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Thousands without power in Twin Cities following early Friday morning storm

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Thousands without power in Twin Cities following early Friday morning storm

Residents in the East Metro awoke Friday morning to downed trees and power outages following a thunderstorm that blew through the area about 3 a.m.

As of 8 a.m., about 50,000 Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota and 11,000 in western Wisconsin were without power. Dakota Electric, which has customers in Dakota, Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties, reported about 3,000 without power.

“We just thank people for their patience,” said Joe Miller, spokesman for Dakota Electric. “I think it’s been a number of years since we saw something this significant move through our area. We’ve got all crews out there working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

Xcel had about 300 employees and contractors out working to restore power Friday morning, with more expected to be added later today, the company said in a statement.

In St. Paul, 5,757 Xcel customers lost power. Stillwater reported about 3,190 and in Hudson, 7,691 were in the dark.

Dakota Electric customers were hardest hit in Burnsville, Apple Valley and Eagan, Miller said.

The company could not give specifics, as the power outage map on its website had been knocked offline.

Residents out and about Friday are cautioned to stay away from downed power lines. Always assume an electric line, even one that is on or near the ground, is energized and dangerous. Never touch or move a downed power line. Downed power lines should be reported immediately by calling 1-800-895-1999.

The overnight storms also delayed classes at several schools across the metro including Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schoo, district.

“Due to significant storm damage in parts of the district, all schools will start two hours late today, September 17, 2021. Rosemount Elementary and Rosemount Middle are canceled as Xcel Energy works to restore power. All after-school activities and events are also canceled at these schools,” the district said in a post on social media.

Stillwater Area Schools also announced delays and, in some cases, canceled in-person instruction due to the storms. For more information go to https://www.stillwaterschools.org/

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Boston Marathon a new fall attraction

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Boston Marathon a new fall attraction

The 125th running of the BAA Marathon features a remarkably strong field despite the unusual circumstance of running a springtime race in October.

Boston has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in terms of attracting the world’s elite runners by staging the event annually on the third Monday in April. The last two Boston Marathons scheduled for April were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The talent distribution this fall was exacerbated because the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were also postponed due to the pandemic. The games went forward this summer with the women’s and men’s Olympic marathons run on Aug. 6-7. That created a timeline glitch that would take many of its participants out of the fall marathon picture.

“What happens with Olympians that if the they do go into a race like this and if they’re having a bad day, they will just bail and save it for the next one down the road,” said BAA race director Dave McGillivray. “I don’t know if we have any Olympians but if we do it is a very small number.

“But we’ve got a great field and you’ve got to remember that every top athlete in the world other than maybe those that ran the Olympics are hungry to run a marathon. They haven’t run one in two years and they are all coming out of the woodwork to run a marathon. They just have to decide which one.”

Autumn is the busy marathon season under normal circumstances. With spring races like Boston and London rescheduled for the fall, it created a smorgasbord of marquee events for runners. Boston found itself in competition against both the regularly scheduled Abbott Marathon Majors along with other popular destinations.

Berlin was run on Sept. 26, London went off on Oct. 3 while Chicago was contested Oct. 10. The New York Marathon, the biggest race on the fall schedule, will be run on Nov. 7. Although they are not major marathons, Lisbon and Amsterdam are popular destinations slated for Oct. 17.

“The fall is marathon season, not the spring, even though London and Boston are in the spring,” said McGillivray. “People prefer to train through the summer and run in the fall marathon of their choosing as opposed to training in the winter for a spring marathon.

“Add to that, everything that was in the spring was postponed to the fall so now it is a double-whammy. Now the marathons are back-to-back-to-back and this is the only time this is likely to ever happen.”

Boston has attracted 18,252 contestants from all 50 states and 104 countries. The field includes 13 former champions in the men’s and women’s open and wheelchair divisions with $876,500 in prize money on the line.

“Boston is a world class organization and it is an incredible race,” said American hopeful Scott Fauble of Flagstaff, Ariz., who finished seventh in 2019 with a personal best time of 2:09:09.

“This organization brings people here and the race brings a lot of people here. It has a lot of history and I don’t think there will ever be a year where people don’t want to come to Boston.”

The favorites in the men’s and women’s races were the runners-up in 2019. Lelisa Desisa will look to become the first Ethiopian runner to win the men’s race three times. Desisa won the race in 2013 and 2015 and was second twice with a personal best of 2:09:17.

On the women’s side, Edna Kiplagat won in 2017 (2:21:52) and finished second behind Worknesh Degefa in 2019. American Desiree Linden, the 2018 winner, will make her eighth appearance. Jordan Hasay, who placed third in 2017 and 2019, leads the new generation of American women.

“Boston is so historic that everyone wants the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon,” said Hasay. “For me it doesn’t matter when you have it, this is the marathon I want to sign up for.”

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‘No Time to Die’ Is Probably the Dullest Bond Film Since ‘Octopussy’

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‘No Time to Die’ Is Probably the Dullest Bond Film Since ‘Octopussy’
Daniel Craig’s No Time To Die marks the end of an era for 007 and the beginning of a new future for James Bond. MGM

 Let the mourning begin.  In No Time to Die, James Bond is dead after 25 installments of the popular series about England’s most glamorous secret agent—which means he will never be back—in his present form.  This is also Daniel Craig’s fifth and final appearance as 007, so enjoy his previously indestructible stoicism for the last time, too.  Do this, I hasten to add, only if you are forever dedicated to a fictional action hero who, in your heart of hearts, can do no wrong.  In my opinion, he ran out of steam long ago, and now in retirement from Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he has no charm, no wit, no sex appeal, no fatal allure for women and he’s losing his hair. He dies from stray bullets, deja vu, stale dialogue and mixed reviews.  The car chases, the fight sequences (there are two), the helicopter shots, the never-ending guns and exploding warheads have all been done before.  


NO TIME TO DIE ★
(1/4 stars)
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Written by:
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga
Starring: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Rami Malek, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas, Billy Magnussen, David Dencik
Running time: 2 hours, 45 mins.


This is probably to be expected.  You don’t go to a James Bond movie to learn anything new. You go to ogle the latest girls, gadgets and exotic locations.  The entertainment values are ever apparent, the violence and bloodshed have a certain lift that both defines and defies imagination, and who would have it any other way?  You don’t always remember what you saw the next day, but you know you had some fun.  This time the excitement fades like the popcorn that went with it, and for me, ennui comes on stealthy fingers.  No Time to Die may not be the worst James Bond movie ever made, but it’s in heavy competition as the dullest one since Octopussy.  The film’s sole distinction is the fact that it’s the James Bond epic that finally manages to make 007 a crashing bore.

Directed with more boyish slobber than narrative coherence by Cary Joji Fukunaga from an over-crammed, self-consciously contrived script by no fewer than five writers,  No Time to Die hops and stumbles all over the place, but you can still write the plot on the head of a carpet tack.  It opens with a flashback to the Italian Alps where a mysterious thug in a white mask plods through the snow to murder a young Madeleine Swann’s mother, but young Madeleine narrowly escapes.  Cut to the character, all grown up as Léa Seydoux, who may or may not be married to a gooey-eyed, lovesick 007. (The movie is very vague about things that matter.)  After some high-speed racing through the mountains in his bulletproof Aston Martin, the two lovers are set upon by agents from the evil crime syndicate SPECTRE in the town square and he dumps Madeleine, thinking she betrayed him.  It’s the end for Bond and Madeleine, but the movie is just beginning.  It helps to know your Ian Fleming history, including Bond’s relationship with Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, as well as the meaning of SPECTRE (you got me there).  Cut to Bond trying desperately trying to enjoy his retirement in Jamaica only to reluctantly join forces with his old pal, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) to return to action in order to stop the criminal manufacture of some kind of inexplicable poison called “nanobots” that are injected into the bloodstream to kill the victim’s DNA, and which can spread like the COVID-19 virus and eventually destroy the world.  

        Soon the screen is overpopulated with tertiary characters, including Leiter’s pal Ash (Billy Magnussen) who turns out to be a double agent, kidnapped M16 scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik) who invented the nanobots, a new agent named Nomi (Lashana Lynch) who has been assigned Bond’s old 007 code number, and a sexy M16 agent named Paloma (Ana de Armas) who spends her time between shootouts searching for the perfect black cocktail dress. Then there’s the great, wasted Christoph Waltz, doing his Silence of the Lambs ripoff in a padded cell in London, and master fiend Lyutsifer Safin, played obnoxiously by Rami Malek, who won an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody for reasons I still find baffling.  He could give lessons in hysterical overacting to Lou Costello.  

       Cut to an island off the coast of Japan, where Safin controls the nanobots from a Nazi bunker left over from World War II and stages an elaborate third-act battle that ends Daniel Craig’s 007 tenure with bloody knuckles and a bomb that destroys  a landscape the size of Rhode Island.  Madeleine shows up with a daughter of her own, who she declares to be James Bond’s daughter, but nothing in the movie makes any sense, so after 165 minutes of gibberish, why start asking questions now?  Something special vanished when they killed off M and Judi Dench exited with her (M is now Ralph Fiennes, who has learned to mumble) and to my eye Daniel Craig has never replaced the one and only Sean Connery.  Still, I think he deserves a better farewell party than this.  No Time to Die is more of a send-up than a send-off.


Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.

‘No Time to Die’ Is Probably the Dullest Bond Film Since ‘Octopussy’

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Dear Abby: No go with niece’s pet project

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Danny V ‘s Thursday Pickorama

Dear Abby: We have a niece who spent 12 years in Hollywood trying to become an actress. The only job she ever managed to land was a TV commercial that showed only her hands. After spending tens of thousands of dollars and having five different agents, she finally gave up and moved back to Kansas.

She has now written a play in which she is the producer, director and sole actor. She has rented a venue and now expects all her friends and family to pay $50 each to come and watch her perform. We feel this is nothing more than a hobby of hers and question the level of talent and entertainment that will be presented. We rarely attend even the best of Broadway plays, but now feel obligated to go to keep peace in the family. How can we get out of this without causing resentment?

— Not a Fan in the  Midwest

Dear Not a Fan: Shame on you. This production (for better or for worse) is the culmination of 12 years of effort on your niece’s part — not to mention her heart’s desire. If you care at all about her, SPEND the 50 bucks and invest an hour or so of your time in her production. Her level of talent may surprise you. But if it doesn’t, at least you will know you did the right thing for the sake of the family.

Dear Abby: I have a beautiful, smart, empathetic, funny, amazing daughter. When she was very young, I thought she may be gay. On the off chance she was, I tried to let her know, without letting on that I thought she might be, that I would support a child of mine if that were the case. Over the years she had occasional boyfriends, so I thought maybe I was mistaken.

She has been without a boyfriend for the past five years now. She is fiercely feminist and has many lesbian friends. I had been kicking around the idea of asking her if she is bi, then finally asked her two weeks ago. Without batting an eye she said yes; she thought it was kind of obvious. I then asked why she never came out to me, since she knew I would accept it with open arms. Her response was one I did not expect, but was valid and should be the norm. She said, “Mom, heterosexuals don’t announce that they are heterosexual, so why should I announce my status?”

I am glad she was never afraid of my reaction. Perhaps raising children with respect for all lives can help people in the LGBTQ community to no longer feel a need to “come out,” because their orientation is a fact of life they are born with (like the color of their hair, the pigment in their eyes, etc.). It is important to provide a safe haven for your child and to teach and model inclusion.

— Loving Mom in the Northwest

Dear Mom: I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for an upper of a letter, which I am printing on National Coming Out Day. This is the annual day of awareness encouraging LGBTQ individuals to acknowledge who they are IF they feel the need to. You and your daughter are lucky to have each other. “Loving mom,” indeed.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com.

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Concocting a new take on ‘Witch’

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Concocting a new take on ‘Witch’

The English theater scene of Shakespeare and his contemporaries spent a lot of time reinforcing what it meant to be a witch. The nasty women spent a lot of time over bubbling cauldrons filled with newts’ eyes and dogs’ tongues and cursing men into impotence.

“The plays written in the 1600s were mostly propaganda against witches, trying to show that they were evil,” director Rebecca Bradshaw told the Herald. “‘The Witch of Edmonton’ was the first play that actually sympathized with the witch character, sympathized with the outcast, who was never actually a witch.”

Flash forward 400 years from when “The Witch of Edmonton” debuted in London and, well, what has changed? Bradshaw gets at that question while directing the Huntington’s production of “Witch,” a dark comedy written by Jen Silverman and loosely based on “The Witch of Edmonton.”

“We have a preconceived notion of what a witch is, we think it’s a woman who is an evil crone casting spells in the woods, ” Bradshaw said. “That’s the notion we have of the witch, but there’s a human behind that notion who is often cast aside because they have asked questions, they have challenged the world.”

“Witch” also nods to “The Crucible,” another piece of theater about patriarchal hysteria where there should be open-minded curiosity.

The second production of the Huntington’s 40th anniversary season, which runs Friday to Nov. 14 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, “Witch” begins simply enough. Elizabeth Sawyer is an unmarried woman who keeps to herself in a small village. In an unsurprising twist, the villagers brand her as a witch. But things get topsy-turvy when a devil named Scratch arrives to tempt the townsfolk with rewards in exchange for souls. Elizabeth won’t play ball, but Scratch finds eager bargainers in the neighboring castle.

“It doesn’t stray away from being dark, and I think that’s important right now,” Bradshaw said. “We can laugh at ourselves, we laugh at these characters, there are plenty of moments where we see people behaving badly, which allows us to laugh and have moments of understanding about the world and why people do things inappropriately. But ‘Witch’ doesn’t make light of anything.”

“The play challenges everything around us,” she continued. “It challenges the status quo. It challenges what it means to have power and hold power. But it also challenges what it means to be the other.”

Finding that sweet spot between humor and hurt can be tricky. Bradshaw believes Silverman has done a masterful job at it in a work that depends on a cast of just six actors and crams a lot into a 90-minute runtime.

“Witch” will no doubt reflect ugly parts of the past and present. But the play is wider than satire and dark humor.

“This can also easily be read as a love story,” Bradshaw said. “There are multiple love triangles. There are love partnerships, familial love, companion love, desire. You see people stumble because they don’t want to confess their emotions. … As a director, I have to thread a lot of brilliance together.”


For details and tickets, go to huntingtontheatre.org.

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Mastrodonato: Red Sox beat the Rays fair and square, but not without the bounce of a lifetime

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Mastrodonato: Red Sox beat the Rays fair and square, but not without the bounce of a lifetime

The Rays got unlucky and the Red Sox benefited in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Sunday night.

There’s no arguing that.

Even the most loyal of Red Sox fans must admit that bizarre play in the top of the 13th inning was a gift from the baseball gods.

The rules were enforced fairly. The Rays lost a run they were surely going to score. The momentum of the game swung back to Boston’s favor. And in the bottom of the 13th, Christian Vazquez hit a two-run homer that sent the Red Sox home with a 6-4 walk-off win to put them within a game of ending the Rays’ season.

Now here’s the argument that Red Sox fans shouldn’t bother making on Monday: the play didn’t matter.

Wrong.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, sure, give the Rays a run in the top of the 13th and move on to the bottom of the inning, when the Sox scored two, and two minus one is one, so the Red Sox win anyway.

That’d be fine and good if baseball wasn’t a sport played by humans with emotions in a century-old ballpark with 38,000 fans on their feet, screaming and hollering based on what they see on the field.

To score the go-ahead run in the 13th inning of a five-hour playoff game full of back-and-forth momentum shifts, then find out the run doesn’t count because of an insane bounce is an event that’s going to have an impact on momentum.

“It’s just one of those things, if we score that run, it puts pressure on them, it helps us relax a little bit,” Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz said, according to the New York Times. “But obviously it changed a little bit once that play happened.”

There’s nothing wrong with admitting the Red Sox caught a break. And it takes nothing away from the fact that the Red Sox are playing tough-nosed baseball, the same brand they were playing in the first half of the season, when there was no deficit too large and no event too monumental for them not to overcome.

On Sunday, the Rays were charged with having to overcome such an event, and they didn’t. They lost the game fair and square. The Red Sox won, fair and square.

“It’s in the rule book,” home plate umpire Sam Holbrook said afterwards. “It’s a ground-rule double. There’s no discretion.”

With all the emotion flying back and forth at Fenway on Sunday night, the Rays looked like they had stolen the last of it in the top of the 13th, when Diaz hit a one-out single and was ready to run when Kevin Kiermaier blasted a Nick Pivetta slider into the right-field wall.

The ball bounced off the wall, ricocheted off Hunter Renfroe’s hip and then hopped over the low wall and into the Red Sox bullpen.

Before the ball left the field, Diaz was already rounding third base and surely on his way home to score. Kiermaier was almost certainly going to third. The momentum was all Tampa’s, and then the ball left the field of play.

At that point, it was clear: Diaz must stop at third for a ground-rule double. The go-ahead run wouldn’t count.

The MLB rulebook defines it simply: “If a fair ball not in flight is deflected by a fielder and then goes out of play, the award is two bases from the time of the pitch.”

That means Diaz had to stop at third, Kiermaier had to stop at second and the score stayed tied.

The umpires got together to review, manager Kevin Cash went out to argue and Kiermaier pleaded his case. But none of it mattered.

“There’s no, ‘he would have done this, would have done that,’” Holbrook said. “It’s just flat-out in the rule book. It’s a ground-rule double.”

It’s really that simple. The Rays were stunned, but they weren’t screwed.

“That’s just the rule,” Cash said. “That’s the way it goes. It was very unfortunate for us. I think it was fairly obvious that KK or Yandy was going to come around to score, but it didn’t go our way.”

And that’s OK. That’s sports. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sunday night, it went the Red Sox’ way.

Pivetta was a monster out of relief, throwing 67 brilliant pitches, his final one a 95-mph fastball above the zone to strike out Mike Zunino and end the Rays’ rally attempt.

The momentum on their side, Renfroe drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the 13th and then Vazquez hammered a two-run homer that ended the game and sent Fenway into a frenzy.

The Red Sox deserved the win, just as the Rays deserved to lose.

But don’t be petty and pretend the Red Sox didn’t get lucky. They got the bounce of a lifetime.

And they took advantage of it.

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Nick Pivetta heroic in relief, Christian Vazquez walks it off in 6-4 win over Rays

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Nick Pivetta heroic in relief, Christian Vazquez walks it off in 6-4 win over Rays

It’ll go down as one of the luckiest breaks in postseason history, and the Red Sox weren’t going to waste it.

Tied 1-1 in the American League Division series and 4-4 in Game 3, the Rays appeared to take a lead in the top of the 13th inning, when Kevin Kiermaier hit a shot to the right-field wall that would’ve scored Yandy Diaz easily, but the ball bounced off the wall, ricocheted off Hunter Renfroe’s leg and hopped over the wall as a ground-rule double, by MLB rule, keeping Diaz at third base.

Extra-innings hero Nick Pivetta escaped the jam to keep the game tied, then the Red Sox took advantage in the bottom of the inning.

Renfroe drew a one-out walk and then Christian Vazquez, who didn’t even start the game, mashed a two-run homer off Luis Patino over the Green Monster to walk it off with a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Afterwards, manager Alex Cora said the star of the game was Pivetta, who threw 67 pitches on three days’ rest to get the win.

“We were all in, and they know it,” Cora said. “We texted all the starters yesterday, and we put spikes on, and they understand what that is. We might do it differently than other teams, but when you get to that stage, you take it day by day.

“Nick understands that, and he did an amazing job in Tampa. Today he was amazing. Very, very similar to Nate (Eovaldi) in Game 3 of the World Series a few years ago. He was locked in, good fastball, good breaking ball, with traffic, with no traffic, very emotional. These people, wow, that was better than Tuesday, to be honest with you. That was fun.”

The win put the Red Sox ahead, 2-1, in the ALDS with a chance to win the series in Fenway Park at 7:07 p.m. Monday night.

Vazquez’s two-run shot in essence negated the run that Diaz would’ve scored in the top of the 13th, since the Sox would’ve won the game regardless, though the loss of momentum certainly has to be taken into account.

“Christian, he works so hard on his craft,” Cora said. “He cares so much about this organization that for him to be in that spot and put a good swing and hit the ball out of the ballpark, I know it means a lot to him. It means a lot to us. It was a big swing, but we’re up 2-1. We’ve still got work to do.

“We’re in a great spot, but that’s a good baseball team. Let’s be ready for tomorrow.”

Nathan Eovaldi started the game and brought his best in the postseason once again.

It was one of those nights Eovaldi needed an inning to settle in. He hung an early curveball to Wander Franco, who smoked it for a single. And a first-pitch fastball on the inner half to Austin Meadows was hit a long way over the right-field fence for a two-run shot that gave the Rays a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

But that was all the Rays could do against the Red Sox ace.

The first six outs he recorded were all strikeouts. The Rays worked his pitch count, but Eovaldi put them away when it counted and made it through five innings with just the two runs allowed, striking out eight. He threw 85 pitches, 58 for strikes.

In two starts against the Yankees and Rays this postseason, Eovaldi has fanned a remarkable 16 batters over 10 1/3 innings.

After scoring 14 runs on 20 hits on Friday, the Sox offense came down to earth in this one, doing most of their damage early in the game.

Kyle Schwarber is looking like a natural hitter for the confines of Fenway Park. He got a hanging breaking ball and, rather than trying to crush it 500 feet to right, stayed back and hit a chip shot over the Green Monster for a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first.

The Sox used four singles, including a pair of RBI singles by Kiké Hernandez and Rafael Devers, to move ahead, 3-2, in the bottom of the third.

There isn’t a hotter hitter in baseball right now than Hernandez. His final four at-bats in Tampa on Friday and first three at-bats in Boston on Sunday went as follows: home run, double, double, single, single, single and home run. He finally hit a lineout in the eighth inning to snap his streak, but his eight hits in two games are the most ever by a player in consecutive postseason games.

The surprise of the third inning was when Devers tried dropping a bunt down on the first pitch. He looks to be in a lot of pain whenever he swings and misses, but the bunt play surely confused the Rays, too. Two pitches later, they threw him a fastball down the middle and Devers smoked it to center for the go-ahead RBI single, making it 3-2.

Hernandez then destroyed one over the Monster for a solo shot in the fifth to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.

“We’re going to grind it out, we’re going to be relentless, we’re going to do whatever it takes to win a ballgame,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been able to do that, and we’re sitting here in a really good spot to win a series against one of the best teams in the American League, if not the best team the last two years.”

With the left-handed hitting Meadows due up to start the sixth, it was an easy call for Cora to replace Eovaldi with lefty Josh Taylor.

Taylor, Ryan Brasier and Austin Davis maneuvered their way to the eighth inning with the Red Sox in front.

It got interesting in the eighth, when the red-hot Hansel Robles entered the game having not allowed a run since Aug. 29, a span of 17 consecutive scoreless appearances. But Franco led off and Robles started him with three straight balls to fall behind 3-0. He threw two straight fastballs down the pipe and Franco, a Rookie of the Year candidate who has looked every bit as good as he was projected to be, hammered the second one into the Monster seats to cut the deficit to one.

Robles left because he was ill, not injured, Cora said afterwards.

Meadows then doubled to put the tying run on second, and Robles was seen clutching his right arm and stretching out his shoulder after the at-bat. But he stayed in to face Nelson Cruz, got a weak groundout, then Randy Arozarena, the Rays’ other Rookie of the Year candidate, doubled to left-center to tie the game, 4-4.

Cora called on his own rookie sensation, Garrett Whitlock, to clean up the inning and pitch a scoreless ninth, giving the Sox a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the frame.

Schwarber hit a one-out single to put the game-winning run on base and was replaced by Bobby Dalbec as a pinch-runner. But neither Hernandez nor Devers could come through to push him across.

At that point, Cora turned the game over to Pivetta.

Back in February, it wasn’t even certain that Pivetta would have a spot on the Red Sox’ roster, much less become a key contributor.

But he became a key member of the Sox’ rotation all year and on Sunday, on just two days rest after throwing 73 pitches in Game 1 on Friday, the 28-year-old right-hander was electric, holding the Rays quiet in the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th to earn the win.

“I just gave it my all, to be honest with you,” Pivetta said. “I just competed with the strike zone, competed with those guys, and my energy just shows what this means to me and means to our team. It’s really exciting. It’s fun to be here. It’s a moment in time for me and for our team.

“So I think it’s just me showing my emotions. It’s just excitement, and that’s just the way it goes.”

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Patriots LB Jamie Collins notches sack in season debut at Houston

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Patriots LB Jamie Collins notches sack in season debut at Houston

Shortly after Sunday’s win, Jamie Collins wouldn’t equate rejoining the Patriots to riding a bike.

But from the look of how he played, that’s exactly how easy it was.

Collins played sparingly on defense, yet finished with a key sack in Houston. He took down Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills midway through the fourth quarter. Collins also took snaps on special teams, where the Pats had a decided edge Sunday.

“He plays every spot on the defense. He can do any and everything. He is kind of like a (Dont’a) Hightower,” said Pats linebacker Matt Judon. “Just to have him out there, him rush the A-gap and get a sack — I think he was only out there for like two defensive snaps, and then he got a sack. I wish I could do that.”

Collins only practiced twice during the week after signing on Friday. His return helped offset the temporary loss of Kyle Van Noy, who was dealing with a groin injury.

“For me with the defense, obviously there’s some different stuff here and there, but at the end of the day, football is football,” Collins said. “And I take my job seriously, so I just come in and work and it all works out. it pays off.”

Bill Belichick said earlier this week he viewed adding Collins as a move to pad the team’s depth. The Patriots returned inside linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley from an injury at Houston, but continue to rotate and shuffle their linebackers around. There’s little doubt if Collins keeps performing, more opportunity should await him soon.

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Patriots’ patchwork offensive line paves way to comeback at Houston

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Patriots’ patchwork offensive line paves way to comeback at Houston

What a pleasant surprise.

Down four starters and after a week of worry, the Patriots offensive line was never better Sunday.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones was sacked just once during a 25-22 win over Houston, matching a season best. He was hit only three other times, even while passing frequently during a 13-point second-half comeback. Jones had starting center David Andrews to lean on, plus three other backups and practice-squad guard James Ferentz filling in.

The O-line had previously been a weakness for the Pats’ struggling offense and instead fronted a much-needed win Sunday.

“Just shows that you must be ready, and they stepped up to the opportunity. I told them that after the game that they all did a good job stepping up and just taking advantage of their opportunities,” Jones said. “They played great.”

Third-year offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste earned the first offensive snaps of his career and started at right tackle. He blocked next to interior backup Ted Karras, who flanked Andrews in the middle with Ferentz at left guard. Second-year tackle Justin Herron protected Jones’ blind side at left tackle, after predominantly playing right tackle this season as an injury replacement for Trent Brown.

Together, they cleared room for 126 rushing yards and allowed Jones to get hit on just 13% of his dropbacks.

Brown was placed on injured reserve Saturday, when it was learned left tackle Isaiah Wynn and left guard Mike Onwenu would remain on COVID-19 reserve through the game. After the game, Bill Belichick shared that the team was hopeful to return Onwenu for kickoff, but he wasn’t cleared. Belichick also remarked losing four starting offensive lineman was a first for him in his 47 years of coaching in the NFL.

“Other than the replacement games and all that back in ’87 (during an NFL players’ strike), but you can’t even count that. So, no,” Belichick said before adding: “I’m not saying it was perfect, but I thought they battled. For the most part, Mac had some time to throw, and we made some yards in the running game to stay balanced. We were able to run the ball in on the goal line, so that was a good thing there, too.”

Added Andrews: “We’ve taken a lot of criticism, and rightfully so. I thought we did a better job today, and we just have to keep building on that.”

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Southwest Airlines cancels more than 1,000 Sunday flights

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Southwest Airlines cancels more than 1,000 Sunday flights

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO

NEW YORK (AP) — Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend, blaming the woes on air traffic control issues and weather.

The airline canceled more than 1,000 flights in total, or 29% of its schedule, as of 7 p.m. ET Sunday, according to flight tracker FlightAware. That was the highest rate by far of the major U.S. airlines. Next in line was Allegiant, which canceled 6% of its flights. American Airlines canceled 5% of its flights, while Spirit canceled 4% on Sunday, according to the flight tracker. On Saturday, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 800 flights.

Southwest Airlines said in an emailed statement that it had experienced weather challenges in its Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, which were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region. Those issues triggered delays and prompted significant cancellations for the airlines beginning Friday evening.

“We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers,” said Southwest Airlines. “With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.”

The company said that it’s allowing customers to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel.

However, Henry H. Harteveldt, president and travel industry analyst at The Atmosphere Research Group, based in San Francisco, points to other causes for the cancellations.

First, he says Southwest has scheduled more flights than it can handle, a problem that started in June. He also noted that Southwest operates what’s known as a point-to-point route network, and when a delay occurs, it “cascades” along the remaining flight segments. That’s because, for example, a Southwest flight departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the airline’s home base of Dallas may make multiple stops along the way.

But Harteveldt says the most troubling reason is the likelihood that some pilots who oppose Southwest’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations are participating in an illegal job action where they call in sick or are engaging in a “work slowdown.”

In a statement Saturday, the airline’s pilot union, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said that’s not the case.

“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” it said.

Harteveldt noted Southwest’s woes could linger and affect its fourth quarter financial performance.

“All of this is happening as people are in the midst of booking their Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year holiday travel,” he said. “It’s very possible that some people who might normally book on Southwest may see this news and choose to fly other airlines.”

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Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the last name of the analyst at The Atmosphere Research Group. It is Henry Harteveldt, not Harteveltd.

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Defense seeks to exclude Confederate flag vanity plate at upcoming Arbery trial

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Defense seeks to exclude Confederate flag vanity plate at upcoming Arbery trial

Shaddi Abusaid

Less than two weeks until the start of one of the highest-profile murder trials in Georgia history, defense attorneys are trying to exclude what could become a crucial piece of evidence.

The lawyers, representing two men accused of chasing and fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery early last year in a Glynn County neighborhood, are asking a judge to prohibit photos of a vanity license plate of the old Georgia state flag on the front of Travis McMichael’s pickup truck. Georgia’s prior flag, flown from 1956 through 2001, prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem.

McMichael, his father Greg, who also joined in the motion, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, all of whom are white, will stand trial for murder and other charges in the February 2020 death of Arbery, who was Black. Jury selection begins Oct. 18.

The defense’s motion to exclude the license plate, filed last week, calls the evidence “not relevant” and “prejudicial.”

Travis McMichael’s lawyers argue that prosecutors have two goals in submitting the license plate as evidence: “To draw the conclusion that Arbery saw the vanity plate, that he interpreted its meaning and that he feared the occupants in the truck,” prompting him to run; and to infer that McMichael placed the vanity plate on the front of his new truck “in order to telegraph some reprehensible motive, bias or prejudice.”

In their response to the motion, prosecutors argued that McMichael purchased the truck several weeks before the shooting and attached the vanity plate “for all the world to see.”

“The jury may interpret that evidence in any way they deem appropriate and the State may make reasonable inferences, in closing argument, drawn from the evidence,” prosecutors wrote in a subsequent filing urging the judge to allow it.

Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old, was shot and killed in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside coastal Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020. Travis McMichael, who killed Arbery; his father, Greg McMichael, a former investigator in the local district attorney’s office; and Bryan, their neighbor, were arrested more than two months later after the GBI announced it would look into the case.

Greg McMichael and his son, who were both armed, chased Arbery in Travis McMichael’s pickup truck through Satilla Shores. Bryan soon joined in the chase in his pickup and took the infamous cellphone video that showed Arbery being hemmed in and then charging at Travis McMichael, who killed Arbery with three shotgun blasts.

The McMichaels and Bryan contend they were making a valid citizen’s arrest because they believed Arbery had burglarized a home under construction and was fleeing. Prosecutors say no citizen’s arrest was justified, and they note Arbery, who was running through the neighborhood, had no stolen items in his possession when he was killed.

It is now up to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley to decide whether the photos of the license plate can be shown to the jury. He recently ruled that neither Arbery’s criminal record nor his mental health history can be be brought up by the defense at trial.

When he was in high school, Arbery was sentenced to five years probation as a first offender on charges of carrying a weapon on campus and several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer. He was convicted of probation violation in 2018 after he was charged with trying to shoplift a television from a Walmart, court documents show.

Arbery was on probation when he was killed, but prosecutors on Monday filed a motion to exclude the defense from bringing that up at trial, saying “his status as a probationer is not relevant, as the defendants did not know Mr. Arbery was on probation.”

Last week, Walmsley ruled a nurse’s “highly questionable diagnosis” that Arbery suffered from mental illness could unfairly prejudice the jury. The rulings are a blow to the defense, and could hinder their efforts to portray Arbery as the aggressor.

The deadly shooting prompted the Georgia Legislature to overhaul the state’s Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law. It was the second piece of criminal justice legislation to become Georgia law in the wake of Arbery’s death. Lawmakers also passed hate-crimes legislation in 2020, increasing penalties for those convicted of committing crimes against people based on characteristics such as their race, sexual orientation or religion.

Marietta defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who has been closely following the case, said she agrees with Walmsley’s decision to exclude Arbery’s mental health history, saying defense attorneys for Bryan and the McMichaels would have had to show their clients were aware of his previous diagnosis.

“If they didn’t know about that at the time, I don’t see how it’s relevant,” she said Wednesday.

By trying to exclude evidence of Travis McMichael’s vanity plate, the McMichaels’ defense team is trying to make it tougher for prosecutors to establish racial bias, Merchant said, adding they need to “humanize their clients” in an attempt to get the jurors to look past any history of racism that will undoubtedly be brought up by the state at trial.

“We all know that the trial is going to be an issue of whether or not these folks were racist,” she said.

Separately, the U.S. Justice Department has obtained a hate-crimes indictment against the McMichaels and Bryan, alleging they chased and tracked down Arbery because he was Black. That case is set to go to trial in February.

According to pretrial testimony, Bryan told GBI agents after the shooting that he heard Travis McMichael say “(expletive) N-word” as he stood over the dying Arbery. McMichael has denied saying that.

Staff writers Bill Rankin and Asia Simone Burns contributed to this article.

©2021 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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