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WAMC Sports Report 6/24/24: Oilers can make history in Stanley Cup Final Game 7 against the Panthers

Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett (9) scores against Boston Bruins' Jeremy Swayman (1) as Bruins' Charlie Coyle (13) defends during the third period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/AP
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AP
Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett (9) scores against Boston Bruins' Jeremy Swayman (1) as Bruins' Charlie Coyle (13) defends during the third period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

NHL

Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of pulling off one of the biggest comebacks in sports history. They can win the Stanley Cup in Game 7 of the final against the Panthers at 8 in Florida tonight after falling behind 3-0 in the series and reeling off three consecutive victories. The previous time an NHL team with that deficit came all the way back to hoist the Cup was the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942. The Oilers are doing their best to block out the ramifications of this improbable rally by focusing on the final game of the season.

GOLF

Scottie Scheffler beat Tom Kim on the first playoff hole to win the Travelers Championship on Sunday. He had to wait out a disruption by climate protesters who sprayed powder on the 18th green. It was his sixth win of the year. That’s the most in one PGA Tour season since Tiger Woods won six in 2009. And Scheffler still has two months to go. It was Scheffler’s fourth victory of the year in the PGA Tour’s $20 million, limited-field signature events. He earned $3.6 million. The protesters were tackled by police and taken away. Some wore T-shirts that read “NO GOLF ON A DEAD PLANET.”

Amy Yang built a huge lead and survived a couple of late mistakes to win (won) her long-awaited first major title, a three-shot victory in the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship. Yang closed with an even-par 72 at Sahalee to finish at 7-under 281. She was nearly flawless for the first 15 holes and reached 10 under for the tournament for a seven-shot lead before running into a little bit of trouble. But none of her pursuers was able to mount a significant charge. At age 34, Yang is the oldest major winner on the LPGA Tour since Angela Stanford won the 2018 Evian Championship at age 40.

MLB

Luis Severino tossed six shutout innings, Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo hit back-to-back homers and the New York Mets topped the Chicago Cubs 5-2 after closer Edwin Díaz was ejected in the ninth before throwing a pitch. Díaz came on to seal the victory, but was tossed for having a foreign substance after umpires inspected his hands and glove. Drew Smith got two outs in place of Díaz before Jake Diekman struck out pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom. The Mets have won four straight series. Severino struck out a season-high 10 and allowed three hits. Christopher Morel homered for Chicago, which has dropped 10 of its last 16.

Max Fried shut down the Yankees for five innings before tiring on a blistering afternoon, Jarred Kelenic drove in two runs and the Atlanta Braves beat New York 3-1 for their eighth win in 10 games following a five-game losing streak. Fried improved Sunday to 4-1 in his last six starts, giving up one run and six hits in six innings with four strikeouts and no walks. Atlanta won two of three from the Yankees, who lost their third straight series after dropping two of three against both Boston and Baltimore.

Connor Wong and Rob Refsnyder each hit two-run homers as the Boston Red Sox took the series from the Cincinnati Reds with a 7-4 victory on Sunday. The Red Sox have won seven of eight and are now a season-best six games over .500. Jarren Duran led off for Boston and went 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs. Nick Lodolo took the loss for Cincinnati. Eight pitchers combined for Boston including Kenley Jansen who recorded his 15th save. Greg Weissert was credited with the victory.

Cristopher Sánchez tossed seven scoreless innings a day after the Phillies gave him a new contract, Bryce Harper doubled and singled, and NL-best Philadelphia beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1. David Dahl hit a two-run single, and Bryson Stott and Nick Castellanos also had RBIs for the Phillies. Philadelphia took two of three in the series that was a rematch of last season’s NL Championship Series, won by Arizona. The first pitch of 11:36 a.m. marked the earliest start to a game at 20-year-old Citizens Bank Park. Sánchez struck out four, walked none and allowed only three singles. He signed a new four-year, $22.5 million contract for 2025-28 on Saturday.

Yandy Díaz hit a home run off the first pitch from Paul Skenes before leading off a two-run eighth inning with a single, sparking a 3-1 win for the Tampa Bay Rays over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Díaz opened the first inning by driving Skenes’ near 100 mph first-pitch fastball off the right-field foul pole. He was 3-for-4 with two hits off Skenes, stretching his hit streak to 16 games. Colin Holderman replaced Skenes for the eighth, giving up the single to Díaz followed by another from Josh Lowe. José Caballero, running for Díaz, scored on Randy Arozarena’s sacrifice fly to put the Rays ahead 2-1 before Richie Palacios added another run with an RBI single.

Nick Gordon and Jesús Sánchez homered and the Miami Marlins beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4. Jazz Chisholm Jr. had two hits and an RBI for the Marlins, who clinched the three-game series against the AL West-leading Mariners. A.J. Puk relieved Marlins starter Kyle Tyler to start the fifth on Sunday and threw two perfect innings. Tyler allowed two runs and three hits over the first four frames. The Mariners got to within 6-4 on Ryan Bliss’ RBI groundout off Huascar Brazoban and J.P. Crawford’s run-scoring single against Andrew Nardi in the seventh.

Colt Keith and Akil Baddoo homered in a five-run first inning and Riley Greene cleared the fences in a four-run second, lifting the Detroit Tigers to an 11-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. The Tigers scored more runs in two at-bats on Matt Vierling’s leadoff triple and Keith’s two-run homer than in any of the previous six games, and they were just getting warmed up in the series-winning rout. Baddoo’s two-run homer capped the five-run first inning and Riley Greene followed with a three-run shot in the second to put Detroit ahead 9-0.

Steven Kwan and Josh Naylor hit solo homers as Cleveland scored five straight runs in the third and fourth innings, helping the AL Central-leading Guardians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5. Cleveland won its fifth straight and is a season-high 23 games over .500. The Guardians and rookie manager Stephen Vogt have the best home record in the majors at 26-9, matching their franchise best through 35 games. Tim Herrin was awarded the win with a scoreless fourth. Emmanuel Clase picked up his AL-best 24th save. Spencer Horwitz belted two solo homers and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a two-run blast for Toronto.

Framber Valdez pitched seven solid innings and Jeremy Peña and Yainer Diaz had three RBIs apiece to give the Houston Astros an 8-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles and complete a three-game sweep. It’s just the second time the Orioles have been swept this season after losing three in a row to the Cardinals from May 20-22. Valdez allowed six hits and a run with seven strikeouts in seven innings on Sunday to bounce back after consecutive losses.

Sonny Gray allowed one hit over seven innings and Alec Burleson drove in two runs and the St. Louis Cardinals completed a three-game sweep with a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants. Brendan Donovan and Matt Carpenter also drove in runs for the Cardinals, who have won five of seven. St. Louis swept the three-game series, which began in Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday night with the tribute to the Negro Leagues. Patrick Bailey homered for San Francisco, which has dropped five in a row. Gray retired the first 20 hitters he faced. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced over five scoreless innings in his season debut, rookie Wyatt Langford extended his RBI streak to five games and the Texas Rangers beat Kansas City 4-0. That completed a three-game sweep. José Ureña pitched the final four innings for his first save and extended the Rangers’ season-best streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. Josh Smith homered as the Rangers matched their season high by winning their fourth game in a row. The Royals ended a 2-7 road trip.

Lane Thomas doubled in the tying run and Joey Meneses singled to drive in the go-ahead run as the Washington Nationals rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies 2-1 on Sunday, taking the three-game series 2-1. Down 1-0 heading into the top of the ninth and held to one hit by starter Kyle Freeland and reliever Nick Mears, the Nationals finally broke through against reliever Jalen Beeks. Michael Toglia homered for the Rockies’ only run.

Pablo López took a perfect game into the sixth inning and matched a career high with 14 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Oakland Athletics 3-0 in the rubber match of a three-game series. López limited Oakland to two singles and a walk, retiring the first 17 batters he faced before Lawrence Butler singled on a line drive to right with two outs in the sixth. Byron Buxton homered off Hogan Harris in the second and added an RBI double in the seventh. Griffin Jax pitched the ninth inning for his seventh save in nine chances.

Rookie Tobias Myers continued his terrific June by winning his fourth straight start and Blake Perkins highlighted a five-run second inning with a two-run single as the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers beat the San Diego Padres 6-2 to avoid a four-game sweep. Myers held the Padres to one run and five hits in five innings, with three strikeouts and no walks. He allowed one or no earned runs for the fourth time in his June starts and won his fifth straight decision dating to May 21. The Padres had their four-game winning streak snapped. It had matched their season-best streak.

New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz is facing a 10-game suspension after being ejected from the team’s 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander came on in the ninth to try to seal the victory for the Mets, but was tossed by third-base umpire Vic Carapazza before throwing a pitch after an inspection of his glove and throwing hand. Both Díaz and manager Carlos Mendoza said the umpire said he thought the pitcher had too much of a combination of rosin, sweat and dirt on his throwing hand. Carapazza said in a pool report after game it “definitely wasn’t rosin and sweat” on Díaz’s hand.

COPA AMERICA

Christian Pulisic scored in the third minute and assisted on Folarin Balogun’s goal in the 44th as the United States cruised past Bolivia 2-0 in their Copa America opener. Among six invited guests to South America’s championship, the U.S. is expected to advance from Group C to the quarterfinals along with Uruguay. Bolivia lost its 13th straight Copa America match dating to 2015 and has one win in its last 31. The 11th-ranked U.S. plays Panama on Thursday at Atlanta and closes the group against Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri.

WNBA

Angel Reese pulled off the best performance of her young career to help the Chicago Sky rally past the Indiana Fever and old college rival Caitlin Clark. A game featuring some of the WNBA’s brightest young stars delivered in a huge way. Reese had her best outing. She scored a career-high 25 points to go with 16 rebounds in her eighth consecutive double-double in an 88-87 win and the Sky's first victory over the Fever in three tries this season. They lost the first two games at Indiana. Clark, meanwhile, finished with 17 points and a franchise-record 13 assists. She made five 3s and grabbed six rebounds, but the Fever couldn’t hang on after winning their previous four games.

OLYMPICS

Simone Manuel has earned an individual race at the Olympics on the final night of the U.S. swimming trials, winning the 50-meter freestyle. Coming back from overtraining syndrome, which hampered her preparations leading up to the Tokyo Games, Manuel won the frantic dash in 24.13 seconds. Gretchen Walsh took the second spot. In the final race of the nine-day trials in Indianapolis, Bobby Finke blew away the field in the 1,500 free. He'll head to the Olympics looking to defend the gold medals he won in the 800 and 1,500 freestyle at Tokyo. The real race was for the last spot on the Olympic team. David Johnston edged Luke Whitlock by only 26-hundredths of a second after nearly 15 minutes of racing.

Noah Lyles locked down the first major step in his quest for an Olympic sprint double Sunday, coming from behind to win the 100 meters at U.S. track trials in 9.83 seconds to qualify for that race in Paris. Lyles overcame a slow start to beat 200-meter specialist Kenny Bednarek by .04. Fred Kerley, the 2022 world champion, finished in third and will also go to Paris. Christian Coleman, the 2019 world champ, was in the lead with about 30 meters left but finished fourth. The Lyles win makes the American sprint favorites 2 for 2 after three days.

NASCAR

NHRA great John Force was alert and talking to safety workers immediately after a fiery, 300-mph crash Sunday in the Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. John Force Racing said the 75-year-old Force was examined at the track by the NHRA Medical Team before being transported by medical helicopter to a facility for further evaluation. During the first round of Funny Car eliminations, the engine exploded Force’s car at the finish line, with the vehicle going across the centerline and striking the left concrete guard wall, then careening back across into the right wall. Three weeks ago in New Hampshire, Force raced to his record 157th NHRA victory and second of the season.

© 2024 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.