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Sports Brief: October 16-18

MLB Playoff Update

The 2023 World Series is within reach for both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers, who hold 2-0 leads in the League Championship Series (LCS) round and stand two wins away from the championship series. 

The Phillies delivered an emphatic 10-0 victory in NLCS Game 2 against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Although the match remained close for the initial five innings, the Phillies unleashed back-to-back four-run innings to break it wide open. 

Meanwhile, the Rangers have excelled in the ALCS, leading 2-0 against defending World Series champions, the Houston Astros. Texas seized its two wins at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night and Monday afternoon and now gears up to send Max Scherzer to the mound on Wednesday night in their second playoff game at Globe Life Field. 

Many lower-seeded teams have pulled off stunning upsets during these playoffs. The Phillies eliminated the 104-win Braves, the Rangers swept the 101-win Orioles and the Diamondbacks overcame the 100-win Dodgers. 

The playoffs began with 12 teams in the running, but now, only four remain. The Marlins, the Brewers, the Blue Jays and the Rays all bid farewell during the Wild Card Series.

Kyle Schwarber Gets It Going for the Phillies

In Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, the Philadelphia Phillies departed from their previous postseason performances to supply a stunning offensive spectacle that blew their game against the Diamondbacks wide open. 

The Phillies’ formidable offensive lineup found its rhythm in the sixth and seventh innings, posting back-to-back four-run rallies. While Bryson Stott had shone in the Wild Card round and Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper and Trea Turner had garnered attention in the NLDS, fans have eagerly been awaiting Kyle Schwarber’s moment to shine. Schwarber delivered by launching two solo homers in the third and sixth innings, with his second home run being a towering 445-foot blast that gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Notably, this was the first home run that Kelly had surrendered on a changeup this season. Following Schwarber’s heroics, Alec Bohm’s run extended the Phillies’ lead to 9-0, and a Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly made it 10-0. 

Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola aided in the performance as well, by striking out seven and allowing only three hits during his six shutout innings. The Phillies’ bullpen effectively sealed the deal on the mound.

As the series now heads to Phoenix for Game 3 on Thursday, the Phillies have seized a 2-0 lead in the NLCS, and their offensive prowess, coupled with strong pitching, bodes well for their championship aspirations.

Oklahoma City Thunder Makes Bold Move in Latest Trade

The Oklahoma City Thunder has reshaped their roster again in a recent trade. 

Multiple reports have confirmed the Thunder sent Victor Oladipo and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two valuable future second-round draft picks. Additionally, they acquired Kevin Porter Jr. with the intention of waiving him immediately, according to insiders

The Thunder’s stockpile of draft picks continues to grow, with this trade amounting to 37 total picks over the next seven years of the NBA Draft. Among these, 15 are first-round selections and 22 are second round. 

Kevin Porter, Jr., the talented but controversial player, came with a significant salary attached, owing nearly $15.9 million for this season and an additional $1 million guaranteed for the following season. However, the Rockets had already distanced themselves from Porter following his arrest on domestic violence charges in September. Porter’s legal situation is still pending, with one assault charge against him recently dropped due to insufficient evidence, as reported by the New York Post. Nevertheless, he continues to face a strangulation and another assault charge related to the alleged incident, to which he has pleaded not guilty. 

Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone has been vocal about the organization’s stance on his charges. 

“The allegations against him are deeply troubling. Going back a few weeks, as soon as I heard the allegations, I informed his representatives that he could not be part of the Houston Rockets,” Stone said.

On the other side of the trade, Victor Oladipo remains a compelling figure with a cloud of uncertainty surrounding his return. Oladipo tore his patellar tendon tear during last season’s playoffs with the Miami Heat. The Thunder’s decision to part ways with Oladipo and Robinson-Earl while adding future draft assets shows their commitment to a long-term rebuilding strategy. 

Meanwhile, the Rockets are dealing with the consequences of a complex and troubling situation surrounding Kevin Porter, Jr. The trade has undoubtedly sparked discussions and debate among basketball enthusiasts, with each team making bold choices that will shape their future.

No Undefeated Teams Remain in the NFL

The 2023 NFL season’s titans, the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles, tasted the bitter pill of defeat for the first time this year. 

For the San Francisco 49ers, a remarkable streak of 15 regular-season wins came to an end at the hands of the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers encountered two significant stumbling blocks — injuries and special teams woes. Star running back Christian McCaffrey and explosive wide receiver Deebo Samuel both left the game due to separate issues, creating a void in the offense. Quarterback Brock Purdy, however, led the 49ers down the field on the final drive. The game came down to a 41-yard field goal attempt, a chance for rookie placekicker Jake Moody to etch his name in 49ers history. Unfortunately, Moody’s miss proved costly, granting the Browns an unexpected 19-17 victory. 

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles, who had started the season on fire, encountered an immovable force in the form of the New York Jets. The Jets’ formidable defense wreaked havoc, intercepting quarterback Jalen Hurts three times and sacking him twice. The second half saw the Eagles kept off the scoreboard, as the Jets arrived at a 20-14 victory. 

With the losses gained by these two formidable teams, the debate for the title of the league’s best team is now wide open. The Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions have all surged to 5-1 records, joining the elite ranks of contenders. As the season unfolds, the NFL’s landscape will shift, with every game carrying the potential for upsets and surprises.

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