All posts by phnseo

Cole strikes out 12 in eight innings, Yankees beat Rays 1-0

Gerrit Cole struck out 12 over eight stellar innings, Aaron Hicks had a sacrifice fly and the New York Yankees defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Wednesday night amid a coronavirus outbreak that sidelined shortstop Gleyber Torres.

Cole (5-1) scattered four hits and has five starts this season of at least 10 strikeouts and no walks to break Mike Mussina’s single-season team record set in 2001. He struck out all three batters in his final inning, including Brett Phillips on a 98 mph fastball to end the inning.

Aroldis Chapman completed the four-hitter to get his ninth save as New York won consecutive matches, including postseason, versus the Rays for the first time since July 16-18, 2019.

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COVID-19 protocols impacted the Yankees for the second straight day.

Torres was kept out of the starting lineup as a precaution as the number of confirmed positive COVID-19 tests among the team’s coach and support staff reached seven.

New York manager Aaron Boone said there were a number of test results pending. Pitching coach Matt Blake joined third base coach Phil Nevin and first base coach Reggie Willits as members of the coaching staff testing positive.

Six of the seven are asymptomatic. All are fully vaccinated, which Boone said was blunting the effects of the virus.

Cole has not given up a walk and gone at least six innings in each of his last five starts, which ties Fritz Peterson (1971) for the second-longest such stretch in Yankees history. Only David Wells’ six-game streak from Sept. 6, 2002 to Apr. 10, 2003 is longer.

The right-hander, who has walked just three batters this year, has permitted two or fewer earned runs in 12 straight starts, the longest stretch by a Yankees starter excluding openers since Whitey Ford’s 12-game run in 1963.

Jeffrey Springs replaced Ryan Thompson (2-2) with runners on second and third with one out in the seventh and gave up Hicks’ sacrifice fly.

Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier was ejected by plate umpire Bill Miller in the fifth for arguing after taking a called third strike.

Aaron Judge had three of New York’s six hits.

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Denver Broncos sign right tackle Bobby Massie after injury to Ja’Wuan James

In the wake of Ja’Wuan James’ season-ending injury, the Denver Broncos on Wednesday signed Bobby Massie to play right tackle.

According to Massie’s representatives, Massie agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal. The 31-year-old has started 110 matches in his career and figures to be the Broncos’ starter at right tackle when they open the season Sept. 12 versus the New York Giants.

James suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury early last week. The Broncos on Monday will start phase 2 of their offseason program, which will permit some limited on-field work for players in attendance.

Massie was a player the Broncos were interested in signing in 2016, when he joined the Chicago Bears in free agency.

Massie spent the past five seasons with the Bears after playing his first four years in the league with the Arizona Cardinals.

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Massie missed the last eight games of the 2020 regular season because of a knee injury but had returned to practice before the end of the season. He did not play in the Bears’ wild-card loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Broncos have largely been vexed at right tackle over the past eight years.

At least two players have started games at the position in each of the past eight seasons, as the Broncos used four different players at right tackle in 2020 and 2017.

The Broncos have not had a player start all 16 games of a season at right tackle since Orlando Franklin did it in 2012. James, who opted out last season because of concerns over COVID-19, has played a combined 63 snaps over three games — all in 2019 — since he signed a four-year, $51 million deal with the Broncos in March of that year.

James stated during the 2019 season he had suffered a torn meniscus as well as a torn MCL in separate games that season.

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Hamilton ready for new contract talks with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton is ready to start new contract negotiations with Mercedes, meaning he would stay in Formula One beyond the end of 2021, and is hoping to have a new deal in place by August.

After eight years at Mercedes, the seven-time world champion signed a one-year deal over the winter, meaning he will be out of contract again at the end of 2021.

The one-year deal came as a surprise following a rushed negotiation period at the end of the year, which resulted in team and driver agreeing to start their next contract talks earlier this year.

“We never want to be in the position that we were in in January, in February [this year],” Hamilton said. “It ruined my whole winter and I’m sure it wasn’t helpful for Toto’s, in terms of being out to be off and relaxed, so it felt like we didn’t really have much of a break.

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“I think we have to be sensible. Naturally we don’t have to rush anything, but I think we have to be sensible and start conversations.

“They’re very complex, it’s never a super simple procedure and so hopefully soon we can start, as long as it doesn’t interfere the actual job.

“We still have 19 races to do, but it would be great to get something in place before the break so then we could, again, be in that break and have a clear picture of the future.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is confident Hamilton will commit to F1 for more than a single year under his next contract.

“Yes, it should be [more than a year],” Wolff said. “We don’t want to be in a stressful situation every single year where we are absolutely flat-out trying to win races and needing to negotiate. I would rather that doesn’t happen every year.

“We just need to spend a day or two together, put it out there and decide which are the difficult components.

“We will then lock the door and won’t walk out until it is sorted. That works best for us, and it has worked best for us in the past.”

At 36 years old, Hamilton stated he still feels fit enough to continue in F1 over the coming years.

“There’s still some life in this old dog!” he joked. “I would say I’m more conscious than ever about my body, about my training regime.

“I’ve been training myself for a long time now but constantly growing and learning how to look after, naturally, the vessel that I’m given and feeling great.”

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Montgomery goes 6 strong innings, Yankees beat Rays 3-1

Jordan Montgomery pitched six strong innings, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez homered, and the New York Yankees defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Tuesday night.

About two hours before the start, it was revealed that Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin is away from the team after a positive COVID-19 test.

The Yankees beat Tampa Bay for just the second time in seven matches this season. The AL champion Rays had won 18 of the last 23 meetings, including a five-game victory in last year’s Division Series.

New York slugger Luke Voit went 0 for 3 in his first game this campaign.

The major league home run leader last year with 22, he was reinstated from the 10-day injured list after having knee surgery on March 29.

Voit was hit by a pitch around the right wrist in the fourth inning and had a flyout to the right-field wall in the seventh.

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Montgomery (2-1) gave up one run, two hits, walked one and tied a career high with nine strikeouts. After Jonathan Loaisiga worked two innings, Aroldis Chapman got three outs to get his eighth save and complete a three-hitter.

Chapman had an eventful ninth, including a visit by a trainer. 

Austin Meadows reached on shortstop Gleyber Torres’ error, but Sánchez later threw out the Rays DH attempting to advance to second. The lefty also walked one and struck out one.

Judge started in right field after being rested Sunday and hit a first-pitch, first-inning solo homer off Luis Patiño (1-1). Judge, who entered with two hits in his previous 24 at-bats, has been dealing with what manager Aaron Boone is calling “lower leg stuff.”

Sánchez made it 3-1 with his shot in the seventh off Josh Fleming. It was his second homer in three matches after a career-high tying 18-game homerless streak.

Mike Zunino connected on a 472-foot solo drive in the third for the Rays. It was the fourth longest homer in MLB this season, behind Yermin Mercedes (485 feet), Ronald Acuña Jr. (481 feet) and Marcell Ozuna (479 feet). Patiño allowed two runs and three hits in four innings.

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom headed to IL with tightness in right side

Jacob deGrom will be placed on the injured list by the New York Mets with tightness in his right side, a move that will keep the ace from taking the mound until May 20 at the earliest.

The Mets stated an MRI on Sunday night was “clean of any issues.” The team said it will place deGrom on the injured list before Tuesday’s series opener versus Baltimore, a move that will be retroactive to Monday.

A 32-year-old right-hander, deGrom is 3-2 with a major-league-best 0.68 ERA and 65 strikeouts, two K’s behind Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL lead. DeGrom has seven walks in 40 innings over six starts.

He pulled himself from Sunday’s outing versus Arizona, his first appearance after skipping a start due to discomfort in his right latissimus dorsi, a back muscle that connects the upper arm to the spine and the hip.

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The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 68 pitches over five innings against Arizona, premitting one run, but he called for trainer Brian Chicklo when he felt tightness trying to get loose before the sixth. He left with Chicklo and went straight to the clubhouse.

DeGrom struck out six and allowed one hit.

He was perfect through four innings before struggling in the fifth, when he allowed a run and walked three in an inning for just the second time in his big league career, the first having been May 13, 2018, at Philadelphia. He left after one inning in that game, his return from the injured list.

DeGrom is baseball’s hardest-throwing starting pitcher, with 79 pitches of 100 mph or higher since the start of the 2020 season, according to MLB Statcast data. Miami’s Sixto Sanchez is second with 13.

Of those, deGrom reached 100 mph 42 times in the first inning alone. Sanchez is second with eight. New York said it will reveal a corresponding roster move Tuesday.

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Jacksonville Jaguars expected to sign Tim Tebow as TE

It looks as if Tim Tebow is finally going to be playing for his hometown team. Just not as a quarterback.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign Tebow, 33, to a one-year deal later this week or next week to play tight end, a position he never played in high school, college or his previous three-year NFL career, a source confirmed to ESPN. A deal has not been agreed upon at this time.

Once he signs, he will be reunited with Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who coached Tebow at Florida and won a pair of national championships with the Gators.

Word leaked on the first day of the 2021 NFL draft that Tebow had worked out for the Jaguars as a tight end. Jaguars GM Trent Baalke confirmed the workout but stated the team wouldn’t worry about whether it would sign Tebow until after the draft.

The Jaguars already have five tight ends on their roster: 

Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Luke Farrell, Ben Ellefson and Tyler Davis. Manhertz, who was signed in free agency, is a blocker who has 12 catches in 70 career games.

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O’Shaughnessy has 88 catches in six seasons with Kansas City and Jacksonville. Ellefson has one career catch, and Davis played in eight matches last season after the Jaguars selected him in the sixth round. Farrell was the team’s fifth-round pick this year.

Tebow hasn’t played football since the 2015 NFL preseason and has spent the past six years working as a broadcaster on the SEC Network and working on his professional baseball career.

Tebow was adamant about remaining a quarterback during his three seasons with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles but apparently has had a change of heart now that Meyer is running the Jaguars franchise.

Tebow grew up in Jacksonville and starred at Nease High School before signing with Meyer and Florida in December 2005. Chris Leak was the starting quarterback in 2006, but Tebow got plenty of action as a short-yardage specialist and threw 33 passes to help the Gators earn the national championship.

Tebow became the starter in 2007, and he threw for 3,286 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns to become the first sophomore to collect the Heisman Trophy. He led the Gators to the 2008 national championship, and UF went undefeated in the regular season in 2009 before losing to Alabama in the SEC championship game.

Tebow finished at UF as the SEC’s career leader in rushing touchdowns (57), touchdown responsibility (145) and passer efficiency (170.8).

He still holds the first two records but has since been passed by Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Mac Jones in the last category.

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Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal scores 50 but is absent for OT because of hamstring, ankle injuries

Bradley Beal scored 50 points, but the Washington Wizards guard sat out the end of regulation and overtime with a left hamstring strain as Washington outlasted Indiana 133-132 Saturday to overtake the Pacers for the No. 9 spot in the Eastern Conference.

Beal stated he tweaked the hamstring in the second half and that it intensified in the last minute and a half of the fourth quarter. He also tweaked an ankle.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks stated he was unsure how serious Beal’s hamstring injury is and that the guard’s status will have to be determined over the next few days before Washington plays at Atlanta on Monday.

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“I knew it was a little tight in the second half,” said Beal, who checked out of the game with 21 seconds left in regulation.

“First play of the second, I twisted my ankle … I went back out there, my left hammy felt a little tight. I didn’t think anything of it, kept playing. I think the layup on [Doug] McDermott put us up one, it kind of intensified a little bit, and then the floater I missed at the end, it definitely kind of put me over the top.”

Beal drilled 19 of 31 shots in 39 minutes.

His fifth career 50-point game came on the night when teammate Russell Westbrook made NBA history by tying Oscar Robertson for most career triple-doubles with 181.

Westbrook had 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists, and he made two free throws with a second left to give Washington the overtime victory. He even blocked the Pacers’ final shot.

The Wizards (32-36) play their next two games at Atlanta before returning home to face Cleveland and Charlotte. They lead the Pacers (31-36) by half a game for ninth place and trail the Hornets (33-34) by 1.5 games for eighth.

“Let’s hope for good news and that he is all good to go,” Westbrook said of Beal. “His night can’t go unnoticed either. He had 50 … He has been keeping us together along the season and [been] very exceptional. I am grateful to have him as a teammate.”

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Eagles claim former Lions second-round running back Kerryon Johnson off waivers

The Philadelphia Eagles have taken a flyer on Kerryon Johnson, claiming the former second-round pick off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

Philadelphia adds Johnson to a crowded backfield as the Eagles will pick up the remaining salary on his rookie deal, a cap number of $2,069,359 for 2021 (the final year of his rookie contract). 

Johnson electrified the NFL as a rookie in 2018, rushing for 641 yards and three touchdowns in 10 matches. He became just the 10th rookie since the AFL-NFL merger to average 5.4 yards per carry in his rookie campaign (minimum 100 carries).

Johnson had a chance to become the featured back in 2019, but averaged just 3.6 yards per carry while rushing for 403 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. 

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A meniscus tear in his right knee altered his season in 2019, one year after a knee strain caused him to miss the final six games in his rookie season.

Relegated to third on the Lions’ depth chart, Johnson had 52 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 (averaging 3.5 yards per carry). He has 1,225 rushing yards and and 527 receiving yards in three seasons (4.3 yards per carry). 

Where Johnson fits in the Eagles’ plan at running back will be determined.

Philadelphia has Miles Sanders as the No. 1 running back, but there are spots on the depth chart open for competition. 

Boston Scott and 2021 fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell will compete for playing time on the depth chart, but the Eagles also signed Jordan Howard this offseason on a non-guaranteed deal. The Eagles also have Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins Jr., and Elijah Holyfield on the 90-man roster. 

Johnson should find a way to make the roster and receive snaps if he’s healthy. How Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni will use him in the rotation will be one of the intriguing storylines of offseason minicamp. 

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Bulls complete sweep of Hornets in LaVine’s return, 120-99

For one night, the Chicago Bulls looked like a playoff-worthy team.

The return of Zach LaVine to the floor certainly had something to do with the Bulls’ inspired effort, which ended a four-game skid.

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 13 points after missing 11 matches due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bulls swept the season series from the Charlotte Hornets with a 120-99 victory on Thursday night.

“It definitely opened up some things for us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s return.

Said Vucevic: “We’re happy to have him back. We played a great game and that helped motivating us and getting us ready to play knowing he was back. So hopefully we will continue to play that way.”

Chicago is a long shot to make the postseason, still 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Bulls have six games left; the Wizards have five. LaVine said he felt “really tired” after the long layoff and wanted to make sure he didn’t try to do too much.

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“I told (my teammates), don’t expect me to try to go get 40 (points) the first night,” LaVine said.

LaVine averaged more than 30 points in his five previous games before being sidelined, but mostly deferred to his teammates in the first three quarters, attempting six shots. But he started to show his scoring ability with back-to-back jump shots to start the fourth quarter before Donovan took him out after 27 minutes of action.

“I thought there was a lot more opportunities for him to shoot the ball, and to try to go score and attack,” Donovan said.

“But with him being out three weeks and the respect he has for his teammates, and I think he just tried to fit in and take the shots that were there and not try to force things.”

P.J. Washington, who missed Charlotte’s last game for the birth of his child, had 24 points on six 3-pointers. 

Malik Monk added 20 points off the bench for the Hornets, who played without Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham.

Charlotte could have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament had it won.

But Vucevic would have none of it. He returned after missing two games with right adductor tightness and dominated. Looking fresh, he made 12 of 24 shots from the field and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, helping opening things up for his teammates.

“I think they just played harder than us every time we played them,” Washington said. “For us, it’s just about defense at the end of the day. We have to stop teams from getting offensive rebounds and easy second-chance points.”

The Bulls, who beat the Hornets by 13 and 17 points in the two previous meetings, jumped out to a 48-33 lead this time.

It appeared Charlotte might make a game of it after hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts in the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but the Bulls extended their lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’ve struggled with Chicago all year,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Give them credit. For whatever reason, the matchup does not fit our group.”

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TE Josh Hill retires from football less than 2 months after signing with Detroit Lions

Tight end Josh Hill formally announced his retirement Thursday, less than two months after joining the Detroit Lions as a free agent.

The Lions signed veteran tight end Darren Fells as a replacement.

Hill, who turns 31 later this month, spent his first eight years with the New Orleans Saints before being released in a wave of salary-cap cuts. He originally planned to follow his former position coach, Dan Campbell, to Detroit before the apparent change of heart.

Hill’s one-year deal with the Lions was arranged to pay him $1.2 million. “This game has blessed my family and I with more than we could have ever imagined,” Hill wrote in an Instagram post.

“Everything this game has given and taught me makes this decision extremely difficult, but I am looking forward to all of the years I have with my young family, and being able to chase after different dreams.”

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Hill joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie from Idaho State in 2013

Quickly earned a place as a versatile blocker, receiver, core special teams player and occasional fullback.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder concluded his career with 116 catches for 1,071 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season, plus another 15 catches for 166 yards and a TD in the playoffs.

Saints coach Sean Payton once described Hill as so valuable in so many different areas of the playbook that losing him to an injury early in a game was “like losing your front door.”

“He has been a model of consistency throughout his eight seasons with us,” Payton said in a statement when Hill was released.

“He has been reliable, selfless and filled numerous roles for us, oftentimes on the fly and in the middle of games, filling each role at a very high level.”

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