Orioles

CB Aqib Talib preparing for Patriots debut

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CB Aqib Talib preparing for Patriots debut

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Aqib Talib wants to leave his past troubles behind. The New England Patriots hope he can do the same for their secondary.

The cornerback's career since he was drafted in the first round in 2008 has been marked by strong play and numerous off-field problems.

He's had two NFL suspensions and a fight with a fellow Tampa Bay draftee at a rookie symposium. In May 2011, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but that was dropped last June 18.

``What happened in the past is the past,'' Talib said on Thursday. ``I'm just looking forward to make the best of this opportunity and win some ballgames.''

Coach Bill Belichick traded with the Buccaneers for Talib before last Sunday's 37-31 win over the Buffalo Bills. He had to sit that out to complete a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, which Talib said was Adderall.

Belichick was brief when asked why he felt Talib would have no such issues with the Patriots.

``Any player that we bring here, we feel confident in bringing here or we wouldn't bring him,'' he said.

Talib said his new coach didn't discuss his off-field troubles with him.

``We kind of just talked straight football,'' he said. ``He didn't bring up the past. I didn't bring up the past. He didn't bring up the future. I didn't bring up the future.''

For now, Talib is focused on the daily grind of learning a new defense and practicing to be ready for Sunday's game against Indianapolis.

The Patriots lead the AFC East with a 6-3 record and the NFL's best offense, Their pass defense is one of the worst; only four teams have allowed more yards through the air.

``The great thing about him is he's a great athlete,'' defensive end Rob Ninkovich said of Talib. ``Obviously, it's not the easiest thing to just jump into something new, but he's a great player so I think he'll be all right.''

Tampa Bay took Talib out of Kansas with the 20th pick in 2008. He's started 45 of his 58 games and has 18 interceptions, three for touchdowns.

In four games this year, he had one interception and 21 tackles.

With the recent move of starting cornerback Devin McCourty to safety, where Patrick Chung has been sidelined for three games, there's a spot for Talib to fill.

There's also some uncertainty for Indianapolis interim coach Bruce Arians.

``You don't know if Patrick is going to play. You don't know if Aqib is going to play,'' he said. ``You just know the coverages and the things that they've been doing and then what they've done in the past. You try to get your guys ready to play and really concentrate on their own games as much as you do on the opponent's games.''

Talib's first suspension without pay was for the regular-season opener in 2010 for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. That resulted from an altercation with a St. Petersburg cab driver during training camp in August 2009.

He also had charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas dropped a week before he was due to be tried for allegedly firing a gun at his sister's boyfriend.

Asked what kind of person he was off the field, Talib shifted the focus back to his sport.

``I'm a competitor, man, on the field,'' he said. ``That's kind of what we're talking about right now, just football.''

Now he's busy studying the Patriots' defensive system so he can help a secondary that needs a boost.

``I did my best to stay in pretty good shape'' during his suspension, he said. ``It's my fifth year in the league and I've played almost every coverage there is to play. So whatever they ask me to play, that's what I'm going to play.''

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We can’t stop staring at these Bowie Baysox commemorative moon landing jerseys

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Twitter/@BowieBaysox

We can’t stop staring at these Bowie Baysox commemorative moon landing jerseys

One of the coolest things about Minor League Baseball is the creativity that comes with it.

The stadiums. The ice cream deals. The interesting mascots. And most importantly, the uniforms.

The Bowie Baysox, the Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, released special uniforms they will be wearing on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.

And, oh wow, are they something. Take a look.

On the front of the uniform, you can see the image of where lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the lunar surface of the moon. On the back, a satellite view of the moon is pictured, with the player's number on top of it. Both the number and the cursive "Baysox" on the front are filled in with the American flag.

If you're looking for some to do on Saturday, go support the Baysox and their Moon Landing uniforms. If only there was a jersey giveaway.

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Bullpen struggles plague Nationals in loss to Orioles

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Bullpen struggles plague Nationals in loss to Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Juan Soto sat on the ground against the left-field wall, his head in his hands in the bottom of the eighth. Washington's outfielder had just reached for a long shot from Baltimore's Trey Mancini, but the ball was just out of Soto's reach and Mancini notched his 19th homer of the year, a two-run knock that gave the Orioles a 6-2 lead. 

Soto's body language symbolized more than just his frustration from the one play. By the end of the game -- the start of which was delayed 92 minutes after an onslaught of rain made Camden Yards look like a blizzard had blown into town -- the Orioles outscored the Nationals 9-2, almost the opposite of Washington's 8-1 win Tuesday.

Both teams were sluggish out of the box; a one-run ball game until the seventh, when Baltimore tore the game wide open. Washington put across its two sole runs in the third and fifth, both RBIs from Adam Eaton (he knocked in Soto on a sacrifice fly on the third, and Trea Turner on a double in the fifth). 

The Orioles briefly tied the game in the fourth, but it wasn't until the seventh when Baltimore broke down Washington's bullpen and put up two consecutive multi-run innings. 

Though Washington starter Erick Fedde, who was recalled from Double-A Harrisburg earlier Wednesday, put in six solid innings on the mound and only allowed on run on five hits in his 66 pitches, the Nationals' bullpen struggled to thwart the Orioles' comeback seventh and eighth innings.   

Since the outing was Fedde's first since he was recalled, Washington manager Davey Martinez didn't want to stretch him since he'd had two weeks off. 

"He got us through the sixth inning," Martinez said. "We had [Wander Suero] ready to go, but [Fedde] did well."

Suero, Tony Sipp and Javy Guerra combined for the seventh inning, contributing an out apiece. Suero got off to a rough start, however, and the first two batters he faced reached base. In his outing he gave up three earned runs on three hits and one walk.

After the game Suero explained that he received some bad personal news prior to the game, so he wasn't necessarily in the right mindset.

Sipp faced only two batters before he was done on the mound (he walked one and gave up a sacrifice fly to Rio Ruiz). So, when Guerra entered with two outs and two runners on, the Nationals were in desperate need of that elusive third out. 

Guerra induced a groundout to end the seventh, but couldn't carry that momentum into the eighth. To start the penultimate inning, Guerra gave up that two-run shot to left field that left Soto with his head hanging between his knees. 

Washington stuck with Guerra after those two runs crossed the plate, but as the right-hander struggled to record even one out, Martinez made the call and brought in Matt Grace to complete the inning. Three more runs crossed in the half, putting Baltimore ahead 9-2.

Now, the Nationals head to Atlanta to face the NL East-leading Braves for a four-game set. Washington is 6 1/2 games back of Atlanta, though the Nationals are the top wild-card standings in the National League.

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