See who hit three home runs on Wednesday night

784044.jpg

See who hit three home runs on Wednesday night

From Comcast SportsNet
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Adrian Beltre could not deny it. With two chances at matching a major league record four homers, he was thinking only one thing. "I'm trying to hit a home run," Beltre said. "I got a pitch to hit, too, but I couldn't do it." Beltre hit three home runs, including two in a nine-run fourth inning, and had five RBIs in the Texas Rangers' 12-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. He had chances in the sixth and eighth to become the 17th player all-time to hit four home runs -- teammate Josh Hamilton did it May 8 at Baltimore -- and grounded out both times. Beltre hit his first homer leading off the second against former teammate Tommy Hunter. He connected again off Hunter for a two-run shot with none out in the fourth. He then hit another two-run drive with two outs while facing Kevin Gregg. "It was a fantastic night," manager Ron Washington said. "I was hoping for him to get a fourth one also, but it didn't work." Mitch Moreland hit his first grand slam in the fourth, when the Rangers sent 12 batters to the plate. He matched Beltre with a career high-tying five RBIs. The power surge supported a solid effort by Derek Holland. The left-hander pitched seven innings, giving up three runs and five hits. He struck out five and walked three. Hunter (4-8) allowed eight runs on eight hits -- three home runs -- in three-plus innings. Hunter, who spent parts of four seasons with the Rangers, was acquired by the Orioles along with first baseman Chris Davis in a 2011 trade-deadline deal for right-handed reliever Koji Uehara. "He made a lot of mistakes," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "And they make him pay for it." With his first home run, Beltre became the ninth third baseman with 10 seasons of at least 20 home runs. Beltre has had 23 multihomer games in his career. He also hit three homers in Game 4 of the AL division series against the Rays last year. The Rangers gave Holland (8-6) plenty of support with the big inning. Josh Hamilton, who matched a major league record with four home runs May 8 against the Orioles at Camden Yards, started the inning with a single and scored on Beltre's drive to left. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young followed with singles before David Murphy's run-scoring double. A walk to Geovany Soto set up Moreland's grand slam. Three batters later Beltre hit his second homer of the inning, driving in Hamilton, who walked. Beltre, who entered the game hitting .244 in his last 31 games, is hitting .462 (6 for 13) in his last three. "I've been kind of struggling for a couple of weeks," Beltre said. "I've been working in the cages trying to find a comfort zone with my feet and hands. "The last three days I stuck with something," he added. Beltre, Murphy, Young and Ian Kinsler each had more than one hit. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was the only starter without a hit for the Rangers, who improved to 13-8 in August and maintained a five-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. Murphy has five multihit games in his last six and is hitting .519 with four doubles, one home run and seven RBIs during the stretch. Since July 24 he leads the majors with 13 doubles. Moreland swung the bat well, Murphy swung the bat well, we got it up and down the lineup tonight," Washington said. Nick Markakis went 3 for 4 with three RBIs for Baltimore. NOTES: The Rangers said before the game that right-hander Yu Darvish would not make his next scheduled start on Thursday as a precaution because of tightness in his right quadriceps. Team officials said Darvish is expected to make his next start on Tuesday. ... Orioles catcher Matt Wieters left the game after the sixth inning because of a right shoulder contusion sustained on a foul tip in the second inning. X-rays were negative. ... Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Jim Thome, on the disabled list with a herniated disk, is pain free and will begin baseball activities on Thursday. ... Uehara completed a rehabilitation appearance at Triple-A Round Rock with no complications and will pitch again Friday.

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.