Not so much for Justin Verlander

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Not so much for Justin Verlander

From Comcast SportsNet
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Justin Verlander wanted to give the fans an All-Star show. The Tigers' ace certainly did that Tuesday night, though not in the way he intended. The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner offered a steady series of 100 mph fastballs that National League hitters sent soaring all over picturesque Kauffman Stadium. Verlander was hammered for five runs in the first inning as the National League cruised to an 8-0 victory. "I was able to laugh at it right away," Verlander said after leaving the game. "Obviously, you don't want to go out like that, but I had fun. That's why I don't try to throw 100 (mph) in the first inning, but this is for the fans. It doesn't usually work out too well for me." Verlander was picked to start the All-Star game by AL manager Ron Washington, who no doubt knows the value of home-field advantage in the World Series awarded to the winning side. Nobody questioned his choice, either. The hard-throwing Verlander came within two outs of his third career no-hitter against Pittsburgh in May. He was coming off two complete games in his last three starts, and had allowed only seven runs in the first inning of 18 starts all season. The NL nearly tallied that much during the biggest first inning since the 2004 game. "I know this game means something and you don't want to give up runs, but we're here for the fans," Verlander said. "I know the fans don't want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners." Washington was careful in his assessment of Verlander, dancing around questions about whether he was happy with the approach taken by the Tigers' top starter. "Well, it's very disappointing, because we're competitors and we want to win," Washington said. "You've got to tip your hat to the National League again. They came out, swung the bats, and once they got the lead, started bringing those arms in their hand, and they got the job done." Even though Washington might have preferred Verlander take the start a little more seriously, there were plenty of guys on the AL squad who wanted to see him ramp up the heat. "Hitting 100 in the first inning? Normally you see the guy throw 93, 94 in the first and then hit 100 in the eighth. We saw him hit 101," Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. "The funniest part was (Prince) Fielder said to him, Hit 101' and the next pitch he hit 101. Is it that easy?" Evidently, it's easier than getting guys out. Verlander ran into trouble almost immediately, giving up a one-out single to Melky Cabrera and Ryan Braun's RBI double. He recovered to strike out Joey Votto, but walked Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey -- the latter on four pitches, a couple tickling triple digits on the radar gun. That's when Pablo Sandoval stepped to the plate. The portly Giants slugger ripped his first triple of 2012 off the right-field wall, clearing the bases and leaving Verlander to wander around the mound in a stupor. "I don't get many triples," Sandoval said. "We had some fun with that in the dugout." At one point during the first inning, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux made his way to the mound -- a rarity any time Verlander starts, and downright unheard of in an All-Star game. "I knew why he was coming out, to tell me to slow down," Verlander said. "Before he hit the mound, I was like, Hey, I can't slow down now.'" Verlander eventually got through the inning and was replaced by Joe Nathan, an altogether embarrassing way to leave his fifth All-Star game. He'd allowed five earned runs in a start once all season, and hadn't given up five in any inning since April 11, 2010, against the Indians. "It is surprising, because he's one of the best pitchers in the league. He proved that last year by winning the MVP and the Cy Young," Cardinals slugger Carlos Beltran said. "Normally when you face him during the season, you kind of get 90 or 91 early in the game. He came out firing 97 or 98. I guess he was missing his spots. We were able to capitalize."

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For the Baltimore Ravens it was all about defense in the 2017 draft

For the Baltimore Ravens it was all about defense in the 2017 draft

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens returned to their roots in the 2017 NFL draft.

Baltimore took a defensive player with each of its first four picks, shoring up the backfield with first-round selection Marlon Humphrey before adding two linebackers and an end on Day 2.

Big plays, long passes and flashy fantasy football running backs draw most of the headlines these days in the NFL, but for Baltimore it's all about defense.

Humphrey was a starting cornerback for the second-ranked defense in the country.

The three players selected on Friday -- Tyus Bowser of Houston, Michigan's Chris Wormley and Tim Williams of Alabama -- combined for 45 sacks over the past two seasons.

"We have always been a defensive team," Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said. "We think there's exceptional value with all four picks. They're guys that really fit who we are, with their skillset, their personality and the way they play."

Bowser, Wormley and Williams should benefit from the tutelage of 34-year-old Terrell Suggs, Baltimore's career sack leader.

"I think he is planning on showing them how to do it, not telling them how to do it," coach John Harbaugh said. "It is going to be fun to watch."

If Suggs and his new friends do their job, then the revamped defensive backfield will have an easier time of it.

After signing free agent cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson, general manager Ozzie Newsome drafted Humphrey and capped the draft Saturday by selecting Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark in the sixth round.

"One of our main focuses this offseason was to really work to improve the secondary and also the pass rush," DeCosta said. "I think we were able to do that."

Here's where the Ravens stand after the draft:

FINALLY, SOME OFFENSE: The Ravens looked to the other side of the ball Saturday, selecting guard Nico Siragusa (San Diego State) in the fourth round and guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor of Texas A&M in the fifth.

Maybe Siragusa was attractive to Baltimore because Tony Siragusa (no relation) starred as a defensive tackle for the Ravens in the 2001 Super Bowl.

The Ravens are in need of a center to replace the traded Jeremy Zuttah, and Nico is willing to try.

"Man, I'm in the NFL," he said. "I'll play whatever."

Eluemunor will likely be given a look at right tackle in place of departed free agent Rick Wagner.

STILL NEED HELP: After going through free agency and the draft, the Ravens still don't have a deep threat besides Mike Wallace.

There's also a void at center and running back, and the team lacks depth on the offensive line and at tight end.

"There are going to be players that are going to be released after the draft. There are going to be players that are going to be released in training camp," Newsome said. "We are not done with the 53-man squad that we are going to play with when we open up against Cincinnati."

INSIDE INFO: Harbaugh's brother Jim is a coach at Michigan, so John received a first-hand scouting report on Wormley.

"I heard great things about him. He is one of the guys that Jim felt very strongly about," John said.

Newsome, meanwhile, has deep ties to Alabama, his alma mater. The addition of Humphrey and Williams brings to nine the number of Alabama players he has drafted.

TWO-SPORT STARS: Bowser suited up for the Houston basketball team for two seasons and Eluemunor played rugby in England, then wrestled and played football in high school.

Because Eluemunor got a late start on his football career, the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder should be considered a work in progress.

FINAL WORD: Newsome beamed after he was done with the draft, even though he didn't get everything he was looking for.

"The Baltimore Ravens are a better football team right now," Newsome declared. "And we will continue to work to get better."

Newsome can't say for sure if he drafted an immediate starter, but he's certain he got some contributors.

"With the attrition that happens in training camp and the season, you have to have depth," he said.

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Bullpen falls short, but Mark Trumbo saves Orioles

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USA TODAY Sports

Bullpen falls short, but Mark Trumbo saves Orioles

NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit a go-ahead single in a three-run 11th off Bryan Mitchell, who returned to the mound after an unusual inning at first base, and the Baltimore Orioles rebounded from another blown late lead to beat the New York Yankees 7-4 Sunday.

Didi Gregorius hit a two-run single off Donnie Hart with two outs in the ninth that tied the score 4-all. Logan Verrett (1-0), making his Orioles debut, escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th when he got Starlin Castro to hit ground into a forceout, with shortstop J.J. Hardy throwing home, then struck out hot-hitting rookie Aaron Judge.

Joey Ricard singled with one out in the 11th against Mitchell (1-1), stole second and, after an intentional walk, scored on Trumbo's two-out single. Welington Castillo singled for a 6-4 lead, and Manny Machado got into a rundown and scored when third baseman Chase Headley bobbled the ball.

Verrett finished the 4-hour 37-minute marathon for the Orioles. New York stranded 16 runners and had its four-game winning streak end.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was ejected in the ninth arguing a balk call that helped set up Gregorius' tying single.

New York and Baltimore ended April tied for the AL East lead at 15-8. While the Orioles improved slightly from a 14-9 mark in the first month of last season, the retooled Yankees turned around from an 8-14 start in April last year.

Baltimore starter Wade Miley went to seven three-ball counts in the first three innings, when he threw 79 pitches and stranded seven runners. He walked five or more for the third time in five starts, allowing two runs, eight hits and five walks in five innings.

Miley allowed Matt Holliday's 432-foot solo homer in the first, then struck out Headley to strand two runners. He escaped a second-and-third, no-outs jam in the second by fanning Kyle Higashioka, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks, then left the bases loaded in the third when Chris Carter struck out and Higashioka popped out.

Adam Jones' single tied the score in the third, when Jordan Montgomery struck out Trumbo to leave the bases loaded. Headley singled for a 2-1 lead in the bottom half before Miley escaped further trouble.

Montgomery walked Machado and Trumbo opening the sixth, and Castillo's single loaded the bases. Trey Mancini tied the score when he grounded to third and Headley elected to throw to second for a possible double play rather than throw home. Jonathan Schoop doubled for a 3-2 lead, and Craig Gentry hit a run-scoring grounder.