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    Big Show Live @ Granville Island Backyard BBQ

    Big Show Live @ Granville Island Backyard BBQ


    Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Granville Island Brewing love summer in Calgary and on Friday August 24 we’re bringing our crew to hang out with our Sportsnet Nation winner! The Big Show will be live from his back deck, we bring the food,  drop off a new...

    Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Granville Island Brewing love summer in Calgary and on Friday August 24 we’re bringing our crew to hang out with our Sportsnet Nation winner!

    The Big Show will be live from his back deck, we bring the food,  drop off a new brand new BBQ, and talk sports all afternoon!

    What would a backyard party be without cold, refreshing beverages from Granville Island Brewing?

     

    The Granville Island Brewing Summer Mingler is back. With four great beers like these, it must be summer!

    The Summer Backyard BBQ with Granville Island Brewing and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

    Jansen bright spot in Jays’ mistake-filled loss to Royals

    Jansen bright spot in Jays’ mistake-filled loss to Royals


    KANSAS CITY – At times you can start to suspect otherwise during a lost season, but there’s really no such thing as a meaningless major-league baseball game. The stakes are simply too high for all involved. Not in the standings in this case, unless...

    KANSAS CITY – At times you can start to suspect otherwise during a lost season, but there’s really no such thing as a meaningless major-league baseball game.

    The stakes are simply too high for all involved. Not in the standings in this case, unless you count Kansas City’s race to the bottom for the first overall pick in 2019, but in smaller ways. It’s on that granular level that the Blue Jays’ 6-2 loss to the Royals offers any meaning.

    First, the mistakes and there were plenty on a day that the teams waited through a two hour, 14 minute delay before first pitch. Perhaps mercifully, the announced crowd at Kauffman Stadium was just 14,894 and to suggest that a tenth of those fans were in their seats when Wily Peralta recorded the final out would be generous.

    On defence, Teoscar Hernandez misplayed consecutive Royals hits in the fourth inning. While neither was ruled an error, his outfield routes remain problematic — a cause for concern considering that the Blue Jays already have a DH in Kendrys Morales. To Hernandez’s credit, he did make a strong throw home later in the game.

    On the bases, Aledmys Diaz ran into an out in the second inning when he appeared intent on drawing a throw that would allow Kevin Pillar to bolt home. He drew the throw all right, only to run right into the tag with no slide to end the inning.

    Diaz got the start at third base, and the appearance could foreshadow more time at the hot corner. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ankle) has resumed baserunning, sliding and hitting drills and his eventual return could push Diaz to third alongside Russell Martin. While the Blue Jays like Gurriel Jr. as a middle infielder, Diaz’s defensive skillset allows him to play second, third or short capably, according to Gibbons.

    On the mound, Sam Gaviglio allowed five runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings to the team that ranks last in the majors in runs scored. He had fared well in his two previous starts, but his season ERA climbed to 5.13 Thursday. Adding to the bizarre feel at the ballpark, Gaviglio earned a balk call when he tried to pick a runner off only to have the ball slip out of his hand.

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    Reinforcements are coming to the rotation, as Aaron Sanchez completed 3.2 innings in Wednesday’s rehab outing. He threw just 35 of 74 pitches for strikes but was encouraged by how he felt physically, according to manager Gibbons.

    “Apparently he feels fine. That’s the key,” Gibbons said. “He’s got to build up.”

    The Blue Jays expect Sanchez to make another rehab start early next week, and remain hopeful that he’ll be able to re-join the rotation for most or all of September. By that point, the Blue Jays could have an opening in their rotation; contending teams have Marco Estrada on their radar, setting up the possibility of a trade.

    On a more positive note, Danny Jansen continued to look the part of a major-league catcher. The 23-year-old collected an infield hit and a sac fly at the plate, and showed athleticism and awareness while retiring Alex Gordon on a tough dribbler in the sixth inning then promptly returning behind home plate to ensure Whit Merrifield didn’t think about scoring.

    All told, the game ended after 1 a.m. ET, setting up a long night of travel for the Blue Jays before their series opener in New York Friday. In all likelihood, the Blue Jays will land in New York in time for morning rush hour. That’ll give them time for a quick nap at the team hotel before they try for better results against a better team.

    Profar starts triple play and homers, Rangers rally past LAA

    Profar starts triple play and homers, Rangers rally past LAA


    ARLINGTON, Texas — Jurickson Profar started a triple play and homered to help the Texas Rangers rally from an early five-run deficit in an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night. Rougned Odor singled home the go-ahead run in the...

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Jurickson Profar started a triple play and homered to help the Texas Rangers rally from an early five-run deficit in an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.

    Rougned Odor singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth after an out call that would have ended the inning was reversed. Nomar Mazara went deep in his return from the disabled list, and Joey Gallo also homered for the Rangers.

    Texas turned the sixth triple play in franchise history in the fourth. With the bases loaded, David Fletcher hit a low liner toward third base that Profar picked on a short hop. Playing near the bag, Profar stepped on third to force out Eric Young Jr. and then tagged Taylor Ward, who had stumbled off the base into foul territory. Profar then threw to Odour, and the second baseman tagged Kole Calhoun between first and second.

    The Rangers scored three runs in the eighth as Justin Anderson (3-3), the seventh of eight Angels pitcher in a "bullpen game," allowed the first four batters to reach base.

    Forsythe gets 5 hits, Twins outslug Tigers in win

    Forsythe gets 5 hits, Twins outslug Tigers in win


    MINNEAPOLIS — Logan Forsythe had a career-high five hits and Jorge Polanco drove in four runs as the Minnesota Twins outslugged the Detroit Tigers 15-8 on Thursday night. The teams combined for seven homers, with Polanco’s three-run shot...

    MINNEAPOLIS — Logan Forsythe had a career-high five hits and Jorge Polanco drove in four runs as the Minnesota Twins outslugged the Detroit Tigers 15-8 on Thursday night.

    The teams combined for seven homers, with Polanco’s three-run shot accounting for one of three by the Twins. Miguel Sano and Ehire Adrianza also went deep for Minnesota, which broke the game open with a seven-run sixth inning.

    Forsythe raised his batting average to .449 (22 for 49) since joining the Twins in a trade that sent Brian Dozier to the Dodgers.

    Minnesota chased Tigers lefty Francisco Liriano (3-8) in the second. A two-run, opposite-field homer by Sano ended Liriano’s night after he allowed eight runs, four earned.

    Twins starter Ervin Santana wasn’t particularly sharp, either, in his fifth start after missing most of the year rehabbing a finger injury. Santana was pulled in the fifth after loading the bases with nobody out. He gave up seven runs and seven hits.

    Mikie Mahtook and James McCann hit consecutive homers off Santana in the fourth to trim Minnesota’s lead to 8-5. It was the first time all season the Tigers connected for back-to-back shots.

    Polanco’s first-inning homer put the Twins up 3-2 after Nicholas Castellanos’ two-run homer in the top of the inning gave Detroit an early lead.

    The Tigers threatened in the fifth and Trevor May walked in a pair of runs in relief of Santana to make it an 8-7 game.

    May (1-0) was credited with the win, his first since July 29, 2016, after missing last year due to elbow surgery.

    GARDENHIRE WEIGHS IN

    One day after Marlins right-hander Jose Urena hit streaking Braves rookie Ronald Acuna with his first pitch of the game, the play was a common topic in MLB clubhouses. Urena was handed a six-game suspension.

    Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire offered his opinion on the subject when asked about it before Thursday’s series opener in Minnesota.

    Said Gardenhire: "I would be mad enough if I were the manager, I might start him tomorrow and lead him off just so they can smoke him and knock him out just because he did something so stupid, throw at a kid like that just because he’s hit home runs."

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Tigers: SS Jose Iglesias was out of the lineup and will miss "a couple days," according to Gardenhire. Iglesias injured his right thumb during Tuesday’s game against the White Sox.

    Twins: LHP Adalberto Mejia underwent a series of tests on his left wrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and was diagnosed with nerve irritation. The team said there is no timetable for Mejia to begin rehabbing. He was injured Aug. 7 against Cleveland.

    UP NEXT

    Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd (7-10, 4.20 ERA) takes the mound looking to build off his last start, a six-inning, two-hit effort against the Twins five days ago in Detroit.

    Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (6-9, 3.49) got the win against the Tigers his last time out, allowing just one run over seven innings.

    Aaron Rodgers throws TD pass, Packers top Steelers

    Aaron Rodgers throws TD pass, Packers top Steelers


    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers needed just one drive to look at home in his first action at Lambeau Field in almost a year. Rodgers connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for an 8-yard score , and Tramon Williams had a 25-yard interception return...

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers needed just one drive to look at home in his first action at Lambeau Field in almost a year.

    Rodgers connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for an 8-yard score , and Tramon Williams had a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the Green Bay Packers‘ 51-34 win Thursday night over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Five minutes after throwing the pick, Mason Rudolph found JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Rudolph, who is competing with Joshua Dobbs for a backup job, was just 5 of 12 for 47 yards in playing the first half.

    Dobbs didn’t look much better after throwing a 22-yard interception returned for a touchdown by rookie cornerback Josh Jackson in the third quarter. But Dobbs finished strong and connected with rookie receiver James Washington for two second-half touchdowns .

    Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger watched from the sideline in shorts and a T-shirt. He and second-stringer Landry Jones had already been ruled out for the game when Roethlisberger left a training camp practice on Tuesday with a possible concussion.

    Big Ben looked just fine while chatting with Rodgers as they walked to their respective locker rooms at halftime.

    Rodgers was done for the night after one series, but he was much more productive.

    "I thought Aaron did a heck of a job the little time he was in there," coach Mike McCarthy said.

    Rodgers was 2 of 4 for 35 yards in his first game at Lambeau since Sept. 28. He broke his collarbone two weeks later at Minnesota, an injury that doomed the Packers in a 7-9 season.

    Green Bay is always a threat in the NFC as long as Rodgers is healthy. This year, he has an intriguing option in the red zone in the 6-foot-7 Graham, who signed as a free agent in the off-season.

    Rodgers drew the Steelers offside on third-and-10 from the 13 for a 5-yard penalty.

    On the next play, he stood tall in the face of a rush before throwing a high pass into the middle of the end zone for Graham. He spiked the ball before heading into the stands for his first Lambeau Leap.

    "That was fun. Those two have been having a great camp," McCarthy said.

    Besides Roethlisberger, the Steelers didn’t have two other stars. Receiver Antonio Brown sat out, while running back Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t signed his franchise tender.

    But Smith-Schuster is picking up where he left off following a promising rookie year after scoring his second preseason TD. The score wrapped up a wild opening 5 minutes in which the Packers raced out to a 14-point lead before the Steelers scored two straight touchdowns.

    Green Bay’s backups pulled away from there.

    Second-string quarterback Brett Hundley was 6 of 9 for 77 yards. He also scored on a 10-yard run . Third-stringer DeShone Kizer connected with receiver Jake Kumerow for an 82-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

    James Conner had a 26-yard touchdown run for the Steelers in the first quarter while the Packers still had many starters on the field. Washington scored on a 19-yard pass from Dobbs after turning and extending his arms past a defender to retrieve the ball.

    INJURIES

    Steelers: Backup C Patrick Morris left in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury.

    Packers: RG Justin McCray (calf) and RB Jamaal Williams (ankle), both starters, left the game in the second quarter. … Kumerow left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.

    NATIONAL ANTHEM

    There were no apparent displays of protest by players on either team during the national anthem.

    UP NEXT

    Steelers: Host the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 25.

    Packers: Visit the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 24.

    Brady, Patriots beat Eagles in Super Bowl rematch

    Brady, Patriots beat Eagles in Super Bowl rematch


    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady shook off the rust of a long layoff and then found time to shake hands with Nick Foles, six months after they met in the Super Bowl. Brady moved the Patriots with ease in their rematch against the Eagles, with a little...

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady shook off the rust of a long layoff and then found time to shake hands with Nick Foles, six months after they met in the Super Bowl.

    Brady moved the Patriots with ease in their rematch against the Eagles, with a little help from running back James White. Foles left with a shoulder injury after giving up a strip sack that led to Ja’Whaun Bentley’s scoop and score, but the reigning Super Bowl MVP stuck around to get his long-awaited congratulations from the reigning NFL MVP after New England’s 37-20 win Thursday night.

    "That was kind of made up to me because that was never my intention. I wouldn’t be a bad sport," said Brady, who never made it to Foles for a handshake after the Eagles’ 41-33 victory in the Super Bowl. "I have a lot of respect for Nick. I know how hard it is to win that last game. They did it, congratulations to them."

    In his first action since losing in the NFL title game, Brady led New England to scores on four of the six series he played, completing 19 of 26 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns to help stake New England to a 27-7 halftime lead.

    "It’s the first time having to do that in about six months," Brady said after Brian Hoyer finished up the victory. "I feel like my timing could be better in certain areas. I’ve been doing this or a long time, so a lot of it is second nature at this point."

    EAGLES QBS

    Foles managed one first down in his first three possessions and then coughed the ball up on a hit from defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn. Bentley recovered and ran 54 yards for a touchdown that gave New England a 17-0 lead.

    The hit knocked Foles out of the game. It was one of eight sacks by the Patriots.

    "I was getting ready to throw a deep ball and a guy grabbed it as I was following through," Foles said. "It feels all right. It feels pretty good. Hopefully there’s no issues."

    Coach Doug Pederson said Foles will be evaluated Friday.

    "I’m going to wait until I speak to my doctors," Pederson said.

    Foles finished 3 for 9 for 44 yards. Third-stringer Nate Sudfeld played most of the next three quarters, completing 22 of 39 passes for 312 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

    Erstwhile Eagles starter Carson Wentz is on the verge of returning to 11-on-11 practice, but the team is not sure if he will be ready for the Sept. 6 opener against Atlanta.

    Philadelphia’s Shelton Gibson had five catches for 90 yards and a 4-yard TD reception in the second quarter that made it 17-7.

    WHITE, FLAGS

    White caught six passes for 61 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, and also ran for 31 yards in the first half.

    "I don’t think you could ask any more of a teammate than what James provides us and the trust that everyone has in him," Brady said, comparing him to past Patriots part-time backs like Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead. "I feel like he never makes a mistake, and it’s pretty amazing to have that."

    The Eagles had five penalties for 50 yards in the first quarter — including two for lowering the head to initiate contact and one for hitting a defenceless receiver — and 97 penalty yards in all.

    Hoyer completed five of 13 passes for 32 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson.

    OTHER INJURIES

    Eagles: In addition to Foles, the Eagles also lost receiver Bryce Treggs (hamstring), tight end Richard Rodgers (knee), tight end Joshua Perkins (head), tackle Taylor Hart (cramps), receiver Kamar Aiken (hamstring) and defensive back Stephen Roberts (ankle).

    Patriots: First-round draft choice Isaiah Wynn was taken away from the medical tent on a cart with a left ankle injury. Wynn, who was taken No. 23 overall, did not play the previous week against Washington. New England’s other first-round pick, No. 31 overall selection running back Sony Michel, has not played because of a procedure on his knee.

    ANTHEMS

    Philadelphia defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and De’Vante Bausby remained in the tunnel during the national anthem before the game, a week after raising their fists in protest in the exhibition opener. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett remained in the locker room Thursday night, NBC Philadelphia reported on Twitter.

    A picture tweeted by the station showed Jenkins and Bausby bowing their heads as they looked out toward the field.

    Jenkins and Bennett have been among the most vocal NFL players protesting racial inequality during the pregame playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." The NFL Network tweeted a video of Jenkins coming out for warmups wearing a shirt that said, "YOU AREN’T LISTENING."

    Salas shoots 62 to tie course record, take Indy LPGA lead

    Salas shoots 62 to tie course record, take Indy LPGA lead


    INDIANAPOLIS — Lizette Salas waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship. She refused to let the weather delay get to her. When the 29-year-old California player returned to the...

    INDIANAPOLIS — Lizette Salas waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

    When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

    "I didn’t even think about it the entire time," Salas said. "I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake."

    It’s the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year’s inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough’s 62 in the PGA Champions Tour’s 1999 Comfort Classic.

    Alena Sharp of Hamilton is the top Canadian in a tie for 15th at 5 under. Quebec City’s Anne-Catherine Tanguay shot a 4-under 68, good for a tie for 22nd. While Brooke Henderson of Smith Falls, Ont., Maude-Aimee LeBlanc of Sherbrooke, Que., Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., are all tied at 2 under.

    The way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

    The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

    And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year’s rookie of the year race.

    She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

    Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

    Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.

    "I have never done that before," she said. "I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I’ve never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working."

    Last year’s runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

    Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

    Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

    And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

    Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

    Seven players, including last year’s tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead — until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

    After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

    "It was hard for me to take the break because I didn’t want to show weakness," she said. "But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you’re in the spotlight like this."

    Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

    She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes — around the approaching storm — to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    "I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today," she said. "I was really refreshed. I didn’t practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back."

    Bouchard upsets Kozlova to advance at VanOpen

    Bouchard upsets Kozlova to advance at VanOpen


    VANCOUVER – Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Odlum Brown VanOpen with a three-set upset of No. 1 seed Kateryna Kozlova on Thursday. The native of Westmount, Que., topped the 90th-ranked Ukrainian 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 at...

    VANCOUVER – Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Odlum Brown VanOpen with a three-set upset of No. 1 seed Kateryna Kozlova on Thursday.

    The native of Westmount, Que., topped the 90th-ranked Ukrainian 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 at the ITF Pro Circuit women’s and ATP Challenger Tour men’s tournament.

    "It was a really tough match and she’s a solid player, so I keep fighting and I think I raised my level in the third, which helps," Bouchard said after the match.

    Bouchard, who is No. 128 in the world, will face Nao Hibino of Japan on Friday.

    Earlier Thursday, Rebecca Marino of Vancouver downed No. 2 seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 7-5, 7-5 at her hometown event.

    She is slated to play qualifier Martina Trevisan of Italy in quarterfinal action Thursday.

    In men’s action, Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver defeated Marc Polmans of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

    The 94th-ranked Canadian will take on No. 145 in the world Lloyd Harris of South Africa.

    Jets’ Darnold has rough start in loss to Redskins

    Jets’ Darnold has rough start in loss to Redskins


    LANDOVER, Md. — Sam Darnold threw an interception and showed some of the growing pains of a rookie quarterback in his first preseason start for the New York Jets, who lost to the Washington Redskins 15-13 on a last-second field goal Thursday night. ...

    LANDOVER, Md. — Sam Darnold threw an interception and showed some of the growing pains of a rookie quarterback in his first preseason start for the New York Jets, who lost to the Washington Redskins 15-13 on a last-second field goal Thursday night.

    Darnold was 8 of 11 for 62 yards, but took two sacks and had a couple of throws batted out of the air, including the pass that was intercepted . It was a far cry from the impressive debut in which the third overall pick went 13 of 18 for 96 yards and looked like the front-runner to win New York’s starting QB competition.

    The former USC star played the entire first half before giving way to veteran Teddy Bridgewater. The former Vikings quarterback had his own inconsistences, going 10 of 15 for 127 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

    Redskins starter Alex Smith was 4 of 6 for 48 yards in one series, his only work so far in the preseason.

    Jets coach Todd Bowles has said he needs to evaluate Darnold the most because he’s plenty familiar with incumbent starter Josh McCown and knows about Bridgewater. Darnold showed flashes for the Jets (1-1), going 5 of 5 on his second drive, but was sacked by Preston Smith to force a field goal on a night full of them.

    Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins made all five of his field-goal attempts, including a 40-yarder as time expired to win it for the Redskins (1-1).

    INJURIES

    Jets: CB Jeremy Clark left with a hamstring injury. … LT Kelvin Beachum (foot), RG Brian Winters (abdominal), RB Isaiah Crowell (concussion) and DL Steve McLendon (leg) did not play.

    Redskins: RB Samaje Perine injured an ankle on his first carry, a 30-yard run , and did not return. … RB Byron Marshall was evaluated for a lower-leg injury. … LT Trent Williams, RB Chris Thompson, WR Maurice Harris, TE Jordan Reed, OT Ty Nsekhe and DL Matt Ioannidis and Phil Taylor were among those nursing or coming off injuries who didn’t dress.

    REDSKINS RB COMPETITION

    After second-round pick Derrius Guice’s season ended because of a torn ACL , Rob Kelley was up first to show he deserves to be Washington’s starter. Kelley had seven carries for 17 yards, Perine was impressive on his one run before being injured, Marshall had a kick-return fumble that was overturned on video review and Kapri Bibbs made six catches for 47 yards with only 6 yards on the ground.

    UNDISCIPLINED JETS

    Linebacker Jordan Jenkins was flagged on the game’s opening drive for roughing the passer against Smith when he drove the QB into the ground. Darron Lee was penalized for a horse-collar tackle on Redskins punt returner Danny Johnson. Then, there was rookie Frankie Luvu, who led with his helmet into Colt McCoy on a more egregious roughing-the-passer violation than what Jenkins had.

    NATIONAL ANTHEM

    All players appeared to stand for the national anthem. Jets players locked arms along the visiting sideline with no one remaining in the locker room.

    NEXT UP

    Jets: See what more Darnold can do in game action when they face the Giants on Aug. 24.

    Redskins: Are expected to give Smith more snaps Aug. 24 when they host the Denver Broncos.

    Blue Jays’ Bichette keeps impressing despite first struggles of career

    Blue Jays’ Bichette keeps impressing despite first struggles of career


    Bo Bichette’s having a pretty strong season. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats shortstop is leading the double-A Eastern League in plate appearances (510), runs (81), hits (127), doubles (36), and stolen bases (29). But the category he’s happiest to be...

    Bo Bichette’s having a pretty strong season. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats shortstop is leading the double-A Eastern League in plate appearances (510), runs (81), hits (127), doubles (36), and stolen bases (29). But the category he’s happiest to be the league leader in may surprise you.

    “Probably the plate appearances,” Bichette said in an interview this week on At the Letters. “Last year, I was kind of on a schedule, having a day off every fifth day. I think they were trying to get me used to the full season. But this year I’ve been in the lineup every day and I’ve been ready to go. I’m pretty proud of that.”

    The goal is for Bichette to one day be patrolling the middle infield on a daily basis wearing a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. And this season has been a crucial one in building towards that future. This week, Bichette surpassed the career-highs in games played (110) and plate appearances (499) he set last season.

    “I’m pretty tired,” Bichette admitted. “But, at the same time, I think it’s more mental than physical. I feel pretty good physically. I’m ready to go every day at the field. I’ve been doing a good job with the trainers and the strength coach, getting ready.”

    Bichette’s not only the industry consensus as Toronto’s best prospect not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — he’s considered one of the top-10 prospects in the game. Last month, Baseball America ranked Bichette fifth on its top-100 list. FanGraphs put him 8th in their June rankings. Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline currently has him 9th.

    Those accolades will come your way when you’re hitting .274/.331/.443 as a shortstop at a level where the average age is more than four years your senior. But Bichette is quick to admit that his third professional season has been anything but easy.

    “The whole season I haven’t really felt like myself. I haven’t really felt comfortable for an extended period of time,” he said. “I think that for some reason this year I kind of got out of what made me good.”

    After a strong April, Bichette began to struggle, and hit just .193/.277/.301 over his first 21 games of May. He eventually pulled himself out of it but experienced another funk in July, battling through a 4-for-39 stretch at one point with 10 strikeouts and only one walk.

    There’s an argument to be made that Bichette’s a victim of his own success — these are essentially the first slumps of his life. He rarely made an out as a high schooler, and hit .362/.423/.565 last year in his first full season of pro ball. In 2017, he had the highest batting average of any minor-leaguer to make more than 400 plate appearances.

    That outstanding season set his offensive bar unreasonably high. And, despite his slumps, he’s still leading the Eastern League in a host of offensive categories. Never mind the fact that, at 20, he’s the third-youngest player currently at double-A.

    Toronto Blue Jays on Sportsnet NOW Livestream the Toronto Blue Jays on the most popular devices. Plus, get over 150 marquee MLB matchups, the Home Run Derby, All-Star Game and Postseason. SIGN UP NOW

    Still, Bichette admits he hasn’t played up to his standards this season, and that his offensive slumps have been a challenge.

    “I’ve had to deal with some things in terms of struggling mentally — and it’s kind of made the season longer, I won’t lie,” Bichette said. “I’m going to take everything I’ve learned this year into the offseason and do everything I can this offseason to get better — and work to make sure that that stuff doesn’t happen again. I know it’s baseball and you struggle at times. But I think that my struggles this year went longer than they should have.”

    With the benefit of hindsight, Bichette believes he exacerbated his slumps this season by expanding the zone and chasing hits rather than waiting for good pitches to swing at.

    “When it first was happening at the beginning of the year and I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t’ really know what to do and I just kind of went up there and was like, ‘Well, I know that I hit the ball most of the time when I swing, and I know that I can hit it hard.’ So, I just went up there swinging as hard as I could,” he said. “I think that sometimes I just have too much confidence in my ability. So, when things go wrong, I try to hit myself out of it. And this year I learned that that’s probably not the correct choice.”

    Thursday night, Bichette added another double to his league lead. He also drew a walk, his fifth in his last six games. New Hampshire still has three weeks of its regular season remaining, which means Bichette has plenty of time to continue building his numbers and testing his ability to be a productive everyday player.

    And after that, the first place Fisher Cats will be off to the playoffs, where Bichette and several of the teammates he won a championship with at high-A Dunedin in 2017 will look to hoist a second trophy in as many years.

    “That would be really fun, to do it again,” Bichette said. “We have a lot of good players. A lot of players that play hard, which is the most important thing. And we have a lot of fun out there.”

    Listen to the full episode below to hear how Bichette plans to improve as a shortstop this offseason, his scouting report on childhood friend and Fisher Cats outfielder Forrest Wall, and what it’s like living life in the top prospect spotlight. Bichette’s interview begins at 44:55.

    [radioclip id=4174597]

    Harper drives in 3, Nationals snap losing streak against Cardinals

    Harper drives in 3, Nationals snap losing streak against Cardinals


    ST. LOUIS — Koda Glover rewarded his manager’s faith. Bryce Harper had three hits and drove in three runs, Glover earned the save in the first opportunity since Ryan Madson was placed on the disabled list, and the Washington Nationals snapped a...

    ST. LOUIS — Koda Glover rewarded his manager’s faith.

    Bryce Harper had three hits and drove in three runs, Glover earned the save in the first opportunity since Ryan Madson was placed on the disabled list, and the Washington Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

    The Nationals won for just the third time in their last 10 games and snapped the Cardinals’ season-high, eight-game winning streak.

    "We needed a win today," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "Get on that plane, have a nice happy flight and come back tomorrow and be at home and be ready."

    Tanner Roark (8-12) gave up four runs, three earned, in six innings.

    A beleaguered bullpen that had blown two leads to start the losing streak took care of the rest. Justin Miller pitched two scoreless innings before Glover closed it out.

    "There’s been a lot of changes (in the bullpen)," Miller said. "It’s unfortunate, a couple of injuries and stuff like that, but I don’t really look at it as I’ve got the seventh or eighth or anything like that. I’m just going out there just trying to do my job."

    Glover took the loss in the series opener on Monday, giving up a game-ending homer to Paul DeJong.

    "The first game of the series didn’t go as I would have liked for it to have went," Glover said. "So to get put back in that situation or even a better situation to get a save, I’m happy with that outcome."

    Harper drove in the game’s first run with a double in the first and knocked in two more with a bases-loaded single in the fourth to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.

    A pair of errors helped the Nationals extend their lead to 5-1 in the fifth. St. Louis committed three errors in the game after committing just four total errors during the winning streak.

    "A couple plays clearly we expect to make and will make and just didn’t go our way for a little bit there," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. "To the guys’ credit they regrouped, settled down, and started playing back to the baseball they know they can play."

    The Nationals had opportunities to pad the lead, leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth while stranding nine runners in the first five innings.

    "When you have an opportunity to put teams away you’ve got to do that," Martinez said. "Especially with how hot the Cardinals are playing right now. They’re going to come back."

    The Cardinals got within one in the sixth. After DeJong and Kolten Wong came up with back-to-back, two-out RBI hits, Harrison Bader hit a slow grounder to third. Anthony Rendon’s throw to first got away from Ryan Zimmerman for an error, allowing Wong to score from second to cut the Nationals’ lead to 5-4.

    Just two of the four runs Luke Weaver (6-11) allowed in his 3 2/3 innings were earned. He gave up seven hits, including two to Roark, who scored both times.

    Tyson Ross allowed one unearned run in 3 1/3 innings of relief.

    Bader homered in the third and Matt Carpenter walked twice to extend his on-base streak to a career-high 34 games.

    TRAINING ROOM

    Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson will have an MRI on his sore right wrist on Friday. RHP Joe Ross (right elbow surgery) threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings at Class A Potomac on Thursday and is hoping for a September return.

    Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder strain) will begin a rehab Friday at Double-A Springfield. RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) threw two scoreless innings Thursday night at High-A Palm Beach.

    UP NEXT

    Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (15-5, 2.19 ERA) will take the mound as the Nationals return home for a three-game series Friday night against the Miami Marlins and RHP Dan Straily (4-5, 4.42 ERA). Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts this season against the Marlins.

    Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (6-6, 3.22 ERA) kicks off a three-game series Friday night as the Cardinals host the Milwaukee Brewers and RHP Freddy Peralta (5-3, 4.47 ERA). Flaherty struck out a career-high 13 batters in his last start against the Brewers on June 22.

    Acuna HR streak ends, Rockies rally past Braves

    Acuna HR streak ends, Rockies rally past Braves


    ATLANTA — The Colorado Rockies took care of a couple of streaks. First, they found a way to keep Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. from hitting one over the fence. Then, Colorado rallied for three unearned runs in the ninth inning and a 5-3...

    ATLANTA — The Colorado Rockies took care of a couple of streaks.

    First, they found a way to keep Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. from hitting one over the fence.

    Then, Colorado rallied for three unearned runs in the ninth inning and a 5-3 victory that snapped Atlanta’s five-game winning streak Thursday night.

    David Dahl homered in the third and finished off the winning outburst against a depleted Atlanta bullpen, going the opposite way for a two-out, two-run single to left against Brad Brach.

    "I was just trying to stay calm," said Dahl, who has spent time at Triple-A, missed a big chunk of the season with a broken foot and struggled to earn playing time with the Rockies. "I had a feeling he was going to throw some off-speed stuff with (first) base open. I was just trying to take the ball the other way."

    With several relievers on the disabled list, including closer Arodys Vizcaino, the Braves have patched together a bullpen that usually turns to A.J. Minter to finish games. But the left-hander was unavailable after pitching three times in four days. So the Braves turned to Brach, who was acquired in a trade-deadline deal after recording 11 saves for Baltimore.

    He couldn’t convert his first save chance with Atlanta, hurt by shortstop Dansby Swanson’s error leading off the ninth. Brach (1-3) recorded only two outs, surrendering two hits and a walk as the Rockies won for the fifth time in six games.

    "We have to stick to our guns," manager Brian Snitker said. "We have to get through the game even when we’re without some of those guys."

    One night after being plunked in the left arm by Miami’s Jose Urena, Acuna was back in the lineup looking to extend his homer streak to six games. Wearing a red protective guard, the 20-year-old slugger received a standing ovation his first time up and lined the second pitch — one more than he saw the previous game before leaving — into centre field for a single that extended his hitting streak to nine games.

    Acuna finished 1 for 4, lining out to right in the eighth in his final opportunity to become the first player in Braves franchise history to homer in six straight games.

    Urena received a six-game suspension from Major League Baseball.

    The Braves squandered a strong outing by Julio Teheran, who turned in his longest start since May 30. He pitched three-hit ball over seven innings and helped his cause with a run-scoring single in the fifth, snapping a 2-2 tie.

    The Braves couldn’t hold the lead.

    "It’s part of the game," Teheran said. "Those things happen."

    The ninth-inning trouble began when Swanson bobbled Trevor Story’s grounder and rushed a high throw to first that pulled Freddie Freeman off the bag.

    "It was my play to make," Swanson said. "I just didn’t make it. Pretty simple."

    Pinch-hitter Ryan McMahon tied the game with an RBI single to right, but Brach still had a chance to work out of the jam after fanning Chris Iannetta.

    Dahl foiled that plan.

    "I just want to help the team win," he said. "Whether that is when I do start, or as a pinch hitter, whatever they need me to do I’m ready for it."

    Seunghwan Oh (5-3) earned the win and Wade Davis worked a scoreless ninth for his 33rd save.

    Kurt Suzuki homered for Atlanta in the second , tying the game at 1. Dahl put Colorado back ahead with a solo shot deep into the right-field seats.

    WINNING GRAY

    Colorado starter Jon Gray didn’t figure in the decision after giving up five hits and three runs over seven innings.

    But the Rockies have won each of his last eight starts, the longest such run since Colorado triumphed in nine straight games started by Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010.

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Braves LHP Max Fried (blister) is set to make a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. If all goes well, he could get a start for Atlanta next week.

    LHP Sam Freeman (shoulder inflammation) is also rehabbing at Gwinnett and could return to the Braves bullpen shortly.

    Longer term, RHPs Peter Moylan (forearm strain) and Brandon McCarthy (knee tendinitis) have been throwing on the side for the Triple-A team and are in line to make rehab appearances next week.

    UP NEXT

    Rockies: LH Kyle Freeland (10-7, 3.02) goes into Friday’s start in Atlanta with lowest ERA in the National League by a qualifying left-hander.

    Braves: LH Sean Newcomb (10-5, 3.40) beat Freeland when they faced each other on April 8 in Denver. The Braves starter threw six innings in a 4-0 win over the Rockies.

    Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime not a fan of new Davis Cup overhaul

    Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime not a fan of new Davis Cup overhaul


    When Felix Auger-Aliassime stepped onto the Aviva Centre’s centre court against Lucas Pouille at the Rogers Cup last Tuesday, the Montreal native fulfilled a dream of playing in a Canadian Open main draw. It was a milestone the 18-year-old won’t...

    When Felix Auger-Aliassime stepped onto the Aviva Centre’s centre court against Lucas Pouille at the Rogers Cup last Tuesday, the Montreal native fulfilled a dream of playing in a Canadian Open main draw.

    It was a milestone the 18-year-old won’t forget anytime soon, but it’s a goal that the ambitious young man has now accomplished. Next up on Auger-Aliassime’s Canadian tennis checklist is to play in a Davis Cup final match on home soil.

    Or it was, rather.

    In light of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) deciding to overhaul the format of its Davis Cup final, the odds of a Canadian Davis Cup squad playing in the season-ending event at home has become greatly diminished, almost to the point of impossibility.

    Seeing the writing on the wall, Auger-Aliassime took to Twitter Thursday night to express his frustration with the ITF’s decision and the sadness he feels of a dream he may never get the chance to fulfill.

    One of my biggest dream as a kid was to one day play a Davis Cup final in front of my home crowd. Sadly I’ll never have the chance to experience Davis cup like I grew up watching it I still hoped tradition and history would win over money, but I guess that’s where we are now..

    — Félix AugerAliassime (@felixtennis) August 16, 2018

    The gripe that Auger-Aliassime seems to have with the new Davis Cup final format stems from the fact the event will now take place at a pre-determined neutral site, like the FIFA World Cup, instead of the traditional home-and-away format that will guarantee that at least one of the competing nations will get a chance to play in front of their home fans.

    The first championship in this new series will take place in either Madrid or Lille, France from Nov. 18-24, 2019, the ITF has said.

    And though the season finale will be at a neutral site, qualifying will still take place in the traditional format.

    ITF president Dave Haggerty told the Associated Press that this compromise between old and new “gives us the combination of history and tradition that we maintain as well as innovation with the finals.”

    But that’s not how Auger-Aliassime sees it. Nor some of his peers, including Pouille, who’s France club won the 2017 Davis Cup in front of their home crowd.

    @ITF_Tennis You guys are a shame for tennis … Let’s enjoy our last davis cup year and lets try to keep it home..

    — Lucas Pouille (@la_pouille) August 16, 2018

    A common criticism against this new format, one that hopes to attract elite players who commonly skip Davis Cup matches because of a grueling nearly 12-month schedule, is that it still won’t entice the world’s very-best to play because of how much tennis will need to be played in such a condensed amount of time in order to finish the event — one that takes place near the end of the year.

    Regardless of this, the Davis Cup format’s change is coming into effect, leaving Auger-Aliassime and other players like him, feeling left out in the cold by the ITF’s decision.

    Nick Foles leaves preseason game with shoulder strain

    Nick Foles leaves preseason game with shoulder strain


    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles left Thursday’s exhibition game against the New England Patriots with a shoulder strain. His return was questionable, the team said. The Super Bowl MVP appeared to be in pain...

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles left Thursday’s exhibition game against the New England Patriots with a shoulder strain.

    His return was questionable, the team said.

    The Super Bowl MVP appeared to be in pain when he was hit by Patriots defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn in the right arm as he reared back to throw in the first half. The ball popped loose, and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley scooped it up and ran it back for a 54-yard touchdown.

    Third-stringer Nate Sudfield took over at quarterback on the Eagles’ next possession.

    Foles took over for starter Carson Wentz last season and took Philadelphia to the Super Bowl, beating the Patriots 41-33. Wentz is expected to return to 11-on-11 drills next week, but it’s not certain he will be ready for the regular- season opener.

    Three Eagles stay off field for anthem before Super Bowl rematch

    Three Eagles stay off field for anthem before Super Bowl rematch


    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and De’Vante Bausby remained in the tunnel during the national anthem before the Super Bowl rematch against the New England Patriots, a week after raising their fists in protest...

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and De’Vante Bausby remained in the tunnel during the national anthem before the Super Bowl rematch against the New England Patriots, a week after raising their fists in protest in the exhibition opener.

    Defensive lineman Michael Bennett remained in the locker room Thursday night, NBC Philadelphia reported on Twitter . A picture tweeted by the station showed Jenkins and Bausby bowing their heads as they looked out toward the field.

    Jenkins and Bennett have been among the most vocal NFL players protesting racial inequality during the pregame playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." The NFL Network tweeted a video of Jenkins coming out for warmups wearing a shirt that said, "YOU AREN’T LISTENING."

    There were no player protests before the other two preseason games: Jets-Redskins in Landover, Maryland, and Steelers-Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    Raonic beats Shapovalov to reach Cincinnati quarterfinals

    Raonic beats Shapovalov to reach Cincinnati quarterfinals


    CINCINNATI — Milos Raonic gained a measure of revenge against Denis Shapovalov on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open, beating the teenager 7-6 (6), 6-4 in a matchup of Canada’s top male tennis players. Raonic won the third-round match on...

    CINCINNATI — Milos Raonic gained a measure of revenge against Denis Shapovalov on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open, beating the teenager 7-6 (6), 6-4 in a matchup of Canada’s top male tennis players.

    Raonic won the third-round match on his first match-point opportunity when the big-serving veteran showed a little finesse at the net, feathering a shot past Shapovalov to win the match on a break and set up a quarterfinal matchup with the winner of a match between Novak Djokovic and defending champion Grigor Dimitrov.

    It was the second head-to-head meeting between Raonic and Shapovalov. The first came in May at the third-round of the clay-court Madrid Open, with Shapovalov winning 6-4, 6-4.

    It was a different story on the hardcourt at Cincinnati, and Raonic used his preferred surface to his advantage. The 27-year-old form Thornhill, Ont., had 12 aces to just two for Shapovalov. Raonic won 75 per cent of his service points and had seven break point opportunities, converting two.

    Shapovalov said he tried to mix up the ways he was approaching his returns in an effort to better handle Raonic’s serves, including backing up from the baseline and moving in.

    "It’s tough on days like this when he’s feeling it so good on his serve — it’s not easy to play against. I was just trying to do a bunch of thing," he said.

    "Today I figured, you know, he wasn’t returning that well off the backhand side, so I kept trying to pin him on that side, and it worked out pretty well for the most part. Maybe I could have moved him around a little bit more, but he was playing really well."

    Shapovalov, the 19-year-old rising star from Richmond Hill, Ont., had a chance to take control the match’s momentum when he was serving for set point in the first-set tiebreak. But he missed on two consecutive serves and Raonic converted on his first set point.

    "It was a good match. I had my chances. Unfortunately, I blew it a little bit," said Shapovalov.

    "I rushed a little bit on set point, but it’s just experience. Stuff like this happens. I’m only 19. I’m just going to learn from it and move forward."

    Raonic looked like he was going to cruise through the second set after getting an early break and going up 3-0. But Shapovalov converted his only break opportunity of the match to make it 4-3, then tied the set in his next service game.

    The veteran Raonic proved to be too much in the end, holding serve to go up 5-4 before putting Shapovalov away with a break in a match that took one hour 42 minutes.

    Shapovalov said he may have lost some focus after the missed opportunity in the first frame.

    "I came in on a couple of balls that weren’t good to come in on and just rushed in general a little bit," he said.

    "So like I said, it’s something I’m going to look back into and just try to take forward. You know, I think on the other side, I did a good job trying to come back. Obviously, he kind of gifted me the game back with three doubles. I still fought and hung in there and tried my best to break and to come back."

    The match was originally scheduled as the morning showcase on centre court, but was moved to a small side court after a rain delay of over four hours. They played just three points before the wet weather returned, causing another delay of about half an hour.

    The pause in play featured a heartwarming moment as Shapovalov invited a ball boy who was standing and holding an umbrella over him to sit and talk.

    "I was one of these kids not too long ago, so I know what it means to have a player you’re looking up to or any player really just be so nice to you and kind of just have a chat with you," said Shapovalov.

    "You don’t get that experience every day, so I’m sure he’s gonna remember that and I think, in a way, hopefully it just kind of motivates him. I asked him if he plays tennis. He told me, ‘Yeah, he loves it.’ Hopefully, it inspires him to get on the court and play.

    "Like I said, that’s my goal in my career. I want kids to come up and want to play tennis and love the sport, and, yeah, that’s what I have been doing. Honestly, it was — he was a really nice guy. We had a nice little chat. It was fun."

    Both Canadians looked impressive in their first two wins at the Masters 1000 tournament. Shapovalov opened with a three-set victory over American wild-card Frances Tiafoe before topping Britain’s Kyle Edmund.

    Raonic, 27, did not drop a set in wins over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Tunisian lucky loser Malek Jaziri.

    Shapovalov’s win in may ended Raonic’s eight-year reign as Canadian No. 1. Raonic, a former world No. 3, reclaimed the top domestic spot this week after holding at No. 29 in the ATP World Rankings while Shapovalov slipped to No. 32.

    Raonic is the last Canadian remaining in the tournament. Toronto’s Daniel Nestor lost his first-round doubles match with American partner Mackenzie McDonald earlier in the week. They dropped a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 10-8 decision to Ryan Harrison and Nicholas Monroe of the United States.

    Play continues through Sunday.

    Maple Leafs RFA William Nylander still in no rush to sign new deal

    Maple Leafs RFA William Nylander still in no rush to sign new deal


    When fellow 2018 restricted free agent Dylan Larkin signed his five-year, $30.5-million contract to remain with the Detroit Red Wings there was a sense that Toronto Maple Leafs RFA William Nylander’s new deal would be soon to follow. According to the...

    When fellow 2018 restricted free agent Dylan Larkin signed his five-year, $30.5-million contract to remain with the Detroit Red Wings there was a sense that Toronto Maple Leafs RFA William Nylander’s new deal would be soon to follow.

    According to the 22-year-old, however, anxious Leafs fans are going to have to wait a little longer.

    “There is no extra pressure or urgency to get something done just because guys like [Larkin] sign,” Nylander told NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger Thursday.

    Nylander says he feels at ease despite being without an actual contract in mid-August and training camp set to begin on Sept. 13 because taking their time with things was the plan Leafs GM Kyle Dubas presented with him in the first place.

    “I’ve said all along that Kyle wanted to take things slow and I’m fine with that,” he said. “They’re going back and forth with my agent from what I hear. We’ll see what happens. They said it would take a while and I’m still not worried. When it gets done, it gets done.”

    Last season Nylander had 20 goals and 61 points for Toronto, playing all 82 games.

    When a deal does get done it could be for as long as eight years and probably worth more than Larkin’s $6.1-million AAV as Nylander has produced just five points less than Larkin has in their careers, but in 57 less NHL games played.

    Bautista drives in 7, Mets set record with 24 runs over Phillies

    Bautista drives in 7, Mets set record with 24 runs over Phillies


    PHILADELPHIA — The New York Mets didn’t care who was on the mound. They kept swinging and scoring. Jose Bautista hit a grand slam and had a career-high seven RBIs and the Mets set a franchise record for runs, forcing the Phillies to use two...

    PHILADELPHIA — The New York Mets didn’t care who was on the mound. They kept swinging and scoring.

    Jose Bautista hit a grand slam and had a career-high seven RBIs and the Mets set a franchise record for runs, forcing the Phillies to use two position players for the final three innings of a 24-4 victory in the first game of a doubleheader Thursday.

    Corey Oswalt (2-2) allowed four solo homers in six innings, Amed Rosario hit a leadoff homer and had three RBIs and the Mets took advantage of four errors to score 11 unearned runs.

    Even reliever Jerry Blevins got his first career hit, a line-drive RBI single off infielder Scott Kingery.

    "There’s nothing better," Blevins said. "It’s something you dream about as a kid. When I tell the story, I’ll say I turned around a 95 (mph fastball). It’s pretty awesome."

    The Mets have scored more than 15 runs in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. They beat Baltimore 16-5 Wednesday night.

    Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro went deep for the Phillies, who entered two games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

    Outfielder Roman Quinn gave up a homer to Michael Conforto on his second pitch — a 79 mph fastball. He got five outs, gave up seven runs and threw 42 pitches. Kingery went the final 1 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.

    "In that situation, our best relievers aren’t excited about coming in and our position players enjoy it," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Our strategy is to be in the best position to win the second game."

    Mets right fielder Brandon Nimmo left the game after injuring his left index finger hitting a grounder to third base with two outs and the bases loaded in the third inning. Nimmo fell to the ground as the ball rolled to Franco, who was late tagging third but threw to first to easily get the out. X-rays on Nimmo’s finger were negative and he said he’ll have an MRI on Friday. Bautista replaced him.

    "I just said: ‘Oh, crud," Nimmo said. "It hit my knuckle."

    Phillies starter Ranger Suarez (1-1) gave up eight runs — four earned — and 11 hits in four innings. Mark Leiter Jr. allowed seven unearned runs and four hits in one inning.

    After Alfaro’s shot cut it to 5-4, the Mets had a 10-run fifth. Suarez balked in a run and exited after Bautista followed with an RBI single. Another run scored on Alfaro’s throwing error on Oswalt’s sacrifice and Rosario drove one in on a fielder’s choice grounder.

    Hoskins then dropped Austin Jackson’s two-out fly ball for an error and another run scored. After Wilmer Flores’ RBI single, Bautista connected for his 10th homer. Bautista had a chance to hit another slam when he faced Quinn in the eighth but walked on a 3-2 pitch over his head. He added an RBI double off Kingery.

    "We didn’t play good defence," Kapler said. "We put pressure on our pitchers to get additional outs."

    RUN BARRAGE

    The Mets’ previous record was 23 runs at the Cubs on Aug. 16, 2017.

    DOMINATING PHILLY

    The Mets are 42-18 over their past 60 games at Citizens Bank Park since 2012.

    GOING DEEP

    Bautista has 13 seasons of double-digit homers since 2005. Only Albert Pujols has more with 14.

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    METS: It’s uncertain how much time Nimmo will miss.

    PHILLIES: Lefty Aaron Loup (left forearm strain) and lefty Austin Davis (low back tightness) were placed on the 10-day disabled list. Suarez and right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. were recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

    UP NEXT

    RHP Zach Eflin (8-4, 3.57 ERA) goes for the Phillies and LHP Steven Matz (5-9, 4.35) starts for the Mets in the second game.

    Maple Leafs, Lightning tied atop Stanley Cup odds as camps approach

    Maple Leafs, Lightning tied atop Stanley Cup odds as camps approach


    With the opening of NHL training camps less than a month away the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to lead the way on the Stanley Cup odds, but are joined by the Tampa Bay Lightning as +750 co-favourites on those NHL futures at sportsbooks monitored by...

    With the opening of NHL training camps less than a month away the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to lead the way on the Stanley Cup odds, but are joined by the Tampa Bay Lightning as +750 co-favourites on those NHL futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

    Toronto made the biggest splash of this summer’s free agent market, inking John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract and bolstering an offensive attack that ranked second in the NHL last season at 3.38 goals per game. Tavares makes the move to Toronto after racking up 37 goals and 47 assists in his final campaign with the New York Islanders.

    The Lightning have also kept busy since finishing the season with a league-leading 54 regular-season wins. The club opened the vault to ink superstar forward Nikita Kucherov and rearguard Ryan McDonagh to lengthy contract extensions, and have received a boost on the Stanley Cup odds, which lagged at +1000 back on July 1.

    Tampa Bay’s first-place place finish in the Atlantic Division handed the club its first divisional title since 2004. However, the Lightning have been steady playoff performers, reaching the Eastern Conference final in three of the past four years, and cracking the 100-point mark in four of the past eight seasons.

    Another Canadian club closely trails the favourites on odds to win the Stanley Cup, with the Winnipeg Jets at +950, followed by a trio of teams knotted at +1100 including the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the defending-champion Washington Capitals.

    The Jets enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2017/18, compiling a franchise-record 114 points, and advancing to the Western Conference final for the first time in team history. And the loss of centre Paul Stastny to the Golden Knights through free agency this summer failed to dampen the club’s Stanley Cup odds, which have improved slightly from their position at +1000 back on July 1.

    The Edmonton Oilers have also seen a jump in their NHL futures, climbing from +2500 to +2000. The Oilers enjoy a lift at the sportsbooks despite the recent loss of veteran defenceman Andrej Sekera to an Achilles tendon injury that will sideline him indefinitely.

    The Calgary Flames continue to hold steady at +3300, well ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, who have tumbled from +5000 to +7500. The Ottawa Senators have also declined to +10000, while the Vancouver Canucks trail all Canadian squads at a distant +12500 on the odds.

    MLB suspends Marlins pitcher Urena six games for plunking Acuna Jr.

    MLB suspends Marlins pitcher Urena six games for plunking Acuna Jr.


    NEW YORK — Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena has been suspended six games and fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally hitting Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves with a pitch. Major League Baseball announced the penalties Thursday, a day...

    NEW YORK — Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena has been suspended six games and fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally hitting Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves with a pitch.

    Major League Baseball announced the penalties Thursday, a day after Urena hit Acuna on the left arm with his first pitch in the Marlins’ 5-2 loss in Atlanta. The 20-year-old Acuna went into the game having homered in five straight games, including four homers in the three games against Miami — three of them leading off.

    The 25-year-old Urena, from the Dominican Republic, is 3-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 24 starts. Unless appealed, the suspension is scheduled to begin Friday at Washington.

    Also, Braves first base coach Eric Young was suspended one game and fined.

    Acuna was back in the lineup for the Braves on Thursday night against Colorado. The training staff signed off on Acuna returning after a CT scan on his elbow was normal. X-rays also were negative.

    Dodgers’ outfielder Yasiel Puig suspended two games

    Dodgers’ outfielder Yasiel Puig suspended two games


    NEW YORK — Los Angeles outfielder Yasiel Puig has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed fine for fighting and inciting a bench-clearing incident against San Francisco. Major League Baseball announced the sanctions Thursday, two days...

    NEW YORK — Los Angeles outfielder Yasiel Puig has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed fine for fighting and inciting a bench-clearing incident against San Francisco.

    Major League Baseball announced the sanctions Thursday, two days after the Cuban player took a swing at Giants catch Nick Hundley in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 2-1 home loss. Hundley also was fined.

    Barring an appeal, Puig is scheduled to begin the suspension Friday at Seattle.

    The fracas started when Puig swatted his bat in frustration after fouling off a pitch from Tony Watson, and Hundley said something to the slugger while still in his crouch. Puig turned around and walked toward Hundley, the catcher stood up, and they argued face to face before Puig shoved Hundley twice.

    That brought players out of the benches and bullpens. Puig and Hundley were momentarily separated, but Puig ducked around teammates, coaches and manager Dave Roberts before reaching back to hit Hundley. He smacked Hundley with an open hand across the front of his catcher’s mask. Dodgers coach George Lombard was trying to push Hundley away when Puig took his swing. Lombard and Hundley briefly ended up on the grass. After the players were separated for good, the umpires ejected Puig and Hundley.

    Puig also got into a skirmish with Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in 2014.

    Elway on if Broncos would sign Kaepernick: ‘Colin had his chance’

    Elway on if Broncos would sign Kaepernick: ‘Colin had his chance’


    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway might find himself in the market for a veteran backup quarterback soon, yet there’s one man who won’t be getting a call: Colin Kaepernick . "Colin had his chance to be here," Elway said Thursday when asked if the...

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway might find himself in the market for a veteran backup quarterback soon, yet there’s one man who won’t be getting a call: Colin Kaepernick .

    "Colin had his chance to be here," Elway said Thursday when asked if the former San Francisco 49ers QB would be an option if he decides Case Keenum’s backup isn’t already on Denver’s roster.

    "We offered him a contract. He didn’t take it," Elway said. "And as I said at my deposition (in Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit against the NFL) — and I don’t know if I’m legally able to say this — but he’s had his chance to be here. He passed."

    #BroncosCountry LIVE: President of Football Operations / GM John Elway meets the media at the conclusion of #BroncosCamp https://t.co/SqGeeTLck1

    — Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 16, 2018

    Kaepernick declined to take a pay cut from his $11.9 million salary to facilitate a trade to the Broncos in 2016 following Peyton Manning’s retirement.

    If Kaep had been a free agent and turned down Denver's offer, that would be one thing, but the Broncos asked him to willingly give up more than $10 million that he already had coming too him. Why would he do that?

    — Ben Baldwin (@benbbaldwin) August 16, 2018

    Unable to get a discount from Kaepernick or a rebate from the 49ers, Elway moved up in the draft to select former Memphis QB Paxton Lynch in the first round of the draft that spring.

    Lynch has been a flop and this week was demoted to third string behind Chad Kelly, last year’s "Mr. Irrelevant," who missed his rookie season while recovering from knee and wrist surgeries.

    Kaepernick contends he’s no longer in the NFL because he’s the one who started the protests during the national anthem that have engulfed the league ever since. At first he sat down, then later took a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to highlight social injustices against minorities.

    Several players joined in, and President Donald Trump criticized them for disrespecting the flag and U.S. military by not standing during the anthem.

    Lynch was beaten out in 2016 and ’17 by seventh-round QB Trevor Siemian, who was traded to Minnesota in the off-season following Keenum’s free agent signing. Elway declared the backup job up for grabs between Lynch and Kelly.

    Lynch was demoted after failing to read defences correctly and throwing for just 24 yards in seven series in Denver’s preseason opener against the Vikings.

    Kelly threw for 177 yards and two TDs in mop-up duty, but that was his first game in more than 640 days. And he’s had a tougher time this week while running with the second string against the Bears’ backups in joint practices at the UC Health Center .

    Kelly will get a long look Saturday night against Chicago as Elway determines whether he can trust him to step in and win games if necessary.

    What he’s looking for in a backup QB is a guy "who has the experience and the ability to come in and help you win a football game," Elway said. "It’s a different quality because you have to be ready all the time, and mentally be ready all the time and you don’t get a chance to play all the time.

    "And as hard as it is to find a starter, it’s just as hard to find a guy that can back up. And so, we’re always looking for those."

    If Elway doesn’t feel comfortable with Kelly as his backup, he could sign a free agent next week who isn’t in anyone’s camp or wait for final cuts on Sept. 1 for more options.

    "We’ll wait through this week and see what happens," Elway said. "I feel like we still have time."

    Elway said he’s been pleased with Keenum, save for his pair of three-and-outs in the preseason opener.

    "I was hoping to get off to a better start than we had the first week in the preseason," Elway said. "But it’s been a good week of practice and Case has had a good camp. So, hopefully we dig in a little bit more this week and get off to a better start."

    And he’s hoping Kelly provides a better performance with the second string than Lynch did.

    Elway might soon have to cut the man he once thought was his next franchise quarterback.

    "We haven’t played two preseason games yet," Elway said, "so I’m not going to get into hypotheticals."

    Notes: Newly signed S Shamarko Thomas had to leave practice early because of the heat. … Coach Vance Joseph declined to say whether Von Miller will be held out again Saturday: "We’ll see with Von. Last year he didn’t play until Week 3. I think he had four plays, one sack and one quarterback pressure."

    No. 1 Halep wins suspended match, advances in Cincinnati

    No. 1 Halep wins suspended match, advances in Cincinnati


    MASON, Ohio — Top-ranked Simona Halep needed only eight points to complete a gritty comeback that was put on hold overnight by rain, beating qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday. Rain resulted in three...

    MASON, Ohio — Top-ranked Simona Halep needed only eight points to complete a gritty comeback that was put on hold overnight by rain, beating qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday.

    Rain resulted in three matches suspended overnight. Nobody was closer to finishing off a win than Halep, who had overcome an injury and staged a third-set rally when the storm arrived.

    Fresh off her second Rogers Cup title, Halep arrived in Cincinnati looking to extend her momentum toward the U.S. Open. She appeared to aggravate her lower back on a 105 mph serve during the second set on Wednesday night. After losing the first three games of the final set, she took a medical timeout for treatment.

    Halep returned to the court and took control, running off four straight games for a 4-3 lead when rain arrived. Seventeen hours later, she was back on court and needed only 5 minutes to complete the win.

    "I have learned that I don’t have to give up, because anything can happen," she said.

    Halep was scheduled to face Ashleigh Barty in the last match Thursday night, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. Rain returned shortly after Halep left the court, delaying play again and creating chaos with the schedule.

    When the courts were dried, Amanda Anisimova beat qualifier Petra Martic 6-4, 6-3 in a match suspended overnight. Fourth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro beat Hyeon Chung 6-2, 6-3, finally completing the second round in late afternoon. The winners faced the challenge of playing essentially two full matches in one day.

    While the suspended matches wrapped up, the third round began on other courts in a tournament that had already lost top players.

    No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki retired from her match Wednesday night because of an injured left knee, her second straight disappointing exit from a tournament. Wozniacki lost her opening match last week in Montreal.

    On the men’s side, No. 1 Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament after winning his fifth title of the year in Toronto, deciding it was best to get a little rest with the U.S. Open approaching.

    Roger Federer is the top-ranked player left in a tournament he’s won a record seven times. He and Nadal have been locked in a back-and-forth atop the rankings, exchanging the No. 1 spot six times in the last six months. Nadal will be No. 1 heading into the Open.

    Novak Djokovic also made it to the third round, carrying the momentum from his Wimbledon title. Djokovic has never won a Western & Southern title, the only ATP Masters 1000 championship to elude him. He’s reached the finals five times and lost every time. Djokovic is trying once again to become the first to win all nine ATP Masters events.

    Patrik Laine says there’s ‘no rush’ to sign extension with Jets

    Patrik Laine says there’s ‘no rush’ to sign extension with Jets


    Winnipeg Jets fans might be in a hurry to lock up Patrick Laine to a massive extension, but Laine himself is not. The Finnish winger, who officially became eligible to sign an extension on July 1, has made it clear he wants to stay in Winnipeg but said...

    Winnipeg Jets fans might be in a hurry to lock up Patrick Laine to a massive extension, but Laine himself is not.

    The Finnish winger, who officially became eligible to sign an extension on July 1, has made it clear he wants to stay in Winnipeg but said Thursday “there’s no rush” to put pen to paper as the two sides have plenty of time to work something out.

    “It’s not something we need to hurry because I still have a contract,” Laine, who has one year remaining on his entry-level deal, said during the European Player Media Tour via NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “But obviously that’s something I want to do at some point and they want to do. But there’s no rush.”

    Look who showed up clean shaven in Stockholm. It's Patrik Laine of the #NHLjets sans scruffy scraggly beard. Says he has no plans to grow it back in near future. Of course, cld return for playoffs next April. #fearthebeard pic.twitter.com/hbXcuVXog9

    — Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) August 16, 2018

    “I really don’t care,” Laine said. “There’s no rush, really. I can do it next summer or this summer. I don’t mind.”

    Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been busy this off-season working out new deals with a long list of RFAs, including goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and forward Adam Lowry, and he’s not done — defenceman Josh Morrissey will likely be next, as the RFA is still without a contract for the 2018-19 campaign.

    Per Gulitti, Laine said there was “nothing major” in terms of contract negotiations at the moment and while he didn’t discuss any further details he did specify he’s eyeing a long-term deal.

    “It’s always easier if it’s long term so you don’t have to think about doing a new contract for a while, and I’m happy where I’m at,” Laine said. “I want to stay there for sure. That’s something I want to do and hopefully they’re thinking the same way.”

    Through two seasons so far in the NHL, Laine has lived up to the expectations that have come with being selected No. 2 overall in 2016. The 20-year-old registered a team-high 44 goals last season, good for second in the league behind Alex Ovechkin, while adding 26 assists to reach the 70-point plateau. He also tallied five goals and 12 points in 17 playoff games during the Jets’ exciting run to the Western Conference Final.

    Snedeker shoots 11-under 59 at Wyndham Championship

    Snedeker shoots 11-under 59 at Wyndham Championship


    GREENSBORO, N.C. — Brandt Snedeker predicted low scores at the Wyndham Championship — but not this low. Snedeker shot an 11-under 59 on Thursday, falling one shot shy of matching the PGA Tour record. He made a 20-foot putt on his final hole...

    GREENSBORO, N.C. — Brandt Snedeker predicted low scores at the Wyndham Championship — but not this low.

    Snedeker shot an 11-under 59 on Thursday, falling one shot shy of matching the PGA Tour record.

    He made a 20-foot putt on his final hole to become the 10th player in tour history to break 60. Jim Furyk set the record with a 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship in 2016.

    "I better be smiling," Snedeker said. "I don’t do this every day."

    This is the third consecutive year the PGA Tour has had a sub-60 round. Snedeker is the first to shoot 59 since Adam Hadwin in the third round of the 2017 Careerbuilder Challenge.

    Snedeker — who said a day earlier that the tournament would turn into a "birdie-fest" — began his round at par-70 Sedgefield Country Club with a bogey at No. 10, and he took off from there. He played the front nine in 27, including an eagle 2 on the par-4 sixth hole when he holed out from 176 yards.

    After that shot, Snedeker said a 59 felt like a real possibility. He remembered a non-tour event he played in China in which he was one putt from that score, but those thoughts "got in the way.

    "To know what you’re trying to do and step up and have a 20-footer (on the final hole) and know what it means, I was very aware of what was going on, and to knock that putt in was really special," Snedeker said. "To know I’m a part of a small club on tour and not very many people have done this, really cool feeling right now."

    Snedeker, the 2012 FedEx Cup champion, won the Wyndham in 2007. He broke Si Woo Kim’s 2-year-old Wyndham record of 60 and had the best opening round in this event’s history. Arjun Atwal had a 61 in 2010.

    It’s been a somewhat frustrating, turbulent year for Snedeker. He has three top-10 finishes and two missed cuts in his last seven events and has not won on tour since 2016. During his first 16 tournaments of the season, he finished in the top 10 just once.

    "Nobody could see this coming — trust me," Snedeker said. "As much as I tried to positive self-talk myself into playing good, I didn’t see 59 coming today, to be honest with you. … Luckily, it kind of clicked all day today, and hopefully it will keep clicking for the next three days."

    At No. 80 on the points list entering the final event of the tour’s regular season, he’s nowhere near the playoff bubble and his spot at The Northern Trust next week in New Jersey seems safe. But that ranking is his lowest since the tour’s post-season format debuted in 2007.

    During his tie for 42nd at the PGA Championship last week in St. Louis, Snedeker says he "kind of found something" when he simplified some swing fundamentals and began to feel better about that part of his game.

    Then, he spent the first round showing it off.

    Snedeker, who began his round on the back nine, reeled off four consecutive birdies on Nos. 13-16. He then got even hotter on his final nine holes, with six birdies in addition to the shot of the day on No. 6. But he missed a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 8 that would have made a 58 possible.

    "Could have been even more special," he said, "but happy with the way everything turned out."

    Braves’ rookie Acuna back in lineup, fails to homer in loss

    Braves’ rookie Acuna back in lineup, fails to homer in loss


    ATLANTA — Rookie star Ronald Acuna Jr. was back in the lineup for the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, one day after being plunked in the left arm with a pitch that sparked a national debate about whether it’s ever acceptable to throw at a hitter...

    ATLANTA — Rookie star Ronald Acuna Jr. was back in the lineup for the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, one day after being plunked in the left arm with a pitch that sparked a national debate about whether it’s ever acceptable to throw at a hitter intentionally.

    Acuna said his elbow felt fine less than 24 hours after he took a 97 mph fastball from Miami’s Jose Urena .

    Major League Baseball doled out a six-game suspension to the Marlins pitcher.

    In the opener of an important four-game series against the Colorado Rockies, Acuna received a standing ovation from the crowd at SunTrust Park. He playfully patted umpire Pat Hoberg on his way to the plate and started the bottom of the first with a sharp single up the middle.

    The 20-year-old phenom finished 1 for 4, snapping a streak of five straight games with a homer that tied a franchise record. In his final chance to set a mark all his own, Acuna lined out to right in the eighth. The Rockies rallied for three unearned runs in the ninth to beat the Braves 5-3, shaving Atlanta’s NL East lead to 1 1/2 games over Philadelphia.

    As a precaution, Acuna wore a red protective pad on his left arm.

    "Obviously, it was kind of a hard hit," Acuna said through a translator after taking an early session of batting practice at SunTrust Park . "But I’m not feeling any pain and I feel good right now."

    The Braves breathed a big sigh of relief, knowing what a significant injury would have meant to their post-season chances.

    Acuna tried to stay in the game after being hit by Urena’s first pitch Wednesday, but he had to leave in the second inning . X-rays taken shortly afterward were negative, and the Braves also ordered a CT scan to make sure their prized rookie was OK. The scan came back normal, and Acuna was cleared to play.

    With help from multilingual teammate Ender Inciarte, Acuna even crafted a text to Brian Snitker letting the Braves manager know he was ready to go.

    Snitker, who was ejected the previous night along with Urena for leading a charge from the Atlanta dugout, was clearly relieved.

    "It’s nice to be 20 and strong," the manager said with a smile. "I’m as excited as I can be that he gets to go out there and play today."

    Acuna has lived up to the hype since being called up by the Braves early in the season. In recent days, he’s been downright unstoppable with homers in five straight games — including leadoff shots in three straight games before he was struck by Urena’s pitch.

    The five-game homer streak remained intact under baseball rules because Acuna didn’t have an official at-bat in the finale of the series against the Marlins, which was won by the Braves to complete a four-game sweep . In a quirk of baseball scoring, the leadoff streak ended.

    Now, both streaks are over.

    Acuna failed in his bid to become the first Braves player in the modern era to homer in six straight games. The major league record is eight in a row, shared by Ken Griffey Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987) and Dale Long (1956).

    While Urena insisted he was merely trying to pitch inside to set up Acuna for an outside pitch , Snitker was livid about the incident. The manager said he had no doubt about the Miami right-hander’s intent: It was intentional.

    "Absolutely," Snitker said. "Just watching it, I can tell."

    It’s long been an unwritten rule in baseball that a hot hitter can expect to be brushed back. Former first baseman Keith Hernandez, now a New York Mets broadcaster, took it a step further by saying the Marlins had every right to bean Acuna under the circumstances .

    "You’ve lost three games. He’s hit three homers. You’ve got to hit him," Hernandez said during the Mets-Orioles game. "I’m sorry. People are not going to like that, but you’ve got to hit him."

    Snitker scoffed at Hernandez’s logic.

    "I don’t buy that at all," the Braves manager said. "I would not ever begrudge somebody for doing the job they’re trying to do. You don’t want him to hit hitters? Pitch better."

    Joe Torre, MLB’s chief disciplinary officer, imposed a suspension that would begin Friday unless Urena appeals. The pitcher would have to push back a scheduled start but could make his return against the Braves; the NL East rivals meet in another four-game series at Miami beginning next Thursday.

    An appeal would likely push back Urena’s next appearance against the Braves to 2019.

    Torre also handed Braves first base coach Eric Young a one-game suspension for his actions during the melee after both dugouts emptied. Young accepted the punishment and missed Thursday’s game.

    Colorado manager Bud Black said there will always be a fine line between pitching inside and hitting a batter intentionally.

    "Hitting home runs is part of the game, right? Hitters are trying to hit the ball hard. Pitchers are trying to do everything they can to keep hitters from hitting," said Black, a former pitcher. "A lot of that is disrupting timing, a lot of that is throwing the ball down and away — tough to hit a homer down there — and some of that is pitching inside aggressively to keep guys from looking out over the plate."

    Acuna has really flourished since moving into the leadoff spot right after the All-Star break. He raised his average to .287 with 19 homers, 43 RBIs and nine stolen bases, igniting the Braves with his enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy while making sure never to show up an opponent.

    "I feel he’s respecting the game," Inciarte said. "You don’t want to see anybody getting hit for no reason."

    Sportsnet announces 2018 NHL pre-season broadcast schedule

    Sportsnet announces 2018 NHL pre-season broadcast schedule


    Summer is nearing an end, and that means the new NHL season is almost upon us. But first comes the pre-season, and Sportsnet will have plenty of action to get fans prepped for the 2018-19 campaign, airing a total of 14 games, including: two games in...

    Summer is nearing an end, and that means the new NHL season is almost upon us.

    But first comes the pre-season, and Sportsnet will have plenty of action to get fans prepped for the 2018-19 campaign, airing a total of 14 games, including: two games in China between the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins on Sept. 15 and 19, the Kraft Hockeyville clash on Sept. 18 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators in Lucan, Ont., and exhibition games from Switzerland and Germany in early October.

    The pre-season broadcast schedule will be highlighted by a Saturday night double-header on Sept. 29 when the Detroit Red Wings host the Maple Leafs (7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT), followed by the Vancouver Canucks against the Arizona Coyotes in Kelowna, B.C. (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT).

    Here’s Sportsnet’s full NHL pre-season broadcast schedule:

    Saturday, Sept. 15
    Boston vs. Calgary (Shenzhen, China) on Sportsnet at 2:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET

    Tuesday, Sept. 18
    Toronto vs. Ottawa (Lucan, Ont. for Kraft Hockeyville) on SN1, 7:30 p.m. ET
    Edmonton at Vancouver (Rogers Arena) on Sportsnet/SN1, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET

    Wednesday, Sept. 19
    Boston vs. Calgary (Beijing, China) on Sportsnet, 7:00 p.m. local, 7:00 a.m. ET
    Calgary at Vancouver (Rogers Arena) on SN1, 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET

    Thursday, Sept. 20
    Los Angeles at Vancouver (Rogers Arena) on SN1, 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET

    Friday, Sept. 21
    Buffalo at Toronto (Scotiabank Arena) on SN1, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Saturday, Sept. 22
    Toronto at Buffalo (KeyBank Center) on Sportsnet/SN1, 7:00 p.m. ET
    Vancouver at Calgary (Scotiabank Saddledome) on Sportsnet/SN1, 7:30 p.m. MT/9:30 p.m. ET

    Tuesday, Sept. 25
    Vancouver at Edmonton (Rogers Place) on SN1, 9:00 p.m. ET

    Saturday, Sept. 29
    Toronto at Detroit (Little Caesars Arena) on Sportsnet, 7:00 p.m. ET
    Arizona vs. Vancouver (Prospera Place in Kelowna) on Sportsnet, 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET

    Monday, Oct. 1
    New Jersey at S.C. Bern (Bern, Switzerland) on Sportsnet at 7:30 p.m. local/1:30 p.m. ET

    Wednesday, Oct. 3
    Edmonton at Kölner Haie (Cologne, Germany) on Sportsnet at 4:00 p.m. local/10:00 a.m. ET

    What we can learn from Devon Travis’s offensive turnaround

    What we can learn from Devon Travis’s offensive turnaround


    When a two-year run of back-to-back League Championship Series appearances devolves into a pair of dreadfully dull, sub-.500 seasons, it’s tough to find a silver lining. Josh Donaldson’s season got washed away by injuries and subpar performance, and...

    When a two-year run of back-to-back League Championship Series appearances devolves into a pair of dreadfully dull, sub-.500 seasons, it’s tough to find a silver lining.

    Josh Donaldson’s season got washed away by injuries and subpar performance, and so too did his trade value. The two young pillars of the pitching staff, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, ranged from injured to mediocre to awful. When the highlight of your season is a walk-off home run by a teenage prospect in a defunct baseball stadium to end an exhibition game, that’s…

    So, as we wind down the doggiest days of a dog-day season, here’s a little pick-me-up: Devon Travis might’ve figured a few things out.

    When we last checked in on Travis on April 19, he was a mess. He was hitting a terrible .140/.213/.163, making him the fifth-worst hitter in the majors. That followed up another abysmal April 2017, giving fans a sprinkling of hope that Travis might turn things around, the way he did once the calendar flipped to May a year earlier.

    But this was no ordinary start-of-the-season slump. At the start of this season, Travis looked like the scrawny kid you wouldn’t even bother picking last in Little League … you’d just ask him to play batboy. He was topping nearly two-thirds of his balls in play into the ground, a recipe for a ton of quiet outs. His launch angle — the new-school term used to describe how steeply balls come off a player’s bat — looked positively subterranean.

    Oh, how things have changed. On April 19, Travis posted an unimpressive 1-for-4 performance against the New York Yankees, prompting manager John Gibbons to sit him down for a couple of games. Travis returned to the lineup on April 22. Since that game, he’s been a different hitter, batting .268 with a .313 on-base percentage, plus an impressive burst of power that’s netted nine home runs, six doubles, three triples and a .451 slugging percentage. Not Hall of Fame material, but certainly playable for an everyday second baseman, and miles better than Travis’s early-season Bartolo Colon impression.

    How has Travis turned his season around, and maybe given himself another crack at a starting job for 2019? For the answers, we turned to our friends at MLB.com, who operate the Statcast system as well as the indispensable Baseball Savant website.

    For starters, check out Travis’s hard-hit rate, i.e. the frequency with which he’s hit pitches with an exit velocity of 95 m.p.h. or faster. That line has trended up impressively since Travis’s dismal April.

    As MLB.com analyst Mike Petriello noted, Baseball Savant’s search tool lets you slice and dice Statcast-related data based on various date ranges.

    If we isolate launch angle, we find that Travis posted a number of 4.0 degrees through April 19, and a more encouraging (since balls need air under them to travel for gappers and home runs) 5.6 degrees since then.

    Travis’s hard-hit rate ranked among the poorest in the league at his position through April 19, at just 32.3 per cent. It’s spiked to a solid 39.1 per cent since then.

    It’s not just the quality of Travis’s contact that’s significantly improved; it’s the rate at which he’s made contact, period. Through April 19, he missed on 28.2 per cent of his swings. Since then, that number has plunged to just 18.1 per cent.

    At the Letters Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling take fans inside the Blue Jays and around MLB with news, analysis and interviews. Home | Subscribe | Ben on Twitter | Arden on Twitter

    Finally, there are those pesky groundballs. Travis joined then punchless teammate Russell Martin as two of the biggest worm-killers in the league for the first three weeks of April, with Travis slapping 64.5 per cent of his balls in play into the turf. Since then, he’s done so 50.6 per cent of the time — still too high a figure for a player hoping to make his living hitting for extra bases, but nonetheless one of the biggest in-season jumps for any player in baseball.

    None of that means Travis is destined for stardom. Travis’s aggregate offensive line this season ranks just 26th among 37 MLB second basemen with 250 or more plate appearances, trailing part-time pikers like Hernan Perez and Jonathan Villar. Moreover, Travis’s defence hasn’t made much progress since his rough April; he ranks a woeful 33rd among MLB second basemen in Defensive Runs Saved, costing his team five more runs than the average second sacker, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

    The focus of next year’s team, of course, will be the new generation of talented kids bursting onto the scene, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Danny Jansen, Sean Reid-Foley, Bo Bichette and other top prospects ply their trade at the big-league level. But Travis turns 28 next year, and he’ll be entering his second round of arbitration over the winter. If he wants the Jays to give him another shot for next season — or even give himself any kind of reasonable trade value — Travis will need to keep cranking up his numbers for the rest of the season. Then maybe take next April off … just to be safe.

    Ronaldo a transformative signing for Juventus, Serie A

    Ronaldo a transformative signing for Juventus, Serie A


    European club soccer has enjoyed a busy and eventful summer transfer window period, highlighted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus. The Portuguese star arrived at the Turin-based club following a Serie A transfer record worth USD $131 million. The...

    European club soccer has enjoyed a busy and eventful summer transfer window period, highlighted by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus.

    The Portuguese star arrived at the Turin-based club following a Serie A transfer record worth USD $131 million. The popular belief was that Ronaldo was going to return to Manchester United this summer, but instead he opted for Italy in a move that a lot of pundits didn’t see coming.

    Paolo Bandini of The Guardian newspaper in England is one of the leading pundits on Italian soccer. He spoke to Sportsnet on the eve of the new Serie A season about what Ronaldo’s signing means for Juventus and the Italian top flight.

    This interview has been edited and condensed.

    Sportsnet: Were you at all surprised by Ronaldo joining Juventus? There was significant chatter of him moving back to Manchester United, but he ended up going to Italy.

    Bandini: If you had told me back in early May that this was going to happen, I would have had skepticism about it. But when it all came together like it did, it made perfect sense from everybody’s point of view. Ronaldo had his issues with the tax man in Spain, and that may have played some part in [him leaving Real Madrid]. He also achieved everything one can achieve at a single club, so that likely played a part. Perhaps the desire to write one more chapter about his legacy and separate himself from others by winning the [Champions League] at another big club in another country was part of it.

    From Juventus’ point of view, they pick up someone who is absolutely transformative to their marketing efforts and their branding around the globe. From Real Madrid’s point of view, it’s a huge transfer fee for a player who is 33 years old and who, despite his very super-human abilities, is human and on the decline, so you wouldn’t have had many more opportunities to cash in on him at that price. So, it makes perfect sense when you look at through those lenses.

    But at the start of the summer I would have thought it unconceivable. It’s just been so long since an Italian club made a serious play for one of the best players in the world. Serie A has featured some of the best players in the world before, but to go out and sign Ronaldo, a player at his level, it’s been a long time for Serie A. Perhaps, since Inter Milan signed the Brazilian Ronaldo.

    It was a pretty ambitious move by Juventus, no?

    Very much so. What comes to mind is Juve having the confidence to say, “we’re big enough to go after a player like Ronaldo.” That’s something that requires a certain level of belief in where you are as a club, what you represent, and I think it’s taken Juventus some time to get back to that point after the Calciopoli scandal.

    It’s obviously massive for Juventus in terms of the club’s global branding, but it’s also very big for Serie A in that it raises the league’s profile.

    It gives a massive shot in the arm to Serie A, because before it happened you’d have thought that no Italian team had the bravado to go out and sign Ronaldo.

    There’s a feeling of a rising tide within Italian football with this signing. You have to think there’s going to be more eyeballs on the league worldwide. People just don’t watch games on TV anymore, they also watch on social media. So, every time Juventus plays now, if Ronaldo is going to be on the pitch, it’s a chance for Serie A to generate a little bit more awareness about its product. Everything he does will be followed and tracked, so that’s going to be a boon for Serie A.

    Here it is… Ronaldo's first goal for Juventus pic.twitter.com/mrMA6mLzOB

    — BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 13, 2018

    Tactically, how do you see Ronaldo being deployed by manager Massimiliano Allegri? How will he fit into Juve’s system?
    What we’ve seen from Allegri in the past is that there’s an evolution. He’ll start with one plan in pre-season and he’ll tweak it as the campaign goes on, and won’t really settle on something until December or January. I’d be surprised if that was any different this time around. The early indications we’ve had [from this pre-season] is that it’ll be 4-4-2, with Paulo Dybala playing alongside Ronaldo up front. But it’s a very open interpretation of his attacking role; it’s not going to be a classic 4-4-2. Ronaldo is going to do what he does, which is to drift towards the left and be given a lot of freedom.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 4-2-3-1 at some point, because that will give opportunities to players such as Douglas Costa to play in an advanced position on the right, and Allegri can bring in Mario Mandzukic on the left easier than he could in a 4-4-2. They have so many options up front, so many attacking players of quality, that there’s going to be variations in formations. And being realistic, I don’t think Ronaldo is going to play every single game in Serie A like he did at Real Madrid, because there’s going to be such a focus on winning the Champions League.

    Will the success of this transfer move be entirely measured by whether Juventus can win the Champions League?

    I don’t think entirely, no. His value to the club in terms of marketing and branding is probably more important. If Juventus doesn’t win the Champions League and Ronaldo leaves, they’ll likely still bring in massive amounts of revenue and turn a large profit. If they can do that but don’t win the Champions League while he’s there, Juventus will call that a success, without question. That’ll be a big business success.

    But at the same time, Juventus aren’t hiding from the fact that they want to win the Champions League this season. [Club president] Andrea Agnelli has talked to the players about not being afraid to stand forward and say that they want to win the Champions League. Allegri has said the same thing. He’s not saying if they don’t do it than this is complete failure, but there’s no more shy, coy meandering – “Oh, if it happens, that’s great.” They’ve come out and said they want to win it, and Juventus has zero reason to have an inferiority complex about winning it.

    Should there be any concern over how this effects the competiveness in Serie A? Ronaldo’s signing with Juve comes on the heels of the Bianconeri winning seven straight league titles and four straight league and cup doubles. Does any other Serie A club have a chance of ending that run this season? Does Ronaldo tip the odds even more in Juventus’ favour?

    I personally don’t see it. Last season, Juventus earned 95 points in Serie A, so there’s really not that much room for improvement to be honest with you. I don’t see it changing that much on that front. Keep in mind, Napoli had 91 points last season, a club record, and good enough to win the league anywhere in Europe. So, I don’t see how Ronaldo potentially scoring a few more goals than Gonzalo Higuain [sent on loan from Juventus to AC Milan] makes the title race that much easier for Juve, in terms of points accrued.

    I think there’s a cluster of teams who can make things interesting atop the Serie A table. Inter Milan is probably the most likely to challenge Juventus, but I don’t see any team usurping Juve. None of them are quite as far ahead of what Napoli did last season, but it’s not the Ronaldo signing that changes that for me.

    Blue Jays’ Estrada, Granderson add to trade value in win over Royals

    Blue Jays’ Estrada, Granderson add to trade value in win over Royals


    KANSAS CITY – In an ideal world, games like this would have meant something more for the Toronto Blue Jays. A couple of veterans step up, the Blue Jays defeat a rather dreadful Royals team and gain some ground in the standings. But the Blue Jays are...

    KANSAS CITY – In an ideal world, games like this would have meant something more for the Toronto Blue Jays. A couple of veterans step up, the Blue Jays defeat a rather dreadful Royals team and gain some ground in the standings.

    But the Blue Jays are just 55-65, even after their 6-5 win at Kauffman Stadium, and so their version of scoreboard watching doesn’t involve the Yankees or Red Sox these days. Instead, the intrigue exists at minor-league affiliates in Dunedin, where Aaron Sanchez pitched 3.2 innings in a rehab start Wednesday, and Charlotte, where Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went hitless in a Bisons road game.

    At the big-league level, the contributions of Marco Estrada and Curtis Granderson were essential in Wednesday’s win, and for that very reason contending teams could take note as the Aug. 31 deadline for adding playoff-eligible players approaches.

    Estrada completed 6.2 innings while allowing four runs on six hits, including two homers to Salvador Perez. He struck out three while walking one in an outing that showcased his ability to generate weak contact in the air.

    “Marco was good other than Perez,” manager John Gibbons said. “I thought he looked very good. It was a tough night to pitch — hot and muggy here — but he held up pretty good. He can always exploit young hitters that don’t know him. That’s when he’s really, really tough.”

    Should a contending team develop a need for starting pitching this month, Estrada could be an appealing option given that the blister and glute issues that bothered him earlier in the summer have given way to better health — at least relatively speaking.

    “I’m out there,” he said. “I can pitch and I’ll keep working on my stuff and try to get better.”

    As for Granderson, he hit his 10th career grand slam in the fourth inning, showcasing his ability to provide power against right-handed pitching.

    “It’s awesome,” Granderson said. “Any time you can do that and score that many runs with one swing is really cool.”

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    The left-handed hitting outfielder entered play Wednesday with a .262/.354/.495 batting line when facing right-handers this season, giving him a clear skill that could appeal to contenders.

    “He came with that great reputation, and everything is true and maybe more,” Gibbons said. “But the bottom line in this business is production and he’s done a very good job of that for us in a platoon role. He’s gotten some big hits, and tonight obviously was another big one.”

    “He’s the whole package, put it that way, and he’s still got something left.”

    Granderson has reportedly cleared trade waivers, meaning he can now be traded to any team. On paper, he looks like a useful piece for September, when expanded bullpens allow managers to make even more pitching changes than usual. A bench bat like Granderson would be an ideal way to counter that parade of relievers.

    “What (clearing waivers) means is not too much except that there are possibilities,” Granderson said. “At the same time (they’re) all out of my control. I still come to the ballpark every day. We get a chance to win this series tomorrow. I’m a Blue Jay. I’m excited to be here and continue to win as many ballgames as we can.”

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    The Blue Jays fielded some calls on Granderson before the July 31 deadline, and it’s conceivable that they could revisit those talks this month. For example, the Cleveland Indians acquired Leonys Martin who’s on the disabled list recovering from a life-threatening bacterial infection. Should Cleveland look to replace Martin with another left-handed hitting outfielder, Granderson would be a logical choice, and his $5 million salary wouldn’t be prohibitive.

    Given that Granderson was traded for a player to be named later last summer, it’s hard to imagine that the Blue Jays would obtain a substantial return. Estrada’s market value would likely be similarly modest.

    Still, there’s no harm in adding to the farm system on a small scale, especially if it puts veteran players in pennant races and opens up playing time for players with a chance to play on Toronto’s next contending teams.

    Duke wins in R.J. Barrett’s debut, Rams hold their own

    Duke wins in R.J. Barrett’s debut, Rams hold their own


    Mississauga — There was the lady of a certain age wearing Duke Blue Devils tights with her elegant black heels. There was the concession stand selling Duke gear — $32 T-shirts anyone? – that was lined up well before the opening tip. There was a...

    Mississauga — There was the lady of a certain age wearing Duke Blue Devils tights with her elegant black heels. There was the concession stand selling Duke gear — $32 T-shirts anyone? – that was lined up well before the opening tip.

    There was a Blue Devils travelling party that required three busses for 14 players and a small army of support staff to get them from their waterfront hotel to the sold-out Paramount Fine Food Centre and a large army of Duke fans waiting for them when they arrived.

    There was a legend, Mike Krzyzewski, on the bench, presiding over a roster full of projected lottery picks, including local hero, scoring machine R.J. Barrett and freshman running mate Zion Williamson, the 6-foot-6, 280-pounder who – inexplicably – can fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

    There was no one wearing Ryerson Rams tights with their heels – just guessing.

    And the Rams came in one bus and their fans – well, it was hard to find them amid the Dukies in the crowd. And while Ryerson head coach Roy Rana has a world championship gold medal to his name, the next NBA player he coaches at the downtown Toronto school will be the first.

    But after the anthems and the hype and the player introductions it was still 94-feet and two baskets and the Rams acquitted themselves quite well against Duke, projected as a top contender for the national championship next March.

    Duke won 86-67, though not as easily as the score suggested in the first installment of their first-ever Canadian Tour which continues Friday night against University of Toronto and Sunday in Montreal against McGill.

    “From a basketball perspective, a little bit disappointed, our guys in the locker room are disappointed and that’s a good thing,” said Rana. “We’re not out here to play and have a laugh; it doesn’t matter who we play, we’re trying to win.

    “[But] as far as the experience is concerned, I mean, wow. Not only the fact that it’s Duke but an incredible crowd, great energy, just a real celebration of basketball in our country, really.”

    The Rams led after the first quarter and were still on Duke’s heels midway through the second quarter before Duke opened up some breathing room as they led by 12 at the half, before steadily pulling away in the second half although the game never tipped into blowout territory – a tribute to the Rams quality and their effort. It was close enough that Krzyzewski was resorted to working the officials like it was an SEC tournament game at one point when a call didn’t go his way.

    “I thought we were a little nervous to start the game, we had seven turnovers in the first quarter,” said Krzyzewski. “They [Ryerson] were good, they forced them, but I thought we were nervous and the ball looked like a hot potato for us, they beat us to loose balls and they’re good.”

    But there’s a reason Duke pays Krzyzewski $9 million a season to coach — which is quite possibly more than the combined basketball budgets of every U Sports program in Canada, and it’s not to lose exhibition games.

    So Duke won which was supposed to happen.

    What isn’t supposed to happen is for Ryerson to hold eight the 10 Duke scholarship players to three points total in the first half and 23 for the game; or for Ryerson sophomore seven-footer Tanor Ngom to have the dunk of the night as he pump-faked and went baseline to power down on Duke’s Alex O’Connell in the first quarter, forcing the Duke starter out of the game and straight to hospital to be examined for a possible facial fracture.

    But there is only so much effort and execution can do against superior talent and the two headlining members of Duke’s vaunted freshman class – Barrett and Williamson – in the end had too much for Ryerson to contain, which is why they will be vying to be the No.1 pick in the NBA draft next June.

    They combined to score 63 of Ryerson’s 80 points by the time they checked up with three minutes left — Barrett with 34 and Williamson with 29, although they needed 53 shots to get them.

    Ryerson was led by 6-foo-8 shooting guard JV Mukama who scored 20 points on 13 shots and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Ngom had 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Had the Rams shot better than 5-of-31 from three, the final score might have been different, as they held Duke to 42 per cent shooting.

    It’s subjective, but Williamson came by them more easily, leaping for put-backs and soaring through the lane for up-and-unders. Most impressive was a solid three-point stroke that has taken second-billing to his prodigious dunking exploits.

    “For people that have seen my play, they know there’s a lot more to my game,” said Williamson who had four assists without a turnover, hit three tripes in four attempts and grabbed 13 rebounds too. “That’s kind of another reason I came to Duke, coach K saw more than just dunking in my game and he told me if I trusted him he could help me showcase my ability and I trust him and so far it’s working.”

    But the dunks were some pleasing eye candy – he combined with Barrett on an alley-oop early in the fourth quarter that seemed implausible given how far Williamson was outside the paint when Barrett threw the pass, but was all the better for it.

    A moment later Williamson tried to return the favour but his pass to Barrett was a bit low and a bit late and Barrett couldn’t finish the play, but their chemistry looks promising.

    “I saw him right at halfcourt. We looked at each other and we knew it was going up,” said Barrett. “All I have to do is put it up there and he’s gonna do the rest. He catches it anywhere.”

    The arena full of Duke fans were impressed, and likely the Ryerson fans were too.

    Barrett was advertised even if he looked a little anxious – as his five first half turnovers might indicate — while making his college debut within walking distance of his Mississauga home.

    “[There was] a lot of excitement, a little nervous with it being the first time wearing a Duke jersey,” he said. “A lot of guys on the team had to step up. We have some key guys out. Everybody’s trying to figure it out.”

    How many friends and family at the game?

    “I saw a whole section of my family and friends. Everybody was everywhere. It was just a good environment to be in.”

    Barrett scored the way he has at every level from high school to the senior men’s national team – getting low on the dribble, hunting bodies and drawing fouls as he takes his defender to the basket. He’ll have better shooting nights – he was 12-of-30 from the floor and 2-of-8 from three — but, he bullied his way to the line 14 times, was a terror in transition and was still able to lead his team with what was at best his ‘B’ game after a week spent as the unofficial tour guide for his team.

    Duke was without two of their anticipated key freshman – Cam Reddish and point guard Tre Jones – and it is apparent Duke will need them as their upper classmen are role players that will be looked upon to support rather than carry.

    Those jobs will clearly fall to Barrett and Williamson and based on early returns, they’re more than capable.

    “RJ and Zion carried us,” said Krzyzewski, “But that’s what they should do and they did a good job of it.”

    But Ryerson can head into their season with their heads held high, fully confident that even against the biggest names in college basketball, they’re more than capable too.

    Blue Jays’ Granderson leads ‘incredible’ team trip to Negro Leagues Museum

    Blue Jays’ Granderson leads ‘incredible’ team trip to Negro Leagues Museum


    KANSAS CITY – What began as a simple conversation about cleats led to a team trip involving roughly half of the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster. Back in April, Kevin Pillar asked Curtis Granderson about the cleats he had chosen for Jackie Robinson Day. One...

    KANSAS CITY – What began as a simple conversation about cleats led to a team trip involving roughly half of the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster.

    Back in April, Kevin Pillar asked Curtis Granderson about the cleats he had chosen for Jackie Robinson Day. One shoe paid tribute to Robinson, who famously broke the MLB colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The other commemorated Larry Doby, a lesser known player who became the first African-American to appear in the American League later that same season.

    As Granderson showed off the cleats, Pillar realized something: “I didn’t know who Larry Doby was.”

    At that point, Granderson turned to Pillar and asked if he’d ever visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. When Pillar said no, Granderson looked at the calendar and realized the Blue Jays would be playing in Kansas City later in the summer. A plan took shape, and as others heard about it, Granderson made room for more visitors.

    “Next thing you know we had a full bus,” Granderson said. “Some guys are like ‘is it mandatory?’ I don’t want to say it’s mandatory, but I’d highly recommend it.”

    Granderson first visited the museum in 2006 with fellow Detroit Tigers Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames plus broadcaster Rod Allen. He kept going back when possible, but hadn’t visited recently because he played in the National League from 2014-17.

    That led to Tuesday’s morning outing, which included much of the Blue Jays’ roster plus coaches and support staff. Along with Pillar, Marcus Stroman, Devon Travis and Teoscar Hernandez were among those who enjoyed a personal tour by the museum’s president, Bob Kendrick.

    “An incredible museum,” Pillar said. “It was a really cool experience and I think a lot of us left there with a greater appreciation of not only the Negro Leagues, but the history of this game.”

    “They played for the love of the game,” Pillar added. “A lot of these guys didn’t really see a future in the major-leagues, the way I did growing up. As a kid I wanted to play in the major-leagues and there was somewhat of a clear path there. These guys were strictly playing for the love of the game, not knowing if there was ever opportunity.”

    TY to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, for all you do and for hosting us today! #Repost @mstrooo6 My brothas.

    A post shared by Curtis Granderson (@cgrand) on Aug 14, 2018 at 2:54pm PDT

    As the tour unfolded, the Blue Jays heard about the likes of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. Some stories, like the one where Cool Papa Bell turns off the lights and makes it into bed before the room gets dark, seem almost mythical. Still, as Granderson says, there’s some truth to them all.

    “You find out some of these stories were real,” Granderson said. “Just a little (embellished). It makes you want to go back and watch it.”

    Pillar was similarly impressed by the tales he heard about Negro League greats.

    “You hear this guy was a combination of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth and you’re like ‘wow, that’s a pretty talented guy,’” he said. “Unless you’ve set foot in that baseball museum or you’re some sort of baseball historian, you probably don’t know about these guys.”

    For example, legend has it that Gibson, the powerful Hall of Fame catcher, hit a ball out of old Yankee Stadium. As someone who has hit his share of homers in the Bronx, Granderson was impressed.

    “Aaron Judge and (Giancarlo) Stanton are probably the two (comparable) monsters right now and they’re not even close,” Granderson said. “Judge got close to getting it out of the stands at the new Yankee Stadium, but that’s still not out of the entire stadium.”

    A Swing and a Belt with Dan Shulman In this MLB and Toronto Blue Jays podcast, Dan Shulman takes a look at the human side of baseball. Because everyone in the game has a story. Home | Subscribe | Shulman on Twitter

    On the pitching side, Granderson enjoyed the story about Paige, who threw so hard that his team brought in military speed tracking equipment to determine some specifics.

    “And Satchel threw a pitch and everyone goes ‘oh my god, did you see what you did?’ He goes, ‘no.’ They go ‘we clocked you at 100 m.p.h.’ He goes, ‘Really? If I’d have known, I could have thrown way harder than that.’”

    Plus, as Pillar noted, Paige didn’t even know his age for much of his career.

    Yet alongside those fun stories, there’s the reality that the Negro Leagues mostly existed at a time that African American players were not accepted on major-league rosters. Even today, Granderson’s impressed by the inclusivity and diversity of the Negro Leagues.

    “As we start talking about gender equality issues in 2018, they had women owners,” he said. “They had women players. Not only that, they had teams playing against international countries (such as Japan) first before major-league baseball did. Things we’re still grappling with today, they were doing it. They were doing what we’re still trying to do to this day.”

    By the time the tour wrapped up, Granderson and his teammates looked over and realized their ride was waiting.

    “Oh yeah, the bus,” he realized. “But no one was ready to go yet. That’s a good sign.”

    ’92-93 Blue Jays weigh in on shift conundrum facing today’s hitters

    ’92-93 Blue Jays weigh in on shift conundrum facing today’s hitters


    They were like a baseball college, those 1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays. Great players but baseball brainiacs, too. Guys who’d call out the next pitch in the dugout; guys who put the “pro” in professionals; yet guys whose wisdom seems rooted as much in...

    They were like a baseball college, those 1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays. Great players but baseball brainiacs, too. Guys who’d call out the next pitch in the dugout; guys who put the “pro” in professionals; yet guys whose wisdom seems rooted as much in a common-sense understanding of the actual playing of the game.

    The perfect people to talk to, then, about approaching defensive shifts, a topic that has dominated baseball this season and is sure to come up again in the off-season. There are people who want to legislate the shift out of the game because it takes away from the level of action on the field, which is essentially the same as saying this generation of MLB hitters is too stupid to figure out a way around it themselves. You want to see eyes roll? Mention the notion to some of the men who were in Toronto this past weekend for the 25th anniversary reunion of the Blue Jays back-to-back World Series winners.

    “If you’re giving me a base hit that way, I’m taking it,” said John Olerud. Like it was the dimmest question anybody could ask someone who flirted with .400. I mean, he was practically apologetic.

    The Lede Each week, Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt tackle the most impactful stories in the world of sports and their intersection with popular culture. Come for the sports; stay for the storytelling and cigars. Apple Podcasts | Podcatchers | Listen Now

    Now, Olerud provided a caveat: he’s a family guy and doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time watching baseball let alone musing about baseball. But Pat Hentgen and Ed Sprague are two members of those teams who have remained in the game, Hentgen as a special advisor for the Blue Jays and Sprague as co-ordinator of instruction for the Oakland Athletics. Neither of them seemed overly perplexed about shifts, balls in play, pace of game when I interviewed them on The Jeff Blair Show. In fact, Sprague – who spent 11 seasons coaching the University of the Pacific Tigers – seemed inclined to buy into the notion that before shifts are regulated, let’s see how this generation of young hitters, who’ve been shifted since high school, adapt.

    [radioclip id=4167805]

    Shifts are a product of the increasing influence of analytics in the game, and in that way their development was predictable. That’s part of the issue: as a society, we aren’t very good at trying to put technological genies back in bottles. True, things change. When he was manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon’s teams made shifts popular. Now, his Chicago Cubs shift fewer times in a game than just about any other team in the game. But Sprague says railing against hitters being obstinate when faced with a shift overlooks one significant factor.

    Economics.

    “There’s really no incentive for a hitter to hit the opposite way with the shift,” Sprague said, matter of factly. In other words, you get paid for launch angle and home runs. Opposite-field rollers? Er, not so much.

    “It’s like how everybody always talked about ‘move ‘em over, drive ‘em in,” said former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. “Sounds nice. Makes sense. But you go into an arbitration hearing and try to get paid for that. You tell them: ‘Hey, I moved ‘em over like you said I should,’ and the response would be: ‘Yeah. But you didn’t drive ‘em in.’

    “So much for that.”

    NOW TWEET THIS …

    In which we suggest a reason for Teoscar Hernandez’s reluctance to take charge in the field … tell you how to trade Josh Donaldson … and make your day better by simply writing the name Marquis Grissom …

    • There are some in the Blue Jays front office who think Teoscar Hernandez’s tentative play is a result of a collision with Jose Altuve last April. Could be a challenge for sports psychs as much as the coaches. #understandable

    • Forget a September call-up: I wonder if the Jays will send Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to double-A New Hampshire for the Eastern League playoffs before sending him to the Arizona Fall League. #possibility

    • How will the Blue Jays get value for Josh Donaldson in August? One MLB GM suggested picking up the remainder of his salary. “They’re going to be paying him, regardless, so get a prospect, especially if you aren’t going to qualify him in the winter.” #sageadvice

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    • Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a former infielder, says video replay has changed tags at second base. Cora was taught to tag the runners’ feet, because umpires were looking for contact on the bag. Replay has given latitude to tag any part of the runner. #change

    • Because any time you can mention Marquis Grissom it’s a good day: Braves rookie Ronald Acuna is on a roll with leadoff HRs. He has four this season, one behind the record set by Grissom in 1996. #Exposed

    • With the Duke Blue Devils playing some U Sports teams in an exhibition basketball tournament, can we just enjoy the games without being chided for not giving Canadian college hoops its due? #please

    • The Dodgers bullpen is in meltdown, which kind of puts a different light on GM Farhan Zaidi’s glib, delicate rebuke of the Astros’ acquisition of Roberto Osuna. #karma

    • Got to think a good start Wednesday by Marco Estrada is a must if he’s to be dealt. Keep an eye on the Cleveland Indians, who put Trevor Bauer on the DL. #timesawasting

    THE END GAME

    I know the Blue Jays seem set on bringing in a bilingual manager in time for the 2019 season and that seems to make a lot of sense given the influx of Latino players this organization will experience these next few seasons. But, man, I’ll be some bitter if they don’t at least interview Hentgen for the job. My understanding is the organization is set on retaining Pete Walker as pitching coach (unless he wants to leave) so I don’t know how that would jibe with somebody who made their bones winning a Cy Young Award and helping develop the organization’s pitchers. But it’s public knowledge that Hentgen spoke to former GM Alex Anthopoulos about the gig; I’ve long been in his corner as a future manager.

    Jeff Blair hosts The Jeff Blair Show on from 9 a.m.-Nnoon and Baseball Central from noon-1 p.m. ET. on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. He and Stephen Brunt are co-hosts of “The Lede” podcast.

    Coach K full of praise for Canada’s R.J. Barrett

    Coach K full of praise for Canada’s R.J. Barrett


    TORONTO – Mike Krzyzewski has seen it all. He’s coached almost everyone. The U.S. basketball coaching legend’s career spans from Grant Hill to LeBron James. He’s won five NCAA titles, three Olympic gold medals, two world championships and more...

    TORONTO – Mike Krzyzewski has seen it all. He’s coached almost everyone. The U.S. basketball coaching legend’s career spans from Grant Hill to LeBron James. He’s won five NCAA titles, three Olympic gold medals, two world championships and more college games than any coach in history.

    And he’s already pleased with what he’s seen from R.J. Barrett, the latest big-buzz Duke recruit who happens to be the hottest name in Canadian basketball; the kid everyone hopes will lead his country to international basketball glory, but not before he helps a freshman-laden Blue Devils team to another NCAA title.

    He’s been on Duke’s radar since he started high school because, as Krzyzewski says, “he’s just that good.”

    But having had Barrett on campus in Durham, seen how he carries himself with his teammates, noted how he works in his off-season conditioning program and in the eight or nine team practices they’ve had, Krzyzewski was comfortable giving Barrett a ringing endorsement before he’s even played a game:

    “Not surprised, [he’s] just fulfilled a high level of expectation that I have for him,” Krzyzewski said in Toronto on Monday in advance of Duke’s three-game exhibition tour against U Sports teams that begins Wednesday night at Paramount Fine Foods Centre (formerly Hershey Centre) in Mississauga. “He comes from an amazing family, he’s been exposed always to older [players], and also around class, and how things are done, he’s always played up, so he’s older, he’s such an upbeat kid and smart.

    “He has — besides ability — he really has the passion to compete. There’s a passion to play, and there’s a passion to compete, I think the passion to compete is higher, and this young man has it. I love him, I’m glad I’m going to have the opportunity to spend some time with him and help him develop those talents that have been developed up to a high level already. I think we can do any more. He wants to win. He throws himself into winning, which is a pretty cool thing.”

    The basketball universe is poised to open for Barrett in the coming year.

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    Everything about him screams first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.” As R.J. Barrett gets set to make his @DukeMBB debut on home soil, Sportsnet takes an in-depth look at the Canadian basketball phenom. Watch the full feature on Sportsnet Wednesday. #DukeCanadaTour https://t.co/9YCedMVy13

    The kid from Mississauga cemented his status as the top player in the world for his age and the leading candidate to go No. 1 in the 2019 NBA draft by leading Canada to a U19 world championship last summer and his high school team, Florida’s Montverde, to a national championship and an undefeated season this past winter while sweeping every possible player-of-the-year award along the way.

    His next challenge is helping Duke and its highly touted freshman class – in Barrett, YouTube sensation Zion Williamson, and wing Cam Reddish they signed the three top-ranked players by ESPN in the class of 2018 with Tre Jones and Joey Baker ranked 17th and 39th, respectively – deliver a sixth NCAA title to Duke and Coach K.

    That quest – amazingly – begins in Barrett’s hometown of Mississauga.

    “I think it’s going to be really fun. Toronto is cool, but Mississauga is really my home,” said Barrett. “It’s going to be amazing to play there in front of family and friends with my brothers. It’s going to be cool.”

    With such a young team – all five freshmen could end up starting – leadership could potentially be an issue, but Krzyzewski says he’s not concerned, in part because of what Barrett brings.

    “Leadership can come from anybody, and multiple [people],” Krzyzewski. “There doesn’t have to be one leader. I think it’s not hard for a young man to do that especially if you have upperclassmen who respect who he is and what he’s doing. He [Barrett] just has to have the courage to step up, which he has. Once he steps up like that in a practice, like ‘Let’s go,’ he’s got a really good personality.”

    “I think R.J.’s experience, whether it be at Montverde or whether it be with the Canadian team, will allow him to do that better,” said Krzyzewski. “He’s been in more things. Leadership for him is very natural. I love that about him.”

    Dukes’s visit to Canada in the same year it landed the player Krzyzewski says is “as good a player that has ever come out of Canada, potentially” is mostly a coincidence, although the Duke coach acknowledged that Barrett’s father – Canada Basketball executive Rowan Barrett helped facilitate the tour.

    Krzyzewski has been unable to take his teams on pre-season tours in the past – schools can take one every four years – due to his commitments as head coach with the U.S. national team. Having stepped down from those duties and with a team that needed seasoning Duke has come north.

    It plays two-time defending U Sports silver medallist Ryerson on Wednesday and University of Toronto on Friday before travelling to Montreal to take on McGill on Sunday.

    It’s a quick trip home for Barrett, in his role as unofficial host, listed a visit to the CN Tower and a taste of poutine among his diplomatic responsibilities.

    More importantly for Barrett and his teammates, it’s a chance to travel and a chance to play some different faces:

    “It will definitely be a challenge,” Barrett said. “We haven’t been together that long so to go against someone other than ourselves will definitely be a challenge.”

    For Duke and Coach K it’s a chance to use August to ease into a season where everything is pointed towards the NCAA tournament in March and the title game on the first Monday of April.

    For Barrett it’s the first step in the next stage of his journey pointing towards the NBA draft in June.

    Gulutzan talks boosting Oilers’ speed, Lucic’s redemption potential

    Gulutzan talks boosting Oilers’ speed, Lucic’s redemption potential


    EDMONTON — Who has had a better vantage point than Glen Gulutzan of the anomaly that is the Edmonton Oilers? From a record-breaking decade out of the playoffs, to 103 points, to 78 points and a playoff miss last season, Gulutzan has schemed against...

    EDMONTON — Who has had a better vantage point than Glen Gulutzan of the anomaly that is the Edmonton Oilers?

    From a record-breaking decade out of the playoffs, to 103 points, to 78 points and a playoff miss last season, Gulutzan has schemed against Edmonton from behind the bench in Dallas, Vancouver and, for the past two seasons, on the opposite end of the Battle of Alberta.

    Fired by the Calgary Flames, this summer he was recruited as Todd McLellan’s assistant coach in Edmonton. So was Trent Yawney, who spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach in Anaheim.

    It’s a Made in Alberta twist on the old saying: If you can’t beat ‘em, get them to join you.

    “If we can cut down on our goals-against, there is enough fire power here, from an opposing coach’s point of view,” Gulutzan began. “The game we got shut down the most all season last year was Game 1 right here in Edmonton (a 3-0 loss). We didn’t get a sniff. It’s a reminder for Edmonton: Those (chances-against) have to come down in order to have success.”

    That season opener, as we look back, was nearly perfect for Edmonton. Connor McDavid scored all three goals and goalie Cam Talbot had perhaps three tough saves all night.

    In the end, however, it helped to create the perfect storm, contributing to a feeling among the Oilers that another 100-plus-point season was preordained — that it would be easy to repeat what they’d accomplished the previous season.

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    Gulutzan said the coaching staff has already met this summer, including new assistant Emanuel Viveiros, and planned some changes.

    “The biggest thing you’ll see is in pace of play,” Gulutzan said. “We’ve put in a couple of adjustments, but one we think will take — for lack of a better term — some of the thinking out of some of our schemes. That will allow us to play a little bit quicker.

    “When you have skill players like we do … they just need some more arbitrary bounces, some loose pucks that they can make road hockey plays with. We’re looking to create a few more of those opportunities. Pace of play is going to change is some of our attacking formations.”

    Acquiring speedy winger Tobias Rieder will help the Oilers’ team speed, but other than him, the team did not up its team speed this summer. However, you can play fast without acquiring faster skaters, Gulutzan says.

    “North-south. Shorter passes. More support to the puck. Less D-to-D passes. More quick-ups. Cleaner breakouts. Different forechecks,” he listed. “You can play quicker, rather than just playing that traditional style. We’ve gone over every one of those things and identified three areas where we want to change.

    “Pace of play, overall, is what the people in the seats will be able to say, ‘Hey, they look quicker.’”

    What about specific players?

    As a guy who has spent much of the past decade figuring out how to beat the Oilers, Gulutzan can’t wait to get his coaching hands on Milan Lucic.

    “For Trent and I, coming from Anaheim and Calgary, we still think he is one of the most feared players in the league. There are two guys in the league who get a lot of room because of their presence. One is a fourth-line guy in (Ryan) Reaves, and the other is Looch. I know teams are leery to play against him.

    “Everyone here knew that. But I don’t know to the extent that they knew it had an effect on other teams. I think we have to tap into that, and Trent thinks that too. Looch wields a pretty big stick in this league, as far as room and presence.”

    As a player whose reputation was forged partially on the back of his fighting ability, Lucic has to reap those same benefits in an era when the gloves stay on more often than before.

    “But, their bark is effective too. That resonates with guys, and can give you a little more time and space,” Gulutzan points out. “I can say, from the other side, it certainly does.”

    Lucic is just one of many Oilers looking to bounce back after off-years in 2017-18. From Talbot to Oscar Klefbom, to Andrej Sekera, to Zack Kassian — who Gulutzan has a special bond with from their time in Vancouver — this coaching staff’s job will be to get this group back to the level they were at two seasons ago.

    “Less video, more communication,” Gulutzan said. “The one thing we sometimes undervalue as coaches is confidence. At this high level, a lot of it is mental, and sometimes it’s about clearing guys’ plates and letting them focus in on certain areas. And building their game up.

    “When I say less video, I’m saying it’s more on the mental side. ‘Let’s not worry about this. Let’s just focus on this.’”

    Fresh eyes and an opponent’s perspective. If you can’t beat ‘em…