Major League Baseball is back, although with COVID-19 restrictions. The New York Yankees welcomed fans into their ballpark for the first time since the 2019 playoffs Thursday — that said, the Yanks dropped their opener after 10 innings with the Blue Jays, 3-2.
The Yankees had a chance to win it in the ninth after pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole two bases, but he was thrown out at the plate by third baseman Cavan Biggio before Aaron Judge struck out to end the threat. Teoscar Hernández hit a tying homer in the sixth off Gerrit Cole as Toronto improved to 23-22 in openers.
In other MLB action:
The Phillies pulled out a 3-2 win over the Braves on Jean Segura's RBI single with two out in the bottom of the 10th. Phillies ace Aaron Nola was one strike away from tossing seven scoreless innings before pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval ripped an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in right field to tie it at 2. Philadelphia received 3 1/3 scoreless innings from four relievers, with Connor Brogdon working the 10th.
The defending World Series champs were beaten on the road. The Rockies posted an 8-5 win over the Dodgers as Colorado scored runs courtesy of a squeeze play, two wild pitches, a groundout, an error and three RBI singles. Cody Bellinger had a home run negated when he passed Justin Turner on the base paths after Turner thought the ball had been caught. This was a rare rocky season opener for Clayton Kershaw, who was tagged for five earned runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. In his previous eight opening day starts, Kershaw's 1.05 ERA was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 40 innings since 1913.
The Padres gave up four long balls in the fifth inning to blow a five-run lead before beating the Diamondbacks, 8-7. Eric Hosmer had a homer among his three hits and drove in three runs, newcomer Victor Caratini also had three RBIs. Jake Cronenworth hit a leadoff triple in the seventh before scoring the tiebreaking run on a sacrifice fly after Ketel Marte Asdrubal Cabrera, pinch-hitter Tim Locastro and Stephen Vogt went deep for Arizona in the fifth.
Ke'Bryan Hayes hit a two-run homer and the Pirates' bullpen dominated in a two-hitter in a 5-3 downing of the Cubs in Chicago. Relievers combined for six innings of one-run ball, with Richard Rodríguez notching the save. Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks lasted just three innings in his second straight opening-day start, issuing three walks while allowing three runs and four hits after he walked eight in 81 1/3 innings last season.
Paul Goldschmidt and newcomer Nolan Arenado combined for six hits and the Cardinals roughed up Luis Castillo for six runs in the first inning an 11-6 thumping of the Reds. Dylan Carlson hit a three-run homer and Tyler O'Neill connected for a two-run shot. Castillo surrendered 10 runs, eight earned and eight hits over 3 1/3 innings.
Zack Greinke pitched six shutout innings and the Astros hushed an unwelcoming crowd in beating the reigning AL West-champion Athletics, 8-1. It was Houston's first game in Oakland with fans in the stands since the Astros were proven to have stolen signs during their World Series run. Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman homered back-to-back in the eighth to put it out of reach after Greinke limited the A's to three hits.
The Mariners rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Giants, 8-7 on Jake Fraley's walk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th. Seattle scored six runs in the eighth inning to take a 7-6 lead, but pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson extended the game with a solo homer in the ninth. Evan Longoria and Buster Posey homered in the second off Seattle starter Marco Gonzales, who tied a career high with three home runs allowed.
Austin Meadows' home run with two outs in the eighth inning was all the Rays needed as the reigning AL champions started their season with a 1-0 win over the Marlins. Meadows connected off Miami reliever Yimi Garcia on a drive that cleared the 387-foot sign in left-center with ease. Jesus Aguilar had two of Miami's three hits.
Mike Trout delivered the tying single and Shohei Ohtani scored the go-ahead run on an Albert Pujols grounder in the eighth inning, leading the Angels' rally to a 4-3 victory over the White Sox. Max Stassi homered and Justin Upton had an RBI single as Los Angeles spoiled the second debut of Chicago manager Tony La Russa. Adam Eaton hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in his first game back with the White Sox.
Lorenzo Cain beat a throw to the plate in the 10th inning to complete the Milwaukee Brewers' rally in a 6-5 victory over Minnesota. The Brewers tied it by scoring three runs in the ninth, capped by Travis Shaw's two-out, two-run double off closer Alex Colomé in his Twins debut. The Twins took a 5-2 lead into the ninth on Byron Buxton's two-run homer in the seventh and Max Kepler's three hits.
Miguel Cabrera homered in his first at-bat of the season and added a sparkling play at first base to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Matthew Boyd allowed three hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 5 2/3 scoreless innings despite a light snowfall and gametime temperature at 32 degrees. Shane Bieber allowed three runs over the first two innings before the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner finished with 12 strikeouts over six frames.
Center fielder Michael A. Taylor homered, drove in three runs and threw out two players at the plate in leading the Royals past the Rangers 14-10. Each team scored five times in the first inning of a game that took 4 hours, 26 minutes. Kyle Isbel had three hits and two RBIs in his first major league game as Kansas City broke its record for runs in an opener.
The Red Sox and Orioles were postponed by weather in Boston.
The Nationals-Mets opener in Washington had to be postponed after at least three of the 2019 World Series champions' players tested positive for COVID-19. Nats general manager Mike Rizzo said one of the players testing positive had a fever, while the others were not displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Contact tracing was continuing to see who else might have been exposed.
In MLB news:
Francisco Lindor has committed to the Mets for the long haul before his first game. Lindor has agreed to a 10-year, $341 million deal with New York late Wednesday night. The deal currently is the largest ever for a shortstop, passing Fernando Tatis Jr.'s $340 million, 14-year contract with San Diego signed in February.
Infielder David Fletcher has agreed to a five-year, $26 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Fletcher's deal could be worth up to $41 million because it includes two club options worth $8 million in 2026 and $8.5 million in 2027. Fletcher finished third in the AL in 2020 with a .319 average while leading the Angels in hits.
The Rockies brought back Jhoulys Chacín, agreeing to a one-year deal with the right-hander on the eve of opening day. Chacín spent the first six years of his major league career in Colorado after being signed by the Rockies in September 2004, as a nondrafted international free agent.
The Braves will expand capacity at Truist Park to 50% for their second homestand beginning April 23 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Braves are permitting 33% capacity at their initial homestand to allow for ample social distancing, limiting the crowd to about 13,500.
The Philadelphia 76ers are coming home following a 4-2 road trip that ended with a 114-94 pounding of the Cavaliers. Shake Milton scored 27 points off the bench, and Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Milton was 5-for-7 from 3-point range to help offset an off night for Ben Simmons, who went just 2 of 11 from the floor but had 13 rebounds. Seth Curry made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points as Philadelphia won again without All-Star center Joel Embiid.
However, the Sixers remain a half-game behind the first-place Nets in the NBA's Eastern Conference. Jeff Green outscored Charlotte by himself in Brooklyn's overpowering first quarter before finishing with 21 points in a 111-89 thrashing of the Hornets. The Nets led 32-11 after one quarter behind 12 points from Green. LaMarcus Aldridge started at center and had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in his Nets debut, helping them win for the 20th time in their last 23 games.
Checking out Thursday's other NBA action:
Josh Jackson scored 19 of his season-high 31 points in the first half of the Pistons' 120-91 rout of the Wizards. Detroit overcame Russell Westbrook's 18th triple-double of the season. Westbrook finished with 16 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. He also had nine turnovers to fall just shot of his NBA-record sixth quadruple-double.
Jamal Murray dropped in 23 points and the Nuggets led all the way in their fourth win in a row, 101-94 over the Clippers. The Nuggets dominated the first three quarters on a night when Nikola Jokic didn't reach double figures until hitting a 3-pointer with 5:20 left. Michael Porter Jr. provided 20 points for Denver, while Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Jimmy Butler contributed 22 points and Duncan Robinson chipped in 21 for the Heat in a 116-109 downing of the Warriors. Victor Oladipo did a little of everything in his first game with Miami, finishing with six points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals as Miami moved back over .500. Stephen Curry finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors.
Clint Capela and Trae Young each had double-doubles in the Hawks' 134-129, double-overtime win at San Antonio. Capela furnished 28 points and 17 rebounds, while Young delivered 28 points and 12 assists. Young had 15 points in the overtime periods as Atlanta snapped a two-game skid.
Terrence Ross hit two key jumpers late in overtime and Wendell Carter III scored 21 points in helping the Magic knock off the short-handed Pelicans, 115-110. The Pelicans played without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball but led 109-105 with 1:28 left in overtime. Ross finished with 19 points, including a bucket that snapped a 109-all deadlock.
In NBA news:
Kevin Durant has apologized for threatening and profane comments he made to entertainer Michael Rapaport through social media. Rapaport released images of the private messages Tuesday on his Twitter account, and they included homophobic and misogynistic language from the Brooklyn Nets star. The NBA hasn't weighed in yet on Durant's comments and whether he would be fined. Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said the team has discussed the remarks but would keep the conversation internal.
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins will be out at least a week with a sprained left ankle, another blow to the injury plagued team. Collins was injured during during Tuesday night's loss at Phoenix. The Hawks have dealt with a rash of injuries that have sidelines key players such as De'Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovich and Cam Reddish for significant periods.
Veteran guard Jeff Teague has signed with the Bucks after getting waived by the Orlando Magic last week. The 32-year-old Teague played 34 games for Boston this season but went to Orlando last week as part of the deal that brought guard Evan Fournier to the Celtics.
There's now a three-way tie in the NHL's East Division following wins by the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders pulled even with the Capitals as Mat Barzal had a hat trick and two assists in an 8-4 romp over Washington. Jordan Eberle scored twice as the Isles improved to 14-1-2 at home and beat the Caps for the first time in four tries this season.
Mike Matheson scored a goal after a lengthy rush to highlight the Penguins' fifth win in a row, 4-1 at Boston. Zach Aston-Reese, Jason Zucker and Jake Guentzel also scored as Pittsburgh improved to 11-2-1 in their last 14. Casey DeSmith stopped 30 shots in the Pens' first win at Boston in 11 games since November 2014.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
Mika Zibanejad one-timed in Artemi Panarin's pass 4:32 into overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Sabres. Filip Chytil and Colin Blackwell also scored and Igor Shesterkin turned back 21 shots in the Rangers' fifth win in seven games. Buffalo earned a point when Tage Thompson tied it with 4 seconds left in regulation.
Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher each had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens in their third win in a row, 4-1 against the Senators. Paul Byron and Corey Perry provided the rest of the offense for Montreal, which is 2-0 since returning to action after a week off with two players in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol. Jake Evans and Tomas Tatar each had two assists for the Habs.
The Panthers pulled out a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Alex Wennberg's goal in overtime. Frank Vatrano had a goal and an assist and Noel Acciari also scored a goal for the Panthers. Chris Driedger made 25 saves. Carter Verhaeghe recorded two assists and the Panthers won their fourth in a row to remain in a first-place tie with Tampa Bay in the East.
The Lightning also picked up a 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets as Brayden Point scored twice, including the game-winner with 4:06 to play. Point's game-winner came 66 seconds after Rookie Ross Colton knotted the score for the Bolts. Eric Robinson scored to give Columbus a one-goal lead with 9:06 remaining before the Lightning ended a three-game skid.
Warren Foegele scored twice and Jesper Fast netted the game-winner with 29 seconds left as the Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks, 3-2 to stay within one point of the Lightning and Panthers. James Reimer made the last of his 22 saves on Dominik Kubalik with 40 seconds to play, clearing the path for Fast's game-winner. Dylan Strome tied the game midway through the third period, but Chicago was unable to break a tie with Nashville for the final Central Division playoff slot.
The Predators' six-game winning streak is over after Anton Khudobin turned away 21 shots in the Stars' 4-1 win at Nashville. Esa Lindell, Jason Robertson, Jamie Benn and Miro Heiskanen scored for Dallas, which snapped a three-game skid. Colton Sissons had the lone goal for the Predators.
Kevin Fiala scored in the shootout to push the Wild past the Golden Knights, 3-2. Kirill Kaprizov and Jared Spurgeon tallied in regulation to back Cam Talbot, who stopped 35 shots in his best road game this season. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner had 35 saves but dropped to 3-0-1 with just six goals allowed since his return from a concussion.
North Carolina has announced that Hall of Fame basketball coach Roy Williams is retiring after a 33-year career that includes three national championships. The decision comes two weeks after the 70-year-old Williams closed his 18th season with the Tar Heels after a highly successful run at Kansas. Williams won 903 games in a career that included those three titles, all with the Tar Heels, in 2005, 2009 and 2017. UNC lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his final game, which was Williams' only first-round loss in 30 tournaments.
In other college basketball news:
The University of Texas has hired Chris Beard away from Texas Tech to lead the Longhorns basketball program. Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt says Beard informed him of his decision. Beard led the Red Raiders to an NCAA Tournament runner-up finish two seasons ago. He goes to Texas after Shaka Smart left the Longhorns for Marquette after six seasons.
Michigan's Juwan Howard is The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year. Howard received 35 of 63 votes from a national media panel. Gonzaga's Mark Few was second with 16 votes.
Luka Garza of Iowa is The Associated Press men's college basketball player of the year. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound senior received 50 of 63 votes from a national media panel. Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois was second with six votes.
Oklahoma State star freshman Cade Cunningham has announced that he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic season that saw him named a first-team AP All-American. The 6-foot-8 point guard is expected to be a high pick — possibly No. 1 overall.
The NFL is considering a rule change that would allow teams to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play for an onside kickoff attempt. The proposal submitted by the Philadelphia Eagles is among 11 that will be voted on at the spring league meetings. This one would allow teams to keep the ball by converting a fourth-and-15 from their 25-yard line. Another proposal from the Baltimore Ravens changes the overtime format and eliminates OT in the preseason. It allows the winner of the overtime coin toss to choose where to spot the ball for the first play or start on offense or defense from the designated spot.
In other NFL news:
The Atlanta Falcons have re-signed defensive end Steven Means to a one-year contract, bringing back a player who has been a key contributor on and off the field. Means set career highs in tackles, sacks, quarterback hits and forced fumbles while starting 11 of 16 games last season.
Tyson Alualu has signed a two-year contract to remain in Pittsburgh. The 33-year-old defensive lineman had reportedly agreed to a deal that would reunite him with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The sister of Chargers controlling owner Dean Spanos is petitioning a California court to put one-third of the team's ownership stake up for sale. Dea Spanos Berberian filed a petition in Los Angeles contending that mounting debt from the franchise is creating an estimated yearly loss of at least $11 million for the family trust. Berberian and Spanos are co-trustees of the trust.
Camilo Villegas chipped in twice to highlight a nine-birdie round that earned him an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead at the Valero Texas Open. Sung Kang is two shots back with Cameron Tringale after each had a 66 at TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course. Jordan Spieth is three off the pace with Seung-Yul Noh and Hideki Matsuyama. Phil Mickelson dropped to 15 shots back when he had a 10 on the 18th hole to cap a 79.
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