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WAMC Sports Report 8/25/23: Verdugo, Abreu both homer with 4 hits as Red Sox rout Astros 17-1

Boston Red Sox's Alex Verdugo celebrates with Justin Turner (2) after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
Kevin M. Cox/AP
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FR158961 AP
Boston Red Sox's Alex Verdugo celebrates with Justin Turner (2) after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

MLB

Alex Verdugo hit a leadoff homer with four hits, and rookie Wilyer Abreu got his first major league home run and the Red Sox routed the Houston Astros 17-1 among four hits as the Boston Red Sox tagged J.P. France for 10 runs in a 17-1 rout of the Houston Astros. The Red Sox set season highs for runs and hits with 24 on Thursday. It was the most runs and hits the Astros have allowed this year. Boston has at least one home run in 13 straight games. That's the team’s longest streak since homering in 19 in a row in 2019. Verdugo drove in two runs, and Abreu added four RBIs in the victory.

Alex Call hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Tommy Kahnle in the seventh inning, CJ Abrams followed with a solo shot and the Washington Nationals beat the Yankees 6-5 to send New York to its 10th loss in 11 games. Aaron Judge followed his first career three-homer game by homering on his first pitch from Patrick Corbin, and Gleyber Torres hit a two-run homer in the third. Last-place New York has not won consecutive games since Aug. 2-3 and is 1-11-3 in its last 15 series, losing seven straight rubber games.

Meanwhile, the Mets and Phillies were off last night. The Mets begin a three-game series at home against the Angels at 7:10 tonight. The Phillies play the first of two games against the Cardinals at 7:15 tonight.

Shohei Ohtani's sparkling future on and off the baseball field suddenly became murky when tests revealed a tear in a ligament in his pitching elbow. The Los Angeles Angels' two-way superstar could require a second Tommy John surgery, although he is still getting tests. The injury occurred about 11 weeks before Ohtani was expected to get a historic payday in free agency after six seasons with the Angels. The Angels confirmed Thursday that he intends to keep playing this season as their designated hitter.

A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has decided to retire. The 2019 World Series MVP has had his career derailed by injuries. Strasburg last pitched in June 2022 and has thrown only 528 pitches since signing a $245 million, seven-year contract in December 2019. An announcement is expected sometime next month. His decision was first reported by The Washington Post.

NFL PRESEASON

Kenny Pickett led two touchdown drives and showed he and the Pittsburgh starters are ready for real games as the Steelers overpowered the Atlanta Falcons’ backups 24-0 in the final preseason game for both teams. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren ran for touchdowns to cap the only drives led by Pickett, who completed 4 of 4 passes for 86 yards in his short but productive playing time. The Steelers scored touchdowns on each of their five preseason possessions led by Pickett. Falcons coach Arthur Smith held out his starters, and his backups were overwhelmed on both sides of the ball when matched with Pittsburgh’s first-team units.

Indianapolis rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson displayed flashes of promise but also showed that there’s much work to do, helping the Colts beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-13 on Thursday night in the preseason finale for each team. Named the starter after the preseason opener at Buffalo, Richardson completed 6 of 17 passes for 78 yards and ran five times for 38 yards in the first half. The 6-foot-4 passer was the No. 4 overall pick out of Florida. New Colts coach Shane Steichen helped Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts transform from a second-round pick with questions into one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks during the last two seasons as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. He will try to do the same with Richardson in in Indianapolis.

WNBA

Breanna Stewart broke the Liberty’s single-season scoring record, scoring 24 points as New York rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit to beat the Connecticut Sun 95-90 in overtime. Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas broke the WNBA record for double-doubles in a season with her 24th. She finished with 22 points and 12 assists on her bobblehead night. Stewart also had 12 rebounds. Jonquel Jones had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Liberty, who moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Sun for second place with six games to play in the regular season. DeWanna Bonner had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Connecticut and caught Sue Bird for seventh on the career scoring list.

BASKETBALL WORLD CUP

The Basketball World Cup is underway. The United States is set to play New Zealand tomorrow at 8:40 a.m.

SOCCER

The president of the Spanish soccer federation is facing an emergency meeting of its general assembly amid media reports that he will hand in his resignation following an uproar for kissing a Women’s World Cup champion. Luis Rubiales is expected to stand before representatives of Spain’s regional federations, clubs, players, coaches and referees at noon local time and reports say he is stepping down. Rubiales is under immense pressure to leave his post since he grabbed player Jenni Hermoso and kissed her on the lips without her consent during the awards ceremony following Spain’s 1-0 victory over England on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.

GOLF

Collin Morikawa knew he had four days at East Lake to make up a nine-shot deficit in the Tour Championship. He wound up doing it in one day, with a little help from Scottie Scheffler. Morikawa started the FedEx Cup finale at 1-under par because he was 24th in the standings. Scheffler began at 10 under as the top seed. And then Morikawa shot a 61. Now he's tied for the lead with Keegan Bradley and Viktor Hovland. Scheffler shot 71 and is one shot behind. Sixteen players are separated by four shots. All are chasing the $18 million bonus.

Rory McIlroy is playing through a bad back at the FedEx Cup finale. McIlroy hurt his lower right back at home and has been getting treatment. He hit only 20 balls before the first round of the Tour Championship. On the front nine, he rarely finished a swing and at times appeared not to trust going after shots. He is the No. 3 seed and started the tournament at 7-under par. He shot 70 and was three shots out of the lead after the first round. McIlroy has two European tour events next month, and then the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone in Italy.

NCAA

Michigan will give four assistant coaches the chance to be head coach while Jim Harbaugh is serving a suspension during the first three games of the season. Michigan also announced that Harbaugh’s 84-year-old father, Jack, will be assistant head coach when the third-ranked Wolverines face East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green at home in September. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter will serve as head coach against East Carolina. The next week against UNLV, special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh and running backs coach Mike Hart will each handle head-coaching duties for a half. Jay Harbaugh is Jim's son. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore will be act as head coach for Game 3.

NFL

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said he expects Trey Lance still to be on the roster when the season starts in just over two weeks despite losing out on the backup job to Sam Darnold. The Niners made the decision earlier this week to give Darnold the No. 2 job behind Brock Purdy despite trading three first-round picks to draft Lance third overall in 2021. The team is exploring all options with Lance, including a possible trade, but Lynch told flagship radio station KNBR that Lance being the third-string quarterback for Week 1 in Pittsburgh remains the most likely option.

NBA

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he wants to see how committed the Milwaukee Bucks are to competing for another championship before deciding whether to sign a contract extension with them. The two-time MVP will become eligible next month to sign an extension. Antetokounmpo told The New York Times that he wouldn’t sign an extension this year. He said it might make more sense next summer, “but even then, I don’t know.” Antetokounmpo's contract runs through the 2024-25 season with a player option for 2025-26.

The Los Angeles Lakers will unveil a statue of Kobe Bryant outside their downtown arena on Feb. 8. The 17-time NBA champion Lakers announced the plan Thursday to honor Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history and a beloved mainstay of the franchise for 20 seasons. Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Bryant participated in the initial planning of his statue after his retirement in 2016, according to the Lakers. He is the sixth former Lakers player and seventh team employee to be honored with a statue in the so-called “Star Plaza” outside the arena, which has been the Lakers’ home since 1999.

This is the biggest weekend of the 40-day meet at Saratoga. Today’s card is the Grade I Personal Ensign Stakes, a $500,000 1 and 1/8th mile race for fillies and mares four years old and older. Nest, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., is the morning line favorite at 4-5 odds.

The Travers Stakes, a $1,250,000 Grade I 1 ¼ race for three-year-old horses is Saturday and will be televised on FOX, with coverage from Saratoga from 3-6:30 p.m. Forte, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., is the morning line favorite at 7/5 odds. Winners of the three legs of the Triple Crown will also run- Mage, trained by Gustavo Delgado Sr. and ridden by Luiz Saez, who won the Kentucky Derby, is in the 4 slot with 4-to 1 odds. Preakness winner National Treasure, ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Bob Baffert, will take the 5 slot with 8/1 odds. Arcangelo, the Belmont Stakes winner, trained by Jena Antonucci and ridden by Javier Castellano, is in second position with 5/2 odds.

Other horses in the race will include Tapit Trice, ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Racing Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, will take third position and is at 12/1 odds. The seven-horse field is rounded out by Disarm, ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Steve Asmussen at 8/1 odds, and Scotland, ridden by Junior Alvarado and trained by Bill Mott, at 12/1 odds.

Other action this Saturday includes the Grade I $500,000 Forego Stakes. Bill Mott-trained Elite Power, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., is the favorite at 1-2 odds. Other top action includes the H. Allen Jerkins Memorial Stakes, a Grade I $500,000 race for three-year-olds, the $500,000 Ballerina Handicap, and the Grade I $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Stakes.

Sunday will see the $200,000 1 and 1/8 mile Fleet Indian Stakes, for three-year-old fillies, the West Point Stakes, a $200,000 1 and 1/16 mile inner-turf handicap for three-year-old and older fillies, the Funny Cide Stakes, a six-furlong $200,000 6-furlong race for two year old horses; the $200,000 Yaddo Handicap, a $200,000 1 and 1/16 mile race for three-year-old and up fillies and mares, and the $250,000 Albany Stakes, a 1 1/8 mile race. All horses in Sunday’s races must have been foaled in New York and approved by the New York State-Bred Registry.

Horse racing’s new federal authority says it is investigating this summer’s equine fatalities at Saratoga Race Course. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority says the review began on August 5th. Since the spring, 13 horses have died at Saratoga Race Course, according to the New York State Gaming Commission. HISA says the review includes necropsy results, veterinary records, racing and training histories, surface maintenance logs and weather records. In a statement, HISA says the New York Racing Association and Gaming Commission are collaborating in the review. With the running of the Travers Stakes Saturday, this is the biggest weekend of the 40-day meet at Saratoga. A NYRA spokesman says the health and safety of horses and jockeys is its highest priority and says it strongly supports HISA’s work.

LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

The U.S. final will be played Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, between the Southwest (Needville, Texas) and West (El Segundo, California). The international final
will be played at 12:30 p.m. in Williamsport between the Asia-Pacific and Caribbean regions.

In yesterday's action, Caribbean (Willemstad, Curaçao) beat Mexico (Tijuana, Mexico), 4-2, and West (El Segundo, California) topped Northwest (Seattle, Washington), 2-1.

© 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.