Xander Bogaerts has 1.036 OPS in past 29 games, Red Sox’s Alex Cora tells him he’ll ‘set the market’ for elite shortstops

BOSTON — Red Sox manager Alex Cora asks Xander Bogaerts “Who’s a free agent first?”

Cora is referring to the elite class of major league shortstops: Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager. 

“He tells me ‘It’s me’ and I say, ‘Well, you’re going to set the market, huh?’ And he smiles,” Cora said. “He’s a good player and we challenge him to hit fifth. We want him to drive the ball and he’s been doing that.”

Bogaerts, who actually has batted cleanup in five straight games, went 4-for-4 with a walk in the Red Sox’s 6-5 walkoff win over the Astros on Sunday Night Baseball.

The star shortstop singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to keep the rally going Sunday. He went 8-for-12 with one walk, two homers, four RBIs and two runs in the three-game series vs. the Astros. 

“I had a meeting with Jackie (Bradley Jr.), Mookie (Betts) and Xander during spring training and told them how talented they are and how people outside the organization look at them,” Cora said.

Cora doesn’t want the Bogaerts, Bradley and Betts to act cocky, he said. But he wants them to act confident on and off the field. 

Bogaerts is playing with tremendous confidence. This is his best season by far.

He’s slashing .352/.426/.610/1.036 with five homers, 10 doubles, one triple and 28 RBIs in his past 29 games dating back to Aug. 8.

He’s batting .291 with a .363 on-base percentage, .528 slugging percentage, .891 OPS, 21 homers, 41 doubles, three triples and 93 RBIs in 122 games.

He has matched his career high for home runs. He already has set a new career high for extra base hits (65). His .891 OPS is 120 points higher than his career mark.

Bogaerts has stayed hot in the second half this season (.305/.381/.513/.894). He slumped during the second half both in 2016 (.253 .317/.412/.729) and 2018 (.253/.317/.412/.729). That’s the biggest difference this season.

“He’s such a good athlete,” Cora said. “It’s fun because like the other day he has a great series against Cleveland and everybody knows who their shortstop is (Lindor). And Francisco is like, ‘Wow.’ They look at the numbers and they’re impressed.”

Bogaerts’ 109.0-mph and 432-foot homer to straightaway center field Friday amazed both Correa and Jose Altuve, Cora said.

“Then he goes deep yesterday, and then they look at the numbers,” Cora added. “They know he’s a good player. And I’m glad he’s having a great season.”

Bogaerts will be the first elite shortstop to hit the free agent market. He’s eligible after next season.

Lindor, Correa and Seager are eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.

With Scott Boras as Bogaerts’ agent, Bogaerts almost certainly will test the market instead of signing a contract extension. 

College football odds, Week 3: Betting lines and trends for the top games of the week

The No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners were 14-0 straight up and 10-4 against the spread in their previous 14 games when they shockingly lost to the Iowa State Cyclones at home last season as 31-point favorites. The Sooners are 10-1 SU and 6-5 ATS since that loss and will look to avenge it this Saturday at Iowa State.

Oklahoma is an 18-point road favorite on the college football odds for Week 3 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Sooners are 14-1 SU and 9-6 ATS in 15 meetings with the Cyclones since 1995 and would love to get back on the track of regularly crushing this team with a big win this year. Over their last 16 road games the Sooners are 16-0 SU and 10-6 ATS according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide are also on the road this week visiting the Ole Miss Rebels as 19.5-point favorites. On paper this shouldn’t be much of a contest, but the Rebels are 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS in their last four games against Alabama, giving these head-to-head matchups a bit of intrigue. The Crimson Tide are 12-0 SU in their last 12 games played in September.

College Football Week 3 Betting Lines

Georgia Southern at Clemson (-34.5)

Middle Tennessee at Georgia (-31)

BYU at Wisconsin (-23)

Oklahoma (-18) at Iowa State

Alabama (-19.5) at Ole Miss

Ohio State (-13) vs TCU

LSU at Auburn (-10)

Boise State at Oklahoma State (-3.5)

See the complete list at OddsShark

The Top 5 team receiving the toughest test on the road this week is the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes going off at -13 against the No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs in a game that will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Both of these teams enter this game in strong form with TCU coming in at 2-0 with wins of 55-7 and 42-12 and Ohio State coming in at 2-0 with wins of 77-31 and 52-3. Ohio State is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games against Big 12 opponents.

Rounding out the top six teams in the AP Top 25 rankings are three big favorites at home in Georgia Southern at No. 2 Clemson (-34.5), Middle Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia (-31) and BYU at No. 4 Wisconsin (-23).

Joining Ohio State vs. TCU in the games featuring two ranked teams on the card, No. 12 LSU visits No. 7 Auburn (-10) on Saturday and No. 17 Boise State is on the road against No. 24 Oklahoma State (-3.5). Oklahoma State is a perfect 8-0 ATS in its last eight games played in Week 3.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Let’s look at Maryland football’s other recent 400-yard rushing games

Maryland football beat Bowling Green 45-14 Saturday, overcoming a halftime deficit by outscoring the Falcons 35-0 in the second half. The most eye-popping stat from the game: Maryland amassed 444 rushing yards and surrendered just 15.

Here’s what that looks like visually:

It was the Terps’ highest rushing output since 1999 and only their third 400-yard performance of the millennium. Let’s talk about those other games.

The last 400-yard game: 10/1/2016 vs. Purdue

This was Maryland’s first Homecoming game under DJ Durkin, and the Terps absolutely decimated the Boilermakers. Ty Johnson was the star, rushing for 204 yards and two scores on just seven carries. Lorenzo Harrison III added 78 yards and a touchdown, his fourth in as many games to start his career. Maryland won 50-7 and almost moved into the AP top 25; the Terps were favored at Penn State the following week. They lost seven of their last nine games.

The previous best of the century: 11/28/2015 at Rutgers (401 yards)

Maryland entered this game 2-9 and winless in Big Ten play, then fell behind 31-10 in the second quarter. But the ground game brought the Terps back. Brandon Ross, playing his final college game, finished with 173 yards and three touchdowns, and his 80-yarder with 4:40 remaining gave Maryland a 46-41 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Johnson, then a freshman, had only two carries; they went for 43- and 44-yard scores.

The best total since: 11/20/1999 vs. Virginia (445 yards)

Perhaps more notable than the total, LaMont Jordan piled up 306 yards by himself. That’s still the school record by 30 yards, and it remains the most by a junior in ACC history. Unfortunately, the Terps actually lost this game, 34-30, to close their season 5-6 with four straight losses. Jordan was already having an unreal season; his 1,632 rushing yards remain a school and ACC junior record.

Ironically, Saturday’s game was Jordan’s second as color commentator on the Maryland Sports Radio Network. The Terps had 447 rushing yards before closing the game with kneel-downs.

In other news

Here are Justin’s takeaways from the game, and here’s Ryan on how cutting down on penalties made all the difference.

If the AP Poll listed 30 teams instead of 25, Maryland would be ranked.

Maryland’s field hockey team is having an incredible season. The No. 3 Terps beat No. 12 Delaware on Friday and No. 17 Harvard on Sunday to improve to 7-0.

Volleyball went 2-1 at the Maryland Invite, its first weekend at home this fall.

Women’s soccer played George Washington to a scoreless draw last night, moving to 2-3-3 this season.

And men’s soccer still hasn’t scored a goal in 2018.

The good news, though: Lefty Driesell is officially in the Hall of Fame.

Stefon Diggs highlighted Maryland alums’ NFL performances this weekend (we’ll have a full roundup soon).

In pictures: North Korea’s mass games propaganda show

Performers holding up coloured boards creating a huge portrait of Kim Il-sungImage copyright Reuters

North Korea on Sunday kicked off a huge propaganda festival, featuring enormous co-ordinated displays unlike anything else in the world.

The spectacle is called the Arirang Mass Games and will run throughout September to mark the country’s 70th anniversary.

It features tens of thousands of performers.

The event is striking but the United Nations has in the past said children are forced to take part, or to help in the build-up.

Dancers waving North Korean flagsImage copyright EPA
Image caption The games are a huge propaganda event
Performers holding up coloured boards creating a big image of two young girlsImage copyright EPA
Image caption They are famous for the huge picture displays created by participants holding up coloured boards
Aerial shot of the stadiumImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The games are designed to celebrate the country and boost morale
Dancers at the Arirang mass gamesImage copyright EPA
Image caption The show is popular with foreign tourists and a source of revenue for Pyongyang
Performers holding up coloured boards creating a big image of a man on horsebackImage copyright EPA
Image caption The country’s Air Koryo carrier has scheduled additional flights from Beijing for the event
Stadium filled with performersImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The last games were held in 2013
Athletes doing a gymnastics performanceImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The event includes tens of thousands of participants, many of them children
Children doing a gymnastics performanceImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The UN has said children are forced to take part, or to help in the build-up
Performers holding up coloured boards creating a big image of a child with footballImage copyright AFP
Image caption Tickets to each event reportedly cost up to €800 ($933; £717)

All pictures subject to copyright.

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