Nationals

Valverde hopes regain role; Wilson happy rooting

Valverde hopes regain role; Wilson happy rooting

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Jose Valverde hopes to speed his way back into the closer role for the Detroit Tigers during the World Series.

After reviewing video of his meltdown against the New York Yankees in the AL championship series opener, Valverde concluded his lower body mechanics were off.

``It's my legs. My legs were a little slow,'' he said Tuesday. ``Now I have the same rhythm I had before.''

Valverde had a 3.78 ERA and 35 saves in 40 chances this season, down from a 2.24 ERA and 49 saves in 49 opportunities last year.

He allowed a tying two-run double to Oakland's Seth Smith in Game 4 of the AL division series as Detroit lost 4-3, then wasted a 4-0 lead against the Yankees when he gave up two-run homers to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. Detroit rebounded to win 6-4 in 12 innings and went on to sweep New York.

``The last time I pitched in New York my split was flat,'' Valverde said. ``Now so far everything is perfect.''

Valverde worked with pitching coach Jeff Jones and Tigers manager Jim Leyland in bullpen sessions to get his mechanics back in whack.

Lefty Phil Coke earned saves in Games 2 and 3 against the Yankees, brought in against a team with powerful left-handed hitters. Leyland wasn't revealing his plans against the Giants, who figure to start four straight left-handed hitters at the bottom of their batting order in the opener against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. San Francisco's top five probably will include three righties and a pair of switch hitters in Angel Pagan and Pedro Sandoval.

``Just going to play it by ear, see what happens,'' Leyland said. ``I don't really have any definite information on that yet. We'll just see how the game plays out, who's coming up. Like I always say, I hope we have that to worry about. If we do, we'll come up with somebody.''

Valverde says any role is OK.

``Leyland knows what he's doing. He's been doing it for a long time,'' the reliever said. ``If he wants to put me in in the eighth, in the seventh, I'll be there to support my team.''

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THE BEARD IS CLEAR: Injured Giants closer Brian Wilson is getting almost as much television time now than he was in 2010, when he saved six of San Francisco's 11 postseason wins.

With his long, scruffy beard, resembling a billy goat, Wilson has been seen dancing in the dugout to celebrates rallies during the playoffs. The video gets replayed on the Internet.

``I can't control what the camera is doing,'' Wilson said. ``Nowadays, social media is humongous. You can't even breathe without getting on camera. It's fine. We're having good fun.''

Wilson had ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow April 19. He says he relishes his role as cheerleader-elder statesman.

``I don't look at myself as a selfish, like, oh, man, really would love to,'' he said. ``Yeah, I'd like to participate, but I am participating. Physically, it does not matter whether I'm throwing a pitch or not. I have a role to do. I've been in this organization for nine years. It's almost a decade, so I have sort of allegiance and responsibility to maintain a good leadership role and be a good teammate, pick some guys up when you need it or tell certain guys who haven't been there before what pressure really is, what fear isn't.''

His message to his teammates?

``If you really aspire for something, you have to taste it, breathe it, smell it, you just have to focus all your energy on attaining that.''

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MELKY VS. MOTA: Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated San Francisco will not add All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to the World Series roster following the end of his 50-game drug suspension - a decision the team made Sept. 27.

Reliever Guillermo Mota has been part of the team's postseason roster following his 100-game suspension for a second violation for a positive test. Bochy didn't plan to announce his World Series roster until Wednesday.

Cabrera was suspended Aug. 15 for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone, and the ban ended with the completion of the division series. The Giants activated Mota on Aug. 28 after he came off the restricted list.

Mota tested positive for Clenbuterol, which he said was in children's cough syrup. His first suspension came in November 2006 when he was with the New York Mets. Mota became just the third major league player disciplined twice for positive drug tests.

``I think they're two different situations really,'' Bochy said. ``I mean, one happened during the season with Mota, and he was available to help us out during the season. So we made a spot there for him. Now, with Melky, we felt when that happened, as far as losing him, the club played very well, and the guys that we had been putting out there have done the job. They've earned this, and this is the way we're going to move forward.''

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IN ORDER: Madison Bumgarner will pitch Game 2 of the World Series for San Francisco on Thursday, giving the Giants back-to-back lefties after Barry Zito goes in the opener.

Righty Ryan Vogelsong will pitch Game 3 on Saturday at Detroit and ace Matt Cain will go in Game 4. Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will remain in the bullpen, providing options.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy could have flip-flopped, starting Cain on full rest in Game 3.

``Well, I like the way Vogelsong is throwing, too,'' Bochy said. ``He's throwing the ball as well as anybody on the staff, so we just kept it in order. If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem with that. I know Matt has worked hard, he's got a lot of innings. I didn't think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest.''

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VENEZUELAN REUNION: Miguel Cabrera heard about Pablo Sandoval long before the Kung Fu Panda became a San Francisco sensation as a major league third baseman with the Giants.

Cabrera played for a few years as a teammate with Sandoval's older brother, Michael, back home in Venezuela. Michael would often brag about his younger brother's exploits.

``He always told me his little brother would be good, and he's right,'' Cabrera said. ``It's very exciting to see.''

Sandoval remembered watching Cabrera back home and marveled at his talent.

``That's a great hitter,'' he recalled of his first impression. ``The first time I saw him play he was so big to be a shortstop. My brother told me they'd move him some day to third base because he has a bat but he was too big to be a shortstop.''

Now Cabrera and Sandoval are two of at least nine Venezuelans playing in this year's World Series along with San Francisco's Marco Scutaro, Gregor Blanco, Hector Sanchez and Jose Mijares; and Detroit's Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Avisail Garcia.

``I have a good relationship with all those guys,'' Cabrera said. ``It will be exciting to play against them. It will be extra motivation.''

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AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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Cubs drop protest, but not stance about Sean Doolittle's delivery

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Cubs drop protest, but not stance about Sean Doolittle's delivery

WASHINGTON -- Sunday afternoon’s discussions still revolved around Saturday night’s close, which Washington manager Davey Martinez referred to as a “fiasco” on Sunday.

Chicago manager Joe Maddon started a chaotic situation when he popped out of the dugout following Sean Doolittle’s first pitch in the ninth inning Saturday. Maddon contended Doolittle’s “toe-tap” was an illegal delivery, akin to when Chicago reliever Carl Edwards Jr. tried to add a pause in spring training, but was told the move was illegal.

The umpires told him, and Doolittle, the delivery was legal. Chicago filed a protest with the league. After consulting with Major League Baseball and MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, Joe Torre, the Cubs dropped their protest Sunday morning.

A point of differentiation is whether the pitcher is taking a second step. Umpires previously determined Edwards was taking a second step. They determined Doolittle was not. This is a judgment call for the umpires and is not reviewable.

Official Baseball Rule 5.07(a) states in part: “The pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).”

The league, according to Maddon, said there is a difference between Edwards placing his full foot on the ground and Doolittle grazing the mound with a cleat when he delivered. Maddon continued to not agree with the interpretation.

“We went through the whole process,” Maddon said. “Our guys in the office spoke to MLB and I talked to Mr. Torre. The whole thing I wanted to really get done was protect Carl. I really didn’t anticipate a whole lot to be done with it. Even though I still don’t agree with the conclusion, because I think it’s exactly what Carl did, only a different version of it. But the point was, I would not be a good parent if I had not spoken up for my guy. And that’s what I was doing last night and, again, it’s just to eliminate any gray area there just for future because it’s going to happen again down the road somewhere and you’re just trying to delineate what is right and what is wrong. In my mind, it wasn’t a judgment call, I thought it was black-and-white. It wasn’t gray.”

Maddon said multiple times that Doolittle tapped with his toe in addition to grazing the mound, both of which, he contended, were not legal or different than Edwards' attempt at deception.

The congenial Doolittle was steamed postgame Saturday and remained irritated Sunday. Saturday, he took multiple shots at Maddon during his postgame commentary. He also taunted the idea when throwing warmup pitches while Maddon argued with umpires by making exaggerated kicks with his leg and multiple stops with his foot. Doolittle switched to a delivery without any stops -- one he often uses -- after the protest as a way to show Maddon he didn’t need the tweak to be successful.

“In that moment, he's not trying to do anything other than rattle me and it was kind of tired,” Doolittle said Saturday. “I don't know. Sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game and stuff like that. He put his stamp on it for sure.

"I actually have to thank him. After they came out the second, the [Kyle] Schwarber at-bat, I threw two fastballs and a slider and a fastball to [Kris] Bryant and those were probably the best ones I've thrown in a while. I don't do the tap when there's somebody on base so I can keep my pickoff move available if I need it. I've had a lot of traffic recently, so I've had practice doing it, so it wasn't like a huge adjustment to me. I don't know. In a way, I kind of need to thank him."

Asked Sunday if Doolittle’s comments were relayed to him, Maddon smiled and said yes.

“Listen, I have no issue with that whatsoever,” Maddon said. “We’re all emotional. I’ve said a lot of things I didn’t want to say years ago -- even in this ballpark. I think if he understood the entire context, he might have had a different opinion. Even if he was the manager himself -- if he was me -- or if he was being protected by his manager under similar circumstances, I think his stance may be different.”

No one -- the league, Maddon or Doolittle -- changed their perspective a day later.

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues shutout Sharks 5-0 to win Game 5

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues shutout Sharks 5-0 to win Game 5

The St. Louis Blues won a decisive Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks 5-0, pushing the Sharks to the brink of elimination.

The Blues are now one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final since the 1969-70 season, where they lost to the Boston Bruins in a sweep.

St. Louis started the scoring early when Oskar Sundqvist netted his second goal of the series in the first five minutes of the game. 

Jaden Schwartz then tallied his first goal of the game off a juicy rebound in front of Martin Jones to start the scoring in the second period. It was Schwartz's 10th goal of the playoffs, which tied him for third all-time in Blues history for goals in the postseason.

Vladimir Tarasenko added to the Blues lead off a penalty shot. He's the first player in Blues franchise history to score a penalty shot goal in the playoffs.

Schwartz then added two more goals in the third period for a hat-trick. The first came on a 5-on-3 power play advantage off a scramble in front of the net, and the second came from a backdoor one-timer pass from Tarasenko.

Schwartz now has 12 goals these playoffs, and it's his second hat-trick of the playoffs.

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington recorded 21 saves for a shutout, and he's the first rookie goalie to accomplish that feat for the Blues.

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