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Kikuchi still struggling, Springer ‘managing’ pain as Blue Jays fall to Orioles

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TORONTO – George Springer doesn’t suddenly feel like a new man after a 10-day stint on the injured list and a cortisone shot into his troublesome right elbow.

The Toronto Blue Jays centre-fielder feels better than he did a couple of weeks back when every throw and swing seemed to leave him in agony. But he’s still talking about “managing” the issue and using the phrase “it is what it is” often enough that it’s clear the issue very much is not behind him.

“I’ve got to do a better job of hiding it,” Springer said of the visible pain he was in before the IL stint. “That’s my goal – just go out there and play. It doesn’t feel good, but there’s nobody on the field at this point on either side that actually feels good. So, oh well.”

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The gist is that he simply plans to make do with what his body allows, a reality the Blue Jays have had to come to terms with as his elbow issues grew from June irritation to current problem. By using him at DH for the time being, even with the corollary lineup issues it causes, they can still field their best batting order more often.

“I’m not going to let it stop me – I’m going to go play,” said Springer. “We’ve just got to get to the end of the year and we’ll address stuff then.”

So while the resolution there can wait, far more urgent for the Blue Jays is what to do with the ever-confounding Yusei Kikuchi, who again left them with more questions than answers by allowing six runs, three earned, in a 7-3 drubbing Monday from the Baltimore Orioles.

The loss, a seventh in nine outings, was the type of maddening affair that have become all too customary in the left-hander’s starts. He looked strong out of the gate and deserved better in a first when an Anthony Santander single cashed a bloop Ryan McKenna double just beyond Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s reach down the right-field line.

Perhaps he could even be forgiven for Blue Jays nemesis Ryan Mountcastle’s two-run homer in the third, although a two-out walk to Santander that preceded it was avoidable.

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But a messy three-run fourth that allowed the game to unravel, immediately after the Blue Jays had rallied for a pair on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s two-run single in the third that cut Baltimore’s lead to 3-2, was far too familiar.

A one-out Bo Bichette error on a Jorge Mateo grounder that took a strange hop started the trouble, but rather than picking up his teammate, Kikuchi kept digging the whole deeper. He walked Terrin Vavra. He made a senseless pickoff attempt at second base that ended up in the outfield and advanced the runners. A Tyler Nevin fielder’s choice brought in one run. McKenna’s RBI double brought in another and ended his night. An Adley Rutschman sacrifice fly off Trevor Richards closed the book on his night.

With Ross Stripling due to return from the injured list Wednesday, the Blue Jays suddenly have options in the rotation thanks to Mitch White, a clever trade deadline addition who’s impressed in two starts thus far. While he’s not fully built up and for the moment may be a twice-through-the-order type of guy, running with him is a possibility the club is sure to consider.

Telling is that when asked if White, who started Saturday, could be used out of the bullpen in the coming days, interim manager John Schneider said, “at this point, probably not. … Things can change in a hurry. But I think at this point, probably, no, we’re comfortable with the length (in the bullpen) that we do have.”

Fair, and with White groomed with the Dodgers to fill a Stripling-esque swingman role, the possibility of creative usages exists. And worth keeping in mind is that there’s no real starting depth behind White, so if something happens elsewhere in the rotation, the Blue Jays are pretty naked.

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At the same time, it’s impossible to ignore that they’re now 6-14 in the 20 games started by Kikuchi. Constantly digging out of big holes is a tough way to hit and for a Blue Jays offence still trying to click back in, the constant need to rally during the current skid isn’t helping things.

Some signs of improvement there were visible Monday.

In the third, after a Danny Jansen walk and Springer put men at second and third, a frustrated Guerrero threw his hands up after fouling off an 0-1 fastball from Kyle Bradish but fought back to work a walk that loaded the bases and set the stage for Gurriel’s two-run single.

Guerrero also homered in the fifth while the Blue Jays put two on against tough closer Felix Bautista in the ninth. Still, the type of sustained relentless approach they need at the plate was still absent.

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Aside from the double, Springer also singled and walked, suggesting that he can still be a significant catalyst for a team that needs something to spark them from their current funk. A year ago at this time, the Blue Jays were in the midst of a 4-10 stretch that threatened their season but they righted themselves then and must trust in that again now.

“There’s no substitute for experience,” he said. “We went through it a little bit last year as a team, to kind of understand what it’s like to play in these types of games this late in the season and it’s only going to get more intense as we go. I think we’re in a much better spot just from an experience standpoint. …

“I’m not really overly concerned. We have was lost 50 games left or whatever it is. But we understand as a group what has to get done. You can’t try to be somebody that you’re not or be something that you’re not because then you’re just going to attempt to do something you don’t know how to do. So just be ourselves and we’ll see what happens.”



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World Cup's 101 Most Memorable Moments: Croatia's Cinderella story

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Luka Modrić led Croatia to a storybook run at the 2018 World Cup. This is moment No. 48.



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3 NFL Teams Likely Headed Towards A Losing Season

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(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

 

As week four of the NFL season comes to a close, several NFL teams are doing poorly this season.

While some of those teams can rebound, others might have no hope for a better season.

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However, there are three teams who are clearly heading towards a losing season in 2022.

So who are those teams, and why will they have a losing record in 2022?

 

3. New England Patriots

While head coach Bill Belichick might hate to admit it, the New England Patriots miss Tom Brady.

The team is off to their second consecutive 1-3 start to a season, which doesn’t bode well for Belichick.

However, the Patriots won’t rebound this season like they did in 2021.

While Brady helped them rebound in 2001, and Mac Jones in 2021, they have neither QB currently.

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Brady is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Jones is out with an ankle injury.

But his injury, and timetable for return, is still unknown.

With him out, and now with the team’s backup QB out, the Patriots are in danger of starting 1-4.

Unless Jones can return, and give Belichick a miracle season, the Patriots might have their first losing season in over 20 years.

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2. Detroit Lions

Lions’ fans had so much hope for the 2022 season.

However, the team continues to disappoint, which is nothing new for the franchise.

The team started the season with an attempted late quarter comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles.

But their attempt to defeat the Eagles fell short.

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In week four, the Lions allowed 48 points to the Seattle Seahawks, a team who’s seen as one in a rebuilding season.

The worst part about the loss was how the Seahawks had zero punts in that game, with their drives resulting in five touchdowns.

While the Seahawks were posting records, the Lions defense was a wreck.

Rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, who some see as the savior of the Lions defense, has been a disappointment.

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Outside his one good game against the Washington Commanders, he has 6 tackles and zero sacks in his three other games, with four of the tackles being assisted.

While injuries are plaguing the team, they have no answers to improve their 2022 season.

 

1. Houston Texans

The Houston Texans are the only NFL team remaining that’s yet to win a game.

However, with them trading Deshaun Watson, and not getting a QB to replace him, it’s not odd to see them as a winless team.

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While the team has some good things going for them, they won’t have a winning season.

They are too far gone, despite their solid pass defense that held Russell Wilson to only 14 completions.

But even with a solid pass defense, they struggle because of their poor run defense.

If they could fix that, it gives the Texans hope they can win games.

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However, it won’t be until next season that they will probably improve that run stop game.

That means this season will be another lost season for the Texans.

With the way they are going, they are leading the pack for the worst record in 2022.

The post 3 NFL Teams Likely Headed Towards A Losing Season appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Albert Pujols hits his 703rd career home run, passing Babe Ruth for second-most career RBIs in MLB history

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St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols hits his 703rd career home run, passing Babe Ruth for second-most career RBIs in MLB history.



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