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Lightning strikes twice: Tampa Bay repeats as Cup champion

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Quieting the din inside Amalie Arena for just a moment, Gary Bettman looked over to the Tampa Bay Lightning and reached back into the dark days of the pandemic perhaps one last time.

The NHL commissioner beckoned not just captain Steven Stamkos but the entire team over to touch, kiss and hoist the Stanley Cup as champions once more. It was a far cry from the tradition of presenting hockey’s holy grail to the captain to take back to his team, and the Lightning sent out another pandemic hockey season like they did the last – by winning their second championship in 10 months.

It was a familiar sight for the back-to-back champions, even if it was different in every possible way.

After the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Wednesday night to end the final in five games, Stamkos hoisted the Cup in front of 18,110 fans – 18,110 more than the last time he did back in September.

Pyrotechnics went off around him to celebrate not only Tampa Bay winning during a pandemic once again but the end of another grueling season played against the backdrops of protocols, restrictions and heartbreak. As Stamkos took another lap with the Cup, players held up their phones to capture video of the fans, the confetti and the joy of being able to really, truly celebrate.

“Full arena, incredible energy and another championship in Tampa,” Bettman said. “It feels like things are normal.”

Winning has become normal for the Lightning, who did so this time relying on their playoff MVP goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and the only two Tampa Bay players on the ice without their names on hockey’s holy grail.

Vasilevskiy had a series-ending shutout for an NHL-record fifth consecutive time dating to the 2020 final. Finishing with a handful in a frantic final minute, he made 22 saves to remain undefeated in games after a loss over the past two playoffs, both of them won by Tampa Bay in the pandemic.

“It’s so hard to win the Stanley Cup,” Stamkos said. “And then you do it two years in a row, you deserve to go down in history.”

Ross Colton and David Savard weren’t around last year and made sure to put their stamp on Tampa Bay’s latest title run. Savard set up Colton’s goal midway through the second period past Canadiens stalwart Carey Price and the packed crowd roared.

“To do it in front of our fans and our families, it’s so special, special,” defenseman Victor Hedman said. “It’s out of this world.”

The scene couldn’t have been any further from the mirthless, empty arena where the Lightning won the Cup last September in a quarantined bubble across the continent in Edmonton, Alberta. Tampa Bay joined Pittsburgh as the only back-to-back Cup winner in the salary cap era, but even more impressively did it in the shortest span between championships in the long history of the NHL.

Never losing twice in a row thanks to Vasilevskiy’s brilliance and one of the deepest rosters constructed since the cap was implemented in 2005, the Lightning solidified their status as a modern-day dynasty.

How deep? Nikita Kucherov had 32 points to join Mario Lemieux as the only players to lead the postseason in scoring two years in a row, and Brayden Point scored 14 goals through three rounds. Kucherov, Point and Hedman all played through injuries, too.

It was just too much for the Canadiens, who relied again on Price to keep them in a game – and the series. He finished with 29 saves.

The sunbelt franchise in a nontraditional market that didn’t even exist until 1992-93 went through the NHL’s most storied franchise to win this one. The third championship in franchise history denied Montreal a 25th league championship banner.

The Lightning also added another title for “Champa Bay,” coming on the heels of Tom Brady leading the NFL’s Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory in February. The Tampa Bay Rays went to the World Series last fall.

Tampa Bay’s mayor had suggested the Lightning lose Game 4 on the road so they could win at home, and she got her wish as coach Jon Cooper’s team became the first since Chicago in 2015 to hoist the Cup on home ice.

“We didn’t get a chance to do that last year,” Stamkos said. “This is redemption for them to be able to spend this time with us. We wanted to win in Game 4. It didn’t work out. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise we got to do it front of our amazing fans.”

The Canadiens ran out of gas in what was a surprise playoff run for a team that opened the postseason with the worst record of the 16 qualifiers.

“The resilience that we showed: just a good team to be a part of,” Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher said. “As painful as this is right now, sometimes you need to feel this to call yourself the champion.”

The Lightning know that well. Their back-to-back title run was spurred by the adversity of the team overcoming the shock of getting swept by Columbus in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.

Tampa Bay was without veteran forward Alex Killorn, who broke his left fibula blocking a shot in Game 1 of the final, had surgery last week and still wanted to play. He joined his teammates for a celebration like last year but unlike it in every way.

“It’s like we won two completely different Stanley Cups, and that’s what makes it extremely special for us,” coach Jon Cooper said. “You do one without fans and then you do one in your own building: We couldn’t have written the script any better.”

Suns forward Saric out with torn ACL in right knee

PHOENIX (AP) Phoenix Suns forward Dario Saric has a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered during the first quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.

Saric’s right knee appeared to buckle when he landed on a jump stop while trying to score against Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez. Shortly afterward, he limped off the court and into the locker room.

The team confirmed the severity of the injury on Wednesday.

“It’s just one of those situations that literally breaks your heart,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Dario is a guy that I’ve been with twice. I coached him in Philly, and to get a chance to be with him here, he’s what Suns basketball is about. Hard worker, unbelievable guy and he was so looking forward to playing in these Finals.

“And to play a few minutes and have that kind of injury, it was a tough thing to hear this morning.”

The 6-foot-10 Saric is one of the team’s main contributors off the bench, averaging 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in about 11 minutes per game. The team has relatively thin depth in the frontcourt, and turned to Torrey Craig and Frank Kaminsky to fill most of Saric’s minutes in the 118-105 victory in Game 1.

Craig has been a regular part of the playing rotation, but Kaminsky hasn’t seen much time in the postseason.

Gray, India leads Reds over Royals 5-2 with late rally

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Sonny Gray gave up two runs over seven innings, and Jonathan India hit a two-run double as the Cincinnati Reds rallied for three runs in the seventh inning and beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Wednesday.

Gray (2-4) allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked two to end a three-start winless streak.

“It was a hot day. He was battling,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “And probably around the fourth inning or so, I didn’t know how much more he had left. It really does speak to number one, how great of a competitor he is. He found a way, and in that process of finding a way to kind of gather himself and get back out there.”

Gray said he woke up feeling sick.

“I feel like I definitely had an edge, maybe I was just trying to fake it until I could make it,” he said. “I tried all my tricks to get my nerves gone and I guess they just slowly went away where I could just go.”

A day after blowing a 6-1 lead entering the eighth inning, the Reds bullpen came through.

“Every now and then, sometimes a win is maybe a little bit more than a win, and maybe today was one of those days,” Bell said.

Art Warren stranded the bases loaded in the eighth by retiring Hunter Dozier on an inning-ending flyout to deep left.

“As soon as he hit it, I thought it was gone,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It didn’t sound good when it came off the bat, but it looked right. We were probably wishing it out of the ballpark as much as anything, but it was so close to being what we were looking for.”

Heath Hembree pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five chances, helping the Reds to their second win in the three-game series.

The game was interrupted by rain for 1 hour, 12 minutes.

Jorge Soler put the Royals ahead in the fourth with a slow roller to third with one out and two on. Eugenio Suarez threw to second for a forceout but India, the second baseman, hit the helmet of Ryan O’Hearn as he threw to first trying for an inning-ending double play. The ball popped into the air, and by the time the ball was retrieved, Carlos Santana slid home ahead of the throw.

Singles by Dozier and Michael A. Taylor led to a 2-0 lead.

Cincinnati went ahead in the seventh after Tucker Barnhart singled off Brady Singer and Scott Barlow (2-3) relieved.

Shogo Akiyama and Mike Freeman singled, cutting the deficit, and India doubled for a 3-2 lead.

Akayama added an RBI double in the eighth, and Tyler Naquin hit an RBI single in the ninth.

Singer gave up one run and five hits in six-plus innings.

“He had great tempo,” Matheny said. “His slider was sharp. His fastball was locating on both sides. He had a lot of movement today. You could tell by a lot of their reactions. I thought he did a great job of pounding the zone and trusting his defense.”

Cubs top Phillies, Wheeler 8-3 to end 11-game slide

CHICAGO (AP) Anthony Rizzo, Joc Pederson and Nico Hoerner each had two hits and an RBI to help the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-3 on Wednesday night, ending an 11-game losing streak.

The Cubs raced to an early five-run lead off All-Star Zack Wheeler and then added on to halt their longest skid since a 12-game slide in May 2012. Chicago had been winless since Zach Davies and three relievers combined to no-hit the Dodgers in Los Angeles on June 24.

“It feels good,” Rizzo said. “We’re at the highest level of the game and we’re competitors and we all compete at everything. You lose 11 in a row or 10 or whatever and it just sucked.

“To win is a good feeling. It’s the feeling you want.”

Patrick Wisdom added a two-run double in Chicago’s three-run sixth inning after replacing third baseman Kris Bryant, who left in the fourth with right hamstring tightness. Bryant is out day-to-day, manager David Ross said.

Ross thought the Cubs might have picked up offensively where they left off Tuesday when they started scoring late in a 15-10 loss to Philadelphia.

“You get a little bit of momentum from last night and it started to carry over,” Ross said. “A lot of guys were just staying up the middle, using the big part of the field and good things happen against a really good pitcher.”

This time, the Cubs pitched much better themselves.

Alec Mills (4-2) allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings after Philadelphia clobbered Cubs pitchers for 28 runs in the first two games of the series.

Mills shut out the Phillies through the first five innings before Bryce Harper doubled in a run and Andrew McCutchen followed with a two-run drive in the sixth for his second homer in two nights.

Wheeler (6-5) yielded seven runs, four earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings on a cool, drizzly night at Wrigley Field. The hard-throwing right-hander entered on a dominant run, having allowed no runs in his last two starts and just three in his last five – all in a game to Washington on June 22.

Chicago scored three unearned runs off Wheeler in the first on an error and soft four soft singles, including consecutive RBI bloops with two outs by Jason Heyward, Hoerner and Rafael Ortega.

“That’s what you’re shooting for is weak contact,” Wheeler said. “That’s frustrating for sure.

“Sometimes that the way the ball rolls. Tonight wasn’t very fun.”

Following a 12-minute rain delay, the Cubs upped their lead to 5-0 in the second. Rizzo’s triple to the right-field corner – the first hard hit off Wheeler – knocked in the first run.

After the Phillies cut it to 5-3 in the sixth, the Cubs replied with three runs in the bottom half on a single by Pederson and Wisdom’s double to the left field corner.

Wood goes 7 to win 8th, Giants beat Cardinals 5-2

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Alex Wood pitched seven strong innings of three-hit ball, and the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Darin Ruf homered for San Francisco. Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano both doubled in runs as the Giants avoided a three-game sweep.

San Francisco had lost six of nine but still owns the best record in the majors at 54-32 with three games left before the All-Star break.

“(Wood) takes the responsibility of pitching well when we’re not at our best very seriously,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “What was different in tonight’s game was he had all of his pitches working well. He had good command and control of all three of his pitches and mixed it up well. That was a pretty gritty and tough outing from him. It was exactly what we needed.”

Dylan Carson had two hits for St. Louis.

Wood (8-3) set down 19 of 22 after allowing Nolan Arenado’s two-out RBI double in the first. The Giants lefty had six strikeouts and two walks and won for the first time in four career starts against the Cardinals.

“I thought we had a good plan going in,” Wood said. “I felt like I commanded my fastball really well and stuck the slider. Good overall night, that’s for sure. Games like that are important. I was happy to come out and do my job tonight.”

Tyler Rogers retired three batters. Jake McGee pitched the ninth for his 17th save.

St. Louis starter Johan Oviedo (0-5) couldn’t overcome a shaky start. Eight of Oviedo’s first nine pitches were balls and the Giants first run came when the right-hander hit Jason Vosler with the bases loaded.

Oviedo, who is winless in his first 16 career starts, allowed two runs and three hits in four innings.

“You’re seeing a guy that’s still working on his craft at the big league level,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “I think he’s really close. Patience is required but the payoff is going to be big.”

Judge hits 20th homer as Yankees hold off Mariners 5-4

SEATTLE (AP) Aaron Judge capped New York’s early offensive outburst against Seattle All-Star Yusei Kikuchi with his 20th home run of the season, and the Yankees held on for a 5-4 win over the Mariners on Wednesday night.

For the second straight game, the Yankees scored a flurry of runs in the first two innings, but this time had to withstand Seattle’s late rally.

Judge’s two-run homer was clubbed into the second deck of the left field seats and gave New York a 5-1 lead. Luke Voit had a two-out RBI single in the first inning and Gleyber Torres followed with a two-run single as the Yankees scored three in the first inning for the second straight game.

Kikuchi (6-4) struggled badly in his first start since becoming an All-Star for the first time. His fastball velocity was down and both his cutter and slider caught too much of the plate early in the game.

The result was a lot of loud contact from the Yankees that Kikuchi was fortunate didn’t result in more runs. Kikuchi allowed a season-high five runs and eight hits and settled down later in his outing to retire the final seven batters and get through five innings.

Domingo German was originally slated to start for the Yankees, but underwent an emergency root canal on Wednesday morning and was scratched from starting. Nick Nelson started and failed to make it out of the first inning thanks to three walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch that plated a run for Seattle.

Luis Cessa (2-1) threw 3 1/3 solid innings after Nelson and German felt well enough to throw three innings out of the bullpen. He struck out five, but also gave up Tom Murphy’s three-run homer in the sixth inning. All three runs were unearned after Gio Urshela’s error to begin the inning.

It was Murphy’s first home run since June 1.

Jonathan Loaisiga pitched a perfect eighth and Chad Green pitched the ninth for his third save.

5 Rays pitchers no-hit Indians for doubleheader sweep

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined for seven hitless innings, and the Rays beat the Indians 4-0 Wednesday for a doubleheader sweep.

Collin McHugh (two perfect innings), Josh Fleming (7-4 after allowing one walk in 2 2/3 innings), Diego Castillo (one out), Matt Wisler (one inning) and Pete Fairbanks (one inning) combined for the hitless performance in a game shortened to seven innings under pandemic rules.

The game will not go into the official list of no-hitters. MLB’s eight-man committee on statistical accuracy decided in 1991 that a no-hitter was a game of nine or more innings that ended with no hits.

Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner pitched a seven-inning no-hitter against Atlanta in the second game of a doubleheader on April 25, another that did not officially count.

“I don’t have a whole lot of opinions about it … I’ll probably leave that one to Bumgarner to talk about,” McHugh said. “We celebrated like it was. Really, that’s all that matters to us, is having a good time with it.”

There have been seven official no-hitters this season, one shy of the high set in 1884, the first year overhand pitching was allowed.

Cleveland had just three baserunners, including Oscar Mercado, who reached against Josh Fleming after third baseman Wander Franco and shortstop Taylor Walls collided on a routine grounder leading off in the third. Originally scored as an infield single, the call was changed one inning later to an error on Franco for running into Walls.

“I just assumed it was a hit,” said McHugh, who didn’t immediately realize after the final out that Tampa Bay had now allowed any hits. “So there was a little confusion on our part but we had a good time with it.”

In the fifth inning, Franco was credited with an infield single after third baseman Owen Miller made contact with shortstop Amed Rosario as he was fielding a grounder.

Major League Baseball could change decisions by official scorer Tim Clodjeaux.

DeGrom’s ERA rises above 1.00 as Mets split with Brewers

NEW YORK (AP) His ERA over 1.00 for the first time this season, Jacob deGrom will skip the All-Star Game.

The Mets’ ace gave up a pair of solo home runs and got his third straight no-decision as New York beat the Brewers 4-3 on Wednesday in the eight-inning opener of a doubleheader split.

Milwaukee won the second game 5-0 behind two-run homers by Manny Pina and Luis Urias along with Willy Adames’ solo shot. Urias homered twice in the doubleheader to raise his total to 12, after he hit none last year.

DeGrom allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks – his seventh start with double-digit strikeouts this season. His ERA has risen from 0.50 to 1.08 in his last three starts.

Mets manager Luis Rojas and deGrom said they were open to deGrom pitching on short rest in Sunday’s first-half finale.

“Being named to an All-Star team is a great honor,” said deGrom, a four-time All-Star. “But I’m going to take that time and just enjoy it with my family, whether I pitch Sunday or not. Get healthy for the second half.”

DeGrom, who threw 85 pitches, said he will adjust his between starts routine – which usually includes two side sessions. If deGrom doesn’t pitch Sunday, he likely would open the second half at Pittsburgh on July 16.

“I think Jake’s mindset is here – he just wants to be with his team and he wants to produce for his team,” Rojas said. “With everything that’s happened this season, I think his mindset is just if he’s going to pitch, he’s going to pitch here.”

The two-time NL Cy Young Award skipped an outing between April 28 and May 9 due to discomfort in his right lat muscle, then did not pitch against until May 25 while spending time on the injured list with what the Mets said was tightness in his right side. DeGrom left his June 11 outing against San Diego after six innings because of flexor tendinitis in his right arm.

“The best thing is for me to be healthy and be ready for the second half,” deGrom said. “I don’t think it’s beneficial for me to fly to Colorado and back.”

DeGrom allowed a home run to Urias on his fourth pitch and another to Jace Peterson that put Milwaukee ahead 2-1 in the fifth.

Pinch-hitter Jose Peraza, batting for deGrom, hit a tying home run with one out in the seventh off Josh Hader, who had converted 24 save chances since Sept. 20.

Edwin Diaz (3-2) forced in a run by hitting Christian Yelich on the right thigh with a fastball on the first pitch of an at-bat in the eighth, the third time in his big league career Diaz hit a batter with the bases loaded.

Jeff McNeil hit a two-run single with no outs in the bottom half off Brent Suter (8-4), who was trying for his first big league save.

Ohtani hits milestone 32nd homer, Angels edge Red Sox 5-4

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Shohei Ohtani fouled a 2-2 pitch off his ankle in the fifth inning. He fouled the next pitch off his leg, just above his knee.

The Los Angeles Angels slugger shook off the pain, stepped back in and immediately hit a 433-foot homer that gave him a new place in Japanese baseball history.

“That’s how tough he is,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He stayed in there, got himself right and hit a homer.”

Ohtani hit his major league-leading 32nd homer and broke the single-season major league record for homers by a Japanese player during the Angels’ 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

Fellow All-Star Jared Walsh homered twice for the Angels, who won for the sixth time in seven games and took two of three from the AL-leading Red Sox on another landmark day for Los Angeles’ two-way superstar.

A day after Ohtani pitched seven innings to beat Boston, he broke Hideki Matsui’s record with his solo shot to right off Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5), putting the Angels ahead to stay in the fifth inning.

Matsui hit 31 homers for the Yankees in 2004, but Ohtani surpassed the mark in just 81 games before the All-Star break with his 15th homer in his past 20 games.

“I’ve said it before, but he’s someone I’ve been watching as a child growing up, so it’s a huge honor to do something he’s done,” Ohtani said through his translator.

Matsui, who played for the Angels in 2010, returned the love.

In a statement issued by the team, Matsui said Ohtani “exceeds what is considered conventional for a major league player, and there is no one else like him. I hope he continues his success this season, as he carries the hopes and dreams of many fans and young children. As a baseball fan myself, I can’t wait to see what he is able to do next.”

Walsh homered right after Ohtani’s blast and added another solo shot in the seventh, giving him 22 homers in his breakthrough season as Albert Pujols’ full-time replacement at first base. Walsh drove in three runs for the Angels (44-42) as they moved two games above .500 for the first time since April 21.

Xander Bogaerts had three hits and drove in a run for the Red Sox, who lost for just the third time in 13 games while finishing 3-3 on their six-game California road swing. Boston hadn’t lost back-to-back games since June 24.

“We had our chances the last two days,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We had traffic all over the place. We weren’t able to get the big hit. That happens. We were so good offensively coming into this trip. We just haven’t had that big hit the last few days.”

After Mike Mayers escaped an eighth-inning jam with a lead, Raisel Iglesias struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save.

Andrew Heaney (5-6) pitched six-hit ball into the sixth inning for the Angels, bouncing back from three straight rough starts with a solid effort against the AL’s best team. He walked two and struck out five while giving up three runs.

Rodriguez yielded nine hits and four runs over five inconsistent innings for Boston, striking out five. The Angels made little solid contact against him until their back-to-back homers.

“It’s kind of hard when you know your pitches are working pretty good and they start hitting balls like that, but those things happen,” Rodriguez said. “I have to get out of those. Blooper, homer, whatever, that’s something you have to take out of the game.”

Altuve, Tucker homer to lead Astros over Athletics 4-3

HOUSTON (AP) Kyle Tucker hit the go-ahead home run for the Houston Astros in the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday night.

But Houston wouldn’t have been in position to take the lead if not for some stellar defense by Michael Brantley an inning earlier.

Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and Tucker’s solo shot lifted the Astros to a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Brantley’s nifty defensive play came after the Athletics scored two runs in the sixth to tie it with no outs. Sean Murphy then hit a fly ball to left field that Brantley caught before throwing home just in time for catcher Martin Maldonado to tag Ramon Laureano as he slid into him for the double play.

“That was the game-saver right there,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s a huge, huge play right there.”

Brantley downplayed the throw, saying it’s his job to make plays like that.

“It was a big play at the time,” he said. “But we had two home runs and obviously our pitching staff did a great job and we came out with a win.”

The victory is Houston’s sixth straight. It moves the team to 5 1/2 games ahead of second-place Oakland in the AL West and a season-high 21 games above .500 at an AL-best 54-33.

“We’re trying to pad “(the lead) some more,” Baker said. “This is what we talked about. This is what we wanted to do.”

Altuve’s home run gave the Astros the lead in the third, but the A’s scored two in the sixth to tie it.

There was one out in the seventh when Tucker connected off Sean Manaea (6-6) on his home run to right-center to put Houston on top again.

Blake Taylor (2-2) wriggled out of a a jam in a scoreless seventh for the win. Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth to collect his 16th save and lower his ERA to 1.46.

Matt Olson and Elvis Andrus had solo homers for the Athletics, who lost for the fifth time in six games.

“We’re going through a bad streak where it seems like everything that can go wrong is at this point,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve just got to continue to grind. Early in the season these types of games we were winning and right now we’re not.”

Manaea permitted four hits and four runs – three earned – in 6 2/3 innings to extend his losing streak to a career-long four decisions.

Oakland had a chance to take the lead in the seventh after a pair of errors by Altuve and a wild pitch by Taylor left the Athletics with runners on second and third with no outs. But Taylor retired Andrus and Olson to end the threat.

Houston starter Luis Garcia allowed two hits and a run with seven strikeouts in five innings.

Cristian Javier replaced him to start the sixth and was greeted by the home run from Andrus, which bounced high off the wall above the seats in left field to cut the lead to 3-2.

There were two on and no outs when Jed Lowrie tied it on an RBI single to right field. The A’s tied it on a wild pitch by Javier before Brantley’s big play.

There were two outs in the first when Olson smacked his 21st homer of the season into the seats in right field to give the A’s an early lead.

Dodgers cancel Bauer’s bobblehead night, pull merchandise

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Dodgers have canceled Trevor Bauer’s bobblehead night and pulled his merchandise from their team stores in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against the Cy Young Award-winning pitcher.

The Dodgers confirmed the moves Wednesday, saying in a statement that the team “did not feel it was appropriate” to have a bobblehead night or to sell Bauer merchandise “while investigations continue by Major League Baseball and the Pasadena Police Department.”

Fans at Dodger Stadium had been scheduled to get their first bobblehead doll of Bauer on Aug. 19. Merchandise featuring his name or likeness is no longer available in the Dodgers’ team stores or the club’s online shop.

Pasadena police and MLB are both investigating the allegations made against Bauer by a Southern California woman who says the pitcher choked and punched her during two sexual encounters earlier this year. The woman obtained a protection order against Bauer last month under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.

Bauer’s co-agent has claimed his client’s interactions with the woman were wholly consensual. A hearing related to the protection order is scheduled for July 23.

Bauer agreed to a $102 million, three-year contract to join his hometown Dodgers earlier this year after winning his first Cy Young with the Cincinnati Reds last season.

He was placed on a seven-day paid administrative leave by MLB last Friday, and manager Dave Roberts has said the Dodgers do not expect Bauer to return to the team after the seven-day period ends. The Dodgers already are planning their rotation past the All-Star break without Bauer, who is 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts this season.

Derby-Ohtani-Soto, Gallo-Story, Olson-Mancini, Pérez-Alonso

NEW YORK (AP) Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani is the top seed for Monday night’s All-Star Home Run Derby at Denver’s Coors Field and will compete in the first round against Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, seeded eighth.

Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo is seeded second and will face Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Major League Baseball said Wednesday.

Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson will go against Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini, and Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez will hit against New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, who won the last derby in 2019.

Seeding was determined by home run total through Tuesday, and ties were broken with 2020 figures. In the case of Mancini, who didn’t play last year, 2019 totals were used to break a tie with Alonso.

The field was completed Wednesday with Soto and Gallo.

Alonso is trying to join Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) is winning consecutive titles.

The first and second rounds of the single-elimination competition will be three minutes each, and the final round will be two minutes. Each batter is allowed a 45-second timeout in each round. Each batter gets a 30-second bonus in each round, plus an additional 30 seconds if he hits at least one home run of 475 feet or more. A batter is allowed a one-minute break between regulation and bonus time.

Gallo has 23 homers after going deep two more times Wednesday, with shots of 462 and 440 feet to become the first Rangers player ever with 10 homers in a 10-game span. The 27-year-old right fielder wasn’t in the derby when he was an All-Star for the first time in 2019, but homered on the only pitch he saw in the game.

The 22-year-old Soto, a first-time All-Star, began Wednesday with 10 home runs. He announced his participation on Instagram before the Nationals played at San Diego.

Kershaw goes on IL with left elbow inflammation

MIAMI (AP) Three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday by the Los Angeles Dodgers because of left elbow inflammation.

Kershaw is 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 106 innings this season. The 33-year-old left-hander is tied for the NL lead in starts with 18.

In his previous start, allowed three runs in four innings at Washington on July 3, throwing 54 pitches in a rain-shortened game. He had been scheduled to start against Arizona on Friday.

Los Angeles recalled right-hander Mitch White from Triple-A Oklahoma City.


Omar Cooper Jr. committed to IU Wednesday via Twitter. Cooper, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior chose Indiana over West Virginia in his final decision.

Cooper is rated as a four-star prospect by 247sports and is rated #214 nationally in the 2022 class.

He who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and caught 38 passes for 1,101 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.


Heritage Christian guard Myles Colvin has officially committed to Purdue Wednesday.  Colvin averaged 18.5 points and 6.2 rebounds as a sophomore.

IUPUI and Miami of Ohio were the first schools to offer Colvin. Also offering Colvin included Tulane and Indiana.


Purdue freshman Caleb Furst scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds as TEAM USA beat Korea 132-60 in the FIBA U19 World Cup.  Jaden Ivey had 11 points,

Purdue center Zach Edey scored 10 points as Canada cruised to an 86-56 victory over Puerto Rico.


1. Pirates: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, Calif.)

2. Rangers: Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

3. Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (Oklahoma City)

4. Red Sox: Henry Davis, C, Louisville

5. Orioles: Kahlil Watson, SS, Wake Forest (N.C.) HS

6. D-backs: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (Dallas)

7. Royals: Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt

8. Rockies: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow HS (Winder, Ga.)

9. Angels: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas

10. Mets: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College

11. Nats: Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State

12. Mariners: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA

13. Phillies: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

14. Giants: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Lewisberry, Pa.)

15. Brewers: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston

16. Marlins: Jordan Wicks, LHP, Kansas State

17. Reds: Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)

18. Cardinals: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (Bogart, Ga.)

19. Blue Jays: Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep (Pennsauken Township, N.J.)

20. Yankees: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi

21. Cubs: Colson Montgomery, 3B, Southridge HS (Huntingburg, Ind.)

22. White Sox: Jud Fabian, OF, Florida

23. Indians: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (Kennesaw, Ga.)

24. Braves: Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara

25. A’s: Wes Kath, 3B, Desert Mountain HS (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

26. Twins: Gavin Wiliams, RHP, East Carolina

27. Padres: Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (East Amherst, N.Y.)

28. Rays: Ky Bush, LHP, St. Mary’s

29. Dodgers: Matheu Nelson, C, Florida State


There will always be debate about the BEST players in the NFL. Circumstances change year-by-year and that means player rankings change as well. It doesn’t take much to change a player to rise or fall each season. Here is our latest pre-season player ranking (TOP 30) heading into the 2021 season:



Training camps open next month for the National Football League and hopefully everything will return to normal for everyone.

There are many changes to NFL rosters and coaching staffS (we will check on those later) which will make this season very interesting.

Let’s get started with the AFC:


  1. Buffalo….The Bills had a breakout season in 2020, and are expecting more this year.
  2. New England… The Patriots went nuts in free agency looking for a quick turnaround.
  3. Miami….Tua Tagovaiola will look to improve after a rough rookie season.
  4. New York Jets…. A new coach, a new rookie quarterback and a new attitude in New York will make the Jets more fun to watch.


  1. Cleveland…. The Browns are now the king of a tough division.
  2. Baltimore….QB Lamar Jackson will look to develop more as a passer this season.
  3. Pittsburgh…. Big Ben will look for one more run at a championship.
  4. Cincinnati….Joe Burrow is back from an injury and the Bengals will look to make noise in the division.


  1. Tennessee….A new offensive coordinator will look to keep the running attack strong.
  2. Indianapolis…Rivers is out, Carson Wentz is in. A change of scenery should help the new quarterback.
  3. Jacksonville….A new era begins with Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence.
  4. Houston….This franchise is a disaster right now and it will continue throughout the 2021 season.


  1. Kansas City…. Last year Super Bowl left a bad taste in the mouth of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
  2. Los Angeles…. The Chargers have a rising star in Justin Herbert getting Los Angeles a legitimate shot at a playoff berth.
  3. Las Vegas….QB Derek Carr had a solid 2020 campaign, but will need more help this season.
  4. Denver…. Once the class of the division, the Broncos are now cellar dwellers and coach Vic Fangio is fighting for his job.


  1. Kansas City
  2. Buffalo
  3. Cleveland
  4. Tennessee
  5. Baltimore
  6. LA Chargers
  7. Indianapolis



Buffalo defeats Indianapolis

Cleveland defeats Los Angeles

Baltimore defeats Tennessee


Kansas City defeats Baltimore

Cleveland defeats Buffalo


Cleveland defeats Kansas City


  1. Cleveland.
  2. Kansas City
  3. Buffalo
  4. Baltimore
  5. Tennessee
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. New England
  10. Miami
  11. Las Vegas
  12. Denver
  13. Cincinnati
  14. Jacksonville
  15. NY Jets
  16. Houston

8-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer unsure if he’ll be back

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) Roger Federer has been feted by plenty of ovations at Wimbledon’s Centre Court. None quite like this one, though. This was not a celebration and didn’t come at the end of the match.

Instead, it delayed the beginning of what turned out to be the last game of his quarterfinal loss and felt more like a “thank you” or – just in case – a “goodbye.” And Federer acknowledged afterward he isn’t sure whether he’ll be back.

The eight-time champion at the All England Club bowed out 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-0 against 14th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland on Wednesday, a surprisingly lopsided finish to Federer’s 22nd appearance in the tournament.

Asked whether it also might have been his last appearance here, he replied: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’ve got to regroup.”

As for whether retirement is an immediate possibility, he offered this: “No, I hope not. … The goal is to play, of course.”

That likely was on thousands of minds in the stadium when Federer stepped to the baseline to serve while trailing 5-0 in the third set: He waited while fans in the full-to-capacity stands applauded and cheered, some rising to their feet.

Soon enough, it was over, only the third shutout set ceded by Federer in 429 career Grand Slam matches; both of the others came at the French Open.

“The last few games, obviously, you can feel that you’re not coming back from it,” said Federer, who spoke steadily and did not betray any emotion in his news conference. “I’m not used to that kind of situation, obviously, very much. Especially not here.”

Hurkacz, a 24-year-old from Poland who has called Federer his idol, was asked whether he could have imagined this result.

“Probably not,” he responded.

And yet, this was not the Federer the world is used to watching. He underwent two operations on his right knee in 2020. He arrived at Wimbledon having played eight matches this season.

Factor in that Federer turns 40 on Aug. 8 and maybe it was too much to ask that he make his way to the closing weekend, even if this is a tournament he’s won more than any other man, and even if it’s contested on a surface, grass, on which he’s best.

He simply never was able to summon the serving and shot-making that carried him to 20 Grand Slam titles, tied with Rafael Nadal for the men’s record.

“I’m actually very happy I made it as far as I did here and I actually was able to play Wimbledon at the level that I did after everything I went through,” said Federer, who reiterated that he has not decided whether to go to the Tokyo Olympics. “Of course I would like to play (Wimbledon) again, but at my age, you’re just never sure what’s around the corner.”

Hurkacz’s opponent Friday will be No. 7 Matteo Berrettini of Italy, who eliminated No. 16 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 to reach his second major semifinal.

Hurkacz never had made it beyond the third round at any Slam.

In Friday’s semifinal on the other half of the draw, No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic faces No. 10 Denis Shapovalov.

After racing to a 5-0 lead at the outset Wednesday, Djokovic dropped three consecutive games to 48th-ranked Marton Fucsovics. Wasted five set points in the process, too. Soon enough, Djokovic righted himself, as he usually does, and beat Fucsovics 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his 10th semifinal at the All England Club and 41st at a Slam.

That allowed the 34-year-old from Serbia to continue his pursuit of a sixth championship at Wimbledon – and third in a row – along with a 20th major trophy.

There’s this, too: Djokovic is 19-0 at majors this season as he pursues the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969. Djokovic won the Australian Open in February and the French Open in June.

“I’m not chasing anybody,” Djokovic said. “I’m making my own path and my own journey, my own history.”

Shapovalov edged No. 25 Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, then looked ahead to facing Djokovic.

“I do believe that I have the game to beat him,” said Shapovalov, a 22-year-old left-hander from Canada.

Hurkacz appeared quite comfortable on this unfamiliar stage. He played sublimely, with three times as many winners, 36, as unforced errors, 12.

“Obviously, I was a little bit nervous. I mean, playing against Roger in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, it’s a very big thing for me,” Hurkacz said. “But I was trying to stay as calm as I could.”

Federer finally seemed to make some headway in the second set, ahead 3-0.

“Got to find a way to win it, somehow,” Federer mused afterward.

But Hurkacz conceded nothing.

Undaunted by the setting, the stakes, the foe or the almost-uniformly-for-Federer fans, Hurkacz claimed four of the next fives game to pull even at 4-all, breaking along the way with a stinging forehand return of a 101 mph serve that drew a netted a backhand.

In the tiebreaker – preceded by loud chants of “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!” and rhythmic clapping – it was more of the same: Hurkacz hitting his spots and Federer stumbling.

“Brutal,” Federer said.

On one foray to the net, he lost his footing and missed what could have been a simple volley.

The third set went by in a blink. When Federer missed a forehand wide to close things, he packed his bags and hustled off toward the locker room with a wave and a thumbs-up.

“Now that that’s over, you’ve just got to reassess everything. You’ve got to sit down, talk about it: What went well? What didn’t go so well? Where is the body? Where is the knee? Where is the mind?” said Federer, who will meet with his two coaches and other members of his team. “As you can see, it was a struggle for me.”

England beats Denmark 2-1, reaches Euro 2020 final

LONDON (AP) England has broken through its semifinal ceiling at major soccer tournaments. A title match awaits for the first time in 55 years.

Harry Kane converted the rebound after his initial penalty was saved in the 104th minute to give England a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Denmark in extra time in the European Championship semifinals on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium.

England will return to its national soccer stadium on Sunday to play Italy and will be competing in its first final since the 1966 World Cup. That remains England’s only international title.

In the intervening decades, the English have lost in the semifinals four times in either the World Cup or the European Championship. For that reason, this will go down as one of the most significant feats in the national team’s history, something England greats David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker never achieved.

“We dug deep and we got there when it mattered,” Kane said. “We’re in a final at home. What a feeling.”

After the final whistle, Kane led the jubilant England fans in a crowd of more than 60,000 – the biggest gathering for a sporting event in Britain since the coronavirus outbreak nearly 16 months ago – in a rendition of “Sweet Caroline.”

The players and management walked around the perimeter of the field, waving to fans and then their loved ones. England coach Gareth Southgate was serenaded with a song, and he might have appreciated this win more than anyone.

Two of those semifinals losses – in 1990 and 1996 – were decided via a penalty shootout, with Southgate missing a crucial kick in one of them against Germany. And a shootout looked like where England and Denmark were headed until Raheem Sterling wriggled into the area down the right, cut inside and fell under the challenge of Mattias Jensen.

The contact looked minimal, and a video review was needed. After a brief wait that must have felt longer to England’s fans, the decision stood.

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel guessed the right way to block Kane’s penalty but the ball came back to the England captain, who reacted quickly to put it into the net from six yards out.

“I was fortunate to have it bounce back,” Kane said. “That’s football – sometimes it falls your way.”


American League
TeamWLPctGBHomeRoadEastCentralWestLast 10Streak
Boston5434.61427 – 1727 – 1721 – 1012 – 611 – 167 – 3L 2
Tampa Bay5136.5862.526 – 1625 – 2022 – 138 – 413 – 155 – 5W 4
Toronto4440.524819 – 2025 – 2020 – 204 – 67 – 126 – 4W 1
NY Yankees4441.5188.523 – 2221 – 1917 – 2413 – 610 – 54 – 6W 3
Baltimore2858.3262513 – 2715 – 3111 – 244 – 1311 – 144 – 6L 1
TeamWLPctGBHomeRoadEastCentralWestLast 10Streak
Chi White Sox5135.59331 – 1420 – 2110 – 730 – 157 – 107 – 3W 2
Cleveland4242.500821 – 1921 – 237 – 1023 – 165 – 91 – 9L 9
Detroit4047.46011.521 – 2219 – 254 – 518 – 2613 – 117 – 3W 1
Kansas City3650.4191521 – 2215 – 288 – 1217 – 245 – 113 – 7L 1
Minnesota3550.41215.518 – 2517 – 256 – 716 – 239 – 163 – 7L 2
TeamWLPctGBHomeRoadEastCentralWestLast 10Streak
Houston5433.62128 – 1626 – 1715 – 1012 – 625 – 126 – 4W 6
Oakland4939.5575.527 – 2222 – 1713 – 1312 – 216 – 193 – 7L 3
Seattle4542.517926 – 1919 – 2312 – 812 – 1317 – 135 – 5L 2
LA Angels4442.5129.526 – 2018 – 2211 – 1113 – 714 – 208 – 2W 2
Texas3453.3912021 – 2313 – 3011 – 108 – 1113 – 215 – 5L 1
National League
TeamWLPctGBHomeRoadEastCentralWestLast 10Streak
NY Mets4538.54226 – 1219 – 2619 – 187 – 714 – 65 – 5L 1
Washington4243.494424 – 2218 – 2117 – 169 – 108 – 135 – 5W 1
Atlanta4244.4884.524 – 2218 – 2221 – 2216 – 93 – 36 – 4W 1
Philadelphia4143.4884.524 – 1617 – 2720 – 2211 – 66 – 96 – 4L 1
Miami3847.447821 – 1817 – 2916 – 156 – 1314 – 96 – 4W 3
TeamWLPctGBHomeRoadEastCentralWestLast 10Streak
Milwaukee5236.59126 – 1826 – 188 – 1123 – 1419 – 67 – 3W 1
Cincinnati4541.523623 – 2022 – 216 – 422 – 1210 – 207 – 3W 1
Chi Cubs4344.4948.527 – 1516 – 2911 – 1319 – 2010 – 71 – 9W 1
St. Louis4345.489923 – 1820 – 2714 – 1314 – 1713 – 106 – 4L 1
Pittsburgh3254.3721919 – 2513 – 296 – 811 – 267 – 133 – 7L 1
TeamWLPctGBHomeRoadEastCentralWestLast 10Streak
San Francisco5432.62827 – 1327 – 1910 – 712 – 623 – 144 – 6W 1
LA Dodgers5334.6091.528 – 1325 – 2112 – 710 – 1022 – 117 – 3L 3
San Diego5138.5734.531 – 1720 – 215 – 816 – 1422 – 155 – 5L 1
Colorado3750.42517.531 – 176 – 335 – 811 – 1614 – 236 – 4L 2
Arizona2563.2843015 – 2710 – 368 – 157 – 1310 – 283 – 7W 2


New England13733221845-0-12-3-224
Orlando City SC12633201283-2-13-1-221
CF Montreal12543141133-2-12-2-219
Nashville SC11461141134-4-00-2-118
New York City FC11524191363-1-22-1-217
New York11515161424-0-11-1-416
FC Cincinnati103251018-80-0-33-2-211
Inter Miami CF11227917-80-1-42-1-38
Toronto FC122281629-131-1-21-1-68
Sporting KC13823241595-2-03-0-326
Los Angeles12804201825-0-23-0-224
Los Angeles FC12534151233-2-12-1-318
Real Salt Lake11443181262-3-22-1-116
San Jose123271422-82-0-41-2-311
FC Dallas122551420-62-5-00-0-511


Eastern Conference
 WLPctGBHomeRoadConfLast 10Streak
Connecticut Sun126.6677-15-57-36-41 L
Chicago Sky109.5262.53-57-48-38-21 L
New York Liberty109.5262.55-45-55-65-52 W
Washington Mystics710.4124.55-42-64-65-54 L
Atlanta Dream611.3535.53-63-55-42-82 L
Indiana Fever216.11110.02-80-82-91-91 W
Western Conference
 WLPctGBHomeRoadConfLast 10Streak
Seattle Storm154.7897-38-17-38-23 W
Las Vegas Aces145.7371.08-26-37-38-21 L
Minnesota Lynx107.5884.06-34-46-47-35 W
Phoenix Mercury89.4716.02-76-25-64-61 W
Dallas Wings911.4506.54-45-76-64-62 L
Los Angeles Sparks612.3338.54-62-61-102-85 L