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In these MLB playoffs, home runs reign supreme more than ever

And when the Rays’ Mike Brosseau connected with a 100-mph fastball from Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and sent it over the fence in left field, the prophecy was fulfilled. The Rays had a 2-1 lead and, moments later, after closing out the Yankees in the ninth, a clinching victory that sent them to the American League Championship Series to face the Houston Astros.

And baseball had another data point on a trend that is both stunning and more than a little disconcerting — and one that keeps getting more acute. Home runs have always been the most efficient way to score, but in this postseason, they increasingly feel like the only way.

With the Rays’ win Friday night, teams are 22-1 this postseason when they outhomer their opponent, a .957 winning percentage. The only loss was by the San Diego

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Euro 2020 play-offs & England-Wales friendly on big day for Home Nations

It’s a huge day of international football for the Home Nations with some fighting for their Euro 2020 places and Anglo-Welsh bragging rights at stake.

Northern Ireland and Scotland are involved in play-off semi-finals at 19:45 BST as they bid for a spot in next summer’s rearranged European Championship, while England and Wales – who have already qualified – face off in a much-anticipated friendly at Wembley.

After tonight, we could even be looking forward to a potential Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland play-off final – which would be at Belfast’s Windsor Park – although they both have to get through tricky away games before they worry about that.

Northern Ireland travel to Bosnia while the Republic visit Slovakia and victories for both in tonight’s one-legged ties would set up a mouth-watering all-Ireland showdown for Euro 2020 qualification.

Scotland’s task of progressing past Israel at Hampden Park has been made even

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MLB playoffs: Cody Bellinger robs Fernando Tatis Jr. of go-ahead homer

For a moment, it seemed as if Padres superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. had done it again.

Tatis had previously pulled off home run heroics in San Diego’s Wild Card Series win over St. Louis. With two outs in the seventh inning and the Padres trailing by a run, Tatis hit what appeared to be a surefire two-run blast to straightaway center field.

Then Cody Bellinger turned into Superman, and the Dodgers escaped with their lead intact.

Bellinger and the rest of the Dodgers were understandably fired up after the game-saving play. Pitcher Brusdar Graterol flung his hat and glove in excitement, and then appeared to blow a kiss to Padres third baseman Manny Machado. Machado, unsurprisingly, was not too pleased with that.

Graterol’s taunt, and Machado’s reaction, sparked several other Dodgers to shout at Machado and the Padres dugout. Graterol stayed in the game in the eighth, when he

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New York Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton rocks MLB playoffs with epic 118.3 mph home run

This is the Giancarlo Stanton whom New York Yankees fans have been waiting to see for the past three seasons.

Stanton hit two home runs in Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Yankees’ division series against the Tampa Bay Rays — which New York ultimately lost 7-5 — and the second one was a legendary three-run blast off Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow, a 118.3 mph rocket in the fourth inning, an estimated 458 feet onto the walkway behind the seats in left-center. Stanton also homered in the second inning, a low liner down the right-field line that just cleared the fence.

Stanton’s second home run off Glasnow’s 97 mph fastball was just the 16th home run of the Statcast era (since 2015) clocked at 118 mph or higher — and he has eight of them.

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MLB playoffs betting odds, picks: Rays strike first vs. Yankees, plus a long-shot home run prediction

After two full days off, the Major League Baseball playoffs are set for action again Monday afternoon and evening with the American League Division Series getting underway. So-called bad blood exists in both series and the expectation is both will be highly competitive as well. It’ll be fun without the gambling aspect, sure, but we can add to the fun, no? Let’s do it.

ALDS Game 1

Houston

Oakland (-1.5)

4 p.m.

TBS

8.5

ALDS Game 1

N.Y. Yankees (-1.5)

Tampa Bay

8 p.m. 

TBS

7.0

All lines via William Hill Sportsbook

Rays win (+135)

Like most people heading into the series — at least from what I’ve seen — I picked the Yankees to win. I think it’ll be close and hard fought, though, and I wonder about the Rays sitting around with their 40-20 regular-season record and fairly easy two-game sweep of the Blue Jays seeing nearly everyone

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Continue Reading MLB playoffs betting odds, picks: Rays strike first vs. Yankees, plus a long-shot home run prediction