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    The Latest on Thursday at the World Cup (all times local): 12:35 p.m. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he met Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and talked about the Russia team's good start to the World Cup. Blatter went to see Russia's president after attending Portugal's 1-0 win over Morocco in Moscow on Wednesday. Blatter says 'we had small talks. We spoke about football and the good start of the competition, the good start of the team.' Russia has qualified for the round of 16. The 82-year-old Blatter is serving a six-year ban from official football duty until October 2021 for financial misconduct during this 17-year rule. The terms of the ban meant Blatter was kept separate from successor Gianni Infantino and other football officials at Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday. Fulfilling a long-standing personal invitation from Putin to attend the World Cup, Blatter will travel to St. Petersburg to see Brazil play Costa Rica on Friday. Blatter says it was 'respectful' to be invited to Russia and the Kremlin despite being suspended from football. ___ 11:40 a.m. Dele Alli missed England's training session on Thursday because of a thigh injury, putting him in doubt for the team's second group game against Panama at the World Cup. The midfielder was hurt during England's 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday and was taken off in the second half. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the likely replacement for Alli if the Tottenham player misses out.
  • A look at what's happening around the majors today: BIG ARMS IN THE BRONX With slugger Giancarlo Stanton heating up at the plate, the major league-leading Yankees (49-22) go for a three-game sweep of visiting Seattle. Luis Severino (10-2, 2.09 ERA) pitches for New York against lefty James Paxton (6-1, 3.44), who is 5-0 with a 2.55 ERA since the beginning of May — a nine-start span that includes a no-hitter in Toronto. The Mariners have lost three straight for the first time since April 17-19 against the World Series champion Astros. STRANGE TO SEE Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.06 ERA) tries to avoid his first three-game losing streak since August 2015 when the Nationals host lowly Baltimore. He'll hope to get some help on offense from slumping slugger Bryce Harper, who went 0 for 4 in a rain-delayed 3-0 loss Wednesday night, dropping his batting average to .209. Washington manager Dave Martinez said Harper has been working hard with batting coach Kevin Long. 'He's going to hit. I know he's going to carry us for a month or two or for whatever,' Martinez said. DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (8-2, 3.20 ERA) is scheduled for an MRI after exiting Wednesday's start with a left oblique strain. 'Feeling a little bit better,' he said following the game. 'I'm hoping for the best.' Carlos Martinez (3-3, 2.73) pitches for St. Louis in the opener of a four-game set at Milwaukee. He is 6-4 with a 1.95 ERA against the Brewers. Slumping outfielder Ryan Braun is expected to rejoin the Brewers after the team sent him to Los Angeles on Wednesday for treatment on his achy right thumb. The six-time All-Star is hitting just .236 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. SEEKING HIS FIRST WIN Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 4.67 ERA) pitches at home against last-place San Diego, which has dropped four straight. Bumgarner missed the first two months of the season with a broken pinkie. He has lost four in a row to the Padres, who counter with Tyson Ross (5-4, 3.51). Meanwhile, San Francisco right-hander Jeff Samardzija (shoulder tightness) is set to make his second rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento. READY TO GO White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia (right hamstring strain) could return to the lineup against Oakland in the opener of a four-game series. Garcia was hitting .333 with two home runs and seven RBIs during a six-game rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte. He batted .330 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs last season, making his first All-Star team. COMING UP EMPTY Boston will be looking for a couple of clutch hits against the Minnesota Twins in the finale of its road trip. The Red Sox were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and are 2 for 22 in the first two games of the series. They stranded 18 runners in those two games and have lost four of five overall. Rick Porcello (8-3, 3.70 ERA) starts against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson (2-4, 3.27), who has allowed only five runs over his last four starts spanning 26 2/3 innings. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Bouwe Bekking has sailed more than 300,000 nautical miles during the last 33 years and circled the globe nearly eight times trying to win the Volvo Ocean Race. After seven unsuccessful attempts, that elusive victory is just 700 nautical miles away if the Dutch skipper can place Team Brunel ahead of MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team on the round-the-world race's final leg, a sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden, to The Hague, Netherlands. It would be a popular victory, for sure, if the 55-year-old Bekking sails into his home country ahead of MAPFRE and Dongfeng, the only other teams that can win the bluewater classic. 'Of course it's exciting that the prospect is there,' Bekking said in a phone interview ahead of the start of Leg 11 on Thursday. 'A lot of strange things have happened. The good thing is, I believe we can win. We still have to perform, but if you don't believe you can win, you shouldn't start.' No one has sailed more miles in Volvo Ocean Race history than Bekking, and no edition of the race has come down to a finish like this. After more than 44,000 miles of sailing, MAPFRE and Team Brunel are tied with 65 points. Dongfeng Race Team has 64 points, but if it finishes ahead of MAPFRE and Team Brunel, it will be positioned to receive a bonus point for the shortest elapsed time around the world. That effectively has created a three-way tie going into the last leg. Bekking is this close to finally winning the marquee offshore race because he's led Team Brunel from a slow start to winning three of the last four legs, plus a second-place finish. Team Brunel was sixth in the seven-boat boat fleet after Leg 6 from Hong Kong to Auckland, New Zealand. 'I'm always a leader that gives a lot of freedom. At Auckland, I had to step up like a schoolmaster, and it all started coming together,' Bekking said. Bekking knew there was boat speed. There just hadn't been results. The crew set a modest goal of finishing third on the next leg, a grueling haul through the harsh Southern Ocean to Itajai, Brazil. They not only won that leg, but earned a bonus point for being the first to round Cape Horn. They followed that with a second place into Newport, Rhode Island, behind pre-race favorite MAPFRE. 'In Newport, I thought, 'OK, we actually have a chance to win the race if we win the next two legs,'' Bekking said. 'We were there.' He was onto something. Team Brunel won the trans-Atlantic leg to Cardiff, Wales, and finished first on the leg to Gothenburg. Bekking said Team Brunel's poor performance early in the race was due to the team getting a late start in preparations and the sponsor's desire to give the new generation of sailors a chance. A key crew member is New Zealander Peter Burling, who at 27 has already won the America's Cup and Olympic gold and silver medals. A victory in the Volvo Ocean Race would give him sailing's so-called Triple Crown. Also sailing for Team Brunel is Australian Kyle Langford, 28, who in 2013 was on the Oracle Team USA crew that rallied from an 8-1 deficit to win eight straight races and stun Emirates Team New Zealand in the 34th America's Cup. A year ago, Burling's underdog Emirates Team New Zealand shocked Oracle Team USA in an America's Cup rout. 'People on the team have won big championships,' Bekking said. 'Even if it comes down to the last leg, that's where experience comes in. I believe in it.' Burling said Bekking 'gives a lot of responsibility to the other crew. It's pretty good in that regard. He's definitely got a wealth of experience he can draw from, with the amount of times he's been around the world.' This is Burling's first round-the-world race, so he can only imagine what Bekking has gone through in his long career. 'It's definitely a pretty challenging trip and what he's done for a large portion of his life is pretty unique, to be honest,' Burling said. 'The amount of offshore miles he's done, you obviously have to enjoy it. He's a really competitive guy as well. He enjoys pushing the limits. It's pretty cool for not just him but the whole team. We've turned around a pretty average start and actually have a shot going into the final leg. We're excited at giving it our best crack at the final sprint into Holland.' Bekking considers himself fortunate to be able to race around the globe, fighting the elements with like-minded sailors. 'I think the first thing is, I just love to be on the ocean,' he said. 'I love to be sailing. If you don't love that, then there's no space for you in the Volvo Ocean Race.' He might soon finally win it. David Witt, skipper of Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, said Wednesday that he was willing to double and even triple down on his recent prediction that that Bekking will prevail. 'That's how confident I am Bouwe is going to win,' Witt said. ___ Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/berniewilson
  • Daniel Ricciardo drove go-karts while growing up in Australia and found himself drawn to stock car racing and the big personalities behind the wheels. 'I loved a lot of motorsports, but as far as the ovals go, I was more into NASCAR,' Ricciardo said this month. 'Dale Earnhardt was kind of a hero of mine. The No. 3 — it was my first go-kart number, so I already had a bit of affection to No. 3. But being a fan of Dale's as well, that definitely made me want to run that number.' In an interview before the Canadian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth in his No. 3 Red Bull, Ricciardo said he saw a lot of similarities between Earnhardt and three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna. And he wanted to be like them. 'I was so ruthless on track,' Ricciardo said, recalling Earnhardt's nickname: The Intimidator. 'Everyone was intimidated by him. But off-track (they) had a massive following and could balance that aggressiveness with humility off of track. I thought both Senna and Earnhardt carried that really well.' Speaking to reporters in a Montreal hotel fresh off his victory in Monaco — the seventh of his Formula One career — Ricciardo joked about having to share the spotlight back home after the win with Will Power, who won the Indianapolis 500 on the same day. It was the first time drivers from the same country had won the two races on the same day. Britain (1965, 1966) and Brazil (1989, 1993) had claimed both victories in the same year. Ricciardo, who is from Perth in Western Australia, said he was featured on the front page in his home state but didn't know how the East Coast papers played the news; Power is from Queensland. 'I would probably guess both of us would have gotten — if not front page, the back page,' he said, chuckling. 'And if not, shame on them.' Although Ricciardo said he has followed Power's career — the IndyCar driver is 9 years his senior — the two have never met. 'But I was really happy for him because everyone that's worked with him tells me that he's a really hard worker and he's earned every step of his career,' Ricciardo said. Like the Indy 500 for IndyCar, Monaco is the signature race of the Formula One season, and Ricciardo's victory gave him a newfound celebrity. After performing his trademark 'shoey' — drinking champagne out of his racing boot on the victory podium, in front of the Monaco royal family — he continued the celebration later by diving into a rooftop swimming pool while still wearing his racing overalls. It was the conclusion of a fun weekend for him. Earlier, while standing on the bow of a boat in the port, Ricciardo caught a pass from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — thrown from another boat — and then booted the football back to the Brady on the other yacht. 'I spoke to him a bit. Super-nice guy. I'm sure he gets harassed everywhere he goes,' said Ricciardo, who like the five-time NFL champion is sponsored by Tag Heuer watches. 'I never really have expectations when I meet someone of his caliber, but the fact that we spoke and he showed an interest and he was excited to be there, that was cool.' But the encounter left Ricciardo with one, lingering letdown. 'Australian rules football, we're used to that shaped balls, catching and kicking. I grew up doing a lot of that. So that's why I thought I would maybe impress a few people,' he said. 'The only thing I'm really, really disappointed with is I haven't gotten a call from the Patriots yet. 'They've got to spot talent when they see it,' he said with a laugh. 'I mean this kid can catch. And I can run.' ___ More AP racing: https://www.racing.ap.org
  • A now-dead doctor accused of sexual misconduct by former student athletes at Ohio State University said he acted as a team physician at other universities, most of which won't say if they are reviewing those connections or whether any concerns were raised about him. Ohio State employment records reviewed by The Associated Press indicate Richard Strauss worked at five schools in the decade between leaving the Navy as a submarine medicine instructor and joining the university in Columbus in 1978. Strauss researched, taught or practiced medicine at Harvard University, Rutgers University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii, according to his resume. He 'remained within the academic community, acting as a part-time team physician at the universities with which I have been associated,' according to a note from Strauss in 1980, around the time he was being considered for a leadership appointment in sports medicine at Ohio State. He didn't specify which teams with which he worked or in what capacity. When contacted by the AP, most of the other schools in Strauss' work history would say or knew little about any ties to him or whether they were reviewing his work and affiliations. There is no standard response when schools learn a former employee was later accused of abuse, said Djuna Perkins, a lawyer who has conducted sexual misconduct investigations at dozens of universities. Some schools might investigate to ease any concerns, she said, but some might not see the value in that if no accuser has come forward at the institution. 'It would be typical to at least take a preliminary look to see, was this guy here? Did he have contact with students? And then if he did, was there anything we can do about it or should do about it?' she said. On the other hand, she said, some schools might think, 'Why take huge steps and get everyone rattled if in fact there is nothing?' In such situations, lawyers would probably advise the school where allegations were raised not to notify other employers of the accused, because such issues are seen as personnel matters and not typically shared, Perkins said. A spokesman for Ohio State wouldn't comment on whether it has contacted Strauss' other listed employers. But Ohio State has done other outreach, emailing student athletes and other alumni from the mid-1970s to 2001 to ask that anyone with information contact investigators from Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie. According to his resume, Strauss did postdoctoral research in physiology at Washington from 1968-1970 and volunteered at a free clinic in Seattle; taught physiology at Penn between 1970-72 and worked at its hospital's hyperbaric therapy service; and then taught physiology at Hawaii from 1972-74 and was a physician for a clinic in that state. The resume says he was a medical resident at Rutgers from 1974-75; a research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital from 1975-77; and a fellow in sports medicine at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston before becoming an Ohio State assistant professor. The resume also lists him as a 'physician for university diving activities' at Washington and Hawaii. Spokeswomen for those schools couldn't provide further information this week about those activities or his work, and didn't address questions about whether their schools are reviewing connections to Strauss. Penn didn't respond to a similar inquiry. Rutgers hasn't found any record of Strauss having been an employee or medical resident there, spokesman John Cramer said. Rutgers isn't aware of any concerns raised about Strauss, he said. Spokespeople for Harvard Medical School and what is now Brigham and Women's Hospital said they couldn't provide further information about Strauss' work or whether any concerns were raised about him. Harvard spokeswomen wouldn't say whether his past is being investigated there. A spokeswoman at the University of Chicago, where Strauss graduated from medical school in 1964, also wouldn't comment. Strauss' personnel file doesn't indicate whether Ohio State was aware of alleged sexual misconduct. It includes employment- and tenure-related letters in which colleagues praise him as a well-known educator and productive author of articles in his field. In one letter in early 1984, the dean of the medical college at the time, Manuel Tzagournis, characterized Strauss as 'an outstanding individual in every sense' and noted: 'Since meeting Dr. Strauss I have never once considered questioning his integrity nor his professional abilities.' Tzagournis didn't respond to phone and email messages left for him at Ohio State, where he has an emeritus position. Ohio State hasn't disclosed exactly how many people have raised allegations about Strauss or details about those claims. Reports of alleged misconduct have come from male athletes affiliated with 14 sports: baseball, cheerleading, cross country, fencing, football, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball and wrestling. There are also allegations related to Strauss' private, off-campus medical office in Columbus, according to a law firm representing the university. Ohio State said independent investigators have conducted or scheduled more than 130 interviews with people who reported having relevant information. The Associated Press hasn't been able to locate relatives who could be asked about the allegations against Strauss, whose 2005 death in Los Angeles was ruled a suicide. The Strauss investigation comes as universities face heightened attention about the handling of sexual misconduct allegations following the case of former campus sports doctor Larry Nassar at Michigan State University, which recently agreed to a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who said Nassar sexually assaulted them. Strauss had a Michigan State link, too. He said he earned his bachelor's degree there in chemistry in 1960, decades before Nassar attended and worked at MSU. ___ Binkley reported from Boston. Follow the reporters on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 and https://twitter.com/cbinkley . Have a tip? Contact the authors securely at https://www.ap.org/tips
  • Oregon State was down three runs when a steady mist moved in at TD Ameritrade Park in the eighth inning Wednesday night. Perfect conditions for a team from the Pacific Northwest. 'Every time we're playing and it starts to rain, everyone looks around and says, 'OK, we're going to come back and do what we do at home,'' OSU shortstop Cadyn Grenier said. 'When the rain comes, we know there's a possibility of a storm coming — and that's from us.' The Beavers stormed back all right and knocked North Carolina out of the College World Series with an 11-6 win. Brett Daniels walked in the go-ahead run after Adley Rutschman tied it with a three-run double. Tyler Malone hit his second homer of the CWS, and the Beavers' third of the game, as Oregon State (51-11-1) built a five-run cushion and avenged Saturday's 8-6 loss to the Tar Heels (44-20). It was a stunning turnabout after the Tar Heels wiped out a 3-0 deficit to go up 6-3 in the sixth. North Carolina had been 37-0 when leading after seven innings and had won 50 straight when scoring six runs, the longest streak in Division I. 'Until that final out, we never feel we're out of the game,' OSU star second baseman Nick Madrigal said. 'That's the way Oregon State baseball is. We're going to fight to the end.' North Carolina's eighth-inning meltdown saw three pitchers walk four batters, one intentionally, and allow three hits. No. 9 batter Zak Taylor started things off with a leadoff single. Madrigal, the No. 4 overall draft pick by the Chicago White Sox, followed with a base hit and Grenier won a 12-pitch duel with Joey Lancelotti to walk and load the bases. 'Zak Taylor got us going,' Madrigal said. 'Sometimes it takes one hit to break it open. That's the way baseball is.' Rutschman followed with a drive to the center-field wall off Daniels (6-1) for his bases-clearing double. 'We were playing no doubles,' Carolina coach Mike Fox said, 'but we would have had to be standing on the warning track to catch that ball.' Daniels then walked two in a row, the first intentionally, to fill the bases again. Daniels ran the count full against Jack Anderson before walking him to force in Rutschman. Carolina wiped out a 3-0 deficit in the third on Brandon Riley's two-run double off Luke Heimlich and led 4-3 in the fifth on Ike Freeman's single. Kyle Datres hooked Christian Chamberlain's pitch just inside the left-field foul pole, putting the Tar Heels up 6-3 in the sixth. Jake Mulholland (3-2) pitched three innings of shutout relief for the win. 'They were resilient, they were tough, they fought, they were tough — and they put up with my emotions,' Beavers coach Pat Casey said. 'I ask guys all the time just be as competitive as you can possibly be. I've got to tell you it was a great comeback. They stayed with it.' Heimlich, the two-time Pac-12 pitcher of the year, couldn't make it out of the third inning for a second straight start in Omaha. Heimlich's appearance at the CWS had drawn mixed reaction from the public. Last year, he left the team for the super regionals and the CWS after it was revealed he had pleaded guilty to molesting a young relative when he was 15. The university allowed him to return to the team this year. He served two years' probation and went through a treatment program but denied wrongdoing in recent interviews with Sports Illustrated and The New York Times. North Carolina went 1-2 in its first trip in five years to the CWS. 'Well, the end of the season, it stinks,' Fox said. 'It's especially hard when you have really such a great group of kids. Probably not one of our most talented teams that we've had at UNC, but perhaps our most unselfish, toughest, grittiest, just determined to get here.' Since 2013, the Tar Heels twice failed to make the NCAA Tournament and twice lost in regionals. 'For me, just growing up watching Carolina baseball, they're in Omaha every year. Every year,' Datres said. 'When I came in here the first couple of years, it wasn't what Carolina was all about. To be able to get them back here, where we belong in Omaha, go out the way that we did says a lot. I think you will see more of the Tar Heels in the next couple of years.' BEAVERS' KWAN LIMITED Oregon State All-Pac-12 center fielder Steven Kwan didn't start after injuring a hamstring Wednesday against Mississippi State. Nick Madrigal took Kwan's spot as leadoff man. Kwan pinch hit in the eighth and was intentionally walked, and Preston Jones pinch ran for him. ERROR-PRONE OSU Oregon State committed two errors against Carolina and has six in three CWS games. That's as many as the Beavers committed in their previous 18 games. The Beavers had come into the CWS as the best fielding team in the field and seventh-best in the country at .980. UP NEXT Oregon State will play Mississippi State in a bracket final. The Beavers would need to win Friday and again Saturday to reach the best-of-three finals. ___ For more AP CWS coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/CollegeWorldSeries
  • Expectations have been sky high for Giancarlo Stanton since he was acquired from Miami last offseason. In front of a sellout crowd Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, the 6-foot-6 slugger had his first huge moment in pinstripes. Stanton lined a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Yankees erased a five-run deficit to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-5. 'That ball was absolutely scalded,' Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. Gary Sanchez tied the score with a two-run homer in the eighth, and the Yankees went on to complete their largest comeback victory of the year. Coming off an MVP season in which he led the majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs, Stanton has been inconsistent so far with New York, batting .255 with 18 homers. The 28-year-old slugger has started to heat up lately, though, with four hits Monday night in Washington and a home run in Tuesday's series opener against Seattle. Didi Gregorius singled with two outs in the ninth and Stanton hammered an 0-2 breaking ball from reliever Ryan Cook (1-1). Stanton knew it was gone the moment he connected, and he took a little jump at the plate and pumped his arm before tossing his bat aside. 'When you hit a line drive, that's a base hit to center for me,' Boone said. 'He's a different animal.' The laser shot traveled a projected 453 feet for Stanton's first walk-off homer with the Yankees — his previous one came on April 18, 2014, for the Marlins (also vs. Seattle). He was mobbed by teammates and doused as he crossed the plate, throwing his helmet into the air and smiling from ear to ear. 'I was trying to decide whether I was going to bowl it or throw it up,' Stanton said, acknowledging the homer was his biggest hit for the Yankees. 'I'm part of it now.' New York is a season-high 27 games above .500 with the majors' best record at 49-22. The Yankees have won nine of their last 11 against Seattle (46-28) and will try for a three-game sweep Thursday afternoon. 'They're dangerous,' Mariners manager Scott Servais said. 'They made us pay tonight.' Aroldis Chapman (3-0) pitched a perfect inning for the win. His final pitch was clocked at 104.3 mph, his fastest this season. The Mariners have lost three straight for the first time since April 17-19 against the World Series champion Astros. Seattle starter Felix Hernandez lasted five innings and threw 95 pitches. He was charged with two runs, one earned, and six hits. Sanchez drove Alex Colome's cutter 439 feet off the back wall of the left-center bullpen, knotting the score at 5. 'Excited for two of our big boys to really deliver in a big way tonight,' Boone said. Dee Gordon had two RBIs for the Mariners. Denard Span and Ryon Healy each drove home a run in the fifth, extending Seattle's advantage to 5-0. Yankees rookie Jonathan Loaisiga, making his second major league start in place of injured Masahiro Tanaka, allowed three runs on six hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. New York broke through in the fifth with two outs and runners on first and second. Aaron Judge hit a broken-bat single to left, scoring Miguel Andujar. Aaron Hicks also came home when Span bobbled the ball. 'I knew our offense was going to come through eventually,' said Judge, who had his first three-hit game since May 9. Gregorius' sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 5-3. SAYING GOODBYE A moment of silence was held before the game for Billy Connors, a three-time Yankees pitching coach and confidant of late owner George Steinbrenner. Connors died Saturday, the team said. He was 76. Connors also served as vice president of player personnel from 1996 to 2012. TRAINER'S ROOM Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (right shoulder surgery) remains in Arizona, where his first rehab start was pushed back due to soreness. He was scheduled to play catch Wednesday. ... OF Guillermo Heredia was not in the starting lineup after batting just .122 this month, but entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh. 'G is struggling a bit lately,' Servais said. 'Also, extra left-handed hitter in this ballpark (is) not a bad thing.' Yankees: OF Brett Gardner (swollen right knee) ran and took batting practice before the game. He has not played since Saturday. 'Feeling optimistic that it's not going to be a DL thing,' Boone said. ... Tanaka (two strained hamstrings) played catch and rode an exercise bike. ... Jacoby Ellsbury is in Florida and might be getting close to resuming baseball activities, according to Boone. The outfielder has been sidelined all season by a string of injuries, including a strained right oblique, sore back, sore left hip and plantar fasciitis in his right heel. UP NEXT Mariners: LHP James Paxton (6-1, 3.44 ERA) starts the series finale. He is 5-0 with a 2.55 ERA since the beginning of May, a span of nine starts that included a no-hitter in Toronto. Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (10-2, 2.09) threw eight scoreless innings Saturday against Tampa Bay, becoming the first Yankees pitcher with 10 wins before the All-Star break since Tanaka in 2014. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Now that he's no longer an active player, maybe Ichiro Suzuki wants to start swinging for the fences. How about at next month's Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities in Washington? What began as light-hearted banter among Seattle Mariners coaches grew into something that caused a stir in the clubhouse before Wednesday night's game against the New York Yankees. 'He's got power and he's been launching balls into the seats,' Mariners manager Scott Servais said. 'A couple of coaches said the other day, 'You know, no one wants to do this Home Run Derby. Why don't we just send Ichiro? He'd be awesome.'' The idea gained momentum when Servais mentioned it on a radio show Wednesday, and suddenly a new Twitter hashtag was born — #IchiForDC. Not officially retired but unlikely to appear in another major league game, the Japanese-born Suzuki shifted to a new role with Seattle as special assistant to the chairman in early May after batting .205 in 15 games this season. The 44-year-old travels with the team and is in uniform for games, helping out with batting practice and other drills while keeping a locker in the clubhouse. Even though he's still in game shape, Suzuki didn't seem to be entertaining the idea of throwing his hat in the ring for the annual power contest. 'I'm not a player (anymore) and just the long, great history that MLB has, I don't think it would be good for it,' Suzuki said through a translator. 'But I think it's fun and I'm happy that it's come up.' Servais was happy the concept was being discussed, even if it was nothing more than a joke. 'This is really good because he's been giving me a hard time so I'm really glad to throw this back in his lap,' he said with a grin. Suzuki, the 2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, found humor in the situation — but promised revenge on Servais. 'It's the funniest thing he's said this first half of the year,' Suzuki said. 'I'm definitely going to get him back. I'm going to continue to get him.' Suzuki has 3,089 big league hits, but only 117 of those were home runs. Despite reaching double-digit homers in just three of his 18 major league seasons, Suzuki often displayed surprising power in batting practice and it was widely believed he could have clubbed a lot more over the fence if he tried. But the 10-time All-Star maintained his unorthodox, slashing swing throughout his career, leading the league in hits seven times. 'Right now I'm eating two hamburgers at lunch, and now that this Home Run Derby thing came up I'll have to up it to three cheeseburgers for lunch, get some more power,' he quipped. If Suzuki did try his hand against some of the game's top sluggers in the nation's capital, however, he knows who he'd want pitching to him. 'Mark Buehrle,' he said, after a long, contemplative pause. Suzuki was 27 for 66 (.409) against the left-hander, who won 214 games over 16 seasons. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch might want to consider giving Jose Altuve more days off. A night after he was out of the starting lineup for the first time all season, the 2017 American League MVP homered twice, including the last of three straight by the Astros in the sixth inning, to lift Houston to a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. Altuve, who pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Tuesday night, said getting a little break gave him a chance to regroup. 'It felt good. It's always good to sit down and think about how you feel,' he said. 'And I came back strong today.' The game was tied in the bottom of the sixth when George Springer's 15th homer this season made it 2-1. Two pitches later Alex Bregman sent an 87 mph slider from Rays' starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-3) into the seats in left field for his 11th home run. But the Astros weren't done yet, as Altuve put one on the train tracks atop left field for the second time on Wednesday night to push the lead to 4-1. It was the first time the Astros had hit three home runs in a row since May 2, 2008 when Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it against the Milwaukee Brewers. Altuve got a little amped up after seeing the balls by Springer and Bregman leave the yard, and once he got in a hitter's count he was looking for a ball to drive. 'There was a lot going on in that inning and I got a little excited,' he said. It was a welcome display of power for a team which managed just five singles in a 2-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night that snapped Houston's 12-game winning streak. Wednesday night's win made the Astros the first team to reach 50 victories this season. 'It was a pretty electrifying crowd after three home runs one after another after another,' manager A.J. Hinch said. 'Obviously, it was a huge inning for us. What energy that got put back into the building and also our team. Pretty impressive.' Houston starter Charlie Morton (9-1) allowed just two hits and one unearned run in six innings for the win. Eovaldi, who grew up in suburban Houston, entered the game 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four career starts against the Astros. But he allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings for his third straight loss. 'It's just a matter of time before that offense gets you,' manager Kevin Cash said. 'He was efficient, they made some adjustments, but it was a lot of power and by that third time through, it kind of caught up. It's just a very talented offense.' Jake Bauers doubled with two outs in the first inning before Morton walked Wilson Ramos and plunked Joey Wendle to load the bases. But he escaped the jam when left fielder Tony Kemp made a diving catch on a ball hit by Willy Adames to end the inning. 'That's probably the highlight of the game defensively for us just because a lot of things can happen there,' Hinch said. 'We're playing a little bit deep, it looked like he got a little bit of a late start and then comes in with an acrobatic catch.' Mallex Smith singled with one out in the fourth and scored when Carlos Gomez grounded out and first baseman Yuli Gurriel badly overthrew first base for an error to make it 1-0. Altuve tied it up with his first home run of the night with one out in the fourth. It was the first multi-homer game in the regular season since July 24, 2016 for Altuve, who hit a career-best three in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston last season. The Astros added a run on an RBI single by Kemp with one out in the seventh. TRAINER'S ROOM Astros: Hinch said RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) was feeling a lot better on Wednesday and is likely to throw off the mound either this weekend or early next week. Rays: Manager Kevin Cash said INF Daniel Robertson (left hamstring strain) is doing well and should come off the disabled list on Friday. KIERMAIER'S STRUGGLES Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts after going 0 for 5 on Wednesday night in his first game back after missing more than two months following thumb surgery. His slump is a continuation of the struggles he had before the injury and he's hitting just .135 in 14 games this season. 'Unfortunately, K.K. just got off to a rough start and takes a month or two months off,' Cash said. 'The numbers are going to be ugly for a little while, but I'm very confident he'll get going.' UP NEXT Rays: Tampa Bay is off on Thursday before beginning a three-game series with the New York Yankees on Friday. They have yet to announce their pitching rotation for that series. Astros: Houston also has a day off on Thursday before hosting Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series on Friday. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 4.15 ERA), who got his first win since May 13 in his last start, will oppose Royals' lefty Danny Duffy. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lost a legend on Wednesday. The Vol Network issued a statement announcing the passing of Tennessee broadcasting giant John Ward.   Tennessee has lost its Voice. pic.twitter.com/ayqMRqH6wU — Vol Network (@VolNetwork_IMG) June 21, 2018   Ward handled play-by-play duties for the University of Tennessee from 1965 through 1999, in addition to the Vols’ coaches shows in football and basketball. Ward was 87 years old.           The post Tennessee ‘has lost its Voice,’ Vols broadcasting legend John Ward passes away appeared first on SEC Country.

Georgia Sports News

  • RUTLEDGE, Ga. — Driving East out of Atlanta, keep going on until there’s no evidence of civilization, exit onto Newborn Road and head south into the middle of nowhere. Turn left onto Centenniel Road, drive about a mile, then hang a right onto the gravel road known as Keencheefoonee. Proceed through the wooden gate, turn left at the horse stables pull into a dirt parking lot. Then walk downhill along an asphalt path through a shady white oak forest and emerge into sunlight and arrive at the happiest place on Earth. No, you’re not at Disney World. This place is better. You’ve arrived at Camp Twin Lakes, which for this one day at least is known as Camp Sunshine. Georgia coach Kirby Smart puts his arms around linemen Kendall Baker and Lamont Gaillard as the Bulldogs listen to a presentation by a nurse at the infirmary at Lake Twin Lakes on Wednesday. (Chip Towers/DawgNation) Longtime Georgia Bulldogs’ fans know the drill. UGA’s football team has been making this trek an hour and change south of Athens annually for most of the last 35 years. Vince Dooley, along with wife Barbara, was appointed to the Camp Twin Lakes board of directors in 1983 and the Bulldogs have been making a midsummer visit here every year since (well, every year accept for those under coach Jim Donnan, according to camp administrators). For the unenlightened, Camp Twin Lakes is a retreat in which children with cancer and their families can get away to enjoy outdoor recreational activities for the summer. It has air-conditioned cabins for “glamping,” swimming pools, lakes, a farm (complete with miniature cows and alpacas), sports playing fields, a zipline, a gymnasium and much more. All of the available activities are retrofitted to accommodate children battling different forms of cancer. And, of course, there’s an infirmary to attend to any children who might get sick — or just scrape a knee raising their buddy on one of the many trails snaking the expansive property. It’s here that one sees a whole different side of Georgia coach Kirby Smart. He completely drops his guard and relaxes. He back-slaps and jokes with his players. He peels off at the sight of any of the campers or there families. During the hour-long tour, he seems to know somebody personally at every corner and stops to chat, falling behind the tour and then double-timing it catch back up. The familiarity is because Smart has been coming to Camp Twin Lakes a very long time. He first started coming when his older brother Karl was diagnosed with leukemia in the 1990s. His brother has long since been well, but Kirby has kept coming. He came when he was an assistant coach at Valdosta State and when he was the Miami Dolphins and Alabama. “It’s convenient because I have a lake home that’s 30-45 minutes from here (on Lake Oconee),” Smart said Wednesday. “So through the years, when I was with the Dolphins or Alabama, I’d stop by. A couple of those years Karl was still here as a counselor, so being able to stop in here to see him and everybody was good. Now that he’s head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, he brings his whole team with him, including wife Mary Beth, twins Julia and Weston and little Andrew. Wednesday they had a good time posing with a cardboard cut-out of Kirby and Karl on display in the camp’s courtyard. Andrew kept asking everybody when the dodge-ball game would start, and was front and center and in the middle of everything when it did. “He needs to get smacked around a little bit,” Smart said with a chuckle. “He’s a little too brave for his own good out there. The players are scared to bean him because they know he’s mine.” “Nobody’s like Kirby,” said Mo Thrash, one of the original founders of Camp Sunshine who serves as the Bulldogs’ tour guide and taskmaster each year. “He’s come every year since he’s been out of college. He’d always call me and say, ‘Mo, can I come to camp?’ He show up, spend an hour, hour-and-a-half with me walking around the camp saying hey to kids. No press, nobody around, just being himself. Then he’d leave. He did it every year. Then he became Georgia’s head coach. He’s just very special.” Wednesday was the first of two trips that the Bulldogs will make to Camp Sunshine. In all, Smart said about 70 players signed up to participate. About the other half will come next Wednesday. The first group seemed to include a lot of freshmen and first-year players. Notre Dame transfer Jay Hayes, wearing his new number 97 Georgia jersey, was front-and-center for many of the activities. So was long and tall true freshman Tommy Bush, until they went to alpaca pin. The nearly 6-foot-6 tall receiver, wearing the No. 12, eased to the back of the pack when the group was asked to pet the odd-looking creatures. The many interactions with the campers and staff were entertaining to observe. The players were split into two groups and toured opposite ends of the complex. When being shown the cabins where the campers stay, the girls of Cabin 10 came pouring out and high-fived every player. “Oh my  God, they’re all so tall,” one of the young teens shouted. The residents are not all Georgia fans, either. At the intersection of two paths, a young man named William yelled, “go Gators.” To that the jersey-wearing group responded with a collective, “boo!”, then just laughed it off. In the cafeteria, Smart made a beeline to a young man wearing Alabama gear, including a crimson-and-white cast on his right leg. Colton, who’s 14, said he first met Smart when he was an assistant for the Crimson Tide. “Now he tries to talk me into being a Georgia fan, but he knows I won’t convert,” Colton said. Thrash showed the team the lake and pointed to the zipline and ropes course far across on the other side. “What’s the weight capacity on that?” Smart asked loud enough for everyone to hear. “We’ve got some people here we think can break it “Be sure to keep Fernando off it,” he added, referring to support staffer and former Georgia and NFL offensive lineman Fernando Velasco. At the heart of it all, though, is a serious message. “You guys are heroes to these kids; you’re heroes to me,” Thrash said when he huddled up the team at the outset of the tour. “So go in here, look around the place, see what we do, say hello to the kids, get to know them a little bit and have a good time.” Said Smart: “I want them to appreciated what they have. You look at some of these kids and see how they have to struggle and go through things. Some of them are well now and they come back because they’re the hope for so many other kids who are going through what they did.” For the team, it was a well-earned reprieve. They’ve been working out and doing conditioning every morning for the last two weeks. That includes Wednesday when the players signed up for the trip had to report to the Butts-Mehre football complex at 5:30 a.m. “I don’t know if everybody slept the whole way down because I was asleep as soon as the bus pulled out,” junior tight end Isaac Nauta said. Participants range from players like Nauta and senior center Lamont Gaillard, who have been every year since they arrived on campus, to junior running back Elijah Holyfield, who was making his first trip Wednesday. “My freshman and sophomore years I was kind of trying to do too much,” Holyfield said. “Finally I said I’ve got to go this year because everybody was talking about how much fun it is. I knew I had to do it before I left Georgia and I loved it, so I’ll be back next week as well.” It was especially re-energizing for the freshmen, who have known nothing but regimen and brutal intensity since they arrived on campus May 31. “I think they can finally see that there’s a human side to everybody and you can go out and have fun,” Smart quipped. Camp Sunshine unique to the University of Georgia. Located 51 miles east of downtown Atlanta, the camp is located in the heart of Bulldog Country. No other teams make the pilgrimage to the East Georgia outback. Just the Bulldogs. “It’s only a Georgia thing,” Thrash said. “We’d love for other teams to come in. But it’s always special when the Georgia Bulldogs come in. They’re part of Camp Sunshine.” A happy place indeed. The post Camp Sunshine is strictly a Bulldogs’ thing, and something Kirby Smart loves appeared first on DawgNation.
  • TORONTO (AP) - The better J.A. Happ pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays, the better the chance he finishes the season with another team. Happ pitched a season-high 8 1/3 innings to win his fifth straight decision, Kendrys Morales hit a two-run home run and the Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 Wednesday for Toronto's seventh win in eight home games. Happ (9-3) allowed four runs and six hits, walked none and struck out eight. The veteran left-hander is the first big league pitcher to record four starts this season with at least eight strikeouts and no walks. 'He's got good life on his fastball,' Atlanta's Nick Markakis said. 'He's always been a thorn in the side.' With Toronto well behind in both the AL East and the wild card standings, Happ could be a candidate for a midseason trade to a contender. 'I know he's in demand and I can see why,' Toronto manager John Gibbons said. 'If we were on the other end of it, I'd want him, too.' Happ is in the final season of a three-year, $36 million contract. 'I signed to play here and try to help this team get to the playoffs,' Happ said. 'I know there may be rumors out there, but I like it here and my focus is here.' Happ improved 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves. 'We knew going in it was going to be a tough ride,' Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. Happ had retired 18 of 19 before Freddie Freeman and Markakis hit back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth. Ryan Tepera came on and gave up an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki, struck out Charlie Culberson, then allowed an RBI single to Ender Inciarte, putting the tying run at second. Tepera finished it by getting Johan Camargo to fly out, earning his fifth save in eight opportunities Morales, who turned 35 Wednesday, went 2 for 3 and scored twice. He homered in the first, walked and scored in the fourth, singled in the fifth, and flied out in the eighth. Suzuki and Peter Bourjos hit solo home runs for the Braves, who lost for the second time in eight games. Atlanta began the day with an NL-best record of 43-29. Braves right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-1) allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. 'It wasn't bad, wasn't great,' Snitker said. 'He kept us in the game, gave us a chance.' Sanchez is 0-2 with a 9.19 ERA in his past three starts against the Blue Jays. After Morales hit a two-out drive off Sanchez, his sixth homer of the season, Suzuki connected in the second, his eighth, and Bourjos tied it in the third with his first homer of the season. Toronto broke the deadlock in the fourth when Randal Grichuk hit an RBI double and Aledmys Diaz followed with a sacrifice fly. Blue Jays infielder Yangervis Solarte made it 5-2 with a two-out RBI single off A.J. Minter in the seventh. WALK THIS WAY Blue Jays C Russell Martin has walked at least once in eight straight games, matching a career-long stretch. Martin, who walked twice Wednesday, also walked in eight straight in 2013. BIRTHDAY BLASTS Morales has four home runs and eight RBIs in eight career games on his birthday. THRIVING WITH FIVE Toronto is 28-1 when scoring five or more runs. TRAINER'S ROOM Braves: Markakis started at designated hitter, the first time this season he hasn't played one of the corner outfield spots. Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (shoulder) will be activated off the disabled list to start at the Angels on Saturday, Gibbons said. Stroman is 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in seven starts. ... 3B Josh Donaldson (left calf) left the team Wednesday and will continue working out at Toronto's spring training facility in Florida. Donaldson will not begin a rehab assignment until he is able to run the bases at full speed. UP NEXT Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a three-game home series against Baltimore on Friday. LHP Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.70 ERA) starts for the Braves. Newcomb has won eight of his past nine decisions. The Orioles have not named a starter. Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.35) starts the opener of a four-game series against the Angels. Sanchez is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three June starts. LHP Tyler Skaggs (6-4, 2.81) starts for Los Angeles. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Georgia may get one more win from its incredible Rose Bowl victory over Oklahoma in Pasadena, Calif. on New Year’s Day. Georgia’s epic comeback 54-48 win in double-overtime win over Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy-winner and eventual first-overall pick Baker Mayfield is one of the three nominees for Best Game at the annual sports awards. The other two nominees are the wild World Series Game 5 between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers and the 2018 Winter Olympics Women’s Hockey Gold Medal Game between the United States and Canada. Georgia trailed Oklahoma by 17 points before an end-of-half and Rose Bowl record 55-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship brought the Bulldogs within an even two touchdowns. They looked like a different team in the second half, putting all kinds of pressure on Mayfield while Nick Chubb and Sony Michel wore down and gashed the Sooners’ defense. A late fumble from Michel that was returned for a touchdown almost made the comeback all for naught, but Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs down the field in the final minutes, converting a third down pass to Terry Godwin near the red zone before Chubb scored again to send the game to overtime. The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, and then Lorenzo Carter used every bit of his long arms to block OU’s attempt in double overtime. Then, on the second play of Georgia’s possession, Sony Michel took the direct snap to the left and found himself wide open into the end zone, and the Rose party was on. It’s arguable the best Rose Bowl ever but definitely can go no lower than second. Vince Young defeating USC for the national championship has to receive its due. But it’s a tough argument that this ESPY should go anywhere other than Athens. You can view all of the award nominees and vote on them here. The post Georgia’s epic Rose Bowl win nominated for ESPY Award for Best Game appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily — the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episode No. 725 (June 20, 2018) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields. Georgia football podcast: Despite loads of attention, Justin Fields might be underrated Beginning of the show: Georgia incoming freshman quarterback Justin Fields is among the most talked about players in the country, but based on one recent evaluation he might still be underrated. I’ll talk on today’s show about how Fields’ presence impacts how UGA’s quarterback situation should be viewed. 12-minute mark: I share audio of DawgNation recruiting insider Jeff Sentell’s list of the top 2019 defensive line priorities for UGA. 15-minute mark: SEC Country’s Mike Johnson joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… Mike’s thoughts on Fields Reaction to 4-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss’ commitment An assessment of the pressure on UGA defensive line coach Tray Scott to pull together an elite collection of defensive linemen for the 2019 class And an opinion about current UGA commits taking visits to other schools 30-minute mark: I take a look at some other SEC headlines including Les Miles being asked about the LSU athletic director’s job, a preview of 5-star cornerback Derek Stingley’s commitment announcement scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and a challenge from ESPN to some former top recruits to finally live up to the hype this season. 35-minute mark: I share another Dawg Day Q&A. End of show: I update the Gator Hater Countdown. For the Tuesday (June 19) show, click here. For the video version of the Wednesday show, click here. For older episodes of DawgNation Daily, click here. The post Georgia football podcast: Despite loads of attention, Justin Fields might be underrated appeared first on DawgNation.