Toronto’s Walker, Yamaguchi concede 14 runs in combined 3 innings pitched
Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks homered to key a seven-run second-inning burst made possible when right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a pair of flyballs, and the New York Yankees rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays into second place in the AL East with a 20-6 blowout Tuesday night that extended their winning streak to six.
Voit homered twice, raising his major league-leading total to 18, and had five RBIs for the Yankees, who have rebounded following a 5-15 stretch and put themselves back on track to reach the expanded playoffs. New York (27-21) and Toronto (26-21) started a stretch of seven games against each other in the final two weeks of the season.
DJ LeMahieu had four hits and five RBIs, raising his average 13 points to .363, LeMahieu homered on a 48.7 mph offering from infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB started tracking in 2008.
Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer off Anthony Kay and Clint Frazier had a two-run shot against Ryan Borucki.
Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela returned from the injured list for the Yankees, who expect to get Aaron Judge back Wednesday or Thursday.
Clint climbs aboard the HR train: <a href=”https://t.co/6W8jwSIwVo”>pic.twitter.com/6W8jwSIwVo</a>
Stanton was 0 for 4 with a walk as the designated hitter, the only Yankees starter without a hit, after missing 32 games because of a strained left hamstring. Urshela had three hits and made several sparking defensive plays at third after missing 11 games with a right elbow bone spur.
Judge, limited to one game since Aug. 11 because of a strained right calf, could return Wednesday or Thursday.
But Gleyber Torres was out with a left quadriceps issue and New York manager Aaron Boone said James Paxton had not yet started to throw in his rehabilitation of a strained left flexor tendon, a sign the left-hander may not return this season.
Rookie Deivi Garcia (2-1) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.
New York scored its most runs since a 20-6 win at Atlanta on Aug. 30, 2015. The Yankees batted around in the second, third and fourth innings, the first time they achieved the feat in three consecutive frames since doing it from the fifth through eighth innings in a 22-9 rout of Oakland on Aug. 25, 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Walker, Yamaguchi struggle
Taijuan Walker was chased after 1 2/3 innings that included six unearned runs, and Shun Yamaguchi followed with a second inning out of youth ball. The 33-year-old right-hander, who signed with the Blue Jays for this season after 14 years in the Japanese major leagues, walked his first three batters, hit the next two, allowed LeMahieu’s three-run double and also threw a wild pitch and committed a balk.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a solo homer, single and double. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a two-run homer in the fourth for the Blue Jays, who host a four-game series against the Yankees next week in Buffalo.
Walker got the first out of the bottom half before allowing Urshela’s double. Frazier hit a routine fly to the warning track that glanced off Fisher’s glove for an error; Frazier didn’t run hard and wound up at first.
Two pitches later, Fisher tried for a backhand grab on the warning track and missed Brett Gardner’s drive, which fell for a tying single. Tyler Wade and LeMahieu followed with RBI singles for a 3-1 lead, and Voit hit a three-run drive that landed in the left-field bleachers 426 feet from the plate, bounded off the back wall and the slowly down the 19 rows of empty bleachers to the front row. Hicks drove the next pitch into the second deck in right.
Voit added a solo homer off Ken Giles in the sixth.
Toronto had won eight of its previous 12 games. Cavan Biggio, a 25-year-old son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, made his second straight start at third base. He had started mostly at second and occasionally in the outfield prior to Sunday.
Steelers-Titans game postponed until later in season after more positive COVID-19 tests
2 more cases brings Tennessee total to 11, including 5 players
The NFL postponed Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game at Tennessee until later in the season after one additional Titans player and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19.
The announcement Thursday came one day afer the league said it hoped to play the game on Monday or Tuesday. The NFL said a new game date would be announced “shortly.”
“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the league said. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”
On Tuesday, the Titans placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including key players defensive captain and lineman DaQuan Jones and long snapper Beau Brinkley. Outside linebacker Kamalei Correa became the fourth on that list Wednesday.
With the two new cases, the Titans’ total is now 11: five players and six other organization members.
Canada Artistic Swimming closes Montreal training centre amid investigation into abuse and harassment
Emails from swimmers, staff allege culture of silence and abuse
The Montreal training centre used by the senior national Canada Artistic Swimming team closed its doors on Monday as an external firm investigates allegations of abuse and harassment.
The team learned the news in a meeting with Julie Healy, the organization’s chief sport officer. Radio-Canada Sports has obtained a recording of that meeting.
“We’re temporarily suspending operations of our full-time training group,” Healy is heard saying in the recording.
“We can’t continue to operate in an environment where athletes don’t feel safe, where coaches do not feel they can work without being accused of being hostile, harassing, abusive.”
Healy told Radio-Canada that the investigation was prompted by a series of emails complaining of incidents of abuse the organization was unwilling to recognize.
Laura Swift, a coach at Dollard Synchro who is part of the organization, wrote in one email that there is a “culture of fear and compliance” at Canada Artistic Swimming.
The emails followed an incident involving a coach at the Olympic Stadium pool in Montreal last Thursday. Some swimmers complained they heard offensive comments made by the coach about Black, Muslim and LGBTQ people.
Swift says that was not the only incident.
“I’m speaking now because it’s enough, and because I’m exhausted and I’m heartbroken and I want better for them. And they deserve better,” she said in an interview.
Healy said the complaints allege that swimmers were being “forced to keep quiet” about incidents of harassment and abuse, and that they singled her out along with criticizing the entire organization.
The emails allege that harassment and abuse had been occurring since January 2019.
“Our people are not being investigated. Our issues are being investigated,” Canada Artistic Swimming president Jackie Buckingham said in an interview.
She invited swimmers to take part in the investigation, and said the athletes were her priority.
Former French Open champ Ostapenko stuns No. 2 seed Pliskova
Latvian Ostapenko won the 2017 title as an unseeded player
Former champion Jelena Ostapenko ousted second seed Karolina Pliskova from the French Open with a 6-4 6-2 win in the second round of the French Open on Thursday after an error-ridden performance from the Czech player.
Latvian Ostapenko, who won the 2017 title as an unseeded player, played aggressively from the start and hit 27 winners as a strangely subdued Pliskova struggled to rein in her unforced errors under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.
The 23-year-old Ostapenko broke her opponent’s serve three times in the first set and twice in the second to seal her victory and ensure that Pliskova remained the only active former world number one who has not won a Grand Slam.
Ostapenko converted her third match point when Pliskova, who had 25 unforced errors, sent a forehand long and she will next meet the winner of the clash between former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and Spaniard Paula Badosa.
Danish teen Clara Tauson’s surprise run is over after losing to American player Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.
The 17-year-old Tauson came through the qualifying rounds. She upset U.S. Open semifinalist and No. 21 seed Jennifer Brady in the first round.
That victory made her the first Danish woman in the second round of any major tournament since 1989 other than former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki.
The unseeded Collins next faces 2016 champion and No. 11 seed Garbine Muguruza or Kristyna Pliskova.
Watch Red Bull Crankworx World Tour mountain biking
Live coverage begins on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET
Click on the video player above to watch action from the Red Bull Crankworx event in Innsbruck, Austria.
Live coverage begins on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET with the dual slalom competition, followed by the pump track challenge at 12 p.m. ET.
Friday’s action begins at 3 a.m. ET with the slopestyle competition. The speed and style event follows at 9:30 a.m. ET,
The downhill event concludes the action on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.
Christine Sinclair nets hat trick as Thorns take down Reign in NWSL action
Match was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but postponed due to poor air quality
Christine Sinclair had three goals and the Portland Thorns beat OL Reign 4-1 on Wednesday night in a National Women’s Soccer League fall series match.
Sinclair scored her first in the 40th minute off a pass from Lindsey Horan, then added a penalty kick in stoppage time before the half.
Sinclair hadn’t scored against he Reign since 2013, a string of 18 matches. The longtime captain of the Canadian national team is the international goals record holder among men or women.
Portland’s Rocky Rodriguez scored from near the penalty spot in 57th minute. After Bethany Balcer scored for the Reign to close the gap to 3-1, Sinclair completed her third NWSL hat trick in the 74th.
The Thorns were coming off a 3-0 win over the Utah Royals in the fall series. The NWSL’s regular season was cancelled because of the coronavirus, but the teams have been playing regional games in local markets after playing in the Challenge Cup tournament in Utah this summer.
The Reign were coming off a 2-2 draw against the Royals on Saturday.
The match was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but because of poor air quality in the Pacific Northwest caused by wildfires, it was pushed to Sept. 15. When conditions didn’t improve, it was eventually moved to Wednesday.
Davis, James lead way as Lakers roll past Heat to take early edge in NBA Finals
Los Angeles stars combine for 59 points in Game 1 blowout against Miami
LeBron James finally got an easy Game 1 in the NBA Finals.
A very easy one, at that.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points in his finals debut, James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Miami Heat 116-98 on Wednesday night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, Danny Green had 11 and Alex Caruso finished with 10 for the Lakers. They returned to the finals for the first time in a decade and sent a very clear message. James’ teams had been 1-8 in Game 1 of past finals, with losses in each of the last seven openers.
Not this one.
“We kind of picked it up on both ends of the floor,” Davis said.
Jimmy Butler fought through a twisted left ankle to score 23 points for Miami. The Heat lost point guard Goran Dragic at halftime to a left foot injury and saw All-Star centre Bam Adebayo leave in the third quarter after apparently aggravating a left shoulder problem.
Kendrick Nunn scored 18 points for the Heat, Tyler Herro had 14 and Jae Crowder 12. Adebayo was held to eight points in 21 minutes, and Miami went with subs for a fourth-quarter burst that turned a total rout into something only slightly more palatable in terms of final margin.
The Lakers did whatever they wanted. They outrebounded Miami 54-36, led by as many as 32 points, and made 15 3-pointers — a big number for a team that doesn’t necessarily count on piling up that many points from beyond the arc. They’re 21-3 this season when making at least 14 3s.
The only stretch that provided hope for Miami came in the first six minutes. The Heat scored on six consecutive possessions in what became a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead midway through the opening period.
So, the first six minutes were fine for Miami.
Everything else was all Lakers.
The simplest way to sum up what happened over the rest of the opening half is this: Lakers 55, Heat 25. The Lakers came into Game 1 ranked 21st out of the 22 teams that spent time in the bubble from 3-point range, making only 33.6 per cent of their tries from deep at Disney. They were the only team in the post-season to have two games shooting less than 25 per cent on 3s.
Perhaps they were due. The Lakers went 9-for-11 on 3’s in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Of the nine Lakers who played in the first two quarters, eight tried a 3-pointer — and all eight made at least one.
They closed the first quarter on a 19-3 run. Herro banked in a 3 from a sharp angle for a 43-41 Miami lead with 7:33 left in the half, and then the Lakers took off again, this time on a 24-5 burst to go into the break with a 65-48 lead.
And if things weren’t already bad enough for Miami, the Heat determined at the half that Dragic — playing in his first finals game — couldn’t keep going in Game 1 because of a left foot injury.
The Lakers started the third on another run, this one 18-3, and the rout was officially underway.
The NBA Finals record book is basically a James scrapbook of career achievements, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday. He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.
Championship parade in 2020: Lightning celebrate Stanley Cup title on boat
Alex Killorn rides jet ski; Speeches and ceremonies at NFL stadium follow
The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrated their Stanley Cup title with a boat parade and ceremonies Wednesday at Raymond James Stadium.
The boat parade featured forward Alex Killorn on a jet-ski with Steven Stamkos riding on the back as they held up the Stanley Cup and did laps around the boats in the Hillsborough River. The parade was followed by a public trophy celebration at the stadium with a capped attendance of 16,000 people.
“We’re excited to share this with Tampa,” Killorn said. “I know they weren’t here throughout the series and in the bubble, but this is our time to enjoy it with them because [the fans] are a big part of this team.”
Among the highlights of the celebration was a video package of the Lightning’s playoff run and a congratulatory video message from ESPN broadcaster and Lightning season-ticket holder Dick Vitale.
The players returned to Tampa on Tuesday after being in the NHL’s “bubble” in Toronto and Edmonton for the past 65 days. They were greeted at the airport by their families and held a private on-ice ceremony for friends and family.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said that the circumstances in which the Lightning won the Stanley Cup make it an even more impressive feat than winning in a normal year.
“This was not only a hockey Stanley Cup,” Vinik said. “This was a mental Stanley Cup to get through that period of time. Kudos to them and kudos to their families for being so supportive. That’s a long time away from home and I don’t think any of us can appreciate how tough that was.”
NBA still hoping to play 2021 season in home arenas with spectators, Silver says
Commissioner suggests rapid testing may be key to successful restart plan
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated Wednesday that the league’s hope is to begin next season with teams in their home arenas and with fans in the seats, though cautioned that there are still numerous unknowns to work through before any plan can be finalized.
Silver, in his annual state-of-the-league address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, also said the protocols that allowed the league to get through a restart in a so-called bubble at Walt Disney World — such as strict adherence to mask-wearing and social distancing — proved that a balance can be struck “between public health and economic necessity.”
“It’s certainly our goal,” Silver said, referring to playing in arenas. “But it’s dependent on some additional advancements. Rapid testing may be the key here.”
League and team revenues will take a huge hit this year, partly because about 15 per cent of the regular season was lost to the virus, partly because the 88 games that were played at Disney before the post-season and then the entire playoff run was played without fans buying tickets, food, drink and souvenirs in arenas.
“I don’t have expectations of labour issues … there’s no doubt there are issues on the table that have to be negotiated,” Silver said. “I think while no doubt there will be issues and difficult negotiations ahead, I think we’ll work them out as we always have.”
The league still hasn’t decided when free agency will start, what the salary cap will be for next season, what the tax line will be and other key details. All of that will have to be worked out with the National Basketball Players Association, and Silver said he expects talks to intensify on those matters once the NBA Finals are over.
“I think we all understand the essential parameters,” Silver said.
Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBPA, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that “either very simple or very complicated conversations are going to be had” to work through the two primary issues — coming to grips with the lost revenue from this season, and how to best function in a world that is going to be dealing with the coronavirus for the foreseeable future.
Restart in early 2021?
Her hope is that the NBA and NBPA figure out a deal in November, which would allow for next season to begin sometime in early 2021.
The NBA’s hope is to play most, if not all, of next season in arenas and before at least some fans. A bubble or bubbles could happen, though it seems close to a worst-case scenario.
“Do I want to do it again? Not if I can avoid it,” said Roberts, who spent the entire restart in the bubble. “Those are my marching orders: Not if we can avoid it. Now, having said that, the players want to make sure we can save our season again.”
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