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  1. American League Championship Series - Game 5 Boston Red Sox 4 Houston Astros 1 (Red Sox win the ALCS 4-1) Priceless! Lefty sends Red Sox to World Series By Ian Browne @IanMBrowne 3:55 AM EDT HOUSTON -- For years, David Price was forced to carry around his postseason misfortunes as a nuisance that wouldn't go away in an otherwise decorated career. The lefty didn't hide from it. He just vowed over and over that the narrative would change at some point. That point was Thursday night at Minute Maid Park, when Price pitched his Red Sox to the American League pennant with a marvelous performance on three days' rest in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. Behind Price's first win in 12 career postseason starts -- and home runs by J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers -- Boston dethroned the defending World Series champion Astros with a 4-1 victory. It was sweet for everyone with the Red Sox, but it had to taste the best for Price, who went to sleep late Wednesday with a visualization that turned to reality. "My last thought last night before I went to bed was probably a little bit different," Price said. "The night before I pitch, I'm just envisioning myself making pitches, and last night I envisioned myself doing this [clubhouse celebration] right here. Just going through my head, [I thought of] what I was going to say, and I'm happy that it happened." Never again will Price have to talk about having zero playoff wins as a starter. The reality of that hit Price immediately, and that thought was sweeter for the 33-year-old than the champagne that drenched him repeatedly in the victorious clubhouse. "That's cool. That's awesome," Price said. "I don't have to prepare myself for that in Spring Training, February 20th or when September rolls around every year and I've still got five regular-season starts left. I don't have to answer that question anymore, so that feels good." Jackie Bradley Jr. -- who delivered a go-ahead three-run double in Game 2 in Boston, punctuated an 8-2 win in Game 3 with an eighth-inning grand slam and launched a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning of Game 4 -- was named the ALCS Most Valuable Player. Now it will be the Red Sox, led by rookie manager Alex Cora, who represent the AL in the World Series, which will start on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Dodgers or Brewers. This is the first trip to the Fall Classic since 2013 for Boston, which has a chance to win its fourth championship ('13, '07, '04) in 15 seasons since ending that infamous 86-year drought. "Huge," said Martinez. "That's one of the best feelings in the world. To be bringing a World Series opportunity back to [the fans of Boston] and an American League championship to Boston, I'm sure they're going nuts back home." Pitching on three days' rest after a start for the first time in his career -- and filling in for ace Chris Sale, who is recovering from a stomach illness -- Price mowed through the Astros, using a dominant changeup to keep them off-balance. Over six innings, the lefty allowed three hits and no runs while walking none and notching nine strikeouts, his career best in the postseason. Price threw 93 pitches and generated 15 swings and misses, 12 coming on changeups. He outdueled Houston ace Justin Verlander, who was on regular rest, by a wide margin. "There was a lot of noise," said Cora. "I was saying today that -- I don't want to pick battles with the media, but I heard somebody today on TV just blasting David, blasting him, calling him the worst pitcher in the postseason. Yeah, the numbers are there, I know, but he was saying this -- he didn't hesitate, saying it was a bad matchup, one of the greatest against the worst and all that. I don't listen too much to what's going on outside, but that one got me." This time, Price had the last laugh, and he soaked up every bit of it. After the trophy presentation, Price was the first player out of the Red Sox's clubhouse. He walked to a barricade where all the families of Boston's players were. When they saw Price, they all roared. Price hugged his wife, Tiffany, and held his 17-month-old son, Xavier. "That's my rock, so that's cool," Price said of embracing his family. Fittingly, the performance came one day shy of the 10th anniversary of Price's other signature moment in the playoffs, when he earned a clutch save for the Rays against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS. Cora started that night at shortstop for Boston. On Thursday, the manager enjoyed his 43rd birthday by watching Price dominate. This is Price's first trip to the World Series since that 2008 season, when he was a September callup and his team lost to the Phillies. Game Date Time/Results Matchup TV/Highlights Gm 1 Oct. 13 HOU 7, BOS 2 HOU @ BOS Watch Gm 2 Oct. 14 BOS 7, HOU 5 HOU @ BOS Watch Gm 3 Oct. 16 BOS 8, HOU 2 BOS @ HOU Watch Gm 4 Oct. 17 BOS 8, HOU 6 BOS @ HOU Watch Gm 5 Oct. 18 BOS 4, HOU 1 BOS @ HOU Watch To have it happen this way, just a day after Price threw 40 pitches in the bullpen in case he was needed in the late stages of a wild Game 4, was surreal. "He's right at the top step every time someone hits a home run," Martinez said of Price. "We all know his history and stuff like that, so for him, we're so proud of him. To be able to do what he did today on short rest, he picked us up. He carried us." This ALCS was built up as a clash of the titans between clubs that combined for 211 wins during the regular season, and both looked imposing in the AL Division Series. After losing Game 1, and looking disjointed in doing so, the Red Sox regained the dominance they displayed throughout much of the season and took four straight from the Astros, including the last two at Minute Maid Park. Boston is 5-0 on the road in this postseason, marking the first time it has won five straight road games in a single playoff run. "We ran out of wins. We had a tough-fought series," said Houston manager AJ Hinch. "They took it to us. When you get two evenly matched teams up against each other, there's going to be swings in momentum and big at-bats and a little bit of luck, a little bit of bad luck. And they outplayed us. They did a really good job of having an excellent game plan and going and executing it and they were extremely tough." Price came out dealing. In the fourth, he threw his second- and third-hardest pitches of the season (95.8 and 95.5 mph) during a strikeout of Carlos Correa. The final pitch of the night for Price was a changeup that he struck out Jose Altuve. Knowing he was done for the night, and that his first postseason win as a starter was finally in his grasp, Price pumped his fist and shouted with joy as he went back to the dugout. "Six shutout inning against the world champs with nine punchouts and three hits," said Price, reflecting on the excitement that hit him after he threw his final pitch. With Cora's bullpen pretty well spent after a busy few days, he went to righty Matt Barnes for the first two outs of the seventh. After Marwin Gonzalez finally put the Astros on the board with a homer and Barnes walked Tony Kemp, starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi came out of the 'pen just two days after throwing 92 pitches in his win in Game 3. Eovaldi also took care of the eighth, and closer Craig Kimbrel finished it with his third save of the series, though the first two were more adventurous than he wanted. "We found a few things last night after the game," said Kimbrel. "Some stuff I've been struggling with for a while. I feel like I was able to hone it in tonight, get back online and pitch like I'm supposed to." Though the end result made it look like Boston won the series in a romp, it sure didn't start that way. When the Red Sox got to the ballpark for Game 2 at Fenway Park, there was an urgency to salvage a split before the ALCS shifted to Houston. Price started that game, and though he came one out shy of qualifying for the win, he made some big pitches and left with a lead. With the Sox winning Game 2, it marked the first time his team had won a postseason game he started. Price called it a baby step. So what was the clinching victory in Game 5? "A real step," said Price. And for the Red Sox, the next step -- the biggest of them all -- is the World Series. MOMENTS THAT MATTERED J.D. strikes first: Martinez helped the Red Sox break out first for the fourth straight game, though they waited until the third inning this time. That was when Martinez smoked a one-out solo shot to left on a curveball in the upper part of the strike zone by Verlander. Martinez's first homer of the ALCS had a Statcast-projected exit velocity of 105.4 mph and traveled a projected 396 feet, clanging off a sign above the seats. The Sox are 80-5 this season when they score first, including 6-0 in the postseason. "Huge, obviously," said Martinez. "He's one of those guys, you've got to get him rattled. You've got to have traffic. You've got to have something to just get him out of that groove. When he gets in that grove, he's tough, man. There's a reason he's one of the best pitchers in the game." Devers strikes second: Martinez's missile was the only run of the game until the sixth. That was when Verlander served up a leadoff double to Mitch Moreland, a single by Ian Kinsler and then a huge three-run homer to the opposite field in left by Devers that gave Boston a 4-0 lead. Devers got enough of Verlander's 98.2-mph heater to get it over the wall. It wasn't an easy pitch to hit, as it had a 2,805 rpm spin rate. MLB hitters combined to hit just four home runs in the regular season off 4-seamers with 98+ mph and 2,600+ rpm. "Devers hit his decent. It's unfortunate that it went out," said Verlander. "He put a decent swing on it. It's not until I get back and see the exit velo that I know it wasn't hit as good as I thought. He hit it well. But it's the Moreland one that was kind of debilitating, just out of the reach of the left fielder to lead off an inning, when we're already down a run. That's tough to deal with." SOUND SMART With his third career homer in postseason play before the age of 22, Devers is tied for fourth all-time on that list with Andruw Jones, trailing only Mickey Mantle, Bryce Harper and Miguel Cabrera, who all had four. Price became the first AL pitcher working on three or fewer days of rest to record at least six shutout innings in a postseason game since Mike Mussina for the Orioles in Game 6 of the 1997 ALCS against the Indians. HE SAID IT "It hasn't sunk in yet, honestly. It's something you dream about as a kid, playing in the World Series, and now we are. Our job's not finished yet. We still have four more wins. We're going to play a good team regardless of who we play. We're going to enjoy this tonight and get after that in two days." -- Andrew Benintendi, on going to the World Series Source:
  2. My cigar plugged rate, and mind you I get nearly all of them through our host, is barely ever (or in other words, it registers as a blip!).
  3. JohnS

    FOH'ers Daily Smoke

    Diplomáticos Bushido 2014 - Edición Regional Asia Pacifico TOS Oct 2015 The tapered head on this special Asia Pacifico Regional Edition tells you that this is a quality cigar. They were a big hit when they first came out in 2015, they were practically sold out by the beginning of 2016, so how are they in 2018? I smoked this with Trevor Leask, the founder of Cuban Cigar Website, and we both agreed that after three years this was very mild and easy to smoke and retrohale. The flavours were reminiscent of milk coffee and cream, aged cedar, sourdough and hints of paprika, and more so in the last third. Thus, in summary, they were flavoursome, mild and aged when first released and after three years they are a little milder and refined. If you have these and haven't smoked them in awhile, make sure to re-visit these soon!
  4. National League Championship Series - Game 5 Los Angeles 5 Milwaukee Brewers 2 (Dodgers lead NLCS Series 3-2) Behind Kershaw, LA takes 3-2 NLCS lead to MIL By Ken Gurnick @kengurnick Oct. 17th, 2018 LOS ANGELES -- Until there's a World Series ring on his finger, Clayton Kershaw will do just about anything to put one there, as he showed the Brewers on Wednesday. The future Hall of Famer pitched like one in what could turn out to be his final Dodgers start, stifling the Brewers for seven innings on three hits in a 5-2 Game 5 victory at Dodger Stadium that gave Los Angeles a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. The series shifts to Milwaukee, with Game 6 on Friday (and Game 7 on Saturday, if necessary) and the Dodgers needing one win for their first back-to-back World Series appearances since 1977-78. When a best-of-seven MLB series has been tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 42 of 60 times (70 percent). Teams leading 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 on the road have gone on to take the series 29 of 49 times (59 percent). The Dodgers are 5-1 with a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series. "It wasn't as easy maybe as last year to get to this point," said Kershaw. "I realize we've got some work to finish it off and get back. It doesn't really matter how you get there, but thankful that we are here now, for sure." Kershaw -- the Game 1 loser to the Brewers when he was charged with five runs (four earned) in three-plus innings -- rebounded like a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner. Kershaw said he wasn't thinking about Game 1, but his manager was. "You could see the same look that you always see, there's a determination and when you get a champion like him that gets hit around a little bit, he's going to respond, and that's what he did today," said Dave Roberts. Kershaw struck out nine with a curve he could throw for strikes and a slider that darted (season-high 19 swinging strikes), retired the last 13 batters he faced and rested a bullpen that was on fumes after throwing eight scoreless innings in Tuesday night's marathon walk-off win. Of his 98 pitches, 66 were sliders or curveballs. He also walked twice, put down a sacrifice bunt and scored a run. "In Game 5 of the NLCS, we're going to have guys probably pitching out of their comfort zones all over the place," said Kershaw. "And that was evident today when they were prepared to take me out after five innings. It's definitely in the back of your mind that you want to try to go as deep as possible when the bullpen was taxed as much as it was yesterday." Homerless for a third consecutive game, the Dodgers changed their offensive approach, putting balls in play, using the big part of the field and aggressively running the bases (steals by Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Manny Machado). Six of nine hits went to center field. "The little things played a big part today," said Roberts. Bellinger steals second base After Lorenzo Cain's RBI double off Kershaw in the third inning gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead, the Dodgers tied the game on an RBI single through a drawn-in infield by Austin Barnes in the fifth inning with Kershaw's spot next and Yasiel Puig in the on-deck circle. Roberts said Puig was a decoy and he was sending Kershaw back out to pitch the sixth, but Milwaukee couldn't be sure of that. Barnes' RBI single "Kershaw was going to hit, we would have had a strikeout or infield groundout," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "We brought the infield in and tried to be aggressive there. So I would agree that that [Barnes hit] was the at-bat of the game. And I think that certainly we get to their bullpen and they've got to do some work in the bullpen. So that changed things, for sure." The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth on RBI singles by Max Muncy and Puig. They added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on a Justin Turner RBI single and a Brian Dozier RBI groundout. • Puig makes impact off bench in Game 5 victory Turner's RBI single in the 7th Muncy's one-out hit -- an uncharacteristic bouncer through the left side of the infield for the pull hitter -- scored Turner to break the tie and chased Brandon Woodruff, who had been pitching since the second batter of the game. Counsell used Wade Miley as a one-batter decoy starter to influence Los Angeles' lineup construction. Miley is expected to start Game 6. Muncy's hit followed Machado being nicked by a pitch, and Machado scored on Puig's two-out single up the middle. Dodgers take lead with 2-run 6th Kershaw -- who can opt out of the final two years of his contract after the World Series -- added to Dodgers postseason records for wins (nine), starts (22), innings pitched (140) and strikeouts (153). He's 3-5 in NLCS games and 9-8 overall in the postseason. "It's just a classic case of he executed a lot of pitches today," said Counsell. "He didn't execute in Milwaukee and he executed today. I don't think it was a vastly different game plan; it's simple execution." MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kershaw said a third-inning, two-out strikeout of Jesus Aguilar that left the bases loaded and started the 13 straight outs was the turning point in his start. Kershaw K's Aguilar, escapes jam "Any time you can work yourself out of situations like that, that's going to make or break the game," he said. "Minimizing damage as best you can as a starting pitcher is huge. In the playoffs you probably don't get many chances to work out of jams because you're going to get taken out of the game because the magnitude of the game is so large." SOUND SMART Kershaw joined Jim Palmer (1971 Orioles), Don Drysdale ('63 Dodgers) and Bill Dinneen ('03 Americans) as the only players with at least two walks (batting) and at least nine strikeouts (pitching) in a postseason game all-time, according to Stats LLC. Kershaw's 2 walks in Game 5 YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Barnes' single scored Taylor, who led off the fifth on an infield single, taking second on shortstop Orlando Arcia's throwing error, then stealing third base. "Having the confidence and trust in your ability to get out there and know that the guy's a little slow to the plate and we can take advantage of that and to go on the first pitch was big time," said Turner. Dodgers manufacture run in 5th HE SAID IT "Just thinking that I have to get Woodruff out." -- Kershaw, who allowed a Game 1 homer to Woodruff, on what he was thinking when Woodruff relieved one batter into the game Source:
  5. Can Houston rally from 3-1 down? This MLB article suggests that it's been done 13 times before, including the famous Chicago Cubs 2016 Worlds Series comeback... These teams came back from 3-1 deficits 13 teams have reeled off three straight wins to buck the odds By Matt Kelly 3:41 AM EDT There are few things more imposing for a team than being down three games to one in a seven-game series, but it can also be freeing. Once a club is backed into that corner, the pressure's off; either it wins three games in a row or it tips its cap and goes home for a long winter. That's the situation the defending champions, the Astros, find themselves in heading into Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. They'll turn to Justin Verlander at home to force a return trip to Boston this weekend for Game 6 and, they hope, Game 7. The odds are against the slow starters: Through 2017, only 13 teams out of 84 had come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping three of the first four contests. Here's a look at each of those 13 "miracle" clubs and how they came all the way back to win. 2016 World Series: Cubs over Indians Cleveland was familiar with 3-1 deficits, having seen Lebron James and the NBA's Cavaliers come back from a 3-1 hole against the Warriors just a few months prior. But Ohioans would see their club fall on the other side this time around, thanks to a Cubs team that was desperate to end a 108-year championship drought. Kris Bryant, as he did throughout the '16 postseason, came up clutch with a homer to wake up the Wrigley Field crowd in Game 5, and Addison Russell's grand slam in Game 6 sent the series to a decisive winner-take-all. Then, in one of the most memorable Fall Classic contests ever, the Cubs withstood Rajai Davis' dramatic two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman -- and a momentous rain delay -- to pull ahead on Ben Zobrist's 10th-inning RBI double. Mike Montgomery closed out the bottom half, and the "Curse of the Billy Goat" was finally over. Giants headed to World Series 2012 NLCS: Giants over Cardinals Not only did the Giants come back in this series; they did so with authority. After winning their final three games on the road to defeat the Reds in the NLDS, San Francisco outscored St. Louis 20-1 over the final three contests to punch its second World Series ticket in three years. A resurgent Barry Zito pitched into the eighth in Game 5, and Ryan Vogelsong struck out nine in Game 6. Series MVP Marco Scutaro notched three hits in the finale to help San Francisco seal the franchise's first-ever victory in a winner-take-all Game 7. 2007 ALCS full of drama 2007 ALCS: Red Sox over Indians Boston looked to be in fine shape after rocking AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia in Game 1, but the Tribe stormed back for three straight victories to get Cleveland riled up for its first Fall Classic appearance in a decade. The Indians played the All-American Rejects' hit song "It Ends Tonight" over the loudspeakers before Game 5, but the Red Sox had other ideas. Josh Beckett dominated with 11 strikeouts to send the series back to Fenway Park, where J.D. Drew hit a grand slam to spur Boston to a 12-2 rout in Game 6. Red Sox employees played "It Ends Tonight" again before Game 7, and the home club ended things decisively, 11-2, to punch its second World Series ticket in four years. Roberts turns the series around 2004 ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees Eighty-six years of Bambino-sized baggage was wiped away over four magical nights in October, starting with Dave Roberts' daring steal and David Ortiz's walk-off homer in Game 4. Ortiz delivered again in a 14-inning marathon the following night to make the Fenway faithful believe, and Curt Schilling's "bloody sock" performance in Game 6 in the Bronx made him a folk hero in Boston. Johnny Damon's Game 7 grand slam seemed to lift whatever burden was left from the Red Sox's shoulders, as the self-proclaimed "idiots" became the first team to erase a 3-0 postseason deficit before sweeping the Cardinals for Boston's first championship since 1918. #WeKnowPostseason: The 2003 NLCS 2003 NLCS: Marlins over Cubs Steve Bartman will always be the symbol of this heart-breaking series for the Cubs, but the North Siders had plenty of other chances to claim their first NL pennant since 1945. Beckett, the Marlins' emerging ace, twirled a two-hit shutout in Game 5, and Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez's error after Bartman's fateful reach helped the Marlins tie (and eventually win) Game 6. Chicago even held a 5-3 lead through four innings of Game 7, but could not hold on as Florida prevailed despite being outscored by two runs in the series. 1996 NLCS: Braves over Cardinals The Braves' 1990s run was one of the most dominant by any team, but this series represented one of Atlanta's toughest tests. St. Louis was able to break through against Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to win three of the first four contests, but -- like the Giants did in 2012 -- the Braves absolutely surged over the Cardinals once their backs were against the wall. Atlanta's three-headed monster of John Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine returned to form, but they didn't need to do all that much as Braves hitters ambushed St. Louis pitchers and outscored the Cardinals 32-1 over their last three victories. Henderson keeps Red Sox alive 1986 ALCS: Red Sox over Angels Fatalism was near its peak in Boston when the "cursed" Red Sox quickly fell behind the Halos and appeared on the verge of another postseason exit. The Angels were within one strike of their first pennant in Game 5 before Red Sox center fielder Dave Henderson blasted a dramatic go-ahead grand slam, setting up an eventual 7-6 win in 11 innings. Given new life, Boston pulled away in the final two contests at Fenway Park before heartbreak struck again on a famous grounder through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the World Series. Orta called safe at first 1985 World Series: Royals over Cardinals Kansas City epitomized the phrase "never say die" in '85, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the ALCS before doing it again on the biggest stage. The Royals outscored the Cardinals 28-13 in this series, but still needed a controversial call from umpire Don Denkinger to squeak out a 2-1 win in Game 6 and stay alive. K.C. capitalized on its good fortune with an 11-0 blowout of the Cardinals in Game 7, with ace Bret Saberhagen twirling a five-hit shutout to seal the franchise's first World Series championship. 1985 ALCS: Royals over Blue Jays As mentioned, this Royals club really was a team of destiny. Kansas City took full advantage of the first year of the best-of-seven LCS format, starting with Danny Jackson's eight-hit shutout in a must-win Game 5. George Brett hit his third homer of the series to power the Royals to a 5-3 win in Game 6, and the star trio of Saberhagen, Charlie Leibrandt and Dan Quisenberry helped K.C. close out Game 7 at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. Pirates win the '79 World Series 0 1979 World Series: Pirates over Orioles The '79 "We Are Family" Pirates were probably one of the loosest World Series champions, with captain Willie Stargell leading a big comeback over a supremely talented Orioles squad. Stargell hit an even .400 with three homers -- including a crucial dinger late in Game 7 -- to become the first player to capture the regular season, NLCS and World Series MVP Awards all in the same season. Pirates pitchers held Baltimore to two total runs over the last three games as Pittsburgh earned its second seven-game World Series triumph over the Orioles in a span of nine years. Tigers win the Series 1968 World Series: Tigers over Cardinals If you like vintage pitching performances, this series is for you. Bob Gibson outdueled Denny McLain, baseball's last 30-game winner, in Games 1 and 4 to put St. Louis on the verge of a second straight title, but Mickey Lolich stemmed the tide with his second win of the series in Game 5 in Detroit. McLain came back on two days' rest to nearly twirl a shutout in the Tigers' 13-1 rout in Game 6, setting up a dream winner-take-all matchup between Gibson and Lolich in St. Louis. The aces traded zeroes for six frames before Jim Northrup hit a two-run triple over Curt Flood's head in center field, and that was all Lolich -- also pitching on two days' rest -- would need in Detroit's 4-1 win. 1958 World Series: Yankees over Braves Hank Aaron and the Braves shocked the Yankees with a seven-game triumph in '57, and came oh so close to doing it again the following autumn. Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette -- who beat the Yankees three times in '57 -- combined for victories in three of the first four games, but the Yankees finally solved Burdette with six runs off the righty to stay alive in Game 5. Spahn went into the 10th inning in Game 6 before giving up a pair of runs, and Braves pinch-hitter Frank Torre lined out to end the game with Aaron representing the tying run at third base. That was the break the Yankees needed, as Bob Turley pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in relief and the pinstripes beat Burdette again, 6-2, in Game 7 in Milwaukee. 1925 World Series: Pirates over Senators The legendary Walter Johnson had finally claimed his first championship with a heroic Game 7 performance in '24, but his luck ran out in another Game 7 the following year. Monsoon-like rain and heavy fog created perhaps the worst playing conditions of any World Series game in history, and the Senators' two blown leads didn't do anything to boost Johnson's morale. Kiki Cuyler's eighth-inning, two-run double off Washington's ace erased an original 4-0 deficit for the Pirates, who pulled off the first 3-1 comeback in postseason history. Source:
  6. American League Championship Series - Game 4 Boston Red Sox 8 Houston Astros 6 (Red Sox lead ALCS 3-1) This game had so many highlights and controversies, that even the local media covered it! (I.e. Sydney Morning Herald used a USA Today article to cover the game, which is a rarity outside of anomaly games and the World Series.) The article below... The Boston Red Sox inched one win closer to claiming the American League pennant with an 8-6 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series on Wednesday (local time) after Jackie Bradley Jr struck the decisive blow for a third consecutive game. But not before a controversial moment occurred earlier in the piece as a pivotal play turned what could have been a game-tying home run into a routine fly ball out - all because fans in the front row of the right field seats tried to grab themselves a souvenir. Mookie Betts.Credit:AP With the Red Sox scoring twice in the top of the first inning, the homestanding Astros appeared to counter with a runner on base and 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve at the plate. Altuve connected, but Boston's Gold Glove right fielder, Mookie Betts, leaped high above the seven-foot outfield wall into a sea of hands. The ball hit off someone's hands and ricocheted back into the field of play, but right field umpire and crew chief Joe West ruled the fans interfered with Betts' opportunity to make the catch. Therefore, Altuve was out. "He just said that there was fan interference on the field, and my argument was more about the fact that the ball was leaving the yard, the trajectory was there," Astros manager AJ Hinch said during an in-game interview with TBS. "Jose paid kind of the ultimate price for something out of his control. I'm not sure if Mookie makes that catch, he's a great athlete, but how it's an assumed out is unbelievable." Under baseball Rule 6.01 (e): "No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out onto the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator's interference." Since it was a boundary call, the play automatically triggered a replay review. However, MLB replay officials could not make a conclusive determination where the ball was at the time. "After viewing all relevant angles, the Replay Official could not definitively determine that the spectator failed to reach out of the stands and over the playing field, clearly preventing the fielder from catching the ball. The call STANDS, the batter is out, and the runner returns to first base," MLB said in a statement. The Astros' rally fizzled. And the fans were incensed. Later on, Bradley belted a first-pitch changeup from Astros right-hander Josh James (0-1) into the right field seats with two outs in the sixth inning, the two-run homer giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. Boston held on to claim a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 set for Thursday at Minute Maid Park. James had limited the Red Sox to one run after entering in relief of right-hander Charlie Morton with one out in the third inning. However, after recording two quick outs in the sixth, James surrendered a double to Christian Vazquez before Bradley pounced on James' off-speed offering. The flame-throwing James averaged 99.4 mph over 23 fastballs. The home run was Bradley's second in as many games and his third game-altering extra-base hit in the series. Boston tacked on insurance runs in the seventh and eighth to set the stage for a series clincher against Astros ace Justin Verlander. The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead against Morton in the first inning when Rafael Devers produced a two-out, two-strike, two-run single to center that scored Betts and JD Martinez. The Astros appeared to match that two-run rally in the bottom of the first against right-hander Rick Porcello before the controversial Altuve call temporarily preserved the lead for Boston. Ultimately, the Astros clawed back via solo home runs from Springer and Tony Kemp off Porcello, and a pair of RBI singles from Carlos Correa. The shortstop's second run-scoring hit came against Joe Kelly in the fifth, driving home Yuli Gurriel and lifting the Astros to a 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Houston's Alex Bregman, who went 0-for-5 while batting leadoff for the first time this series, stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel. His sinking line drive to left was snagged by a diving Andrew Benintendi, a play that pushed the defending World Series champions to the brink of elimination. Kimbrel, who allowed one run on two hits in two innings, recorded his second save of the series. Kelly (1-1) got the win despite yielding a run on two hits in his lone inning. Source: USA Today and Field Level Media
  7. National League Championship Series - Game 4 Los Angeles 2 Milwaukee Brewers 1 in 13 innings (NLCS Series tied 2-2) The pitching from both sides was outstanding as there were only 15 hits combined in 13 innings in Game 4. A 1-1 deadlock was broken when Manny Machado singled with 2 outs in the bottom of the 13th, took 2nd base on a wild pitch, and then scored on the back of Cody Bellinger's clutch 2-out hit to right fielder Christian Yelich, who almost got Machado out at home on the throw. I thought Junior Guerra was unlucky to cop the loss for Milwaukee, as he pitched brilliantly for almost 4 innings of extra-innings relief. History suggests that Los Angeles must carry this momentum into Game 5 if they are to win the the series, as Games 6 and 7 will be away in Milwaukee and traditionally these games favour the home team statistically.
  8. American League Championship Series - Game 3 Boston Red Sox 8 Houston Astros 2 (Red Sox lead ALCS 2-1) Nathan Eovaldi pitched a gem, going 6 innings and allowing 2 runs, but it was Jackie Bradley's grand slam in the 8th that sealed the win. In the meantime, Steve Pearce hit a go-ahead homer in the 6th to have the Red Sox leading 3-2 at that point. Teams that win Game 3 on the road after splitting the first two games have won a 7-game series 27 times out of 36. Therefore, Houston must win Game 4 at home tomorrow,
  9. JohnS

    Going through the grades

    Excellent pictorial examples, Rob. Thanks!
  10. National League Championship Series - Game 3 Milwaukee Brewers 4 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 (Brewers lead NLCS 2-1) They say Baseball is a 'game of inches', try telling that to Los Angeles pinch-hitter Brian Dozier. That called strike surely did 'paint the corner' but credit to Jeremy Jeffress for striking out Yasmal Grandal and Dozier in the 9th after the bases were loaded, with the potential tying run on base. The story of Game 4 was Brewers pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin who pitched a shutout into the 6th inning with relievers Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria, Josh Hader and Jeffress maintaining the shutout. The Brewers have relied on their relievers to pitch 2 innings at a stretch, and in Game 3 no reliever pitched more than 21 pitches, which bodes well for the next few games for the Brewers. In defeat, rookie Walker Buehler was very good, perhaps going one inning too many in giving up 4 runs over 7 innings, but he did have a quality start after 6 with 2 runs conced up to the at point. Can the Dodgers tie the series in Game 4 at home?
  11. American League Championship Series - Game 2 Boston Red Sox 7 Houston Astros 5 (ALCS Series tied 1-1) David Price may have never won a postseason pitching contest in 10 attempts, and thanks to Alex Cora, he was one potential pitch away from completing 5 innings and thus qualifying for a win, but I think he'd be relieved that the Red Sox took Game 2 today, as they had to. The Red Sox local crowd surely had to work for it with Craig Kimbrel making hard work of saving the 9th, but hey, it's not like Kimbrel doesn't know how to shut out games, after all, he has over 300 saves. After Cole and Price traded giving up runs in the first three innings, things settled until Boston took a 5-4 lead. Mookie Betts got a single in the 7th and then preceded to advance base on passed balls and wild pitches until he took home and made it 6-4. Another RBI double in the 8th added insurance. And so we're off to Houston for Game 3 for at least three games. It's going to be a fun and frantically contested series.
  12. JohnS

    FOH'ers Daily Smoke

    1. Por Larrañaga Montecarlos EML Sep 2014 (thanks @jay8354!) At four years of age, the caramel in this is beginning to build, combining nicely with coffee, honey and nut flavours. The main difference I found with this, in comparison, to my recent smoking of half a box of TOS Mar 2017 Montecarlos (which I've since put away to age) was that this cigar did not have a toasty or woody character. Thank you Jason for gifting me this wonderful cigar! 2. Reynaldo Shaggy Foot Petit Corona (thanks @Fuzz!) This Reynaldo Custom Shaggy Foot Petit Corona invoked wonderful memories of old school-type Partagas flavours, with a rich, strong earthiness and leather. It was rustic throughout, yet, in the beginning it had some strong espresso coffee and roasted nut flavours, which lilted in and out and was eventually ceded by some sweet 'licorice' flavour and spice, at times. Thank you Fuzz for gifting me this cigar! 3. Alejandro Custom Corona (thanks again @Fuzz!) What another fantastic custom cigar smoking experience this was! This Alejandro Custom Corona was sweeter and milder than my previous custom, the Reynaldo Shaggy Foot Petit Corona. The closest regular production cigar I could compare this to is the Cohiba Siglo II or Siglo III, only less grassy. It certainly had a honey sweetness, elements of vanilla and dollops of creamy and buttery goodness. Thank you again, Fuzz for gifting me this cigar! 4. Diplomáticos No.2 LGR Abr 2018 This Diplomaticos No.2 had its core sourdough and capsicum flavours, but it's been awhile since I recall a Diplomaticos No.2 that I've had that had so much paprika spice or pepper in the back half. The intensity of the final third, especially, made me slow right down on this, but otherwise it was a nice smoke, only a little stronger than I would have ideally preferred.
  13. American League Championship Series - Game 1 Houston Astros 7 Boston Red Sox 2 (Astros lead ALCS 1-0) The big pitching guns of the American League were up tonight, Justin Verlander for the Astros and Chris Sale for the Red Sox. Chris Sale allowed 2 runs in the 2nd innings and Justin Verlander allowed a walk to tie the score a 2 each in the 5th. Houston pulled away in the 6th for a 3-2 lead on the back of Chris Correa's hit and Yuli Gurriel made sure of the Houston win with a powerful opposite field 3-run home run in the 9th. Interestingly, both Sale and Verlander allowed 4 walks each. Gerrit Cole and David Price go head-to-head in Game 2.
  14. National League Championship Series - Game 2 Los Angeles Dodgers 4 Milwaukee Brewers 3 (NLCS Series tied 1-1) Wade Miley had the game of his life, pitching 74 pitches, allowing 2 hits and no walks, as well as collecting two hits of his own, when he was pulled from the game during the 6th inning. after 6 innings Milwaukee were leading 3-0 and well on their way to a 13th consecutive victory. However, Josh Hader was on scheduled rest and the Brewers bullpen couldn't quell the Dodgers bats in the 7th and 8th innings. Josh Turner, who went 0-4 with 4 strikeouts in Game 1, connected onto a high fastball for a 2-run homer to seal the 4-3 win for the Dodgers. It seems the Brewers were targeting Turner with high fastballs in the strike-zone to strike him out throughout this series, but unfortunately for the Brewers, he connected in Game 2.
  15. JohnS

    FOH'ers Daily Smoke

    1. Rafael González Petit Coronas UTE Oct 2015 The last one from this box was okay, this however, was brilliant! It had a seemingly perfect blend of honey sweetness combined with a strong cocoa and floral base, together with a hint of baking spice. I wish all my Rafael Gonzalez Petit Coronas were like this! 2. Ramón Allones Allones Superiores 2010 - LCDH Exclusivo 2010 ULA Sep 2014 This has just hit 4 years of age, and for me, it's progressing nicely. Everything about this smoke was subtle. The cocoa was like a fine dusting, the typical 'stewed fruit' Ramon Allones profile was light, the evidence for an aged cigar was there in the hints of baking spice and there was even a little wood! I look forward to the next one!

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