Categories
National Sports

Penguins jump into 2nd in East with 3-2 win over Sabres

By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Evan Rodrigues was so focused on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ late-season push to win the East Division title the forward didn’t realize the implications that came with beating his former team, the Buffalo Sabres.
While the Penguins jumped into second in the tightly contested divisional race, their 3-2 win on Saturday also eliminated the Sabres from playoff contention.
“I didn’t know that. I don’t think it was really on anyone’s minds for us,” said Rodrigues, who pumped his arm upon scoring a second-period goal to put the Penguins up 2-0. “We’re just trying to get better as a team so we can be going strong the rest of the season into the playoffs.”
Rodrigues spent his first five-plus seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Pittsburgh a year ago.
Tristan Jarry stopped 23 shots over the final two periods and 28 overall. Bryan Rust and Jared McCann also scored, and the Penguins improved to 10-2-2 in their past 14. Pittsburgh earned its 59th point to move one ahead of the idle New York Islanders, and remain three behind the Washington Capitals.
The New York Rangers’ win in over New Jersey earlier in the day combined with Buffalo’s loss made the Sabres the NHL’s first team eliminated from playoff contention with some three weeks left in the shortened 56-game season. Buffalo matched the league record in extending its playoff drought to a 10th consecutive year.
Having been out of contention for much of the past month, the Sabres focused on how much better they’ve been playing in going 5-3-2 since ending an 18-game winless skid.
“Just a little too late, I guess,” said Casey Mittelstadt, who scored his eighth goal of the season, and seventh in 10 games. “Obviously, there are some things we can build on and take into the next game.”
Tage Thompson also scored for Buffalo. Dustin Tokarski stopped 38 shots in the loss.
The teams complete their two-game series in Buffalo on Sunday.
Rust’s goal stood as the winner, coming on the power play to put the Penguins up 3-1 in the second period. Rust was parked in front of the net and tapped in Sidney Crosby’s pass from the left circle.
The Sabres didn’t back down despite mounting injuries in twice cutting the Penguins’ two-goal lead to one. Thompson briefly cut it to 2-1 earlier in the second period, and 44 seconds after Rodrigues’ goal.
Mittelstadt made it 3-2 by scoring a power-play goal with 8:16 left when he was set up by Rasmus Ristolainen’s pass into the slot.
Buffalo nearly tied the game with 2:21 remaining when Sam Reinhart, parked in front, directed a rebound that dribbled off the right post before Jarry covered it.
Jarry improved to 18-8-3 on the season, and is 6-0-2 since last losing in regulation — a 3-2 defeat to New Jersey on March 18.
“He’s stolen a lot of games for us,” Penguins defenseman Cody Ceci said of Jarry. “We’ve got to try to do a better job at the end of games. But teams are going to push. They’re going to try and win. He’s been great for us in holding us in close games.”
Pittsburgh continued its dominance of Buffalo by improving to 5-0 on the season. It has outscored the Sabres by a combined 20-6. The Penguins also improved to 22-4-3 in their past 29 meetings with the Sabres and 13-0-2 in their past 15 games at Buffalo since a 6-2 loss on Feb. 19, 2012.
BE LIKE SID
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan credited McCann for making a Sidney Crosby-like decision by banking in a shot from behind the goal line off Tokarski to open the scoring 10:30 into the first period.
“He’s watched Sid do it a number of times a year here for a couple of years, and what better example,” Sullivan said. “It may look like happenstance. It may look like it’s a lucky play, but it’s a real calculated play. And it’s a heads-up play to try to take advantage of a goalie when he’s in that situation.”
PRIDE GAME
The teams played in the NHL’s nationally televised first joint Pride Game to promote and celebrate LGBTQ-plus communities.
Both teams participated in pre-game warmups wearing jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers on the back, sticks bearing rainbow-colored tape, and using commemorative pucks with multi-colored designs.
The items are to be auctioned, with proceeds going to the Pride Center of Western New York and GLYS.
The teams donated 100 tickets to LGBTQ-plus organizations, and each fan received a rainbow-colored rally towel. The Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus performed the Canadian and U.S. anthems.
OKPOSO OUT
The Sabres announced before the game that veteran forward Kyle Okposo will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair a broken left cheekbone. Okposo was hurt when being struck by teammate Matt Irwin’s shot in the first period at Washington on Thursday.
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

DeGrom strikes out 9 in row, 14 in all, Mets beat Rockies

By DENNIS GEORGATOS Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Jacob deGrom struck out nine straight batters against Colorado on Saturday, falling one shy of matching Tom Seaver’s major league record.
He fell short of the record and nearly missed a win.
DeGrom finished with 14 strikeouts to lead the New York Mets over the Rockies 4-3 in a doubleheader opener. He threw his last pitch trailing and wound up with a win for just the third time — the first since 2015.
Seaver set the record against San Diego on April 22, 1970, striking out his final 10 batters in a 19-strikeout performance.
“That would have been nice to reach but fell a little short,” deGrom said with a smile.
Coming off a 14-strikeout performance in a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia, deGrom became just the ninth pitcher to strike out as many as nine in a row.
“The fastball was the best weapon for him,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s special. You don’t see that often. You talk about Jake getting better every year and he goes out there, and we talked about the challenge of the weather, so it’s a little bit of a different start. He makes an adjustment and does something special.” The streak ended in the fifth inning, when the Rockies took a 3-1 lead with three unearned runs, but the Mets rallied to win a series opener delayed a day by snow when pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar hit a tying double off Daniel Bard (0-1) in the seventh inning and Dominic Smith had a sacrifice fly.
Pete Alonso had homered in the sixth to pull the Mets within a run.
By winning the opener of a doubleheader of seven-inning games under coronavirus protocols, the Mets extended a winning streak to four for the first time since 2019.
DeGrom (1-0) allowed three unearned runs and three hits in six innings and walked one, lowering his ERA to 0.45.
He started the streak with a called third strike against Josh Fuentes for the first out of the second inning, then got Sam Hillard and Dom Nunez swinging.
He struck out Chi Chi González, Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon in the third, and Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and C.J. Cron in the fourth.
Fuentes grounded an 0-1 pitch leading off the fifth and reached on a throwing error by second baseman Jeff McNeil, ending the streak.
“I would have liked to have fielded it, but my glove hit my leg,” deGrom said of Fuentes’ grounder. “That’s where we had him played. McNeil was there and he felt bad about it. I told him, ‘Keep your head up,’ and we ended up winning the ballgame.” Detroit reliever Tyler Alexander was the previous pitcher to strike out nine in a row, accomplishing the feat last Aug. 2 against Cincinnati.
Colorado took a 3-1 lead against deGrom later in the fifth when Nunez hit an RBI triple, pinch-hitter Yonathan Daza hit a sacrifice fly and Tapia homered. All three runs were unearned because of McNeil’s error.
Despite deGrom’s 2.03 ERA in 79 starts since the start of the 2018 season coming in, New York was 37-42 with him on the mound.
With nine strikeouts in a row, deGrom matched the New York Giants’ Mickey Welch against Cleveland on Aug. 28, 1884, San Diego’s Jake Peavy at Arizona on April 25, 2007, the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco at Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2009, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Aaron Harang against San Diego on April 13, 2012, Detroit’s Doug Fister against Kansas City on Sept. 27, 2012, Washington’s Max Scherzer against the Mets on Oc. 3, 2015, and Alexander.
DeGrom extended his road unbeaten streak to 17 with the 48th double-digit strikeout game for the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner.
Edwin Díaz struck out the side for his first save this season.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Mets: INF José Peraza was optioned to the alternate training site to clear a roster spot for J.D. Davis, who was activated from the 10-day injured list. Davis bruised his left hand when hit by a pitch April 6 against Philadelphia. RHP Franklyn Kilome was sent outright to the alternate training site.
UP NEXT
RHP Marcus Stroman (2-0) starts for the Mets on Sunday and RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-2) for the Rockies.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

Royals earn doubleheader split with Jays on Perez’s walk-off

By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays got wildly different yet equally effective pitching performances in splitting their day-night doubleheader on Saturday.
In the opener, starter Steven Matz held the Royals without a hit into the sixth inning, and Jonathan Davis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered to give the Blue Jays a 5-1 victory. In the nightcap, the Royals followed veteran Ervin Santana’s spot start with four relief pitchers before Salvador Perez’s two-out, walk-off homer gave them a 3-2 win.
Greg Holland (2-1) was the last of the relievers in Game 2 for Kansas City, working around an error in the seventh inning to keep the game tied 2-all. Joel Payamps (0-1) then retired Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi in the bottom half before Perez sent a pitch splashing into the left-field fountains to earn the doubleheader split.
“He never ceases to amaze us with what he does,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “I think he was tired of waiting around for someone to get on base,”
Or maybe he was just ready to go home after Friday’s rainout forced them to play a doubleheader.
The afternoon began with Matz (3-0) allowing just a pair of walks before Nicky Lopez’s blooper with one out in the sixth inning. He gave up Benintendi’s two-out double later in the inning for the only other blemish on an otherwise excellent outing — six innings, five strikeouts and just five balls that left the infield.
“It’s fun to get in a groove early in the season, especially when you have a lineup like this,” said Matz, who struggled with injuries throughout his six seasons with the Mets. “Get a little better every time out. That’s the goal going forward.”
Other than a shaky first, the Royals’ Mike Minor matched Matz pitch for pitch most of the way.
Minor (1-1) retired his first two batters before Guerrero and Randal Grichuk hit back-to-back singles and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drilled a two-run double off the wall. That was all the runs until Davis hit his first homer, a drive off the left-field foul pole leading off the fifth. Guerrero tagged his second homer of the series leading off the sixth.
“Always looking for the first one,” Davis said, “and now I can breath a little bit.”
Even if Matz didn’t allow a hit all game, his sterling start wouldn’t have been an official no-hitter because teams or pitchers must play at least nine innings to qualify. The decision to shorten doubleheader games to seven innings apiece for the 2021 season means Matz and the Blue Jays would have needed at least two extra innings for it to count.
The only no-hitter in Blue Jays history is Dave Stieb’s 3-0 win over the Indians on Sept. 2, 1990.
“We ran into a good start today. Matz was throwing the ball well,” Matheny said. “He had good late movement — you could tell the guys weren’t seeing the late movement. Really baring in, using the back door.”
The second game was tied 2-all in the fourth inning, turning it into a chess match between bullpens. The Blue Jays’ finally cracked when Payamps, their fourth reliever after spot-starter Tommy Milone, served up Perez’s game-ending homer.
“We knew we had well-rested arms in the bullpen ready for leverage,” Matheny said. “I thought everybody did a nice job coming through. That’s a tough one. All of them did a fantastic job of keeping us right there with a good offense.”
WALK THIS WAY
Royals 1B Carlos Santana drew his 1,000th walk leading off the seventh inning of the opener, joining Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera as the only active players in the club.
“Happy. Happy and blessed,” Santana said. “It’s another point in my career.”
THE OTHER SANTANA
Well-traveled Ervin Santana made his first big league appearance since April 24, 2019, with the White Sox at Baltimore, and he made his first start for Kansas City since Sept. 25, 2013 — the 2,761 days between games are the fourth-longest in franchise history. Santana also became the fourth-oldest starter in club history at 38 years, 126 days.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Blue Jays: OF George Springer (quadriceps and oblique) is doing some light running and will begin taking batting practice, but manager Charlie Montoyo said there is still no timeframe for his return.
TRADE WINDS
The Royals traded OF Nick Heath to the Diamondbacks for minor league RHP Eduardo Herrera. Heath had been designated for assignment earlier in the week. The 21-year-old Herrera has yet to pitch above Class A as a professional.
UP NEXT
The Blue Jays send LHP Robbie Ray (0-1, 3.60 ERA) to the mound against Royals RHP Brady Singer (0-2, 6.48) in the series finale Sunday. Ray and Singer were supposed to pitch Saturday before rain Friday forced the doubleheader.
____
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

Buchnevich scores hat trick on birthday in Rangers’ 6-3 win

By The Associated Press undefined
NEW YORK (AP) — Pavel Buchnevich celebrated his birthday with his first career hat trick and the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 6-3 on Saturday for their third win over their Hudson River rivals in five days.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists and Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist in a three-goal first-period outburst as the Rangers improved to 12-4-3 in their last 19 games.
The question after the quick start was whether rookie Igor Shesterkin would get his third consecutive shutout. The Russian’s shutout streak was stopped at 152 minutes, 37 seconds when Michael McLeod scored on a second-period rebound.
New Jersey then got within 4-3 when P.K. Subban and Yegor Sharangovich scored in a 64-second span in the third period with the teams playing 4-on-4 to cut the lead to a goal. However, Buchnevich and Chris Kreider added late empty-net goals to seal the win.
The victory extended the Rangers’ point streak to a season-high five games (4-0-1) and pulled them within four points of idle Boston in the race for the last playoff berth in the East. The Rangers have 12 games left in the regular season, two fewer than the Bruins.
CAPITALS 6, FLYERS 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move within one goal of Marcel Dionne for fifth place on the NHL’s career goals list.
Dmitry Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Conor Sheary and Anthony Mantha each added goals while John Carlson had four assists for Washington, which increased its lead in the East Division to four points over the New York Islanders.
Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and rookie Wade Allison, who got his first NHL goal, scored for the Flyers.
Ovechkin now has 730 regular-season goals in his 16-year career. Dionne finished with 731 during 18 seasons with the Red Wings, Kings and Rangers from 1971-89. Saturday’s goals increased Ovechkin’s career total against Philadelphia to 42, one of six teams that he’s scored 40 or more goals against.
PENGUINS 3, SABRES 2
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Tristan Jarry stopped 27 shots as the Penguins eliminated the Sabres from playoff contention.
Bryan Rust and Evan Rodrigues scored second-period goals in helping the Penguins improve to 10-2-2 in their past 14. Jared McCann also scored for Pittsburgh, which earned its 59th point to move one ahead of the idle New York Islanders, and remain three behind the Washington Capitals.
Jarry improved to 18-8-3 on the season, and is 6-0-2 since last losing in regulation on March 18.
The New York Rangers’ win in over New Jersey earlier in the day combined with Buffalo’s loss made the Sabres the NHL’s first team eliminated from playoff contention with some three weeks left in the 56-game shortened season. Buffalo matched the league record in extending its playoff drought to a 10th consecutive year.
Tage Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt scored for Buffalo, which is 5-3-2 since snapping an 18-game winless streak.
COYOTES 3, BLUES 2
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Darcy Kuemper stopped 20 shots in his return to the lineup, and the Coyotes rallied for the win.
Arizona got off to a sluggish start in its first home game in three weeks, falling into a 2-0 hole in the first period.
The Coyotes revved up the pressure in the second, tying it on power-play goals by Alex Goligoski and Clayton Keller. Michael Bunting scored early in the third, and Kuemper was sharp after the early goals in his first game since missing 19 with a lower-body injury.
The Coyotes ended a five-game losing streak and moved a point ahead of the Blues in the race for the West Division’s final playoff spot.
Sammy Blais and Tyler Bozak scored for St. Louis, and Jordan Binnington stopped 26 shots.
SENATORS 4, CANADIENS 0
MONTREAL (AP) — Drake Batherson had two goals and an assist for last-place Ottawa, which had dropped five of six.
Artem Zub and Nikita Zaitsev also scored for the Senators and Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris each had two assists.
Matt Murray made 23 saves in his first shutout of the season and No. 11 for his career.
Montreal lost for the fifth time in seven games. It has managed just 11 goals during the tough stretch.
Carey Price finished with 11 saves for the Canadiens. He returned to the lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury.
The rebuilding Senators improved to 5-3-0 against the Canadiens this season, with three of their six road wins in 2021 coming at the Bell Centre.
___
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

Naylor hits into triple play, makes key E, Reds edge Indians

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
Josh Naylor lined into a triple play in the eighth inning, then let a routine grounder roll through his legs at first base with two outs in the ninth that led to Cincinnati’s tying run as the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in the 10th Saturday.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson’s single in the 10th won it.
Naylor had a chance to boost Cleveland’s one-run lead in the eighth when he came up with runners at the corners with no outs. He hit a liner to first baseman Joey Votto, who tagged Franmil Reyes as he tried to dive back into the bag and then threw to third to double off Eddie Rosario, who took off because he thought the ball hit the ground and had already crossed the plate.
“We got the break and we made the most of it, and we came back and won,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It definitely could have been a different game if they score a run or two there.”
Pitching with a 2-1 lead, Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase was pumping in 100 mph fastballs and retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth. Max Schrock then hit a grounder through Naylor for a two-base error and Jesse Winker followed with an RBI single.
“He just missed the ball. I don’t know what else to tell you,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Eugenio Suárez started the Reds 10th as the automatic runner on second and moved to third on Tyler Naquin’s flyout. After an intentional walk, Stephenson singled to deep right off Oliver Perez (0-1).
“Really just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Stephenson said. “I was prepared for it and got a sinker out over (the plate) and hit it to right field. I was on time, and I got it.”
Sean Doolittle (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th.
Eddie Rosario hit an RBI triple for the Indians in the third. Andres Giménez homered in the fourth.
Sonny Gray made his first appearance of the season for the Reds after being sidelined with a muscle strain in his back. He gave up two runs and six hits, striking out six over 4 1/3 innings.
Tucker Barnhart homered in the Reds second.
Indians starter Triston McKenzie struck out seven and gave up a run on five hits through five innings.
WHOOPS
Votto was thrown out in the fifth when he tried to score from first on a deep single by Naquin. With the ball already relayed to the infield, Votto was sent by third base coach J.R. House and was out by so much he just stopped and let catcher Austin Hedges tag him to end the inning.
GRAY IN, BEDROSIAN OUT
Gray officially came off the disabled list before Saturday’s game, and right-handed reliever Cam Bedrosian was designated for assignment. Bedrosian made the team out of spring training, but had an 11.12 ERA in six appearances.
MORE HELP
To get some more depth in their taxed bullpen, the Indians recalled rookie left-hander Sam Hentges from the alternate training site. To make roster room, they sent outfielder Ben Gamel down. Cleveland used five relievers despite a good start by McKenzie. Hentges wasn’t one of them.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Reds 3B Mike Moustakas isn’t feeling well and was out of the lineup for the second straight day. Utility infielder Alex Blandino was put on the injured list, and outfielder Mark Payton was recalled from the alternate site.
UP NEXT
The Indians send RHP Shane Bieber (1-1), the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, against Reds LHP Wade Miley (2-0) in the finale of the series on Sunday afternoon. Bieber went nine innings in the Indians’ 2-0 win over the White Sox Tuesday, extending his streak of to 15 starts with at least eight strikeouts. Miley gave up two hits and no runs in five innings in the Reds’ 3-0 win over the Giants Monday.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
___
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy

Categories
National Sports

Margot, Glasnow lift Rays over AL-worst Yankees 6-3

By JAKE SEINER AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Sluggish to start their AL title defense, the Tampa Bay Rays have found their bearings in the Bronx.
“This venue can motivate you really quick,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Manuel Margot hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, Tyler Glasnow overcame cramps and poor control to pitch five innings of one-run ball and the Rays held off the struggling New York Yankees 6-3 Saturday.
The Rays won their second straight in this series after enduring a 3-8 stretch, improving to 7-8 overall. The reigning AL champions are 4-1 against New York this season and 7-1 at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2020. They have won seven straight series against New York, including last year’s Division Series, and taken 17 of 22 games since September 2019.
“Whatever you’re going through before you get here, you better find a way to wipe it out,” Cash said. “Because you have to stay at the top of your game to compete here.”
The Yankees dropped to an AL-worst 5-9, the latest into a season New York has been at the bottom of the league since a 9-17 start in 1991, per Elias Sports. Fans in the Bronx again booed the Bombers as they lost their fourth straight, but the crowd was more restrained a day after some hurled baseballs and other items on the field late in an 8-2 loss to the Rays.
“I felt like we were much more in the fight today, which is at least a good thing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But we don’t want moral victories right now.”
Francisco Mejía hit a solo shot in the second off Jordan Montgomery (1-1), and Margot made it 3-1 with his homer off the left-hander in the fourth. Joey Wendle added a two-run shot against Jonathan Loaisiga in the seventh, and Mejía had an RBI double in the ninth.
Rougned Odor hit his first homer with the Yankees, a solo shot in the seventh off Jeffrey Springs, and Aaron Judge added an RBI single as New York tried to rally against the bullpen. Sidewinding right-hander Ryan Thompson got the ball to Diego Castillo in the ninth, though, and Castillo closed out his fourth save with a 1-2-3 inning.
New York catcher Gary Sánchez was hit in his right throwing hand by a foul ball in the fourth and exited an inning later. The club said X-rays were negative and that Sánchez is day to day with a contusion on his right index and middle fingers.
Glasnow (2-0) entered with 29 strikeouts and three walks over 19 2/3 innings this season, but his feel was off from the start. He walked four but also struck out seven and limited New York to two hits.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander labored early but stranded the bases loaded in the first. He finally seemed to have found his form when play was stopped in the fifth as he got a painful cramp in his left hand, along with tightness in his right calf and quad. Teammates brought him water and hydration gels, which he guzzled behind the mound while stretching his left thumb.
Glasnow walked DJ LeMahieu when play resumed but then struck out Judge and Giancarlo Stanton while getting three straight outs, ending his day after 105 pitches.
“That whole start was a grind,” Glasnow said. “Out of 30-whatever starts per year, you’re going to have some like that, but this one from start to finish was pretty taxing.”
The Yankees got a verbal lashing from Boone after Friday’s loss but didn’t seem any more inspired early on Saturday. New York warmed up with infield work instead of batting practice a day after committing three errors, and while the defense improved, but the bats remained an issue.
Limited to three hits Friday, New York got only a single each from LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks over the first six innings. The Yankees left seven on base and went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 20 for 90 (.222) this season with men on second or third.
“It really all comes down to, when you get punched, how do you get back up,” Judge said. “Do you get back up and throw a punch, or does it take you a while?”
Montgomery, usually effective keeping the ball in the park, was undone by two Rays homers for the second straight start. They were the only two hits he allowed, but he was charged with four runs in six-plus innings, walking two and striking out seven on 86 pitches.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole — set to start Sunday — is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA, but the rest of New York’s starters are 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Rays: OF Kevin Kiermaier (strained left quadriceps) was activated before the game. He had been out since April 5 but took simulated at-bats before the game and was deemed ready. He entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth. … RHP Chris Mazza was optioned to the alternate site. … C Mejía was twice shaken up after being hit in the mask by foul balls but remained in the game.
Yankees: Boone said C Kyle Higashioka will start over Sánchez on Sunday, but he expects Sánchez to be available for the team’s next game Tuesday. … 1B Luke Voit (partial left knee meniscus tear) fielded grounders pregame and is expected to begin hitting Monday. Boone said there still is not a timeline for Voit’s return, but the club is pleased with his progress.
UP NEXT
Cole faces Tampa Bay on Sunday for the first time since last year’s AL Division Series, when he allowed a run over 5 1/3 innings in a 2-1, Game 5 defeat. The Rays will use right-hander Andrew Kittredge (2-0) as an opener.
___
Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

Gomes ends Locastro’s steal streak, homers, Nats top D’backs

By HOWARD FENDRICH AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — After Tim Locastro’s 29-steal streak to start his major league career ended, Arizona’s center fielder immediately knew something was wrong with his left pinkie finger.
“Saw it was not facing the right way,” Locastro said. “Looked down again and got worried and saw some blood.”
Locastro is expected to head to the injured list after dislocating that finger when he was thrown out at second base Saturday by Washington catcher Yan Gomes, who also homered and drove in two runs to help the Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 for their first back-to-back wins this season.
Gomes entered Saturday without an extra-base hit and just one RBI in 2021, but he went 3 for 4 at the plate.
With help from a terrific tag at second base by Starlin Castro in the third inning, Gomes spoiled Locastro’s perfect record on the basepaths, the most successful swipes to begin an MLB career in at least 70 years.
Asked about putting a stop to the run, Gomes said with a smile: “I kind of feel bad that I did.”
Locastro’s outlook?
“Hopefully go for 30 the next run I have here,” he said.
The 28-year-old Locastro, who’s in his fifth big league season, wasn’t sure whether he got hurt by jamming the finger into the bag or Castro’s knee on a headfirst dive, but he left in the middle of the third to get medical attention.
He needed four stitches. The finger got straightened out and placed in a splint.
“It’s not crooked anymore,” he said.
The Hall of Fame asked for Locastro’s spikes last weekend after he set the record, doing one better than the 28 straight by Tim Raines, who played for the Nationals’ predecessors — the Montreal Expos — on his way to being enshrined in Cooperstown.
Erick Fedde (1-1) tied his career high with nine strikeouts in five innings for Washington, which is 5-7. He gave up five hits and one run, via Kole Calhoun’s solo shot in the third right after Gomes got Locastro at second base.
“The biggest thing that works for him is when he gets his confidence going,” Gomes said about Fedde.
Gomes, who missed the start of the season because of COVID-19 protocols, produced his deep shot in the bottom of the third off Luke Weaver (1-1). Weaver allowed nine hits and four runs in four innings.
The Diamondbacks have dropped four of their past five games.
“We didn’t do things defensively,” manager Torey Lovullo said, then also lamented: “Just couldn’t get a big hit.”
BOX SCORE
Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman homered in the eighth. … Kyle Schwarber — whose upper-deck shot in the ninth ended the Nationals’ 1-0 victory Friday — and Trea Turner had three hits apiece. … Arizona’s Eduardo Escobar hit his sixth homer.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Diamondbacks: If Locastro does go on the IL, one possible replacement could be OF Nick Heath, who was acquired from Kansas City in a trade Saturday.
Nationals: RHP Wander Suero left after 13 pitches in the ninth because of a left side issue, manager Dave Martinez said. Suero was going to have an MRI after the game. … LHP Luis Avilán, 31, has a torn ligament in his pitching elbow, “so he’s weighing his decision on what to do,” Martinez said. Avilán, who went on the IL on Friday, could have Tommy John reconstructive surgery or “sit out and see if it heals,” Martinez said, adding: “We were shocked.” Avilán threw 38 pitches Tuesday and 39 Thursday, his most since 40 in a 2017 game. Otherwise, he hadn’t exceeded 37 pitches since the first three appearances of his career in 2012. … 2B Josh Harrison was out of the lineup after “a little stiffness in his back” Friday, according to Martinez.
UP NEXT
The four-game series ends Sunday with a pitching matchup between past World Series MVPs who are struggling so far this season: Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (0-1, 6.30 ERA) vs. Arizona LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 11.20). Strasburg starred in the Fall Classic for the Nationals in 2019; Bumgarner led the San Francisco Giants to the 2014 title.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

QB front-runner Young mostly shines in Alabama’s spring game

By JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Bryce Young made a juke move to elude a rushing defender, set his feet and launched a quick pass for a big gain to tailback Roydell Williams on the opening drive.
He also lost a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown.
The Alabama sophomore quarterback showed in Saturday’s spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium why he’s regarded as the frontrunner to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones. It was also clear that the highest-rated quarterback signee of the Nick Saban era is a work in progress, and so is an offense with some huge voids to fill along with key returning players being held out.
Of course, the defending national champions and their young quarterback know it’s just April.
“The pocket collapses on him and he was in some tough situations relative to that,” Saban said. “I think he’s done a really good job all spring. We continue to work on him kind of having a presence out there that affects other people in a positive way. And I think he’s starting to get more and more respect from the other players by the way he plays.”
The 6-foot, 194-pound Young is competing with fellow sophomore Paul Tyson — the great grandson of former Alabama coaching legend Bear Bryant — and freshman Jalen Milroe, who was held out of the game.
He was thought to perhaps have a chance to compete with Jones for the job starting last spring after arriving as the nation’s top quarterback prospect. But then practices were called off because of the pandemic.
Young ran the first-team offense against the first-team defense, completing 25 of 44 passes for 333 yards and a 59-yard touchdown to tight end Cameron Latu.
He also had his first chance to lead a game-winning drive at Alabama, even if it was just an end-of-spring scrimmage. He took the White team down the field in the final minutes with the game tied, setting up a short field goal for a 13-10 win over the Crimson.
“I think Bryce has put in a lot of effort this spring in just understanding the offense and trying to improve on himself and also bring the offense together,” wide receiver Slade Bolden said. “He’s shown some leadership skills. He’s also done a great job of executing on the field.”
There are plenty of new faces on the offense, from Young to new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, a former Houston Texans and Penn State head coach. Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith and fellow finalists Jones and tailback Najee Harris are among the departed stars from that unbeaten team that averaged 48.5 points.
Young did have a couple of mistakes, including a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by linebacker Jaylen Moody late in the first half. He also had a surefire pick-six interception chance dropped.
Tyson completed 18 of 34 passes for 171 yards.
A number of players were out for the game, including the top returning rusher and receiver in Brian Robinson Jr. and John Metchie III, along with linebackers Will Anderson Jr. and Christian Harris.
Some young talent got a chance to shine, including freshman wide receiver Agiye Hall. After an acrobatic first-half catch, Saban told ESPN: “He’s one of the most explosive players on this team.” Hall later pulled down a sideline catch, just getting a foot down.
Alabama allowed half-capacity attendance at Bryant-Denny in the game because of COVID-19, and announced the crowd at slightly less than that (47,218). Masks were required, but many fans didn’t appear to be wearing one in the stands.
Saban watched the spring game from the field, coaching up players in between plays. He nearly got run into during an interception return but joked that he wore his pink suit in part so he’d stand out more clearly for the players.
“Basically, the players know that if they run into me, it’s very similar to running into the goal post,” Saban said, joking. “So it’s not a good choice and decision for them, so they usually avoid me. And I wear a jacket like this so they can see where I am, for their safety, not really for mine.”
___
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Categories
National Sports

Elliott would love to find a way to be different at Richmond

By HANK KURZ Jr. AP Sports Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Like many drivers in NASCAR’s top series, Chase Elliott had a hard time figuring out the best way to navigate the layout at Richmond Raceway when he first raced on the track.
Some think the 0.75-mile, D-shaped oval drives like a mini superspeedway, and others enjoy the short-track feel it provides as a track shorter than a mile.
Elliott still isn’t sure what to make of the track that appears twice on the schedule in NASCAR’s premier series.
“The driving at Richmond is honestly very straight forward,” the reigning series champion said this week. “I think that’s what makes Richmond really hard is because it’s just not a super challenging place, I don’t think, for the drivers to run the proper line.
“But what makes it really hard there is to just be different. And everyone is doing the exact same thing. … You’re riding that really razor-thin edge much like you do at Martinsville, but it’s definitely a challenge. And I think the reason it’s a challenge is that everyone is just doing the same thing.”
Elliott finished fifth at Richmond last fall in the series’ only visit because of the pandemic, but was 15th and 13th in two starts in the 2019 season.
As the series wraps up a three-race stretch of short tracks, Elliott is hoping to improve on his 10th-place finish on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway and his second-place run last weekend at Martinsville. And he’s not concerned that he’s winless after eight races.
Martin Truex Jr. last week became the first repeat winner in the series this year.
“We all want to win, but I feel no different today than I did at the end of last year and the results were just fine then,” Elliott said. Elliott won the last two races in 2020 to win the championship. “… I know we can go out there and accomplish our goals.”
CHANGE OF HEART
Austin Dillon’s relationship with Richmond has done a complete about face.
“It was my least favorite,” the Richard Childress Racing driver said Thursday. “I dreaded going there. I said I wished Richmond would just not be a track anymore.”
“And somehow, over the years, I’ve made it into a good place for us.”
Dillon has finished sixth or better in three of his last four tries on the oval, including a fourth-place run last fall despite a penalty for speeding on pit road.
“Richmond is now like my favorite track in the world,” Dillon said.
He enters Sunday’s race 12th in points but with just one top-five finish.
ODDS AND ENDS
Martin Truex Jr., the winner last week at Martinsville and three weeks ago in the truck race on the dirt at Bristol, is the 4-1 favorite, with Denny Hamlin next at 11-2, according to sportsbook.fanduel.com. … Consistent but winless, Hamlin remains the points leader by 76 over Truex thanks to seven top-five finishes in eight races. Joey Logano is third, 77 points behind. … Truex won both races at Richmond in 2019. … Brad Keselowski dropped from fifth to ninth in the points race after he got caught up in a 14-car pileup that ended his day early at Martinsville. … Hamlin led 276 laps at Martinsville and tops all drivers with 487 through eight races. … Kyle Busch leads active drivers with six wins at Richmond.
___
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories
National Sports

Brewers’ Yelich put on 10-day injured list with sore back

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, who has missed four straight games because of a sore back, was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday.
“There’s nothing new, nothing to add,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s what it is. We’ll take a couple more days without baseball activities and see where that leaves us.”
The move was retroactive to April 14. The Brewers announced Yelich’s injury as a lower back strain.
Milwaukee filled Yelich’s spot on the roster by recalling right-handed reliever Eric Yardley from the organization’s alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Yelich, the 2018 NL MVP, is hitting .333 with no home runs and 1 RBI.
Two other Brewers starters, second baseman Kolten Wong and outfielder Lorenzo Cain, are also on the injured list, weakening the offense.
“We’ll just have to fill in around them until those guys get back. We’re not expecting this to be long term,” Counsell said.
The Brewers host the Pirates on Saturday in the second game of a three-game series. Pittsburgh won 6-1 on Friday.
___
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports