MLB

Rays close in on sweep of Astros, Braves take 2-0 lead over Dodgers

By Sports Desk October 14, 2020

The Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves moved further ahead in their respective MLB series on Tuesday.

The Rays are one win away from the World Series after a 5-2 victory over the Houston Astros saw them go 3-0 up in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

A five-run sixth inning set up the Rays' win in Game 3, with Joey Wendle hitting a two-run single and Hunter Renfroe a two-run double.

Jose Altuve's home run had put the Astros ahead and Michael Brantley also went deep in the sixth inning, but Houston are looking at a series loss.

Both starters – the Rays' Ryan Yarbrough and Astros' Jose Urquidy – got through five innings.

The Braves moved into a 2-0 National League Championship Series (NLCS) lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to an 8-7 win.

Atlanta held off a late rally from the Dodgers, who scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies both homered for the Braves.

Albies became the first player in MLB history to hit a ninth-inning homer in back-to-back playoff games, as per Stats Perform.

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    Jadon Sancho can be compared to Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi with his performances for Borussia Dortmund, according to former Germany international goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

    After a slow start to the campaign amid talk of a move to Manchester United falling through, Sancho's form has picked up of late and he is on course to hit double figures for goals and assists for the third Bundesliga season running.

    The England international last week registered his 50th assist in the German top flight, becoming the youngest ever player to do so in what was his 99th appearance in the competition.

    Sancho has now been directly involved in 12 Bundesliga goals in 2021 - six goals and six assists - which is behind only Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski (11 goals and two assists).

    In Europe's top five leagues, Barcelona forward Messi (15) is the only other player to have been directly involved in more goals this calendar year than Sancho, who is level with Atalanta's Luis Muriel.

    Lehmann has been impressed by the 20-year-old's form and has backed the youngster, as well as compatriot and BVB team-mate Jude Bellingham, to remain in the Bundesliga, despite ongoing talk of a possible move to the Premier League.

    "He's done very well," Lehmann told the Daily Star. "Right now his stats can be compared to Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, and I think the third best in the whole of Europe. It's fantastic for English football."

    Asked about the future of Sancho and Bellingham, Lehmann said: "Right now, I think they're staying. Most of the big clubs have full squads anyway.

    "You'd have to be really, really outstanding if a bigger club tries to get you. But if you can imagine a club like Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City, there is already 30 or 35 players plus the players on loan.

    "It's not that easy to make a decision for guys like Bellingham and Sancho at this early stage in their careers. Would they add something? We're not sure, but first of all they need to decrease their own squad size."

    Sancho, who scored the winning goal for Dortmund in their DFB-Pokal win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, is a major doubt for this weekend's Der Klassiker showdown with Bayern due to a leg injury.

  • Nani: Solskjaer is right about how to play Martial and Rashford Nani: Solskjaer is right about how to play Martial and Rashford

    Nani thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is right to keep moving Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial around the Manchester United forward line.

    Rashford and Martial - along with Mason Greenwood - led United's attack to huge success towards the end of last season.

    Veteran Edinson Cavani has entered the fold this year amid debate over which of United's younger forwards will become the next number nine.

    Nani, who was a Champions League winner with United, thinks the modern player can move positions regularly much more easily, even if it is not always ideal.

    He thinks Solskjaer is following the methods of Alex Ferguson in selecting teams with the weaknesses of United's opponents in mind.

    Nani told Stats Perform News: "We saw so many games they played together and they were successful, so yeah [Martial and Rashford can play in the same team].

    "Sometimes when you change positions, game to game it can cause a little bit of impact from your game. 

    "But yet this is something you have to train and prepare on every week with a coach and you have to be able to understand the game.

    "You have to know what the purpose of the session was and what the manager wants for that game. 

    "I think now the capacity of the players, the new generation, they are able to play in different positions at the front. 

    "So Rashford can shoot with the left, with the right - he has skills, there is no problem for him to play in different positions. 

    "I think that the manager is doing great because he's reading the next game. 

    "So there are some games you can better use Martial central, and some you can use him better on the left wing and that's what I've been seeing the coach doing. 


    "And it's true when I used to play for Man United, Alex Ferguson was reading the opponent. 

    "So who is going to play on the right side? Who is better to challenge him is he slow? Do we need a player with more speed or more strength? It depends on what the game needs."

    United have drawn three consecutive games 0-0 for the first time since October 2015.

    While he is impressed with Rashford in general this season, Nani has highlighted an area for potential improvement that could get United out of their slump.

    "Age gives you more experience, the more you see, you learn more with the more games you get," added Nani when he was asked about Rashford.

    "But we know what he is capable of - he has energy, he has skills, he has goals [but] sometimes he just [needs] the desire to want to be more involved in the game.

    "[He needs to] want the ball more, want to run more will his all, lose more energy in the game, instead of saving himself to the end because trying to save the energy to end up the game, sometimes you lose opportunity to make your goal or your assist when the result is already done.

    "So I think he can use his strength more during the game, it will make much more difference to his game."

    Martial, meanwhile, has struggled to follow up his strong 2019-20 season, when he racked up a career-high 17 Premier League goals.

    The France international, who is facing a race against time to be fit in time to face Manchester City in Sunday's derby, has four goals and three assists from 21 league appearances this time around.

    Nani feels a return to form is needed quickly, adding: "You know Martial has shown already he has so much potential.

    "He has goals, he is strong, he is fast, he has skills. He is a player who has shown he can do much more, so we are used to seeing much more.

    "At this moment he is not at his best. He can produce much more for the team. 

    "I don't know what happened with the player, probably he had some injuries or he is not so confident as before. 

    "But he needs to get back to his best as quickly as possible because the team need him. 

    "And he needs to start scoring his goals and perform the way he used to play because he will help the team a lot."

    While their struggles in front of goal have been a problem – and a sixth 0-0 draw tied their club record for a Premier League season - the Palace draw did see United hit a notable landmark.

    They are the first team since Arsenal's 'Invincibles' of 2003-04 to remain unbeaten for their first 14 away games of a top-flight campaign.

  • Benzema: I had to adapt my game for Ronaldo at Real Madrid Benzema: I had to adapt my game for Ronaldo at Real Madrid

    Karim Benzema has revealed how Cristiano Ronaldo's departure has allowed him to take on a different role in Real Madrid's attack.

    The Frenchman has scored a goal every 1.7 games across all competitions in the two-and-a-half seasons since Ronaldo made a €100million switch to Juventus.

    But in their nine campaigns together at the Santiago Bernabeu, Benzema was instead finding the back of the net once every 2.2 games.

    And the 33-year-old has now acknowledged that he had to sacrifice certain parts of his game for Ronaldo's benefit - not that he has any regrets over the matter.

    "Cristiano's departure allowed me to play a different role. He scored 50 goals every year and you had to adapt to his game," he told El Pais.

    "He is one of the best in the world and I was happy by his side."

    Nine of the 18 trophies Benzema has won in his 12 years in Madrid have come during the two separate managerial stints of Zinedine Zidane.

    Of his compatriot, he added: "He is an older brother for me, he is always there to advise me."

    In a wide-ranging interview, Benzema also opened up on his boyhood sporting heroes, explaining: "In football, it's Ronaldo, the Brazilian. 

    "I admire [Mike] Tyson because we both came from the bottom and we went up little by little. We never had it easy, nor did they give us anything."

    He also discussed his upbringing, adding: "I come from a neighbourhood where things were difficult. When I saw older boys well-dressed and with nice cars, what I wanted was to be like them.

    "Money makes things a lot easier, but you don't need millions to be happy."

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