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Blue Jays again come alive in late innings to sweep Diamondbacks

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One series in the books and the post all-star break could not have gone much better for the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays completed a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in relatively routine fashion at the Rogers Centre, save for Sunday’s series finale when the visitors finally forged an early lead and then put a scare into the home side in the ninth inning before Toronto secured a 7-5 victory.

The Jays do enter Monday’s off-day 12 games above .500, a season high, before resuming play Tuesday when San Diego comes to town.

Yusei Kikuchi started for the Blue Jays, allowing Arizona to score a run in each of the first two frames. The D’backs had him on the ropes, but showed no inclination to deliver a knockout punch.

In contrast, the Blue Jays were more than willing to pounce. And once again, it came courtesy of Danny Jansen.

Looking back on this four-game win streak, it was Jansen’s two-out ninth-inning home run in Detroit in the final game before the all-star break that seemed to ignite the club.

The veteran catcher came through again in the eighth inning on Sunday with a bases-clearing double that put the Jays ahead 6-2.

The Jays bats, starting with Jansen’s homer in Detroit, seem to be making a habit of saving the best for last. In Toronto’s series-opening 7-2 win, five runs were produced in the seventh inning. On Saturday, they scored twice in the eight to solidify a 5-2 victory.

Four more scored in the eighth on Sunday … and this time they needed almost all of them.

Mitch White came on in the ninth to preserve a five-run lead, but was pulled with the bases loaded and two out.

Erik Swanson relieved White and promptly gave up a three-run double to Ketel Marte, bringing the tying run to the plate, but got Emmanuel Rivera on a routine fly ball to centre field to earn the save.

YUSEI WHAT?

A portent of how Kikuchi’s day would unfold came right from the jump when Marte, Arizona’s leadoff hitter turned on the game’s first pitch and drilled it. Luckily for Kikuchi, it stayed in the park for long, loud at the warning track in left centre.

It didn’t get much better. Kikuchi hit two batters, threw two wild pitches and was responsible for one of the team’s two errors.

Pitching coach Pete Walker needed to pay a visit after the lefty threw 25 balls and just 22 strikes.

To his credit, Kikuchi did settle down for the next couple of innings, But his day ended with two outs and one on in the fifth, and the score tied 2-2, after the Jays counted twice in the second.

Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrates an RBI sacrifice fly during the fifth inning. MARK BLINCH/GETTY IMAGES
Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrates an RBI sacrifice fly during the fifth inning. MARK BLINCH/GETTY IMAGES

LOVE THAT GLOVE

In his return to Toronto for the first time since his trade to Arizona, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was showered with appreciation and warmth.

The feelings weren’t as evident in the series finale, but many fans still didn’t hold back in expressing their admiration.

On Sunday, with a lefty starting, Gurriel moved up in the order and batted third, while taking his normal spot in left field, an area he knows intimately from his playing days in Toronto.

He made a great diving catch in the bottom of the first to rob Matt Chapman of a hit, potentially for extra bases.

In the top of the third, he led off the inning with a hard-hit ball to left, not far from where he recorded the out on the Chapman ball. Size may have played a factor as Whit Merrifield was unable to handle the ball that went off his glove for a single.

Gurriel, who was then erased on a double play, wound up going 2-for-3 with a run scored.

 

SANTIAGO TRAIN

He wasn’t in the lineup for either of the first two games, but Santiago Espinal made an impact in the series finale.

Batting eighth in the order and playing at second base, Espinal recorded hits in his first two at-bats, knocking in a run and scoring another.

On his second hit, Espinal tried to stretch a single into a double, but was easily tagged out at second.

JAY IN BLUE JAY

Veteran Jay Jackson was asked to record the final out in the fifth when Kikuchi was given the hook and did his job by inducing Gurriel to groundout to third.

In Arizona’s next at-bats, Jackson, who was credited with the win, retired the first two hitters before he was relieved by Tim Mayza, who made a dandy defensive play to record the third out.

Taking a comebacker between the mound and first base from NL rookie-of-the-year contender Corbin Carroll, Mayza had to flip the ball to Vlad Guerrero Jr., directly out of his glove to get the speedy Diamondback by half a step.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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