#SportsReport: Mets Hold Back Rays; Nuggets Beat Lakers
Pete Alonso and the New York Mets prevented Tampa Bay from clinching the AL East crown, beating the Rays 5-2 behind three home runs and Seth Lugo's bounce-back pitching performance.
The Mets are desperately trying to stay in the National League playoff chase with five games remaining in the regular season. Tampa Bay's situation is much simpler. Already assured a playoff berth, they need just one win or a New York Yankees loss to secure their first division title in 10 years.
Gerrit Cole limited Toronto to five hits over seven innings in his final preparation for the playoffs, and Aaron Hicks drove in three runs in a 12-1 Yankees rout of the Blue Jays. Cole finished his first season with the Yankees 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 73 innings after signing a $324 million, nine-year contract as a free agent.
The Atlanta Braves clinched another National League East title. Bryse Wilson pitched five scoreless innings, Marcell Ozuna drove in five runs with four hits that included two home runs as Atlanta Braves clinched their third straight division pennant by beating the Miami Marlins 11-1. The Braves hit five homers in all, including shots by Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman in a five-run seventh. Miami remains in position to earn its first playoff berth since winning the World Series in 2003.
In other major league action:
The Philadelphia Phillies have tumbled out of a playoff position, after getting swept in a doubleheader by the Washington Nationals. Yadiel Hernández hit a game-ending, two-run homer off Brandon Workman for a 8-7 win in the second game. Austin Voth pitched a three-hitter to win the opener 5-1. Philadelphia lost its fourth game in a row and dropped behind Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Francisco for the National League's eighth and final playoff berth.
Nick Pivetta struck out eight in five innings of one-run ball in his Boston debut, Christian Vázquez hit a three-run homer and the Red Sox beat the Orioles 8-3. There were a total of five errors in the game, a misplayed fly ball and a runner picked off third to kill a rally, a performance befitting the AL East's worst two teams.
Pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh, Austin Slater also connected, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 5-2 to stay right in the playoff race. Dickerson hit his first pinch-hit homer since exactly four years earlier on Sept. 22, 2016, with San Diego against the Giants at Petco Park. It was his 10th homer that season, and his 10th this year.
Corey Seager had three hits, including one of Los Angeles' four home runs, as the Dodgers clinched the National League's top postseason seed and eighth straight NL West title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. The Dodgers were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting one of the NL's four best-of-three wild card series. Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which has clinched the AL West.
Facing a loss that would have left them on the periphery of the playoff field, Milwaukee pulled one out against Cincinnati's bullpen. Tyrone Taylor homered, Eric Sogard doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, and the Brewers rallied for a 3-2 victory over the surging Reds.
Cleveland clinched a playoff berth with a wild win over their division leaders. José Ramírez hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning, giving the Indians a 5-3 decision over the Chicago White Sox. It's Cleveland's fourth trip to the postseason in five years.
Max Kepler hit the tying home run in the eighth inning and the game-winning single with two outs in the 10th, giving the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers. That tightened the AL Central race for the Twins, who are a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox.
Jacob Stallings hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates slowed the Chicago Cubs' bid to win the NL Central with a 3-2 victory. The Cubs began the day with a 4 ½-game lead over St. Louis and Cincinnati in the division standings and a magic number of four to clinch the title. The Pirates won for just the second time in 15 games.
Austin Gomber tossed six innings of four-hit ball in a crucial spot start, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals still trail the Chicago Cubs by 3 1/2 games in the NL Central, but they improved to 27-25 and edged ahead of Milwaukee and Cincinnati for the No. 2 spot in the division.
Max Stassi had two impressive home runs among his four hits, Griffin Canning struck out 10 in six crafty innings and the Los Angeles Angels beat the punchless but playoff-bound San Diego Padres 4-2. The loss, plus St. Louis' 5-0 win at Kansas City, kept the Padres from assuring themselves the NL's No. 4 seed in the playoffs and homefield advantage in the wild-card round next week.
The Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 to close on their fourth straight playoff berth. Martin Maldonado hit a three-run home run and Framber Valdez struck out eight, setting career highs for wins and strikeouts.
Carson Kelly had a three-run homer, Caleb Smith and Riley Smith combined to throw a six-hitter and the Arizona Diamondbacks rolled to a 7-0 victory over the Texas Rangers. David Peralta had three hits for the Diamondbacks. The Rangers have a 6-23 record on the road this season.
In MLB news:
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels' season. The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop's decision before they faced the San Diego Padres. Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision. The 31-year-old Simmons can be a free agent this winter. He is finishing his fifth year with the Angels.
Seattle Mariners second baseman Dylan Moore's season is over after he was placed on the seven-day concussion list Tuesday. Moore was hit in the head for the second time in a week, taking a 92 mph fastball from Houston Astros reliever Brandon Bielak off the helmet in a 6-1 win over Houston on Monday night. Moore remained in the game, but began to feel effects afterwards. Moore was also hit in the helmet by a 99 mph fastball from San Francisco Giants reliever Sam Coonrod last week.
The St. Louis Cardinals have shut down Dakota Hudson for the season, transferring him to the 45-day injured list. Hudson left his start last Thursday against Pittsburgh after two innings with elbow tightness, and Cardinals president John Mozeliak said an MRI exam revealed a "flexor tendon issue." Hudson went 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts.
Jamal Murray had 28 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds and the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-106 to cut the Lakers' lead to 2-1 in the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets lost almost all of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter but held on to win, avoiding a 3-0 hole that would have been daunting even for these never-out-of-it Nuggets. Denver has set a record by erasing two 3-1 deficits in this postseason, but no NBA team has ever come back from 3-0. Jerami Grant added a playoff career-high 26 points and Nikola Jokic had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets.
In NBA news:
The Chicago Bulls have hired Billy Donovan as their coach. The 55-year-old Donovan spent the last five seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He replaces Jim Boylen, who was fired after the Bulls finished 22-43 and were one of the eight teams that didn't qualify for the NBA's restart at Walt Disney World. Donovan went 243-157 as coach of the Thunder and reached the playoffs each season. Now he joins a rebuilding franchise with new leadership in the front office.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that his "best guess" is that next season will not start until at least January. And he acknowledged that the later-than-usual schedule could mean top U.S. men's players miss next summer's Tokyo Olympics. Silver, a guest in a series of panel discussions on CNN, did not indicate that any decisions are finalized.
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff claiming deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others. After the Jan. 26 crash, reports surfaced that graphic photos of the victims were being shared. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told news media that eight deputies took or shared graphic photos of the scene and he ordered the images deleted. The sheriff's department did not immediately have a comment Tuesday. The suit seeks damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
A'ja Wilson had 29 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven blocks to lead the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces past the Connecticut Sun 83-75 to even the best-of-five playoff series at 1-1.
In the other semifinal, Alysha Clark's putback at the buzzer lifted the Seattle Storm past the Minnesota Lynx 88-86. Seattle inbounded it with 14.8 seconds left after Napheesa Collier tied it on an up-and-under move. Sami Whitcomb got it in the corner and drove the baseline for a layup that didn't hit the rim but it fell to Clark, who corralled it and released it just before the final buzzer. Seattle, which has won seven straight games against Minnesota, hadn't played since Sept. 13 after earning a double-bye to the semifinals. Collier had 25 points, nine rebounds and six blocks for Minnesota.
The San Jose Sharks have retained Bob Boughner as their coach. They've removed the interim tag to make him the ninth full-time head coach in franchise history. Boughner rejoined the Sharks' coaching staff as an assistant to Peter DeBoer in the summer of 2019, and he took over as interim coach after DeBoer and the rest of his assistants were fired last Dec. 11. Boughner went 14-20-3 behind the bench as the Sharks missed the playoffs for only the second time since 2003, but general manager Doug Wilson saw enough progress to stick with Boughner.
Two more NFL head coaches and their teams have been fined for not wearing masks on the sideline. A person with knowledge of the punishment says Jon Gruden of the Raiders and Sean Payton of the Saints were each fined $100,000 for not wearing masks on the sideline. The teams were fined $250,000. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league wasn't announcing specific fines. The league already handed out similar punishments to Denver's Vic Fangio, San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan and Seattle's Pete Carroll.
In other NFL developments:
The New York Giants placed running back Saquon Barkley on injured reserve Tuesday, a day after confirming the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year tore his right ACL. The Giants made the move Tuesday and replaced Barkley's roster spot by signing cornerback Ryan Lewis off the practice squad.
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Denver Broncos are in the process of adding free agent Blake Bortles to serve as their backup quarterback. Bortles is a seventh-year veteran who spent five years as the Jacksonville Jaguars' starter and backed up Jared Goff with the Rams last season. The Broncos have lost starting quarterback Drew Lock to a shoulder injury. He's expected to miss three to five games. Jeff Driskel replaced him and gets the starting nod this weekend against Tampa Bay with practice squad QB Brett Rypien expected to serve as his backup.
The NFL's Atlanta Falcons and MLS Atlanta United will have some fans at home games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, beginning with the Falcons' home game against the Carolina Panthers next month. Team and stadium officials announced the decision to allow a limited number of fans, based on the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in Georgia, among other factors. The teams say they reserve the right to go back to playing without fans should conditions in the pandemic change.
Notre Dame's game at Wake Forest on Saturday has been postponed after positive COVID-19 tests landed 13 Fighting Irish players in isolation and another 10 in quarantine. Notre Dame says the process of rescheduling the game is underway. Both teams are off Oct. 3. Notre Dame said 94 football players were tested for COVID-19 on Monday and of those seven were positive. Those players were in isolation along with others who tested positive last week.
Also, Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman has decided to opt back in to the 2020 football season in light of the Big Ten's resumption of fall competition. That's contingent on the star junior gaining eligibility clearance. Bateman signed with an agency this summer in anticipation of declaring for the next NFL draft so his playing status has not yet been established. Minnesota is scheduled to open the season against Michigan on Oct. 24. Bateman had 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games for the Gophers last year.
Texas State coach Danny Kaspar has resigned three months after a former player accused him of making racist remarks. Athletic director Larry Teis announced Tuesday that he's accepted Kaspar's resignation and that assistant coach Terrence Johnson will take over the program for the upcoming season. In June, former guard Jaylen Shead tweeted that Kaspar disparaged players with racist comments in practices. The tweet was later deleted. Texas State launched an investigation into the allegations. The university said in a news release Tuesday that it would not make any additional statements. Kaspar took over the program in 2013 and leaves with a 119-109 record.
Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law won't run in next month's Preakness, spoiling what would have been a highly anticipated rematch with Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. The Preakness on Oct. 3 at Pimlico concludes this year's reconfigured Triple Crown series, which was run out of order because of the coronavirus pandemic. Jack Knowlton, managing partner of the Sackatoga Stable, which owns Tiz the Law, tweeted that it's "disappointing Tiz the Law will not be able to run in the Preakness." Knowlton says the colt will be pointed toward the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland in November.
Bianca Andreescu, last year's U.S. Open champion, will sit out the French Open and the rest of 2020. The 20-year-old Canadian announced her decision to remain sidelined this season via a post on social media. She says she wants to focus on her health and training. Andreescu became the first tennis player from Canada to win a Grand Slam singles title in New York in 2019 and reached a career-high ranking of No. 4. But she hasn't competed since last October because of an injured knee, including missing the chance to try to defend her title at the U.S. Open.
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