All posts by phnseo

Yankees blow out Blue Jay 20-6, move into 2nd place in AL East

The Yankees have renovated back into Bronx Bombers after a three-week stretch in which they nearly bombed out of postseason contention.

DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit and became the first players at the top of New York’s batting order to have five RBIs the same game, and New York rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays into second place in the AL East with a 20-6 blowout Tuesday night that extended its winning streak to six.

Voit homered twice from the No. 2 slot, raising his major league-leading total to 18. Voit and Aaron Hicks went deep to key a seven-run second-inning burst made possible when right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a pair of flyballs.

“A couple of weeks ago, I don’t think teams were scared of us. And now we’re back to being the Bronx Bombers,” Voit said. “I don’t think people want to play us in the playoffs.”

LeMahieu had four hits and five RBIs, growing his average 13 points to .363. He homered on a 48.7 mph offering from infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB began tracking velocity of pitches in 2008.

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Gary Sánchez hit a three-run homer off Anthony Kay, and Clint Frazier had a two-run shot against Ryan Borucki.

New York has rebounded following a 5-15 stretch that nearly dropped it out of the eight playoff places in the AL and has closed within two games of Minnesota (30-20) for the No. 4 seed — and a first-round series at home. The Yankees (27-21) and Blue Jays (26-21) started a stretch of seven games against each other in the final two weeks.

“Makes for some sleepless nights,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And now as we get more and more guys back and healthy and in the mix, I know we’re capable of amazing things.”

Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela came back from the injured list, and the Yankees could get Aaron Judge back Wednesday. They opened a roster spot after Tuesday’s game by optioning infielder Thairo Estrada to the alternate site.

Stanton was 0 for 4 with a walk as the designated hitter, the only Yankees starter without a hit, after missing 32 matches because of a strained left hamstring.

Urshela had three hits and made several sparking defensive plays at third after missing 11 matches with a right elbow bone spur.

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Cris Cyborg to make 1st defense of Bellator title vs. Arlene Blencowe

Cris Cyborg is back, and her first Bellator title defense will ring in the promotion’s debut on a new network.

Cyborg will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line versus Arlene Blencowe on Oct. 15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, promotion officials revealed Friday.

The card will air in a Thursday night time slot on CBS Sports Network. Bellator had been on Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013.

Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC), ESPN’s No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, won the Bellator title in her last outing, stopping Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January.

The Brazilian knockout artist has won two consecutives after losing the UFC women’s featherweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December 2018. Cyborg, 35, departed the UFC after her contract expired last year. She is one of the most fearsome women’s MMA fighters of all time with 18 KO/TKO finishes in 22 pro victories.

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Blencowe (13-7) has won three straight and is coming off a unanimous decision win over UFC veteran Leslie Smith last November. The Australia native has just two MMA losses in the past five years, both to Budd. Blencowe, a 37-year-old boxing veteran, has seven KO/TKOs in 13 pro wins.

Bellator president Scott Coker also revealed Friday the main event for a card Oct. 29 at Mohegan Sun. Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima will move up to middleweight to fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant middleweight title.

Lima (32-7) has won three straight and is a three-time Bellator welterweight champion. The 32-year-old Brazilian is tied for the most knockouts in Bellator history (9).

Mousasi (46-7-2) has won nine of his past 10, including five straight in the UFC before he left as a free agent in 2017. The 35-year-old Netherlands resident, a former Strikeforce and Dream champion, has been a perennial contender in multiple divisions for more than a decade.

In addition, Coker announced that a welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Derek Anderson will headline an Oct. 1 in Milan, Italy.

Bellator’s show in Paris on Oct. 10 — the first major MMA event in France since the country legalized the sport earlier this year — will be acceptable to have up to 5,000 fans in attendance. Michael Page vs. Ross Houston and Frenchman Cheick Kongo vs. Tim Johnson will be on the Paris card.

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Jets coach Adam Gase expects Le’Veon Bell to miss a couple of weeks

The Jets’ offense actually can get worse. They may be without versatile back Le’Veon Bell for at least two games.

Bell injured his hamstring late in the first half of Sunday’s season-opening 27-17 loss to the Bills. He tried to play through it, but Adam Gase pulled Bell out of the match early in the third quarter.

Gase stated on a Monday conference call that it could be “a couple weeks,” but the coach doesn’t want to put any timetable on how long Bell would be out.

“I just know what kind of shape he’s in and his work ethic and the way that he finds ways to play through injury and how he bounces back,” Gase said.

“I just wouldn’t be surprised if he came back quicker than anticipated. “I don’t want to put any kind of restrictions on him, being a guy that’s been around the league for quite a few years. Some of these guys find ways to be able to play through pain and play through injuries like this. I don’t want to say a longer time and then he’s going to be like, ‘What are you putting me in a box for?’”

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Hamstrings are always tricky injuries.

Rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims missed all of training camp with a hamstring issue and then was inactive Sunday after aggravating his other hamstring. Linebacker Avery Williamson didn’t practice or play last week due to a hamstring. Gase didn’t seem optimistic that Williamson would play this week.

Unless Bell heals rapidly and miraculously, the Jets will be heading into this Sunday’s home opener versus the NFC-champion 49ers with 37-year-old Frank Gore and Josh Adams as their running backs.

Gore was the Jets’ leading rusher Sunday, with 24 yards on six carries. The Jets gained only 52 yards rushing in a game they trailed 21-0 in the second quarter. Gore surely would welcome a bigger workload, especially against one of his former teams. He has shown he can be productive. But he’s not the weapon Bell is for the offense.

Bell played the first series of the third quarter, but then Gase removed him from the game. He said he was mad at himself for keeping Bell in there and risking further injury

“We talked after the game,” Gase said. “He knew how I felt.”

Now the Jets have to get ready to bounce back without one of their best weapons and versus one of the best defenses last year. “We cannot play like we did this last game,” Gase said. “We have to correct a lot of things very quickly. We have to get a lot better really fast.”

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Clippers look to put away stubborn Nuggets in Game 6

The weight of a Game 7 contest will weigh more heavily on the Los Angeles Clippers, the Denver Nuggets consider.

“To us, Game 7 is just another game,” Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said.

Jokic had 34 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists as the Nuggets stunned the Clippers 111-98 in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal on Sunday at the NBA bubble near Orlando.

Game 7 is Tuesday. The winner meets the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals.

Jokic connected on 13 of 22 shots from the floor, including 4 of 6 3-pointers. Jamal Murray had 21 points, Gary Harris added 16 and Michael Porter Jr. chipped in 13 for the third-seeded Nuggets, who outscored the second-seeded Clippers 64-35 in the second half. “It was just amazing,”

Denver coach Michael Malone told the media after the match. “We had 11 straight stops at one point. Coming into this round they were the No. 1 offense in the playoffs, so I’m running out of adjectives, superlatives, whatever you want to call it to speak on our team because that is a tough, resilient group of you know what. I love our team.”

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Paul George had 33 points, six rebounds and five steals for the Clippers, who are attempting to advance to their first Western Conference final.

They are 0-7 in franchise history in previous attempts to get there.

Kawhi Leonard contributed 25 points, eight boards and five assists, while Lou Williams scored 14 points. JaMychal Green had 11.

“Just gave up the lead again, pretty much,” said Leonard, who made 8 of 18 shots and 3 of 5 3-pointers. “They came down and either scored or got fouled in the third quarter, and we couldn’t buy a basket. That’s how they came back.”

The Nuggets will be trying to become the first NBA club to rally from a 3-1 deficit in back-to-back series. They did so versus the Utah Jazz in the first round. And Leonard said the Clippers have to be ready for what the Nuggets have in store for them.

“Just got to leave it all out on the floor,” Leonard said. “Make sure we are paying attention to detail, executing and communicating on the defensive end. That’s all we can do. Go out there and play hard and make sure we know the game plan.”

The game plan Sunday seemed to be going just fine for Los Angeles in the first half. The Clippers coasted to a 16-point halftime lead and went up by as much as 19 early in the third quarter. But the Nuggets outscored them 30-16 in the third and seized control in the fourth.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the game swung when Murray, who seemed to have the wind knocked out of him, crashed to the floor after a third-quarter collision under the basket with George.

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Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints agree to contract extension

Alvin Kamara is going to be with the New Orleans Saints for the long haul.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the running back has agreed to terms on a new five-year, $75 million deal. His deal includes a $15 million signing bonus. 

The 25-year-old has emerged as one of football’s most dangerous weapons, with 2,408 rushing yards, 243 receptions for 2,068 yards and 37 total touchdowns in his first three campaigns. He’s also a three-time Pro Bowler and was the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

In Kamara, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Latavius Murray and Jared Cook, the Saints have one of the best offenses in football. Sean Payton’s group has reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons and heads into the 2020 campaign as a Super Bowl favorite.

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But Kamara’s ability to have a major impact in the running and passing games makes him so difficult for opposing defenses to defend.

That versatility also made him more valuable than a traditional between-the-tackles runner, and it’s a skill set Christian McCaffrey also cashed in on.

It’s no surprise three-down players have set the running back market in recent years, from pre-injury Todd Gurley (64 catches for 788 yards and six touchdowns in 2017) to McCaffrey.

It was only a matter of time before Kamara inked his own lucrative extension. He’s far too explosive and versatile for the Saints to risk losing.

Prior to Saturday’s deal, the Saints had less than $6 million in cap space this year and were already expected to have more than $240 million in cap costs for 2021, when the cap could drop as low as $175 million per team.

Furthermore, they are nearing the ends of contracts with fellow standouts like linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead and safety Marcus Williams.

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Mike D’Antoni tells Houston Rockets he won’t return as coach

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has informed the franchise that he’s becoming a coaching free agent and won’t return to the Rockets next campaign, D’Antoni told ESPN on Sunday.

“It’s with tremendous sadness and gratitude that my wife Laurel and I announce that our incredible journey in Houston has ended for now and that we’ll be moving to a new chapter,” D’Antoni told ESPN in a statement.

D’Antoni, whose contract expired with the end of Houston’s season in the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday, turned down extension offers prior to the season. He will be considered among a group of candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers coaching opening, sources tell ESPN.

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D’Antoni was 217-102 in his four campaigns as Rockets coach, advancing once to the Western Conference finals and three times to the conference semifinals.

D’Antoni, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, led the Rockets to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the last four years (.682), trailing only the Toronto Raptors (.695) in the entire league.

Only the Golden State Warriors (46), Boston Celtics (33), and Raptors (31) have more playoff triumphs than the Rockets (28) in D’Antoni’s four-year run in Houston.

The Athletic reported Sunday morning D’Antoni had not “completely ruled out the possibility of a return.” None of these answers or reports were definitive and the reports all season were that D’Antoni wasn’t likely to stay in Houston.

For the Rockets, it will be difficult to find a replacement that is on par with the impact that Mike D’Antoni provides. He has been key in James Harden emerging as a superstar and that’s why the former MVP expressed he wanted D’Antoni to be brought back.

It’s early in the process but the Rockets have been linked to Jeff Van Gundy as a potential candidate. He has been in the broadcast booth for years as he last coached in the NBA in 2007 when he was in Houston. There should be plenty of other candidates to enter the mix, too.

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Chiefs start title defense with 34-20 victory over Texans

Just about the only thing that looked familiar about the NFL’s long-awaited return Thursday night was the sight of Patrick Mahomes effortlessly leading the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Super Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Chiefs started defense of their first championship in 50 years by defeating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially distanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 consecutive dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once.

David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.

The world has changed dramatically in the seven months since the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

Within six weeks, the term COVID-19 had become a part of everyday life, the disease killing more than 900,000 people around the globe. The death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May touched off the Black Lives Matter movement, which in turn has led to a summer of social unrest that has gripped the country.

Against that backdrop came an NFL opener unlike any other: masks worn by everyone from fans to the coaching staffs; a series of videos raising awareness of social justice initiatives and encouraging the public to vote; and ultimately both teams locking arms in a display of unity previous to the coin toss.

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Lakers run past Rockets for 3-1 West semifinals lead

Anthony Davis was the biggest player on the floor, and the Houston Rockets had no answers.

Davis had 29 points and 12 rebounds, LeBron James concluded one assist shy of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Rockets 110-100 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.

James had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Rockets 52-26. Alex Caruso scored 16 points and Rajon Rondo had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, who held on after frittering away most of a big second-half lead.

“Turnovers,” Davis stated. “We had too many turnovers.”

That was one of the few complaints the Lakers could make after Game 4. Russell Westbrook had 25 points and James Harden had 21 for the Rockets, who got 19 from Eric Gordon and 14 from Austin Rivers.

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The Lakers were up by 23 midway through the fourth, well on their way to a blowout victory.

That’s when Houston’s offense woke up.

Westbrook made a corner 3 with 3:01 left, Harden got a steal and a pair of free throws on the next possession, and the Rockets put together a 18-2 run to get within 103-96. The Lakers turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions during that stretch, unable to get anything going.

Smartly, though, on the biggest possession of the night as the clock ticked inside the two-minute mark, they went to Davis. Gordon, who stands about half-a-foot shorter than Davis, had no opportunity as the Laker All-Star scored in the lane to push the lead back out to nine and buy the Lakers a bit of breathing room.

Caruso’s 3-pointer off a pass from James with 34.6 seconds left made it 108-100, and the Lakers escaped.

The Lakers won Game 3 by holding Houston to 38 points in the second half — and set themselves up to win Game 4 by clamping down again, this time in the first half. It was 57-41 Lakers at the break, meaning Houston had scored 79 points in its last 48 minutes of basketball.

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Yankees end 5-game skid, top Blue Jays

Deivi Garcia earned his first major league victory, Gleyber Torres drove in four runs and the New York Yankees snapped a five-game losing streak, defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 on Wednesday night.

The Yankees had lost 15 of 20 and fallen to the edge of the expanded playoff field. General manager Brian Cashman had made a rare road trip to talk to the team before Tuesday night’s loss.

Torres and DJ LeMahieu homered to back Garcia (1-1). In his third career start, the 21-year-old righty gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two.

Zack Britton worked the eighth and Aroldis Chapman struck out all three batters in the ninth. Derek Fisher hit a two-run homer in the second inning for Toronto, which had its three-game winning streak halted. Ross Stripling (3-3) took the loss.

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Luke Voit hit an RBI single that put the Yankees ahead 3-2 in the fifth and Torres added a two-run double. That gave New York multiple hits with a runner in scoring position; a welcome aid after the Yankees had gone 2 for 32 in that situation during their five-game skid.

Torres led off the second inning with his fourth homer and LeMahieu led off the third with his fifth. Clint Frazier added an RBI single in the ninth.

Toronto starter Tanner Roark permitted two hits and three walks in four innings.

The Blue Jays ended a stretch in which they played 28 times in 27 days, with the only day without a game being Aug. 27, when many games in MLB were postponed because of social protests.

Toronto went 18-10 during that stretch, impressing manager Charlie Montoyo.

“Other teams would just take a day or night off. It’s just too much, too many games,” Montoyo stated. “This team hasn’t taken a day off. They go hard every game. I’m impressed by it, and I’m proud of the way they play every day. They don’t give up.”

The Yankees have four matches left in their own gauntlet, in which they will have played 20 games in 17 days before an off day on Sept. 14.

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Koepka out of U.S Open over ongoing injuries

Brooks Koepka, who has been hampered by a knee problem for the better part of a year, withdrew from next week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, tweeting, “I’m looking forward to getting healthy and competing at 100% again very soon.”

Koepka has collected two of the past three U.S. Opens and concluded second to Gary Woodland last year at Pebble Beach.

Last month, Koepka was attempting to become the first player since Walter Hagen in the 1920s to collect three straight PGA Championships, but he fell out of contention with a final-round 74 at Harding Park.

Koepka missed the cut the following week at the Wyndham Championship then withdrew from the first FedEx Cup playoff event, the Northern Trust, ending his 2019-20 campaign.

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He has dropped to No. 8 in the world after starting 2020 in the top spot.

The four-time major champion had a stem cell procedure on his left knee after last year’s Tour Championship then aggravated the injury at a tournament in South Korea in October. He didn’t play again until January, and it’s mostly been a struggle since.

Koepka finished seventh at the RBC Heritage after the PGA Tour’s restart and tied for second in early August at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He was just two shots out of the lead heading into the final round of the PGA Championship before dropping to a tie for 29th.

“My golf swing’s fine,” Koepka said after missing the cut at the Wyndham. “If I can physically do it, then yes, everything’s fine.”

But Koepka has also complained about trying to get to his left side in his swing, and during the second round of the PGA Championship, he three times had a trainer help with his hip.

“It just locked up, cramped,” Koepka said. “I couldn’t do anything with it.”

Paul Waring will replace Koepka based on his Official World Golf Ranking as of Aug. 23. The U.S. Open starts Sept. 17 after being rearranged from June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Golf Association has yet to announce an alternate to take Koepka’s place in the field of 144.

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