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Danny Jansen walks it off as Blue Jays sweep Braves

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TORONTO — For three hours, the Blue Jays and Braves held the door open for one another, begging their opponent to walk through it and win.

Danny Jansen, tired of standing outside in the cold, finally decided to barge in.

Toronto’s catcher was the walk-off hero on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, scorching a two-run single through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the ninth to seal a 6-5 win and a series sweep over the Braves. At the end of a game so riddled with imperfections, it was remarkable to see Jansen drenched in water, waving up at a roaring crowd upon stealing the win.

“If you get an ice bath, that means something incredible happened,” Jansen said. “It’s a special day. Obviously, this was my wife’s first Mother’s Day and this was a great way to cap it off.”

The air wasn’t just cold inside the ballpark. It was blowing, and it mattered.

Atlanta botched a handful of routine fly balls in the outfield, with two players often coming together at the last moment as they tried to track a knuckleball through the air. The Blue Jays made their share of mistakes, too, both defensively and on the bases. One was nearly fatal, though, to start the bottom of the ninth inning.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off the home half and launched a fly ball to the opposite field that he clearly thought was gone. Guerrero jogged out of the box and eased into his wide turn around first base, but then came a sound as loud as the crack of his bat. It was the thump of the ball hitting off the wall.

He was held to a single, and following the win, manager John Schneider wasted no time saying that his star slugger probably should have been on second base to open the inning. It all worked out in the end, but that play on its own was problematic.

“It’s nice when you win and it doesn’t come back to bite you,” Schneider said. “We all thought he got it, too, and a guy like him usually knows. There were obviously weird conditions with the wind and the roof open today. They had a couple [of weird plays]. I think we should have been a bit more aware of that and a bit more aware on the bases.”

These are the conversations that great teams — or at least teams capable of greatness — need to have. There are lessons even within wins, and Sunday’s were blatant.

It doesn’t lessen the importance of sweeping one of the best teams in the National League, but this wasn’t your usual post-game victory celebration.

“You always take a win,” Schneider said, “but you’ve got to reel guys in a little bit starting tomorrow. There’s things that we need to tighten up. I thought the last two days were good and today was a weird day. A lot of guys left on base, errors on both sides, us on the bases. You’ve got to tighten that up.”

The Blue Jays have been the comeback kids this season, pulling off 10 come-from-behind wins, and their bullpen can be thanked for that. Anthony Bass, Jay Jackson, Trevor Richards and Nate Pearson combined to give Toronto five innings of scoreless relief to keep the team in the game after a difficult outing from Yusei Kikuchi, who allowed three home runs and nine hits over just four-plus innings.

Home runs have been a problem for Kikuchi, with his 11 in the season tied for fourth in MLB. But that’s a difficult adjustment to make for some pitchers, because it’s important that Kikuchi doesn’t lose his aggression.

“I’ve continued to attack the zone, and sometimes when you attack the zone, you get hit,” Kikuchi said through a club interpreter. “We’ll go back and check the data and all of that, but I’ll continue to attack the zone moving forward.”

Like everything else that went wrong in Sunday’s game, though, the home runs will be forgotten when we look back on the final score a few days from now.

Consider this a lucky escape. The Blue Jays will take the win, but they know that more is needed with the Yankees and Orioles coming to town, then a date with the Rays waiting after. Tampa Bay, in particular, is far less forgiving when it comes to mistakes, and it won’t be as patient if Toronto hesitates at the door again.

 

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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