The Sports Report: Dodgers shut down Cardinals
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
From Jack Harris: They were two of baseball’s biggest All-Star snubs.
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Now, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith are the Dodgers’ two hottest hitters.
“I don’t think that either player will admit it,” manager Dave Roberts said, “but anything a player can use to motivate them, to get through the grind of a season, I think is a benefit.”
It certainly benefitted the Dodgers on Thursday, when Freeman and Smith both continued their streaking form with two-hit games in the Dodgers 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
As Roberts suspected, each player brushed aside the notion that missing the All-Star Game has motivated them this week.
“Even going into that … I was starting to feel better and better,” said Freeman, who has been on a torrid pace since the All-Star teams were announced Sunday. “It just so happened to click on the same day.”
Echoed Smith: “No, I don’t think it was that. I try to go out there every day, same attitude, same mindset.”
Still, their recent tears are helping the Dodgers (58-30) reach the midseason break in a flurry, the team having now won four straight series and 13 of their last 15 games.
“Those guys use it, maybe, as a little fuel,” Roberts said. “And we’re the recipients.”
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From Sarah Valenzuela: The Home Run Derby bracket was announced on Thursday. Notably missing from that final list was Shohei Ohtani, who fans hoped would make another appearance at the All-Star week event.
The final spot went to Corey Seager of the Texas Rangers, who will make just his second Derby appearance since 2016, when he won National League Rookie of the Year as a Dodger.
Ohtani, on Wednesday, said he still had not made a decision whether or not to participate in this year’s Derby because he was unsure of how long he would play in the All-Star Game the next day.
With the Derby now settled, fans can continue to wait to learn when Ohtani will pitch and DH in All-Star Game.
On Thursday, before the Angels 3-2 extra-inning loss to the Houston Astros, American League All-Star Game manager Dusty Baker said Ohtani was willing to do whatever Baker wanted him to.
“I’m just glad he’s on my side for at least one day versus on the other side because, man, he can pitch,” Baker said.
From Kevin Baxter: Think of the CONCACAF W Championship as a game of musical chairs. It started last week with eight teams circling four seats, each one representing a spot in next summer’s World Cup.
Those have all been claimed.
Now the music picks up a bit and the pace gets a little quicker, because with wins in Thursday’s semifinals, the U.S. and Canada are the only teams still in the game. And the chair they’re circling represents the region’s lone automatic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Who gets that seat will be decided in Monday’s tournament final.
The top-ranked U.S., which, like Canada, has already clinched a spot in the World Cup, advanced with a 3-0 win over Costa Rica before a tiny crowd at massive Estadio Universitario. Canada, ranked sixth in the world, followed with a victory of its own over Jamaica.
The last time the teams met was in last summer’s Olympic semifinals, a game Canada won on its way to a gold medal. But for forward Alex Morgan, Monday’s rematch isn’t so much about settling scores from the last Olympics as it about qualifying for the next one.
“The rivalry has definitely heated up the last couple of years. But it’s really not about looking back, it’s about looking forward,” she said. “Look at this squad. There’s a lot of girls that weren’t even there last year.
“This will be an opportunity for us to punch our ticket to the Olympics [and] prove to ourselves and the world why we have that No. 1 ranking.”
From Sam Farmer: Tiger Woods loves the Old Course.
It doesn’t always love him back.
Thursday was one of those difficult days — far more tumultuous than the mild weather — as Woods caught a bad break right away then struggled to find his touch on the surprisingly sluggish greens, shooting a six-over-par 78 that puts him in peril of missing the cut at the British Open.
“Well, probably highest score as I could have shot,” he said after a round that included two bogeys and two double-bogeys in the first seven holes. “Didn’t get off to a great start. Hit a good tee shot down 1, ended up right in the middle of a fresh divot.”
The combination of an imperfect shot out of that divot, and a wall of wind caused him to one-hop his next shot into the Swilcan Burn that cuts across the course.
That was a bad omen for a player who has won two of his three Claret jugs at St. Andrews. He’s one of only two players to win multiple Opens there, along with Jack Nicklaus.
Woods had multiple three-putts and frequently came up short of the hole.
“I struggled with hitting the putts hard enough,” he said. “They looked faster than what they were putting, and I struggled with it.”
American Cameron Young had a day that was the polar opposite of the one Woods had, shooting a 64. Quite a debut. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that -8 was the lowest score in a player’s first British Open round since 1934.
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TRACK AND FIELD
From Andrew Greif: The acting president of Ukraine’s track and field federation logged into the Zoom meeting from his olive-green tent near the front lines, the country’s yellow and blue flag in the background.
Since the Feb. 24 invasion of Russian forces into Ukraine, in deadly hotspots including Bucha and Irpin, Yevhen Pronin’s nights are spent flying drones to gather reconnaissance on Russian positions, and his days are used to run his other jobs. By 9 a.m., he checks in remotely with his law office. Then the 31-year-old shifts his thoughts to running his country’s largest sports federation.
Since February, Pronin helped arrange evacuations through Europe for 320 track and field athletes, a number that did not include families or coaches. In March, he addressed a council of European track and field leaders in Munich. Then it was back to the battlefront, this time in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, tracking Russian troops that had reconvened and fortified their positions.
“I stay here because I know that we will win this war and everything will be OK,” Pronin said. “The question is the price of this victory.”
It’s a victory Pronin and his compatriots seek on two fronts, both militarily and symbolically. In a wounded country, he and other Ukrainian officials and athletes believe there is power in claiming territory, whether around battered cities or atop a track and field awards podium.
“If we win, if our sportsmen can do the interview, can bring up a flag, it’s a good position,” he said. “... I understand that it will be a big emotional signal for all of the world.”
It’s one Pronin and Ukrainian athletes hope to send again this week when the world’s outdoor track and field championships are held in the United States for the first time. Elite international competitions often attempt to frame themselves as safe spaces from politics, but what the world’s track and field fans see inside of Oregon’s Hayward Field will unmistakably reflect the events still unfolding half a world away.
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Some creative plays in MLB. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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