Canada joins U.S. and Allies in Beijing Olympics boycott.

By Rob Gillies, Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) — Canada will join the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights concerns, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

The announcement came after the White House, the Australian government and the UK government confirmed diplomatic boycotts of the Winter Games in February to protest Chinese human rights abuses. China has vowed to react with “firm countermeasures.”

Trudeau said his government has been talks with allies about it in recent months.

“We are extremely concerned by the repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government,” Trudeau said. 

“They should not be surprised we will not be sending any diplomatic representation.

The diplomatic moves by Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia do not affect their athletes’ ability to compete in the games.

Rights groups have called for a fullblown boycott of the Beijing Winter Games, citing Chinese human rights abuses against its Uyghur minority in the northwest Xinjiang province, which some have called genocide. They also point to Beijing’s suppression of democratic protests in Hong Kong and a sweeping crackdown on dissent in the semiautonomous territory.

The White House confirmed Monday that it was staging a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming games and Australia followed suit Wednesday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying it was “in Australia’s national interest.”

Relations between Canada and China have been poor since China arrested two Canadians in China in Dec. 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a U.S. extradition request. Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics, while China has described the charges against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to hold back China’s economic and technological development.

China, the U.S. and Canada essentially completed a highstakes prisoner swap earlier this year but the reputation of the Chinese government has been severely tarnished in Canada. 

“Concerns around arbitrary detention are real and shared by many countries around the world,” Trudeau said. 

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said more countries need to take similar action.

“It is important to send a strong signal to China, Joly said. “Human rights violations are not acceptable.”

Wilson throws for 2 TDs, Seahawks hold off Cardinals 28-21

By TIM BOOTH, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — It was a flashback performance for the Seattle Seahawks, and coach Pete Carroll enjoyed the show. 

A bruising running game. Russell Wilson making plays without being asked to do everything. And the Seahawks defense coming through in key moments to shut down Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals for a 28-21 win Thursday night.

Wilson still did his part, throwing for two touchdowns and rebounding from his worst performance of the season just a few days ago. But he had help in the form of Carlos Hyde rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown, and a defense that sacked Murray three times, including Carlos Dunlap’s clinching play inside the final minute. 

“Our guys really wanted to turn things and get back on track,” Carroll said. “And even with all of the situations, with all the guys in and out in the lineup and all that, it just didn’t matter. Guys played really well across the board.”

Wilson was flawless, erasing the mistakes from the past four weeks when Seattle dropped three of four, including losses in the past two weeks to Buffalo and the Los Angeles Rams. The skid left Seattle in a tie atop the NFC West with the Rams and Cardinals. 

For a few days at least, Seattle (7-3) will be back on top alone until the Rams play on Monday night against Tampa Bay. It was an important victory for the Seahawks heading into the softest part of their schedule, with four upcoming games against teams with a combined 8-28-1 record. 

Wilson was 23 of 28 for 197 yards and TD passes of 25 yards to DK Metcalf and 11 yards to Tyler Lockett in the first half. Wilson had committed 10 turnovers in the previous four games combined, a stretch that started with Seattle’s 37-34 overtime loss to Arizona in Week 7. 

Lockett, who had 15 catches for 200 yards and three TDs in the first meeting with Arizona, had another nine catches for 67 yards. 

But the biggest boost for Seattle was the return of its run game. Hyde had a 2-yard TD run in the third quarter, and Seattle finished with 165 yards rushing.

“It helped balance our offense out today,” Hyde said. “We was able to hit passes, run the ball, move down the field. You know, how we play.”

Murray and DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t rekindle the magic from their last-second touchdown to beat Buffalo last Sunday. Murray was 29 of 42 for 269 yards and two TDs, but Seattle was able to get the kind of pressure on the QB that was missing from the first meeting.

“They definitely played for me in certain situations but like I said, we put up 21, had a chance to win the game at the end, but throughout the game, we started slow and kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Murray said. 

And that pressure came through in the closing seconds. On fourth-and-10 at the Seattle 27 with 38 seconds left, Dunlap got around the edge and tackled Murray for his second sack of the night. Seattle finished with three sacks and seven QB hits after not touching Murray in the first meeting. 

“(Pete) was fired up. He almost tackled me on the sideline. That was crazy to see a head coach that involved,” Dunlap said. 

Arizona (6-4) closed to 23-21 with 13:19 left when Murray capped a 15-play, 90-yard drive with a 3-yard TD pass to Chase Edmonds. The Cardinals defense held, but backed up near their goal line, J.R. Sweezy was called for holding on L.J. Collier in the end zone, giving Seattle a safety with 9:12 left. 

Arizona almost didn’t get the ball back. Seattle ran nearly seven minutes off the clock and Jason Myers’ 41-yard field goal gave the Seahawks a 28-21 lead with 2:19 to go. 

INJURIES

Arizona lost starting safety Jalen Thompson in the closing seconds of the first half with a right leg injury. Thompson had to be helped off the field and onto a cart, putting no weight on the leg. 

Seattle TE Greg Olsen tumbled to the ground early in the fourth quarter with a left foot injury. Olsen went down before contact and was helped off the field without putting weight on the leg. Carroll said the team believes Olsen tore the fascia in his foot. Seattle also lost right tackle Brandon Shell in the fourth quarter to a sprained ankle. 

700 CLUB

Hopkins became the youngest player in league history to reach 700 career receptions with his lone catch in the first half. Hopkins, 28, bettered the previous record held by his teammate, Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was just past his 29th birthday when he reached 700 catches. 

But Hopkins was limited to five catches for 51 yards. Fitzgerald led Arizona with eight receptions. 

RUSSELL RECORDS

Wilson is the fifth QB since the merger in 1970 to post 30 or more TD passes and a passer rating of 110 or higher over the first 10 games of a season. The previous four all went on to win the MVP award — Patrick Mahomes (2018), Peyton Manning (2013), Aaron Rodgers (2011) and Tom Brady (2007).

Bears, Chiefs join Texans, Colts as NFL teams closing facilities Thursday due to COVID-19 tests

Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY

The Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs became the latest NFL teams to shutter their facilities Thursday due to a positive coronavirus test.  

In a statement, the Bears said they were notified of a player testing positive Thursday morning and paused all in-person activities at Halas Hall, canceling practice. 

“The player who tested positive and all close contacts have been contacted and have already begun self-isolation,” the Bears said. “We will continue to work closely with the NFL medical experts and follow the league’s intensive protocol. The health and safety of our team, players and staff are the highest priority.”

Chicago is scheduled to face the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday. 

The Chiefs revealed a staff member tested positive, announcing the team will still practice Thursday but will conduct meetings virtually later in the day. 

The closures in Kansas City and Chicago followed earlier news that the Indianapolis Colts conducted its meetings virtually after a staff member tested positive (the team still held practice outdoors). The Houston Texans also shut down their facility for the second straight week after a player’s positive test. Linebackers Jacob Martin, Whitney Mercilus and Dylan Cole were all placed on the COVID-19 reserve list and will miss Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Philadelphia Eagles also on Thursday reported a positive COVID-19 test for a player. The Eagles are on their bye week but were in their facility on Wednesday.

The pandemic’s impact will be further felt by the league during Thursday Night Football, as key players on the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers will be out due to either positive tests or contact tracing.  

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2020/11/05/covid-19-closes-three-nfl-facilities-thursday-texans-bears-colts/6174452002/

Russell Wilson apparently spends an astronomical sum per year on body recovery

By John Breech, CBS Sports

Since being drafted in 2012, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has never missed a start. When Wilson takes the field against the 49ers on Sunday, it will mark his 133rd consecutive regular season start, which is the second-longest active streak in the NFL. 

The key to keeping the streak alive is two-fold: You have to play well so you don’t get benched and you have to stay healthy. Based on the way Wilson describes it, that first thing might actually be easier than the second thing, because it appears the 31-year-old spends nearly all of his free time trying to help his body recover and trying to stay healthy. 

During a recent interview on the Bill Simmons Podcast, Wilson revealed how much he spends to stay healthy and how that money gets spent.

First, let’s find out how much money he pours into staying healthy. 

“I probably spend $1 million if not more, a year, just on recovery,” Wilson said.

Whoa. That’s definitely way more than the $75 per year I spend on myself, but I also don’t take as many hits as Wilson. Of course, with the Seahawks heavily invested in Wilson with a four-year, $140 million deal, it’s no surprise that the quarterback has decided to invest in himself. 

So what does $1 million in performance recovering buy you? Glad you asked. 

“I have a whole performance team. I’ve got a whole group, I’ve got a full-time trainer that travels with me everywhere, works with [my wife] Ciara too” Wilson said. “I have a full-time [physical therapist]. I have a full-time mobile person that’s working on me, that’s making sure I’m moving the right way and everything else. I have a full-time massage person. We have two chefs. We have a whole performance team.”

Although Wilson has plenty of money now, he’s actually been doing this since at least 2014, when he was playing on a rookie contract that paid him an average of just $750,000 per year.  

“I’ve been doing it for five years or so, six years now,” Wilson said. “I’ve got everything. I’ve got all the toys. I’ve got two hyperbaric chambers. I’ve got a little bit of everything. I get in the hyperbaric four times a week, three times a week. I get treatment everyday.”

If you’ve ever skipped a workout, then you have nothing on common with Wilson, who NEVER skips a workout. Well, almost never. In the interview, Wilson revealed that he works out almost 365 days a year. 

“I do 365. The only time I don’t — I probably do 363,” Wilson said. “The reality is Christmas — depending on the circumstances, but usually I do because we usually have a game around then — and Thanksgiving. I’m in between 363 and 365 amount of work that we do every day, something around the work I do. I’m trying to play until I’m 45, at least. For me, my mentality is that I’m going to leave it all on the field and do everything I can to take care of myself.”

So far, Wilson has clearly done a good job of taking care of himself. If he does play until 45 and somehow manages to not a miss a game, he’ll also eventually set the record for most consecutive starts by a quarterback. However, if Wilson does break that record, it won’t happen anytime soon. 

The current record belongs to Brett Favre, who started in 297 consecutive games. For Wilson to break that record, he’ll have to play at least halfway through the 2030 season when he’ll be 42 years old. Of course, if anyone can do it, it seems like Wilson would probably be the best bet (Philip Rivers is second on the list with 230 consecutive starts, but would like have to play nearly four more seasons after 2020 to break the record). 

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/russell-wilson-apparently-spends-an-astronomical-sum-per-year-on-body-recovery/

Women’s Sports Foundation honors the game-changers who helped level the playing field in 2020

Women’s Sports Foundation honors the game-changers who helped level the playing field in 2020

By Christopher Price Globe Staff, Updated

On the 50th anniversary of their landmark decision that paved the way for the WTA, Billie Jean King and the rest of the “Original Nine” were honored Wednesday night.Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Annual Salute to Women in Sports” to be held online Wednesday night, but the fact that the event — which was live-streamed via Yahoo! Sports — was held virtually certainly didn’t diminish the importance of the message.

Hosted by Laila Ali, it featured special appearances from Billie Jean King, actress Natalie Portman, figure skater Michelle Kwan, soccer player Carli Lloyd, skier Lindsey Vonn, and quarterback Tom Brady. And while the star power was an added attraction, the spotlight was squarely on those who have impacted women in sports over the course of the last year

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/10/14/sports/womens-sports-foundation-honors-game-changers-who-helped-level-playing-field-2020/

Patrick Mahomes breaks NFL touchdown pass record as the Kansas City Chiefs bounce back to win

(CNN) — And just like that Patrick Mahomes broke a NFL touchdown pass record as the Kansas City Chiefs got back to winning ways against the Buffalo Bills.

The quarterback threw two touchdown passes to inspire the Chiefs to a 26-17 win on Monday as they bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Las Vegas Raiders last time out.

With his first touchdown pass of the night, Mahomes became the fastest player in the Super Bowl era to reach 90 touchdown passes, doing so in just 37 games. The previous mark was set by Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who reached the landmark in 40 games.

What Dak Prescott’s injury means for his future with the Cowboys.

Travis Kelce received both of Mahomes’ touchdown passes as the quarterback recorded a touchdown pass in his 16th consecutive game.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees leads the NFL all-time passing touchdown list with 556 passes.

‘Parting like the Red Sea’

Despite Mahomes’ record, it was rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who stole the show.

The 21-year-old rushed for 161 yards to record his second career 100-yard-plus game, as the Chiefs ran their opponent into the ground.

“When you have days like this, things just seem to part like the Red Sea,” Edwards-Helaire said after the game.

READ: NFL’s Alex Smith returns to play two years after life-threatening leg injury

“Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs broke another NFL record.”

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs broke another NFL record.

Mahomes signed a 10-year contract extension with the Chief this year in a deal that his agent says is the most lucrative contract in sports history.

The 25-year-old, who led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl championship last season, is now under contract through the 2031 NFL season.

The extension is reportedly worth $450 million but the team did not confirm the terms of the deal.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/20/sport/patrick-mahomes-nfl-kansas-city-chiefs-spt-intl/index.html

Giants and Judge finally win, beat Washington on fumble TD

By TOM CANAVAN, Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Joe Judge and the New York Giants have finally won, and they have rookie Tae Crowder and a risky gamble by Washington coach Ron Rivera for making them relevant again.

Crowder, the last player taken in the NFL draft — Mr. Irrelevant — scooped up a fumble and ran 43 yards for a touchdown with 3:28 to play. That gave the Giants a 20-19 victory over Washington on Sunday in a battle of the two of the NFL’s worst teams.

The game wasn’t decided until Rivera rolled the dice after a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with :36 left in regulation to cap a 10-play, 75-yard march.

Instead of playing for overtime, Rivera had Washington (1-5) go for the win with a 2-point conversion in an attempt to get back in the mediocre NFC East race. Allen found no one open, scrambled to his left and had his pass under pressure fall incomplete.

It gave the 38-year-old Judge his first win as an NFL coach and allowed the Giants (1-5) to avoid a second 0-6 start since 2013.

Washington rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie the game midway before a rare Giants quarterback pressure turned the game around.

On a third-and-9 from the Giants 45, linebacker Kyler Fackrell strip-sacked Allen for an 8-yard loss. Crowder chased down the bouncing ball, gained possession and ran untouched to the end zone — to the applause of teammates. No fans were allowed at the game at MetLife Stadium.

Daniel Jones, who wasted a long third-quarter drive with an awful interception, threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton and Graham Gano kicked two field goals.

Allen threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Logan Thomas, and Dustin Hopkins, who missed from 47 yards on the opening drive, hit two shorter field goals.

Jones, who rushed for a team-high 74 yards, was 12 of 19 for 112 yards and an interception by Kendall Fuller in the back of the end zone that ended a nine-minute-plus drive.

Allen was 31 of 42 for 280 yards and an interception by James Bradberry, which set up the Slayton score.

Washington used a pair of time-consuming 70-yard drives to tie the game at 13-all with 8:56 left in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 13-3 late in the second quarter, Rivera made a gutsy call on fourth-and-4 from the New York 40. Allen hit Dontrelle Inman for 15 yards after scrambling away from pressure. He capped the 13-play drive with a 5-yard rainbow toss to Thomas.

ALTERNATING TACKLES:

Giants LT Andrew Thomas, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, did not start for the first time this season. Fellow rookie Matt Peart, a third-round pick, started. Thomas replaced him in the second quarter but went back to the bench early in the third after missing a block on a third-and-1 at the Washington 37. He returned in the fourth quarter.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Both teams were on the field for the national anthem. Washington’s Tim Settle, Landon Collins and Montez Sweat raised fists. The Giants had roughly 15 players take a knee. They had a similar number the first two home games.

INJURIES

Washington: Starting LG Saahdiq Charles was hurt on the second play from scrimmage (left leg) and didn’t return. WR Antonio Gandy-Golden left with a hamstring injury.

Giants: The most serious injury was to WR C.J. Board. He was carted off the field early in the third quarter after taking a big hit from Washington safety Deshazor Everett trying to catch a low pass. He was diagnosed with a concussion and a neck injury and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Backup CB Darney Holmes (neck) left in the first half; LB Blake Martinez and DT Dexter Lawrence were evaluated for concussions and returned.

UP NEXT

Both teams stay in NFC East. Washington hosts Dallas next Sunday. The Giants have a short week and play in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

apnews.com/article/nfl-new-york-nfl-draft-crowder-new-york-giants-4967baa0be7e1895bcbf5ee7c70d2204

Sick NFL players must isolate even if negative

By KEVIN SEIFERT, ESPN

The NFL is following a policy that requires players and team staff members to isolate if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, even if their most recent test result was negative, chief medical officer Allen Sills said Thursday.

As a result, there likely will be an uptick in missed practices and perhaps games as the team medical staffs work to determine the source of the symptoms. The coming cold and flu season will add a new level of complexity to the task and will serve as a sharp break in routine for players and coaches who in previous years routinely pushed through illnesses to get onto the field for games.

“We’re always going to err on the side of safety and we’re going to support the medical judgment of the medical staff,” Sills said in a conference call with reporters. “Everyone has the same goal here and that’s to operate as safely as we can. … When you look at the big picture, our goal is to make sure we don’t put someone on the field that we think might be actively infected. If we’re going to make a mistake, we would rather make a mistake on the side of being cautious and keeping people off the field. If it turns out that those were non-COVID symptoms, I think we would all be happy with that outcome.”

Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was sent home from the team facility Thursday because of an illness, although Sills did not speak to Beckham’s specific situation. There will be no set timetable to guide the return of those asked to isolate under this policy. Instead, Sills said, they will be judged on a “case-by-case basis” while testing for other ailments such as influenza and other respiratory viruses.

Detroit running back Adrian Peterson was listed as not practicing Thursday due to an illness unrelated to COVID-19, a Lions source told ESPN. Peterson has been Detroit’s leading rusher since signing with the team just before Week 1, with 54 carries for 245 yards and a touchdown.

The Lions have been stringent about protocols since the start of training camp and have not had a player placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list since the beginning of August. At that point, eight Lions players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in the first days after reporting for training camp, including Matthew Stafford, who had a false positive.

The NFL is testing all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees for COVID-19 on a daily basis, including on game day. But Sills has said often that the league will not rely on testing alone.

“Just because someone has one negative test,” Sills said, “we can’t say that they’re absolutely not infected.”

www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/30122178/sick-nfl-players-isolate-even-negative

Vaughn McClure, ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter, dies at 48

ESPN-

Vaughn McClure, a member of ESPN’s NFL coverage team since 2013, died this week at his home near Atlanta. He was 48.

McClure joined ESPN to cover the NFL, and he settled in on the Atlanta Falcons beat as part of NFL Nation. He covered the team during its run to Super Bowl LI in 2017. He contributed to ESPN’s television and radio coverage of the Falcons and the NFL, as well.

“We all loved Vaughn,” said John Pluym, senior deputy editor for digital NFL coverage at ESPN. “He had a heart of gold. He was so helpful to our reporters. In the last few hours, we’ve heard so many stories about how Vaughn had helped them with a story or how he put in a good word for them with a coach or player.”

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure, pictured in 2018. Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images

Pluym added: “Talking to Vaughn on the phone was always a joy. I loved how you could just sense the excitement in his voice for being able to cover the Falcons for ESPN. We will all miss him greatly. And I’ll end this the way Vaughn ended every phone call with a colleague: ‘Appreciate you. Love you.’ We all loved him, too.”

Tributes to McClure quickly spread on social media after news of his death, with Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher among those sending condolences. “Today I was very saddened to hear about the passing of my dear friend Vaughn McClure,” he wrote. “We became fast friends when he was covering the Bears. He had a big heart and was one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. You will be missed.”

Wrote longtime NFL quarterback Josh McCown: “Heartbreaking news about Vaughn McClure. Text[ed] last week for background on some QB stuff. He was a very thorough journalist. Always a positive vibe every time we connected. Finished every text with ‘love ya bro.’ Rest well Vaughn. Love ya bro.”

The Falcons, in a statement, said: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. He was an earnest, thoughtful reporter who had a passion for his craft and the relationships he held. He will be missed dearly and we are holding his family, friends and associates in our thoughts and prayers.”

McClure came to ESPN after covering the Bears for the Chicago Tribune for six seasons.

“People will probably remember how Vaughn was able to connect and develop trusting relationships with many of the athletes he covered, or how diligent he was about deadlines, or the countless times he volunteered to help out a colleague on another sport,” said Patricia Mays, senior director of content strategy and distribution at ESPN and who brought McClure to the company. “But what I respected most was how committed he was to continually improving. One of the last emails I received from him was asking for feedback. He wrote: ‘Would love to talk to you after the season about how I can get better at a lot of things. I want to be great at this job.'”

Among his other assignments while at the Tribune was covering the Bulls in the postseason. Previously, he covered Notre Dame football for the Chicago Sun-Times and Fresno State basketball for The Fresno Bee. He also worked at the South Bend Tribune and DeKalb Daily Chronicle.

McClure, who graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1994, was a Chicago native.

www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/30122237/vaughn-mcclure-espn-atlanta-falcons-reporter-dies-48

MLB Playoffs Daily: Braves look to KO Dodgers; Rays try again

– ESPN

For the fifth straight day, we have a league championship series doubleheader. Welcome to the excess that is the 2020 MLB playoffs. This time, two teams face elimination as the Astros have their backs to the wall for the third straight game and the powerhouse Dodgers are staring at the prospect of having their season end at the hands of the Braves.

Here’s a breakdown of the games, some numbers to know, a hot take of the day and more as you prep for Friday.

Key links: Power Rankings | Predictions | Schedule, bracket | Playoff Baseball Classic

What’s on tap

All times Eastern; all series best-of-seven played at neutral sites

American League Championship Series Game 6: No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) vs. No. 6 Houston Astros (Framber Valdez), 6:07 p.m. ET in San Diego

Obviously, the Astros burned through the bulk of their best relievers in Game 5 and closer Ryan Pressly has thrown two days in a row — although only 30 pitches. “This is the postseason. There are no off days,” he said. So he’ll be ready to go. Really though, Astros manager Dusty Baker isn’t in terrible shape. He can go Valdez to Cristian Javier and then to Pressly if needed. If somebody other than those three pitches, the Rays are probably scoring some runs.

The Rays, however, are hitting just .200/.285/.363 in the series. They haven’t been able to string together many rallies unless a home run is included. Indeed, 71.4% of their runs in the postseason have come via the home run. Home runs are good! But so are singles and doubles, and the Rays need a few more of those. Brandon Lowe did homer on Thursday, snapping a 1-for-33 skid, but that leaves his postseason average at .089. Willy Adames is hitting .118 in the postseason. The Rays need something from those two. Snell has gone 5⅔, 5 and 5 innings in his three playoff starts. In Game 1 against Houston, he allowed just one run, pitching around six hits and two walks even though he had just two strikeouts. He threw 105 pitches and had trouble putting Astros batters away.

Certainly, the Rays aren’t desperate yet. But, as was the case with the 2004 Red Sox against the Yankees, if Houston wins Game 6, it feels like all the pressure in Game 7 will fall on the Rays. — David Schoenfield

National League Championship Series Game 5: No. 2 Atlanta Braves (TBD) vs. No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dustin May), 9:08 p.m. ET in Arlington, Texas

Just as expected, the guy with seven career starts and a 5.91 ERA outpitched one of the game’s legends, and Bryse Wilson’s effort helped put the Braves one win away from their first World Series trip since 1999. Most importantly, Wilson went six innings, allowing Braves manager Brian Snitker to minimize his bullpen usage, a key for Game 5 since this will be an all-in bullpen game for the Braves. Given the extraordinary depth Snitker has, that strategy can work, although it helps knowing you have Max Fried in your back pocket for Game 6.

As for the Dodgers, this must now feel like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. I don’t know how fair this is, but we’re reminded of the extremely soft schedule the Dodgers played this season. Of their 60 games in the regular season, only 13 came against teams that finished with a winning record — 10 against the Padres and three against the A’s (they went 8-5). Even their wild-card series came against a sub-.500 Brewers team, then they beat a Padres team basically without its top two starting pitchers. As good as the Dodgers have been, they haven’t been tested until now — and now they’re in danger of being sent home with a big, fat “F” in this series (except for one inning).

I don’t know what Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ pitching strategy will be, but it seems whatever he does with his bullpen — going back to the 2017 World Series — usually doesn’t work. He catches a lot of heat from Dodgers fans, and some of his decisions in postseasons past have been questionable, but this one has been on the players. It’s up to them, not the manager, to straighten this out. — Schoenfield

Updated odds for every series

Based on projections of ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle

Astros-Rays: Rays 84.7% to advance

Braves-Dodgers: Braves 78.8% to advance

Running World Series odds

NL: Braves 41.5%, Dodgers 15.2%

AL: Rays 38.7%, Astros 4.6%

Hot take of the day

Well, my baseball friends, this is now quite interesting. The Astros were the 39th team that trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven series and became just the fourth to force a sixth game after Carlos Correa’s walk-off home run off Nick Anderson in Game 5. Two of those previous teams (the 1998 Braves in the NLCS against the Padres and the 1999 Mets in the NLCS against the Braves) lost Game 6. The third team, of course, was the miracle Red Sox of 2004, who rallied to win four in a row against the Yankees in the ALCS. How big was Correa’s home run? If the Astros hadn’t scored in the bottom of the ninth, manager Dusty Baker said the Astros would have used Game 6 starter Framber Valdez in the 10th inning.

Power Rankings

The MLB postseason is down to the final four. Here’s how they rank, each team’s strengths and weaknesses, and what they need to do to win it all. Power Rankings

Instead, Valdez is now rested for Game 6 and you can argue he gives the Astros the slight edge over Blake Snell, based on his performance in the postseason. The Houston bullpen — five rookies pitched among the seven relievers used in a bullpen effort in Game 5 — has held its own with a 3.71 ERA and has a higher strikeout rate in the series than Tampa’s pen (35.1% to 17.2%) along with a lower walk rate. The Rays are hitting just .200 in the series — and one guy, Randy Arozarena, has done most of the damage. In other words, several things are pointing in Houston’s direction and we’re two wins away from having a sub-.500 team in the World Series. Luckily, that won’t happen. The Rays win Game 6. — Schoenfield

Stat of the day

Bryse Wilson became the fourth rookie in the past five seasons to throw at least six innings and allow one or fewer runs in his postseason debut — and all four of them did it for the Atlanta Braves. Three (Wilson, Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson) did it this postseason, while Mike Soroka did it in the division series against the Cardinals in 2019.

About last night …

The Astros aren’t done yet, whether the rest of the baseball world likes it or not. Houston staved off elimination for the second straight game, as Carlos Correa hit a walk-off home run to give the Astros a 4-3 win in Game 5 of the ALCS. The Rays’ Ji-Man Choi had tied the game with a solo homer in the eighth. Tampa Bay still leads the series 3-2. … In the NLCS, the kid outdueled the future Hall of Famer, with Atlanta’s Bryse Wilson getting the win and Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw taking the loss as the Braves secured a 3-1 series lead with a 10-2 victory.

Social media post of the day

Best moment of the MLB playoffs to date

The stage was set for another Fernando Tatis Jr. moment, but Cody Bellinger snatched it away. Bellinger’s home run robbery, plucking what would have been a go-ahead shot by Tatis in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series, kept the Padres at bay — barely — and will take its place in Dodgers lore, particularly if L.A. wins it all.

The running MLB playoffs MVP

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos/Getty Images

Randy Arozarena has gone from an unknown outfielder to this October’s breakout star. Going into the playoffs, you might have been asking, “Who is this guy?” But the Rays’ trade for him has been a huge factor in their postseason run. Arozarena went deep again Thursday in Game 5 of the ALCS, his third homer of the series giving him 13 since Sept. 1 (tied with George Springer for the most in baseball). And while his long balls have made a big impression, Arozarena also leads all hitters in the postseason with 43 total bases (and is leading in hits and extra-base hits). Also, he has been flashing some leather in the outfield and some sweet celebration dance moves on the field.

www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/30121979/mlb-playoffs-daily-braves-look-ko-dodgers-rays-try-again