New York Yankees: Good news and bad news in turnaround game 4 win over Tampa

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

Just when you thought the New York Yankees were out of the ALDS against Tampa Bay Rays, they came climbing back in game 4 to push the series to one final contest.

The Yankees started off the ALDS with an emphatic win over Tampa, thanks to a solid performance from starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. However, the past two games were tumultuous, at best. Pitching was the Yankees’ kryptonite, but unpredictable Jordan Montgomery put on a clinic in his outing on Thursday night.

FINAL SCORE: 5-1

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

As stated above, Montgomery was fantastic in the victory. He lasted four innings, allowing one earned run and three hits. It was the exact performance the Yankees needed to climb back into the series, and their offense did just enough to get over the hump.

Thankfully, their bullpen was also stellar, allowing zero hits and striking out six batters along the way. They allowed three overall hits on the night and just one run, while the Yankees posted 11 hits and five earned runs.

In this contest, the stand out player was Kyle Higashioka, who is playing over Gary Sanchez at catcher. Higgy didn’t only only make numerous defensive plays to keep the game in check, but he also drove in a run in the eighth inning to further increase the lead.

The reserve catcher is quickly becoming the favorite for manager Aaron Boone, as Sanchez continues to struggle offensively and has failed to replicate the same defensive performances Higashioka has been putting forth on a daily basis.

With the Yankees gearing up for game five, we can expect ace Gerrit Cole to take the mound. Cole pitched game one, posting six innings of work and three earned runs allowed.

More positive news—Giancarlo Stanton is the first player in MLB history with at least one extra-base hit in each of his teams for six games of a postseason.

BAD NEWS:

The Yankees put up a phenomenal performance on Thursday evening, meaning there wasn’t much bad news. Their hitters were efficient and got on base frequently.

The bad news boils down to inconsistency. The Yankees are such a streaky team at any given moment, they can go entirely cold. That hurts their momentum and puts them in tough positions like this, having to play from behind.

The team desperately needs another solid performance out of Cole, but their offense must produce, which leads me to believe that Higashioka will once again to be in the lineup, considering his recent hot streak.

Buffalo Bills’ Week 5 contest moved to Tuesday night

The anticipated matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans will move to Tuesday night, pending further Tennessee testing.

Buffalo Bills fans will be waiting all day for Tuesday night this week.

The team confirmed on Thursday that their Week 5 tilt against the Tennessee Titans will be shifted from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday night. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET and will be nationally broadcast on CBS. Tom McCarthy and Jay Feely are expected to retain the call.

Buffalo (4-0) has been on standby in the wake of positive COVID-19 tests out of Tennessee, a number that moved up to 23 since September 24 this week. This Tuesday date hinges on whether more positive tests emerge prior to kickoff. The Titans (3-0) previously saw their Week 4 game against Pittsburgh rescheduled to October 25 in the wake of their positives.

This week’s situation with the Bills was made all the more precarious with the BIlls’ situation in Week 6, as they were slated to open the proceedings with a Thursday night match against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. If the Bills and Titans play on Tuesday, Buffalo’s visit to Arrowhead Stadium will be moved to Week 6’s Sunday slate at an unspecified time. Otherwise, it will retain its spot in Fox and NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football package.

Buffalo last had a game rescheduled in 2014, when a snowstorm moved a November tilt against the New York Jets from Sunday to Monday. Proceedings were also moved from Bills Stadium (then known as Ralph Wilson Stadium) to Ford Field in Detroit. The Bills won the game 38-3.

This anticipated matchup between unbeaten teams is one of two Week 5 games shifted in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in the NFL. For the second straight week, the New England Patriots will partake in a Monday night doubleheader, as they’ll battle the Denver Broncos a day later than anticipated (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). That’ll be followed by the originally scheduled Monday night showing between the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

NASCAR: Clint Bowyer announces retirement and move to Fox Sports

Bowyer, 41, has been racing in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time since 2006. He will increase his duties with Fox Sports next season.

NASCAR Cup Series veteran Clint Bowyer announced his retirement on Thursday night through an open letter on Twitter.

Bowyer, the current driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, will finish out the 2020 season and move to the Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage. His letter begins by recapping his early auto racing career while growing up in Emporia, Kansas before describing his NASCAR career in vivid terms, thanking every owner and sponsor he’s raced under during his tenure before making his announcement.

“I have a new opportunity (to) do what’s next in my life. In 2021, my suit will no longer be fireproof. I will be joining the FOX [sic] booth on Sundays,” Bowyer wrote. “Just like my driving career, I will be part of a great team and organization with great teammates. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.”

Bowyer joined NASCAR’s national proceedings under the watch of renowned team owner Richard Childress, running his first races in what is now the Xfinity Series level in 2004. He was promoted to full-time Cup racing in 2006, driving the No. 07 Chevrolet for Childress. The first of 10 Cup Series came in the 2007 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motorspeedway en route to a third-place finish in the final standings. Bowyer raced in the No. 07, and later the No. 33, for six seasons before moving to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012. While with Childress, Bowyer took home the 2008 Xfinity (then Nationwide) Series title.

Driving the No. 15 Toyota for MWR, Bowyer flourished in 2012, winning a career-best three races and finishing in the runner-up spot in the Cup Series standings. He briefly raced for low-budget HScott Motorsports after MWR shut down prior to the 2016 season, but took over SHR’s No. 14 after the retirement of former champion and team owner Tony Stewart. Bowyer has made the NASCAR playoffs in each of his last three seasons with SHR, winning two races in 2018.

During his career, Bowyer’s vibrant personality endeared him to fans and fellow drivers alike. That trait was fully on display during NASCAR’s coronavirus-induced pause in early spring, as Bowyer earned positive reviews while both analyzing and competing in virtual events hosted on the iRacing simulator alongside Fox regulars Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon. Bowyer also called events on the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoor Truck Series level for FS1. His Fox debut came during an Xfinity Series race at Pocono a year prior.

With Bowyer vacating the No. 14 Ford, SHR did not announce an immediate heir, but it’s very possible that the wheel will be turned to the team’s Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe. His No. 98 Ford currently tops the Xfinity playoff standings and has won a circuit-best eight races this season.

Bowyer currently sits 11th in the Cup Series playoff ledger, 38 points away from the cutoff to the Round of 8. He’ll have one last opportunity to advance on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte’s Bank of America Roval 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC). The No. 14 Ford will start 11th.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu provides update on contract negotiations

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

When it comes to New York Yankees star infielder DJ LeMahieu, I have two words — Blank check. Actually, I have three more words — three Golden Gloves.

LeMahieu isn’t only the Yankees’ best infielder, he’s arguably their best hitter. Over the 2020 season, DJ finished with a .364 batting average, 10 homers, and 27 RBIs. He won the batting title and recorded his best average of his 10-year career. To start the postseason, he is hitting .293 with three RBIs, right in line with expectations.

However, LeMahieu is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Yankees. Heading into free agency, LeMahieu and his representatives want to wait and see how things develop. That is terrible news for the Yankees, who need to re-sign him at all costs.

Prioritizing his retention is first and foremost, as, without him, the Yankees don’t have a single Gold Glove in their infield and lose their most consistent batter.

The good things players have said about LeMahieu over the past two years have been endless, and fans are absolutely in love with his tenacity and continuity at the plate. Keeping him in pinstripes for at least the next three years is a necessity.

Are the Yankees making a mistake with their catcher situation in Game 4?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees are playing for survival tonight. They will face the Tampa Bay Rays at Petco Park, in San Diego, in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The Bombers are down 2-1 in the best-of-five affair, and if they don’t win tonight, they will return to New York empty-handed.

In the win-or-go-home affair, Yankees manager Aaron Boone will once again start Kyle Higashioka over Gary Sanchez at catcher. What started out as a “personal catcher” situation, given that ace Gerrit Cole feels more comfortable with Higgy, is now becoming a trend, and despite Boone recently saying that the situation would be a “day-to-day” thing, it seems like he is sticking with inferior offensive option.

Are the New York Yankees making a mistake by not starting Gary Sanchez regularly at the catcher position? Some will say that the Kraken has struggled this season, and he has. After all, he hit .147/.253/.365 in the regular season with a 69 wRC+ and Higashioka hit .250/.250/.521 with a 102 wRC+.

The Yankees’ catching controversy

However, it’s unfair to dismiss four seasons of being one of the most dominant offensive backstops in the game (.236/.320/.502, .346 wOBA, 117 wRC+ career line) and judge Sanchez for 49 games, not to mention that Higgy’s performance came in only 16 games. That’s just not enough sample to determine he is the best option to be in the Yankees’ lineup over Sanchez.

And while Higashioka does offer good defense behind the plate, the difference is not so big that it can justify leaving Sanchez on the bench for three of the four games of the ALDS.

If your ace express a strong preference to throwing to the backup catcher, it is understandable to let it happen, which has been the case when Gerrit Cole takes the mound. However, the Yankees haven’t even let Sanchez get into any kind of groove by not giving him enough plate appearances and essentially making him a backup option.

Here is the full Game 4 lineup:

  • 2B DJ LeMahieu
  • RF Aaron Judge
  • CF Aaron Hicks
  • DH Giancarlo Stanton
  • 1B Luke Voit
  • LF Brett Gardner
  • SS Gleyber Torres
  • 3B Gio Urshela
  • C Kyle Higashioka

P Jordan Montgomery

Fireside Giants Ep 45: Dave Gettleman on the hot seat? What’s Jason Garrett doing on offense? More!

New York Giants, Fireside Giants

In episode 45 at Fireside Giants, Alexander Wilson and Anthony Rivardo analyze week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams. There was plenty to take away, both positive and negative. Ranging from Daniel Jones to Blake Martinez, we saw individual players stand out and others falter in the face of adversity.

Of course, we dive into Jason Garrett and his deficiencies calling plays for the offense. Hopefully, things continue to progress but definitely listen to the episode for more insight and knowledge about the current scheme and progress.

 

LISTEN ON ITUNES HERE

Alex and Anthony will also be doing weekly fan mailbags, composed of your questions for a specific episode. We want to get the fans more involved and hopefully make a collaborative experience for you and help your fandom fuel our work with the Giants.

New York Giants go for Trevor Lawrence in new Draft Wire mock

New York Jets, Trevor Lawrence

It’s the time of the year again when we’re talking about what player the New York Giants might select. But unfortunately, we’re only on week five right now. The Giants have quickly fallen out of contention for the division and as they languish near the back of the standings, talk is turning towards what the team may do in the offseason. Once again, that shift is happening while the season is still young and other teams are still in contention.

The Giants have a number of moves they can make. Firing Dave Gettleman looks like one of the likely ones barring an amazing comeback in the standings. Another, more controversial option? Going backwards in the rebuilding process to draft Trevor Lawrence.

The team already has their quarterback now, but it’s hard to be patient with Daniel Jones given the current state of the franchise. And Lawrence is the kind of college prospect that’s comparable to Andrew Luck or Joe Burrow in terms of hype.

Trevor Lawrence mocked to Giants

There’s already talks about Lawrence to the Giants, as Lawrence was mocked to the team recently by Draft Wire.

Yes, the Giants just spent a top-10 pick on Daniel Jones in 2019, and the team definitely has bigger problems on both sides of the ball. But nothing he’s done so far, nor his potential ceiling, are anywhere near enough for the Giants to pass on a prospect like Lawrence. Last year, the Arizona Cardinals proved that moving on from a young quarterback for a better one can be the best decision a team ever makes. If they can get a massive haul to trade down, that would be ideal, but if they stay here, it’s gotta be Lawrence.

This works under the assumption the Giants will draft number one overall. That’s not an unreasonable assumption given their winless start, but there is time to improve – or for another team to take their spot near the bottom.

Drafting Lawrence would be a controversial move given how the Giants already spent a high draft pick to get Daniel Jones. But if they do get rid of Dave Gettleman, they may find themselves in an awkward spot where Jones is the previous regime’s quarterback and the new administration has other ideas.

Unless his rough start is patched up, there’s no guarantee a future GM would want to build the offense around Jones in the future. Lawrence may be seen as a better long term piece, especially now that Saquon Barkley has had multiple seasons disrupted by injury. The Giants need to rely more on their quarterback to win. But whether that future quarterback is Jones or someone else may just depend on where the Giants end up drafting.

It’s no guarantee right now – but if they do end up with the number one pick, don’t be surprised if the controversial move of taking a QB is the one that’s chosen.

Alex Rodriguez takes shot at Brian Cashman for meddling in game 2 plan

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

Since the New York Yankees plowed through the Tampa Bay Rays in game one, they’ve lost two consecutive matchups in the ALDS.

Pitching remains the Yankees’ biggest weakness and most prevalent liability. Their inability to hold down teams has been apparent for the regular season, and that same streak has followed them into the postseason. In game 2, the Yankees took an odd approach that resulted in a devastating loss that completely shattered their positive momentum.

Former Yankee Alex Rodriguez had strong words for Brian Cashman, who clearly meddled in their game plan.

“I’m still scratching my head,” Rodriguez said. “You’re the New York Yankees. You’re the biggest, most successful franchise maybe in sports. You’re number one in payroll with $240 million. You have to play your game. You’ve done it for over 120 years. You have 27 championships. You’ve done it as an alpha. You’ve done it the old-fashioned way.

“You get to Game 1, you do it the old-fashioned way,” A-Rod went on. “Great starting pitching and you get nine outs from the bullpen. And then to Game 2, the front office wants to get involved and then you start getting gimmicky. To me, the Yankee roster has to bail out Brian Cashman and the front office. And they’ve done some wonderful things. Game 2 was a mistake, and it was a mistake for about 20 different reasons.

“The players start saying, ‘What are we doing?’ You start spending so much time trying to figure out how to outsmart the Ivy Leaguers over there. That’s not your game. Don’t play Jeopardy!, play baseball. Players win championships.”

Out of all of Rodriguez‘s takes, this is a decent one. The Yankees tried to take a strange analytical approach that backfired significantly. Instead of taking the old fashion route that relied on their starting pitching, they injected young arm, Deivi Garcia, into a must-win game. His one run in the first inning gave the Rays momentum that allowed them to crush JA Happ immediately after.

“I’m sorry for ranting here, but we used to say, ‘If a manager can stay out of the game, that’ll be great.’ Now we have to say, ‘Front offices have to stay out of the game.’ Frustrating,” he said. “That last thing I’ll say is it’s unfortunate that Aaron Boone has to sit there and explain to the media what he’s doing.

“I would love the smart Ivy Leaguers to come down – the front office – and explain to us why that was a smart move for the New York Yankees and that fan base.”

While people will blame Aaron Boone for this mishap, this goes much deeper into the front office. The Yankees need to rely on their guns and listen to the people they evidently pay to make these decisions.

Cashman needs to stick to his job and begin looking at free agents to bolster the starting pitching rotation. With the Yankees down 1-2 in the series, game 4 is essential, and they are banking on Jordan Montgomery to bring his A-game.

New York Yankees: Jordan Montgomery ready to make the most important start of his life

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

For the New York Yankees, the moment of truth has arrived. If they win tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays, they will force a decisive Game 5 in the division series, one in which they will presumably start Gerrit Cole on short rest. If they lose, they will go home and their season will end.

Tasked with the responsibility of holding the suddenly hot Tampa offense is left-hander Jordan Montgomery. In the regular season, Monty had a bloated 5.11 ERA in 10 starts and 44.0 innings. However, his peripherals tell a different story.

His 3.87 FIP is very decent, even good, and it is supported by a 3.65 xFIP, 9.61 K/9 and only 1.84 BB/9. He had some bad luck when it comes to his strand rate: the 65.0% mark is significantly lower than his career 72.7 register.

Montgomery, the Yankees card for silencing the Rays tonight, was shelled by his current foe on September 2, allowing five hits, four runs and a walk in 0.2 innings. He will try to leave that day behind and propel the Bombers to a victory.

“I’m excited to get the opportunity,” Montgomery said to Mandy Bell of MLB.com. “I’ve been waiting since 2017, especially since I got hurt. So I’m really excited to go out there and just pitch again.”

“This is what I’ve been working, really, my whole career for,” Montgomery said. “Especially when you haven’t been out there in a while, you get a little antsy and you feel like you want to get out there even more.”

The Yankees are counting on him

It has been a while since his last appearance, but the Yankees’ lefty says he has been staying in physical and mental shape.

“I’ve been staying ready mentally since I got in the bullpen,” Montgomery said. “This deep into the season, I’m pretty confident about where I’m at right now.”

He now has the New York Yankees’ season resting in his left arm. But he’s ready for the challenge.

Conor McGregor says he’s accepted the UFC offer to face Dustin Poirier

Conor McGregor, UFC

The UFC appears closer than ever to finalizing the return of their biggest star. For the last couple of weeks, there have been a lot of things going on with Conor McGregor (22-4). First, McGregor announced he’d be boxing Manny Pacquiao. 

After that, McGregor challenged Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) to a charity MMA match the same night as UFC 256. Poirier accepted the callout from McGregor and said that he’s ready to go. Dana White then said that the UFC was trying to make the fight happen.

It’s been relatively quiet over the last couple of days. White said that Poirier had accepted the fight, and the UFC was anticipating a response from McGregor sooner rather than later. Well, McGregor took to Twitter today with another announcement.

UFC 255 or UFC 256 for Poirier – McGregor 2?

As you can see from the above tweet, McGregor claims that he’s accepted the UFC‘s offer for him to run things back with Dustin Poirier. McGregor is also insisting that the fight takes place this year which leaves two viable options.

McGregor is calling for November 21st which is UFC 255. Cody Garbrandt fell out of the main event last week due to an injury. While two title fights are still on the card, the main event is not as sexy to fans without Garbrandt in there.

Because of the injury news, McGregor sees an opportunity for him and Poirier to headline that card. Another possibility could be the December 12th card. UFC 256 also lost their main event last week after it was announced that Kamaru Usman needed more time.

No matter which card they decide to go with, the UFC needs to make this fight happen. Conor McGregor belongs in the UFC, not in a boxing ring. Dustin Poirier needs a big time payday, and it wouldn’t get bigger than this.