BOSTON As the Orioles close in on their first postseason spot in 15 years, the wins become more vital, even if theyre not spectacular.Miguel Gonzalez turned in a workmanlike performance, and when he was done, the Orioles had yet another win, 4-2 over the Boston Red Sox before 37,731 at Fenway Park on Friday night.The Orioles (86-64) began the evening a game behind the New York Yankees for the AL East lead.On a normal night, Baltimore would be chuckling over beating Jon Lester. For years, hes tormented the Orioles. And after beating them in 14 straight decisions, Lester finally lost.Gonzalez (7-4) pitched into the seventh inning, and allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 13. He walked one and struck out three.Darren ODay retired all five batters he faced, and Jim Johnson set a club record with 46 saves by pitching a scoreless ninth. The only real on-field drama came with two outs in the top of the ninth when Mark Melancon hit Robert Andino in the batting helmet with a pitch.Andino growled at Melancon and left the game after reaching first. The Red Sox scored a run in the third off Gonzalez. Daniel Nava led off with a double and scored on Pedro Ciriacos one-out double.The Orioles took a 2-1 lead off Lester (9-13) in the fourth. After J.J. Hardys leadoff single, Adam Jones doubled. Matt Wieters single drove in Hardy and Jones.Boston tied in the fifth on Dustin Pedroias RBI single.In the sixth, Jones walked with one out. Wieters drove Jones home with a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Mark Reynolds single to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.Lester allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings.NOTES:-Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.23) will pitch for the Orioles on Saturday afternoon against Aaron Cook (4-10, 4.93). Wei-Yin Chen will pitch one of the games of Mondays doubleheader. Manager Buck Showalter hasnt decided on a starter for the second game. Steve Johnson is a possibility. -Showalter intimated that outfielder L.J. Hoes, whos been with the team since Sept. 11, could be sent to the Instructional League next week. Hoes, who hasnt played, will receive an award for best organizational positional player on Tuesday.
When you are a general manager preparing for the draft and free agency, seeing a video of one of your most prominent players in a hotel room sitting next to lines of an unidentified white powder is about the last thing you want to see.
That was how the summer kicked off for Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan when video of Evgeny Kuznetsov began circulating on social media.
“We're a little disappointed that he had put himself in that situation that could be interpreted in a number of different ways,” MacLellan said on a conference call Thursday in his first availability with the media since the incident.
The video was alarming not just because of the presence of the unidentified substance, but also because it came off a down year for Kuznetsov, one in which he managed only 21 goals and 72 points after scoring over a point per game in the 2018 postseason. That one could have had an effect on the other was an easy conclusion for fans and critics to jump to.
Kuznetsov, however, denied ever taking drugs and after an investigation by both the team and the league, it was determined he would receive no discipline. He also released a statement apologizing for the incident.
MacLellan said he was ultimately satisfied with Kuznetsov’s explanation and the findings of the investigation surrounding the video.
“I think we had a pretty thorough investigation by both the league and the club and a number of discussions with Kuzy about what happened and how he got in that spot and how to handle that going forward,” MacLellan said. “I think at the end of the day, we're comfortable on all the conversations we've had, we're comfortable what the league had to say about it.”
While Kuznetsov may have avoided any discipline for the incident, MacLellan still feels confident that it was a lesson learned for the dynamic center and noted that he has high expectations for him heading into the next season.
Said MacLellan, “I think Kuzy learned a lesson about putting himself in certain situations and we're going to move forward and we expect Kuzy to have a good year this year.”
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The Washington Nationals will become the latest MLB team to extend their protective netting down the first and third base lines, team owner Mark Lerner announced on Thursday. A new netting will be installed at Nationals Park during the MLB All-Star break.
The new netting will extend from the end of the dugout, where they currently end, and go to the left and right field corners. It will be designed with certain sections that can be raised to allow for fan interaction before the games.
In his announcement, Lerner stated "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."
This announcement comes fresh off the heels of a national conversation about the importance of netting in ballparks and more that needs to be done to protect the fans. As Lerner referenced, a young fan was hit by a foul ball during an Astros-Cubs matchup in May. The girl was rushed to the hospital and left those in attendance paralyzed in shock, especially Cub Albert Almora Jr.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he did not expect the league to step in this season for a league-wide change. However, he did mention that it would continue to be discussed and stressed the importance of fan safety.
As a result, some teams are taking matters into their own hands. The Chicago White Sox became the first team to announce an extension of their current protective netting to the foul poles.
Preceding the White Sox announcement, both Chicago and the Nationals experienced a traumatic foul ball situation. Chicago's Eloy Jimenez ripped a foul ball down the line and hit an unsuspecting fan.
The first game with the new netting with be on Monday, July 22 against the Colorado Rockies.
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