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Where did Buster Posey go wrong in Monday’s Giants vs. Nationals brawl?

On Monday, San Francisco Giants’ catcher, and former National League MVP Buster Posey, became a big story after his involvement in a huge brawl in San Francisco,

Actually, he was not involved.

To put it mildly, that is the very reason he became a big story on Tuesday. It all began when Posey’s teammate, Hunter Strickland, hit another former National League MVP, Bryce Harper, with a 98-mph fastball late in Monday’s game between the Giants and Harper’s Washington Nationals.

Harper charged the mound, threw his helmet at Strickland, then the two exchanged a few punches. As videos of the encounter repeated incessantly, the focus turned to Posey when video showed the former Florida State player standing still while events unfolded.

Perhaps he was stunned because catchers are usually in the loop when an opponent is about to get drilled. To borrow from politics, we must ask “what did Posey know and when did he know it?”

Visual evidence points to Posey not knowing Strickland was sizing up the best place to nail the Nationals’ superstar. As Strickland was in his wind-up to deliver the first pitch to Harper, Posey was in his crouch giving his pitcher a target at the bottom end of the strike zone, apparently expecting him to throw it there.

When Strickland instead drilled Harper in the right hip, the Battle by the Bay was on. As bullpens and dugouts emptied, Posey looked like a statue, standing guard over the catcher’s box behind the plate. He eventually moved to the periphery of the scrum, wisely still wearing his catcher’s mask.

Social media exploded beginning early Monday evening. One of the best was a Facebook post by a friend and Tallahassee political consultant David Johnson, who lamented “the statue of Hank Aaron in Atlanta got there before Buster.”

So, what is Posey’s side of this?

“Well, I mean after it happened, I kind of saw Harper point,” Posey told the media in the Giants’ clubhouse. “Next thing you know, he’s going out after him. Those are some big guys tumbling around on the ground. So, it was a little dangerous to get in there sometimes.”

He has a point there. What is to be gained by taking wild swings, or pushing or shoving, or even engaging in the fundamental sports brawl activity of saying things about an opponent’s mother?

However, another FSU alum, ESPN commentator Eduardo Perez, who was calling the game, perfectly analyzed where Posey went wrong. He summed up what should have happened about 42 seconds into the ESPN video linked above.

“That’s where you, as a catcher, you’d better go and stop Harper,” Perez said while five Giants were physically removing Strickland from the field.

Exactly. His teammates should expect him to block Harper’s path (not start a fight) to the pitcher while the umpire does the same with the pitcher. While Strickland was going rogue, there is still this thing among players about protecting teammates even if they might not agree with what that player did.

Posey may need to better explain himself, if not apologize, to some of his teammates over the coming days. A safe prediction is that if anything like this happens again, Posey will know what to do.

FSU/UF to host NCAA regionals; 4 other Florida teams make field

The 64-team NCAA Baseball Tournament field was announced on Monday with 6 Florida teams receiving bids. Two will be hosting a regional, while three others are seeded second and another earning a three-seed.

The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles will host regionals that include in-state competitors. The only qualifier to travel outside of the state is the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.

FGCU, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time, are the second seed in the Chapel Hill Regional and will face third-seeded Michigan in their first game. The top seed is the nation’s number two overall seed, North Carolina.

Florida earned the third overall seed nationally and will open against fourth-seeded Marist. The other Gainesville Regional matchup features the second-seeded South Florida Bulls and third-seeded Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. If they win the regional, Florida would also host a Super Regional.

Bethune-Cookman, Florida Gulf Coast and Florida State were automatic qualifiers after winning their conference tournaments, while the others are at-large entries.

Earning the second seed in Tallahassee is the Central Florida Knights, who will open regional play against third-seeded Auburn. FSU opens against Tennessee Tech.

Should the Seminoles survive the regional, they would face the winner of the Lubbock Regional featuring the 5th national seed Texas Tech. The last two seasons saw FSU’s season end in the Gainesville Super Regional against the Gators. This year, the Gainesville regional winner is paired with the winner of the Winston-Salem Regional featuring the regional’s top seed, Wake Forest.

Florida State’s selection marks the 40th consecutive appearance in the NCAA field. That is now the longest streak in the nation after Miami was not chosen for the first time in 45 years.

The top 8 national seeds are Oregon State, North Carolina, Florida, LSU, Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Louisville and Stanford.

 

Back-to-back homers lead Rays over Twins in 15 innings

Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison hit back-to-back homers in the 15th inning, Steven Souza Jr. drove in the tying run with a single with two outs in the ninth, and the Tampa Bay Rays outlasted the Minnesota Twins 8-6 Sunday in a game that took nearly 6 1/2 hours.

At 6 hours, 26 minutes, it was the longest game in the eight-season history of Target Field. The longest game in Twins history lasted 6:36, a 17-inning marathon at Cleveland in 1995.

Minnesota resorted to using Wednesday’s scheduled starter, Hector Santiago (4-4), in the 15th. He allowed the decisive home runs on consecutive pitches to the first two batters of the inning. Longoria has 16 home runs and 57 RBI in 58 career games against the Twins.

Erasmo Ramirez, the scheduled starter Monday for the Rays, pitched a perfect 15th for his first save.

The Rays took the lead in the 14th when Corey Dickerson delivered a single off Justin Haley to make it 6-5. Pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman answered with an RBI single in the bottom half to extend the game for the Twins.

Despite allowing a run in the 14th, Alex Colome (1-2) got the win.

The Twins had a 5-3 lead in the ninth, but Tampa Bay rallied against Brandon Kintzler on an RBI double by Longoria and Souza’s tying single. Longoria slid home in a close play, and a video review upheld the call.

Corey Dickerson had four hits for the Twins, Souza got three hits and Longoria snapped an 0-for-12 slump with his ninth-inning double.

Joe Mauer got four hits for the Twins, including a home run, and drew three walks. It was the first time he had ever reached base seven times in a game.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson gave up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Alex Cobb allowed one run, but only lasted five innings in his shortest start since April 26 for the Rays.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: C Wilson Ramos (knee) is nearing the date when he is eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list following his recovery from an ACL tear. Ramos, a former member of the Twins and Nationals organizations, will be headed to Class A Charlotte with several rehabbing teammates on Monday to take live batting practice. He can be activated as early as June 1.

Twins: Manager Paul Molitor insisted slugger Miguel Sano is OK physically despite being absent from the starting lineup for a second consecutive day. Sano pinch-hit in the 11th inning and struck out, then batted again in the 14th and singled.

UP NEXT

Rays: The team’s nine-game road trip continues at Texas on Monday. Ramirez was scheduled to make his fourth start of the season. LHP Martin Perez (2-5) will pitch for the Rangers.

Twins: The AL Central leaders will welcome Houston, which has the best record in the majors, for a three-game series beginning on Memorial Day. RHP Ervin Santana (7-2) takes the mound against RHP Brad Peacock (2-0) as the Twins’ ace looks to duplicate his last start, a complete-game shutout at Baltimore.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Takuma Sato holds off Helio Castroneves to win Indy 500

At the end of 500 miles around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was a former Formula One driver who took the checkered flag.

He even drove for Andretti Autosport.

It just wasn’t Fernando Alonso.

Takuma Sato became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he denied Helio Castroneves a record-tying fourth victory as the two traded the lead in the closing laps.

“I know Helio is always going to charge,” Sato said. “But he’s just such a gentleman and such a fair player.”

The Andretti family has struggled for decades to win this race, but as a car owner, Michael Andretti certainly knows the way to victory lane.

Sato’s victory gave Andretti a second consecutive win in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” An Andretti driver has now won the 500 three times in the last four years, and five times overall dating to 2005 with the late Dan Wheldon.

Last year, it was with rookie Alexander Rossi. This time it is with Sato, who joined the team just this season and had largely been overlooked at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Andretti camp expanded to six cars for the 500 to add Alonso, a two-time F1 champion who brought massive European interest to the race.

Six cars never seemed to spread the team too thin, and the main issue facing Andretti Autosport was the reliability of its Honda engines. Alonso put on a thrilling show and even led 27 laps – third most in the race – but he was sent to the paddock when his engine blew with 20 laps remaining.

“We didn’t build the thing that was smoking down the front straight,” said McLaren boss Zak Brown, who engineered Alonso’s trip to Indianapolis. Part of the reason Alonso was able to skip F1’s showcase Monaco Grand Prix earlier Sunday for Indy is because the McLaren team – and its Hondas – have grossly underperformed this season and Alonso is not a current title contender.

Alonso did have a spectacular race and simply fell victim to his engine late in the race. The crowd gave the Spaniard a standing ovation as he climbed from his car.

“I felt the noise, the engine friction, I backed off and I saw the smoke and, yeah, it’s a shame,” Alonso said. “It’s a very nice surprise to come here with big names, big guys, the best in open-wheel racing and be competitive.”

He still drank from a carton of milk to close out his experience at Indy, and didn’t rule out a potential return.

“The last two weeks, I came here basically to prove myself, to challenge myself,” Alonso said. “I know that I can be as quick as anyone in an F1 car. I didn’t know if I can be as quick as anyone in an Indy car.”

The Honda teams had a clear horsepower advantage over Chevrolet, but things were dicey in Indy for more than a week and certainly on race day: Before Alonso’s failure, 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay lost his Honda and so did Charlie Kimball. Hunter-Reay led 28 laps and was a strong contender late.

“I’m really happy for Honda. They worked really hard to get us here,” said Andretti. “I know how big this news is going to be tomorrow when they wake up in Japan. It’s going to be huge. I’m really happy for them, that we were able to give them a win with our Japanese driver here.”

Added Sato about the popularity of his victory in Japan: “This is going to be mega big. A lot of the Japanese fans are following the IndyCar Series and many, many flew over for the Indianapolis 500. We showed the great result today and I am very proud of it.”

In a Chevrolet for Team Penske, Castroneves briefly took the lead but couldn’t make it stick as Sato grabbed it back. Castroneves was disappointed to fall short of the four-time winners club – particularly since it was his third runner-up finish.

“Being second again sucks, being so close to getting my fourth,” Castroneves said. “I’m really trying. I’m not giving up this dream and I know it’s going to happen.”

The margin of victory was 0.2011 seconds and the win was redemption for Sato, who crashed while trying to beat Dario Franchitti on the final lap of the 2012 race.

A joyful Sato dumped a bottle of 2 percent milk over his head, received a kiss from the Indy 500 Princess and raised his finger in the air. Michael Andretti ran down pit lane to reach Sato’s crew, then rushed to hug his driver.

As for the difference between 2012, when Sato crashed in the first turn of the final lap racing Franchitti, Sato said his strategy this year was perfect.

“I was pointing in the right direction into (Turn) One,” said Sato, who was congratulated in victory lane by Franchitti.

It was only the second IndyCar victory for Sato, who won driving for A.J. Foyt in Long Beach in 2013 – a span of 74 races.

Ed Jones finished a career-best third and was followed by Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan, the highest finishers for Chip Ganassi Racing. Two-time winner Juan Pablo Montoya was sixth.

Honda drivers took six of the top 10 finishing positions.

Pole sitter Scott Dixon, already having a rough week because he was robbed at gunpoint at Taco Bell hours after turning the fastest qualifying effort in 21 years, was knocked out of the race in a terrifying crash in which his car sailed through the air and landed cockpit-first atop the inside safety fence. Dixon’s car was split in two amid sparks and flames.

The tub of the car remained intact and the 2008 champion was able to climb out on his own to a roar from the crowd. He walked to a waiting ambulance while the race was placed under red flag and crews began to clean up debris scattered over hundreds of feet in the accident caused when Dixon’s car collided with that of Jay Howard.

“Just a little beaten up there. It was definitely a rough ride,” Dixon said. “We had a great shot. We had gotten a little loose but they had dialed it in.”

FSU, UF to host NCAA regionals; other Florida schools will earn bids

Two weeks ago, the Florida State baseball team lost their regular season home finale to Wake Forest, 10-9. That left them 12-14 in ACC conference play with three games at then-No. 2 Louisville coming up, followed by the ACC Tournament in the same place.

There was some concern whether FSU would even make the NCAA Tournament. Coach Mike Martin uttered his complete frustration after that game.

“This one could have been really, really great for the resume,” he said while offering a prediction. “We ain’t getting a regional.”

No one disputed Martin’s pronouncement.

Fast forward two weeks. Florida State went 2-0 in the regular season’s final games against the Cardinals (one was rained out), but still only earned the 8th seed in the league tournament. After again beating Louisville, some began to believe something special may be unfolding.

On Sunday, Florida State won their second ACC Tournament title in the last three years, earning the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid and completely changing the conversation. On Sunday night, Dick Howser Stadium was named one of the 16 regional sites. .

The first Florida school to officially qualify for the NCAA Tournament was Florida Gulf Coast. On Saturday, the Eagles come from behind to stun Jacksonville 4-3 in 10 innings to win the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament championship and earn the league’s automatic berth in next week’s regionals.

Despite not winning their conference tournaments, other Florida schools will join FSU and FGCU in the tournament.

The Florida Gators were the top seed in this week’s SEC Conference Tournament. After reaching the semi-finals, the Gators were wiped out by the Arkansas Razorbacks 16-0.

Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Arkansas will all host NCAA regionals next week.

The Central Florida Knights entered the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Tournament as the top seed. But after two losses to 8th-seeded East Carolina, including’s Saturday’s 4-0 shutout,  UCF will wait for Monday’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show to learn their place in the field.

Central Florida currently has an RPI ranking of 23 and conference rival South Florida is ranked 22nd. Both will make the field of 64.

In a battle of the Owls, Florida Atlantic fell to Rice in the Conference-USA Tournament semi-finals 13-2 on Saturday. With an RPI rank of 55, FAU is now a long-shot to make the NCAA Tournament.

In women’s softball, after dropping the opener to conference foe Alabama, Florida had to win the final two games of the Gainesville Super Regional to advance to the Women’s College World Series. Saturday’s 2-1 victory earned them the trip to Oklahoma City beginning next week.

In the Tallahassee Super Regional, Florida State won the opener, but LSU came back to win the next two to deny FSU the trip to Oklahoma City. The Tigers earned that berth with Sunday’s 6-4 win.

 

Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 expects to be wide-open challenge

One of IndyCar’s all-time greats will lead the field to green at the Indianapolis 500.

All eyes, though, will be one row behind Scott Dixon as Fernando Alonso makes his debut in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Alonso has never raced on an oval before, never raced an Indy car and hasn’t done a rolling start in 20 years — and that was in a go-kart.

So, yeah, Alonso lingered long after all the other competitors in the final driver meeting before Sunday’s race. The two-time Formula One champion peppered race director Brian Barnhart with questions for a solid 15 minutes before riding off through Gasoline Alley on his skateboard .

 He’s as ready as he can possibly be, and ranked fifth — the fastest rookie — on the speed chart during the final day of practice. Alonso has enjoyed every minute at Indy , but he’s not letting the hype around his quest to win racing’s version of the Triple Crown — he’s already won at Monaco in F1 and would like to someday run Le Mans — distract him from his mission.

“There is still no emotion. Until Monday, there are no emotions allowed to enter your mind,” Alonso said. “The mind is so focused on the race. There is no space for the emotions right now.”

That’s the intensity it will take to win the 101st running of the Indy 500. Still, it is Dixon who should be the favorite to win.

The New Zealander had the fastest qualifying effort in 21 years to win the pole, and he’d like to drink the victor’s milk for the second time. Dixon won this race in 2008, he’s a four-time series champion and ranks fourth on the career win list behind only A.J. Foyt, Mario and Michael Andretti.

“In my generation, he’s the best,” said Tony Kanaan, the 2013 winner of the Indy 500 and Dixon’s teammate.

It doesn’t hurt that Dixon this year is in a Honda, which has dominated the buildup to Sunday over rival Chevrolet. The Chevy camp — particularly Team Penske — has been dramatically overshadowed so far but finally showed better speed Friday. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, veteran of the Penske camp, was fastest on Carb Day .

“We keep working, digging, obviously finding a way,” Castroneves said. “We’re going to fight extremely hard out there and showing a little bit of speed certainly. We’re going for the big one on Sunday.”

Team Penske has four of the top five drivers in the IndyCar standings, has won the last three races of the season and added two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya to its lineup.

Still, a win by a Chevy driver might be considered an upset based on how strong Honda has been. Although reliability on the Honda engines has been spotty — James Hinchcliffe had a failure during Friday’s practice — the speed is there and Honda won last year with Alexander Rossi, a rookie who coasted across the finish line on fumes.

Rossi is part of the massive effort from Andretti Autosport, which expanded to six cars when it took on Alonso last month. Most teams might have flinched at taking on such a heavy workload for the biggest race of the year, but the Andretti camp did not back down.

“It has to make sense from a business standpoint,” said Marco Andretti, son of the team owner and a driver eager to win his first Indy 500. “At first I was like, ‘Man, six cars?’ Then I found out who it was, and I was like, ‘Well, we have to do that.’ It’s a lot for the team. But it’s all good things, man. It’s good for the sport.”

There has certainly been a buzz around the Brickyard for Alonso, and worldwide television ratings should get a significant boost. IndyCar drivers are smart enough to understand that Alonso is good for all of them now.

With no clear favorite, questions about Honda’s reliability, Penske’s power and Alonso’s lack of experience in this race, there could be a surprise winner in a race Roger Penske believes could be even more exciting than last year’s historic 100th running.

Kanaan, a driver who had his heart broken repeatedly at Indy before his breakthrough victory four years ago, can’t predict what might happen.

“The track is a she, first of all, and she picks the winner,” Kanaan said. “I mean, look how many chances I had, not just me, but good drivers, led races. We can make a list of people who should have won this race, and then all of a sudden something happens.

“That’s why every time I drive into the track, I say, “Hello, beauty” and kind of kiss the asphalt, don’t do burnouts in the parking lot, and try to treat her nice. Every time I get to the track, I just give her a little French kiss.”

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Tampa Bay Rowdies in 1-1 draw against Saint Louis

Neill Collins thumped a header over the line in the 87th minute to give the Tampa Bay Rowdies a 1-1 draw Saturday night against Saint Louis FC at Al Lang Stadium.

Tampa Bay (6-3-3 (W-T-L), 21 points) trailed for much of the second half after Jose Angulo’s 59th-minute free kick goal, but Collins stepped up to rescue the Rowdies a point by burying a Michael Nanchoff corner kick at the near post.

It was a testy match that had very little flow. Thirty fouls were called and eight yellow cards were dished out in a tight battle.

“It was a little frustrating tonight,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “The guys showed great resilience. We conceded a goal against the run of play when I thought we were going to score. We were on top, dominating and looking dangerous and then they had a moment of brilliance from (Angulo.) We responded well because it would have been easy for the guys to feel sorry for themselves with some of the decisions that went against us. The guys didn’t. They kept going and got the goal they deserved.”

The Rowdies dominated for most of the first half with lots of possession in the Saint Louis (3-3-3, 12 points) 18-yard box, but the cutting edge wasn’t quite there.

Rowdies captain Joe Cole had the first great scoring chance of the night in the 13th minute, taking a free kick from deep that looked bound for goal before a well-timed palm from Saint Louis goalkeeper Adam Grinwis to push it over the crossbar.

Saint Louis could’ve scored two minutes later when Christian Volesky led a swift counterattack into the Rowdies’ 18, but the sliding efforts of Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire and Matt Pickens were enough to stamp out the chance.

The match went into halftime without a goal.

Tampa Bay stepped on the accelerator in the second half, with Alex Morrell taking a left-footed shot in the 50th minute that was saved by Grinwis.

The Rowdies shouted for a penalty kick in the 53rd minute when Cole was clipped as he received a pass 13 yards from goal, but the appeal was unsuccessful.

Leo Fernandes was whistled for a foul just outside the box in the 58th minute. Initially, Saint Louis was granted the advantage, but when Angulo lost the ball after a sloppy touch, the free kick was given.

Angulo would lift it over the wall and beat Pickens on his left-hand side to put the visitors ahead.

Despite playing their fifth game in 15 days, compared to Saint Louis playing for the first time since May 17, the Rowdies looked like the stronger side down the stretch.

Tampa Bay pushed for an equalizer and looked to be running out of time until King won the Rowdies a corner kick with a low cross in the 86th minute. One minute later, Nanchoff’s cross found the forehead of Collins for the equalizer.

“I thought we deserved the goal,” Collins said. “After a really tough week, it’s not the worst point. We’ve got to give (Saint Louis) credit. They’re a hard-working side and they came here with a good game plan and well rested, so it’s not the worst point in the world.”

Tampa Bay dominated statistically with 12 goals (four on goal) compared to three for Saint Louis. The Rowdies had 27 crosses, 22 more than Saint Louis.

The Rowdies return to Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play Wednesday night with a Third-Round match against the NASL’s Miami FC in South Florida. Tampa Bay’s next home game is June 10 the Rochester Rhinos.

Scoring Summary
Saint Louis – Jose Angulo – 58th minute
Rowdies – Neill Collins – 87th minute (Assisted by Michael Nanchoff)

Caution Summary
Rowdies: Leo Fernandes – 6th minute
Saint Louis: Wesley Charpie – 12th minute
Rowdies: Alex Morrell – 39th minute
Saint Louis: Emir Alihodzic – 41st minute
Saint Louis: Konrad Plewa – 55th minute
Rowdies: Darnell King -56th minute
Rowdies: Michael Nanchoff – 76th minute
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire – 82nd minute

Starting Lineups
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire, Neill Collins, Marcel Schäfer; M Michael Nanchoff, Keith Savage; M Alex Morrell (Darwin Jones 63′), Joe Cole (c), Leo Fernandes (Deshorn Brown 73′); F Martin Paterson (Georgi Hristov 67′)

Saint Louis XI (4-4-2): GK Adam Grinwis; D Wesley Charpie, Konrad Plewa, Aedan Stanley, Erick Cabalceta; M Sebastian Dalgard (Mats Bjurman 46′), Dragan Stojkov (c), Tony Walls, Emir Alihodzic; F Jose Angulo (Octavio Guzman 68′), Christian Volesky (Tyler David 62′)

 

Late homer spurs Twins to 5-3 win over Rays

Brian Dozier‘s tiebreaking two-run home run for Minnesota with two outs in the eighth inning followed a pitching change by Tampa Bay and spurred the Twins to a 5-3 victory Saturday afternoon over the Rays.

The Twins were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position until Dozier stepped in against Tommy Hunter with a man on third. The 426-foot drive, Dozier’s seventh of the season, bounced off the ribbon videoboard between the upper and lower deck in right-center field.

Rays manager Kevin Cash swapped right-handed relievers, removing Danny Farquhar (2-2) so Hunter could face Dozier. The decision backfired, ending Farquhar’s streak of 16 consecutive scoreless appearances.

Dozier then made a diving stop on Rickie Weeks‘ sharp grounder to second in the ninth inning to support Brandon Kintzler‘s 13th save in 14 tries, despite a two-out home run by Colby Rasmus.

Eddie Rosario also homered for the Twins, who embarked Friday on a stretch of 45 games in 45 days. They needed rookie Adalberto Mejia to stick around and save some relievers.

Mejia wasn’t as effective as last weekend during the doubleheader against Kansas City when he earned his first career victory, but he struck out six batters and finished five innings with the game tied. Tyler Duffey pitched two scoreless innings and Taylor Rogers (2-1) followed with a perfect eighth inning for the win.

Mejia was a little lucky to escape the second with an RBI single by Norris the only run against him. With the bases loaded and one out, a wild pitch ricocheted off the limestone backstop to catcher Chris Gimenez, who slid to snag the ball and throw sidearm to Mejia at the plate for the tag on Steven Souza Jr.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi had his share of trouble, too.

He threw a season-high 118 pitches while failing to finish six innings for only the second time not for injury this year. The Twins loaded the bases with none out in the second inning and managed to tie the game on Ehire Adrianza‘s sacrifice fly. Then Odorizzi lost the lead again on Rosario’s homer in the fourth inning.

Derek Norris drove in two runs for the Rays, who had won three in a row.

LINEUP MATTERS

With the lineup front-loaded with right-handers against the lefty Mejia, leading hitter Corey Dickerson had the day off. Rickie Weeks, who reached each of his first three times at-bat, took his spot as the designated hitter.

RESTING

Eduardo Escobar played third for the Twins so Miguel Sano could try to recharge. The only other game this season that Sano didn’t start was May 9 due to a Major League Baseball suspension. Sano pinch-hit in the seventh inning and struck out for the eighth straight at-bat.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (4-4, 3.82 ERA) will pitch the series finale, with seven-plus innings completed in each of his last two turns. Cobb hadn’t accomplished that since Sept. 5 and 11, 2014, having missed 2015 and much of 2016 recovering from elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (1-4, 8.62 ERA) will make his second start Sunday afternoon since being recalled from Triple-A. He recorded his first win of the season earlier this week, despite allowing six runs in five innings at Baltimore.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Saturday college sports action features high stakes matchups

Plenty of Florida college sports is on tap throughout the Memorial Day weekend. Many of the games come with high stakes.

The Florida Gators will play in the SEC semi-finals on Saturday against Arkansas. The top-seeded Gators will face the fourth-seeded Razorbacks in the second game of the day in Hoover, Ala. Second seed LSU meets 11th-seeded South Carolina in the first game at 1:00 p.m.

Florida reached the semi-finals after an incredible rally against Mississippi State. The Gators trailed 3-0 entering the eighth inning, but exploded for 11 runs on the way to a 12-3 win over the Bulldogs.

In the ACC, both Florida State and Miami are playing in the semi-finals in Louisville, Ky. FSU plays at noon in the day’s first game against 9th-seeded Duke in front of what will be a dramatically reduced crowd at Louisville Slugger Field. The Seminoles upended top-seeded and fifth ranked Louisville 6-2 on Friday to advance.

Miami is the tournament’s fifth seed and they will take on North Carolina following the FSU vs. Duke game. The Hurricanes rallied to get by Wake Forest on Friday to move on. They are on the tournament bubble and may need a spot in the championship game to improve their chances.

The Central Florida Knights are playing for a spot in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) semi-finals on Saturday, but they must win two games to get there.

UCF, the tournament’s top seed, must defeat 8th-seeded East Carolina in the first game Saturday afternoon, then beat them again in another game that would immediately follow the first. The Knights are in that predicament following their 14-3 loss to the Pirates in the opening game. UCF blasted the USF Bulls 12-0 to reach the semi-finals.

The Florida Atlantic Owls are also trying to reach a conference final. They face the Rice Owls on Saturday for a spot in the Conference-USA finals in Biloxi, Miss.

In softball, both Florida and Florida State can reach the College World Series with wins today.

The Gators kept their hopes alive on Friday when they shut out conference foe Alabama 2-0 to even their best-of-three Super Regional series in Gainesville. FSU took the opener of the Tallahassee Super Regional with a 3-1 win over the LSU Tigers.

ESPN is showing both games. The FSU vs. LSU contest is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. while Florida vs. Alabama is set to begin at 5:00 p.m.

Rays beat Twins 5-2; Chris Archer fans 11

Chris Archer struck out 11 while pitching into the eighth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays hit three home runs in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Archer (4-3) gave up two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings and reached double digits in strikeouts for the fourth time in five May starts. Logan Morrison, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. all went deep, and Alex Colome got four outs for his 13th save, winning a battle with slugger Miguel Sano with two on in the eighth inning.

Hector Santiago (4-3) gave up three runs and four hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings. Kennys Vargas and Brian Dozier drove in runs for first-place Minnesota, one of the surprise teams in the league this season.

Morrison and Kiermaier each hit two-run homers to put the Rays up 4-0 after six.

Routinely hitting 97 mph with his fastball and mixing in a knee-buckling slider, Archer set down 10 straight between an infield single from Jason Castro in the third inning and a sharp single from Joe Mauer in the seventh.

Vargas drove Mauer in to put the Twins on the board, ending the Rays’ pitching staff’s streak of scoreless innings at 23.

Archer now has 51 strikeouts in May and has one more start to break David Price‘s club record of 54 set in June 2014.

The Twins had life in the eighth with two on and two out and down three runs. But Colome got Sano to strike out for the fourth time in the game to escape the jam.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: RHP Brad Boxberger, on the 60-day disabled list with a right flexor strain, is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Monday in Florida.

Twins: Closer Glen Perkins, who has been on the disabled list all season with shoulder problems, threw a bullpen on Friday. He will throw again on Tuesday before departing to Florida for extended spring training. … Hard-throwing prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery.

FLASHING LEATHER

Archer got some help from his defense to put the clamps on a team with the fifth-best batting average in the American League.

Souza made a lunging catch at the wall in right field to take a hit away from Vargas in the second inning and Corey Dickerson sprinted to catch a liner from Mauer off of his shoelaces in the fourth inning.

SOUZA’S REVENGE

Souza didn’t have as much luck in the seventh inning, bizarrely diving for a ball struck by Vargas that landed at least 15 feet away from him. Souza shared a laugh with Kiermaier after both watched the replay.

When Souza stepped to the plate in the eighth inning, the Twins showed the replay of the dive on the video board. A good sport, Souza smiled as he stepped into the box, then belted a solo shot into the second deck in left field.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.14) will start Game 2 on Saturday. Odorizzi leads the majors with 20 no-decisions since the start of last season, 16 of which have come after yielding two earned runs or fewer.

Twins: Molitor said that LHP Adalberto Mejia (1-1, 4.96) will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start Saturday’s game. Mejia started for the Twins on Sunday, but was sent back down because Molitor has had to juggle the rotation due to so many rainouts early this season.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

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