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New York Giants fire offensive line coach Marc Colombo

The New York Giants fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo following a nasty verbal confrontation with head coach Joe Judge, sources told ESPN, and have substituted him with longtime NFL assistant Dave DeGuglielmo.

“We appreciate what Marc has done, but I felt like this move is in the best interest of the team,” Judge said in a statement released by the team Wednesday.

When Colombo was told of a plan by Judge to hire DeGuglielmo as a consultant on Tuesday night, it did not go down well.

Colombo did not agree with the move and felt that he was being undermined, a source told ESPN, due to DeGuglielmo’s background as an offensive line coach. Another source added that the hands-on Judge wanted to bring in “one of his guys” to capture more control at a position that is not his expertise. Although there was plenty of name-calling, Colombo and Judge did not get into a fistfight, as one report indicated. A Giants spokesperson stated the report of a physical altercation is “absolutely false in every way.”

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The move to fire Colombo was a surprise considering that the Giants’ offensive line has shown improvement in recent weeks. The Giants have rushed for more than 150 yards in each of their past three matches.

Colombo was hired by Judge this offseason to work under Colombo’s former boss Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator. Colombo was previously line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

But Judge has been more involved in recent weeks in working with the Giants’ offensive line.

DeGuglielmo was an assistant offensive line coach/quality control with the Giants from 2004 to ’08. He also worked with Judge in New England when he coached the Patriots’ offensive line in 2014 and ’15.

Judge interviewed DeGuglielmo for the offensive line coach job earlier this year.

Colombo, 42, played 10 years in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

He worked as an assistant with the Cowboys for each of the previous four campaigns.

Among Colombo’s top jobs has been to work with the Giants’ young offensive linemen. Three of their first five picks in this year’s draft were offensive linemen, including No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas. Fifth-round pick Shane Lemieux was recently inserted into the starting lineup, and third-round selection Matt Peart has been rotated in.

But Thomas struggled early, and his sloppy technique became a topic of conversation. “We sat down, had conversations with Andrew, talked about taking [his technique] from the practice field to the game. That is what he’s done lately,” Colombo said last week.

“He has a new air of confidence. The past couple weeks he has played really well. His timing has been better. His pass sets have been better. His run blocking has been better. We just have to keep growing. I’ve noticed a more confident Andrew the past few weeks.”

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Voit, Torres homer as Yankees beat Rays 5-1 to force Game 5

The New York Yankees staved off playoff elimination after taking down the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.

Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres each hit home runs for the Yankees, who benefitted from stellar pitching all night. Starter Jordan Montgomery tossed four innings of one-run ball before giving way to the bullpen, which tossed five no-hit innings and permitted just one baserunner on a walk.

The Rays had a chance for a big third inning after putting runners on second and third with no outs, but they could only score one run off a Brandon Lowe RBI groundout.

Tampa Bay had just three hits on the night. New York and Tampa Bay are tied at two games apiece in their best-of-five series. New York took Game 1 by a 9-3 score before Tampa Bay won the next two games 7-5 and 8-4.

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New York’s pitching left much to be desired in Games 2 and 3.

The infamous Game 2 featured the Yankees opting for an opener strategy and starting 21-year-old Deivi Garcia, who permitted one earned run in one frame before giving way to starter-turned-long reliever J.A. Happ. 

The southpaw proceeded to allow four earned runs in two-and-a-third innings, and the Yanks eventually lost 7-5.

In Game 3, starter Masahiro Tanaka arguably found himself on the wrong end of strike zone luck but ultimately permitted five earned runs in just four innings of work en route to an 8-4 loss.

Facing elimination in Game 4, the Yanks needed a strong start from Jordan Montgomery and a stellar bullpen outing to beat the pesky Rays, and they collectively got the job done.

Despite a shaky third inning, Montgomery was largely fantastic and wiggled his way out of potentially precarious situations.

He allowed a leadoff first-inning single but soon induced a double play.

In the fourth inning, Montgomery put runners on first and second with two outs, but he got Kevin Kiermaier to ground out and end the frame.

The Yankees’ collective pitching efforts have now led to a Game 5 where they’ll start staff ace Gerrit Cole, who has far and away been the team’s best and most consistent pitcher. He’ll be opposed by Rays ace and left-hander Blake Snell, however, in a match that looks like a low-scoring nail biter on paper.

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Arozarena leads Rays in 8-4 victory over Yankees

Randy Arozarena homered for the third consecutive game and Kevin Kiermaier and Michael Perez also went deep for the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the New York Yankees 8-4 Wednesday night to move within one victory of reaching the AL Championship Series for the first time in 12 years.

New York’s Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer off rookie Shane McClanahan to center field in the eighth inning to become the first player with a home run in each of his team’s first five games of a single postseason. Stanton has six homers in those five games. McClanahan made his major league debut in Game 1 on Monday night.

The Rays took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Division Series. Game 4 is Thursday night at Petco Park, which has yielded 16 home runs in three matches — nine by Tampa Bay.

The Rays are looking to advance out of the ALDS for just the second time. They reached the 2008 World Series before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Arozarena, a 25-year-old rookie from Havana who’s nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” is having a breakout postseason. He homered off Gerrit Cole in the first inning of Game 1, a 9-3 Yankees victory, and off rookie Deivi García in the first inning of Game 2, a 7-5 Rays win.

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He hit a shot deep to left leading off the fifth Wednesday night to chase Masahiro Tanaka and give the Rays a 5-1 lead.

Arozarena went 3 for 4 with a walk.

He leads all players in the postseason with 12 hits in five games. He went hitless in five postseason plate appearances in 2019 for St. Louis, which traded him to Tampa Bay in January.

“He has to be the best baseball player on earth right now,” Rays starter Tyler Glasnow said after Tuesday night’s victory. “What he’s doing is phenomenal.”

Kiermaier hit a three-run shot into the home run deck in right off Tanaka with no outs in the fourth to make it 4-1. Joey Wendle was aboard on a leadoff single and Willy Adames on a walk.

Perez hit a two-run shot to left off Chad Green in the sixth. Kiermaier was aboard on a leadoff double. It was the 11th home run by a No. 9 hitter this postseason, the most all-time.

Charlie Morton got the win after holding the Yankees to two runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two in winning his fifth straight postseason decision.

Tanaka took the loss after permitting five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. He struck out four and walked one. The Yankees loaded the bases twice in the third inning and got only a sacrifice fly by Aaron Judge. Aaron Hicks hit an RBI double in the fifth.

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Manager Aaron Boone will turn to rookie Deivi Garcia to start Game 2 for New York Yankees

By taking the mound in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, rookie Deivi Garcia will make history.

The 21-year-old Dominican-born pitcher will become the youngest player to make a postseason start in New York Yankees franchise history (at 21 years and 140 days).

Despite only six major league starts under his belt, manager Aaron Boone said he opted to go with Garcia due to the maturity he has displayed this campaign.

According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, the only other 21-year-old to make a postseason start for the Yankees was Whitey Ford in Game 4 of the 1950 World Series (21 years, 351 days).

“We deliberated on that a lot over the last several days,” Boone stated Monday ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS at Petco Park in San Diego.

“Masa [Masahiro Tanaka] will now go in Game 3. So just like slot and Deivi in between [Game 1 starter Gerrit] Cole and Masa was the way we wanted to go.

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“I think the way he’s pitched, and the way he’s handled himself and handled every situation so far. I felt like I wanted to go this way a couple days ago but wanted to continue to flesh it out because we could. Ultimately today, this morning, decided this is the way I wanted to go. I just felt [we had] a lot of good options there, [different] ways we could have gone. I don’t worry about him not being able to handle it, mentally, emotionally and all those things and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

The rookie right-hander concurred.

“Super excited,” Garcia said of his reaction upon hearing the news from Boone. “When they finally told me that I was going to get the ball for Game 2, what can I say? Just so excited about it. At the same time, very thankful for the opportunity and I will try to go out there and do the best I can.”

Tuesday’s start will also make Garcia the fifth-youngest player in American League history to make a postseason start, and the youngest player born outside the United States to make a playoff start in the AL.

Overall, only Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Julio Urías (20 years, 68 days) and Fernando Valenzuela (five times) were younger in making a postseason start among players born outside the U.S. Garcia, who stated he idolized Hall of Fame starter Pedro Martínez growing up in the Dominican Republic, reiterated that it was an honor to make pinstripes history.

Including a subpar outing at Fenway Park, Garcia finished the coronavirus-shortened 2020 regular campaign with a 4.98 ERA in 34⅓ innings pitched.

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New York Giants adding Devonta Freeman on 1-year deal

The New York Giants are signing former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman after losing Saquon Barkley for the campaign.

Freeman and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Freeman is projected to sign the contract Wednesday morning, practice with the Giants later Wednesday and could play as soon as Sunday.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. Dion Lewis played every snap in his absence.

Freeman, 28, spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015-16) and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. But Freeman had 656 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 184 carries (3.6 average) last season. The Falcons let him walk as a free agent this offseason and instead signed Todd Gurley.

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Freeman had other chances this offseason.

He turned down a deal that could have been worth $3 million with the Seattle Seahawks and recently visited with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the Giants offer Freeman the best opportunity for touches with Barkley lost for the campaign. They have Lewis and Wayne Gallman on the active roster. Veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

“Wayne and Dion are definitely guys that will factor in,” coach Joe Judge stated Monday. “We’ll work to their strengths — they are two different types of backs. Both of them have a degree of toughness. Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving.

Dion’s got that real good short-area quickness and burst to get going. He does a great job of finding small seams and getting through the hole. They are both different guys; we’re going to have to work with what they do well to give them an opportunity to be successful.”

Now add Freeman, who visited the Giants on Tuesday, to the mix.

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DeGrom exits with hamstring spasm, Mets really past Phils

Jacob deGrom’s balky hamstring forced an untimely exit Wednesday night. Now, the New York Mets ace hopes it won’t mean an early end to his campaign.

DeGrom left a rare rough outing because of a right hamstring spasm, then watched his teammates erase a four-run deficit in rallying for a 5-4 triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 32-year-old deGrom first had issues with his hamstring in his previous start and it went away, so he didn’t tell the team. He couldn’t shake the feeling early versus the Phillies and this time didn’t take any chances.

“I think it’s just day by day,” he said. “What’s weird is running around, playing catch, it seems fine. Then once I get to full intensity in a game is when I feel it. Hopefully it’s something we can treat and get back out there as quick as possible.”

Phillies reliever Hector Neris (2-2) dropped the ball on the mound for a balk that moved the go-ahead run to second base in the ninth inning. Mets rookie Andres Gimenez hit an RBI single to put New York ahead.

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DeGrom had a surprisingly difficult two innings that pointed toward an apparent injury and could derail his bid for a third straight NL Cy Young Award.

He permitted three earned runs in a start for the first time this season, pushing his ERA back over 2.00 at 2.09.

The right-hander, who struck out 12 Phillies on Sept. 6, was pulled after only 40 pitches and one strikeout.

He appeared to spike a water bottle in frustration in the dugout after a brief chat with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and trainer Brian Chicklo.

Hefner visited deGrom on the mound in the second inning when he permitted all his runs, but there was no immediate indication he was hurt. Michael Wacha replaced deGrom in the third with New York trailing 3-0.

“They said, ‘Hey, there’s no reason to try and push through this and hurt something,’” deGrom said.

After he was gone, the Mets became the latest team to strike against the beleaguered Phillies bullpen.

J.D. Davis tied it 4-all in the eighth against Adam Morgan on an RBI double off the wall on a misplayed ball by Adam Haseley in right field that took deGrom off the hook. The Phillies blew a save for the 11th time this season.

“Eventually you believe that it’s got to turn,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

Miguel Castro (2-1) struck out the final two batters of the eighth and stranded two runners to earn the triumph. Edwin Diaz worked the ninth for his fourth save. DeGrom had been 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 16 career starts vs. Philadelphia.

He failed to record a strikeout on his first time through a team’s batting order for the first time in 103 starts.

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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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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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Djokovic avoids upset bug in New York

Bothered by a bad neck that a trainer massaged twice, Novak Djokovic double-faulted seven times and trailed by a break in each set before avoiding the rash of upsets at the Western & Southern Open by taking the last four games for a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis on Monday.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic was playing his first ATP match in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. He withdrew from the doubles event on Sunday because of his neck.

“I’m trying to deal with it on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s been like that for the past three or four days.”

Djokovic improved to 19-0 in 2020 as he prepares to seek a sixth title in the past eight Grand Slam tournaments when the US Open begins in a week. That major championship’s site in Flushing Meadows is hosting the Ohio-based Western & Southern Open as part of an unusual doubleheader with no spectators.

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Djokovic got by, even though he was wincing and stretching his neck between points.

He wound up lying on his back — with a medical mask and protective glasses on his face — while having his neck manipulated after the first set.

While the tours were shut down, Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19 in June after a series of no-social-distancing exhibition matches that he organized in Serbia and Croatia.

As tennis ramps up — this is the first tournament of the resumption for the men; the women returned earlier this month — there has been a host of surprises, including defending women’s champion Madison Keys’ 6-4, 6-1 departure versus Ons Jabeur in an hour Monday night.

No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem, a three-time major finalist, wasn’t competitive in a 6-2, 6-1 defeat to Filip Krajinovic, and No. 5 Alexander Zverev hit 11 double faults — five in his last two service games — while being defeated by Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Like Djokovic, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka emerged with difficult victories, and two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, the No. 6 seed, lost Monday. Each of the top two women’s seeds, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin, were defeated Sunday.

Djokovic next meets American Tennys Sandgren, a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5) winner over No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who accumulated 15 double faults. Another American, Reilly Opelka, eliminated No. 9 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (4).

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WR Chris Hogan joins Jets, his fourth AFC East team

The New York Jets are apparently adding another veteran wide receiver for Sam Darnold to work with. On Sunday, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that the Jets had agreed to terms with veteran wideout Chris Hogan on a new deal.

Hogan has been a constant in the AFC East, and has now spent time with all four teams. Hogan was most recently with the Carolina Panthers, but played in just seven games and made eight catches for 67 yards in 2019. He suffered a knee injury early in the campaign which placed him on injured reserve, but he did return to the active roster later in the year.

While Hogan spent time on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad and spent four years with the Buffalo Bills, he will most likely be remembered for his time with the New England Patriots.

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Hogan collected two Super Bowls in three years with the Tom Brady and the Patriots, and owns the franchise record for most receiving yards in a playoff game — when he went off for 180 yards and two touchdowns versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game during the 2016 season.

In those three seasons with New England, Hogan caught 107 passes for 1,651 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

The former undrafted two-way player out of Monmouth has struggled to make an impact when not playing for the Patriots, but does get a chance with the Jets. New York lost former No. 1 wideout Robby Anderson in free agency, and while it signed Breshad Perriman and drafted Denzel Mims this offseason, both players are unproven.

Perriman secured a deal thanks to a late-season explosion he had for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin went down with injuries, and Mims is a rookie out of Baylor who was taken by New York in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Hogan, who turns 33 in October, has caught a total of 202 passes for 2,677 yards and 18 touchdowns in 95 career games. 

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