Cole Fans 15, Bregman Homers as Astros Top Rays 3-1

first_imgHOUSTON — Houston’s pair of aces dealt the Astros a pair of wins.Gerrit Cole carried his splendid September into an outstanding October with a 15-strikeout performance and Alex Bregman handed fans chanting MVP the mighty swing they craved. The Astros survived a wild ninth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Saturday night for a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.Houston is one win from reaching the AL Championship Series for the third straight year.“We’ve got a lot more work to take care of,” Cole said. “There’s a few months this winter that maybe we can sit back and have a drink about it. Right now, it’s on to the next one.”Cole, 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA in six starts last month, set an Astros postseason strikeouts record over 7 2/3 scoreless innings to win his franchise-record 17th straight decision. The strikeouts tied for third-most in a postseason game, behind only Bob Gibson’s 17 in the 1968 World Series and Kevin Brown’s 16 in a 1998 NL Division Series.“He was incredible,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He had complete command of the entire game.”Cole’s performance came after fellow ace and Cy Young Award contender Justin Verlander pitched seven scoreless innings to lead the Astros to a 6-2 win in Friday’s opener.Throwback performances from another era.“Whether it’s about the new-age opener or pulling guys third time through, most of the people that support that haven’t had Verlander or Cole on their team,” Hinch said. “It’s hard for me to relate to having to pull guys early or wanting to pull guys early when these guys are putting up these kinds of performances. … I’m going to roll with these boys while we have them.”Cole (1-0), who led the majors with 326 strikeouts in the regular season, extended his big league record with his 10th straight game with at least 10 Ks. The Rays were unable to string anything together off of him on a night he induced 33 swings and misses — the most in a postseason game since MLB started tracking the stat in 2008 — and threw a career-high 118 pitches.“I don’t think anything he did was surprising,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s just that good.”“He was majestic,” the Rays’ Willy Adames said.Kevin Kiemaier doubled with two outs in the eighth and Cole was lifted after putting on Adames with Tampa Bay’s first walk. The right-hander received a standing ovation as he walked off the mound and waved to the crowd just before he reached the dugout. Roberto Osuna took over and struck out Yandy Díaz to end the inning before loading the bases with no outs in the ninth.Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham hit consecutive singles, Ji-Man Choi walked and Avisaíl Garcia grounded into a forceout that scored Meadows. Osuna walked Brandon Lowe, reloading the bases, and Hinch brought in Will Harris.Travis d’Arnaud worked the count full, then struck out on a high cutter. Kiermaier grounded to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who flipped to Harris, who stepped on first for the save.Tampa Bay is hitting .177 with two extra-base hits. Game 3 of the best-of five series is Monday in Florida.“I don’t think there’s a real message,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “They know what’s at stake.”Bregman, who hit a career-best 41 home runs in the regular season, homered off Blake Snell (0-1) leading off the fourth.“It’s just lack of a pitch,” Snell said. “I’m still finding it, still trying to get there. I know I can, so that’s why it’s frustrating.”All seven of Bregman’s homers have come off All-Stars, including two against Chris Sale and one each vs. Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber and Kenley Jansen.His shot gave the Astros a home run in 27 straight games, extending a franchise record.After Lowe’s error at second gifted Houston two runs in the opener, another error on helped in the seventh. Adames bobbled Gurriel’s leadoff grounder to shortstop, then bounced the throw to first. Carlos Correa doubled and Martín Maldonado blooped a run-scoring single to left.Correa added a two-out RBI single off Nick Anderson in the eighth for a 3-0 lead.Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, sat out from July 22-Sept. 17 after arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow. He didn’t get out of the third inning in any of his three September starts, but said he hoped to give the Rays five innings on Saturday. Instead he was lifted one batter after Bregman’s homer, finishing with four hits and a strikeout in 3 1/3 innings.“I wish I would have gone deeper,” Snell said. “When you face a guy like that, you want to be out there as long as him.”DAZZLING DEFENSECorrea helped Cole out with a fantastic defensive play to start the game. Díaz led off with a grounder toward Correa, who grabbed the ball backhanded while on the run and spun around for the throw to Gurriel that just beat a sliding Díaz.“It’s stuff that people don’t see, but for me I always say that if you are going to win championships you have to pitch and you have to play defense, and then the offense comes,” Correa said.UP NEXTFormer Astro Charlie Morton, who got the win in the Rays wild-card victory, will start against Zack Greinke. Morton pitched for the Astros from 2017-18 and played a big role in their 2017 World Series title. He won Game 7 of AL Championship Series against the Yankees and Game 7 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium to give Houston its first championship.Morton had a tough time in his last start against Houston when he gave up a season-high six runs in four innings, which tied his shortest start of season, in a 15-1 win by Astros on Aug. 27. Greinke, acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline, went 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts after the trade capped by a gem in his last start when he came two outs shy of his first no-hitter on Sept. 25 against Seattle.By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Varun Chakravarthy, who was sold to KXIP for Rs 8.4 crore, had almost quit cricket

first_imgIndian Premier League’s latest millionaire, Varun Chakravarthy was like many other aspiring young cricketers in the country. He had watched a lot of cricket during school, played a lot of backyard cricket with the tennis ball but gave up on his dreams when he had to choose between a safer career option and cricket.Varun Chakravarthy says he didn’t see a future in cricket and had very little time to continue playing the sport when he joined architecture in one of the top colleges in Chennai.Unlike many other Indian households, Varun Chakravarthy’s parents didn’t force him into five years of rigorous college life. Varun says he wanted to become an architect and was thinking about designing and building houses back then.Varun insists his parents have never gone against his life decisions. That’s why the ex-architect could wake up one fine morning and decide he would give another shot at becoming a professional cricketer without worrying about what his parents would make of his seemingly irrational decision.”At that point, I was thinking about how to design houses. I didn’t see a future in cricket. That’s why I went into architecture. I wanted to become an architect. But after two years into my job, I asked myself if I hadn’t put my heart and soul into my first love, cricket. That’s when I thought I will return to the game,” Varun told indiatoday.in.”I woke up one fine morning and had this thought. It was unforeseen. I was a bit frustrated with my job.”advertisement’Cricket was not even part of my routine during those 7 years’During his time away from cricket, even watching matches on television didn’t interest him. Varun says he loved travelling and hanging around with his friends but not following cricket. He says he didn’t have the urge to even watch cricket as he believed he didn’t “belong there”.”Cricket was not part of my routine during those seven years. I was focussed on my work. Designing ate up a lot of my time. I was just playing a bit of tennis ball cricket but not professional cricket. I didn’t even watch cricket matches often. During my school days, I watched a lot of cricket but after I stopped playing, I didn’t have the urge to watch cricket because I felt I don’t belong there,” Varun added.Varun’s parents are happy now. So are his friends. The 27-year-old from Tamil Nadu triggered a bidding war at the recently-concluded IPL 2019 auction in Jaipur. Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Kings XI Punjab were involved an in a three-way race for the “mystery spinner”.Varun and his parents were witnessing the war from in front of their television screen. His base price was Rs 20 lakh but he was eventually sold to KXIP for Rs Rs 8.4 crore. Varun is excited he is going to share the dressing room with his senior teammate and India’s premier off-spinner, R Ashwin.”I felt very happy. I didn’t expect to get this much in the auction. I am very excited because he [Ashwin] is from the same state. When I had met him in the past, we didn’t discuss a lot about bowling, it was all general. But now I am hoping to learn a lot from him,” Varun said.”I have spoken to Ashwin [after the auction]. He welcomed me to Kings XI Punjab.”Varun rose to fame during his stint with Siechem Madurai Panthers in Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) 2018. In 10 matches, the “mystery spinner” picked up only nine wickets but opposition batsmen struggled to put bat to ball against him.With close to seven different variations, Varun bowled 40 overs out of which 20.5 were dots.With a miserly economy rate of 4.70, he played a key role in the Panthers title-winning run. Before the last season, the Madurai-based team didn’t manage to win a single match, stitching a 15-match winless streak over two years.Unsurprisingly, Varun was called up to play for the Tamil Nadu state team in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018. He finished the campaign with 22 wickets, the second most in the tournament behind left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.C V Varun spun a web in TNPL 2018. Will the batters be able to decode his magic in #IPL2019? pic.twitter.com/ha2aCjicdtTNPL (@TNPremierLeague) December 19, 2018’Imran Tahir told me to keep working on my skills’ Trials with IPL teams, including CSK and KKR followed. Quite a few, including Imran Tahir were impressed with the youngster’s performances. Varun says Tahir noted his showings and offered him valuable tips.advertisement”I was selected for TNPL last year. I didn’t get a lot of opportunities at Karaikudi Kalais. A video analyst called Hari only spotted me and referred me to the team. This year, I played for Madurai Panthers,” Varun said.”This year, I had the opportunity to bowl at CSK nets. I was very happy. I got that opportunity through TS Mohan sir. I bowled to a lot of batsmen. 15 days after the trail, I got a call from Kolkata Knight Riders. I bowled at all the CSK batsmen. Everyone told me that I am bowling well.”Imran Tahir took me separately and told me to keep working on my skills. He was sharing his experience. Even now I message him sometimes, he finds the time to reply.”When he resumed playing club cricket after college, Varun was the not the highly-rated mystery spinner he is today. The tall youngster was bowling medium pace.However, a knee injury in 2016 forced him to reassess his plans. Varun decided he would bowl spin. He reportedly downgraded himself and played fourth-division cricket despite getting offers from second division and first division clubs in Tamil Nadu.Varun worked on his skills and developed all the variations over the last one year after resuming life as a cricketer by bowling spin. Little did he imagine, his bold decisions would pay him off, handsomely, a year later.Varun is excited but at the same time isn’t putting pressure on himself ahead of his maiden IPL stint. He says he wants to contribute as much as he can. He once again wants to become an architect, this time at Kings XI Punjab.”I want to contribute as much as I can. I hope that we can win this IPL and we play some part in it,” Varun signed off.Also Read | No relation between IPL price tag and my hunger to play for India again: Jaydev UnadkatAlso Read | Why Yuvraj Singh wasn’t upset after remaining unsold in 1st roundAlso Read | Can MI’s old war horses, Malinga and Yuvraj come good?Also See:last_img read more

Formula One celebrates its 1,000th race, give or take a few

first_imgFormula One celebrates its 1,000th world championship race this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, one of the sport’s newer tracks, but the milestone requires careful wording.The sport has often had a problem with anniversaries, with statisticians quibbling over how many starts teams and drivers have made according to different definitions, and this one is no exception.The fact is that some of the 999 championship races thus far have been questionable grands prix and several past race winners never even drove a Formula One car.From 1950 to 1960 – 11 races in all – the Indianapolis 500 was included as part of the championship even if very few Formula One drivers crossed the Atlantic to compete in it and homegrown racers took all the points and raced to their own rules.Bill Vukovich finished seventh in the 1953 Formula One championship, and sixth in 1954, after winning the Indy 500 in those years but racing in no other rounds.His death in the 1955 Indy technically made him the first driver to be killed while competing in a Formula One championship race.Yet Vukovich never drove a Formula One car even if his F1 record stands at a remarkable two wins, one pole position, three fastest laps and 19 points from five races – all of them in Indiana.By the time Britain’s Jim Clark won at The Brickyard in 1965, followed by compatriot and fellow F1 champion Graham Hill in 1966, the Indy 500 was no longer part of the F1 calendar.In 1952 and 1953 the world championship was run to Formula Two rules due to there not being enough Formula One cars to fill the grid after Alfa Romeo pulled out.advertisementThat means, therefore, that 26 races included in the championship tally since the first at Silverstone in 1950 did not actually feature Formula One cars.The sport cannot truly say China is the 1,000th grand prix either, since there have been such events since the early 20th century when France set the terms and language of automobile racing.Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz is generally regarded as the first winner of a grand prix, at Le Mans in 1906, while the Monaco Grand Prix, glamour race of the current calendar, dates back to 1929.Silverstone, a former World War Two airfield in central England, hosted grands prix in 1948 and 1949 before Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina won the first Formula One world championship race there on May 13, 1950.Calling China the 1,000th Formula One race would be similarly inaccurate since there have been numerous non-championship Formula One races staged down the decades.The last was at Brands Hatch in 1983 when reigning world champion Keke Rosberg stood on top of a podium that also featured American Danny Sullivan and Australia’s 1980 F1 champion Alan Jones.Nigel Mansell, Formula One world champion in 1992, was a non-finisher that day.While it is often stated that only two women have raced in the Formula One world championship, South African Desire Wilson won a round of the British Formula One championship in a Wolf at Brands Hatch in 1980.South Africa also had its own local Formula One championship in the 1960s and up until 1975.The 1,000th race to count towards the official FIA drivers’ world championship standings? More accurate perhaps, if not exactly catchy.Also Read | Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc to use the same engine that cost him Bahrain winAlso Read | McLaren’s 2019 Formula 1 car is ‘step forward in every aspect’ says AlonsoAlso Read | Formula One: Mick Schumacher tests with Ferrari in BahrainAlso Watch | Sebastian Vettel breaks Ferrari’s F1 drought with victory at Australian Grand Prixlast_img read more