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|LOS ANGELES — The Pittsburgh Pirates headed north by bus Sunday evening to see if the roller-coaster ride will continue.
Fresh off a series victory at San Diego [url=http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-hayden-hurst-jersey]http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-hayden-hurst-jersey[/url] , capped by a 7-5 victory Sunday, the Pirates are now in Los Angeles for the first of three games Monday, having won four of their last six games.
That winning run came after a five-game losing streak. The five games before that? The Pirates won four of them.
The Dodgers have been a bit steadier of late, going 17-9 in June to keep pace with the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West. But the end of June was a bit of a struggle as the Dodgers lost four of their last five before the calendar flipped. They opened July with a 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
Not only did the Dodgers’ offense take off in June, to the tune of 55 home runs to set a franchise record for a month, the pitching staff got healthy again … literally.
Alex Wood (4-5, 4.00 ERA) will take the mound Monday, looking and feeling much better after nagging leg cramps early in the year.
Wood went seven innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last outing Wednesday, his longest start since his season debut on March 30 when he worked eight innings against the San Francisco Giants.
An All-Star for the first time last season, Wood is once again starting to look like the pitcher who can rise to the occasion on a nightly basis.
“I’m still looking for consistency out of my sinker, but the breaking ball was a lot better,” Wood told reporters after his most recent start. “Overall, it was pretty good.”
The Dodgers also have Clayton Kershaw back recently from a lower back injury and Rich Hill returned from a blister on his left middle finger. Both left-handers will face the Pirates this week.
Pittsburgh announced Sunday that Nick Kingham (2-3, 3.82) will start the series opener at Dodger Stadium. He will take the spot of Chad Kuhl, who is on the DL with a forearm strain.
The Pirates (40-43) know that getting some length on their current winning ways can get them to .500 soon, possibly by the All-Star break that starts in two weeks.
“We’re starting to show a little bit of resiliency here the last week or so,” Pirates infielder Josh Harrison said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A team that (is) not making any excuses [url=http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-lamar-jackson-jersey]http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-lamar-jackson-jersey[/url] , which is refreshing because at the end of the day we know what we have to do and that’s come to show up every day.
“It’s been some ups and downs, but every team goes through ups and downs, and a lot of guys here are riding that wave of knowing that any day can be that day that we turn it around.”
Wood is 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against the Pirates. He has not faced Pittsburgh since last season. Kingham, a rookie, has not pitched against the Dodgers in any of his first six appearances.
Jimmy Garoppolo signed a record-breaking, five-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers that will pay him a reported $137.5 million to keep him off the free-agent market without forcing the team to use the one-year franchise tag.
NFL Network first reported the terms of the contract, which is worth $27.5 million per season to top the previous record set by Detroit’s Matthew Stafford last year by $500,000 per year.
San Francisco acquired Garoppolo from New England before the trade deadline for a 2018 second-round pick. As soon as he took the field a few weeks later, he immediately turned around a franchise that started the year with a 1-10 record.
Garoppolo took over as starter and led San Francisco to five straight wins to end the season. That solidified the organization’s belief in him and the willingness to offer him the largest average per year contract in NFL history.
While Garoppolo lacks the track record of the top quarterbacks in the NFL after spending most of his career as Tom Brady’s backup with New England, what he has shown when he has gotten on the field has been impressive.
He completed 67.4 percent of his passes this season, averaging 8.8 yards per attempt with seven TDs, five interceptions and a 96.2 rating. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts last season, Garoppolo ranked first in yards per attempt, fourth in completion percentage. His 308.4 yards passing per game in his five starts also would have led the league had he played a full season.
NEW YORK (AP) – The baseball players’ union will open its own spring training camp for the first time since the end of the 1994-95 strike, inviting free agents to work out at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Union head Tony Clark said Thursday the camp will open Tuesday and workouts will start the following day under Bo Porter, the Houston Astros’ manager in 2013-14. The camp is scheduled to run through March 4, and the union has the option to extend the camp through the end of the month.
More than 100 players who exercised their right to become free agents last November are without final agreements. Teams start spring training workouts next Wednesday.
Agent Scott Boras represents 15 free agents seeking jobs [url=http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josh-allen-jersey]http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josh-allen-jersey[/url] , a group that includes J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Jake Arrieta. His company has its own training facilities in North Miami, Florida, and Newport Beach, California, and he is not sure whether his clients will work out at his facilities or IMG.
”They certainly will have the option to use either,” he said.
The union sent an email to agents announcing the decision. The camp will be open to the players who became free agents under Article XXB of the sport’s collective bargaining agreement, the most prominent group on the market.
”The location is a dedicated, major league-caliber site, with multiple full/half fields, a private locker room, dedicated training staff and an advanced workout facility with a trainer and strength and conditioning coordinator,” the union said.
Personal trainers will not be allowed inside the facility. Players will be provided workout gear, and the union is arranging liability insurance, travel and housing. Players will be given per diems. They are to bring their own bats and shoes.
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – With Scott Dixon at the wheel, the prototype for a windscreen to help protect IndyCar drivers from flying debris passed its first on-track test [url=http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-tremaine-edmunds-jersey]http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-tremaine-edmunds-jersey[/url] , a big step toward requiring such devices, perhaps as early as next year.
”I think it’s definitely a milestone as far as moving forward and moving in the right direction for some more safety initiatives, and we all know the reasons why,” the four-time IndyCar series champion said.
The only real problem for Dixon was the lack of air flow made things quite warm. But he described that as ”an easy fix.”
”The cooling thing we kind of knew,” Dixon said, ”but we just didn’t want to deal with it right now.”
Jeff Horton, IndyCar director of engineering and safety and head of the windscreen project, was happy with the results.
”When a guy like Scott gets out, a veteran of ours, and says there’s no deal breakers, a couple of small things to look at, what better could you ask for,” Horton said.
The windscreen wouldn’t prevent all flying-debris accidents since material still could sail over the front of the screen or come in on top of the driver, who otherwise is protected only by a helmet. Driver Justin Wilson died in August 2015 of injuries he sustained when he was struck by flying debris in an IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway.
But IndyCar officials see the windscreen as potentially a big improvement in safety. With more testing to be done, the screen probably wouldn’t be required on the circuit until 2019 at the earliest.
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