Patriots

The Yankees hit how many grand slams Thursday?

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The Yankees hit how many grand slams Thursday?

NEW YORK (AP)Robinson Canos grand slam gave the New York Yankees a chance. Russell Martins slam gave them the lead. Curtis Grandersons slam gave them the record.

The Yankees became the first team in Major League Baseball history to hit three slams in a game, rallying from an early six-run deficit to mash the Oakland Athletics 22-9 on a wet, wild Thursday.

Youre not going to see it again, probably, Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. You cant explain it.

Funny thing: The Yankees couldve hit even more grand slams, given all the chances the As presented them. Helped by 13 walks, New York batters went to the plate a whopping 16 times with the bases loaded.

Jeter alone came up four times with the bags juiced. He grounded out twice, struck out and walked in those spots. Overall, the Yankees went 6 for 13 with two walks and a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.

In nearly a century of storied slugging, the Bronx Bombers had never put on a show quite like this. Nobody had, in fact.

Im surprised it hadnt been done before with all the great teams and great individual hitters that have come throughout the course of the game, Granderson said.

With MLB in its 136th year and approaching its 200,000th regular-season game next month, the Yankees knew it was a slammin day. Not until they saw a note posted on the video board about the three slams, however, did they realize exactly what theyd achieved.

This game has been played for a long time. Pretty much everything has already happened, Martin said.

Except this.

Definitely cool. It was fun to be part of it, Martin said. When theres nowhere to put them, they have to throw strikes.

Martin homered twice and doubled, setting career highs with five hits and six RBIs. Cano and Granderson each drove in five runs as the Yankees pulled off their biggest comeback win since 2006 and avoided a three-game sweep.

On a dreary afternoon, some fans headed home with the Yankees trailing 7-1 after three innings and rain still falling in a game that began after an 89-minute delay.

Turns out they missed the Yankees coming homeover and over and over.

Cano began the barrage with his slam in the fifth, a clean shot into the lower deck in right field off starter Rich Harden that made it 7-6.

Martin connected in the sixth off Fautino De Los Santos, a fly that barely made it over the auxiliary scoreboard in right for a 10-7 lead.

Granderson took his turn in the eighth, launching a no-doubt drive into New Yorks right-center field bullpen with two outs off Bruce Billings.

It was the Yankees highest-scoring game since they got 22 runs at Boston in 2000, and it tied the team record set in 1931 for most runs in a home game.

The 22 runs marked the most allowed by the Athletics since 1955, when they were based in Kansas City and lost 29-6 to the Chicago White Sox.

It only counts as one (loss), but it was definitely embarrassing, Oakland interim manager Bob Melvin said.

'Man, why do we continue to do this?' Patriots FG block work finally pays off

'Man, why do we continue to do this?' Patriots FG block work finally pays off

FOXBORO -- Stay low. Drive off the tight end's inside shoulder. And whatever you do, keep your feet. You don't want to be falling into kicker and picking up a penalty. 

Those were the kinds of things that were bouncing around somewhere in Cassius Marsh's subconscious as he lined up to try to block Falcons kicker Matt Bryant's field-goal attempt from 37 yards away at the end of the first quarter. Swimming past his blocker off the snap, Marsh got both arms extended and into the path of Bryant's kick, knocking it down and giving his team a boost. 

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"Guys work hard on that every week," Bill Belichick said after his team's 23-7 win. "Cassius has gotten some opportunities in practice. It’s hard to block Steve [Gostkowski]. Steve gets good height on the ball, gets the ball off quickly. I think this one with not quite as much height maybe as Steve's ball, or at least what Steve's balls were in practice, Cassius got a hand on it. 

"It was a big play for us because, again, we worked so hard on that and that’s everybody across the board. That’s all 11 guys, not just the guy that blocks it. The other guys have to do their job and if they block Cassius and take him away then that gives somebody else an opportunity so we never know how that’s going to go. We just want everybody to come hard and do their job right and wherever the opening is it is. That was a big play for us . . . 

"You can see the whole team – we were all excited. Sideline, players, guys on the field. That was a big moment for us. Our special teams units work very hard. They take a lot of pride in their job. The return teams, the coverage teams, the field goal and the field goal block team. It’s good to see that hard work pay off in a big play like that."

It was a big enough play that it earned Marsh a high-five from his coach. Marsh laughed about his reception on the sideline, remembering that the last time he got that kind of recognition from Belichick it came after a Week 4 sack.

"That's pretty much it that I can remember," Marsh said, beaming. "He only really smiles in situations like that so you've gotta cherish those moments."

The Patriots recovered at their own 26-yard line and embarked on an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to get them on the scoreboard.

"With the defense playing as well as they were, to be able to preserve the shutout at the time was big," said special teams captain Matthew Slater. "Those are huge momentum plays when you're able to block a kick. It's not a traditional play that happens every game. Huge play. A UCLA guy stepping up, who would've thought? 

"You gotta tip your hat to those guys because they coach that, they work that and sometimes it seems like, 'Man, why do we continue to do this?' But it paid off for us tonight. You tip your cap to not only Cash but the rest of the guys on that unit." 

While Marsh's block was the highlight, it was a strong night overall for New England's special teams units. Every Falcons drive started inside their own 30-yard line, and Gostkowski had kicks returned to the 12, 19 and 18 before they were stopped.

Slater called it the most complementary game the Patriots played all season. Offense, defense, special teams. They all worked together to make Sunday perhaps their most dominating performance of the year. 

"That's the effort that we've been looking for and striving for all year," Slater said. "I think that's a good starting point for us. Lot of football left. Nine games left so we're going to have to continue to do it and be consistent week in and week out."

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Butler credits improved Patriots defense for 'playing smarter'

Butler credits improved Patriots defense for 'playing smarter'

As safety Duron Harmon emerged from the showers following the Patriots 23-7 win over the Falcons, he noticed a crowd gathered by his locker. As one of the captains of the team - and a man nicknamed by teammates as “The Voice” because of his ability to articulate the right words at the right time, the affable safety is a must listen postgame. But for a change, Harmon knew the mass gathering of media wasn’t there for him - at least not yet. We were there for Malcolm Butler, who had just played his best game of the season.

“You all want to talk to Malcolm?” Harmon sang. “I’d want to talk to Malcolm too.”

Devin McCourty got in on the act as well with some good-natured chirping in Butler’s direction. Both safeties were energized by the victory but also, it seemed, by the performance of a player they’ve come to rely on in games just like this. 

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“Awww man, Malcolm. . . Malcolm was great for us,” said Harmon later. “We need that.”

It's hard not to draw the parallel between Butler having his best performance of the season a week after making two of the biggest plays in the game against the Jets. He did all this while the man who indirectly caused so much of the 28-year old’s troubles - Stephon Gilmore - hasn’t been able to play because of a concussion. Meanwhile, an undrafted player in his 6th year, Johnson Bademosi, has emerged opposite Butler to play very sound football.

“Communication,” said Butler of the team’s defensive improvements. “Just playing smarter and better. That’s all.”

Butler himself didn’t want to spend much time analyzing his own performance. That’s usually not his thing. And it wasn’t as if that performance was perfect. Far from it. But Butler’s energy was evident right from the jump. He stuck his nose in there on running plays to his side, including a terrific submarine tackle of Tevin Coleman in the opening quarter. Butler also got his fair share of Julio Jones over the course of the night. Even though he surrendered that late touchdown to the Falcons wideout, he showed not only a willingness to play the big dog, but to go right at him. That is - after all - a Butler trademark. 

“Just competing,” said Butler. “Great player; you just got to compete.”

It’s not just competing, but it’s playing with confidence, something Butler said was an issue for him in the aftermath of his snap reduction in New Orleans. But now? That seems long gone and hard to find.

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