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Astrolog JUDr. Jiří Kubík, MBA, ceskaastrologie@seznam.cz, Tel. 607 646418


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Antonio Brown’s locker sat empty on Friday save for the stack of cardboard boxes pushed off to the side Andrew Shaw Jersey , items the Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver hasn’t gotten around to unpacking just yet. The All-Pro is too busy trying to get his injured left calf ready in time for Pittsburgh’s division playoff game to worry about wading into his ever-expanding universe of swag.

The AFC North champions are optimistic Brown’s familiar No. 84 will run out of the tunnel at Heinz Field on Jan. 14. Brown hasn’t played a snap since injuring the leg while trying to haul in a touchdown pass in the second quarter against New England on Dec. 17. If for some reason his leg doesn’t heal in time, the Steelers (13-3) are confident they can thrive without him.

”We don’t know what’s going to happen with 84,” veteran receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said. ”Things sound good but we don’t know. I’m confident because we put the work in. You saw it in the Patriots game. We didn’t panic when AB got hurt. Guys rolled in, played ball. The last few weeks we’ve been doing that.”

Pittsburgh persevered thanks in part to the precocious development of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, the resilience of Martavis Bryant and offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s refusal to pigeon hole the many weapons at his disposal. Haley insists that every wide receiver and tight end learn how to run every route from every conceivable spot along the line of scrimmage. Even running back Le’Veon Bell (whose 85 receptions ranked 10th in the league) is required to pick it up.

”We’ve got to keep it unpredictable,” tight end Jesse James said. ”We can’t let defense know where AB is going to line up every time. That goes for everybody. We’re always looking to see different matchups.”

Ones the Steelers exploited even with Brown out.

Smith-Schuster averaged 110 yards receiving over the final three games. Bryant’s tumultuous return from a yearlong suspension, a return that included an early-season trade demand, ended with a flourish. He caught 13 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown over the last three weeks. Even reserves Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter found the end zone as Pittsburgh bounced back from a difficult loss to the Patriots to clinch a first-round playoff bye.

Don’t get Brown’s teammates wrong. Pittsburgh is infinitely better with the only unanimous selection on the NFL’s 2017 All-Pro team in the lineup. Yet the drop-off isn’t quite as steep as it would have been a year ago, when Bryant was out of the league, Smith-Schuster was still in college and injuries forced the Steelers to use a largely anonymous group to fill in the gaps.

It speaks to the depth Pittsburgh has cultivated over the last 12 months that Cobi Hamilton, who caught the team’s lone touchdown pass in an AFC title game loss to New England, didn’t survive the final round of cuts in August.

”Out of all the years I’ve been here, I’m confident knowing we have more hands, we have more in our deck of cards,” said Heyward-Bey, now in his fourth season with the Steelers. ”We’ve got more things going on.”

Smith-Schuster has been a revelation as both a route runner and an enthusiastic blocker in the running game. And Brown’s absence has given Bryant the playing time he was looking for when he went to the team in September and asked to be traded. Things have quieted down since, and his production level ticked up as the season went along. Bryant had at least four receptions in five of Pittsburgh’s last six games. He only had one game with more than four receptions over the first 10 weeks.

Bryant stressed the receivers didn’t ”add more pressure to ourselves” when Brown went down but added ”everybody wants to have AB’s back and be great for him.” Perhaps no one has more at stake than the 26-year-old Bryant, who showed flashes of greatness in in 2014-15 before multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy put his career in jeopardy. The road back has been rocky but nothing Bryant says he can’t handle.

”This is nothing compared to what I’ve been through,” Bryant said. ”This is a walk in the park for me. Just happy to be back. This year almost over. We got three more games left Antti Niemi Jersey , looking forward to those and see what happens.”



Dallas Keuchel had a different catcher before throwing his first pitch for the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

Everything worked out just fine with Tim Federowicz behind the plate with the former AL Cy Young Award winner throwing some of his best breaking pitches all season.

Keuchel struck out seven and allowed only two runs over seven scoreless innings, winning for only the second time in his last nine starts, as the Astros beat the Texas Rangers 5-3.

”Some of the shape it was taking early was really good. (Shin-Soo) Choo leading off the game, anytime you get him to swing and miss at a breaking pitch, it’s acting pretty good, and then (Nomar) Mazara struck out looking with a slider away,” Keuchel said. ”Both of those balls had good action and I knew from the then on if I could establish the fastball in to the lefties, it would be a good day.”

Josh Reddick and Tony Kemp homered for the Astros, who are 11-4 this season against their instate division rival, with seven consecutive road wins in the series. Houston is a majors-best 31-14 on the road this season.

Keuchel (5-8) struck out the first four batters he faced, and six of the first seven.

After catcher Brian McCann went on the disabled list and had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier Tuesday, manager A.J. Hinch said Max Stassi would do the bulk of the catching. But Stassi got hit by a pitch batting in the first, and left the game with a bruised right (throwing) wrist before even taking the field on defense.

”I think we avoided a fracture, very good for us,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”Got him pretty good in the wrist. Got a welt there, couldn’t flex his hand, hand so mobility.”

X-rays were negative and Stassi is considered day to day.

Keuchel had only thrown a few bullpens with Federowicz in spring training, and a live BP session, before the catcher was called back from Triple-A Fresno earlier Tuesday.

”The way he handled the game not expecting to play Bobby Orr Jersey , that was really impressive,” Keuchel said.

Choo later walked twice and had two singles to extend his career-best on-base streak to 43 games, the longest in the majors since Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman’s 46-gamer two years ago. Choo is three games shy of Julio Franco’s team record of 46 in a row set 25 years ago.

The Astros used three relievers to get through the eighth. Texas already had a run in before Hector Rondon took over against pinch-hitter Joey Gallo, who worked a 12-pitch at-bat into a two-out walk to load the bases before Robinson Chirinos struck out. Rondon then worked the ninth for his sixth save in eight chances.

Houston went ahead to stay in the first when Yuli Gurriel and Reddick had RBI doubles off Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2), who still managed to get through six innings. He struck out four, walked two and hit two batters.

”To get through six in that situation was huge for us,” manager Jeff Banister said. ”Early on it didn’t look that it was going to be the case, a situation where really didn’t have a whole lot of sink on the fastball. … For us to still have an opportunity there through those innings, it was big-time by him.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: SS Carlos Correa, out since June 26 with lower back soreness, has been working out daily in Houston. Hinch said it was uncertain if Correa will be ready to play Friday when eligible to come off the DL. He hadn’t gone through any baseball activities yet.

Rangers: RHP Tony Barnette left the game after a 2-1 pitch to Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth. The Rangers said he had a right shoulder strain and would be evaluated further Wednesday. … 1B Ronald Guzman had two hits and scored twice after being activated from the seven-day concussion DL.

SHORT HOPS

The Astros have homered in 23 consecutive road games, a club record and four from matching the MLB record set by Oakland earlier this season. … Before Bibens-Dirkx plunked Stassi in the first inning, Rangers pitchers had gone 22 games without hitting a batter – the longest span for the team since 1998.

DOUBLE DOUBLED UP

Astros leadoff hitter George Springer was in a 3-for-46 slide before a single in the sixth. But he was also doubled off twice on hard lineouts.

UP NEXT

Gerrit Cole (9-2) will pitch on regular rest for the Astros after they made a slight tweak in their rotation. Lance McCullers Jr., who was scheduled to start, was instead pushed back to Friday. Rangers lefty Mike Minor (6-4) took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his last start, a win last Wednesday over the San Diego Padres.



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Obsahová správa JUDr. Jiří Kubík, MBA, ceskaastrologie@seznam.cz, Tel. 607 646418