The Houston Astros extended their winning streak to 11 games on Friday night with a 6-1 victory against the Washington Nationals (box score). Houston is now tied with the New York Yankees for the longest winning streak in Major League Baseball this season. No other team has had a winning streak reach past seven yet.
The win also served as the 2,009th of Dusty Baker’s managerial career, surpassing Leo Durocher for 10th all-time:
The Astros jumped on the Nationals early, plating five runs in the top of the first inning. Jose Altuve opened the scoring with a solo home run, and from there Houston was off to the races. Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez both plated runs with base hits before Yuli Gurriel pushed Houston’s lead to 5-0 with a two-run home run. Alvarez later delivered a home run of his own to give the Astros an insurmountable 6-0 lead.
The Astros will attempt to stretch their winning streak to 12 on Saturday night as part of their three-game weekend set against the Nationals. Afterwards, Houston will wrap up its nine-game road trip with three in Boston against the Red Sox.
Coincidentally, the longest winning streak in Astros franchise history is 12, a number they’ve achieved three times. The most recent occasion came in June 2018, but the Astros also won a dozen consecutive in 2004 and 1999. At minimum, this will go down as the fourth time the Astros have won 11 games in a row; they accomplished the feat last summer, too, when they pulled off 11 consecutive in June.
The Astros’ victory ensures they’ll enter Saturday with sole possession of first place in the American League West.
The city of Rome is literally buzzing ahead of the UEFA Conference League’s final on Wednesday against Feyenoord. While this is Roma’s third appearance in a major UEFA final, and first for 31 years, it is Mourinho’s fifth. He has been triumphant in each of the previous four, with Porto in the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 UEFA Champions League, Inter in the 2010 UEFA Champions League and Manchester United in the 2017 UEFA Europa League. He has, however, lost two UEFA Super Cups. AS Roma might win their first trophy in almost thirteen years, after winning the 2007-2008 Coppa Italia under coach Luciano Spalletti they failed to lift another trophy. Giallorossi fans are excited and impatient for this match and Jose Mourinho knows that this game can completely change his impact at the club not only by bringing a trophy but also for building for the coming season. Let’s take a look at five players that might be crucial in the final that will take place in Tirana on Wednesday.
1. Nicola Zalewski — Fullback
At only twemty, Nicola Zalewski is definitely a player to watch. He was born in Italy, but opted to play for the Polish National Team, and the right fullback is probably the best job of player talent discovery Jose Mourinho has done this season at Roma. He started to play consistently in the second part of the season and became a starter while Arsenal loanee Maitland-Niles was benched by Mourinho. Zalewski is likely to start in the final against Feyenoord but he’s already one of the players who the Portuguese manager is counting on for next season as well. Until now he played 23 matches in all competitions and provided two assists to his teammates.
2. Gianluca Mancini — Center-back
This central defender is a crucial player for Jose Mourinho. Gianulca Mancini will be a starter against Feyenoord and he’s one of those players that are fundamental to what Roma do on the pitch as much for his attitude as his ability. He’s a player full of charisma and has played 45 games this season and scored one goal in the UEFA Conference League’s debut against CSKA Sofia. Mancini is definitely a player to watch and one of those that Mourinho can’t do without and despite interest from many European clubs, he’s set to stay in Rome in the summer.
3. Nicolò Zaniolo
It was a strange season at the end for Nicolò Zaniolo. He’s had some injuries but he was always at the center of the Mourinho’s project. However, he only scored seven goals in forty-one games in all competitions. The Special One needs to figure out how to get the best out of him also for the Conference League final and whether that means starting him or having him as an option off the bench. The club will also have a meeting with his agent at the end of the season to clarify his future, considering that the talks over a new contract have stalled. Juventus and other European clubs are interested on him, but every decision is now postponed after Tirana’s final.
4. Lorenzo Pellegrini
One of the most iconic players on the current roster, Lorenzo Pellegrini is Roma’s captain and definitely a player that can decide the final against Feyenoord. This season he’s scored 14 goals in 40 matches, and provided eight assists in all competitions. He’s now the face and the symbol of the club, a player that Jose Mourinho desperately needs. He’s a good shooter, but also a key tactical player in the middle of the pitch. He knows when to defend but also he’s a consistent attacking midfielder. One of those that can be crucial during a European final.
5. Tammy Abraham
Lastly, who else? Tammy Abraham has been the most impressive player of Roma’s season. He scored 27 goals in 52 matches in all competitions and proved to be one of the best strikers in Serie A. Also, he’s one of the idols of the fans. He’s in love with the city and with the fans, who showed him all their support during the season. After winning the Champions League’s final with Chelsea against Manchester City in 2021, he wants now to win a second European final one year later. He will absolutely be one of the main characters of this UEFA Conference League’s first ever final. Roma fans hope he will come back from Tirana with the trophy as well.
I’ve said plenty of times that it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. But a start like theCeltics had last night certainly helps a lot. Boston jumped out to an absurd 18-1 lead (not a typo) and never looked back, beating the Heat 102-82 to even the series at two games apiece.
There’s not really a whole lot for me to add here. Miami never got anything going on offense. The Heat’s first field goal came with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. The 18 points by starters are fewest in a playoff game since starters began being tracked in the 1970-71 season.
Sure, Miami missed some looks it normally makes, but Boston’s defensive masterpiece was the story of the night. A pivotal Game 5 is tomorrow night back in Miami.
… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
There hasn’t been a three-peat in the NHL since the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983. The Lightning are eight wins away from changing that. Tampa Bay dispatched Florida 2-0 last night to finish off a dominant series sweep.
Pat Maroon gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Ondrej Palat‘s empty-netter sealed the deal.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was an absolute star with 49 saves in the shutout. For the series, he allowed just three goals on 154 shots, an absurd 0.981 save percentage.
The Lightning have won 10 straight playoff series.
Tampa Bay will face the winner of the Rangers and Hurricanes next. Carolina leads that series, 2-1.
The Panthers reached historic highs this regular season.
The first Presidents’ Trophy (most regular-season points) in franchise history
Most wins in franchise history (58)
An NHL salary cap-era record 331 goals
And it’s all gone in the blink of an eye. After beating the Capitals in six not-so-convincing games in the first round, the Panthers simply could not get anything going against the Lightning. Yes, teams run into hot goalies in the playoffs, and Vasilevskiy is scorching. But to lose in four games to an in-state rival with your best players silenced is never a good feeling.
Here are a couple of stats that will blow your mind.
The Panthers averaged4.1 goals per game during the regular season. They scored three goals total in this four-game series.
It’s tied for the fifth-fewest goals ever in a four-game playoff series.
This also keeps alive a startling streak: No Presidents’ Trophy winner has won the Stanley Cup since 2013. The Panthers created plenty of noise this regular season, but their season ended with barely a whimper.
Not so honorable mentions
MLB Power Rankings: Yankees stay at No. 1 ⚾
Another new week means a new version of our baseball reporter Matt Snyder’s MLB Power Rankings. While there’s plenty of movement near the top, it’s the same squad at the top: the Yankees.
Snyder: “In dropping the doubleheader to the White Sox on Sunday, that’s just the second Yankees series loss of the year and the first since they were 5-5. It happens.”
Here’s the entire top five:
1. Yankees (prev: 1)
2. Dodgers (prev: 5)
3. Padres (prev: 6)
4. Astros (prev: 2)
5. Mets (prev: 4)
If there’s anything to damper Yankees’ fans’ spirits, it’s that their arch rivals made the biggest jump in this week’s rankings: The Red Sox are up from 21st to 14th.
Snyder: “Here they come? That’s five in a row, eight of 10 and they have regained their swagger.”
When it comes to regaining swagger, Trevor Story has regained his. Here are his numbers over the last 10 games:
Six home runs
11 runs scored
Kylian Mbappé details decision to stay at PSG in exclusive interview ⚽
On Saturday, PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé shocked the soccer world, announcing he would be staying with the club instead of heading to Real Madrid.
Romano:“In order to join a new club, you obviously need to put pen to paper. And that’s where, in retrospect, things never fully materialized for Real Madrid. Mbappé and his family never signed an official document or contract with Real Madrid. They only held negotiations for a contract discussed verbally. That’s because on Monday Mbappé was in Qatar and his new camp contacts with Paris Saint-Germain changed everything.”
Then, yesterday, Mbappé sat down with CBS Sports’ Jonathan Johnson for an exclusive interview regarding the decision. He answered a ton of difficult questions and said he ultimately stayed with PSG because it allows him to stay in his home country. There’s a ton of insightful stuff here.
Tim Connelly, the Nuggets‘ president of basketball operations, is taking the same position with the Timberwolves. Connelly, who had been in Denver since 2013, received a five-year, $40-million deal from Minnesota and also ownership equity in the team.
Connelly’s list of accomplishments starts with his finds in the draft:
Those four are among the key core for a Nuggets team that’s expected to contend for titles with Murray and Porter Jr. back healthy. Still, it’s a big offseason with Jokic supermax extension-eligible and several players potentially hitting free agency. General manager Calvin Booth is expected to take over Connelly’s position in the Mile High City.
As for Minnesota, this is a huge move. The money being given to Connelly says as much. With a strong young core featuringKarl-Anthony Towns andAnthony Edwards (and maybe D’Angelo Russell), the future should be bright in Minnesota. Connelly’s track record suggests he will capitalize on it.
Breakout players for the 2022 NFL season 🏈
We’re now nearly a month removed from the NFL Draft and even further removed from the height of free agency. With OTAs upon us, it’s time to identify some breakout candidates for the 2022 NFL season.
La Canfora:“I love the track team assembled around Tua Tagovailoa. I buy that this young QB is in fact the same kid who set records at Alabama and had teams tanking for him. The madness of playing under dueling offensive coordinators — or mystery coordinators or whatever the hell Brian Flores was trying to do on the offensive staff — is behind him. It’s a fresh start under Mike McDaniel. The pass-catchers will get a ton of YAC. The offensive line is much improved. They will run the ball. Tua won’t have to be super flashy to be very effective. I like the fit.”
I’ll put it this way: Considering the additions of Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, Terron Armstead, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, if Tagovailoa doesn’t make a leap forward in 2022, Miami could be looking for a new quarterback next season.
Chris Broussard tells Nick Wright what he expects from Russell Wilson as the Denver Broncos prepare to take on his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, for the season opener. Russ says that while Seattle will have a special plate in his heart forever, he explains that he will be going into this matchup with no emotion.