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Blue Jays suffer ‘frustrating’ loss to Cubs despite productive day at the plate



TORONTO – Down by a run, in need of a big hit with two runners on, Santiago Espinal finally delivered one for the Toronto Blue Jays, lining a ball to the centre-field wall that would have easily scored two had it been hit about 10 feet to the left.

Instead, the 385-foot drive landed on the centre-field warning track and skipped over the eight-foot wall for a ground-rule double that forced Cavan Biggio, who’d already come around from first base behind Davis Schneider, to walk back to third from home plate. The go-ahead run never came in, the Chicago Cubs eked out a run against Jordan Hicks in the ninth and the Blue Jays suffered a third straight loss, and fourth in five outings, 5-4 on Saturday.

“I mean, it is frustrating, especially at this time, where we are in the standings and all that stuff. We have a lot of teams behind us and they’re all fighting, too, for the same goal,” Espinal, who had a two-hit day at shortstop, said of his drive hopping over the wall. “We’ve just got to keep fighting, compete every day. The only thing that we can control is how we play. I feel like we’ve been doing a pretty good job, it’s just (hitting with runners in) scoring position has only been all right, but we’ll figure it out.”

Their most productive day at the plate since a 13-1 win at Boston last week buoyed the hopes of the Blue Jays (65-54) that the offence is about to pull out of the deep freeze it’s been in the past week, and the urgency is mounting with the Seattle Mariners running hot.


The Cubs (61-56), now in possession of the third wild card in the National League, rode a four-spot in the fourth off Chris Bassitt highlighted by Cody Bellinger’s RBI single off the right-field wall in “a world-class at-bat” and Dansby Swanson’s three-run shot on a middle-middle sweeper the righty said “he guessed wrong” on.

Bellinger then started the decisive ninth-inning rally, ripping a high 96.7 m.p.h. fastball from Hicks to right for a double and coming around when Christopher Morel hooked a sweeper to left for another double.

That was it before a crowd of 42,585 that witnessed Jose Bautista’s addition to the Level of Excellence before the contest.

“There’s a reason they’re a top five offence,” Bassitt said of the Cubs. “You can’t pitch around (Bellinger) because he’s got protection in the front and the back. You’ve just got to make pitches and hopefully he gets out. I thought the Hicks four-seam up was really, really good. I thought a couple of the pitches we made were really good. He’s just doing this all year and I think he’s back to who he used to be.”

The Blue Jays are still working to be at their best at the plate, opening the scoring in the second on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s two-out RBI single and the eking back within one on Whit Merrifield’s two-run shot off Justin Steele in the fifth.

Then came Espinal’s double in the sixth, which followed Davis Schneider’s one-out double and Biggio’s two-out walk and the mix of relief and frustration that came along with it.

Blue Jays’ Espinal makes great defensive play behind Bautista’s analysis

“Welcome to 2023, yeah,” lamented manager John Schneider. “Great at-bat from Espy and I want to point out the way he’s worked the last two weeks has been really impressive and it’s been a little bit of a tough spot for him, obviously. But you can’t say enough about the way he’s gone about it, the way he’s prepared and the way he’s gone out and executed, especially the last handful of days. That (ground-rule) really sucks. He works the 3-2 count, hits a ball on the nose and Cavan is going to score easily. Such is life with runners in scoring position for us it seems right now, but just keep doing that, things will be all right.”

To that end, John Schneider hinted that Espinal could see more regular action at shortstop with Paul DeJong, 2-for-34 with 13 strikeouts since his acquisition from the St. Louis Cardinals, slumping badly.

The Blue Jays are looking for any extra offence they can find amid the ongoing absence of Bo Bichette, who ran the bases and took grounders before the game and could soon have a rehab assignment next week if he emerges from a similar workload Sunday well. Danny Jansen will return to catch Sunday after being rested a couple of days following his most recent hit by pitch on the right arm.

Espinal also had an RBI single Thursday and feels like he’s in a good spot.

“It was kind of a relief when I got that double, it feels great and I feel, from this point on, even with Whit with his great at-bat with the homer, things are starting to show up. We’ve got to be patient and continue to grind,” he said. “There are times that it’s very hard to come off the bench and try to do the best you can. But there are also times that if you prepare yourself how you’re supposed to prepare, do the little bit extra to do everything that you can, you can only control what you do. That’s what I did today. I was trying to just go out and have a great at-bats, not worrying about the result, just go out there and do damage.”


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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada



Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.


Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

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Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks



The Montreal Canadiens have acquired forward Tanner Pearson from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade seeing goaltender Casey DeSmith going the other way.

A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.

Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.

Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.


In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.

The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.

DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.

DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.

In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.

DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

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Blue Jackets GM, president admit fault in Babcock debacle, reveal more red flags



The Mike Babcock hiring has been a disaster from the beginning. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Days after Mike Babcock was accused of inappropriate workplace conduct by podcast host Paul Bissonette — with the retired NHL player claiming Babcock was forcing players to airplay personal photos on television in his office — Columbus Blue Jackets management addressed the debacle in a tense press conference at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s on us. It’s on me…. Sometimes you flat-out make a mistake. We made a mistake,” said Blue Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson, per Associated Press reporter Stephen Whyno.

“Maybe they were right,” Davidson said of people who were critical of Mike Babcock’s hiring in the first place.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, meanwhile. said he apologized to Blue Jackets players this morning for hiring the embattled head coach.


“I believe that Mike Babcock deserved another opportunity to coach,” Kekalainen said. “Obviously that was a mistake and that responsibility’s mine.”

Still, even with the talk of accountability, Kekalainen detailed what should’ve been a red flag: Babcock apparently pulled the same phone stunt he was accused of pulling with his players on the 57-year-old executive.

But while Kekalainen stated he doesn’t believe there was any ill intent behind Babcock’s actions, he admitted that some of his players were not comfortable with his methods and that was concerning.

Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell announced in a team-issued statement Monday morning that he does not anticipate further changes to the team’s leadership, erasing speculation that one or both of Kekalainen and Davidson would end up on the chopping block alongside Babcock.

“Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days,” McConnell’s statement read.

To say this story escalated rapidly would be the understatement of the century. Initially, it seemed like it would die quickly after both Babcock and captain Boone Jenner released statements through the team on Wednesday morning refuting the Spittin’ Chiclets host’s version of events.

Both Columbus’ captain and the now-former coach described their encounter as nothing more than a way of sharing snippets of one another’s life in an effort to build a working relationship. During an appearance on the 32 Thoughts Podcast on the same day as Jenner and Babcock condemned Bissonette’s comments, Blue Jackets star winger Johnny Gaudreau gave a similar account to Jenner when asked about his photo-exchange meet-and-greet with Babcock.

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But the story didn’t end there, obviously, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting things changed on Wednesday night when the NHLPA received information that some of the younger Blue Jackets players were uncomfortable with their interactions with Babcock.

Friedman later reported that the information gathered on Wednesday night prompted NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh and assistant executive director Ron Hainsey to begin an investigation before flying out to Columbus and leading what was described as an “intense” meeting.

On Friday, Walsh and Hainsey relayed their findings during a joint meeting with the NHL and NHLPA. Saturday was arguably the quietest day of the scandal in the public eye, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshinski, because that’s the day Columbus and Babcock started plotting his exit.

By Sunday, the Blue Jackets announced that Babcock had resigned and Pascal Vincent would be taking over as the team’s head coach.

Babcock’s quick and swift dismissal comes as no surprise given his spotty reputation of being an emotionally abusive coach during his days with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vincent, 51, had served as the Blue Jackets’ associate coach since the 2021-22 season. Before joining Columbus, Vincent spent 10 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets organization, serving as an NHL assistant for the first half of his tenure before pivoting to head coach of the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Vincent was named AHL Coach Of The Year for the 2017-18 season.



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