Urban: NLCS Playoff Blog, Game 6


Urban: NLCS Playoff Blog, Game 6

Oct. 23, 2010


UPDATED: 7:25 P.M.
Mychael Urban

PHILADELPHIA-- And now its crystal clear: The Giants and Phillies cant stand each other, and the National League Championship Series is better for it.

The first three games played out without much emotional incident, but everything changed with Juan Uribes game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 4.

The Phillies were not phond of Uribes little bat flip, and a few players told me they werent all that big on Aubrey Huffs triumphant pose upon scoring the winning run.

Then came the Game 5 stare-downs between Pat Burrell and Roy Halladay, who glared at each other from across the diamond like gunslingers at 50 paces.

Game 6, of course, brought the previously blogged-about Jonathan SanchezChase Utley dustup, and just moments ago we saw Roy Oswalt cast a highly disapproving glance at Edgar Renteria, who tried to sell a fairly obvious foul ball as a hit-by-pitch.

Playoff baseball with an edge. Rare but welcome.

UPDATED: 6:22 P.M.
The Jonathan Sanchez who used to aggravate Giants fans to no end showed up tonight, and it wasnt pretty. In the biggest game of his life, he could neither control his pitches or his emotions.After giving up a pair of runs in the first inning, in large part the result of a one-out walk and a wild pitch, Sanchez cruised through the second inning but came apart at the seams in the third.It was a shutdown inning for the Giants, who had tied the game in the top of the frame, but all Sanchez did was shut down his own night when the better route would have been to shut up.First, he issued a leadoff walk during which he appeared in desperate need of a GPS to find the strike zone. Then he drilled Chase Utley in the upper back, and when the ball bounced high in the air and back up next to Utley as he made his way to first base, Phillys All-Star second baseman casually flipped the ball in Sanchezs direction. Was it necessary? Not really. But it wasnt malicious or totally out of line. If anything, it was something along the lines of, Is this yours? You seem to have lost it.But Sanchez couldnt let it go. Just had to say something. So when Utley reached first base, Sanchez told him what he thought of the toss. Apparently he thought it was bull droppings, but with a different word instead of droppings.Surprised that hed been called out, Utley said, Whats bulldroppings?And thats all it took. Sanchez took a few steps toward first, and suddenly both benches were empty. No punches were thrown, of course. Rare is the bench-clearing in baseball that results in anything more than a push here, a shove there, perhaps a recipe or two exchanged on the sly.But Sanchez kept everyone on the field by continuing to make a scene of himself, and that was all Giants manager Bruce Bochy had to see. He pulled his starter right then and there. So heres the recap. Sanchez lost his command, lost his composure and lost his shot at leading his team into history. Embarrassing.UPDATED: 2:30 P.M.The lineups for Game 6 of the NLCS have been posted, and theres atleast one spot in each thats second-guessable before the game evenstarts.For the Phillies, its moving Jimmy Rollins back to the top of the order, up from sixth.Makes sense from here. Rollins has been swinging the bat quite a bitbetter over the past few days, and he had a huge game here in Game 2.Hes also a potential beast on the bases, and Jonathan Sanchez isntexactly a savant when it comes to controlling the running game.As for the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy has decided to go with EdgarRenteria and Juan Uribe on the left side of the infield instead ofgiving Pablo Sandoval another start at third base.A few different forces at work here. The RenteriaUribe combo is betterdefensively, Renteria has better career numbers against Philliesstarter Roy Oswalt than does Sandoval, and Bochy, as we all know, loveshim some veterans. And Sandovals home-road splits are jarring in favor of home.That said, Sandoval swings much better from the left side than theright, and facing Oswalt would have him in the left box. Theres alsothe charge factor, as in Sandoval seems to put a charge into the restof the Giants when he has a big day.Uribe in the lineup is a no-brainer. Renteria? Far from it.

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles

A's give up four home runs, drop series opener to Orioles


BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones called it a game the Baltimore Orioles needed to win.

The center fielder set the early tone, and the rest of the team followed his lead.

Jones hit a pair of home runs, Jonathan Schoop added a three-run shot and Baltimore beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Monday night. The Orioles won for the second time in six games, but they are still in the thick of the wild-card race.

"Adam's done that a lot and it never goes unnoticed or unappreciated or assumed, more importantly," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Jon obviously had a big blow there, but can't tell you how hard it is, as hard as Adam plays as long as he plays, and then mid-to-late August you're still able to do that. That's one of the things that separates Adam."

Wade Miley (7-10) held the A's to two runs, five hits and four walks over six-plus innings to pick up his first win at Camden Yards since June 17. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA against Oakland this season.

Jones tied a career high with four hits and is one home run shy of reaching 25 for the seventh consecutive season. Zach Britton got the final out with two runners on for his 11th save this season and his 60th in a row.

Baltimore beat Chris Smith (0-3) for the second time in 12 days. Smith allowed five runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings - his shortest start of the season. He was pulled after allowing Schoop's three-run homer, which made it 5-1. Ryan Dull entered and allowed another homer by Jones.

"I always feel strong at this time of the season," Jones said. "It's called pacing myself. I've learned how to pace myself over the years."

Jed Lowrie homered for the A's, and Boog Powell hit his first career home run in the eighth inning, appropriately enough doing so in Baltimore, where an unrelated Boog Powell slugged 303 home runs and won the 1970 MVP.

"It didn't seem real," said Powell, who made his major league debut earlier this season with Seattle and was acquired in a trade earlier this month for Yonder Alonso.

The younger Powell is expected to meet his namesake for the first time Tuesday, according to

Welington Castillo responded for Baltimore with a solo home run in the eighth off Michael Brady that provided the 7-3 lead.

Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI double by Matt ChapmanChad Pinder was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on the play.

The Orioles tied it in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo. Jones led off the fourth with a homer and Baltimore never trailed again.

"He's a good hitter for a reason. It's tough," Smith said about Jones. "You try to attack his zones, and it seems like I make a good pitch and he breaks his bat but he finds somehow to put it in the outfield."

Manny Machado became the third Oriole to earn AL Player of the Week honors this season, joining Schoop (July 23) and Tim Beckham (Aug. 7). Machado batted .385 (10 for 26) with four home runs and 12 RBIs over six games.

Athletics: C Bruce Maxwell, who took a foul ball off his face mask Saturday at Houston, did not start for the second consecutive game. He entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh and went 0 for 2. . SS Marcus Semien left in the seventh with a wrist injury.

Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy (wrist) went 0 for 3 with a walk on Monday in his first rehabilitation game with Triple-A Norfolk.

Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 3.46 ERA) received a no-decision after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone appearance against Baltimore on Aug. 11.

Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8, 6.47 ERA) struggled in his previous outing against Seattle, when he was charged with six runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. He is 4-1 with a 4.70 ERA in eight career starts against Oakland.

Day after retiring, Anquan Boldin challenges owners, execs to help protesting players


Day after retiring, Anquan Boldin challenges owners, execs to help protesting players

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Anquan Boldin didn't decide overnight he was going to quit football in order to speak out against longstanding concerns over inequality in America.

The recent deadly and racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, did, however, become the tipping point that caused Boldin to reassess his priorities and led to the Buffalo Bills receiver's decision to retire after 14 NFL seasons.

"I think anybody with any sense can see how divided we are as a country, and Charlottesville only magnified what we were already seeing," Boldin told The Associated Press by phone Monday.

He was disturbed by the hateful messages directed at African-Americans, Jewish people and the LGBT community during a rally involving neo-Nazis and other right-wing groups in which a counter-protester was killed and two Virginia state police officers died on Aug. 13.

"That's not the America that I want to live in," he said. "And I think the only way that this America changes is that we as a people stand up and change it."

Boldin spoke a day after abruptly informing the Bills he was retiring some two weeks after signing a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.75 million.

The NFL's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Boldin is no stranger to activism and humanitarian causes. He oversees the South Florida-based Q81 Foundation, which offers educational support for underprivileged children.

He has lobbied for criminal justice reform at the state and federal levels since his cousin was killed by a plain-clothes police officer along the side of a Florida highway in October 2015.

Difficult as it was to walk away from football, Boldin felt he could no longer stand silent on the sideline.

"There's not enough money in this world for me to continue to allow the things that are going on to continue to spread," the 36-year-old father of two boys said.

"I will not feel safe leaving this earth and having my kids have to live in the America that we have today."

Boldin then challenged NFL owners and executives to use their clout to demand change and back many of their players who are already doing so by protesting during the anthem.

"You have your players crying out for help. That's the reason why guys are taking knees during the anthem," he said.

"Just because we're professional athletes doesn't mean we're exempt from the things that go on in society," Boldin said, noting his position as an athlete couldn't save his cousin from being shot.

"If I'm an owner and I see one of my family members - players - hurting, I'd do whatever I can to make sure that my family is OK."

Boldin's decision to retire coincides with what he witnessed during the anthem before Buffalo's preseason game at Philadelphia on Thursday. Eagles defensive end Chris Long showed his support by putting his arm around cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who stood in silent protest with a raised fist. Bills backup lineman Cameron Jefferson was so inspired by what he saw that he also raised his fist on Buffalo's sideline.

Boldin ranks in the top four among active receivers with 1,076 catches, 13,779 yards receiving and 82 touchdowns receiving.

He spent last season with Detroit, where he had 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games.

The former Florida State star spent his first seven NFL seasons with Arizona, then played three years with Baltimore and three with San Francisco. He helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in February 2013.

Lions safety Glover Quin credited his former teammate for having the courage for ending his career while knowing he can "have a bigger impact to do something else."

"I tip my hat to him," said Quin, one of several NFL players who joined Boldin in addressing Congress last year. "One day, we'll be able to look back on it and say, `That was the start of something great.'"

A day later, Boldin feels he made the right choice and pays no mind to those who suggest he simply stick to sports.

"I think it's absurd to tell a person to stick to playing football when the issues that he's talking about are affecting him," he said.

Earlier in the day in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boldin said his decision to retire had nothing to do with the Bills trading their top receiving threat, Sammy Watkins, in a pair of blockbuster deals on Aug. 11 , or how the team's offense struggled in a 20-16 preseason loss at Philadelphia.

He also discounted the notion he might reconsider retirement and choose to play for a contender later this season.

"Do I feel like I can still play? Of course," Boldin said. "My passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs football at this point, so I'm not coming back to play for a contender or to do anything else. I'm done with the game of football."