#SportsReport: Nationals Beat Brewers In NL Wild-Card Game
Washington's Juan Soto delivered a bases-loaded single against Josh Hader that scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Nationals rallied to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in the NL wild-card game Tuesday night.
After Hader loaded the bases by hitting one batter, walking another and allowing a bloop single, Soto took a 96 mph fastball to right, and the ball skipped under outfielder Trent Grisham's glove. That error allowed one of the runs to cross the plate. Stephen Strasburg threw three scoreless innings to earn the win in the first relief appearance of his major league career, regular season or playoffs. Daniel Hudson pitched the ninth for the save. The Nationals, so familiar with playoff heartache, advanced to face the NL West champion Dodgers in the best-of-five Division Series. Game 1 is Thursday in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Sean Manaea will start Wednesday’s AL wild-card game for the Oakland Athletics against the Tampa Bay Rays just more than a year removed from shoulder surgery. The left-hander earned the nod over Mike Fiers in a tough decision. Manaea returned from injury later than he had hoped but immediately found a groove. He went 4-0 with 1.21 ERA in five September starts following the operation last September.
Atlanta left-hander Dallas Keuchel will face St. Louis right-hander Miles Mikolas in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Thursday night. Each team announced its starting pitcher on Tuesday. Keuchel, who has nine career postseason starts, went 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts after signing a one-year deal with Atlanta. He will face the Cardinals for the first time since 2016. Mikolas was 9-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 32 starts for the Cardinals. He will make his postseason debut.
In other MLB news, Mets slugger Pete Alonso visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to donate the custom first-responder cleats and baseball bat he used in a game on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Alonso coordinated the production of customized spikes for each of his teammates, doing so without telling Major League Baseball after the league rejected his proposal to wear first-responder hats.
The Cincinnati Reds have fired hitting coach Turner Ward after one season. Ward was hired as part of first-year manager David Bell's staff last offseason after three years as hitting coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cincinnati finished the season 75-87, an eight-game improvement from 2018 after adding veteran hitters Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp — both from the Dodgers — plus three starting pitchers. While the pitching improved, the offense was mostly worse.
Cubs coaches Mark Loretta and Will Venable are being considered for the team's managerial opening. Loretta and Venable join David Ross as the club's only internal candidates to replace Joe Maddon, whose contract expired after the Cubs missed the playoffs this year for the first time since 2014.
The Colorado Rockies say star third baseman Nolan Arenado's ability to opt out of his mega contract after 2021 isn't among the front office's many concerns just yet. The owner, general manager and manger met with the media and talked about rebounding in 2020 after the Rockies' 20-win regression in 2019. Injuries were a big part of the reason as every pitcher in the starting rotation and their closer ended up getting hurt, as did emerging star outfielder David Dahl.
The Baltimore Ravens have waived outside linebacker Tim Williams. Williams, a third-round pick from Alabama in the 2017 NFL draft, managed just two sacks over 19 career games in Baltimore. He played only seven snaps in a 40-25 loss to Cleveland in Week 4. Williams had just two tackles over four games this season. Last month, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Williams was one of the players the team needed more production from. The Ravens are ranked 23rd in the NFL with eight sacks over four games. Baltimore signed former Eagles linebacker L.J. Fort on Monday.
The Baltimore Ravens posted a video and story on their website disputing that cornerback Marlon Humphrey choked Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. in Sunday's game. The video shows the scuffle between Humphrey and Beckham, who is pinned below Baltimore's defender. While the clip shows Humphrey's hands near Beckham's neck, the story said he "definitely did not choke" him. Browns coach Freddie Kitchens and several players scoffed at the idea the Ravens think Humphrey was not choking Beckham.
Lee Stempniak has retired from the NHL after playing for 10 teams in 14 seasons. The 36-year-old winger announced his decision Tuesday through the players' union. He says he is "extremely grateful to have lived my dream every day throughout my career." Stempniak was a steady presence, playing in 70 games or more in nine seasons. He broke in with St. Louis in 2005 and spent four seasons with them, his longest stretch with any team. He finished with 203 goals and 266 assists in 911 games.
The Buffalo Sabres set their 23-player regular-season roster by demoting forward Victor Olofsson and defenseman Henri Jokiharju to the minors. Though the two rookies were sent down to Rochester, both are expected to be back on the Sabres' roster by Thursday, when Buffalo opens the season at Pittsburgh.
Buffalo Sabres assistant coach Don Granato is hospitalized with pneumonia and will miss the start of the season. The Sabres announced that Granato was taking a medical leave of absence. Top minor league coach Chris Taylor will fill in on an interim basis. Buffalo opens the season at Pittsburgh on Thursday.
San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane has been suspended for the first three games of the season for abuse of an official. The punishment handed out Tuesday comes after a run-in Kane had with Vegas' Deryk Engelland in a preseason game on Sunday. Kane responded with a slash after being cross-checked by Engelland. His stick also made contact with linesman Kiel Murchison. Murchison later grabbed Kane's jersey to split the two players up and the two fell to the ice. Kane then appeared to shove the linesman as he got up. Kane was given a game misconduct for the play. The Sharks open the season Wednesday night in Vegas and then host the Golden Knights on Friday night. Kane will also miss a game in Nashville on Oct. 8. Kane will forfeit more than $112,000 based on his annual salary because of the suspension.
Jonquel Jones scored 32 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, and the Connecticut Sun took advantage of Elena Delle Donne's early injury exit to beat the Washington Mystics 99-87 in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals and even the series. Alyssa Thomas added 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Courtney Williams had 22 points for the Sun, who dominated the paint after the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne departed in the first quarter with back spasms.
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