Tagged in: triumph

Tampa Bay Rays take game 2 to even the series one game apiece

Through all the struggles, all the moments when it looked like he should be dropped down in the lineup or out of it altogether, Brandon Lowe believed.

He had built himself into one of the American League’s best hitters, and no slump, not even one during the playoffs, could derail that. The Tampa Bay Rays kept believing in Lowe, too. And in Game 2 of the World Series, both were rewarded handsomely for their faith.

Lowe became the first player ever to hit two opposite-field home runs in one World Series match, and the Rays’ bullpen bent but didn’t break as they held on for a 6-4 triumph Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece.

The 26-year-old Lowe, an All-Star two years ago as a rookie and a down-ballot MVP candidate this year, had endured a brutal postseason: 6-for-56 with 19 strikeouts and not one multi-hit game among the 15 the Rays had played. And yet Tampa Bay never wavered — he sat only one game and pinch hit in it — confident that Lowe would find his swing.

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Lowe, hitting in the No. 2 hole, punished a 95 mph fastball from rookie starter Tony Gonsolin out to left field, giving the Rays an early advantage. He piled on with a two-run shot off rookie Dustin May in the fifth inning, pushing the Rays’ advantage to 5-0.

In the meantime, Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t permitted a hit, striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings.

Following the fourth, Snell bounded off the mound, shouting into the expanse of Globe Life Field, to no one and everyone among the crowd of 11,472. He looked like his Cy Young-winning self, his fastball, curve ball and slider confounding a group of Dodgers hitters who in Game 1 piled up eight runs through power, patience and proficiency wielding the bat.

Lowe’s multi-homer game was the 55th in World Series history, the seventh by a second baseman and the first by a Rays player. And it continued Tampa Bay’s trend of needing home runs to score. They set a record with 28 home runs this postseason, and entering the World Series, nearly 72% of their runs had come via the longball.

The return of the Lowe who helped lead the Rays to the AL East title was a welcome sign for a Tampa Bay team whose offensive struggles were of paramount concern — particularly with the prospect of falling down 0-2 to the Dodgers. Lowe had hit .269/.362/.554 with 14 home runs in 56 games during the regular season and ranked just behind Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. in wins above replacement.

Now, after a Thursday off-day, the teams return for Game 3 with the best pitching matchup of the series: Dodgers ace Walker Buehler versus Rays stalwart Charlie Morton.

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Packers rookie tight end Josiah Deguara has season ending knee injury

The surging Green Bay Packers lost another offensive weapon to injury, as rookie tight end Josiah Deguara suffered a season-ending knee injury in Monday night’s triumph over the Atlanta Falcons.

A source told ESPN that Deguara, a third-round draft pick, suffered a torn ACL.

“Unfortunately it looks to be a pretty bad one,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said without revealing details of the diagnosis. “I hurt for Josiah. I love what he’s all about — the mentality he brings, and he’s certainly somebody we were really excited about.”

Deguara appeared to injury his left knee while blocking on the punt team late in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 30-16 triumph at Lambeau Field.

The Packers had big plans for Deguara, who was seemingly tailor-made for LaFleur’s offense that moves tight ends around within a variety of formations.

He played 24 snaps in the Week 1 win over the Vikings and caught one pass for 12 yards.

But his best play was perhaps a block in which he took out two defenders on an end around by receiver Allen Lazard that gained 19 yards. He missed the next two games due to an ankle injury but returned in Week 4 versus the Falcons.

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“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster because in terms of I thought he had a great game vs. Minnesota in Week 1, and then he goes out with an ankle injury,” LaFleur stated. “It’s been tough. But we expect him to bounce back from it and, you know, we still think he has a really bright future in this league.

The Packers played Monday without their top two receivers, Davante Adams (hamstring) and Lazard (core muscle injury), and also were missing veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis (knee).

The Packers held out Adams, who wanted to play so badly that he tweeted (and then deleted the tweet) that the team was holding him out even though he felt he was ready to play.

LaFleur stated Tuesday that he did not tell Adams to take down his tweet. “I can understand why he’s frustrated,” LaFleur said.

“He’s a competitor, wants to be out there with his brothers, and any time you don’t get a chance to go out there it’s disappointing. He’s worked his tail off ever since this thing occurred, and it’s just one of those deals where the long term, potential long-term effects, you just got to take that into consideration. And we know that in order for us to be at our best he needs to be a part of those long-term plans.”

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Los Angeles Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, 8th straight division title

Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth consecutive division title with a 7-2 triumph over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. They are the third team to win at least eight consecutive division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991 to 2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998 to 2006).

“To fast-forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said.

“Truth be told, a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible, but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every match in a best-of-three series versus the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 triumph over the San Diego Padres. Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates.

Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

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The clubhouse celebration was also muted.

Champagne was involved, but it was players toasting one another with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it — instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate, and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs Tuesday. “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and A.J. Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual, but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May went five innings and permitted two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in any of his first 13 career starts, which includes 10 this season.

Seager tied it 1-1 in the first with an RBI single and led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend L.A.’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas.

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch because of left hamstring discomfort. He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28.

Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will stay with the team for the entire postseason.

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