Brewers P Houser vomits twice, finishes inning

Brewers P Houser vomits twice, finishes inning

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Adrian Houser made it through the top of the eighth inning of a 10-9 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday despite vomiting twice during the inning.

The right-hander, who was called on to pitch in the inning with the Brewers trailing 8-5, first vomited behind the mound after finishing his warm-up tosses. Manager Craig Counsell came out to the mound and gave the pitcher a bottle of water while the grounds crew came on to clean up the spot. He then threw a few more warm-up tosses and remained in the game. He allowed a double to Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro to open the inning and then got pinch-hitter Jesmuel Valentin to ground out before vomiting a second time.

Counsell came back out of the dugout to check on Houser again but the pitcher was able to remain in the game. He allowed a run-scoring double by shortstop Scott Kingery but then got second baseman Cesar Hernandez to fly out and left fielder Rhys Hoskins to ground out.

The Brewers were not charged with mound visits when Counsell checked on his pitcher, umpire Laz Diaz indicated on the field.

“For Adrian today it was just kind of a combination of a bunch of factors. He wasn’t under the weather at all but it was an early wake-up call, not enough food, heat, probably a little nerves from getting to the big leagues today,” Counsell said.

“There wasn’t very much coming out. It wasn’t a food thing,” he said with a chuckle.

Counsell, who played 16 seasons in the majors and has been the Brewers’ manager since 2015, said this was the first time he saw a pitcher vomit while on the mound. He said he wasn’t worried about Houser’s safety.

“Adrian was completely fine,” Houser said. “It was like he was just trying to get that part over with. There was no panic in his eyes. Not in any way he was talking and he wasn’t struggling at all. Like I said it was just a kind of combination of all those factors. He was fine, kind of after he sat down and everything was good.”

This was just Houser’s fifth major league appearance. He had made two appearances for the Brewers in 2015 and two this season before Sunday.

Houser was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs earlier Sunday. The Brewers optioned right-hander Jorge Lopez to Colorado Springs in a corresponding move.

The steps that led to Koepka winning the U.S. Open

The steps that led to Koepka winning the U.S. Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — History will look at Brooks Koepka and note that he won the same major championship two years in a row. The only similarity in victories between last year and this year is that the name of the courses had the word “Hills” in it. Because, in truth, the U.S. Open he won at Erin Hills a year ago and the one he locked up Sunday at Shinnecock Hills could have not have been more different.

At lush Erin Hills, he took home the trophy after shooting 16 under par over four days. This time, on a fast and hard Shinnecock Hills course that drew the ire of players this week, he posted 1 over for the week.

How did we end up here, with Koepka becoming the first player to win consecutive U.S. Opens since Curtis Strange did it in 1988 and 1989? We go through all the key moments of Sunday’s final round.

The hole that won the U.S. Open

Koepka made five birdies, but it might have been the par at 14 that lifted him to his second consecutive U.S. Open. Fitting, really, that it was a par at a U.S. Open in which pars were so tough to get. The player with a bad left wrist, playing in the event that most puts that wrist in danger — at a U.S. Open with high, thick, punishing rough — needed to navigate that rough to get home with a pivotal par at 14.

He pounded his tee shot 340 yards, but it found that unforgiving rough up the right side. He advanced it as far as he could, hacking it out 98 yards. With that, he had to get up and down from 62 yards to keep his one-shot lead. His wedge settled eight feet from the hole. He walked in the putt and he kept a lead he wouldn’t give up.

The 63 that wasn’t good enough

Tommy Fleetwood was surprised when he shot 66 in Friday’s second round. Imagine how he felt after tying the U.S. Open record with a 63 on Sunday. He finished at 3:49 p.m. local time, then waited … and waited … and waited.

“Looking at the pins, you knew they were going to be more accessible,” Fleetwood said immediately after his round. “I knew I was kind of in it teeing off, but you still have to get off to that good start. [When I was] 4 under through seven, and it was game on.”

Still, he would have liked to have that last putt, which just slid by the hole.

“I wanted 62,” he said.

The Grand Slam conversation that wasn’t

Patrick Reed doesn’t lack confidence. He wanted to make a statement, and he did that early. Reed birdied his first three holes, five of his first eight, and went out in 4-under 31. The murmurs started: Maybe Reed could follow his Masters win with a triumph at the U.S. Open. Only seven times a player has opened a calendar year by the winning the season’s first two majors. The last time it happened was when Jordan Spieth won at Augusta and then picked up the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in 2015.

Reed, though, couldn’t keep up the momentum after bogeys at 10, 11 and 12. A missed short par putt at 18 officially ended his hope of the major double.

The quest for a major comeback

In 1975, Lou Graham won the U.S. Open after trailing by 11 shots at the 36-hole mark. Tony Finau and Daniel Berger faced the same scenario. It appeared early they wouldn’t be joining Graham. Finau strung together three consecutive bogeys at Nos. 2, 3 and 4. Berger had back-to-back bogeys at the second and third. They each tried to rally — Finau made four birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round, while Berger opened his back nine with a birdie at 10 — but they could not make the long road back from 11 down.

The USGA changed the place

The tone of the day started very early, well before Andrew “Beef” Johnston hit the day’s first shot at 8:21 a.m. local time.

“In preparation for [Sunday’s] forecasted dry and windy conditions and to maintain a challenging yet fair U.S. Open test, we applied appropriate levels of water to all putting greens last night and this morning for turf health and firmness,” the USGA said in a statement. “Similar to the preparation we took for round 1, green speeds will be, on average, 10-12 inches slower than rounds 2 and 3. We also adjusted some hole locations in a manner similar to what we did in Round 1, reviewing our initial selections and comparing them against our weather forecast and other agronomic data.”

Our translation: We messed up Saturday. We are going to make up for it. The place is going to play easier. Did it ever. Not only did Fleetwood shoot 63, but the whole field had a better day. The course played nearly a shot easier on average than it did on any other day this week.

Follow live: Four-way tie atop the leaderboard sets up wide-open final round

Follow live: Four-way tie atop the leaderboard sets up wide-open final round

Earlier this morning (after yesterday’s madness in the Hamptons), the USGA released a statement on course conditions heading into the final round:

“In preparation for today’s forecasted dry and windy conditions and to maintain a challenging yet fair U.S. Open test, we applied appropriate levels of water to all putting greens last night and this morning for turf health and firmness. Similar to the preparation we took for round 1, green speeds will be, on average, 10-12 inches slower than rounds 2 and 3. We also adjusted some hole locations in a manner similar to what we did in Round 1, reviewing our initial selections and comparing them against our weather forecast and other agronomic data.”

Lozano the hero as Mexico stuns Germany

Lozano the hero as Mexico stuns Germany

MOSCOW — Hirving Lozano scored Mexico’s winning goal as El Tri defeated reigning world champions Germany 1-0 in Estadio Luzhniki in the 2018 World Cup’s biggest shock to date and one of the biggest upsets of all time.

Here are three thoughts from the stadium.

1. Mexico supreme as Germany fail to spark

Mexico had never before defeated Germany in an official match but came into Sunday’s match talking a good game. Off the pitch, the faithful Mexican fans — around 30,000 of them — entertained and did their part. On it, the players responded with a victory and performance that will go down as one of the very best in the history of Mexican football.

To defeat the reigning world champions and many pundits’ favorites to lift the trophy again was special enough. But to go out and attack them from the start — and for the 22-year-old Lozano, the jewel of Mexican soccer, to get the winning goal — made this an afternoon that will long live in the memory.

Mexico attacked often in the first half, creating a chance that perhaps Lozano should have converted early on. The PSV Eindhoven player did make it count in the 34th minute, though, when Javier Hernandez passed to him down the left. Lozano cut inside, steadied himself and fired in what turned out to be the winner at Manuel Neuer’s near post.

Mexico came flying out of the blocks. Coach Osorio had stated ahead of the game that his team would go toe-to-toe with Germany because he believed in his team and especially the midfielders. Hector Herrera — who had to leave camp only 10 days ago due to family issues — was inspired, furthering the idea that the 28-year-old could comfortably play at a higher level than the Portugal first division.

Guillermo Ochoa had his moment when he saved a Toni Kroos free-kick in the 39th minute. Then there was Lozano, who lived up to his billing as Mexico’s brightest young prospect. Left-back Jesus Gallardo, a player who has never played at anywhere near the level of Germany’s players, stood up to the challenge as well but it would possibly be unfair to single too many of the players. The real key for Mexico was the collective, the way the players pressed and harried the Germans into mistakes all over the field and then showed the steel to hold onto the one-goal lead.

The way El Tri played out from the back, competed in the air with a much bigger German side and created chances was especially impressive. Osorio knew Mexico could do damage on the counter and so it turned out.

After the break, Germany took control. Toni Kris went close in the 76th minute and the world champions continued to pepper the Mexico goal but were strangely off target with 26 shots, although only nine found the target.

Still, Mexico managed to create. They should have doubled the advantage in the 54th minute when Hernandez and Vela went through on goal, only for Hernandez putting too much weight on the pass for his former Chivas teammate. El Tri also had a penalty shout in the 70th when Hernandez went down under pressure from Mats Hummels.

Osorio said his Mexico team needed “one big game” after losing 2-0 to Denmark last Saturday amid waves of criticism of the team back home. This could very well have been it.

2. Did Joachim Low get it wrong for Germany?

It may sound strange to suggest but was Germany too offensive early on against Mexico and too willing to play a high line?

The Germany team competed for possession against a Mexico side that routinely has more of it but the reigning world champions’ problems didn’t come when in possession. Germany’s issues were evident when they lost the ball.

Low’s side had no answer to Mexico’s counter-attacks in transition and looked fragile, a trait not usually associated with Die Mannschaft. With full respect to the Mexican national team, a Brazil or Spain side given so much room could do serious damage with so much space behind the defense, even if Jonas Hector’s absence due to a cold was a blow for the Germans at the back.

The blueprint for Germany would have seemed to have been the way they played in the Confederations Cup semifinal a year ago, in which Germany had only 42 percent of possession but won 4-1. The two early goals from Germany did shape that game but Germany sat deep and almost invited Mexico on, picking El Tri off with some ease on the counter.

In Moscow, Germany dominated with 67 percent of the ball. Timo Werner spawned a couple of chances early on, which didn’t help, and the German side will need him to improve moving forward in the tournament. Despite the loss, you’d still expect them to advance with games against Sweden and South Korea coming up.

But with speculation that all was not well in the Germany camp ahead of the game, Low had talked in the build-up to Germany’s opener about making a statement against Mexico. The German side certainly did that but it wasn’t the one they would’ve wanted.

3. Marquez comes on for fifth World Cup

Sunday saw a historic win for Mexico and a personal milestone for Rafa Marquez, who came on in the 74th minute to replace Andres Guardado. In doing so, Marquez became only the fourth player in history to appear at five World Cups. The 39-year-old also extended his record of captaining a team from four to five men’s World Cups, a streak that may never be broken.

Next for Mexico is to get out the group. After that, talk of a quarterfinal is valid given what we saw on Sunday.

Marquez third man to play at five World Cups

Marquez third man to play at five World Cups

Mexico captain Rafa Marquez has become only the third player to play at five World Cups after he came on as a substitute during the 1-0 win against world champions Germany.

Marquez, 39, who has already retired from playing for club side Atlas and declared his intention of ending his playing career when Mexico’s World Cup campaign is over, came on in the 74th minute against Germany to equal the records of Mexico compatriot Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus.

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was called up to five World Cups but played in only four of them, with Gianluca Pagliuca starting for the national side in 1998.

Marquez first appeared for Mexico at the 2002 World Cup and has since gone on to feature in 2006, 2010, 2014 and now 2018.

“[I dream] about making history with the national team,” Marquez said in an interview with ESPN’s John Sutcliffe before the tournament began. “It’s been a thorn in the side that in four opportunities we’ve not been able to achieve it.

“This is the moment, it’s today, it’s the present. We can’t wait four more years to make history.

“We have all the tools and we have to work them. We have to convince ourselves, mentally prepare ourselves to be able to make history.”

Cubs make their move from going yard to getting on board

Cubs make their move from going yard to getting on board

ST. LOUIS — For much of the season, there has been a power outage on the north side of Chicago, as the Cubs have worked to transform their offense from one of many strikeouts and home runs to one that makes more contact. Of course, they want to keep the long ball in play — and they’re starting to deliver home runs as well — but right now they rank just eighth in the National League in homers per game (1.1) after missing out on the league lead last season by just one big fly.

“That’s not a good thing because power was down for my team last year,” hitting coach Chili Davis said with a half-smile on Saturday before the Chicago Cubs played the St. Louis Cardinals.

Unprompted, Davis addressed the small elephant in the room. Last year, his Boston Red Sox hitters were last in the American League in home runs but currently rank second in that category. Meanwhile, the Cubs are the team now hitting fewer homers under Davis, but they are striking out less as well.

“It makes sense because if you’re up there swinging for home runs, you’re going to strike out more,” Davis said. “You’re going to leave your zone more, and your swings will be bigger.”

Currently, the Cubs chase pitches out of the strike zone 1 percent less than they did last season, so perhaps the message for more contact is getting through. But who doesn’t like home runs? The goal is to hit homers at a high rate and make lots of contact, though that’s easier said than done.

“I think it’s something we have to evaluate over a little bit of a longer period of time,” general manager Jed Hoyer said regarding the Cubs’ reduced power. “We haven’t hit as many home runs, and in theory that’s concerning, but it’s a small sample. Let’s look later on and see where we’re at.”

Fair enough. It’s what many players said as well, though some echoed Davis’ thoughts: Fewer strikeouts probably mean fewer home runs.

“I would say that’s a natural thing,” Kyle Schwarber said. “If you’re going to make more contact, you might not take as big of a swing.”

Have the Cubs moved too far in that direction? There are days when the long ball is about all you might get, and the Cubs haven’t been able to square up as many balls as they did in the past. For example, last Wednesday was a tough day to hit at Miller Park for both the Cubs and the Brewers. The roof was open on a sunny day, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Seeing the ball was an issue, and Lorenzo Cain accounted for the only run of the game with a solo home run.

“The Brewers got their home run, and we didn’t,” manager Joe Maddon said afterward.

Two days later, the Cubs played home run derby when they went deep three times against the Cardinals in a 13-5 win. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Cubs hit three homers in 18 percent of their games last season. That’s down to 13.4 percent this year. The question the Cubs must answer is one that team president Theo Epstein asks often: Is it “baked” into their approach?

“I prefer our guys to make adjustments with two strikes, but we’re still full-throttle with less than two strikes,” Maddon said.

Perhaps the Cubs have some middle ground to find. After all, with Maddon and Davis preaching more contact and scoring runs with outs, it was bound to have an effect, but hitting home runs can never be a bad thing — unless, of course, it’s all anyone is swinging for.

“The guys that have power are going to hit for power,” Davis said. “You don’t have to force power. … It’s when they try to hit for power when a guy isn’t pitching to him, that becomes a problem.”

Does the early-season home run drought matter?

Here’s the thing about the Cubs: They ranked second in runs scored in the NL last season, with 5.07 runs per game, and they’re leading the league this year going into their game against the Cardinals on Sunday night with only slightly fewer runs per game, at 5.03. How they’ve achieved that ranking each year looks decidedly different, in part because of the home run disparities. For example, in place of home runs, the Cubs have increased their batting average from sixth in the league last season to first. That equates to more run-scoring — just not by the long ball.

“It’s overrated in teaching,” Davis said. “If you’re teaching hit the ball in the air, hit the ball out of the ballpark, that’s how you are going to get paid, you have to be willing to accept lesser on-base percentage and a lot of strikeouts.”

Davis hit on the one thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet: on-base percentage. It continues to be the most important team statistic in baseball. A good OBP is the common link between the Cubs of 2017 and 2018. They led the league last season and currently do again. That’s the stat that will get them to the playoffs — no matter what warts you might think they have on offense.

“We’re all out there trying to do our jobs and put ourselves in the best position to win a baseball game,” Schwarber said. “Getting on base is the simplest form of that.”

Consider this: From 2005 to 2017, every team that led the NL in on-base percentage made it to the postseason. Think about that for a moment. The best correlation between a statistic and making the playoffs isn’t team ERA or home runs or even runs scored — it’s on-base percentage. Understanding why that is might be a whole other story, but if history means anything, it’s good news for the Cubs. Going into Sunday, they lead the NL in on-base percentage by a whopping 14 points. There’s a very good chance they’ll finish first in that category for the third consecutive season.

Some might lament the Cubs’ inability to plate runners in scoring position, but because of that strong OBP, it’s a misleading stat. The Cubs hit .252 with runners in scoring position, 10th in the NL, but they have scored the second-most runs in that situation because they create so many chances. Scoring runs is the name of the game, and even though it would be nice to score even more, with so many chances, the Cubs are scoring enough to produce a good record.

The last idea that confuses fans is the notion that the Cubs lead the majors in games in which they’ve scored 10 or more runs, yet sometimes they revert back to struggling at the plate. But the anomalies are the high-scoring games, not the lower-scoring ones. In terms of plating three or fewer runs in a game, the Cubs are smack dab in the middle of the pack in the NL. It’s going to happen — even to good offenses.

The bottom line is as long as the Cubs keep getting on base, their offense will be just fine. They’ll really hit their stride once the home runs start to pile up, as they have started to this weekend against the Cardinals. One weakness, which hasn’t changed from one year to the next, is getting home a runner from third base with fewer than two outs; the Cubs aren’t very good at that.

But for now, they’ll take what they have while hoping to improve and counting on history to repeat itself.

“As of right now, our power is a little bit down, but our averages are higher,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “It may go hand in hand, but as long as we get on base, good things usually happen.”

Just ask all those teams that led the league in OBP.