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Astros ambush Tyler Glasnow in first inning to take 4-0 lead in ALDS Game 5

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After the Cardinals hung a 10-spot on the Braves in the first inning of NLDS Game 5 on Wednesday, the Astros tried to do the same to the Rays in ALDS Game 5 on Thursday. Facing Tyler Glasnow, who impressively posted a 1.78 ERA across 12 starts during the regular season, the Astros put their first four base runners on base and all four came around to score.

Gerrit Cole had a harmless top of the first inning for the Astros, recording a pair of strikeouts in the process. George Springer led off the bottom half with a line drive single. Michael Brantley followed up with a single of his own, putting runners on the corners with no outs. José Altuve then lined a single to right field, bringing Springer home and keeping runners on the corners. Alex Bregman plated both Brantley and Altuve with a double to right-center. Yordan Álvarez finally made the first out with a grounder that pushed Bregman to third base. Yuli Gurriel made it 4-0, sneaking a ground ball single to left field. Glasnow would finally see his way out of trouble with back-to-back strikeouts of Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick.

The Astros didn’t score 10 runs, but they’ll gladly take four first-inning runs to take a commanding lead in Game 5 of the ALDS. The loser is eliminated; the winner will face the Yankees in the ALCS.

Update: Eric Sogard cut into the lead by swatting Cole’s first pitch of the second inning over the fence in right field for a solo homer, making it 4-1. The Rays ain’t dead yet.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.