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101-win Orioles swept by Rangers, plus Duke football’s surprising rise


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While You Were Sleeping: Bye, Baltimore

We have our first Division Series elimination. The 101-win Orioles got swept last night by the Rangers — and, in the moment, it didn’t even feel like big news. That’s how bad this postseason was for Baltimore.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out seven and gave up just one run over seven innings in a dominant performance. Adolis García homered and drove in three runs in a five-run second inning.

To say this is a stunning result would be an understatement. This was the AL East champion and best storyline in baseball, gone in three postseason games thanks to a hot team playing well at the right time. I won’t say it’s unfair — more on that in a bit — but it does feel a bit sad. At least for a young Orioles team that couldn’t win a single playoff game.

Elsewhere: The Astros are one win away from another ALCS trip after a duly impressive win on the road in Minneapolis. That Cristian Javier is just an unflappable pitcher.

Switch-ups: Duke, destination football job

One vision of Duke athletics exists on the lawn outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, where students camp out for tickets to big basketball games.

That perception might be changing, at least for this year, thanks to football coach Mike Elko, as Brian Hamilton writes. Now the campus grounds are pockmarked by remnants of football’s “College GameDay,” a fun concept for a program historically low on big wins.

A few things:

  • Imagine if Duke could’ve outlasted Notre Dame, maybe just by nixing Irish QB Sam Hartman’s insane 4th-and-17 conversion. The Blue Devils would be undefeated with wins over Clemson and Notre Dame. Here’s Elko’s reaction to the improbable first down: “I’m like, f—ing what?”
  • It’s interesting to wonder whether Elko can make Duke a consistent winner. David Cutcliffe has the program record for wins, with 77 … alongside 97 losses. It’s a tough place to excel in football, but Elko is doing it right now.
  • Then again, Elko could jump ship soon. The other side of that whole it’s-hard-to-win-here bit: If you do, others will call. Elko is just 46. Does he leap for a bigger job or continue the Duke challenge?

The good news is that he doesn’t have to answer just yet. Read the full story here, including copious context about the program’s strange place at the university.

News to Know

Japanese phenom heading to U.S.
Rintaro Sasaki, a 17-year-old slugger from Japan, did not submit an application for the Nippon Professional Baseball draft, instead opting to play college baseball in the United States, according to multiple reports. Sasaki hit a record 140 home runs in high school. The decision is relatively unprecedented.

Melrose steps away
Longtime NHL analyst Barry Melrose has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which will force the popular commentator to retire from his on-air role at ESPN. After coaching the Kings for three years in the mid-1990s, Melrose joined ESPN, where he essentially became the face of the network’s hockey coverage.

Thompson’s big chance
Lexi Thompson will tee off at the Shriner Children’s Open tomorrow, becoming just the seventh female golfer to compete in a PGA Tour event. She spoke with our Brody Miller about the opportunity, and said making the cut would be one of the biggest achievements in her career. Read their full convo here.

More news

  • Connor Bedard made a nice impression in his first NHL regular season game last night, notching an assist in Chicago’s win over Pittsburgh.

  • LIV golfers were denied Official World Golf Ranking status again.

  • The Chicago Sky are finalizing a deal to make former Pelicans assistant Teresa Witherspoon their next head coach.

Feedback Loop: Sorry, MLB

Updated MLB playoff poll

Maybe I skewed the results by offering my opinion, but nonetheless I feel vindicated. You can see the results above from yesterday’s poll question, about whether MLB’s new playoff format disfavors the best teams.

Pulse readers clearly think the best teams should simply win games. Maybe the Orioles disagree today, but logic deems otherwise.

Thanks as always for voting.

Pulse Picks

Eric Nehm sat down with Damian Lillard for an exclusive, extensive interview with the newest Milwaukee Buck. The full conversation is worth a read.

The Bears could once again have a franchise-altering opportunity in the draft. Dan Pompei sketches out the possibilities.

Patrick Peterson is a grizzled vet now, but Mike DeFabo tells Peterson’s story from those who mentored him — and the players Peterson is teaching himself.

Tyler Kepner has a great preview of tonight’s NLDS Game 3 between the Braves and Phillies, who have provided us with the best series in the playoffs thus far.

Speaking of: Yes, we are still thinking about Michael Harris II’s game-winning play from Tuesday. Chad Jennings has a fantastic multi-perspective piece worth your time.

Nathan McKinnon and Jonathan Drouin have been friends and teammates since they were teenagers. This year, they’re hoping that it comes with a Stanley Cup.

F1 wants to add a new team. It’s more complicated than it sounds.

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(Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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