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Blue Jays find new ways to self-inflict pain with latest late-inning collapse – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – Toronto Blue Jays fans recognized the moment and greeted Miguel Cabrera’s 500th career home run with a standing ovation, one that didn’t stop until the Detroit Tigers slugger came out for a curtain call. Once he had ripped through the line of celebratory high fives and hugs in the dugout, out he came, arms raised, helmet in hand, and bowed to the Rogers Centre crowd of 14,685 showing a visiting player some love.

Impressively, they overlooked how Cabrera’s line-drive to right-centre on a Steven Matz changeup off the plate tied the game 1-1 in the sixth inning and threw the Blue Jays into their place of highest peril – late leverage. Despite nine balls off the bat at 101.2 m.p.h. or higher, to that point, they had managed only an unearned run off old friend Drew Hutchison — the opening day starter on the 2015 AL East champions — extended their drought hitting with runners in scoring position and didn’t have Tim Mayza or closer Jordan Romano available in the bullpen.

So, all the pieces were there for the type of collapse the Blue Jays have experienced all too often over the past couple of weeks. And just as they were on the verge of flipping the script Sunday afternoon, they found new ways to self-inflict pain, as a Marcus Semien throwing error blew what would have been the final out of a 2-1 win, eventually leading to a 5-3 loss in 11 innings.

The Blue Jays wasted opportunities to win the game in the ninth and the 10th, when Jonathan Schoop and Alejandro Kirk traded sacrifice flies, before Kirby Snead surrendered two-out RBI doubles to Daz Cameron and Willi Castro.

Joe Jimenez, he of the 6.49 ERA and 1.644. WHIP coming in, then retired Bo Bichette, Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in order to close out a series win for the Tigers, another hoof to the delicates for this Blue Jays team that’s lost seven of nine and is a gutting 2-9 in extra innings.

“You have to keep fighting,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “We’ve got a good group in there. Of course, we’re not swinging the bats right now, but we’re in every game still. We’re not just going out there losing every game. Today yes, of course it was another tough loss, two outs, we didn’t make the last play. But they’re going to keep fighting, I promise you that.”

During the current slide the Blue Jays have been walked off once, lost in the opposing team’s last at-bat twice, blown three late leads and gone 1-4 against the tanking Nationals and rebuilding Tigers.

Pretty gross.

While the bullpen has taken plenty of flak, in dropping two of three to Detroit, the Blue Jays went an unfathomable 1-for-31 with runners in scoring position, the lone hit coming on a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. go-ahead RBI single in the eighth promptly erased by the Semien error.

There’s little time to correct and the opposition goes from mild to stiff with the Chicago White Sox in town for a four-game series beginning Monday night. Only their starting pitching is delivering the goods right now as Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu and Matz combined to throw 21 innings of two-run ball over the weekend, but with the offence discombobulated, they left two more wins on the table.

“Because no one is swinging the bat well right now, everybody’s trying harder – that’s what’s going on right now,” said Montoyo. “We’ve got to step back and relax and take one at-bat at a time.”

The issue Sunday wasn’t in creating innings but in realizing them, as the Blue Jays went 1-for-17 – for real, that’s not a typo – with runners in scoring position. Bichette showed signs of life with three hits and Gurriel also had three walks as he extended a second-half resurgence, but the rest of the lineup combined for four hits, none when it mattered.

Worth noting is that two of Bichette’s hits went to right and the other up the middle, while Gurriel also went to the opposite field three times, an approach that can prevent the type of pull-side rollovers that have been commonplace. Fatigue may also be a factor in some cases, although Montoyo wasn’t having that as a diagnosis.

“In baseball right now, everybody’s tired – that’s just what it is in August and September. It’s a grind,” he said. “We didn’t expect this from a good lineup like we have. We haven’t been hitting and it’s contagious. Hopefully when somebody gets going, that’s going to spread throughout the lineup.”

The late ending masked some of the good the Blue Jays saw Sunday.

With Romano and Mayza down for the day, Trent Thornton and Trevor Richards each delivered a scoreless inning of close-and-late relief, while Adam Cimber quickly got two outs before surrendering a two-out double in the ninth. When Harold Castro pinch hit for Dustin Garneau, Montoyo brought in fellow lefty Tayler Saucedo, who induced a routine ground ball to second.

Semien fielded it cleanly and had time but bounced a throw that Guerrero couldn’t scoop, allowing Willi Castro to score and tie the game 1-1. In essence, the bullpen did the job, even in the absence of a result.

“He’s played a Gold Glove-calibre second base, he just made an error on that one,” Montoyo said of Semien. “We made all the right moves. We’re in the game. It’s obvious we’re not swinging the bats but our pitching is giving us a chance, the bullpen did a good job before extra innings. It just didn’t work out.”

The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the third, with Bichette scoring from third when Jeimer Candelario booted a Teoscar Hernandez grounder. Matz held it there until Cabrera had his moment in the sixth, the only mistake the lefty paid for in an outing when he struck out just one and had a lot of plays made behind him.

“Well, not really,” Matz replied when asked if he had any reflections on giving up Cabrera’s 500th. “It was a 1-0 game and you’re just trying to keep runs off the board. I threw a changeup there and it was pretty far outside, it wasn’t even a strike. He’s a pretty good hitter.”

Cabrera had hoped to deliver the big moment in Detroit but noted that “it’s tough to hit home runs” at spacious Comerica Park. When he made contact Sunday, “I said ‘Come on, get up, get up,’” he relayed. “I’m glad I hit that fly ball here because if I hit it in Comerica, it’s going to be two outs (in the inning).”

“It’s something special for my country, for my family, to be able to do this,” he added. “I’m really happy.”

So, too, were Blue Jays fans, who had just witnessed a future Hall of Famer doing something that’s only being accomplished 28 other times. The only problem was it set the stage for an ending that’s become all too familiar.

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Lululemon named official Canadian outfitter for next four Olympics | Offside – Daily Hive

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Lululemon will be officially heading to the Olympics.

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced Thursday a partnership with the Canadian clothing brand Lululemon, making it the country’s official outfitter of Team Canada for the next four Olympics.

“As a Canadian and lifelong fan of the Games, I could not be prouder for Lululemon to partner with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee,” said Calvin McDonald, the CEO of Lululemon in a release. “Supporting these incredible athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s largest sporting stage is a privilege. Through this partnership, all of us at Lululemon are honoured to play our part to inspire, unite and transform the world through sport and share in this excitement alongside all of Canada.”

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A small selection of Lululemon Olympic apparel is available online and in-store already, with more to be revealed next month.

The partnership will start at the Beijing 2022 Games, continuing through 2024 in Paris, 2026 in Milan, and 2028 in Los Angeles.

This replaces the Hudson’s Bay partnership that first began in Torino 2006 and expired after Tokyo 2020.

While it’s Lululemon’s first official Olympic partnership, they actually launched a collection that appeared to be heavily inspired by Vancouver 2010.

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San Jose Sharks open training camp without Evander Kane amid NHL investigation – ESPN

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks opened training camp with a big void at forward with Evander Kane not participating and little idea of when or if he will come back.

The Sharks took the ice for the first time this season Thursday, a day after Kane was cleared by the NHL of gambling allegations. But with the league still looking into allegations of physical and sexual abuse made by his estranged wife, Kane and the Sharks decided he will not take part in practice until further notice.

“It’s not ideal, but there is an ongoing investigation from the NHL,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “The focus has to be on our group here, the guys that are here today and the things that we can control, but also respect the process of dealing with some very serious allegations and some things that need to be addressed with the right process.”

The Kane saga has been hanging over the Sharks for weeks after Anna Kane alleged in an Instagram post this summer that Kane bet on NHL games and was “obviously throwing games to win money.”

That launched a probe by the league, and the NHL said Wednesday there was no evidence to back up those charges and that the investigation “raises doubts about the veracity of the allegations.”

But Anna Kane also made additional allegations this week of sexual and physical abuse in a restraining order application filed in Santa Clara County Family Court.

Kane’s attorney denied those charges, but the team said it came to an agreement with Kane that he won’t participate in camp until further notice while the league looks into the allegations.

None of the players made available to the media would comment on the specifics.

“No one knew about anything and no one still knows about anything,” defenseman Erik Karlsson said. “We’re here to focus on the things that we can control and everything other than that is out of our hands.”

There was also a report this offseason from The Athletic that there was a rift between Kane and his teammates, many of whom don’t want him back on the team.

Kane’s teammates said any issues would be dealt with privately in the dressing room and they were happy with the mindset of the group that was on hand for the start of camp.

“I thought today was a real good day,” captain Logan Couture said. “When you get to the rink, you show up, you play hockey, you work hard. You play for the guy next to you. Everyone that’s here is proud to be a San Jose Shark and we want to win for this organization.”

Kane’s absence will be felt on the ice as he was the team’s most consistent forward last season, when he led the Sharks with 22 goals and 49 points.

If Kane can’t play, San Jose will have a hard time reversing the dramatic fall the team has taken the past two seasons after making it to the Western Conference finals in 2019.

“We all just play,” defenseman Brent Burns said. “It’s no different than anything else. At the end of the day, we just make coffee in the morning, come to the rink, get ready to play and you do it. I don’t think it’s any different than guys getting hurt, not being there for lineup. We don’t worry about that stuff. We can’t. There’s too much other stuff.”

The Sharks finished last in the Western Conference in 2019-20 — firing coach Peter DeBoer in December — and they took only small steps forward last season when they finished near the bottom of the West Division with 49 points in the first full season under Boughner.

They made few big moves in the offseason outside of buying out ineffective goalie Martin Jones, acquiring Adin Hill from Arizona in a trade and signing James Reimer for a second stint with the organization. The Sharks’ .891 save percentage over the past three seasons is the lowest in the NHL.

They also added some depth forwards in Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano, but there will still be questions about whether there’s enough firepower on the top two lines, which will be an even greater concern if Kane doesn’t play.

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Canadian Hubbard replaces injured McCaffrey as Panthers beat Texans – Sportsnet.ca

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HOUSTON — Thanks to another efficient performance from Sam Darnold and continued dominant play by their defense, the Carolina Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when they reached the Super Bowl.

That combination was certainly too much for the Houston Texans in Carolina’s 24-9 victory on Thursday night. But a hamstring injury to star running back Christian McCaffrey could cause serious adversity for Darnold and the Panthers’ offense going forward.

“Losing Christian is tough, but I thought we did a great job of bouncing back,” Darnold said. “We were able to put the first half behind us and do a good job in the second half.”

Canadian rookie Chuba Hubbard replaced McCaffrey. The native of Sherwood Park, Alta., finished with 11 carries for 52 yards and added three catches for 27 yards.

Darnold threw for 304 yards and ran for two touchdowns as the Panthers eased past the Texans despite losing McCaffrey early in the second quarter.

“In the second half we trusted Sam,” coach Matt Rhule said. “We were throwing more verticals and pushing the ball down the field.”

Carolina’s top-ranked defense put the squeeze on Houston rookie Davis Mills in his first career start, sacking him four times and holding him to 168 yards passing. Mills was pressed into action after Tyrod Taylor suffered a hamstring injury last Sunday and was placed on injured reserve.

The Panthers have allowed 573 yards and totaled 14 sacks in three games.

Darnold topped 300 yards passing for the second straight game as he continues to revitalize his career with the Panthers after being cast aside by the New York Jets.

McCaffrey came in leading the league in scrimmage yards, the same thing he did in the 2019 season. But he missed all but three games in 2020 with various injuries as the Panthers sputtered to 5-11 in Rhule’s first year.

Rhule said McCaffrey had a strained hamstring.

“I don’t know the severity level of it yet, to be quite honest with you,” Rhule said. “But I knew the minute it happened I said: `Hey, he’s out for the game.’ That’s all I knew. I saw him in there, and he’s moving around, but it’s a wait and see.”

Darnold rushed for Carolina’s first score in the first quarter and put the game away when he bulled in from 1 yard out to make it 24-9 with about four minutes left, losing his helmet in the process.

Mills threw for a touchdown and avoided big mistakes after he threw an interception in the second half of Sunday’s loss at Cleveland. But the Texans (1-2) couldn’t run the ball, finishing with 42 yards on the ground, and that forced Mills into tough down-and-distance situations as Houston punted six times.

“We just weren’t very good on offense tonight … because we weren’t able to run the ball,” Texans coach David Culley said.

Mills’ favorite target was Brandin Cooks, who had nine receptions for 112 yards.

“I thought he was great,” Cooks said of the rookie. “He handled himself well.”

Darnold’s 5-yard run put the Panthers ahead early and McCaffrey was injured on Carolina’s next drive. Hubbard was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 5 to end that possession.

Hubbard, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma State, finished with 11 carries for 52 yards and three receptions for 27 yards.

Anthony Miller grabbed a 1-yard touchdown pass about 30 seconds before halftime, but Joey Slye missed the extra point. Miller made his debut with the Texans after he missed the first two games with a shoulder injury.

Tommy Tremble dashed untouched into the end zone from 7 yards out to put Carolina ahead 14-6 in the third quarter. The teams traded field goals before Darnold’s short rush on third-and-goal capped a 12-play drive that put it away.

INJURIES

Carolina rookie CB Jaycee Horn, the eighth overall pick in the draft, suffered broken bones in his right foot, Rhule said. … Panthers S Juston Burris pulled a groin muscle and Rhule said he would miss some time.

HE SAID IT

“We just didn’t execute. We missed tackles. They were just making plays they were supposed to make and we weren’t making plays we were supposed to make.” — Texans linebacker Christian Kirksey.

UP NEXT

Carolina visits Dallas on Oct. 3.

Houston visits Buffalo on Oct. 3.

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