• null null Baseball null The Cardinals and Braves split the first two games of their National League Division Series games in Atlanta before the series shifted to Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday.There Mike Soroka and veteran Adam Wainwright engaged in a pitcher's duel but ultimately the Braves came back to win after a late, and very impressive, rally with their backs against the wall. Atlanta took Game 3, 3-1, to push the series in its favor two games to one.The 22-year-old rookie Soroka impressed in his postseason debut and was virtually unhittable to help push the Braves ahead. Three takeaways from Braves' late comebackFirst, the rookieWe can't not talk about both pitchers, right? While the Braves' offense was certainly impressive late, especially considering the blown lead in Game 1 of the NLDS, Soroka was the star of the show early.It was a tall task for a first-year pitcher but Soroka took it in stride. He pitched a solid seven innings, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out seven and walking none. Related News Three takeaways from Astros'[......]

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  • null null Baseball null Gerrit Cole has been dealing all year in his second campaign donning an Astros' uniform. Now he owns a piece of team history. Cole became just the 18th different pitcher since 1900 and the third Houston arm to rack up 300 strikeouts in a season. He rounded his total by striking out Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in the top of the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against Texas with his team leading 2-0. The big 3-0-0.( x @BudweiserUSA) pic.twitter.com/9ifhSxoZgW— (@) September 19, 2019MORE: Updated magic numbers, playoff picture as of Sept. 18 Mike Scott (1986) and J.R. Richard (1978-79) were the other two Houston arms to reach the mark. Pedro Martinez in 1999 was the last American League pitcher to do it. Cole managed to reach the milestone in 198.1 innings, the second fewest of any pitcher in history. Randy Johnson, one of the most prolific strikeout artists of all time, did it in 197.2 innings in 2001. Johnson had five consecutive 300-strikeout seasons between 1998 and 2002. He finished his career with six 300-strikeout seasons, which is tied with all-time strikeout leader Nolan Ryan for the most in history. There[......]

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  • null Baseball null null In an act of solidarity (and maybe a bit of passive-aggressiveness), the Yankees have brought Brett Gardner’s dugout bat banging onto the field.After hitting a single Sunday against the Indians, Aaron Judge stood on first base, looked into the New York dugout and mimicked Gardner’s familiar act of protest. #BangGangpic.twitter.com/rxeOh6wegz— Jared Saul (@JaredSaul) August 18, 2019“He’s one of the leaders of this team," Judge said after the game ( via yankees.com ). "We do a lot of crazy things in that dugout. We’re showing support for him. He’s a leader of this stuff, so we’re supporting him with that. You’ll be seeing a lot more of that."For some context, Gardner has had a career year when it comes to dugout demolition. Since busting own lip by slamming his helmet earlier this season, the veteran made an adjustment and started banging his bat against the roof of the dugout to blow off some steam. In case you were wondering what Brett Gardner has done to the top of the #Yankees dugout ... #LetBrettBang pic.twitter.com/CO9QO60uDh— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) August 18, 2019Gardner’s latest outburst got him tossed from a Yank[......]

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  • null Baseball Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is hopeful to return by the playoffs after being sidelined for nearly two weeks with a left groin strain, though he isn't willing to rush his return."I was always hopeful, from day one, that I would be back," Sanchez told ESPN. "I knew that because our trainers do tremendous work and I knew they were going to be able to put me in the position of how I feel right now. I feel very good, and all I need is to be ready for the playoffs." Sanchez completed a full workout Monday with hitting coach Marcus Thames and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue. He ran bases, took batting practice both in the cage and on the field and he participated in some defensive drills. "I feel good," Sanchez said after the workout. "Everything I have done has gone well. There have been no problems at all. We have to wait to see how things go in the next couple of days." Gary Sanchez (left groin strain) running shuttles this morning. pic.twitter.com/HRqi34PIot— Pete Caldera (@pcaldera) September 21, 2019While Sanchez is working his way back, he remains adamant that he doesn't feel any pressure to rush his return because he wants to be fully healthy for the postseason."Right now with everything I've done, I feel better," Sanchez said. "Hopefully in the next few days, with all I have to do, and after working wi[......]

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  • null null null Baseball The Yankees have added Aaron Hicks and CC Sabathia to their 25-man roster for the American League Championship Series against the Astros, the team announced Saturday. The move comes after Hicks and Sabathia missed time because of injuries. They both were on the field at Minute Maid Park on Friday where Hicks tested his right elbow and Sabathia worked out his sore left shoulder. Hicks hasn't played since Aug. 3 after being placed on the 60-day injured list with a strain near his elbow, missing the ALDS. He was facing the possibility of having Tommy John surgery after he was shut down from his rehab program in early September. But he opted not to have surgery at that time."The good thing is he's put himself in this position to make that decision," manager Aaron Boone said of Hicks. "He's good physically. Obviously hasn't had the kind of reps or games that you'd like, but he has certainly put himself in a position to be considered. As good a player as he is, that's exciting." Sabathia, on the other hand, had knee issues during the season and most recently dealt with a shoulder injury. He wasn't ready to return for the ALDS.[......]

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  • Baseball null null null Matchups are everything in baseball. Literally every pitch of every at-bat is a mini-battle that helps determine the outcome of the overall war. But certain matchups are more interesting than others. This is especially true in the postseason.As the 2019 World Series gets underway, here are five matchups we're eager to see — because they all have the potential to swing the series one way or another. MORE: 2019 World Series odds, predictions, betting trendsJuan Soto vs. Justin VerlanderThe age-defying Verlander had another outstanding season for the Astros, one that will produce either his second American League Cy Young award or his fourth second-place finish (the awards are announced in November). In contrast to the 36-year-old right-hander, the 20-year-old Soto is pretty age-defying, too. The list of players in history who have accomplished what he has by his age — he’ll celebrate his 21st birthday during Game 3 in D.C. — is incredibly short.  But the matchup between Verlander and Soto isn’t just fascinating from an age perspective. Their battles in Game 2 and when/if Verlander makes his second start will be incredibly[......]

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  • null null Baseball null The Astros are the best team in baseball. Most observers will agree on that. Broadly speaking, this is because Houston hits the best, pitches the best, executes the best and takes advantage of every opportunity to win — and, perhaps most importantly, takes advantage of their opponents' mistakes. It’s that last thing we’re going to talk about now.RIVERA: Astros show that old-fashioned pitching still plays A lot of people think the Astros steal signs from their opponents. This is not new. The Yankees, their ALCS opponent, are the latest to make the accusation. Well, good for the Astros. If an opponent has signs that are easy to steal, regardless of how they’re stolen, that to me is the same as a pitcher tipping his pitches, or hanging a curveball, or a fielder making an error that helps start a rally. Mistakes are mistakes. Sloppiness loses baseball games. Period.It’s not a new argument, but if the Astros are stealing signs, their opponents just need better signs. It’s as simple as that. If your code is easy to crack, the problem is on you, not the codebreaker. “I don’t think it’s any secret they do it," a source told the New York Po[......]

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  • Baseball Surprises come in many forms, right?Usually, the connotation is positive. Surprise parties! Surprise hugs! Surprise, Publisher's Clearing House is at your door! But there's also the, "Surprise, you spent way too much money on dollar margaritas at Chili's this weekend."MORE: Seven things I definitely didn't expect in the 2019 season Baseball is no different: There are awesome surprises and there are bad surprises over the course of a 162-game season. So, without further ado, here are the latest SN Power Rankings, along with every team's most surprising player in 2019. As always, do not @ me.1. YankeesPrevious: 1Mike Tauchman, Domingo German, Cameron Maybin have all been big surprises for the Yankees this year. However, when it comes to the team's biggest surprise, it has to be Gio Urshela, right? Urshela played in 167 major-league games before 2019 and amassed a skinny 57 OPS+ in 499 plate appearances. This year: a 142 OPS+ in 114 games (414 PAs), good for a 3.5 bWAR (3.0 fWAR). 2. AstrosPrevious: 3Expectations should always be tempered when a top prospect is called up, but Yordan Alvarez currently leads the team in: slugging, OPS and OPS+ in just 66 games. He also goes the shortest between home runs of anyone on the team, at 10.9 ABs/home run.Also, 22.2 percent of his fly balls are dingers, which also leads the team.3. DodgersPrevious: 2Beat the Freese? David Freese has been spectacular for the Dodger[......]

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