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Michael McDowell wins rain-delayed Daytona 500 after wreck

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Michael McDowell wins rain-delayed Daytona 500 after wreck

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Michael McDowell stormed through a crash scene to win the Daytona 500, snapping an 0-for-357 streak with a fiery pileup in his rearview mirror.

McDowell led just the final lap — maybe half of it, really — when Brad Keselowski turned teammate Joey Logano as the Team Penske drivers jockeyed for the victory.

McDowell stayed flat in the gas and plowed past the two spinning cars to the lead, then won a three-wide drag race until NASCAR threw a race-ending caution.

It was mayhem behind McDowell as a huge pack of cars could not avoid Keselowski and Logano. The collisions were one on top of another, flames erupting all over Daytona International Speedway as the race came to a close early Monday morning, nearly nine hours after it began.

McDowell, a 36-year-old journeyman from Arizona, was a 100-1 underdog at the start of the race and seemed in disbelief after taking his first checkered flag.

“So many years just grinding it out hoping for an opportunity like this,” McDowell said. “We’re the Daytona 500 champions. I cannot believe this. Luckily was able to make it through.”

A rain delay of almost six hours pushed the race into the night and under the lights, albeit without almost half the field. A 16-car accident just 15 laps into the race — moments before the rain — thinned the contenders and set up a showdown between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin and Harvick had the two best cars but pit strategy ended Hamlin’s shot at winning a record third-consecutive Daytona 500.

Reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott finished second and 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon was third. Harvick finished fourth, and Hamlin was fifth after leading a race-high 98 laps.

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Athletics’ Sergio Romo pulls down pants during substance check

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Athletics' Sergio Romo pulls down pants during substance check

MLB pitchers aren’t taking kindly to the league’s new foreign substance rules.

Athletics pitcher Sergio Romo seemed particularly annoyed that the umpires performed a substance check on him Tuesday night.

After working a one-run seventh inning for Oakland, the umpire beckoned for Romo to come over for the check. Romo responded to the moment by tossing his hat and glove to the ground and whipping his belt off.

MORE: Rays’ Wander Franco homers in first MLB game

Then came Romo’s final act. He pulled his pants halfway down to prove that he wasn’t harboring any illegal substances.

Romo certainly made his point, but Dan Iassogna, the umpire checking him, didn’t seem too bothered by his high jinks. In fact, the umpire flashed a smile at Romo, who the broadcast described as “heated.”

Romo wasn’t alone in being bothered by the substance check on Tuesday. Max Scherzer was checked for foreign substances three times in the first four innings of the Nationals-Phillies game and became increasingly irritable with each examination. He directed his rage at Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who was later ejected for jawing at Scherzer. The checks didn’t seem to faze the three-time Cy Young winner too much; he earned the win, pitching five innings while giving up just a run and striking out eight.

Needless to say, these antics will be fairly common as MLB attempts to implement these rule changes on the fly.

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Nationals’ Max Scherzer feuds with Phillies’ Joe Girardi over substance checks

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Nationals' Max Scherzer feuds with Phillies' Joe Girardi over substance checks

MLB’s new sticky substance rules are already causing havoc, and resulted in a feud between Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Phillies manager Joe Girardi on just their second day since being implemented.

Scherzer was checked for foreign substances three times in his first four innings against Philadelphia. He came up clean each time. The Washington starter didn’t look happy about his first check of the game after the opening frame.

That said, all starters will be checked for foreign substances under MLB’s new protocols, so that was expected.

MORE: Wander Franco cranks three-run homer in first career game

What wasn’t expected was that Scherzer would be checked after the third inning as well. He finally drew the line when Girardi requested that Scherzer be checked in the middle of the fourth inning.

The feud between Scherzer and Girardi reached its boiling point in the fifth inning. Scherzer stared at Girardi on his walk back to the dugout after retiring the Phillies in order, and Girardi took exception to it. He came running out of the dugout yelling at Scherzer and was ejected while the pitcher mocked him from a distance.

Be prepared to see more of these mini squabbles and frequent substance checks. Managers have the right to have the opposing pitchers checked, so they will likely take advantage of this as baseball implements this major rule change on the fly.

Though the Scherzer-Girardi feud was amusing, it’s certainly not a feather in MLB’s cap. If anything, it’s a bad omen that the league’s hastily made protocol changes could result in more conflicts, slowdowns and controversies as umpires figure out how to properly deal with them.

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Rays’ Wander Franco hit game-tying homer in first MLB game, and Twitter loved it

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Rays' Wander Franco hit game-tying homer in first MLB game, and Twitter loved it

Welcome to Major League Baseball, Wander Franco.

The top prospect in baseball made his long-awaited Rays debut on Tuesday night in an effort to help the team snap a six-game losing streak. Almost immediately, the move paid dividends.

Franco walked in his first plate appearance, but made a lot of noise in the fifth inning. With the Rays trailing 5-2, Franco hit a three-run homer off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez to tie the game.

Franco drove the slightly low slider 362 feet and helped Tampa Bay come from behind in a critical game against Boston. The Rays owned a half-game lead over the Red Sox atop the AL East entering play on Tuesday.

MORE: Four things to know about Rays prospect Wander Franco

The 20-year-old became the youngest player to homer in his first game since Jurickson Profar did so on Sept 2, 2012, with the Rangers.

He also is the youngest member of the Rays to homer since B.J. Upton in 2004.

The blast inspired many reactions from MLB Twitter, as fans and analysts alike were excited to see Franco deliver on the hype immediately.

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