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Padres Insider Declares The Obvious After Another Win

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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

 

The San Diego Padres were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend, with their new deadline additions already in the lineup.

The team, however, has responded nicely after those three losses, and have taken two straight games against the San Francisco Giants to regain some ground in the standings.

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Things, as a whole, are starting to look up: San Diego has an incredible rotation and a good pitching staff overall.

The offense was a problem they needed to address at the deadline, and they did it.

Now, despite a few stumbles here and there, they look like a contender, and are well positioned to make some noise in October,

“Final: Padres 13, Giants 7. The Padres traded for Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury, and — gasp! — their offense got a lot better. (You don’t say!) Slow start, but this lineup suddenly looks pretty darn potent. The Padres are 63-51,” AJ Cassavell, the team’s beat writer for MLB.com, tweeted.

 

The Padres Addressed Their Most Pressing Needs At The Deadline

It was never that hard: a contending team needs to have a solid pitching staff, but it also needs to score some runs consistently.

The Padres had the former, but not the latter.

Now, they have both: Soto is slashing .357/.471/.607 since landing in San Diego, Drury has two home runs, and Bell has a .375 OBP.

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As the trio gets comfortable in San Diego, they will produce even more; and with superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. getting closer to a return, the arrow is definitely pointing up.

The 63-51 Padres should be able to make the playoffs, and once there, they could be a real threat to anybody: even the Dodgers.

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Winless in five pre-season games, Canucks have a lot of work to do

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The Vancouver Canucks have scored seven goals in five winless pre-season games. The Edmonton Oilers scored seven goals against them on Monday.

A mismatch in lineup strength led predictably to a mismatch on the scoreboard, although the Canucks competed and stayed close for two periods before dissolving late in the third and losing 7-2.

The second-tier Canucks displayed more intensity and effort than many of the top players had in previous games, but still fell to 0-3-2. The team has a lot of work to do this week in its final two pre-season games to get ready for its National Hockey League regular season, which begins against the Oilers in Edmonton next Wednesday.

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“You just want to see the right things being done,” coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters Monday morning. “That’s probably why I was upset the other night. No matter who you’ve got in the lineup, you never want to get out worked.”

Unlike in Saturday’s lifeless 4-0 loss against the Seattle Kraken, the Canucks were not outworked by the Oilers. But they were outgunned, dressing a lineup that may have as few as five or six players back in Edmonton for the game that counts. And they were out-goaltended.

But by the end, it wasn’t the Oilers’ stars that sunk them — Conor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins combined for one assist — but a hat trick by NHL-hopeful Dylan Holloway and a pair of late goals by Warren Foegele.

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Nils Hoglander and Conor Garland scored for the Canucks, who were tied 1-1 halfway through the game and trailed 3-2 until Tyson Barrie was left unchecked on an outnumbered rush late in the second period.

The Canucks close out their pre-season with home games Wednesday, in Abbotsford against the Oilers, and Friday at Rogers Arena against the Arizona Coyotes.

“I think we’ll get down to our team pretty soon and I think we’ll be fine after that,” Boudreau said before the game-day flight to Edmonton. “I’ve got a lot of faith in this group. I told them that today: I think they’re a really good team and, you know, we’re just going to ramp it up pretty soon.”

Better be very soon.

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AN A ON D

After losing meekly in Seattle with five NHL defencemen in their lineup, the Canucks on Monday didn’t have anyone on the blue line guaranteed to be playing opening night, although it’s hard to imagine that Kyle Burroughs won’t be on the roster given his solid, combative pre-season.

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But it looked for much of the game like Christian Wolanin, the 27-year-old journeyman signed as a free agent to boost organizational depth, was the best defenceman on either team.

Logging top-pairing minutes and quarterbacking the first-unit power play, Wolanin was all over the ice and set up both Canucks goals, including a beautiful no-look dish to Hoglander for a power-play marker that tied the game early in the second.

Wolanin also hit a crossbar and a post while finishing with five shot attempts, three blocks, 22:12 of ice time and an expected goals-for of 57.6 per cent at five on five.

Barring further Canuck injuries, he still isn’t making the NHL lineup. But it was an impressive performance that will have been noted by the Canucks and others.

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NO PUSH FROM BELOW

Although there was re-assuring effort shown by the modest lineup, it has been disappointing in the pre-season that none of the Canucks prospects, besides Swedish League free agents Linus Karlsson and Nils Aman and veteran minor-league centre Sheldon Dries, has made a serious push for NHL employment.

Speedy, hit-seekiing winger Will Lockwood had his best game on Monday, but hasn’t done nearly enough. Winger Danila Klimovich, so good at the rookie tournament in Penticton two weeks ago, looks lost among NHL players and was minus-three with a 9.7 xGF%. Defenceman Jet Woo is already assigned to the American League, and Brady Keeper has a long way to go to work back from last season’s broken leg. And we’re not sure goalie Mike DiPietro is still in the organization.

None of these players, with the possible exception of Lockwood, was expected to make the Canucks this fall. But all teams want to see their prospects pushing upwards, trying to force their way to the NHL or at least make roster decisions difficult. That hasn’t happened.

Minor-league goalie Arturs Silovs has been good, but the competition for depth jobs seems to be almost entirely between the NHL depth players who were already on the projected roster.

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GOALTENDING HIERARCHY

One year ago, on the eve of last season, DiPietro firmly held the No. 3 spot in the organization. He was the presumed minor-league starter, a Canucks injury away from playing in the NHL. He was a key prospect, Now he is the distant No. 5 in the organization, an after-thought who has played just a single pre-season period – mopping up for the Canucks’ travelling split-squad on the opening night of exhibition games.

Collin Delia, a 28-year-old minor-leaguer signed in July as a free agent to push for playing time with the Abbotsford Canucks, played the full game against the Oilers. He made some strong saves, but allowing seven goals on 36 shots is never going to be good enough, even if the team collapsed in front of him at the end and allowed the Oilers to score three times in the last three minutes.

But that he got the start at all was significant.

The Canucks’ final two warmup games will be handled largely — possibly entirely — by NHL goalies Thatcher Demko and Spencer Martin. So the auditioning in goal may be done for now. And DiPietro is last.

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No wonder he is looking for a fresh start elsewhere.

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THE MARK OF LAZAR

After Boudreau’s pre-game call to action, one of the best Canucks was experienced centre Curtis Lazar, who was signed in July to be Vancouver’s fourth-line centre but played higher up the lineup against the Oilers.

He led by example, which is what the Canucks expected when they grabbed the 27-year-old free agent who has logged 404 NHL games but figured out how to be an everyday, depth contributor only during the last couple of seasons with the Boston Bruins.

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Lazar was so engaged physically he drew a roughing penalty from Draisaitl and apparently frustrated McDavid enough on another shift that the best player in hockey cross-checked Burroughs. Lazar finished with four shots on net.

He had been playing right wing during the pre-season, but Boudreau swapped him and Jason Dickinson, moving Dickinson to the wing, and got Lazar’s A-game at centre.

“Curtis Lazar, I thought you could tell he played on a winning, championship-type team,” Boudreau said after the game. “And I thought Pods (Vasily Podkolzin) was an awful lot better than he was the other night. Good, quality playing from a couple of those guys that really gave themselves a chance.”

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Mariners to start playoffs on road after loss to Tigers, Haggerty hurts leg

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SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners will start their first playoff trip in two decades on the road after a costly 4-3 loss Monday night to the Detroit Tigers, who got a two-run homer from Javier Báez.

Sam Haggerty singled with two outs in the ninth and hurt his left groin while sliding into second base successfully. He needed assistance to leave the field, an arm draped over manager Scott Servais and an athletic trainer. 

Haggerty is to have an MRI Tuesday.

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Andrew Chafin struck out Carlos Santana for his third save.

Seattle, assured of a postseason trip for the first time since 2001, will open a best-of-three series at Tampa Bay or Cleveland on Friday, with all three games on the road.

Seattle has three games left against Detroit, including a doubleheader Tuesday.

Bryan Garcia (2-0), making his fourth start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Toledo before the game, struck out six over 6 2/3 innings with two walks. 

Seattle star Julio Rodríguez, back from a trip to the injured list caused by a lower back strain, played designated hitter and likely will be in center for one of the games in Tuesday’s doubleheader.

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He hit a 110.1 mph single up the middle leading off the first, advanced when Ty France was hit by a pitch and tied the score at 1 when he moved up a base on flyouts by Mitch Haniger and Eugenio Suárez. 

Rodríguez dropped another hit between three fielders in the third inning and cut the lead to 4-3 with an RBI single in the seventh against José Cisnero.

Cisnero struck out France to end the threat and the Tigers held on for their 11th win in 13 games. 

Seattle rookie George Kirby (8-5), bidding for a postseason start, allowed four runs, six hits and three walks in four innings. Kirby entered with the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio by a rookie since 1900 at 6.74.

Akil Baddoo walked leading off, stole second and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s two-out single. Riley Greene walked with two outs in the third and Báez hit a two-run homer for a 3-1 lead. 

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Victor Reyes extended the lead with an RBI single in the fourth that bounced out of right fielder Mitch Haniger’s glove on a tough shoe-top scoop attempt.

Adam Frazier had two hits for the Mariners and drove in a run.

ROSTER SHUFFLE

Seattle optioned infielder Abraham Toro to Triple-A Tacoma. Toro is expected to join a group of players in the Mariners system currently working out in Arizona in case they are needed during the playoffs. Seattle also reinstated catcher Curt Casali from the paternity list and optioned catcher Brian O’Keefe to Tacoma.

PLAYOFF OPENER

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Luis Castillo is in line to start the wild-card opener.

“He’s got all the intangibles, plus the stuff and he likes pitching in big games and this is going to be a big game,” Servais said. “I say all that and we can’t get too far down the road. We got four games left to play.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: LHP Tarik Skubal is with the team in Seattle as he recovers from surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his left arm. Skubal has not pitched since Aug. 1 and underwent surgery in mid-August. But Skubal played his college ball at Seattle University and the Tigers wanted to have him around the team for a little bit at the end of the season. 

“He’s such a big part of our of our culture and our presence and we miss him on the field, obviously, but it’s gonna be a while,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “But it’s good to see a familiar face and get him back in a team environment.”

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UP NEXT

Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5, 4.02 ERA) starts the first game. Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4.14) starts the opener and RHP Chris Flexen (8-9, 3.64) the nightcap. Gonzales has lost three straight decisions.

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Oilers’ Holloway stakes claim to top-six spot with four-point night

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EDMONTON — As training camp grinds to a close, you begin to see what head coach Jay Woodcroft was thinking all along. The answers he’s looking for, after five games you can see what they are — and if this roster can provide the solutions he seeks.

The general manager has stated emphatically that young Dylan Holloway won’t stay in Edmonton as a fourth-line player getting 10 minutes a night. That is both fair and wise.

Woodcroft, we can see, is going to start his season with a third line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele. He’s had them together all pre-season, and they’re slowly finding some groove. There is some promise there of a decent third unit.

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From there, let us deduce.

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Nobody is saying that it is top-six or bust for Holloway, but that’s exactly what it is for the 21-year-old. He is officially in a dog fight with Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto for two winger spots on Line 1 or 2.

And Yamamoto isn’t going anywhere, we will predict. Which leaves Holloway and Puljujarvi in a battle for the Opening Night lineup, or quite possibly a spot in the press box as the 21st man.

Well, advantage Holloway.

“Look at our forwards,” began Zach Hyman, who skated on a line with Holloway and Leon Draisaitl in Monday’s 7-2 win over Vancouver. “They’re so deep, and it’s hard to make this team. He’s doing everything possible to not allow the coaches to say no.”

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Holloway had a hat trick and four points Monday, a statement game from a kid who — like Puljujarvi — has all the physical tools. But Holloway’s toolbox contains one extra piece of hardware, and Draisaitl spotted it in just one game as his centreman.

“In these games, real games, you see a guy’s hockey sense. The way he reads the play, right?” said Draisaitl. “That’s what is important. It seems to be there.”

Holloway has been Edmonton’s best skater in three of his four pres-eason outings, and on an entry-level deal with an AAV of $925,000 he’s that young, cheap player who would be a major bonus if he became a legit contributor this soon in his pro career.

“Kind of one of those nights where everything seems to go right,” the shy, Bragg Creek, Alta., native said post-game. “I saw that I was playing with Leon and Hymes, so obviously I was pretty excited. And my adrenaline was going there right from the start. So yeah, super excited all day and just felt good.”

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SO who is Dylan Holloway, and how does he play?

He’s “Straight Ahead Fred.” A winger with champagne and caviar skills who plays a meat and potatoes game.

And fast? Holloway is lightning, an above average NHL skater at age 21. He’s Hyman-like, working to free pucks and win battles. And unlike his primary competitor, plays don’t die on his stick the way they have been with Puljujarvi.

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On Monday, Holloway’s three goals came on a deflection and a couple of wrist shots from inside 15 feet. He looks like a guy who will score the kind of goals that don’t fill up the highlight shows, but win you games just the same.

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And when the playoffs arrive, and the Play of the Week goals are few and far between, guys who score the way Holloway does are golden. Because those goals will always be there.

What does Hyman like about him?

“I mean, everything…” began the veteran left-winger, who will scooch over to the right side to accommodate Holloway, if that is what is asked of him. “He’s driven. He’s determined. He’s a guy who was drafted early, but aside from skill, he works like he wants to get the puck back — I think that’s what makes him the most effective.

“And then, obviously, he has elite speed, skill, poise…. He’s just a kid who’s really driven and wants to make a team that’s hard to make.”

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The Oilers flew out Monday night to the lower mainland, where a day of sturgeon fishing awaits on Tuesday. Then it’s a game against a much better Canucks lineup on Wednesday, and the pre-season finale Friday at home to Seattle.

Right now, Holloway stands ahead of Puljujarvi. Is the 24-year-old Finn up to the challenge? Can he dominate a game the way Holloway has this far?

That’s exactly what everyone in this Oilers organization will be looking for in these final two games.

“It’s about answering some questions,” said Woodcroft. “We expect two pretty good lineups in the last two games of the pre-season. And you balance everything, in terms of answering the questions you want answered.

“But at the same time, you’ve got to make sure you get your team ready for when the regular season begins next week.”

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If Holloway is on Draisaitl’s left side come Friday night against Seattle, he’ll be there on Opening Night versus the Canucks.

And Puljujarvi?

It’s up to him to take his job back.

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