Vanderbilt Celebrates

Vanderbilt takes a 1-0 lead over Virginia in the College World Series finals

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The College World Series finals began last night and, since those finals are the best of three, it could be all wrapped up tonight. If it is, Vanderbilt will have taken home its first national championship in a men’s sport. Any sport.

That’s because Vanderbilt won a barnburner over Virginia, 9-8. Not that it was easy. It started that way, with the Commodores coming back from being down 2-0 early by scoring nine runs against Virginia starter Nathan Kirby in the third. Virginia chiseled away, though, scoring three more in the bottom of the third, two in the fifth and one more in the bottom of the eighth. It could’ve been two in the eighth, but Vanderbilt reliever John Kilichowski managed to kick the ball on a comebacker that very easily could’ve made it through the infield, preventing the tying run from scoring. After an uneventful ninth, Vandy took the 1-0 series lead.

While it may just be one game, the first game has mattered a whole heck of a lot since the College World Series went to a best-of-three final in 2003. In that time, seven of the 11 finals have been two-game sweeps. Only twice in the 11 years of the three-game format has the team that lost the first game gone on to win it all.

Of course, Virginia already had to do something that rarely happens in order to win this thing, as no ACC team has won the College World Series since 1955. That, of course, is just a historical curiosity that has no bearing on what happens in 2014. Being down 1-0 in a three-game set, however, does make things tangibly and empirically harder.

Game two is tonight at 8PM Eastern. Game three, if necessary, is tomorrow night at the same time.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.