Tagged in: game

Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley on reserve/COVID-19 list, will miss game against New England Patriots

Wide receiver Cole Beasley was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, becoming the fifth player on the active roster and seventh overall on the list.

Beasley tested positive, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Field Yates, and remains unvaccinated. He will at minimum miss the game versus the New England Patriots on Sunday and be out for 10 days. In an Instagram post Tuesday evening, Beasley said he was “feeling fine with mild symptoms.”

The game against the Patriots will decide which team takes the lead in the AFC East race with the playoffs just three weeks away. “Just to be clear COVID is not keeping me out of this game. The rules are,” Beasley wrote Tuesday on Instagram.

“Vaxxed players are playing with Covid every week now because they don’t test. One of my vaxxed teammates is in the hospital missing games. I’m sure he didn’t get this same energy. Thank you for those who support. Everyone else, if you don’t get what’s happening then there is nothing anybody can do for you.”

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Teammate Jon Feliciano, who also is on the COVID-19 list, posted on Twitter Tuesday that he “ended up in the ER on Sunday.” He appears to be the teammate “in the hospital” Beasley referenced in his post.

Left tackle Dion Dawkins, guard Feliciano, defensive end AJ Epenesa and linebacker Tyrel Dodson have been placed on the list in the past week.

All four missed the team’s victory over the Carolina Panthers, although Epenesa was out due to an ankle injury and placed on the list Monday.

Beasley was previously placed on the COVID-19 list in August after being designated a close contact with a member of the team’s training staff, but tested negative at the time. He was also fined, along with receiver Isaiah McKenzie, for not wearing masks in the facility.

Beasley was outspoken on social media regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, but the slot receiver deleted his Twitter account during the season, calling it a distraction.

“When I first got here, I got away from [social media], and then things happen,” Beasley stated in October. “And the issues that we have at hand, and I just felt like I needed to take responsibility for the guys that couldn’t.

“But it’s good for me to get back to where I wanted to be, and it’s not on there. The real world is out here and not there. Most people say things on there that you don’t want to hear. And it’s definitely a weight lifted, and I feel like I did the right thing.”

Beasley referenced not having an issue with others being vaccinated, but instead aimed the response toward those who chose not to. He often got into conversations on Twitter with fans and even teammates, speaking out against the NFL and NFLPA’s protocols.

Despite Beasley’s absence, the Bills’ passing offense still has a plethora of weapons available. McKenzie will likely see increased opportunities in the slot against New England without Beasley on the field.

Stefon Diggs is the top receiver, and Gabriel Davis has emerged as a strong No. 2 option with touchdowns in each of the past three games, in addition to tight end Dawson Knox being one of quarterback Josh Allen’s top targets in the middle of the field.

Beasley has 76 receptions for 640 yards and one touchdown this year.

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Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo in protocols, ruled out for Wednesday, but Khris Middleton (knee) questionable

The Milwaukee Bucks listed Giannis Antetokounmpo as out for Wednesday’s game versus the Indiana Pacers after he was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols Tuesday night.

Antetokounmpo went into the protocols a day after scoring 20 points in 34 minutes in a 117-103 loss to the Celtics in Boston. Bucks guard Wesley Matthews has also been in the protocols the past two matches.

Later Tuesday, the Bucks added guard Donte DiVincenzo to the protocols list, giving Milwaukee six players out of play for Wednesday’s game: Antetokounmpo, DiVincenzo, Matthews, DeMarcus Cousins (personal reasons), Brook Lopez (back surgery) and Semi Ojeleye (calf strain).

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To clear the protocols, a player must either be out for a minimum of 10 days or return two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart.

Tuesday’s news now leaves Antetokounmpo’s status for Milwaukee’s rematch with Boston on Christmas Day in doubt.

In one positive piece of news for the Bucks, All-Star Khris Middleton was only listed as questionable for Wednesday’s match after positive results from imaging done on his hyperextended left knee suffered during Monday’s loss.

The injury occurred when Middleton collided with teammate Rodney Hood as they went after a defensive rebound late in the third quarter, and his leg buckled awkwardly. After he winced and stayed on the ground for a moment, Middleton got up and limped to the other end of the court for Milwaukee’s ensuing offensive possession.

As soon as it was over, however, the Bucks committed a foul, and Middleton walked straight off the court and into the locker room.

It turned out, however, that Milwaukee’s positive thoughts after the game about Middleton’s status — including comments from coach Mike Budenholzer, Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, as well as Middleton being seen leaving the locker room under his own power — proved true, and he should miss little time, if any.

Milwaukee has six games over an 11-day span starting Wednesday, followed by a road game in New Orleans, home games versus Cleveland and Houston, a road game in Dallas and then the Christmas Day showdown with Boston at home.

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Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez (sprained left ankle) included on AL Division Series roster

Slugger J.D. Martinez is on the Boston Red Sox roster but didn’t play during a 5-0 loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

Manager Alex Cora said after Thursday’s loss that there’s “a strong possibility” Martinez will be in the starting lineup for Friday’s Game 2, but he made no guarantees.

Martinez also missed Tuesday night’s victory over the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game because of a sprained left ankle.

Martinez stumbled over second base while heading to the outfield in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Washington.

Because the National League does not use a DH in games played in its stadiums, Martinez was playing right field versus the Nationals. He stepped on the bag and twisted the ankle heading out to play defense in the fifth inning.

It was only the seventh game in 2021 that Martinez started in right field. He was in the starting lineup as a DH for 113 games and as the left fielder for 28.

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Martinez hit .286 with an AL-leading 42 doubles and 28 homers and 99 RBIs during the regular season.

Tampa Bay has 13 pitchers on its roster that does not include speedy outfielder Brett Phillips. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who went 9-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 30 games, including 21 starts, was also left off.

Rays manager Kevin Cash stated he planned to be aggressive in using his bullpen during the series. He said right-hander Drew Rasmussen will start Game 3 or 4, with the other contest being a bullpen day.

Boston also added Game 2 starter Chris Sale, left-hander Martin Perez and infielder Danny Santana to the ALDS roster.

Sale made nine starts this year after having Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020.

“It’s been two years trying to get to this point,” Cora said. “All the hard work, all the tears and sweat throughout the process. So we have to take care of him, but it was his turn and we feel comfortable with him.”

Sale said he would be available to work as a reliever later in the series as well.

“There’s no reason to save an arm to go sit on the couch, you know what I mean?” Sale said. “This is all the baseball we have left, and we’re going to get certain points in these series where tomorrow might not come. So if that’s the case and it’s what’s called upon, you know, it’s my job.”

With Boston having several left-handed starting pitchers on its roster, Tampa Bay added right-handed-hitting outfielder Jordan Luplow. The AL East champion Rays lost the World Series in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020.

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Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey injures hamstring, ruled out for game

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of Thursday night’s match at Houston.

The injury occurred when McCaffrey was making a run to the left on first-and-10 from the Texans’ 14-yard line. He did what appeared to be a stutter step to avoid the defender and went immediately to the sideline after a 2-yard gain.

McCaffrey stayed in the sideline medical tent for 22 minutes before emerging and heading to the locker room. He walked under his own power with a slight limp.

McCaffrey was replaced by Chuba Hubbard, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State.

McCaffrey, who in 2019 became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, entered the game as the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 324 yards.

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McCaffrey missed 13 games last campaign with multiple injuries, including a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2.

He returned this season looking stronger than ever.

He left late in the third quarter of last week’s victory against the New Orleans Saints to get a couple of IV bags for what he called “onset cramps.” He said earlier this week he was good go to.

On Thursday night, Carolina’s offense struggled after McCaffrey’s departure and went into halftime with only a 7-6 lead. Quarterback Sam Darnold, who completed 9 of 13 pass attempts for 121 yards with no sacks before McCaffrey’s injury, finished the half 4-of-7 for 37 yards with three sacks.

McCaffrey’s value as a blocker often gets overlooked. In the Panthers’ opener, he saved Darnold from a sack by picking up the New York Jets’ tackle running free. The block allowed Darnold time to step up and to his left to throw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson.

“That play doesn’t happen [without McCaffrey],” coach Matt Rhule said after the 19-14 victory.

Tight end Dan Arnold said McCaffrey helps open up all the possibilities of offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s offense.

“We kind of stopped as a tight end group [in film review] and said, ‘This is the kind of player he is,'” Arnold said after seeing the replay of McCaffrey’s block.

“It’s exciting to be able to play with a guy like that, that will step in front of it no matter what. He wants to win, not only for himself, but everybody else. “On the flip side, that’s what he demands from everybody else.”

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Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz has sprains to both his ankles, Frank Reich says

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz’s status for the key Week 3 AFC South game at Tennessee is up in the air because of two sprained ankles suffered versus the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, coach Frank Reich stated Monday.

Wentz’s most severe sprain occurred on his right ankle when he tried to scramble and was taken to the ground by Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald with less than eight minutes left in the game.

Wentz didn’t return after limping to the sideline and then throwing his helmet in frustration. Wentz sprained his left ankle earlier in the game, according to Reich.

The coach stated he still had to meet with the team medical staff to get a better indication about Wentz’s ankles.

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“I know Carson has a high threshold for pain,” Reich said. “When you have guy who is a pocket passer, it affects his game less than a guy who is a mobile quarterback. That’s not rocket science. My history with Carson is that he’s a pretty fast healer and he’s tough. If there’s any chance he can play with these ankle sprains, he’ll play. It’s an incredibly big game.”

Wentz is 45-of-69 for 498 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the first two matches of the season.

The most alarming stat with Wentz is that he has been sacked six times and hit an additional 21 times in those two games. He has played a full season only twice since entering the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in 2016.

Second-year quarterback Jacob Eason will start against the Titans if Wentz is inactive. Eason threw an interception on his second pass attempt after entering the game in Sunday’s 27-24 loss.

Eason found himself in a quarterback battle with rookie Sam Ehlinger to potentially be the starter when Wentz was out for three weeks while recovering from left foot surgery during training camp. The Colts have not started a season 0-3 since 2011.

“If Jacob has to play, Jacob will be ready,” Reich said. “The situation he got thrown into [late in Sunday’s game] was as tough as it gets. I can tell you that from experience. He’ll be ready if he has to be.”

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England’s perfect World Cup qualifying run ended by late Poland equalizer

Poland scored a stoppage-time equalizer to bring an end to England’s perfect start to World Cup qualification and secure an important 1-1 draw in Warsaw.

Gareth Southgate’s side, who lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties in July, had won their opening five matches in Group I.

Harry Kane’s long-range effort in the 72nd minute had them on course to extend that to six games before Damian Szymanski struck in the 92nd minute to earn Poland an unlikely draw.

“An amazing feeling. I’m glad we managed to score that goal in the last minutes. I’m happy,” Symanszki said. “I’ve worked hard for this, struggled with injuries. To play against England, to score a goal, it’s a dream come true.”

This was England’s toughest test in Group I so far with Poland set up to frustrate through defensive play and gamesmanship but the visitors looked set to come through and take a big step towards next year’s World Cup finals.

England’s efforts were frustrated in the opening 45 minutes as they failed to trouble Wojciech Szczesny in goal for Poland.

The hosts’ main threat, Robert Lewandowski, meanwhile, was restricted to one half-chance, which was tidily dealt with by Jordan Pickford.

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A fast-paced but uneventful first-half burst into life just as the referee whistled for half-time with England and Poland players coming together. 

Harry Maguire appeared incensed about something, while Poland defender Kamil Glik was called back by the referee as he tried to leave the pitch. Eventually things settled down and both players were cautioned.

There was an incident just before half-time which has been reported to the FA guys,” Kane said postmatch. “They’re taking care of it and investigating it and we’ll go from there. Allegedly it was something that was done, not said. We haven’t chance to look at the footage and talk to the lad.”

England stepped things up after the break with Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling troubling the Poland rearguard but, again, without really causing Szczesny too much cause for concern.

That was until the 72nd minute when Kane’s powerful, swerving shot flew past the former Arsenal goalkeeper from 32 yards out to put England in front.

It was the 15th consecutive qualifier, for Euros and World Cup, in which Kane has scored and it looked to have brought a sixth straight victory in this campaign.

England have 16 points from six games with Albania second on 12 points, Poland on 11 and Hungary on 10 points. The top team in the group qualifies for next year’s World Cup in Qatar with the second place team heading into the playoffs.

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Team USA rebounds from back-to-back losses with blowout of Argentina

Team USA stabilized itself by putting together its most complete match of its Olympic preparation schedule, defeating Argentina 108-80 on Tuesday night.

After back-to-back losses that saw the Americans struggle with offensive execution and defensive stamina, they showed more traction on both fronts 12 days before their Olympic opener in Tokyo.

“I thought we sustained our [stamina] pretty well,” Team USA manager Gregg Popovich said. “Against Australia we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor and had good pace for a half and then it dissipated for a half. Tonight, we maintained that pretty much throughout the game. Hopefully that’s a sign we’re getting better.”

Kevin Durant, the unquestioned engine of the national team’s offense, had shown some rust after taking some time off following the Brooklyn Nets’ seven-game series loss last month in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Like many of his Team USA teammates, he looked a little flat in the first two exhibitions, which both ended in unexpected defeat. He was just 10-of-26 shooting in those defeats to Nigeria and Australia.

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Durant came out with a purpose Tuesday, swishing a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession.

He scored eight points in the first quarter and ended with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

It was a similar story for Bradley Beal, who shot just 38% and averaged just seven points in the first two games while trying to regain rhythm. Beal made his first four shots, two of them 3-pointers, and ended with 17 points for easily his best game of the exhibitions.

“A sense of urgency is what we’re kind of preaching,” Beal said. “Today we got better, but there’s still a lot more we can improve on. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Despite it being the second game of a back-to-back and a comfortable victory, Popovich played Beal 30 of the game’s 40 minutes in an attempt to help him round into form.

Popovich cited conditioning as a reason the Americans faded down the stretch in the two losses. After a heavy calendar for most of the players over the previous 12 months, players taking time to rest was expected after their seasons ended, but it seems to have contributed to the slow start.

Tuesday’s game also featured a strong performance from Zach LaVine, a late addition to Team USA who has been building a case for more playing time this week. LaVine was in Popovich’s starting lineup for the Jayson Tatum, who sat out to rest a sore knee, and made a statement with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.

“Somebody’s got to take Tatum’s place,” Popovich said. “So you choose one, simple as that.”

LaVine, who has had more time off as the Chicago Bulls missed the playoffs, is one of the players who seems to be in better rhythm. He had a spectacular highlight dunk in the fourth quarter, rising over a defender and slamming it despite a foul.

It must be said the Argentinians, who came in ranked No. 4 in the world after taking the silver at the 2019 World Cup, were the weakest team the Americans have yet faced. They are 0-3 in the games at Mandalay Bay this week and are an older team. Former NBA player Luis Scola, who is 41, led them with 16 points.

A better test for Team USA’s development will come Friday in a rematch with the Aussies. It will come after two days off to allow for some practice and film work.

“The last thing we want to do is overwork people to the point where we get injuries, but the first priority is we have to get back in shape,” Popovich. “We’re going to continue to work hard like we need to. … Without the condition we can’t get this done.”

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Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. vows he will return from torn ACL stronger than ever

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. has worked hard to reach the stratosphere of Major League Baseball. A day after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee, Acuna vowed to work harder than ever to stay there.

“The only thing I can say is that I’m obviously going to put maximum effort to come back stronger than ever,” Acuna said via Braves interpreter Franco Garcia during a Zoom call on Sunday. “If was giving 500 percent before, I’m about to start giving 1,000 percent.”

Acuna suffered the injury during Atlanta’s 5-4 triumph over the Marlins on Saturday when he landed awkwardly on the warning track while chasing a fly ball struck by Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. Acuna grabbed at his knee in agony while Chisholm circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

The match was delayed for more than 10 minutes after Acuna initially tried to walk off the field but was unable to do so under his own power. As he was carried away on a cart, cameras caught an emotional Acuna tearing up after what turned out to be a season-ending injury, though he says he did not initially know that was the case.

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“I knew something was wrong,” Acuna said. “I guess I didn’t understand the severity of it, until the doctor told me about it later on. Nothing I can do about it now. I can’t control things I can’t control.”

Late Saturday, the Braves revealed via social media that Acuna had indeed suffered a complete tear of his ACL and would undergo surgery.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Acuna is expected to miss nine to 10 months, which would put him in jeopardy of missing the start of the 2022 season.

However long it takes, Acuna vows to come back as good as he was when he went down.

“I think I’m a patient person and I think that’s going to work in my favor,” Acuna said. “Continue to work hard, trust the process of the rehab. Just continue to work hard. You get out what you put in.”

Acuna did not discuss a timetable regarding his eventual return, saying that his surgery has not yet been programmed. For now, he is preparing to go, as planned, to Colorado for the All-Star Game, where he would have started in the outfield for the National League.

“(Being selected) means a lot to me,” Acuna said. “In that same sense, those fans who went out and voted for me, they deserve it as much as I did. I wouldn’t be here without them.” Before his injury, Acuna was putting up another stellar campaign that had him positioned for a run at his first MVP award.

He leads the Braves in batting average (.283), homers (24) and stolen bases this season (17), and leads all big leaguers with 72 runs scored.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Shohei Ohtani lead way for All-Star Game starters

Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. are heading to their first All-Star Game — as starters.

The three headline stars of 2021 dominated the second phase of fan voting at their respective positions to earn starting spots for the 91st All-Star Game programmed for July 13 at Coors Field in Denver.

Guerrero and Tatis were the leading vote-getters in each league, while Ohtani finished with the second-highest percentage in the American League.

Ohtani, voted in as the AL’s designated hitter, has thrilled fans all season with his two-way performance, long home runs and electrifying speed on the bases. He leads the majors with 28 home runs, including an MLB-leading 12 of 425 feet or longer.

He’s hitting .277, leads the majors with 49 extra-base hits and ranks third in the majors with 63 RBIs. Ohtani is also tied for the AL lead with four triples and has stolen 11 bases.

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While Ohtani had a disastrous start pitching Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium when he failed to finish the first inning, he is still 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 83 strikeouts and a .194 batting average allowed over 60 innings. Not since Babe Ruth in 1919, and briefly with Ohtani in 2018 before he underwent Tommy John surgery, has the sport seen such a dominant two-way player.

“He’s a joy for this,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Ohtani hit two home runs on Tuesday. “He’s what baseball needs as both a player and as an example.”

Ohtani was on fire at the plate in June, hitting .309 with 13 home runs, including 11 homers in 13 games from June 15 to June 29.

“He’s a generational talent, that’s for sure,” said fellow All-Star starter Aaron Judge of the Yankees.

Ohtani has also committed to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 12, with Pete Alonso of the Mets defending his title.

The runner-up in the Home Run Derby as a rookie in 2019, Guerrero makes his first All-Star team after securing 75% of the vote among the three AL finalists at first base. The 22-year-old is in pursuit of a Triple Crown, leading the AL with 66 RBIs, ranking second to Ohtani with 26 home runs and trailing Michael Brantley in batting average, .340 to .336.

He gets to his first All-Star Game two years earlier than his Hall of Fame father did, as Vladimir Guerrero Sr. made the first of his nine All-Star appearances at age 24.

Tatis has had a roller coaster of a campaign, missing nine matches early on after partially dislocating a shoulder on a swing on April 5, hitting .163 through his first 12 games and then later missing another 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. When he has played, however, he has crushed the ball, leading the National League with 26 home runs in just 63 games while hitting .300/.387/.705 for an MLB-leading 1.092 OPS.

Tatis beat out Javier Baez of the Cubs and Brandon Crawford of the Giants at shortstop with 64% of the vote, matching Guerrero as a first-time All-Star at 22. After an initial round of fan voting, the top three at each position entered the second phase.

Ohtani beat out J.D. Martinez and Yordan Alvarez at designated hitter with 64% of the vote, while Guerrero outdistanced Yuli Gurriel and Jose Abreu with 75%.

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Milwaukee Brewers rally from 7-run deficit in first inning to beat Chicago Cubs 15-7, sweep series

The stage was set for the Chicago Cubs to break a five-game losing streak and gain a game on the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, but after taking an early 7-0 lead on Wednesday, the Cubs became just the second team since 1900 to score seven or more runs in the first inning, only to lose by at least that many.

“A bad ending to not our best road trip,” Cubs manager David Ross said after the 15-7 loss.

The Brewers scored a run in the first, five more in the second and then put up eight in the fourth — the final four of those runs coming on a Willy Adames grand slam. Luis Urias then added another home run in the sixth — his second of the game.

“I don’t know what to say,” Adames said. “This one was crazy.” Cubs veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta couldn’t hold on to the lead and was pulled after just 1⅔ innings. The loss dropped the Cubs six games behind the Brewers after the two teams were tied for first in the NL Central just a week ago.

Milwaukee has won eight in a row, while Chicago has dropped its past six games after throwing a combined no-hitter versus the Los Angeles Dodgers last Thursday.

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“I think first place can go up and down before September,” Cubs shortstop Javier Baez said. “I’m not worried about that. Javy Baez is not worried about that. I’m not paying attention to that. We’re playing against pretty good teams.”

The Cubs completed a brutal month in terms of both travel and playing elite opponents.

The result was a 12-16 record and a franchise-worst (since 1900).1875 batting average in a calendar month. They hit .188 in April 1944.

Their current position in the standings might determine the direction of the front office with a month to go before the trade deadline. Ross knows the Cubs have something to prove to team brass. They have more than 10 players set to become free agents after this season.

“The key is for us to represent a winning product and something that can win a division and go into the playoffs and do something special,” Ross said.

The Brewers, meanwhile, have opened up the largest lead of any first-place team in baseball this campaign.

The Cubs find themselves in rare company. On April 26, 1976, the Giants scored seven runs in the first inning and also lost 15-7.

Over the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, there have been 8,691 instances of a team leading by seven runs at any point in a game. Entering Wednesday, only two of those teams had lost by eight-plus runs. Now there are three.

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