankees (67-52) and the Cleveland Indians (55-64) at Yankee Stadium. Action begins at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 20

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New York is a -155 favorite against Cleveland and the Over/Under (O/U) for this game is sitting at eight runs. The Yankees have recorded an overall money line of +512 and have shown high-level performance as a favorite this season with a record of 42-26. New York is an impressive 4-1 as the favorite over its last 10 games.

Cleveland is coming in with an overall money line of -2,055 and a disappointing record of 16-24 as the underdog. They have been on a bit of a dry streak over their last 10 games. They managed a 0-3 record when playing as the underdog. Offensively, the Indians have really picked up the pace in the last 10 games. They have exceeded their season average of 4.0 runs per game by averaging 5.5 during that stretch. Cleveland is excellent at drawing walks with an AL-best 3.4 per game. When it comes to preventing batters from getting on base, the Indians are one of the best in the league with a WHIP of 1.20 for the season. The Indians have established a reputation of overwhelming hitters with an AL-best 8.8 strikeouts per game.

Injuries:
Indians 
INF Chris Johnson (infected left hand), RHP Cody Anderson (left oblique), LHP TJ House (left shoulder), LHP Nick Hagadone (left elbow) and RHP Gavin Floyd (right elbow) are on the disabled list.

Yankees
OF Dustin Ackley (back), RHP Bryan Mitchell (concussion, broken nose), RHP Diego Moreno (right elbow), RHP Michael Pineda (right forearm), RHP Sergio Santos (right elbow) and CF Chase Whitley (right shoulder) are out. 1B Teixeira (right leg) is day to day.

The Indians lead the season series, 2-1. The Yankees have a 45-39 record against right-handed starting pitchers on the year, which is what they’ll be facing when Tomlin takes the mound. Nova (RHP) will be on the hill against the Indians, who have a 41-37 record against right-handed starting pitchers.

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Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles

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In the first of a four-game series between the Baltimore Orioles (62-57) and the Minnesota Twins (59-61) at Camden Yards, Miguel Gonzalez (9-8, 4.42 ERA) and Tyler Duffey (1-1, 6.75 ERA) take the mound. The game gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 20

The Baltimore Orioles vie for their sixth win in seven outings when they open a four-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins tonight. Henry Urrutia provided the fireworks on Wednesday, belting his first major-league homer to lead off the ninth inning as Baltimore salvaged a split of its abbreviated two-game interleague series with the New York Mets.The walk-off victory was the third of the homestand for the Orioles, who are 5-1 on their 10-game stay at Camden Yards.

Baltimore, a -156 favorite, will look to capitalize at home against Minnesota. The Over/Under (O/U) for the matchup is eight runs. When playing as the favorite, the Orioles have a 39-27 record and overall money line at +107. They are 5-1 as the favorite over their last 10 games. The Orioles have one of the most prolific offenses in the entire AL, averaging 4.5 runs per game. As for the pitching staff, the Orioles don’t give up many walks to opposing batters at Camden Yards, ranking second in the AL with only 2.3 walks allowed per home game.

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Minnesota trails the Angels by four games after beginning its 10-game road trip by getting swept by the New York Yankees. The tumbling Twins have lost five straight on the road and 13 of their last 15 away from home.

Moving on to the away team, the Twins come into this game with a win percentage of .463 when playing as the underdog (44-51) and an overall money line of +845. Over the past 10 matchups, they are 4-6 SU and have played poorly as the underdog with a 1-5 record. They also allow just 2.5 walks per game, good for tops in the AL.

So far this season, the Twins are 3-0 against the Orioles. This game will feature Duffey (RHP) on the mound against the Orioles, who have a 44-46 record when they take on a right-handed starter. Taking the hill against the Twins will be the right-hander Gonzalez. They sport a 38-41 record against righties.

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Chris Weidman Wants To Fight Jon Jones

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Super fights are a constant talking point in the sport of mixed-martial-arts, he fans love pondering the idea of two of the sports’ all-time greats going at it, and while none of the aforementioned fights have happened, UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman plans on making a super fight with the former UFC light heavyweight champion before he retires.

Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) Middleweight champion, is adamant he will not leave mixed martial arts (MMA) without fighting former Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.

Because much like wanting to test himself against former 185-pound king Anderson Silva, Weidman wants to take on the best and take them out.

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Weidman recently spoke to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and talked about his desire to eventually move up to the light heavyweight division:

“I feel like there’s a plan for me and I know this is a big fight for me. I’m going to retire undefeated and I will be named the greatest of all time. At some point, I don’t know when it’s going to happen… But in order to do that, I’m going to go up to 205 and beat whoever everybody thinks is the best up there. That is gonna happen. I’m really excited for that, but first I have to beat everybody at 185. I think Luke is a great fight to have.”

“I could get up, if I wanted to, if I eat a little bit, lift a little bit, maybe get up to 225 pretty easy. Not easy, but I could get up there.”

When Jon Jones’ name was thrown in as a potential candidate, Weidman sounded as though a “superfight” with the 205 lb champion-in-exile has been on his mind for a while(transcription via MMAFighting):

“I know for a fact, I’m not leaving this sport without fighting Jon. Unless he’s not coming back at all. But if he’s there, and I’m here, people are going to want to see it happen. And I want to see it happen.”

“That’s nothing against Jon. It’s just because I’m a competitor. I want to fight the best possible people. I want to have the biggest challenges in front of me and conquer them.”

“He’s an amazing athlete and he’s accomplished so much. So I hope he gets his stuff together and he comes back.”

Jon Jones is currently serving an indefinite suspension, which was given to him by the UFC after Jones’ alleged involvement in a hit-and-run back in April. Jones allegedly got into a car accident with a pregnant woman after running a red light, and fled the scene of the accident on foot.

Once all those issues are behind him, there is still no guarantee that Jones returns to action again.

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Steph Curry says Obama talked a lot of trash during their round of golf

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Sounds like NBA MVP Stephen Curry needs to work on his golf game. The NBA champion told Jimmy Kimmel Tuesday that he and his dad lost a golf match to President Barack Obama on the 18th hole.

As if the the President watching you putt wasn’t enough, you’ve got Secret Service agents looming. That’s pressure.

President Obama is known to take his sports \very seriously, and he carries that competitive streak to the golf course.  The president drove Curry around in the golf cart, Curry said. When it came time to actually golf, Curry told Kimmel that Obama engaged in trash talk to distract his golfing partners.

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The president was talking trash, oh my goodness,” said Curry. Kimmel was confused. “How do you talk trash in golf?” he asked. “Like what, specifically, did he say?” Anything to get inside your head and throw you off your game, Curry replied. When Kimmel said that didn’t sound very relaxing, Curry laughed: “Well, there’s 25 Secret Service agents at every hole, so I couldn’t relax at all.”

According to Curry, Obama and Allen’s team won.

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