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Saturday Sports: The week ahead in the Women's World Cup; Orioles defeat Yankees

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Women's World Cup, the first-place Baltimore Orioles - not a typo - and MLB trade deadline. GMs have their eyes on Chicago like kids in a candy store. Michele Steele of ESPN joins us. Good morning, Michele.

MICHELE STEELE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Let me ask you about the Women's World Cup. Team USA won their first match against Vietnam, but the coach said they should have scored more. They tied their second against the Dutch. They face Portugal on Tuesday. Are they in a tight spot?

STEELE: Yeah. Well, you know, the margin for error here, Scott, is tighter than what the Americans are used to. Now, with a win or a draw against Portugal, they advance. They are through to the knockout round. But the U.S. just needs to make sure they do not lose this game to Portugal, or else they could be out shockingly early. Now, that is not likely, right? Portugal is a less talented team. But this has been a weird World Cup. A lot of stuff has happened already that hasn't been expected. This is not going to be a pushover game from a mental standpoint. Think about it. Portugal is going to be the underdog here. They're going to be playing loose like they have nothing...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...To lose. And the Americans are going to be playing with the burden of expectation. You are right. This team needs goals. They've had a total of 46 shots on goal for the first two games, but they only scored four times. Scott, they got to be more efficient than that.

SIMON: What are the games you got an eye on in this stage?

STEELE: Yeah. We've got some very high-stakes games involving the hosts, Australia-Canada and New Zealand-Switzerland. Now, it's win and you're in for both the Aussies and the Kiwis. And, you know, you always root for the host to do well because it just adds to the atmosphere and the excitement for the whole tournament. So there's going to be a lot of butterflies down under, Scott, for the next couple of days with these teams. But the Australian team, the Matildas, as they're known - they get the best player in the world back, Sam Kerr. She just told reporters this morning she's going to definitely be back for the match against Canada after suffering a calf injury. So, Scott, it's all hands and legs and calves on deck.

SIMON: All right. Baseball - Orioles, Yankees began a three-game series this weekend. Last night, the O's won their the first game 1-0. Anthony Santander had a great catch in right field, then a walk-off home run. The O's are back, aren't they?

STEELE: Yeah. Who doesn't love the smell of Old Bay in the morning? Yeah. You know, it's been a rough few decades for the Baltimore Orioles.

SIMON: Forty, yeah - 40 years. Yeah.

STEELE: And the last few years haven't been great, either. I mean, when you look at the last five seasons, they've lost over a hundred games in three of them. But the team is now in first place in a really tough division, the AL East. You know, this O's team - they're young. They're really fun to watch. They have a guy named Mr. Splash in the outfield who hoses down fans whenever the O's get an extra base hit. You got to give credit to GM Mike Elias, who's helped engineer this turnaround. Now, I looked it up. Baseball Reference gives the Orioles a 4.9% chance to win the World Series. You said it. They haven't done that in 40 years. That's actually the third-best odds in the American League...

SIMON: Ah.

STEELE: ...Right now after - yeah - after Texas and Tampa Bay. So, you know, they're feeling good about themselves. They think they can make a deep playoff run here with who they've got on the roster. But they are signaling they're looking for some pitching help at the trade deadline, which is right around the corner on Tuesday.

SIMON: Yeah. And let's just note, in the seconds we have left, the Angels have unloaded the vault to try and keep hold of Shohei Ohtani, haven't they?

STEELE: Yeah. Yeah. And that was the first big blockbuster domino. They looked around baseball, Scott, and the Angels thought, you know, maybe we're better off with the best player in a generation, if not all time.

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: They're keeping him. They're adding players. And you know what? This trade deadline really goes through Chicago.

SIMON: Yup.

STEELE: The White Sox in the middle of a fire sale - they just traded away three more guys from their pitching staff last night. Now, here's what you'll be interested in - the Cubs. The consensus was they were going to be joining the Sox and selling at the deadline, but they've been on a little bit of a streak lately. So they're going to decide at the 11th hour here which direction they go in.

SIMON: Michele Steele, thanks so much.

STEELE: Sure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.