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ТЕМА: Tampa Bay’s Nathan Eovaldi (8-4, 2.58 ERA)

Tampa Bay’s Nathan Eovaldi (8-4, 2.58 ERA) 3 дн. 13 ч. назад #1427

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Duron Harmon thought it was time to speak up.

It was about a half-hour after the Patriots’ 33-30 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 1. As his teammates walked around in a daze following their second loss in four games Cody Ford Jersey , Harmon didn’t hold back when asked what was wrong with a defense that already had given up 30 or more points three times.

”Obviously, what we’re doing is not good enough, so we need to go take a look in the mirror and just look and realize: Are we doing enough to win?” he said that night.

Both the words and the sentiment had a familiar ring to them.

That’s because it was Harmon who issued a similar challenge to his team during halftime of last year’s Super Bowl against Atlanta. It’s a pep talk his teammates credited with helping them complete their 25-point comeback.

Since signing a four-year, $17 million contract this past offseason, the defensive captain has become an even more vocal presence in the Patriots’ locker room and was one of their most consistent players down the stretch.

He led the team with four interceptions, including one in the end zone in the waning seconds of New England’s 27-24 win at Pittsburgh that would help it secure home-field advantage in the postseason.

The 27-year-old says he still feels like a ”young player” but that he has felt more at ease speaking his mind as he heads to his third Super Bowl, where the Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday.

Part of the reason is because he thinks he’s playing alongside a defensive unit that is just as tough mentally as the one that showed up when it had to against Atlanta. He also doesn’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings in a locker room where the demand for excellence is so high.

”Just a group of fighters,” Harmon said. ”I mean you just look at the way the year progressed – started the year not the way we wanted to, came out and lost the opener, got to 2-2, but nobody in here really listened to the noise. We ignored it. We did everything we can to get better and try to progress throughout the year and that’s the reason why we’re here right now, just because we continued to fight.”

Patriots safety Devin McCourty said Harmon’s preparation is noticeable to his teammates and gives him credibility when he chooses to speak out. It also has allowed the coaching staff to trust him late in games.

”The situation doesn’t affect him. The pressure doesn’t bother him,” McCourty said. ”Since he was a young guy in here Devin Singletary Jersey , if he was thrown in there at the end of the game he was ready to go, and I thought he’s always done a good job of taking advantage of opportunities.”

It’s also kept Harmon on the field.

He appeared in all 16 regular-season games for the fourth straight season. Though often used in nickel situations as the third safety, including in the playoffs, Harmon has been on the field for 60 percent or more of the Patriots’ defensive snaps 11 times this season.

Having him out there is never a bad thing, coach Bill Belichick said.

”Whether he’s 60 percent or 80 percent, whatever it is, 70 percent, whatever it ends up being – we want him on the field. He does a good job for us,” Belichick said.

Harmon said playing in place that puts such a premium on accountability is what drew him in from the beginning.

”If you love winning it’s not hard,” he said. ”I mean this is what this place is about – winning. Everything we do, everything we sacrifice for is for to win. Coming here as a young guy five years ago, I just see how competitive this place was and I just wanted to be a part of it so I did everything in my power to continue to get better and try to make sure that at the end of training camp I’m always on this roster.”



The Houston Astros relied on their powerful offense to win 12 straight games.

On Tuesday night that offense went cold, and their streak ended with a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Astros went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position to come up one victory shy of setting the franchise record for longest winning streak in franchise history. After averaging more than seven runs in their last 12 games Dawson Knox Jersey , Houston managed just five singles to end a stretch of 34 straight games with at least one extra-base hit.

C.J. Cron homered early and Wilson Ramos hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning to lift the Rays to the victory.

Blake Snell (9-4) allowed just three hits and one run in seven innings, but had to pitch around a career-high seven walks for his fifth straight win. Sergio Romo pitched for the third straight game, taking over with one out in the ninth and allowing one hit for his third save a night after blowing the save in Houston’s 5-4 win.

”We didn’t hit enough and we were shut down by a pretty good pitcher,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”We kept putting up pretty decent at-bats, but that big hit just eluded us again. We kept fighting until the end but just didn’t have enough offense.”

Matt Duffy doubled to start the eighth and advanced to third on a groundout by Jake Bauers. The Rays took a 2-1 lead when the single by Ramos sailed just over the head of a leaping Yuli Gurriel and into left field to allow Duffy to score.

Cron snapped a career-long 0 for 23 slump with a solo homer with one out in the second inning to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. It was the first hit since June 12 for Cron, who struck out 18 times during his hitless streak.

The Rays have struggled to win close games this season and had lost seven of their last eight games decided by one run before Tuesday’s win.

”Things kind of went our way,” manager Kevin Cash said. ”It’s amazing how those pop up in all those games but it’s nice to pull one out where there wasn’t any mistakes. The walks are the only thing that you’d like to have back but you’ll take the performance.”

Justin Verlander yielded six hits and one run while fanning 10 in 6 2/3 innings.

”It was a pretty good day for me, but it was a pretty good day for the other guy, too,” Verlander said. ”Classic pitchers’ duel. I wish we could’ve come out on top, but … it happens.”

Hector Rondon (1-2) took the loss by allowing two hits and one run in one inning.

The Astros had plenty of opportunities to score, but came up short again and again. They loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but Carlos Gomez caught a fly ball hit by Evan Gattis and his throw home was in time to leave George Springer out at home to end the inning.

Springer was on second base with one out in the third inning when Bregman singled to send him home and tie it at 1-1. Bregman tried to stretch the hit into a double Brian Burns Jersey , but Gomez made a perfect throw from right field to leave him out at second.

Snell struck out the side in the fourth, capped by a three-pitch strikeout of Marwin Gonzalez that led to his ejection. Gonzalez argued with home plate umpire Pat Hoberg before throwing his bat and helmet and being tossed. He kept barking at Hoberg after the ejection and continued yelling at him until third base coach Gary Pettis pulled him away and pushed him toward the dugout.

Snell walked Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa with no outs in the sixth. But Gurriel grounded into a double play and Snell retired Tony Kemp after intentionally walking Gattis to leave Houston empty-handed.

Adeiny Hechavarria doubled with two outs in the seventh inning to chase Verlander. Hector Rondon took over and retired Kevin Kiermaier to end the inning. Kiermaier went 0 for 5 in his return after sitting out since April 15 after tearing a ligament in his right thumb which required surgery.

The Astros had a runner on first base with two outs in the seventh when Springer hit a long fly ball to right-center that Kiermaier nabbed as he leapt on the warning track before crashing into the wall of the bullpen.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) felt good after playing catch on Tuesday but likely won’t return from the disabled list until Houston’s next homestand, which begins on July 5.

TOP OF THE HEAP

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve led all players in fan voting for the All-Star game with 1,572,101 votes in the second update on voting released on Tuesday. The 2017 AL MVP leads the majors in hits (102) and average (.342) and was the first player to reach 100 hits this season.

”I think it’s well-deserved for someone who represents our game in exceptional fashion,” Hinch said. ”The voters are getting it right. He’s every bit what’s right about baseball. I’m happy he’s getting the recognition he deserves … he’s as perfect of a player as there is.”

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay’s Nathan Eovaldi (8-4, 2.58 ERA) opposes Houston’s Charlie Morton (8-1, 2.94) in the series finale on Wednesday night. Eovaldi, who grew up in suburban Houston, is 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four career starts against the Astros. Morton struck out nine in six innings of a win over Kansas City in his last start.

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