Connect with us


Red Sox falter late in crushing Game 4 loss to Astros, ALCS now tied 2-2



Red Sox falter late in crushing Game 4 loss to Astros, ALCS now tied 2-2

With a one-run lead into the late innings on Tuesday night, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had a plan of attack, his two best pitchers rested and ready, needing six outs from them to take a commanding lead in this American League Championship Series.

The Houston Astros, however, had other plans.

Leading narrowly all night, the Red Sox had little margin for error that not even Garrett Whitlock or Nathan Eovaldi could protect them from. One game-tying home run and one stunning ninth-inning implosion later, the Red Sox suddenly found themselves deadlocked in the ALCS, tied two games a piece after a crushing 9-2 loss to the Astros in Tuesday night’s Game 4 at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox will now turn to Chris Sale for a pivotal Game 5 on Wednesday night, needing a big performance from him to put them back in front of this series before it shifts back to Houston.

With a 2-1 lead going into the seventh, Cora turned to Whitlock, his most reliable pitcher all season. A scoreless seventh put them six outs away from being one win away from the World Series. But that’s when it all went wrong.

The Red Sox, 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position to that point, had it catch up to them. Jose Altuve hammered the first pitch of the eighth into the Monster seats to tie it, suddenly taking all the air out of Fenway. Then, they started emptying the ballpark. In the ninth, Cora went to Eovaldi, who gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Correa that just got over Hunter Renfroe’s head in right. But the right-hander nearly — and should have — walked away unblemished.

After striking out both Kyle Tucker and Aledmys Diaz, Eovaldi had a 1-2 count on Jason Castro. His fourth pitch of the at-bat, a breaking ball that painted the outside corner, had Eovaldi taking at least three steps to the dugout thinking he had strike three. But home plate umpire Laz Diaz ruled it a ball.

Two pitches later, Castro took advantage of his second life as he sent a 2-2 splitter into the gap in right for the go-ahead run. Instead of a tied game with the Red Sox having a chance to walk off, the Astros had a lead and never gave it up. Eovaldi walked Altuve, ending his night, and Martin Perez was asked to keep it a one-run game. But his first pitch was crushed by Michael Brantley for a three-run double that ended any hopes of a comeback.

The beginning of Game 4 carried over a familiar theme as the first three games of this series, with the Red Sox chasing another Astros starting pitcher out of the game early. This time, it was Zack Greinke’s turn.

Astros manager Dusty Baker, given how his starting arms have given almost nothing, wanted Greinke to go as long as he could go. But he only gave him four outs.

Alex Bregman hit a high-arching fly ball off Pivetta that finally landed in the Monster seats to give the Astros a much-needed 1-0 lead. It was the first time the Red Sox trailed in this series since Game 1, but it didn’t last long.

After Rafael Devers induced a two-out walk, a quieted Fenway crowd started getting loud. They attempted to get into the Astros’ starter’s head with recurring chants of “Greeeinke!” as Xander Bogaerts stepped up to the plate, and they were rewarded for their efforts. Bogaerts drove Greinke’s 1-0 slider deep into the Boston night, clearing everything in left field and somewhere on Lansdowne Street for the go-ahead two-run homer.

The blast was the Red Sox’ 21st homer of the postseason, setting a record for most ever in a playoff run previously held by the 2003 team.

Somehow, that score held up for six innings as, unlike in Monday’s Game 4, the Red Sox missed on a series of big opportunities. They put a runner on in each inning from the second to sixth, but couldn’t cash in.

Greinke left with one out and one on in the second, but with two on base after a Kyle Schwarber walk, the Red Sox couldn’t rally.

In the third, with a runner on, J.D. Martinez struck out on a poorly missed strike three call, which should have been ball four, by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, which earned the ire of Martinez and Alex Cora, who was emotional in his argument.

In the fourth, Christian Arroyo hit a one-out triple to the right-field corner, but Schwarber grounded out with the Astros’ infield in, and Kiké Hernández popped out.

Bogaerts hit a one-out double in the fifth that nearly missed being a homer, and he couldn’t get in either.

The Red Sox finished the night 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

google news


Biden re-election poll shows dismal 22% support; Harris even worse at 12%



Biden re-election poll shows dismal 22% support; Harris even worse at 12%

The numbers are cringeworthy — 22% and 12%.

That’s the support for President Biden and his VP Kamala Harris in an I&I/TIPP poll that asked who would you vote for in the 2024 election. Even if you doubt the veracity of all this polling, these are poor numbers.

The only good news for Biden, the survey adds, is “no favorite has emerged among the large field of potential challengers to run against Biden in the 2024 primaries.”

But the sinking survey results are not out of the norm. A Wall Street Journal poll out Tuesday pegged Biden’s approval rating at a dismal 41%. Rasmussen had it at 42%.

Congress, however, was at 22% in the Journal poll, but that’s another story.

“It’s undeniable. Joe Biden is hurting in the polls right now and it’s due to a number of factors,” said Erin O’Brien, associate professor of political science at UMass Boston.

Those factors, she said, include the nagging pandemic, soaring inflation, lingering doubts about Biden’s foreign policy chops after the botched pullout from Kabul and lingering legislation.

The Journal adds that with Biden flatlining in the polls, he won’t be in a position to help Democrats fighting to keep their jobs in the midterms.

This comes as Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, where the split is 221-213, and in the Senate, at 50-50, but with Harris as the tiebreaker.

Support for former President Donald Trump remains strong among those loyal to him, so that also could be reflected in the polling that shows Biden needs to rebound or it will be too late to get much done in the second half of his tenure.

Now Biden faces a new challenge.

He held a video conference Tuesday with Russia’s Vladimir Putin over Russian troops heading toward the Ukrainian border.

Just hours before the call got underway, the Associated Press reported that Ukrainian officials charged Russia was continuing to escalate the crisis by sending tanks and snipers to war-torn eastern Ukraine to “provoke return fire.”

Republicans are watching to see how Biden fares, considering how poorly his administration handled withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It’s all showing in the polls, with the Journal adding 63% of voters said the country had gone off-track, with just 27% saying the nation was on the right course. Some 61% said the economy was headed in the wrong direction.

google news
Continue Reading


Cam Talbot shines as Wild top Oilers 4-1 for seventh straight win



Cam Talbot shines as Wild top Oilers 4-1 for seventh straight win

EDMONTON — The last time Cam Talbot faced the Edmonton Oilers, he was throwing punches at center ice with Oilers goaltender Mike Smith in an infamous brawl in a Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Flames and Oilers, two seasons ago that made highlight reels all across North America.

On Tuesday night, Talbot made the highlight reel for all the reasons he’s paid for. Stopping pucks.

The former Oilers goaltender was spectacular, making 38 saves as the Wild beat Edmonton 4-1 at Rogers Place.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Victor Rask and Dmitry Kulikov tallied for the Wild, while Jesse Puljujarvi scored the lone marker for the Oilers as Minnesota extended its win-streak to seven games, while the Oilers have dropped three straight contests.

The Wild improve to 18-6-1 and remain in top spot in the Central division.

“I’ve been back in this building a couple of times, but never got the start,” Talbot said. “It’s nice, this place will always have a place in our heart, we started our family here and it was a great building to play in and I still have a lot of great friends here. It’s one of those things where you look to come back here every time and it’s even more fun when you get a big win.

“I can’t say enough about the way we closed out the game. You don’t want to have lulls in the game, but give the guys credit, they just found a way to battle and win the hockey game.”

The Wild’s special teams haven’t been great this season, but they clearly won the special teams battle against Edmonton, which boasts the league’s best power play and its penalty kill is in the top-5.

Minnesota scored once on the power play and denied the Oilers potent power play on all five of their opportunities.

“Our penalty kill was outstanding tonight, I can’t say enough about them,” said Talbot, who is 2-0 in three appearances since being dealt away from the Oilers two seasons ago. “We weren’t giving them those Grade A chances that they’re accustomed to, and with the statistics coming in you wouldn’t think the power-play match-up would favor us, but we got a big one (power play goal) early, and our penalty kill did a great job, so give our special teams a ton of credit tonight.”

The Oilers have been notoriously slow starters out of the gate, giving up the first goal in 14 of the team’s first 23 games, and the Wild made it 15 as Eriksson Ek scored a power-play marker just 1:11 into the contest.

They went up 2-0 just 6:03 later as Foligno buried a cross-ice feed from Matt Dumba.

Edmonton’s high-octane offence, led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl got rolling in the second period as they put all kinds of pressure on the Wild, who continue to play without top defenseman and captain Jared Spurgeon, but the Oilers were only able to cut their deficit in half, despite outshooting Minnesota 20-6 in the middle frame.

“They played really well in the second period, but we really liked our regroup and how we played in the third period. We did a lot of real, real good things,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “They’re going to get shots and to not give that second and third gritty ones to them. Obviously Draisaitl and McDavid are special players. They’re going to get their opportunities to shoot pucks, but it’s that second and third one, that not only did Cam do a good job of smothering, but our second forward, we got pucks the heck out of that area, so they didn’t have more opportunities like that.”

Talbot made several big saves in the second period. He robbed Draisaitl with a left pad save as the former Hart Trophy winner tried to beat him with a one-timer, backdoor. In the final minute of the period, he stretched out to make a right pad save off of Tyson Barrie, who was wide open in the slot.

But his best save came early in the third when he dove across to deny Darnell Nurse of the tying goal.

“I knew that he was there, but obviously you have to stay patient with the guy in the slot first,” recalled Talbot. “But our guy did a good job of going down and taking away the lower part of the net, and I was able to see the pass right away and I knew Nurse was down there and I just tried to get everything in front of it.”

Moments after the big save off Nurse, the Wild scored on a delayed penalty as Victor Rask scored his fourth goal of the season to give Minnesota some breathing room and then Kulikov showed off some slick hands on a breakaway goal to give the Wild a 4-1 lead with 5:03 remaining to put the game away.

google news
Continue Reading


Ellison: State, localities reach agreement on distributing $300M in opioid settlement



Ellison: State, localities reach agreement on distributing $300M in opioid settlement

Minnesota moved another step closer this week to unlocking roughly $300 million from a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and the three major U.S. drug distributors in connection to the nation’s opioid painkiller addiction crisis.

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Monday that the state had reached an agreement with Minnesota counties and cities on how to distribute the state’s share of a pending $26 billion national settlement agreement. The state and local governments had to reach an agreement by Jan. 2, 2022, in order to maximize the amount they receive from the national settlement.

Municipal governments will receive 75% of the settlement funds while the state will receive 25% to help pay for opioid addiction treatment and prevention. The most recent estimate from Ellison’s office projects Minnesota state and local governments will receive $296 million over the next 18 years.

The settlement agreement with Johnson & Johnson and the “big three” drug distributors — Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — is just one of several fronts in ongoing nationwide litigation against drug makers, marketers and wholesalers in connection to an epidemic of opioid painkiller addiction across the U.S.

The settlement stems from investigations by state attorneys general from across the U.S. into whether the distributors failed to screen and stop suspicious drug orders, and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid painkillers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 38 people died a day in 2019 of prescription opioid overdoses, totaling about 14,000 deaths. Lawsuits filed against drug makers such as Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, estimate hundreds of thousands of Americans died of opioid painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2015, while millions became addicted. About 5,500 Minnesotans died as a result of the addiction crisis, Ellison said.

In a statement issued with Ellison’s announcement, Pat Baustian, president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and mayor of Luverne, noted the addiction epidemic’s “devastating impact on families and communities throughout Greater Minnesota,” and expressed appreciation for the state’s efforts to cooperate with local governments on distributing the funds.

“Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of life, the funding from these national settlement agreements will help our communities provide services and resources to address this crisis,” Baustian said.

The state settlement fund will be overseen and distributed by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, according to Ellison’s office. Under current state law, the state opioid abatement fund distributes to local governments, but the agreement between the state and local governments requires the parties to change the law in the 2022 legislative session, according to Ellison’s office.

The local government abatement fund created by the settlement money will be allocated to all counties that participated in the settlement. It will also include municipalities that have a population of 30,000 or more, have a public health department or filed a lawsuit against the defendants in the settlement.

google news
Continue Reading