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Hardy scratched from Sunday’s lineup with sprained left thumb

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Hardy scratched from Sunday’s lineup with sprained left thumb

Posted on 10 August 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Originally slated to start as the Orioles tried to complete a three-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, shortstop J.J. Hardy was scratched from Sunday’s lineup due to a sprained left thumb.

The announcement came minutes before first pitch as Ryan Flaherty slid over to the shortstop position after originally being tabbed to play second base. Rookie Jonathan Schoop was inserted in the order at second base before the Orioles fell 8-3 to the Cardinals.

“Probably could have [played],” Showalter said. “[He] swung the bat. He was going to make a little adjustment in his grip. Obviously, his left hand doesn’t bother him defensively. But, the wrong jam shot [could have aggravated it].”

The news came with Hardy swinging a hot bat as he was 4-for-7 with two homers and five runs batted in over the first two games of the series in which the Orioles outscored St. Louis by a 22-5 margin. It’s been a difficult year at the plate for the veteran shortstop, who will be 32 later this month and has hit only six homers in 438 plate appearances after clubbing 77 in his first three seasons in Baltimore.

Hardy expressed disappointment following the game and acknowledged he may have to play through some soreness in the immediate future. He injured the thumb while sliding into home plate during Saturday’s win but remained in the game.

The infielder told reporters he had issues gripping the bat as well as opening and closing his glove during Sunday’s pre-game activities, which led to Showalter pulling him from the lineup.

“We’ll see how it is tomorrow. I have a feeling that I’ll probably play through some pain,” Hardy said. “If I can, I will. It’s frustrating anytime you’re dealing with your hands. Hopefully, today’s the only day and I’ll come in tomorrow and be able to get through it.”

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Hey you-help us rip off Mets fans and win some concert tickets!

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Hey you-help us rip off Mets fans and win some concert tickets!

Posted on 07 August 2014 by Glenn Clark

So I’ll just tell you flat out-the “Hunter Pence Signs” meme is the best I’ve seen from sports fans in, like, ever.

Are you not familiar? Perhaps it’s time to study up.

The concept is simple. You make fun of a player to get them going, but it’s only mildly insulting. It’s mostly just good comedy. I mean, even Hunter Pence himself got in on it Thursday.

The meme (like everything else that happens on the interwebs) has gone viral. In fact, it showed up Wednesday night in Toronto where the Baltimore Orioles were facing the Blue Jays. From Jays fan “Mr. Zach Palmer” on Twitter…

Classic all around.

“Chris Davis wears socks and sandals.” “Chris Davis puts mayo on fries.” Excellent.

The concept is that you’re not really making fun of the guy. In fact, it’s a bit endearing. It’s like a way of showing respect. “We don’t really have anything mean to say about you so instead we made some stuff up.”

So we’ve decided to have fun with it on “The Reality Check”. We want to continue the meme this weekend. The St. Louis Cardinals are coming to town, so we’ve decided to make outfielder Matt Holliday our “victim”.

The game is easy to play. All you have to do it be funny and clever in coming up with your insults. The best one will win a pair of tickets to The Hot August Music Festival (featuring Old Crow Medicine Show, Nickel Creek and Dr. Dog) next Saturday at Oregon Ridge.

I’ve already gotten a BUNCH. Some of the highlights…

Brad-”Matt Holliday doesn’t like Christmas”
Patrick-”Matt Holliday likes Hangover III”
Dean-”Matt Holliday changed his walk-up music to “Wrecking Ball”
Ed-”Matt Holliday dots his autograph with a smiley face”
Mark-”Matt Holliday cried during Marley and Me”
Steve-”Matt Holliday takes his fruitcake without walnuts”
Kerry-”Matt Holliday uses AOL”
Doug-”All of Matt Holliday’s albums are best of collections”
Greg-”Matt Holliday thinks Skip Bayless is always right”
Chris-”Matt Holliday stays out after 9pm on school nights”
Mark-”Matt Holliday thinks Michael Bay is underappreciated”
Lee-”Matt Holliday leans over the glass when ordering his burrito”
Syd-”Matt Holliday still uses payphones”
Joe-”Matt Holliday drafted Blaine Gabbert as his fantasy quarterback”
Jon-”Matt Holliday likes Nickelback”
GP-”Matt Holliday rooted for Apollo Creed”
Even our own Ryan Chell-”Matt Holliday thinks Andy Dalton is underpaid”

And Patrick is probably the leader in the clubhouse right now with “Matt Holliday still checks his MySpace”.

That’s just a sampling. We got hundreds during the show. I was going to include more but I’m writing this while sitting at the Ravens game and got bored. Blame the NFL.

We want yours. Be timely. Be clever. Be creative. Be MILDLY insulting without being cutting. Put it on an actual posterboard and you’ll get extra points!

You can email me-glenn@wnst.net or Tweet us @WNST with your best Matt Holliday insults. We hope you’ll take your signs to the stadium this weekend and share them with the masses.

“Matt Holliday enjoys preseason football” is off limits. That one is mine.

-G

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Ravens agree to one-year deal with former Rams safety Stewart

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Ravens agree to one-year deal with former Rams safety Stewart

Posted on 21 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Concluding a quiet week after their last free-agent signing of veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, the Ravens added another piece to their 2014 plans by agreeing to a one-year deal with strong safety Darian Stewart on Friday.

The former St. Louis Rams defensive back is familiar with Baltimore secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was Stewart’s head coach in the first two years of his NFL career. Stewart started six games and played in 13 overall for the Rams last season, making 36 tackles and breaking up five passes.

Stewart is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore to take a physical before signing his contract.

It’s likely that Stewart’s signing is more of a depth move as the Ravens aren’t expected to retain starting strong safety James Ihedigbo, who is reportedly mulling over offers from a few NFC teams. With 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam expected to shift to strong safety, general manager Ozzie Newsome said at the beginning of the offseason that upgrading the free safety spot would be his top defensive priority.

“I talked about a free safety [and] maybe getting a free safety that can be a playmaker,” said Newsome when asked in early January what improvements needed to be made to the defense. “When tipped balls are in the air, guys that can come away with that.”

Stewart received the most extensive playing time of his career during the 2011 season, Spagnuolo’s last year as head coach of the Rams. The University of South Carolina product started 13 games and collected 84 tackles, three sacks, 11 pass breakups, and one interception.

For his career, the 5-foot-11, 214-pound safety has amassed 147 tackles, four sacks, and one interception.

The free safety market has few remaining options as veterans Chris Clemons and Thomas DeCoud could be viewed as reasonable choices but neither profiles as the playmaking safety Newsome covets. Former Bills free safety Jairus Byrd was the best free safety to hit the market earlier this month, but he was quickly signed to a lucrative $56 million contract with the New Orleans Saints on the first day of free agency.

The Ravens may have no choice but to look toward the draft for their answer at free safety with the likes of Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor potentially available in the first round and others such as Ed Reynolds of Stanford or Florida State’s Terrence Brooks serving as Day 2 possibilities. Should the Ravens not acquire a free safety, they would likely be forced to move Elam back to free safety and look at the possibility of Stewart at the starting strong safety spot.

An undrafted free agent in 2010, Stewart reportedly visited the Carolina Panthers earlier this week.

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Blast open road swing with win in St. Louis

Posted on 07 February 2014 by WNST Staff

The Blast traveled to St. Louis to play the Ambush for the second time this season. With a 12-6 final score, the Blast improved their record 12-3.

 

The Baltimore Blast scored the first goal 3:36 into the game from a goal by Tony Donatelli, assisted by Lucio Gonzaga. With only one minute to play in the first quarter, J.T. Noone scored on a deflection from Mike Lookingland. At the end of the first quarter, the Blast led the Ambush 4-0.

 

Mike Lookingland added another goal to the Blast’s total with an assist from Max Ferdinand, 7 minutes into the second quarter. In the final seconds of the second quarter, Michael Roach scored an unassisted goal. At half time, the Blast were ahead 6-2.

 

The Ambush scored the first goal 3:34 into the quarter. Scored by Jeff DiMaria and assisted by Chad Vandegriffe.  The Ambush tied the game with a goal from Corey Adamson, assisted by Daniel Antoniuk. In the final seconds of the quarter, Mike Lookingland gave the Blast the lead. At the end of the quarter the Blast regained the lead, 8-6.

 

The Blast got on the board early into the 4th quarter with a goal by Diego Zuniga, assisted by Mike Lookingland. Pat Healey added another goal early in the quarter, with an assist by Tony Donatelli. At the final whistle the Blast improved their record 12-3 and beat the Ambush for the second time this season, 12-6.

 

The Blast were led by Mike Lookingland who had 2 goals and 2 assists in Thursday’s victory over the Ambush.  Tony Donatelli attributed a goal and an assist, lifting the Blast to a 12-6 victory over the St. Louis Ambush.  William Vanzela protected the goal with 13 saves, while the Baltimore defense only allowed 3 goals.

 

The Blast take on the Missouri Comets for the second time this season. The Blast defeated the Comets earlier in the season 14-6. The Comets are led offensively by Vahid Assadpour, who leads the MISL with 55 points. Forward Leo Gibson also has 50 points on the season as the Comets high-powered offense looks to find opportunities against the strong Blast defense. The Comets are coached by Vlatko.

 

1 2 3 4 F

Blast: 4 2 2 4 12

Ambush: 0 2 4 0 6

 

Upcoming Games:

2/9 Blast @ Missouri Comets, 4:05pm EST

2/21 Blast vs. Pennsylvania Roar, 7:05pm

2/22 Blast vs. Syracuse Silver Knights, 6:05

 

The Blast traveled to St. Louis to play the Ambush for the second time this season. With a 12-6 final score, the Blast improved their record 12-3.

 

The Baltimore Blast scored the first goal 3:36 into the game from a goal by Tony Donatelli, assisted by Lucio Gonzaga. With only one minute to play in the first quarter, J.T. Noone scored on a deflection from Mike Lookingland. At the end of the first quarter, the Blast led the Ambush 4-0.

 

Mike Lookingland added another goal to the Blast’s total with an assist from Max Ferdinand, 7 minutes into the second quarter. In the final seconds of the second quarter, Michael Roach scored an unassisted goal. At half time, the Blast were ahead 6-2.

 

The Ambush scored the first goal 3:34 into the quarter. Scored by Jeff DiMaria and assisted by Chad Vandegriffe.  The Ambush tied the game with a goal from Corey Adamson, assisted by Daniel Antoniuk. In the final seconds of the quarter, Mike Lookingland gave the Blast the lead. At the end of the quarter the Blast regained the lead, 8-6.

 

The Blast got on the board early into the 4th quarter with a goal by Diego Zuniga, assisted by Mike Lookingland. Pat Healey added another goal early in the quarter, with an assist by Tony Donatelli. At the final whistle the Blast improved their record 12-3 and beat the Ambush for the second time this season, 12-6.

 

The Blast were led offensively by Mike Lookingland who had 2 goals and 2 assists in Thursday night’s victory over the Ambush.  Tony Donatelli attributed a goal and an assist, lifting the Blast to a 12-6 victory over the St. Louis Ambush.  William Va  by Vahid Assadpour, who leads the MISL with 55 points. Forward Leo Gibson also has 50 points on the season as the Comets high-powered offense looks to find opportunities against the strong Blast defense.

                  

FINAL SCORING SUMMARY


                   1    2    3    4     F

Blast:       4     2    2    4    12

Ambush: 0     2    4    0     6

 

Upcoming Games:

2/9 Blast @ Missouri Comets, 4:05pm EST

2/21 Blast vs. Pennsylvania Roar, 7:05pm

2/22 Blast vs. Syracuse Silver Knights, 6:05

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Ovechkin’s 4 Goals Rallies Caps Past Bolts in Shootout

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Ovechkin’s 4 Goals Rallies Caps Past Bolts in Shootout

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

There is something about snow that tends to bring out the best in Alexander Ovechkin, so it’s no coincidence that one of his nicknames, besides the Gr8, is Snovechkin.

On Tuesday night, in a game the Capitals really had no business winning, Alex Snovechkin scored four goals, including the game tying tally with just 33 seconds left in regulation.

Washington would go on to win in the shootout, 6-5, and steal two points from a hard working and undermanned Tampa Bay Lightning club.

Ovechkin had the four markers and his center, Nicklas Backstrom, had a goal and four helpers for a five point night. Those two guys, along with rookie Philip Grubauer in net and some good fortune, are the reason the Caps scraped out two points after trailing 3-0 early on.

The Caps looked nothing like the team that manhandled the Rangers on Sunday at the Garden as the Lightning, without top players Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, came out flying while several Capitals coasted through their early shifts. Most notable was defensemen Mike Green who had the worst period I’ve ever seen #52 play. He took four minors, a 10 minute misconduct, and badly misplayed the two on one break that gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead and chased starter Braden Holtby. #70 wasn’t that bad, but clearly Adam Oates wanted to wake his sleep walking team up, at that point.

The move eventually helped and Ovechkin would get yet another goal this season off of a face off in the opening frame to give the Caps some life. Then when the Bolts Richard Panik took a major for boarding Karl Alzner late in period two, the Gr8 scored twice on the power play to send this one tied, at 4-4, to the third period.

At that point one would think the Caps would take over and win this one against a depleted Tampa squad, but the Bolts are well coached by John Cooper and they carried much of the play. They grabbed the lead when Martin St. Louis, who is one of the smallest but also one of the best players in the NHL, set up Ondrej Palat in the slot at 8:36 of the final period. St. Louis is a Caps killer and he had three points in this game. His work ethic is amazing and several Capitals could learn a lot from watching him.

Work ethic was something that was not there for many Capitals in this tilt. Washington was too fancy and made many bad passes. Martin Erat had a hat trick of giveaways, one of which led to a goal. It should have been three for three if not for Grubauer’s great goaltending on the other two occassions. The Capitals forwards did a mostly lousy job of helping out their defense in this game and Oates will have plenty of video to show of their mistakes.

But the good news is this Capitals team is resilient. They don’t quit and they keep scrapping. It really helps to have skill and talent and Ovechkin and Backstrom took over to save the day on a night when many Washington players just didn’t bring their better performances to the rink.

On Tuesday the Caps did just enough to win, they should be thankful that snowstorms, even an over hyped one like the area had today, brings out the best in their captain.

It was the Alexander Ovechkin show on Tuesday. That’s now 26 goals in 29 games this season. To quote the Gr8, that is “Sick, Unbelievable…”

Notes: Eric Fehr, who is playing super and brought his game on Tuesday, Mikhail Grabovski, and Troy Brouwer all scored in the gimmick for the Caps…Grubauer got his 2nd NHL win in his 1st career NHL shootout…because the Caps were trailing the fourth line played sparingly and Aaron Volpatti and Tom Wilson played less than five minutes each…the Caps are now 17-12-2 (36 points)…John Carlson played an all worldly 34:48 in this one…the Caps won the face off battle, 36-22 and Backstrom was 15-7…Washington was 3 for 5 on the power play while Tampa went 2 for 5…Green was a lot better after his misconduct and had an assist. The referees were not the problem for him in the opening frame, it was his lack of skating and too much reliance on using his stick. Lazy hockey, plain and simple.

 

 

 

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Team USA Should Choose Caps John Carlson for Sochi Squad

Posted on 16 November 2013 by Ed Frankovic

With less than three months until Team USA plays its first game on February 13th vs Slovakia in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, things are heating up in the battle to make the team.

The rosters for many of the countries will be finalized over the next four to six weeks and make no mistake about it, earning a spot on a team is a big deal to NHL players.

Washington Capitals fans will have both Alexander Ovechkin (Russia) and Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) to watch in Sochi, but there is another Caps player that is making a strong case to be on an Olympic roster, USA’s John Carlson.

That Carlson is in the running for a spot on the team is no surprise to Caps fans. #74 has been flat out dominant over the last few weeks and his 32:26 of ice time on Friday night in Detroit, including an eye popping 4:19 of play in the five minute overtime is quite telling. Carlson is a major reason that Washington is 6-1-1 in the month of November.

Team USA’s GM is David Poile and he is the ultimate decision maker for the roster, but he will get help from others to include Team USA’s head coach, Dan Byslma and Pens GM, Ray Shero.

Two quality NHL hockey writers, Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside, handicapped the Team USA roster on November 7th. In that post they list the following four players as locks to make Team USA’s defense:

Ryan Suter (Minnesota)

Paul Martin (Pittsburgh)

Jack Johnson (Columbus)

Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers)

Given that there are likely going to be eight players chosen on defense, that leaves four roster spots remaining.

In the mix to make the roster, based on who attended Team USA’s camp last August, in addition to Carlson are:

Kevin Faulk (Carolina)

Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis)

Keith Yandle (Phoenix)

Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh)

Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg)

Zach Bogosian (Winnipeg)

Matt Carle (Tampa Bay)

Cam Fowler (Anaheim)

Seth Jones (Nashville)

Danny DeKeyser (Detroit)

Erik Johnson (Colorado)

According to LeBrun and Burnside, they have Yandle, Shattenkirk, Faulk, and Orpik as the next four on their list. Carlson was further down on their rankings, but again, that list was done on November 7th and nine days later, we have more data.

The key for Poile is to have a crew that is playing as well as possible when February 13th arrives.

When talking to the former Caps GM out at Kettler IcePlex last August, it was clear to me that Poile is very concerned about the lack of success the Americans have had in the Olympics outside of North America and he pinpointed their ability to play on the Olympic sized ice, which is wider than the NHL rinks. This changes the game and puts a larger premium on skating ability.

It also, in my mind, puts more emphasis on having right handed players play the right side and vice versa with the left. Looking at the four locks to make the team in the ESPN article, one thing to note is that all four of those defensemen shoot left. So of the remaining four spots, one would have to think that at least three of them should be right handed shots.

The right handed shots on the above list are: Carlson, Jones, Erik Johnson, Kevin Faulk, Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Bogosian, and Dustin Byfuglien.

Is Carlson in the top three or four on that list?

With the way #74′s played over the last month, absolutely!

Carlson’s four goals leads all USA defensemen (tied with McDonagh) and his 23:38 average time on ice puts him sixth overall out of the 16 players mentioned as possibilities. Carlson, and his defensive partner, Karl Alzner, routinely play against the top line of the opposition. So he’s no stranger to top players like Sidney Crosby, Geno Malkin, Eric Staal, Martin St. Louis, and John Tavares that will be donning the uniforms of Team USA’s opposition. There’s a reason Carlson gets those assignments game in and game out, he’s considered Washington’s top right handed defender in his own zone.

Another reason Team USA should choose Carlson is his skating ability. The 2010 World Junior Championship hero for Team USA is extremely mobile and that is something Poile’s team absolutely has to have in Sochi. I’m not sure a guy like Orpik is as effective on the big ice as he’d be in an NHL sized rink. Jones is a generational player and a raw talent, but he’s only 19 years old and is only just this year playing against the top competiton in the NHL. It just seems too risky to choose him now with so much pressure on the Americans to medal. Seth will eventually be there, but now is not the time. I’d also pass on a guy like Byfuglien who has had conditioning issues in the past and isn’t a super skater. He’s another guy more suited to NHL sized rinks. Bogosian, with all of the potential he brought when drafted high in Atlanta and his great skating ability, just hasn’t been consistent. Erik Johnson was super in Vancouver in 2010, but his game has been up and down recently and he is another much more suited to the NHL sized rink.

That leaves Carlson, Faulk, and Shattenkirk as my top three right handed shots. Carlson not only kills penalties but he also has a hard shot to bring to the power play. You can’t play 4:19 of a five minute overtime without being in great shape and #74 routinely is one of Washington’s best conditioned players. Overall, there is just no downside to putting Carlson on Team USA. He’s played in big games at the NHL level and in junior competitions in enemy rinks.

Carlson is playing the best hockey of his career right now and he deserves a really good look from Poile, Bylsma, and Shero (the Penguins are in town on Wednesday). If they see what we’ve seen Carlson do over the last several weeks, win the loose puck battles in all zones, get his shots to the net, and shut down the top line of the opposition, they should come to the same conclusion I’ve come to:

John Carlson deserves to be on the Team USA roster for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

 

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Bovada makes Red Sox favorite to win World Series

Posted on 21 October 2013 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

“I am more than happy the Red Sox were able to hold off the Tigers and get into the World Series since they are the team that would provide us with the biggest win possible out of any team that made the playoffs in our World Series Odds. Boston is a small 5/7 favorite against St. Louis paying out at 6/5 and 60% of the early money is on the Cards making our need for Boston to win even bigger.”

-Kevin Bradley, Sports Book Manager, Bovada.lv

 

 

Odds to win 2013 World Series

 

St. Louis Cardinals (Series Prices)          6/5        (+120)

Boston Red Sox (Series Prices)             5/7        (-140)

 

Odds to win the 2013 World Series MVP         

David Ortiz (BOS)                      15/2

Dustin Pedroia (BOS)                8/1

Carlos Beltran (STL)                   9/1

Matt Holliday (STL)                    10/1

Yadier Molina (STL)                   12/1

Allen Craig (STL)                       12/1

Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)              12/1

Jon Lester (BOS)                       12/1

Adam Wainwright (STL)              14/1

Michael Wacha (STL)                 15/1

Matt Carpenter (STL)                  15/1

Mike Napoli (BOS)                     15/1

Clay Buchholz (BOS)                 15/1

Koji Uehara (BOS)                     15/1

Xander Bogaerts (BOS)             16/1

David Freese (STL)                    18/1

Trevor Rosenthal (STL)              18/1

Matt Adams (STL)                     20/1

Shane Victorino (BOS)               20/1

Stephen Drew (BOS)                 25/1

 

Exact Series Result     

St. Louis Cardinals 4-0               12/1

St. Louis Cardinals 4-1               6/1

St. Louis Cardinals 4-2               5/1

St. Louis Cardinals 4-3               5/1

Boston Red Sox 4-0                  10/1

Boston Red Sox 4-1                  6/1

Boston Red Sox 4-2                  7/2

Boston Red Sox 4-3                  4/1

 

Total Games in Series 

 

4          11/2

5          13/5

6          7/4

7          7/4

 

Miscellaneous Props

MLB WORLD SERIES SPECIAL – Which team will hit more Home Runs in the Series?

St. Louis Cardinals                    +150     (3/2)

Boston Red Sox                       -200     (1/2)

MLB WORLD SERIES SPECIAL – Which team will record more errors in the Series?  

St. Louis Cardinals                    -110

Boston Red Sox                       -110

 

MLB WORLD SERIES SPECIAL – How many times will Shane Victorino be Hit by Pitch in the Series?           

Over                             1 (EVEN, 1/1)

Under                           1 (-140, 5/7)

 

MLB WORLD SERIES SPECIAL – Will any player or manager be ejected during a game in the Series?           

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -200     (1/2)

 

MLB WORLD SERIES SPECIAL – Will any team pitch a shutout in the Series?

Yes                  EVEN   (1/1)

No                    -140      (5/7)

 

MLB WORLD SERIES SPECIAL – Will there be a Grand Slam in the Series?

Yes                  +300     (3/1)

No                    -500     (1/5)

 

Player Props

 

Most Hits, Runs and RBI’s in the Series

Matt Carpenter (STL)                  1/1        (EVEN)

Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)              4/5        (-125)

 

Matt Holliday (STL)                    10/11    (-110)

Dustin Pedroia (BOS)                10/11    (-110)

 

Yadier Molina (STL)                   1/1        (EVEN)

Mike Napoli (BOS)                     4/5        (-125)

 

Carlos Beltran (STL)                   1/1        (EVEN)

David Ortiz (BOS)                      4/5        (-125)

 

Matt Adams (STL)                     1/1        (EVEN)

Shane Victorino (BOS)               4/5        (-125)

 

Game 1 Strikeouts

Adam Wainwright

Over/Under                   6.5

 

Jon Lester

Over/Under                   5

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Predicting the 2013 Ravens roster after the final preseason game

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Predicting the 2013 Ravens roster after the final preseason game

Posted on 29 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Ravens concluded their preseason with a 24-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams in a game that featured none of the team’s starters and extensive work for a number of bubble players fighting for spots on the 53-man roster.

With third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie playing the entire game, it’s difficult to conclude that anything changed dramatically in the competition at wide receiver and tight end where a few spots were still up for grabs. However, the battles for the potential No. 3 running back job and the fourth safety spot featured plenty of action for players projected to be on the bubble.

The Ravens appeared to suffer only one significant injury in Thursday’s game as linebacker D.J. Bryant suffered a significant knee injury at the end of the first half that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. Though the Randallstown High alum was a long shot to make the 53-man roster, he appeared to be a solid candidate for the practice squad after joining the Ravens in that capacity last year.

My final look at the roster suggests 44 healthy players are locks as the Ravens make final decisions by Saturday. My assessment of the 75 players on the roster lists 16 players on the bubble with at least some chance of making the final roster. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. The Ravens will always look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.

The Ravens must trim the roster to the regular-season number of 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday, and Harbaugh told reporters following Thursday’s game that some cuts would be made early while others likely wouldn’t come until Saturday.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players projected to be on the 53-man roster at that given position. Players listed as injured or suspended do not count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made. Players deemed to be on the bubble are marked with an asterisk.

QUARTERBACKS (2)
IN: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
OUT: Caleb Hanie, Dayne Crist
Skinny: The Ravens were wise in keeping Taylor out of harm’s way and allowing Hanie to go the distance. All signs point to Baltimore carrying just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the fourth straight season.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (6)
IN: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk, *Anthony Allen, *Bobby Rainey
OUT: *Delone Carter
Skinny: Some flexibility — or lack of depth — at other positions might allow the Ravens to carry both Allen and Rainey on the roster for the time being. Allen is a standout special-teams player with limited ability at running back while Rainey shows offensive upside but offers little to the special teams other than as a backup returner.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7)
IN: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, *Tandon Doss, *Deonte Thompson, *Aaron Mellette
OUT: *LaQuan Williams
Skinny: Williams saw no time at wide receiver on Thursday night, making it difficult to read where he stands at this point. Brown turned himself into a lock — he won’t make it through waivers to the practice squad — after a strong performance for the second straight game while Doss and Mellette also played well in the preseason finale.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
IN: Ed Dickson, *Dallas Clark, *Billy Bajema
OUT: *Matt Furstenburg, Alex Silvestro
INJURED RESERVE: Dennis Pitta (will be placed on injured reserve with a chance of receiving the designation to return)
Skinny: Clark was unimpressive again, but he’s worked with the first-team offense extensively in practices since signing with the Ravens a couple weeks ago. Bajema and Furstenburg did nothing to distinguish themselves, making you think Furstenburg has a better chance of finding his way to the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
IN: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner
OUT: *Jordan Devey, Antoine McClain, Rogers Gaines, J.J. Unga, Reggie Stephens
INJURED: Ryan Jensen (will likely be placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken foot in the first week of camp)
Skinny: Devey has had a solid preseason, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ravens add another veteran to bolster their depth with only eight linemen projected to be on the roster at this point. The fact that Gradkowski didn’t play in the preseason finale tells you he has won the starting center job to begin the season with Shipley backing him up.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

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Ravens-Rams pre-game notes

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Ravens-Rams pre-game notes

Posted on 29 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Thursday night marked the final chance for a handful of bubble players to secure one of the remaining spots on the 53-man roster as the Ravens take on the St. Louis Rams in the preseason finale.

After announcing earlier in the week that starting quarterback Joe Flacco wouldn’t play in the fourth preseason game — marking the fifth straight year he’s sat out the final preseason contest — coach John Harbaugh was expected to rest most of his starters with the regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos only a week away. Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor went through pre-game warmups at the Edward Jones Dome, which was a strong indication that he’s been cleared from the concussion suffered last week against the Carolina Panthers, but it remained unclear whether he’d play against the Rams.

Reports from St. Louis also indicated tight end Ed Dickson was going through pre-game warmups, but many others weren’t suited up to play, including running back Ray Rice, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, cornerback Lardarius Webb, right guard Marshal Yanda, and left tackle Bryant McKinnie. The Ravens hadn’t released a conclusive list of inactive players 30 minutes prior to the 8:00 p.m. kickoff.

The Ravens will be meeting the Rams for the fourth time ever in the preseason as St. Louis enters the game with a 3-0 all-time mark in the exhibition contests. Baltimore leads the all-time regular-season series by a 3-2 margin and won a 37-7 blowout in St. Louis in the teams’ last meeting in 2011.

Harbaugh is now 15-8 in preseason games with the Ravens holding a 42-28 overall mark in the preseason. Baltimore has won 14 of its last 19 preseason games.

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Ravens-Rams preseason primer: Five players to watch

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Ravens-Rams preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 28 August 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Ravens have reached the light at the end of the preseason tunnel as they’ll conclude the summer against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night.

From an entertainment standpoint, the preseason finale has rarely been one in which you can cut the electricity with a knife as Joe Flacco has already been confirmed by head coach John Harbaugh to be a spectator on Thursday. The starting quarterback won’t be alone as many starters will not take the field at all at the Edward Jones Dome in a game that means nothing for players who have already sewn up spots on the 53-man roster.

Of course, Harbaugh and the coaching staff will be expecting a strong performance from the players who will see action, many of whom are fighting for no more than a few jobs.

“We’re getting ready to go play St. Louis,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to do our best to go out there and try to win that game within the parameters of what helps our football team going forward into the regular season.”

In all reality, most roster decisions have already been made with the preseason finale not doing much to change the dynamics of the 53-man squad that must be finalized by Saturday at 6 p.m. Players with no realistic shot of making the team are hoping to put forth a good performance that might garner attention from other teams looking to fill out their rosters and practice squads in the coming days.

Potential competitions remain for the third running job, the No. 3 tight end, and the fourth safety job if the Ravens elect to keep each of those positions. And, of course, much attention will be paid to the wide receivers currently on the bubble, but you have to wonder how many conclusions the coaching staff can draw from the wideouts playing with reserve quarterback Caleb Hanie and potentially the newly-signed Dayne Crist.

Harbaugh was asked Tuesday how many times he could recall roster spots being decided by just a play or two made in the preseason finale.

“Probably not often, in all reality,” Harbaugh said. “But I would say in this game, there are a couple of those. There are a couple guys that, perhaps if they really, really play well, they could really play themselves on [to the 53-man roster]. Or, guys could play themselves off. It’s possible.”

The Ravens will be meeting the Rams for the fourth time ever in the preseason as St. Louis enters the game with a 3-0 all-time mark in the exhibition contests. Baltimore leads the all-time regular-season series by a 3-2 margin and won a 37-7 blowout in St. Louis in the teams’ last meeting in 2011.

Harbaugh is now 15-8 in preseason games with the Ravens holding a 42-28 overall mark in the preseason. Baltimore has won 14 of its last 19 preseason games.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to produce an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released.

Of course, the final preseason game will include many players sitting out due to Harbaugh’s preference with the regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos just a week from Thursday night. This estimated report does not reflect any of the veterans who will watch from the sidelines and is only an indication of the team’s current health.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee), and outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton (wrist) are no longer on the active roster and are no longer included in the injury report.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: WR Deonte Thompson (foot), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), OL Ryan Jensen (foot), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DOUBTFUL: TE Ed Dickson (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Arthur Jones (personal health issue), QB Tyrod Taylor (head)
PROBABLE: G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), CB Lardarius Webb (knee)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. RB Delone Carter

While few fans are enthused to watch the fourth and final preseason game consisting of few starters, the contest will offer the first glance of Carter, who was acquired from Indianapolis in the David Reed trade. At 5-foot-9 and 232 pounds, Carter is a low-to-the-ground power runner with the reputation of being effective at the goal line and in short-yardage situations, two areas in which the Ravens struggled at times last season.

The real question may be how much of an impact Carter can bring to special teams as the potential No. 3 running back with third-year veteran Anthony Allen strong in that regard and Bobby Rainey having intriguing potential as a backup return specialist. Much discussion of last impressions being made in the preseason finale is overblown, but Carter has only had a couple practices to show off his ability, meaning Thursday will be critical for his potential future in Baltimore.

2. WR LaQuan Williams

It’s difficult to predict whether the performance of any of the bubble receivers on Thursday night will carry much stock in final roster decisions if the likes of Hanie and Crist are under center, but Williams hasn’t followed up his strong performance in the preseason opener in the way he would have liked. Always a good special-teams player, Williams has lacked consistency as a wideout this summer and saw rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette receive opportunities with the first-team offense in recent weeks while he only received a few token reps here and there.

A standout play or two on special teams would likely put an exclamation point on his case for a spot on the 53-man roster for the third straight season, but Williams would like to leave a lasting impression as a wide receiver as well. The coaching staff has always been complimentary of his work ethic, but Williams doesn’t have the impressive height or blazing speed of other receivers with which he’s competing and his value on special teams can only go so far with so much uncertainty at the wide receiver position as a whole.

3. DE DeAngelo Tyson

It’s remarkable to think how far the defensive line has come since last season when Tyson was seeing critical snaps in the second half of Super Bowl XLVII after Haloti Ngata went down with a knee injury. The 2012 seventh-round pick hasn’t necessarily had a poor summer, but he is clearly seventh in the pecking order of a deep group of options with various skills against the run and pass.

Tyson’s fate will come down to the simple numbers as the coaching staff decides whether players at other positions would be better fits for roster spots than keeping Tyson as a seventh defensive lineman. Statistics usually aren’t a great indication of how well a defensive lineman has fared, but Tyson’s two tackles reflect the quiet preseason we’ve observed from the Georgia product.

4. TE Billy Bajema

Following the Ravens’ decision to terminate the contract of veteran Visanthe Shiancoe last weekend, many assumed this opened the door for rookie Matt Furstenburg to be the No. 3 tight end, but veteran Billy Bajema is a reliable blocking tight end with some ability as a pass catcher when given opportunities. He saw a great deal of action late last season when Ed Dickson was sidelined with a knee injury and held up well as the blocking tight end behind Dennis Pitta.

In most cases, teams will go with the younger, cheaper option when rookies and veterans are evenly matched in a competition for a roster spot, but the Ravens were using Bajema over Furstenburg with the starting offense prior to the free-agent signing of Dallas Clark a couple weeks ago. Bajema is also a positive special-teams contributor, which is something that shouldn’t be overlooked when the Ravens make their final decision on a potential third tight end.

5. S Anthony Levine

Fellow safety Omar Brown might be more of a household name after a strong 2012 preseason, but Levine has appeared to receive more opportunities with the starting special-teams units during the preseason, which could be an indication of which way the Ravens are leaning for the fourth safety spot — if they decide to keep one. Levine is bigger than Brown and was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad last November before eventually going on injured reserve, which paved the way for Brown to be promoted in December.

This might be a rare roster battle that comes down to a matter of who can make a play or two in the preseason finale to sell the coaches on a potential decision. Levine has eight tackles this summer while Brown has five; however, Levine has made one special-teams tackle but appeared to be one of the guilty parties to misplay his lane assignment in the Ted Ginn Jr. 74-yard punt return for a touchdown last week in Baltimore.

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