Orioles

Aulie, Lightning top Hurricanes, 4-1

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Aulie, Lightning top Hurricanes, 4-1

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Tampa Bay Lightning weren't about to let themselves fall behind on the road again.

Tom Pyatt and Cory Conacher scored early goals, Keith Aulie added a momentum-shifting score in the third period, and the Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Ryan Malone added a power-play goal, and Vincent Lecavalier assisted on both early scores for the Lightning, who were still fuming about how they dropped into a four-goal hole on Monday in a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders.

The Lightning - who were 13-22-6 in road games last season - scored twice in the first period to set the tone. They pulled away with two more in the third period and continually clamped down on a Carolina offense that added Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin during the offseason.

``We were (ticked) off about (Monday's) game. We weren't playing the way we wanted to,'' Pyatt said. ``We played better defensively. We were all above them, we took their space away, and I think it got them frustrated.''

Jeff Skinner scored a power-play goal for the Hurricanes, who had their home opener spoiled by Tampa Bay for the second straight season.

Mathieu Garon stopped 35 shots - including all 15 he faced in the third period of his first start this season for the Lightning, who opened the lockout-compressed season with two wins in three games.

Cam Ward made 22 saves, but allowed four goals for the second straight game. The Hurricanes have started a much-anticipated season with two losses and have been outscored by a combined 9-2. Carolina has dropped four straight home openers.

``There's no panic, but we've definitely got to find a way to work harder and find a way to win games,'' Staal said.

Skinner cut Carolina's deficit to 2-1 when he scored a power-play goal 3:45 into the second, backhanding a rebound high past Garon.

Aulie restored the Lightning's two-goal lead 1:37 into the third when he skated unimpeded into the left circle and beat Ward with a high shot for his first goal since the 2010-11 season.

Malone then put Tampa Bay up by three when he stuffed in a loose puck on the power play with 10:03 left.

``We wore down the opponent to get to the third period, and then our offense came out because we were doing a good job defensively'' in a season-opening 6-3 win over Washington, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. ``We made the mistake of doing the opposite (Monday). Today, we wanted to make sure we came back to that.

``Slowly, that's how we want to wear teams down,'' he added. ``We know we've got the offense. We know we can punch on any moment, but we don't want to force it.''

Ward was back in net three nights after allowing four goals on just 12 shots in a 5-1 loss at Florida. The Lightning continued his rough start by scoring on two of their first five attempts.

Pyatt struck first 5:18 in when he got past Bobby Sanguinetti, took a pass from Lecavalier, and batted the puck out of the air past Ward.

``I saw it coming. Obviously, there was a little bit of luck in there, too,'' Pyatt said. ``I never played any baseball or anything, but I guess it came natural.''

Conacher made it 2-0 by shoving in a rebound with 8:24 left.

``There's some good things in our game, but there's a little bit where I think we just need to get down and get gritty, compete a little bit more on pucks and one-on-one battles, and being physical in the corners and make it difficult for teams to get to our net,'' Carolina captain Eric Staal said. ``Clean that up, and we'll be fine. We had enough offense. We had some good looks, and just didn't capitalize enough.''

Notes: The Sanguinetti-Joni Pitkanen defensive pairing for Carolina was on the ice for Tampa Bay's first two goals. . Conacher has five points in three games. . Semin struck the left post with a shot during a power play early in the second period. . Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher watched from the stands. His son-in-law, RW Kevin Westgarth, made his debut with Carolina.

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

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All it took for Chris Davis to break out of his slump was a letter from a Red Sox fan

Well, dang. We did not expect to need tissues for this video.

When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was in the midst of the worst slump in Major League Baseball history, it often felt from afar like nothing could pull him out of his doldrums. It was difficult to watch Davis make the worst kind of history, knowing there was nothing fans can do to help.

Apparently, that was a mistake. All it took was a letter.

Henry Frasca, a diehard Red Sox fan, hated watching Davis struggle. So, when the O’s were in town to play his favorite team, he decided to write Davis a letter of encouragement.

The note made its way to Davis, who kept it with him. Inspired by the kind words, Davis had a breakout day at the plate, driving in four runs one his first three hits of 2019. The longtime Oriole has kept the letter with him ever since.

Frasca was unaware of the specific impact his message made, but as the Orioles returned to Fenway Park once again, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

This is, frankly, one of the coolest things we’ve seen in a long time. Frasca is just nine years old, but his view on the world and, specifically, helping those in need is both mature beyond his years and inspiring to the adults around him.

The most impressive part of the letter, as Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne highlights in his interview, is the idea that how Davis is playing on the field does not define the person he is off it.

It’s an insightful message, one that’s easy for even grown men and women to forget when cheering on their favorite players from afar. For someone so young, who roots for a rival team, to recognize it so early is mighty impressive.

The video is five minutes long, but well worth every second of your time. Well done to the Orioles, Thorne, Davis, and of course, Frasca most of all.

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Much to his pleasure, Max Scherzer ‘probable’ to start this week

Much to his pleasure, Max Scherzer ‘probable’ to start this week

WASHINGTON -- If you ask Max Scherzer, he is ready. Which is not an upgrade from where he was earlier in the week.

Scherzer felt well again Sunday when he woke up following his second simulation game of the week. His workload increased Saturday, his comfort remained the same and Sunday his body told him he is ready to pitch in a game for the first time since July 25. Davey Martinez agreed -- for the most part. He said Scherzer is “probable” to start Thursday in Pittsburgh.

“I feel good,” Scherzer said. “Kinda do my normal little tests, move my arm and go through the throwing motion, so I feel good. I’m basically sore today the way I should be sore, given that and all the treatment we did yesterday and throwing a sim game. Like everything feels right where it should be. There’s no extra soreness other than what I anticipated. To me, that’s right on par.”

Scherzer remains irritated he was instructed to throw a second simulation game. He understands why. It just was not his personal preference. Part of the reason is in the title of the act. “Simulation” is not reality. For instance, he warned Gerardo Parra a slider was coming in the first simulation game. “Watch your foot,” Scherzer told him out of concern for possible injury. Pitchers are not truly pitching inside during simulations because of that worry. Players could be found to stand in the box without concern of injury. However, they couldn’t competently handle a hall-of-fame pitcher. So, that’s a false test, too. Only being in a game tells the truth.

But this is what Scherzer had to deal with because of the organization managed his return slowly. They focused on the future -- both this season and beyond. Scherzer is much more concerned about the now because, in his view, his rhomboid strain is not a significant injury.

“The long-term health, that’s not even part of the equation,” Scherzer said. “We all know that’s going to be good because we’re dealing with a muscle strain. Every other structure within the back, shoulder, you name it – nothing at play here. It’s literally dealing with the muscle strain and getting through it.”

Knowing this is not a long-term injury has keyed Scherzer’s frustration with the process. He’s felt close, then ready, really close, and again ready throughout the recovery. He’s being teased by the thing he wants to do most: get back on the mound in a real game. 

“Honestly, the toughest part about this whole thing is I feel like the carrot’s right in front of my face,” Scherzer said. “That it’s such day to day that any day it could turn and you always wake up every single day thinking today’s the day that you’re going to wake up and not feel anything and you’re going to go out there and you’re going to throw it and you’re going to feel no pain whatsoever. And you go off running because it’s not a serious injury. That’s been the most frustrating part. 

“If I knew that was going to be however long this is going to take – if I was dealing with, say, a more significant injury where they say, ‘You’re not going to feel good in six weeks’ – all right, you got it. You can easily mentally check out for six weeks knowing I’m not going to be able to throw a ball in six weeks and you can build your rehab around that. That hasn’t been the case. It’s really been day to day: ‘Hey, you might be feeling good here in two days.’ That’s really been the prognosis I’ve gotten from the doctors and everybody about what I’m dealing with. 

“So for me, that’s really been the hardest part mentally. I feel like at any point in time I could be ready to get back out there and at any day everybody’s expecting that this could turn. For me, when you have that carrot right in front of your face and you want to be helping your team, that’s what’s been the most frustrating part for me mentally.”

A bullpen session Monday should be next. After that, a final step to diffuse all of Scherzer’s irritation, his competition-based combat with Martinez and the organization and exasperation with a muscle strain which derailed him for a month can come: pitch one.

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