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Davey Martinez reveals the top -- and bottom -- of his lineup

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Davey Martinez reveals the top -- and bottom -- of his lineup

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- We have a decision: Adam Eaton will leadoff, Trea Turner will hit second.

And, Victor Robles will reside at the bottom of the order in the ninth spot. Nationals manager Davey Martinez waffled during the spring about how to handle the top of the lineup. He recently made a decision, but declined to reveal it until asked again Saturday.

“After running all the numbers, I kind of like it,” Martinez said. “I like the fact he’s the first hitter they face. He’s a pest. I like the fact that he goes up there and sometimes gives 7-, 8-pitch at-bats, 9-pitch at-bats. And him hitting in front of Trea...Trea can hit and can drive in runs as well, so, having Robles hitting ninth, Eaton one, Trea two, that’s a pretty good combination.”

Both Eaton and Turner have led off the majority of their careers. Both would prefer to leadoff if given a straight choice. Here, Martinez decided for them.

A natural question is how such a structure would influence Turner’s opportunities to steal with either Juan Soto or Anthony Rendon right behind him. Martinez said it should have no bearing. Turner can just go.

“We want him to go,” Martinez said. “I think his biggest fear is maybe hitting in front of Anthony and Soto, but that shouldn’t deter what you do. We want him to steal bases.”

Robles is often going to hit ninth in order to align with Eaton and Turner. Martinez argues there is only one time when a player is the actual “leadoff” hitter. After that, the lineup churn begins.

So, here’s an Opening Day projection:

Eaton (L)
Turner
Soto (L)
Rendon
Zimmerman
Dozier
Gomes
Scherzer
Robles

One possible glitch is the catcher hitting in front of the pitcher. That could lead to situations where the pitcher is moving a runner, and the runner happens to be a catcher. Though, Gomes and Kurt Suzuki are above-average runners for their position.

Martinez said more information on the how and why of this decision is to come.

“Just what’s best as a whole lineup-wise, construction-wise,” Martinez said. “You’ll know more Opening Day why we want to do it, but I like Adam leading off.”

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Yankees' season on the brink after 8-3 loss to Astros

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Yankees' season on the brink after 8-3 loss to Astros

NEW YORK (AP) -- CC Sabathia threw a cutter to George Springer and grimaced from the pain in his left shoulder, then covered his face with his glove as he walked to the dugout after what was likely the final pitch of his career.

Three-time Gold Glove winner DJ LeMahieu had the first two-error game of his big league career. Also a pair of miscues by Gleyber Torres .

Gary Sanchez, Torres and Edwin Encarnacion all struck out with the bases loaded, letting Zack Greinke and Ryan Pressly escape.

The Bronx Bombers have gone bust against Houston, and now they're on the brink.

Houston's 8-3 victory over the listless, sloppy Yankees on Thursday night gave the Astros a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

And now the Yankees face Justin Verlander in Game 5 on Friday night as they try to avoid what would be their first calendar decade without a World Series appearance since the 1910s.

"We played poorly tonight. There's no other way to explain it," manager Aaron Boone said after addressing the team in a postgame meeting. "We need to flush this immediately."

Sabathia relieved in the eighth inning, knowing the end was near to a 19-season career that included a 251-161 regular-season record with 3,093 strikeouts. After four stints on the injured list this year caused by his balky right knee, the 39-year-old left-hander craved one last October in the limelight, moving to the bullpen.

But his body gave out on his 20th pitch, a metaphor for the entire team against the Astros so far. He walked off the mound toward second, spoke with head athletic trainer Steve Donahue and tried a warmup toss, hoping somehow to push through, but he had to leave.

Even Houston's Gerrit Cole and George Springer joined in the applause as fans gave Sabathia limped off a standing ovation. When he reached the dugout, his face contorted, Sabathia took four steps down toward the clubhouse, then sat near the bottom, his back to the field, as Donahue tried to console him.

"Every single time he went out there, you had to rip the ball or his jersey off to get him off that mound," Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. "He got everything out of that arm. That's a warrior right there."

Boone said Sabathia could be replaced on the roster Friday, making him ineligible even should the Yankees come back and advance.

"It stinks," reliever Zack Britton said. "It's heartbreaking to watch him leave the field like that. I know how much pain he was in."

Hitting, pitching and fielding all went poof!

New York had not lost consecutive home games to the same opponent since early April, had not made four errors in a postseason game since 1976 -- and never before in the Bronx. Some of the fans who remained in a mostly empty Yankee Stadium applauded sarcastically when shortstop Didi Gregorius caught an infield popup in the ninth.

Earlier, New York also threw a pair of wild pitches.

During the regular season, the Yankees led the major leagues with a .294 batting average with runners in scoring position. In the ALCS, they haven't scored on a hit other than a home run since the opener.

New York was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 4 for 27 in the four games -- including 1 for 16 in the three straight losses. The Yankees stranded 10 runners, increasing their series total to 33. They struck out 13 times, giving them 43 in the series.

This game started to turn in the first inning, when Sanchez fanned on a low slider from the erratic Greinke as New York failed to build on its 1-0 lead following Brett Gardner's bases-loaded walk. With the Yankees trailing 3-1 in the fifth and the bases full again, Torres struck out on a checked swing on an outside slider in rhe dirt from Pressly, and Encarnacion swung over a fastball , ending the inning.

Win by the homer, lose by the homer.

New York's 306 long balls during the regular season were second to Minnesota's big league record of 307. The Yankees led the majors with 943 runs, and were fourth in percentage of runs scored on homers at 51.1, trailing only Toronto (53.2), Milwaukee (51.5) and Minnesota (51.2).

Boone repeatedly maintained he was unconcerned about the power reliance. New York has plated eight of its 13 runs against the Astros on five homers, two-run drives by Judge and Sanchez, a pair of solo shots by Torres and bases-empty pokes by Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela.

After thriving despite 30 players going on the injured list, the aches have become too onerous, players struggling in their return from late-season injuries.

Encarnacion is 1 for 15 with eight strikeouts, Sanchez 2 for 17 with eight strikeouts, Gregorius 2 for 16, Urshela 2 for 15 and Aaron Hicks 1 for 6 with three strikeouts.

After the best regular season at the plate of his career, Gardner is 2 for 15 with seven strikeouts.

Now time is short.

James Paxton takes the mound Friday after getting just seven outs in Game 2, hoping to avoid what would be just the third four-game losing streak for New York this season. The Yankees' 103 regular-season wins, their most in a decade, may not amount to much.

"I've got to step up," Judge said. "Everybody's got to step up."

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Bryce Harper says he's watched, cheered for the Nationals in road to World Series

Bryce Harper says he's watched, cheered for the Nationals in road to World Series

The Washington Nationals, fans and even us at NBC Sports Washington have been having some fun with Bryce Harper missing out on the Nationals' trip to the World Series. 

But in an interview with The Athletic, the now-Phillies player said he's been watching his former teammates reach levels of postseason success he's never experienced. After leaving in free agency last summer, Harper said he's happy for the team he spent seven years playing for and has even been texting his former teammates. 

"You know, jealousy isn't good," Harper told Jayson Stark.

Harper's Phillies were off to a much better 50-game start to the season than the Nats, who turned a 19-31 late-May record to a World Series run. Much of their success has come from Harper's replacement, Juan Soto. The 20-year-old has surpassed all expectations and his offense, combined with Anthony Redon's stellar season, enabled the Nats to get to the World Series. 

For Harper, who never won a postseason series in Washington, it takes a lot of character to not even be a little jealous.  

And as for those people who have made alterations to the old Harper jerseys purchased in past years?

Again, from The Athletic:

“I mean, they bought the jerseys,” Harper said, laughing. “It’s over. I wear No. 3 now. And I play for the Philadelphia Phillies – you know what I’m saying? I appreciate them supporting me before and buying those jerseys. But now they can do whatever they want with them. They’re all theirs.”

 

You can read the full story here.

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