Raiders

Is this man the best pitcher in baseball?

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Is this man the best pitcher in baseball?

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 23, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays were expecting a tough game against Justin Verlander and that's exactly how it played out. Verlander became the first 19-game winner in the majors, Alex Avila hit his 15th homer and the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beat the Rays 5-2 on Monday night. "He's just not out there throwing, trying to throw 100 mph," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "He pitches. He has a definite idea of what he's doing. He's blessed with a very good arm, but he's also a pitcher." Verlander (19-5) won his seventh consecutive start, giving up one run and three hits in seven innings. The 19 wins match his career high, set in 2009. "Do I know where I'm at?" Verlander said. "Of course I do, but I've said time and time again, those things, totals, season stats, are meant to be looked at at the end of the season." The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the second when Avila hit a two-run shot off Jeff Niemann (8-5). The All-Star catcher is 25 for 59 (.424) with five homers and 14 RBIs this month. Niemann, who was 7-0 in his 10 previous start, allowed four runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings. Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton left with a right shoulder strain. He got injured right before running into the wall on Delmon Young's eighth-inning double. "I think I just kind of overextended the right arm," Upton said. "It mostly went numb and it started to hurt a little bit." Upton's injury is not thought to be serious, but he is expected to sit out Tuesday's game. Jhonny Peralta made it 4-1 in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single off reliever Juan Cruz. The hit came after Jake McGee, who replaced Niemann with the bases loaded and one out, struck out Avila. "We thought runs were going to be stingy and they were," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Tonight, Justin got the better of him (Niemann). He's a real good pitcher on a real good roll right now." Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, who gave up a solo homer in the ninth to Evan Longoria, both pitched one inning to complete a six-hitter. Leyland is not planning to use either Benoit or Valverde on Tuesday. Don Kelly extended the Tigers' lead to 5-1 on a ninth-inning homer. Matt Joyce, batting leadoff for just the second time this season, homered in the first against Verlander to put the Rays ahead. Joyce entered 5 for 9, including a homer, against the right-hander. Verlander got a no-decision in his other start against the Rays this season, allowing six runs and nine hits over six innings of Detroit's 7-6 win on May 24. This time he struck out eight and walked three, improving to 6-1 overall against the Rays. "There's a reason he was 18-5 coming into the game," Upton said. Tampa Bay designated hitter Johnny Damon had a one-out double in the sixth, tying Rickey Henderson for 46th place all-time with 510. Damon was stranded at second when Longoria hit a grounder and Ben Zobrist struck out. Niemann worked out of a two-on -- both on walks -- and one-out jam during the seventh by getting a foul pop from Kelly and striking out Ramon Santiago. "It was a well-played game," Maddon said. "They just beat us tonight." Avila was briefly shaken up after being hit by Upton's foul ball in the second, but remained in the game. NOTES: Longoria has 60 RBIs in his last 62 games. ... Detroit DH Victor Martinez was a late scratch because of lower back spasms. The catcher has been limited recently to DH duty due to a sore knee. ... Joyce went 1 for 2 with a walk against Verlander. ... Leyland said INF Brandon Inge, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, will be the emergency catcher. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price (11-10) enters his start Tuesday 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in five games, including three starts, against the Tigers. ... Detroit RHP Brad Penny (8-9) will make his 25th start of the season Tuesday.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

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AP

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

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USATSI

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.