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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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Infotainment retuned for ’22 Infiniti QX80 resurgence

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Infotainment retuned for ’22 Infiniti QX80 resurgence

A refined infotainment system and center stack are standard on the 2022 Infiniti QX80 and should serve as major assists toward a more well-rounded competitiveness in the full-size luxury SUV field for the Japanese product.

Power and plushness are a given for the QX80 and have been for some years. Up-front interior tech, though, with dual screens lagging in wireless compatibility fared poorly in comparative assessments.

For 2022, a new 12.3-inch touchscreen offers navigation, lane guidance, Infiniti InTouch Services, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto links, Intelligent Cruise Control and Bose premium sound system with 17 speakers.

The upgraded QX80 is available in three trim levels – Luxe, Premium Select and Sensory – as it goes against Lexus LX, Mercedes GLS and G-Class, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover, BMW X7 and Audi Q7.

Interestingly, while I was driving the QX80 last week came an announcement from Yokohama, Japan, of the promotion by Infiniti of Wendy Orthman to general manager of global integrated brand, marketing and communications, a newly created position merging the responsibilities of chief marketing and chief communications officer. She was global head of communications for the brand.

Orthman previously served positions with Nissan and, earlier, as Midwest PR manager with Chrysler. While with Chrysler, Denver was a frequent stop for her, including bringing famed Dodge designer Ralph Gilles here in 2008 to show off a redesigned Ram with storage in its box’s side panels.

The new version of the QX80 continues to draw notice for its size – it’s big, 6 ½ feet tall and square-bodied with 5,815-pound curb weight, riding on Bridgestone Dueler P275/50R22 tires.

Performance comes smoothly from a 400-horsepower, 413 lb.-ft. torque, 5.6-liter V-8 engine with 7-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. A dial in the center console engages switching from Auto to 4Hi and 4Lo, with a separate button for snow mode, which lessens torque on takeoff. The shifter can be moved into manual mode and tapped for upshifts or downshifts.

The Infiniti is impressive in its maneuverability, belying its oversize. Its EPA fuel estimate continues relatively low, 13 to 19 miles per gallon. I averaged 16.4 mpg.

Inside, the front seating, with quilted inserts, is finished in saddle brown. The second-row buckets, with an abundance of legroom, will flip-fold forward for opening a path to the 3rd row, where footspace is very tight. By folding the far-back seats into the floor, cargo space grows from 16.6 cubic feet to a roomy 49.6. Twin 8-inch screens highlight a rear-seat entertainment system.

For $87,985, the Infiniti’s high-end Sensory trim level includes power moonroof, power-folding and heated outside mirrors, power rear liftgate, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, power reclining third-row seats and safety advancements forward emergency braking, blind-spot intervention, lane-departure prevention and around-view monitor with moving-object detection.

The Infiniti brand was introduced in the United States in 1989 as Nissan’s luxury offering to compete with Toyota and Honda premium units Lexus and Acura, respectively. The QX80 is built in Kyushu, Japan.

Contact Bud Wells at
[email protected]

The news and editorial staffs of The Denver Post had no role in this post’s preparation.

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Homicide investigation underway after man stabbed to death in Westminster home Monday

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100-year-old Longmont man assaulted along Main Street has died

Jefferson County authorities are investigating a homicide after a man was found stabbed to death early Monday inside a Westminster home.

Sheriff’s deputies responded at 4 a.m. to the 10400 block of Ammons Street to reports of a break-in, and upon arrival found the unidentified man dead, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

A witness who lives at the house told police that “the male had forced entry into the home and was stabbed by another female resident during a physical altercation between the male and the witness,” authorities said in the release.

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Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas win Ballon d’Or awards

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Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas win Ballon d’Or awards

PARIS — Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending seventh time on Monday, ending the year in style after a brilliant final season with Barcelona and earning his first major international trophy with Argentina.

Alexia Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award for an outstanding season with Barcelona and Spain.

The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals.

“I’m very happy to be here, happy to keep fighting for new trophies,” he said through a translator. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope many more. I’d like to thank all my (former) teammates at Barcelona and Argentina.”

Messi finished with 613 points to top prolific Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski on 580.

“I would like to say to Robert that it’s an honor to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win it last year,” Messi said.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men every year since 1956 when Stanley Matthews won.

Both 2020 awards were canceled because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season.

The 33-year-old Lewandowski set a new single-season scoring record for the Bundesliga with 41 goals — one more than late Germany great Gerd Müller — when he scored in the last minute of the last game.

Lewandowski netted in 19 consecutive games in all competitions for Bayern from February to September and he just missed out on equaling the record of scoring in 16 Bundesliga games in a row. Overall, he already has 25 goals in 20 games for Bayern this season.

His 11 goals in 12 games for Poland this year took his international tally to 74 in 128 games, just six less than Messi.

Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third with 460 points after helping the London club win the Champions League and his nation win the European Championship. Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema was fourth on 239.

Putellas helped Barca win the treble and scored 26 goals in 42 games overall. The midfielder netted in the Champions League final against Chelsea, and in August she was named UEFA women’s player of the year.

“I’m very emotional, it’s a very special moment,” she said at the Paris ceremony through a translator. “I would like to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current (Barcelona) teammates. For me it’s a collective success.”

The only previous women’s award winners are Norway striker Ada Hegerberg in 2018, and U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe in 2019.

Putellas tallied 186 points to finish far ahead of club and country teammate Jenni Hermoso on 84.

Hermoso netted 31 goals to top the Spanish first division scoring charts for a third straight season. Hermoso was joint-top scorer in the Champions League with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby on six goals.

Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr placed third in the voting after 21 goals in the English Women’s Super League and six for Australia at the Tokyo Games. Kerr has maintained her excellent form with 13 goals in 12 games this season.

Messi, meanwhile, counts two more Ballon d’Or awards than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sixth in the voting.

Messi’s staggering tally of 672 goals for Barcelona included an extraordinary 50-goal league season in 2012; 96 league goals across 2012 and 2013; eight Spanish league and six Champions League scoring titles.

In his final season with the Spanish giant he netted 38 overall, winning his last trophy with a superb performance in the Copa del Rey final. At the Copa America, Messi was inspirational, finishing joint-top scorer with four goals and leading with five assists.

Then he stunned the soccer world by joining Paris Saint-Germain.

He has made a modest start with four goals in nine games. But he remains a constant threat, even when he’s not in top form, as he showed on Sunday in a 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne where he set up all three goals.

In other awards, the Kopa Trophy for the best under 21 player went to 19-year-old Spain and Barcelona midfielder Pedri. He caught the eye at Euro 2020 and reached the Olympic final.

The Lev Yashin for best goalkeeper was won by Gianluigi Donnarumma, who helped Italy win the Euros.

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