WATCH: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walks it off in extra innings to beat Baltimore Orioles 7-6

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is The Big Man.

And on Wednesday night, he knocked his first-ever walk-off hit to win a regular-season game for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It came in extra innings when he singled into left-field allowing Bo Bichette to race home from second base. On a night where Vladdy had already launched a 443 ft solo home run in the fifth and two other hits to go along with it, the Orioles decided to let him hit instead of intentionally walking him in the 10th.

The FIRST #WALKOFF of @27vladdyjr’s career
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 16, 2022

It’s not the first walk-off knock in Vladdy’s MLB career. In the final game of Spring Training in 2018, he smashed a breaking ball home run while the Jays were playing in Montreal.

Jun 15, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) celebrates as he drives home the winning run over the Baltimore Orioles in the tenth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY SportsBlue Jays fans won’t complain about the one Wednesday night after what was a stressful evening. Despite scoring four runs in the bottom of the second and extending their lead to 6-3 heading into the eighth, a Yimi Garcia implosion in the top of that frame tied the game up at 6.
The Jays couldn’t get on the board in the bottom of the eighth, while both teams remained scoreless in the 9th. For the Jays, it was thanks to a strong 1K, no-hit frame from Jordan Romano. Come the 10th, lefty Adam Cimber drew in to throw in a three-up, three-down inning of his own. Then, Vladdy did his thing.
It was a great save for what was a strong outing on the mound from Jose Berrios. In 7.0 IP, he struck out eight batters and allowed three earned runs on three hits. For the Jays as a whole, it a redeeming night having dropped a 6-5 decision Tuesday night to the Orioles.
Now, the Jays will look to close out the series Thursday afternoon when Kevin Gausman gets the start.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Leaflets: Rumours vs. Speculation, a BPA rant, and the case for the goaltending cart before the horse

Here I am on a Sunday night polishing off a bottle of wine that needs finishing before it goes bad, and I’m feeling now is the time to rant about some offseason practices. Here we go:
Rumours vs. Speculation
The main thing that drew me to the online hockey community was having several hours worth of a desk job to fill and my desire to see the Leafs make moves to improve themselves. I’d scour the internet looking for any indication that Toronto would improve, and that became how I filled my workday. I went on from there, but still, I get the appeal the seeking out Leafs rumours and daydreaming about what happens next.
Still, I’d like to think that along the way I learned the difference between rumours and speculation and learned to treat them differently. I don’t often see that in the mess that is social media, and often that’s a product of the crappy game of telephone that goes on.
Rumours are generally provided by an insider or beat reporter citing someone from around the league sharing what they’ve heard or possibly what they are up to. Those are pretty straightforward.
Unfortunately, because people like me …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors select quality shooting guard in 2022 NBA Mock Draft

Raptors select quality shooting guard in 2022 NBA Mock Draft

The NBA Draft Lottery was officially consummated last night, as the Orlando Magic were given the top selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. Now that the dust has settled, the NBA Mock Draft prognosticators have started to figure out which players would make sense for the Toronto Raptors. In possession of the No. 33 overall […]
Raptors select quality shooting guard in 2022 NBA Mock Draft – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Blue Jays bats finally warm up in a 5-1 win

On the night that the Toronto Maple Leafs (hopefully) lost to Tampa, the Toronto Blue Jays won 5-1.

It started off like most painful losses this season, the Jays had a glorious opportunity to jump on the starter with the bases loaded and one out in the first. Sadly, they only scored one run on a sacrifice fly from Santiago Espinal.
Ryu returned, and he gave up a solo shot to the first batter he faced, which led to this tweet:

I miss 2020 Ryu so much man.
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) May 14, 2022

Ryu’s return:
Despite giving up the solo homer, Ryu settled down and pitched 4.2 innings, giving up four hits, a single walk and striking out three. With his performance, he has dropped his season ERA to 9. Hopefully he builds off this outing.
The bats finally breakthrough:
It took a while, but the Jays bats finally started to heat up a little bit. Tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth, Teoscar Hernandez led off and hit his first homer since coming off the IL.

— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 15, 2022

Espinal, who is having one of the better seasons for a second baseman in the MLB, then hit a single. Collins grounded out, but Espinal reached third on a throwing error by former Jays prospect, Harold Ramirez.
Gurriel knocked in Espinal with a single and Zimmer was brought in to pinch run (and later moved to the outfield). This was a moot point, as the returning Danny Jansen obliterated the ball for a 2 run shot. This made the game 5-1, a lead in which the Jays never relinquished.

Welcome Back, Jano! #NextLevel
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 15, 2022

Speaking about Danny Jansen:
Well, the 27-year-old catcher made me eat my words. I’ve said before that Jansen and Hernandez back in the lineup wouldn’t improve the hitting nearly as much as people thought. Yes, Jansen got off to a hot start, but we’ve seen how hot and cold he has been before.
With the swing of the bat, I was proven wrong. Maybe Jansen is what this team needs, because he’s now hit three homers in just four games.
While Alejandro Kirk has filled in well defensively, the team will now be able to rest him with the defense at the catcher position being compromised.
Other notes:
Chapman led off for the first time in his career, finishing 0-5 with a strikeout. This doesn’t tell the whole story, as if not for the deadened balls, he’d likely have a homer. He also hit a ball to the gap, but was robbed of a base hit when Rays’ right fielder Brujan ma …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Is this time different? A confidence check on the Maple Leafs

Last night for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I decided to rewatch Avengers: Infinity War. The opening scene where Loki is stating his case for returning to earth seemed particularly relevant to the Leafs in game seven:

Anyway, here we are. I feel like if you didn’t think we’d end up at Game Seven in this series you were lying to yourself, but the biggest question now is about how confident we feel in the Leafs ability to close it out. It’s been easy to say “this time is different” and to be honest it has been. The Leafs are healthier, their stars are producing more, and suspensions haven’t factored in. The Leafs are more ready for this game than they’ve been for any previous series, but there is another difference and that’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. They are a better team. They are healthier than they’ve been all season, and they’ve won the Stanley Cup the past two seasons.
With all that considered, the question I posed to the TLN crew was: “How confident are you that the Leafs WILL win game seven, and why?” Here are the responses:
Dylan Murphy:
They can and they will. That sentence has been meme’d to death, but this time, it’s right. I’m dreading the game and the pain it will bring should something go wrong with every fibre of my being, and I’m mad that it’s even happening because if not for truly incompetent officiating, the Leafs would’ve won it in 6, but here we are, on …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs vs. Lightning series numbers are concerning and encouraging, depending on which numbers you mean

Last night, I imagine that we all ecstatically saw the Maple Leafs take their second win of the four they need against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 2-1 series lead is critical, according to Hockey-Reference, teams who go up 2-1 in a series while away have a 70.9% chance of winning the series, compared to 55.4% after they lose game 2 at home.
Moneypuck has actual team-based odds, based on the performance so far this season and throughout the playoffs. The Leafs currently have a 77.8% chance of defeating the Lightning and moving on to the second round. Toronto also sits atop the charts for likelihood of winning the Cup right now, at 15.9%, slightly ahead of the Avalanche, who are 2-0 up on the Predators so far.
Clearly, the odds machine at Moneypuck sees the Leafs as a team that is playing well, giving them a ~7% higher chance to win the series than historical odds would say they should have. Let’s look into the numbers in the series so far to see if the excellent regular season performance that is driving those odds is carrying into the playoffs.
Game 1
Some might say that 5-0 is the only stat we need from this game, but even a dominant win like that can show chinks in the armor. If you look at just shot attempts, which is ill advised in a single game, especially …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: Getting back in the win column

Tuesday night was the right night to bet against the Leafs, but with an actual playoff calibre opponent, and two of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history going up against each other, it’s time to expect more from the Leafs again.
The Leafs are -165 to win
With Orlov and Kuznetsov out tonight for the Capitals, the Leafs as favourites isn’t a tough decision. With Campbell back in net, the Leafs are definitely upgrading from Kallgren, which helps as well.
Let’s see the goalscoring race in action
Matthews is usually a lock to score, especially if he didn’t have one in the last game. And that Alex Ovechkin guy isn’t a bad goal scorer either. If you want to count on both of them scoring it pays at +250, if you want to go big with it, Matthews and Ovechkin both scoring first for their teams pays at +2000.
Take the over
Neither team has had great goaltending this season and both teams love to score. If you want to take the over on 7.5 goals and the Leafs to win, it pays at +250, a nice step up from the -165 on the Leafs winning or the over on 6.5 which pays at -131.
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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: The Leafs Nation’s game day betting guide for Leafs vs. Canadiens

It’s a classic Hockey Night in Canada matchup as the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Montreal Canadiens for the final time in 2021/22. The Habs have the lead in the season series, up 2-1 this year, so the Leafs will be looking to even things up against Montreal tonight at Scotiabank Arena.
Leafs vs. Canadiens (Leafs: -430)
As you might expect coming into a matchup with the league’s fourth-ranked team taking on the 31st ranked team, the Maple Leafs enter tonight’s game as big favourites.
Simply put, there isn’t much value to be had in the Leafs moneyline in this one. I’m sure you’re aware, but Montreal has been a tough out for Toronto ever since the first-round playoff series last spring. The Leafs have scored two goals in all three matchups against the Canadiens this season, winning 2-1 in Toronto and falling 5-2 and 4-2 respectively in Montreal.
If you are going to bet on Toronto to win, there’s much more value in the Leafs to win by over 1.5 at -160 odds.
Montreal’s two wins this year hav …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Playoff success is the final barrier to Auston Matthews becoming the greatest Leaf ever

On Thursday night, Auston Matthews made history by setting the new record for most goals in a season by a Leaf. It broke a 40-year-old record that was previously set by Rick Vaive in 1982 with 54 goals.
He could have just called it a day with that historic goal, but Matthews decided to one-up the ante:

Auston Matthews in overtime. What a celebration
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) April 8, 2022

The overtime winner also set the NHL record for most goals in a season from an American-born player, while also registering a career-high 12 shots on goal (three shots shy of tying the record in the salary cap era set by Alex Ovechkin twice). And with 49 goals in his last 49 games, he has a chance to reach the elusive 50 in 50 mark tonight when the Leafs host the Canadiens on HNIC.
This historic performance has become a common trend for Matthews, who is putting together a convincing case for becoming the greatest Leaf of all time.
Matthews leads the NHL in goals 255 goals in just 400 games played since his memorable debut, which is seven higher than Ovechkin. That is a rate of 0.64 goals per game or a 52 goal pace throughout an 82 game season. He has also shown his growth as a two-way force as improved his defensive game tremendously over the past two years and has accounted for 59% of the team’s goals when he is on the ice this season.
At 24-years-old, he is already ninth in team history for goals (five behind Wendel Clark) and 16th for points (four behind Doug Gilmour and just one ahead of Mitch Marner). So long as he remains with the team for at least a decade and doesn’t decide to sign with the Coyotes, Matthews is well on his way to reaching the top ten in both of those categories.
Matthews’ impact has also extended into popular culture. He got a rap song named after him in light of his historic entrance to the NHL, has graced the cover of GQ, appeared twice on the EA Sports NHL cover, and has done numerous sponsorships that include being the first NHL player to sign with a betting company. All of this has made him one of the highest-paid players in the league (and not just because he is one of six players with an AAV over $11 million).
Over the last few years, we ha …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Fred VanVleet’s numbers make Raptors star an All-Defensive lock

Fred VanVleet’s numbers make Raptors star an All-Defensive lock

On Wednesday night, Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors walked into a game rife with standings implications, taking on a playoff team in the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite the weight of the game, Toronto came out flat to start, lacking the spark needed to best a Minnesota team desperate to avoid a play-in position. The Raps needed […]
Fred VanVleet’s numbers make Raptors star an All-Defensive lock – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Tyler Hedmann / Raptors HQ