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A look at what’s happening around the majors Wednesday:

NATIONAL DECLINEThe Nationals could use a spark before the July 4 fireworks go off in D.C.
Washington is at risk of falling below .500 for the first time since May
2 as it continues a series against Boston at 11 a.m. EDT. The Red Sox
thumped the Nationals 11-4 on Tuesday Youth Christian Kirk Jersey , giving Washington its fourth straight loss and 16th in 21 games to
fall to 42-42. That slide has the preseason NL East favorites chasing
the Braves and Phillies in the division. Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00) tries
to stop Washington’s skid against Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez
(9-3, 4.11).THE SHO GOES ONShohei Ohtani is back from the disabled list, albeit without full use of his
electric right arm. The Japanese two-way sensation has been cleared to
hit and was in the Angels’ lineup as a designated hitter Tuesday night,
but he won’t be pitching anytime soon due to a Grade 2 sprain of his
ulnar collateral ligament suffered more than three weeks ago. Ohtani has
received stem cell therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection on his
right elbow, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to return to the mound
this year. For now, Los Angeles welcomes him as a hitter. He entered
Tuesday batting .289 with a .907 OPS and six homers in 114 at-bats.ROTATION RESETGerrit Cole (9-2) will pitch on regular rest for the Astros after a slight
tweak to their rotation. Lance McCullers Jr. was initially scheduled to
start at Texas, but Cole will pitch instead. Justin Verlander (9-4) will
follow Thursday at home against the White Sox and McCullers goes
Friday. Manager A.J. Hinch said the switch keeps Cole and Verlander
pitching every fifth day, and provides extra rest for McCullers (9-3)
and Charlie Morton (10-2). The reset rotation means likely All-Star
selection Verlander is scheduled for the final game before the break.
”This is always going to be the priority,” said Hinch, the All-Star
manager who then won’t have Verlander available to pitch for the AL team
on July 17 in Washington D.C.BAUER POWERTrevor Bauer tries to carry over an outstanding June when the Indians play at
Kansas City. Bauer (7-6, 2.45) was 3-3 with a 2.18 ERA last month,
striking out 62 batters in 41 1/3 innings. He gets probably his easiest
test of the year against the Royals Youth Mason Cole Jersey , who scored a major league-low 58 runs in June – the second-lowest output was Tampa Bay at 87.—Dick LeBeau vs. Bill Belichick.Doesn’t get much better than that for NFL fans. Tennessee linebacker Wesley
Woodyard believes the rare matchup is a showdown for the ages.”Oh man, it’s going to be a battle of the masterminds,” Woodyard said when
the Titans defensive coordinator tries to outwit Belichick and his New
England Patriots.”Two Hall of Fame coaches, I’m sure Belichick will be there hands down. Coach LeBeau’s
seen a lot, coached a lot of playoff games, so we’re relying heavily on
his experience and to go out there and play hard man. That’s all we can
do for our coach.”Well, LeBeau is only in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his 14-season career as a cornerback,
though he certainly qualifies for consideration for designing the zone
blitz on defense. LeBeau also has an NFL-record 45 consecutive seasons
as a coach, putting ahead of only one man – Belichick with 43 – in that
category.The two will be very instrumental in determining the outcome on Saturday night when the upstart Titans
(10-7) visit Belichick and his defending Super Bowl champion Patriots
(13-3) for a spot in the AFC championship game.And Belichick made it very clear that coaching against LeBeau is not something he enjoys.”I wouldn’t use that word, no,” Belichick said. ”It’s very challenging.
Coach LeBeau is a great coach, he does a tremendous job, (he) has for
his entire illustrious career as a player and as a coach. Really
revolutionized the game James Bradberry Jersey , and his system has certainly withstood the test of time.”Belichick ticked off how LeBeau’s Titans have led the NFL in rushing defense over
the past two seasons and led the league this season for the fewest big
plays allowed of 20 yards or longer. Belichick says the foundation of
LeBeau’s defense remains the same over the years, modified for the
players he has and the teams he’s facing.The man with five Super Bowl titles as head coach in New England made clear
he has great respect for LeBeau, whom he considers a good friend.”He’s such a great person, very humble guy that accomplished so much but he’s
very modest about it,” Belichick said. ”I learn an awful lot from
watching him, watching his defenses and watching the way that he does
things. Techniques and adjustments and schematics and so forth. He’s one
of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league.”Told that Belichick said he learned a lot from him, LeBeau said he was humbled.”Not very many coaches have the record Coach Belichick’s gotten, in fact
he’s probably closing in on the best ever,” LeBeau said Wednesday.
”That’s quite a compliment.”The two haven’t coached against each other in the playoffs but once before with
Belichick overseeing the Patriots. LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers
won home-field advantage in 2004 by beating the Patriots 34-20 on Oct.
31, then Belichick and New England won the AFC conference championship
Jan. 23, 2005, beating the Steelers 41-27.”It’ll be interesting to see how it comes out,” LeBeau said.LeBeau said preparing for a Belichick-coached team means understanding the players won’t beat themselves. Add in Tom Brady Jake Muzzin Jersey , one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game makes the Patriots always a formidable opponent, according to LeBeau.The Titans trust that LeBeau, who turned 80 the day before this season
opened in September, will put them where they need to be. Titans
linebacker Derrick Morgan said that’s what LeBeau did in the second half
of the Titans’ upset of Kansas City 22-21 in the wild-card game. The
Titans allowed only 61 yards total offense and no points in the final 30
minutes.”He has all the experience in the world, probably been to 50 playoff games give or take,” Morgan said.
”We have a lot of confidence in him that he’s going to put us in the
right positions.”After kickoff, LeBeau said both coaches will be focused only on what’s happening on the field.”Once we walk on that field,” LeBeau said, ”we won’t know who the hell’s on the other side of the field to be honest with you.”Everyone else will know.—

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