David Price started off well in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Then he became a starter.
Since his auspicious postseason debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, the Vanderbilt great is winless when it matters most.
He made his sixth career playoff start Thursday for the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost the opener of their American League Divisional Series 5-3. He’s now 0-6 with 5.23 ERA as a playoff starter with three different franchises, a confounding statistic for a five-time All-Star who might win his second Cy Young Award later this year.
“I know it's there, I know it's there," Price said when asked about his postseason reputation, reported MLB.com. "Hopefully it comes on my next start. If not, then my next one, or my next one, or my next one. I don't have an answer for you, to be honest. But I'm going to get better.”
The first overall pick in 2007 registered a win and a save in five relief appearances when the Rays reached the World Series in 2008. Since then he has started four games for Tampa and one each for Detroit and Toronto with no success.
A game-by-game look at David Price’s six career starts in the Major League Baseball playoffs:
2010 ALDS Game 1
2010 ALDS Game 5
2011 ALDS Game 3
2013 ALDS Game 2
2014 ALDS Game 3
2015 ALDS Game 1
The Texas Rangers have been a consistent problem.
Thursday was the fourth time they have faced Price in the postseason. They had just five hits in seven innings, their lowest total of the four, but they took advantage of two walks and two hit batters with a pair of home runs that accounted for three of their five runs.
Price has allowed at least one home run in five of those six games and more than one three times.
"It's been about seven years," Price said of his last postseason victory. "I want that monkey off my back and I expect to have better results out there on the field. I didn't throw the way I am capable of (Thursday) and I'll be ready to go whenever it's my turn again."
(Photo: Getty Images)
It looks as if John Jenkins is going to get a legitimate shot to stick with the Dallas Mavericks.
It will help if he’s asked to shoot the ball more than anything else.
In a preseason loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard had a game-high 19 points. He made three of nine 3-point attempts and six of 14 total shots.
A night earlier in a loss to Denver, he had 16 points – but also seven turnovers – in a loss at Denver. He has averaged 29.5 minutes of playing time in those games.
“Just for me, getting game reps is very important,’’ Jenkins said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m in a situation right now where I’m able to play, and play different positions, so I’m enjoying it right now.’’
One of those positions is point guard, which he played some in the game against Denver, which is part of the reason his turnover total was so high.
“It’s a little unfair putting him there for the last nine minutes of the game at point [guard], which he’s never played,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “That said, he did a very solid job handling the team.’’
Jenkins, 24, is one of the best 3-point shooters in Vanderbilt history and a graduate of Station Camp High School.
He signed a one-year deal with Dallas in July after three seasons with Atlanta, where he averaged 5.6 points per game. The Hawks drafted him in the first round (23rd overall) in 2012.
“I really like Jenkins, and Jenkins has played a real aggressive game both of the last two nights,’’ Carlisle said. “He showed he can handle the ball a little bit.
“So he’s done a good job and he’s got to continue doing what he’s doing.’’
(Photo: Getty Images)
A pair of Notre Dame football fans got caught in the rain Saturday following their team’s loss at Clemson.
Then they caught a ride from an unexpected source.
Former Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell offered a ride to brothers Larry and Tony Luppi, who flew from Southern California to see the game.
From The (Charleston) Post and Courier:
After Clemson’s 24-22 win went final at 11:42 p.m., the Luppis’ plan was to ride a shuttle back to their hotel in Seneca and drive their rental car to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in time to catch a 7:30 a.m. Sunday flight.
They never saw the shuttle, and traffic was impossibly congested due to the exodus of fans trying to escape the weather. So the Luppis began hiking in the dark and the rain. According to MapQuest, their rental car at the hotel was 9.75 miles west of Memorial Stadium.
“The plan was idiotic,” Larry wrote in an email to The Post and Courier. “Thankfully, the cars were passing by sporadically, which gave Tony and I enough time to jump into the grass next to the guardrail to avoid the cars. Clearly, all of our common sense had gone out the window by this point.”
Caldwell encountered the pair at 2 a .m. at convenience store, where he stopped for gas on the way home.
“Honestly, when he walked past us, I thought he was just a fan,” Tony told the newspaper by phone Tuesday. “On his way out, he asked, ‘Do you guys know where you’re going?’ I said, ‘Actually, we’re waiting on a cab, but we’ll pay you for a ride.’”
After reaching the hotel, Caldwell gave the Luppis directions to return to the highway toward Atlanta, stayed until their rental car started and refused to accept any compensation.
The men made their flight on time.
The Luppis promised to send Caldwell a handwritten thank-you note — “I don’t know if he can receive gift cards, but he said he likes fishing, so maybe we’ll get him a Bass Pro Shops gift card,” Tony said.
The best way for Vanderbilt’s baseball team to get where it wants to go is to stay at home as often as possible.
The program’s 2016 schedule, released Tuesday, includes 36 home games among 56 total. The first nine, beginning with a three-game series against San Diego (Feb. 19-21), and 18 of the first 21 will be at Hawkins Field. That includes the start of Southeastern Conference play, March 18-20, when Mississippi State comes to town.
The only non-conference series on the road is a three-game set at Stanford, March 4-6.
In the last eight seasons, the Commodores have won 76.7 percent of their home games. The three times they made it to the College World Series (2011, 2014 and 2015) they were a combined 91-27 (.771) at home.
COMFORTS OF HOME
A year-by-year look at Vanderbilt baseball’s home record for the past eight seasons:
Other notable aspects of the schedule include:
• Vanderbilt and Belmont will play a non-conference game at First Tennessee Park, the home of the Nashville Sounds, which opened earlier this year. That game will be March 29.
• Xavier and Radford, who came to town for NCAA regionals in 2014 and 2015, respectively, will play multiple games at Hawkins Field. The Commodores will host Radford for two (March 8 and 9) followed by a visit from Xavier for three (March 11-13).
• The Commodores will play a home-and-home with Middle Tennessee State. Vanderbilt will go to Murfreesboro on March 22 and host the return contest April 12.
• The annual late-season showdown with Louisville will be May 10 at Hawkins Field.
The end of Vanderbilt’s 17-13 victory at Middle Tennessee State on Saturday was dramatically different from the rest of the contest.
For more than three quarters the Commodores struggled to score because – among other things – they turned the ball over. Then they turned it around with two touchdowns in the final 6:14 and delivered coach Derek Mason his first win in a road game.
A further look at some of the notable performers and moments from the game:
VANDERBILT PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ralph Webb, running back
When Vanderbilt needed key yards Webb came through in a big way. There were times where it seemed like he was the entire Vanderbilt offense himself.
He finished 25 carries for 155 yards, none bigger than his 39-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, which clinched the game for Vanderbilt.
• Trent Sherfield, WR: He had a relatively quiet evening until Vanderbilt needed a big play. He had a couple of big catches and went 34 yards on an end-aorund. He finished with six catches and 97 yards of total offense.
MTSU PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ed Batties, wide receiver
When teammate Richie James went down with an injury, Batties stepped up and started making plays for MTSU. In the fourth quarter with MTSU driving, Batties leaped in the air between two Vanderbilt defenders and hauled in a Brent Stockstill pass for the first touchdown of the game.
He ended the night with 10 receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.
• Richie James, WR: James was having yet another solid game before he was hurt in the third quarter. He had eight receptions for 95 yards, five of which went for first downs.
• Kevin Byard, S: He had four tackles, a pass breakup, and an interception for 25 yards. The interception was the 17th of his career, tying him with James Griffin for the school’s all-time record.
Webb 39-yard touchdown run
On a third and one the Commodores once again went to their workhorse. Webb took the handoff and broke free from a couple of MTSU defenders for a 39-yard score to give Vanderbilt its first lead of the game.
The touchdown run capped off Webb’s first 100-yard game of the season and third of his career.
THEY SAID IT
"It was disappointing. We had a chance to put it away and just weren't able to do it. I'm really proud of our team and how they fought and competed. We'll struggle until we can run the ball. Give Vanderbilt credit, we missed a couple tackles. We've had two tough, gut-wrenching games back-to-back, but we still have a chance to reach our goals. This one hurts equally as much as last week." – MTSU coach Rick Stockstill on the disappointing loss
"This was an ugly football game with the turnovers and miscues. We had an inability to convert offensively on third down and defensively to get off the field. They gave us a great ball game, but at the end of the day, our football team grew up tonight. It was the first road win since I have been here and that's huge for this young football team." – Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason on pulling off a tough road win
"The quarterback made a few plays with his feet keeping the play alive. They also got a couple lucky bounces, but we busted a few coverages and lost some leverage; I definitely put the game on us.” – Byard on Vanderbilt’s fourth quarter comeback
For what was a defensive battle for most of the game, it came down to plays in the fourth quarter, when both teams produced their best offense.
Despite two turnovers earlier in the contest, Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary used his legs to get the Commodores into the end zone. His touchdown run brought Vanderbilt within three points and started to sway the momentum in his team’s favor.
For the second straight week MTSU suffered a heartbreaking loss in the final minutes. The defense held Vanderbilt to 177 yards passing and forced three turnovers but gave up big plays late.
The Commodores needed this victory. The Blue Raiders need to figure out how to finish contests such as this.
(Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt athletics)
Darshawn McClellan will start his career as a college basketball coach the same place he began as a player.
That’s not to say he hasn’t gotten around a bit.
The former Vanderbilt player has joined Kevin Stallings’ program as Player Development Assistant, the school announced Thursday.
“I am extremely excited to be back with the Vanderbilt Men's Basketball Program,” McClellan said in a release from the school. “I was fortunate enough to be a student athlete here from 2007-11, and did not imagine that I would be returning here to begin a coaching career as the Player Development Assistant.
“I am beyond grateful for all that Coach Stallings has done for me, and I look forward to continuing the growth of our program in any way that I can.”
He played 88 games for the Commodores (13 starts) and averaged 2.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Since he left Vanderbilt in 2011 with a degree in Organizational Development, McClellan played an addition year of college basketball as a grad student at Louisiana-Lafayette. He then played two years of professional basketball in Iceland, Japan and Luxemborg.
He spent last season as a high school assistant coach in California – at the same school he played high school basketball.
“We’re excited to add Darshawn to our staff,” Stallings said. “He is a quality individual who has a great relationship with our current staff and can provide great insight and guidance to our players as they progress in their careers, both on and off the floor, here at Vanderbilt.”
The Toronto Blue Jays want David Price on the mound when the playoffs start.
So they ended his regular season a little bit early.
The former Vanderbilt All-American was scheduled to start Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles but the Blue Jays, who already have clinched the American League East title, decided to give him an extended rest prior to the postseason.
The regular season ends Sunday.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons referenced the "well over 200 innings" that Price has pitched this year when explaining the decision and the desire to have the AL Cy Young Award candidate fresh for a run into late October. Price will throw bullpen sessions to remain sharp until the start of the ALDS next Thursday.
Price has plenty of postseason experience – not much of it good.
He’s been a part of five playoff teams in seven MLB seasons, including four in the last five, but is 1-5 with a 4.50 ERA and 40 hits allowed in 40 innings pitched. His lone win came as a relief pitcher in 2008 – his rookie season – when he helped Tampa Bay advance to the World Series.
His five career playoff starts have all been losses.
Maybe a little extra time will help him be better this year. Or it will give him more time to think about his previous struggles.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Vanderbilt’s offense is selfish.
In terms of football, that’s a good thing.
The Commodores rank among the top 20 in the FBS (they’re 18th, to be exact) in time of possession and have had the ball more than their opponents in each of their first four games.
The last time the Commodores had the edge in four consecutive games was the final four contests of 2013. Then, they won all four, including the BBVA Compass Bowl, and finished the season 9-4.
Victories have not come nearly as often with this season’s hoggish performances but such possession proficiency does have its benefits.
"You can tell in the third and fourth quarter that defenders are starting to get tired,” tight end Steven Scheu said. “When you see that, you kind of know that you have them where you want them, and we are definitely improving in that aspect."
Vanderbilt has had the edge in possession time in 12 of this season’s 16 quarters. In every contest there has been one in which it has the ball for more than 10 minutes. Three times that quarter was the first and the other (Western Kentucky) it was the second.
A year ago they won time of possession just four times – period – in 12 games.
NINE-TENTHS OF THE LAW
A quarter-by-quarter look at Vanderbilt’s time of possession in each of its first four games:
It’s not hard to figure why the Commodores have held the ball so much longer than last season.
Under first-year coordinator Andy Ludwig, they have averaged 22 first downs and 8.3 third-down conversions per contest. A year ago, those numbers were 16.1 and 3.8, respectively. They already have 33 third-down conversions and at their current pace they will surpass their 2014 total (46) before the end of their sixth game.
“There are no moral victories for us,” coach Derek Mason said. “This team wants to win ball games, and we're going to put ourselves in position to win ball games.”
Having the ball is a good place to start.
Trent Sherfield has caught enough passes – particularly the last two weeks -- to catch the attention of those who administer one of college football’s top individual honors.
The Vanderbilt sophomore was one of 13 players added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list Tuesday. The original watch list included 50 players.
Middle Tennessee State’s Ed’Marques Batties also was among the additions.
Sherfield and Batties will have their own personal battle Saturday when the Commodores play the Blue Raiders at Murfreesboro (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network) in MTSU’s homecoming contest.
Sherfield leads the Southeastern Conference in receptions (28) and is second in receiving yards (402). He is one of 17 FBS players with more than 400 receiving yards and is 12th in total receptions.
He has had 23 catches for 295 yards in the last two games.
“You just have to keep working and just try to maintain that top position,” Sherfield said last week. “I’m not really too worried about the stats. I’m just coming out here and trying to play and dominate every chance I get.”
The last Vanderbilt receiver to make the list was Jordan Matthews in 2013. Matthews ended up a semifinalist.
Batties is third in Conference USA with 30 catches and is second with 446 receiving yards. His seven receiving touchdowns are second in the FBS.
“Ed'Marques Batties … is unbelievable,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “A talented receiver, game-breaker, explosive who can make some plays.”
The Biletnikoff Award honors the country’s top pass catcher (wide receiver, tight end or running back). The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation administers the award, which will be presented Dec. 10 during ESPN's The Home Depot College Awards.
(Photo: Joe Howell/Vanderbilt athletics)
No disrespect to the Vanderbilt faithful, but Festus Ezeli’s recent trip to Nashville to display the NBA championship trophy his team, the Golden State Warriors, won last season likely was not the highlight of his offseason.
It was a close second.
Chances are his fondest memory is of an encounter with his basketball idol, Hakeem Olajuwan, during NBA Africa Game festivities last month in Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Hakeem has the same story I did, coming from Nigeria, not having a basketball background," Ezeli said during Warriors media day Monday, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "After meeting him and talking to him, I have a lot of respect for all the work he put in. He was talking to me about working hard and staying humble.”
Ezeli represented Nigeria, his native country, in that game, the first of its kind. His family later emigrated to the United States and Vanderbilt coaches discovered him playing for an AAU team out of California.
After five years with the Commodores, the Warriors drafted him in the first round (30th overall) in 2012.
He did talk about his trip to Nashville, which included an appearance at halftime of the football team’s SEC opener against Georgia.
"Even the Georgia fans stood up and gave me a standing ovation," Ezeli, said. "It made me feel like it's bigger than just myself. I was part of something big."
(Photo: Getty Images)
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