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  • June 14, 2019
    导出博客文章TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez was supposed to be in the Blue Jays bullpen by now.
    Instead, the All-Star right-hander will start against the Texas Rangers on
    Sunday night, hoping to pitch Toronto into the AL Championship Series.When the
    24-year-old Sanchez cracked Torontos starting rotation after a solid performance
    in spring training, the team said it planned to move him to a relief role at
    some point to limit his workload. The thinking was a full season of starting
    would be too much for a pitcher whose previous career high was 133 1/3 innings,
    reached at three levels in 2014.We were all set that he was going to eventually
    end up in the bullpen, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said as both teams worked
    out Saturday for Game 3 of the AL Division Series. That was the plan in spring
    training.Those plans went out the window as Sanchez pitched like an ace, earned
    an All-Star berth, and led the AL with a 3.00 ERA.We thought it would be crazy
    to take him out of that role, Gibbons said. Hes been so good, one of the best
    pitchers in baseball.Sanchez got extra rest between starts over the final two
    months, even spending 10 days in the minor leagues, in order to stay fresh.
    Toronto also acquired left-hander Francisco Liriano at the trade deadline and
    briefly used a six-man rotation to spread the work out even more.Neither the
    extended rest, nor the 10 days he spent at Class A Dunedin, were any kind of
    issue to Sanchez.I knew we had something special with this club and I wanted to
    be a part of it, he said. To be here to pitch in a game like (Game 3), Im just
    blessed with the opportunity to go out there and compete.Sanchez hasnt pitched
    since allowing one run in seven innings to beat Boston on the final day of the
    regular season, a victory that ensured Toronto would host the AL wild-card
    game.Sanchez made one start against the Rangers this season, and it want his
    best. He allowed six earned runs, matching a season worst, and seven hits in 6
    2/3 innings of a 7-6 loss on May 15. That game also featured a brawl between
    Rangers infielder Rougned Odor and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, an incident
    that happened after Sanchez had already left the game.With Texas facing
    elimination after losing the first two games at home, Sanchez presents a tough
    test in an even tougher situation. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said the key
    is to stay aggressive at the plate.Hes a power pitcher and we know hes going to
    try and establish himself and his pitch early, Andrus said. Dont let him get
    comfortable. When you face guys like him, the last thing you want is them to
    feel comfortable on the mound.Right-hander Colby Lewis, who is 4-1 with a 2.38
    ERA in nine career postseason games, will start for the Rangers.He can
    definitely be our stopper, Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.Texas has not
    been swept in a playoff series since back-to-back ALDS losses to the New York
    Yankees in 1998 and 1999. Dating to 2015, the Rangers have lost five straight
    postseason games, all to Toronto.Theres no panic in this club, Rangers manager
    Jeff Banister said.Liriano, who has made two relief appearances this postseason,
    sustained a concussion when he was struck in the back of the head by Carlos
    Gomezs line drive in Torontos 5-3 win in Game 2 on Friday.Trainer George Poulis
    said Liriano felt good after undergoing tests Saturday but said there is no
    timetable for Lirianos return.The symptoms were very good, Poulis said. Were
    going to examine him each day and just go from there.Players who sustain a
    concussion must be cleared by Major League Baseball before returning.Liriano and
    Gomez were teammates in Minnesota and remain good friends. Gomez said he spoke
    to Liriano on the phone Friday night and was relieved to hear his friend was not
    seriously hurt.I slept better knowing he didnt have any problems, Gomez said,
    adding that he and Liriano had discussed going for dinner together on Saturday
    night.So, did Gomez plan on picking up the check after nailing his pal in the
    head?Were both rich, so it doesnt matter, he joked.Blue Jays second baseman
    Devon Travis, who was scratched from Game 2 with a sore right knee, had an MRI
    Saturday morning. He is day-to-day with a bone bruise but has no structural
    damage, Poulis said.
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    Jacob de la Rose also scored for Sweden (2-0-0). Esa Lindell and Rasmus
    Ristolainen replied for Finland (1-1-0) Lindell opened the scoring for Finland
    just 41 seconds into the game, but the hosts quickly regained their composure
    and tied the score less than four minutes later on Wennbergs first of the game.
    HOUSTON -- Jadeveon Clowney is ready to shine in prime time.The No. 1 pick in
    the 2014 draft failed to make an impact in his first two injury-plagued seasons
    . But now hes healthy, playing well and ready for a national audience Thursday
    when the Houston Texans visit a New England Patriots team that will likely start
    rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett.It will be just the second time Clowney has
    played in a nationally televised game after he sat out three of Houstons four
    night games in his first two years because of various injuries.When asked if hes
    ready to show what he can do, a big smile crept across his face and he let out a
    small laugh before gathering himself to provide an answer.Im very excited, he
    said. Im looking forward to it. Its going to be big for the team.A win would
    give the Texans a 3-0 start for the first time since they opened the 2012 season
    5-0. Houston has been helped by an improved offense led by new quarterback Brock
    Osweiler and rookie receiver Will Fuller, but through the first two games the
    defense has been the strength of this team .Clowney has been a key to the units
    early success with seven tackles, including three for losses, a sack, five
    quarterback hits and a batted down pass. Hes doing a little bit of everything
    these days and the word coaches and teammates use most often to describe him is
    disruptive.In his first two seasons, Clowney lined up as an outside linebacker
    in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennels 3-4 scheme. Since Clowney was healthy
    throughout training camp, it has given the Texans more freedom to use the
    6-foot-5, 266-pound player in different ways, and hes mostly played defensive
    end in the first two games.Regardless of where they put him, the Texans have
    been impressed with Clowneys hustle this year.I think hes playing really hard,
    coach Bill OBrien said. There are a few clips on there where he is rushing the
    passer, the pass gets off and hes chasing the ball carrier down. I think the guy
    is playing with tremendous effort and Ill say that about all the guys on
    defense.Clowney, who earned a reputation as a fierce pass rusher in a standout
    career at South Carolina, did not have a sack as a rookie but finished witth 4+
    last year.dddddddddddd His first two seasons were full of disappointment for
    both him and the team as he played just four games in 2014 before having
    microfracture surgery, and missed three games and Houstons wild-card playoff
    loss to Kansas City last season due to a variety of other ailments.As he started
    to pile up more injuries than sacks, criticism that he wasnt living up to his
    draft status continued to grow. Clowney heard it all, but said he chose to
    ignore it. He knows that the injuries couldnt be helped and believes theres only
    one way to quiet his detractors.Im not saying nothing, he said. Im just going to
    keep letting my game speak and just keep getting better and better week by
    week.Clowneys improvement has added another dimension to a pass rush led by last
    years NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and one that also features
    Whitney Mercilus, who had two sacks in Houstons opener. Watt is excited about
    the possibilities for this defense full of playmakers.You never know where the
    play is going to come from, it could be a linebacker, it could be a (defensive
    back), it could be a guy up front getting a sack, he said. Its a lot of fun when
    you play like that. I think it makes it difficult for other teams and thats the
    goal.As Clowney continues to progress, Watt is slowly returning to form after
    missing all of training camp and the preseason after July surgery to repair a
    herniated disk in his back. He started to feel good on the field again last week
    after struggling in Houstons opener. And it showed as he finished with 1 + sacks
    and recovered a fumble.But he has a message those who think hes back to full
    strength.I say partially, he said. Im still working on some things and I think
    it may be some things that only I see. But there are definitely some things that
    I want to continue to improve upon. But I have to admit it did feel good on
    Sunday to ... have some glimpses of my old self back. So I just want to continue
    that.---Online: AP NFL website: and AP NFL Twitter feed: ' ' '