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Saturday, October 21, 2017

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Justin Verlander has been money in elimination games

There are few pitchers you’d rather have on the mound when facing elimination in the playoffs than Justin Verlander. Verlander ran his scoreless innings streak during playoff elimination games to 24 after shutting out the New York Yankees for seven innings during Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday night. The Houston Astros’ right-handed pitcher…Read More

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Report: Nationals interested in Alex Cora as manager

The Washington Nationals have reportedly registered their interest in the offseason’s hottest managerial candidate.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Saturday that the Nationals intend to seek an interview with Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora once the ALCS concludes Saturday night.

Cora has been linked to every single available job this offseason, despite his lack of managerial experience. It would certainly be a gamble for the win-now Nationals to turn things over to someone with minimal experience. However, they may be forced to look elsewhere, as some reports have indicated that Cora already has a managerial job lined up and Washington may wind up being too late.

Kevin Durant would ‘love’ to make All-Defensive Team

Kevin Durant Warriors

There is some evidence that the Golden State Warriors have made Kevin Durant even better, particularly defensively.

Durant registered a career-high seven blocks on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, and admitted after the game that being considered for the All-Defensive Team is something he’d like — though he won’t go out of his way to try to make it happen.

“I want to be considered one of the best defenders in the league, but All-Defensive Teams… that’s on you guys,” Durant said when asked about the honor, via Mark Medina of the Mercury News. “I don’t really know. I’m just going out there, trying to play, and I let that stuff take care of itself. I would love to be on there, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not stressing.”

Durant looks like his elite self, and all the chatter about his rather strange offseason has quieted down now that he’s back to letting his play do the talking. He has some work to do to be considered one of the game’s elite defenders, but he’s not wrong to have the ambition.

Video of Kawhi Leonard boarding plane causes stir

Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio Spurs fans went into a bit of a panic upon seeing video of a decrepit-looking Kawhi Leonard boarding the team charter.

Leonard, who has been nursing a quadriceps injury and has yet to play this season, sparked fears of a severe issue thanks to the video, which surfaced online Friday.

Though Leonard doesn’t look very good in the video, Jeff McDonald of mySA offered some reasons for Leonard’s gait. The Spurs forward had undergone a rehab session just before boarding, meaning he could have been sore or still iced. He also notes that if Leonard were so injured that climbing stairs was a struggle, the Spurs likely would not have him traveling with the team.

San Antonio has offered very little clue as to when Leonard may make his season debut, but the fact that he’s headed on the road trip with the Spurs certainly suggests that he’s at least doing okay.

Charlie Morton to start Game 7 of ALCS for Astros

Minute Maid Park Houston

It will come down to Charlie Morton against CC Sabathia in Game 7 of the ALCS Saturday with a trip to the World Series on the line.

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced after his team’s 7-1 win over the New York Yankees in Game 6 that Morton will start Game 7 for the team.

According to what was said on FS1’s telecast during Game 6, Houston had three options for Game 7. They considered Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers and Morton.

Peacock pitched in relief on Friday. McCullers will only have three days of rest between starts for Game 7 on Saturday. That made Morton the best candidate of the group.

Morton went 4.1 innings of two-run ball in the Astros’ series-clinching Game 4 win over the Red Sox in the ALDS. He was hit hard in the team’s Game 3 ALCS loss to the Yankees, as he allowed seven runs over 3.2 innings. Hinch is clearly hoping Morton will give them more in Game 7.

You can bet Hinch will have a quick hook in Game 7 as Houston will have all their pitchers available. Hinch may even check in on Verlander to see if he can pitch an inning or two if needed.

Whichever team that wins the game will have two full days of rest before Game 1 of the World Series, which will be helpful to pitching staffs that could become overworked.

Jose Altuve: ‘I literally love Justin Verlander’

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve was not shy in expressing his fondness towards Justin Verlander during an interview after Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday.

The Houston Astros’ superstar was clutch again for his team as he went 2-for-4 with a team-high three RBIs in a 7-1 win to force Game 7. Verlander was similarly awesome, as he pitched seven scoreless innings for the win.

After the game, Altuve talked with FS1’s Tom Verducci and was asked about Verlander’s postseason excellence. That’s when Altuve let out a great quote.

“I literally love Justin Verlander,” Altuve told Verducci. “The way he goes out there makes me feel like I have to go out there and play the same way that he is doing. I know he’s going out there and doing everything he can to win this game. So everybody in the lineup wants to support him and score runs for him because we know the kind of guy he is.”

This is clearly a classic case of one superstar inspiring another to elevate his game. And it’s tough to say between the two who’s stood out more in the postseason, because both have been outstanding. Altuve led the AL in hits for the fourth year in a row and won his third batting title in the last four years, plus he’s the likely AL MVP. He’s batting .405 with four home runs in the playoffs. Verlander went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA after joining Houston in the regular season, and he’s 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in the playoffs this year.

If you like the Astros, how could you not love Verlander?

Devin Booker takes nasty spill, stays in game (Video)

Devin Booker back

Devin Booker showed some serious toughness during the Phoenix Suns’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, though he’s probably going to have a nasty bruise to show for his troubles.

Booker took a pass in the second quarter and went hard to the basket. He was fouled by Brook Lopez after going airborne and landed hard on his back.

Booker’s teammates came around him as he was on the ground, and he started walking over to the team’s bench. But Booker stayed in and went 1-for-2 on free throws. A minute later he made a 3-pointer.

The 2015 first-round pick is probably the brightest spot on the emerging Suns team, so losing him in the first game of the season would have been awful. Luckily Booker was able to shake it off.

Draymond Green gets technical foul for pushing DeMarcus Cousins (Video)

Draymond Green DeMarcus Cousins

Two of the biggest personalities in the NBA played against each other on Friday night, and it’s no surprise that they clashed.

DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green got a little physical during the second quarter of the Golden State Warriors-New Orleans Pelicans game. Green ended up getting called for a technical foul after shoving Cousins:

The two later exchanged words, with Cousins appearing to warn Green to watch what he was saying.

Cousins has a shorter fuse than Green, so it’s somewhat surprising that he got the best of Green in that case.

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