A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Matt Carpenter tries to homer in his seventh straight game when the Cardinals complete a five-game series against the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field. The teams split a day-night doubleheader Saturday and Carpenter homered in both ends – even though he didn’t start the second game. He entered as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning and hit a solo drive in the seventh for his fifth homer in two days. He also had a solo shot in the opener after going 5 for 5 with three homers and seven RBIs while playing just six innings in St. Louis’ 18-5 victory Friday. Carpenter became the first player in Cardinals history to homer in six consecutive games during one season. He matched the club record held by Mark McGwire Morgan Rielly Jersey , who connected in six straight games over two years.
PRIME TIME IN THE BIG APPLE
In the rubber game of their Subway Series at Yankee Stadium, the New York Mets send All-Star ace Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.68 ERA) to the mound against Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers at 8:05 p.m. EDT. Sporting the lowest ERA in the majors this season, deGrom is 0-2 with an 8.03 ERA in two career starts at Yankee Stadium. Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.54) pitches for the Yankees.
BUCS BARRELING ALONG
Corey Dickerson and the Pirates go for their ninth victory in a row when they face Matt Harvey and the Reds in Cincinnati. Dickerson hit two first-pitch home runs Saturday night during a 6-2 win that extended Pittsburgh’s longest streak since an eight-game run in September 2015. Ivan Nova (5-6) opposes Harvey (5-5), who is 4-0 over his last five starts and hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of them.
The surprising Athletics, who have surged into the AL wild-card picture, could have a new arm in the bullpen for their interleague game against Bay Area rival San Francisco. Oakland obtained reliever Jeurys Familia from the Mets on Saturday for two minor leaguers and $1 million in international signing bonus pool allotment. Familia, an All-Star in 2016, was at Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning but left before the start of the Mets’ 7-6 loss. He’ll join an A’s relief corps that includes All-Star closer Blake Treinen. ”For already having a good bullpen, to be able to bring in an arm like this, man, it’s pretty significant,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”I’ll certainly talk to him before I say how this is going to be deployed as far as what innings for who. But this is a real significant pickup for us. You can’t ask for much more.”
After getting rained out Saturday, the NL East rival Braves and Nationals are scheduled to conclude their series in Washington with a potential matchup of All-Stars on the mound. Mike Foltynewicz (7-5 http://www.packersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-j_mon-moore-jersey , 2.66 ERA) was slated to pitch for Atlanta against Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.41), though rain is forecast again. Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb (8-5, 3.51) and Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-6, 3.72) were Saturday’s scheduled starters. Atlanta is in a tight race with Philadelphia for the division lead. Scherzer, who started the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, engaged in a heated spat with fellow ace Stephen Strasburg in the dugout during Friday night’s defeat.
Matt Ryan is eager to regain his MVP form with the Atlanta Falcons.
It sure seems possible with Julio Jones in camp, first-round pick Calvin Ridley ready to make an impact and – perhaps most important – a full season in the books with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
While Ryan put up his seventh straight year with more than 4,000 yards through the air, he didn’t come close to matching the best season of his career under previous coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
In 2017, Ryan’s yardage dipped significantly (4,944 to 4,095). So did his TDs (38 to 20) and quarterback rating (117.1 to 91.4). His interceptions went up (7 to 12).
Most tellingly, the Falcons went from leading the league in scoring (33.75 points per game) to a middle-of-the-pack 15th position (22.06). Coming off an MVP season, Ryan wasn’t even in the conversation for the league’s top player.
The slide in production had some people wondering if head coach Dan Quinn would give Sarkisian another chance .
But Quinn was mindful that Shanahan’s first season in Atlanta also was a bit of a struggle. He found his groove in 2016 Kenneth Dixon Jersey , overseeing a dynamic offense that helped carry the Falcons all the way to the Super Bowl and earn Shanahan his first head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers.
”I’ve got a lot of confidence,” Ryan said of Year 2 with Sarkisian. ”Obviously, I think Sark is a lot more comfortable with the personnel, knowing what guys to use in certain situations. I think that just comes with experience. We all kind of have a feel for his flavor as well. I think he did a great job for us last year and will continue to do a great job this year.”
Quinn is certainly expecting a more comfortable relationship between Ryan and Sarkisian. For good measure, the Falcons also hired Greg Knapp, a former Atlanta offensive coordinator, to serve as quarterbacks coach.
”Like most relationships, there’s probably some situations that you need to go through together,” Quinn said. ”OK, how did that person respond? How did he get through it? Generally as it goes, the communication improves.”
For a while, it looked as though Ryan might have to make do without one of the league’s top receivers .
Unhappy with his contract, Jones skipped offseason workouts in Atlanta as well as a mandatory minicamp. But on the eve of training camp, he agreed to report after the Falcons figured out a way to give him a bit more money this season, along with a promise to negotiate a new deal in 2019.
No one was more pleased than Ryan to have No. 11 on the receiving end of his throws.
”He’s the best teammate you could ask for Youth Jonathan Allen Jersey ,” Ryan said. ”He’s just a great worker and such a good teacher for the young guys, too.”
Jones is already spreading his knowledge to Ridley , who is expected to take over the third receiver role filled so ably the past two years by Taylor Gabriel.
Ryan is impressed by what he’s seen so far from the rookie.
”He’s a talented player who can do a lot of different things,” Ryan said. ”Certainly through the offseason and through the first couple of days of camp, he showcased his talent level. I kind of see him having a really good year for us and really fitting in with the receiving corps that we have.”
Ryan certainly has no complaints about his contract. He expects to remain with the Falcons for the rest of his career after signing a new five-year, $150 million deal, the most lucrative in NFL history and the first with $100 million in guaranteed earnings.
To justify all that money, Ryan is focused on being more efficient in the red zone. Far too many times last season, the Falcons settled for field goals instead of touchdowns after driving inside the 20-yard line.
In the early days of training camp, the team already looks much crisper in those situations.
”A point of emphasis for us is improving in the red area, so we can have more touchdowns than we did last year,” Ryan said. ”We’ve got a lot of work to do before the season, but it’s a good start.”
With Jones, Ridley and Mohammad Sanu catching passes, an offensive line bolstered by the signing of free-agent guard Brandon Fusco Kyle Brodziak Jersey , and a dynamic backfield duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Ryan certainly has plenty of options at his disposal.
Enough to play like an MVP.
”We’ve got a really, really scary offense,” Freeman said.
Notes: The Falcons agreed to terms with OL Kendall Calhoun, LB Jonathan Celestin and WR Colby Pearson. All three players were undrafted out of college. To make room on the roster, team has waived S Jason Hall, DB Terrance Parks and FB Daniel Marx. … Quinn split up his players Monday’s practice, essentially creating two teams roughly the size of a regular-season roster, even putting offensive line coach Chris Morgan and defensive coach Jerome Henderson in charge of the squads. ”We wanted to create some game-like, stressful situations to really evaluate the players in that environment,” Quinn said.
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