Nationals

Tigers close in on pennant with 2-1 win over Yanks

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Tigers close in on pennant with 2-1 win over Yanks

DETROIT (AP) Justin Verlander was done for the night, and for the first time all game, the New York Yankees looked threatening at the plate.

Mark Teixeira singled, then Robinson Cano followed suit for his first hit in 30 at-bats. Up stepped Raul Ibanez, who had already rescued New York a couple times this postseason with dramatic home runs in the late innings.

``Usually when I am out of the game like that, I head to the locker room and go through my normal routine, but obviously I wanted to stay for the last out there,'' Verlander said. ``Made it a little nerve wracking, so I sprinted up to the locker room and went through my routine as fast as I possibly could. Obviously I am superstitious a little bit. So I watched the last out from up top on the TV.''

Reliever Phil Coke struck out Ibanez and the Detroit Tigers held on for a tense 2-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night, taking a 3-0 lead in the AL championship series. After halting New York's rally in the ninth inning, the Tigers are a win away from their second pennant in seven years.

Detroit is in this position because of a stellar starting rotation that hasn't needed much help from the bullpen or the offense.

``You see somebody go out there and have a good game, and you want to one-up that guy. He is your friend, I know, but it still gives you the urge to go out there and do better,'' Verlander said. ``I think that's a great thing when you can get your entire rotation doing that, and I think we're starting to click at the right time.''

Seeking their first World Series title since 1984, the Tigers were on a historic pitching run even before their ace took the mound Tuesday. With the exception of a four-run ninth inning against Detroit closer Jose Valverde in Game 1, New York had been shut out for the entire series.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi benched Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher for Game 3, but it was no use. Verlander allowed only a pair of singles by Ichiro Suzuki and a leadoff homer by Eduardo Nunez in the ninth. Delmon Young hit a solo home run for the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double.

Nunez's homer snapped a scoreless streak by Detroit starters of 30 1-3 innings. That's a record for a single postseason, according to STATS LLC. The previous mark of 29 innings was set by Oakland in 1974.

``You don't want to be in this situation, but this is the game of baseball,'' Cano said. ``All you can do is not put our head down and just prepare ourselves for (Wednesday). It's not over yet.''

New York sends C.C. Sabathia (15-6) to the mound in Game 4 and Detroit counters with Max Scherzer (16-7).

Verlander fell just short of a second straight shutout after stopping the Athletics in the decisive fifth game of the division series. He struck out only three, but kept New York off the scoreboard until the homer to left field by Nunez, the first run allowed by the powerful right-hander since he gave up a leadoff homer to Coco Crisp in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Nunez was at shortstop because Derek Jeter broke his ankle in Game 1 and will miss the rest of the season.

``He put together a heck of an at-bat, was locked in,'' Verlander said. ``Probably would have been a different result if I executed it better, but you never know with a guy up there that was battling like he was.''

Verlander got Brett Gardner on a tapper before he was lifted after 132 pitches, one shy of the career high he set in Game 5 of last year's ALCS against Texas.

``Normally I guess you don't take Secretariat out in the final furlong, but that was pretty much it for him,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Coke came in and retired Suzuki before allowing two-out hits to Teixeira and Cano. Ibanez, who hit tying and winning homers in the same game in the ALDS against Baltimore and tied Game 1 of this series with a homer in the ninth, struck out swinging at a breaking ball to end it.

``Raul has come up in a lot of big situations,'' Girardi said. ``You know, you go back to September 1 and he has come through for us, and I felt great about him up there.''

Yankees starter Phil Hughes was lifted in the fourth because of a stiff back, but right now it's the Yankees' hitting that has them on the brink of elimination. New York is batting .182 for the series and .200 during the postseason.

Rodriguez also was benched for Game 5 against Baltimore after being pulled for pinch-hitters in the previous two games. A-Rod is 3 for 23 (.130) without an RBI or extra-base hit this postseason, his latest October flop. The numbers are especially ugly against right-handers: 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts.

The three-time AL MVP was not available to reporters before or after the game.

Hughes matched Verlander in a scoreless duel until Young led off the Detroit fourth with a line drive over the wall in left field. It was his seventh homer in the last two postseasons - he's already the Tigers' career leader in that department.

Andy Dirks followed with a walk, and Hughes was pulled with an 0-2 count on Jhonny Peralta. David Phelps came on and got out of the inning, but the Yankees now have a pitching injury to go along with all their hitting problems.

The Yankees kept it close, dodging several Detroit rallies. The Tigers added an unearned run in the fifth when Eric Chavez - Rodriguez's replacement at third - misplayed a grounder for an error. Cabrera, the AL Triple Crown winner, followed with an RBI double.

Cabrera has a 16-game hitting streak in LCS play, breaking a tie for that record with Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose, according to STATS.

NOTES: Cabrera moved from his usual third base spot to where the shortstop would normally play as part of a defensive shift against Teixeira in the fourth - then had to run all the way back to catch a popup in foul ground. ... Nunez's homer snapped a streak of 37 innings by Detroit starters without allowing an earned run, the longest in a single postseason in the live-ball era. The starters for the 1905 New York Giants threw 44 straight innings without allowing an earned run for the postseason record, according to STATS.

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Nationals players believe extended safety netting is a ‘no-brainer’

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USA Today Sports images

Nationals players believe extended safety netting is a ‘no-brainer’

WASHINGTON -- Visuals can change everything.

It’s happened across sports in different fashion. An issue is discussed or dismissed until a troubling incident is brought to life via video in front of everyone’s eyes.

That breaking point on extended netting arrived for Major League Baseball after Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. pulled a line drive into the stands May 29. The ball struck a four-year-old girl. But, it was Almora’s reaction, as much as anything, which made the reality so stark. He was stunned and moved to tears. The player’s reaction amplified the incident to a level which forced something to be done.

Steps will be taken at Nationals Park to prevent such an incident. The team announced Thursday it will extend the protective netting up the foul line during the All-Star break. It will end just short of the foul poles. Washington has a good window to complete the work because it goes on the road following the All-Star break. The Nationals’ final pre-break home game is July 7. They don’t return to Nationals Park until July 22.

“As players, it's something that we've pushed for and advocated for years now,” Sean Doolittle said. “I think as you see exit velocities that have continued to increase and these new stadiums that are bringing fans closer and closer to the action, you're seeing balls go into the stands at really, really high speeds. It's really scary. Max broke his nose the other day on a BP pitch that was probably 50 mph and these balls are going into the seats over 100 mph.

“So, I think, hopefully, It's a way to keep fans safe while bringing them closer to the action. As somebody that watches the vast majority of games from behind a screen or chain-linked fence, I can promise you get used to it really, really quickly. It doesn't hinder your view at all. You think the most expensive seats in the stands, they're right behind home plate. People look through a net. I promise you-you can still see the game and after five minutes you don't even notice that it's there.”

Ryan Zimmerman called it a “no-brainer.” Trea Turner wants fans to be paying more attention, in addition to the netting.

“You only have to pay attention to small snippets of the game,” Turner told NBC Sports Washington. “I just want people to pay attention. You can’t block everybody off from a foul pop that goes over the net, that can still hit people. You’re not going to foolproof it.”

Netting in Nationals Park will be thinner than the current netting, according to the team. It will also have sections which can be raised pregame in order to allow players to interact with fans.

The Almora incident was referenced in a letter from Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner announcing the extension. The Nationals were also witnesses to an Eloy Jiménez foul ball in Chicago which struck a young fan in Chicago on June 11.

“Jiménez hit a line drive really hard foul and I saw a girl looking towards me -- I don’t know what she was looking at but was kind of looking in the outfield direction, hit her in the side of the face,” Turner said. “I heard it hit her. What sticks in my head is when I heard the ball hit her. Not good.”

Washington becomes the second team to announce a planned extension. The White Sox were the first.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters in Seattle on June 5 he didn’t expect league-wide changes in netting this season. Manfred cited a range of reasons from ballpark framework to fan objections. In 2015, the commissioner’s office recommended teams extend netting to the end of the dugouts. Three years later, that task was completed. The next steps have slowly begun.

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Women's World Cup 2019: Round of 16 bracket is set as USA soccer readies for knockout round

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USATSI

Women's World Cup 2019: Round of 16 bracket is set as USA soccer readies for knockout round

LE HAVRE, France (AP) -- The defending champion U.S. national team faced its toughest test of the Women's World Cup and remained dominant Thursday night, beating Sweden 2-0 to serve up a measure of revenge against the team that stunned the confident Americans in the last Olympics.

Lindsey Horan scored within the first three minutes, the fastest goal of this tournament. The United States went up 2-0 on an own goal by Jonna Andersson in the 50th minute that gave the Americans a tournament-record 18 goals in the group stage. The U.S. did not concede a goal in its first three matches.

Already assured a spot in the round of 16 before the game, the United States finished atop of group F and will head to Reims to face Spain on Monday, June 24th. Sweden will play Group E runners-up Canada in Paris. The U.S. currently has 9 points 

The meeting was the first tournament game between the two teams since the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics. The Swedes bunkered in on defense and advanced on penalties after a 1-1 draw, handing the United States its earliest-ever exit from the Olympic tournament. Former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo called the Swedes "cowards" for the defensive stand.

Round-of-16 Schedule

Saturday, June 22

Germany vs. Nigeria, 11:30 a.m. ET

Norway vs. Australia, 3:00 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 23

England vs. Cameroon, 11:30 a.m. ET

France vs. Brazil, 3:00 p.m. ET

Monday, June 24

Spain vs. United States, Noon ET

Sweden vs. Canada, 3:00 p.m. ET

Tuesday, June 25

Italy vs. China, Noon ET

Netherlands vs Japan, 3:00 p.m. ET

Quarterfinals 

Thursday, June 27 

TBD vs, TBD, 3:00 p.m. ET

Friday, June 28

TBD vs TBD, 3:00 p.m. ET

Saturday, June 29

TBD vs TBD, 9:00 a.m. ET

TBD vs TBD, 12:30 p.m. ET

Semifinals 

Tuesday, July 2

TBD vs TBD, 3:00 p.m. ET 

Wednesday, July 3

TBD vs TBD, 3:00 p.m. ET

Third-place game

Saturday, July 6 

TBD vs TBD, 11:00 a.m. ET

Final 

Sunday, July 7

TBD vs TBD, 11:00 a.m. ET