Murray battles through, Venus dances through

first_imgMurray cut a frustrated figure as he battled his way past Illya Marchenko in straight sets, shouting up to his box on numerous occasions, but he never looked like missing the opportunity to progress.The world number one had to contend with very troublesome conditions as the sun blazed down on Rod Laver Arena, but he found just enough class to come through the tricky opening encounter – all while his wife Kim Sears battled away with the ‘player box’ cam.Venus, meanwhile, was on very fine form as she overcame Kateryna Kozlova, playing some superb tennis before producing one of the most memorable post-match interviews at Melbourne Park.Venus was in no mood to let interviewer Sam Smith get away with joking about her age, firing back in humorous and pretty cutting fashion.Sadly for Simona Halep, she was not in as high spirits as Venus as she trudged away in heartbreaking fashion after suffering a first-round exit to world number 52 Shelby Rogers.It was hard to watch Halep walk off court with a hood over her head, and then to have to walk down a tunnel with the faces of past winners plastered all over the walls. With Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, controversy’s Nick Kyrgios and defending champion Angelique Kerber still to come, the opening day in Melbourne is just getting started.Monday’s highlightsAndy Murray secures his place in the second round after a straight sets victory over Illya Marcheko in searing Melbourne heat.Venus Williams survives a rocky start to reach the second round of her 17th Australian Open, beating Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 7-5Seventh seed Garbine Muguruza battles through an injury to overcome Marina Erakovic 7-5 6-4.Fourth seed Simona Halep suffers a shock defeat to world number 52 Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-1. Olympic champion Monica Puig hammers Patricia Tig 6-0 6-1 for the first completed match of this year’s tournament.American Varvara Lepchenko produces an upset over last year’s French Open semi-finalist Kiki Bertens, beating the Belgian 19th seed 7-5 7-6(5).Britain’s Aljaz Bedene loses 7-6 7-5 0-6 6-3 to world number 103 Victor Estrella Burgos to exit in the first round.Kei Nishikori is forced to dig deep with the world number five taken the distance by Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov before eking out a 5-7 6-1 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2 win.Coco Vandeweghe collapses to the ground after sealing her place in the second round of the Australian Open having battled an illness, 6-1 7-6 over Roberta Vinci. BritwatchAljaz Bedene suffered a very disappointing four-set defeat to world number 103 Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic.Bedene had been tipped to make a surprise run in Melbourne but, as Eurosport commentator Simon Reed reflected, he “made way too many mistakes” when it really mattered.It is the fifth time in a row Bedene has lost in Melbourne in the opening round while world number 103 Estrella Burgos goes through to face Australian Bernard Tomic.Meanwhile, as mentioned above, Andy Murray made it through in straight sets with victory over Illya Marchenko in very tough conditions. The heat proved a real issue throughout the match, but Murray battled his way through to a second-round clash with qualifier, Russia’s Andrey Rublev.Daniel Evans is also in action against Facundo Bagnis, seeking to secure his place in the second round.Stat of the dayPoor Simona Halep – this stat really puts the enormity of her shock first-round defeat in context:RespectCoco Vandeweghe collapsed to the ground after sealing her place in the second round of the Australian Open having battled an illness.It was a highly emotional moment as Vandeweghe was helped at her chair by medical staff and the crowd gave her their full support. The image of the player shaking on the ground having secured victory over Roberta Vinci of Italy was a very powerful one.last_img read more

Dodgers vs. Houston Astros World Series scouting report, prediction

first_img Astros Notes: Josh Reddick is prepared to hear from Dodgers fans Video: Dodgers vs. Astros World Series previewWORLD SERIES SCHEDULEGame 1: at Dodgers, Tuesday, 5:09 p.m.Game 2: at Dodgers, Wednesday, 5:09 p.m.Game 3: at Astros, Friday, 5:09 p.m. Game 4: at Astros, Saturday, 5:09 p.m.Game 5-x: at Astros, Sunday, 5:19 p.m.Game 6-x: at Dodgers, Oct. 31, 5:09 p.m.Game 7-x: at Dodgers, Nov. 1, 5:09 p.m.x- if necessary Back injury could make Corey Seager the Dodgers’ preferred DH in Houston Dodgers vs. Astros is a World Series for baseball’s Information Age Times listed are for first pitch. All games broadcast on Fox/Ch. 11TALE OF THE TAPEOFFENSEDodgers  (MLB rank) … category … Astros (MLB rank)770 (12th) … Runs scored … 896 (1st).334 (6th) … OBP … .346 (1st).437 (T-8th) … Slugging Pct … .478 (1st).771 (8th) … OPS … .823 (1st).249 (22nd) … Batting Avg. … .282 (1st)221 (11th) … HRs … 238 (2nd)77 (19th) … SBs … 98 (8th)PITCHINGDodgers (MLB rank) … category … Astros (MLB rank)3.38 (2nd) … Team ERA … 4.12 (11th)3.38 (4th) … Bullpen ERA … 4.27 (17th)1.15 (1st) … WHIP … 1.27 (8th)9.65 (4th) … Ks per 9 inns … 9.91 (2nd).671 (1st) … Opponent OPS … .720 (9th).228 (T-1st) … Opponent Avg. … .240 (6th)PROJECTED LINEUPSAstros: CF George Springer (.283, 34 HRs, 85 RBI, .847 OPS), 3B Alex Bregman (.284, 19 HRs, 71 RBI), 2B Jose Altuve (MLB-leading .346, 24 HRs, 81 RBI, 32 SBs, .957 OPS), SS Carlos Correa (.315, 24 HRs, 84 RBI, .941 OPS), RF Josh Reddick (.314, 13 HRs, 82 RBI, .847 OPS), 1B Yuli Gurriel (.299, 18 HRs, 75 RBI), LF Marwin Gonzalez (.303, 23 HRs, 90 RBI), C Brian McCann (.241, 18 HRs, 62 RBI)Dodgers: CF Chris Taylor (.288, 21 HRs, 72 RBI, 85 runs scored, team-leading 17 SBs), SS Corey Seager (.295, 22 HRs, 77 RBI, 85 runs scored), 3B Justin Turner (.322, 21 HRS, 71 RBI, team-leading .415 OBP and .945 OPS), 1B Cody Bellinger (.267, team-leading 39 HRs and 95 RBI, .933 OPS), C Austin Barnes (.289, 8 HRs, 38 RBI), RF Yasiel Puig (.263, 28 HRs, 74 RBI), LF Kike’ Hernandez (.215, 11 HRs, 37 RBI), 2B Logan Forsythe (.224, 6 HRs, 36 RBI)The Astros ran the table during the regular season – they led the majors in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They had the lowest strikeout rate and the second-most home runs. More complicated stats liked them just as much. The Astros’ wRC-plus (weighted runs created plus) of 121 – a statistic that compares performance across league average – was the fourth-highest in baseball history behind three Murderers’ Row-era Yankees teams. That offense, however, has only been seen sporadically in the postseason. They will be further handicapped by losing the DH for any games in Los Angeles. Still … EDGE: ASTROSSTARTING PITCHERSAstros: LH Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP), RH Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), RH Lance McCullers (7-4, 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP), RH Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 202 Ks, 175 IP), LH Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 166, 135-2/3IP), RH Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 209 Ks, 186-2/3 IP), LH Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 151 Ks, 151-2/3 IP)Keuchel and Verlander are an imposing duo. They have a combined 1.93 ERA and 1.02 WHIP this postseason. One or the other was the winning pitcher in six of the Astros’ seven victories to get here (including Verlander’s relief appearance in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox). The Dodgers’ trio of Kershaw, Hill and Darvish has been just as good (a combined 2.87 ERA and 0.98 WHIP) and the Dodgers haven’t lost a game started by any of them this postseason. EDGE: DODGERSBULLPENAstros: RH Ken Giles (1-3, 34 saves, 4 blown saves, 2.30 ERA, 1.04 WHIP), RH Chris Devenski (8-5, 4 saves, 2.68 ERA, 0.94 WHIP), RH Brad Peacock (13-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, in 34 games, 21 starts), RH Wil Harris (3-2, 2 saves, 2.98 ERA), LH Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) RH Joe Musgrove (7-8, 2 saves, 4.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP), RH Luke Gregerson (2-3, 4.57 ERA), RH Collin McHugh (5-2, 3.55 ERA in 12 starts).Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-0, 1.32 ERA, 41 saves, 1 blown save), RH Brandon Morrow (6-0, 2.06 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.3 Ks per 9 IP), RH Josh Fields (5-0, 2.84 ERA, 0.97, 9.5 Ks per 9 IP), RH Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.98 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.0 Ks per 9 IP), LH Tony Cingrani (0-0, 4.22 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 11.0 Ks per 9 IP), LH Tony Watson (7-4, 3.38 ERA, 10 saves, 1.38 WHIP with Pirates and Dodgers), RH Kenta Maeda (13-6, 4.22 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. 25 starts)This is where so many postseason series are decided – and the Dodgers would seem to have a big advantage. Their bullpen carries a postseason-record 23-inning scoreless streak into the World Series. Opposing batters have hit .125 off Dodgers relievers and Dave Roberts’ choices have been unassailable. The Astros, meanwhile, had a very good bullpen during the regular season but that group has been less dependable during the postseason, particularly their two most important pitchers – Giles (five runs in six innings) and Devenski (four runs in three innings). EDGE: DODGERSBENCHAstros: DH-OF Carlos Beltran (.231, 14 HRs, 51 RBI), C-DH Evan Gattis (.263, 12 HRs, 55 RBI), OF Derek Fisher (.212, 5 HRs, 17 RBI) OF Cameron Maybin (.228, 10 HRs, 35 RBI, 33 SBs)Dodgers: C Yasmani Grandal (.247, 22 HRs, 58 RBI), LF Andre Ethier (.235, 2 HRs, 3 RBI in 22 regular-season games), IF-OF Charlie Culberson (.250, 4 HRs, 32 RBI in Triple-A), 2B Chase Utley (.236, 8 HRs, 34 RBI), OF Joc Pederson (.212, 11 HRs, 35 RBI)The Astros will be unable to use Beltran or Gattis at DH in the games at Dodger Stadium, taking away from their lineup but adding to their bench. Beltran has been one of the best postseason performers of his generation – a .311 average, 16 HRs and a 1.035 OPS in 62 career postseason games. EDGE: EVENMANAGERHas Roberts made a mistake this postseason? Maybe he shouldn’t have left Kershaw in to pitch the seventh inning of NLDS Game 1 against the Diamondbacks. Maybe he shouldn’t have given Granderson a start. But his lineups have produced and his bullpen usage has been impeccable. Astros manager A.J. Hinch has had a more challenging road with a bullpen that has not pitched up to its regular-season standard. EDGE: DODGERSSERIES PREDICTIONThe World Series hasn’t seen two 100-win teams since the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds faced off in 1970. In that one, pitching (the Orioles featured three 20-game winners in Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally) prevailed in five games over the offensive juggernaut that was the Big Red Machine. The Dodgers feature the better pitching in this matchup (with what appears to be a significant advantage in the bullpen) while the Astros have one of the best lineups in years. But it’s not that clear-cut – the Astros also have Keuchel and Verlander capable of shutdown performances potentially starting four of the seven games. The Big Red Machine didn’t have that. ASTROS IN 7Related Articlescenter_img Whicker: Astros offer Dodgers a stiff 7-game challenge Astros’ diminutive Jose Altuve reaching new heights as a hitter World Series guest analyst: Dodgers vs. Astros, Game 1 Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more