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Disgusted and dismayed, Yanks face big decisions for 2021 – TSN

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NEW YORK — Luke Voit, backwards cap atop his head, was disgusted and dismayed.

Eyes downcast, he summed up the New York Yankees’ 11th straight season without a title, the team’s widest expanse of failure since the desert between the Reggie Jackson era and the Derek Jeter renaissance.

“I hate this feeling. It sucks, the third year in a row going through it,” the major league home run champion said. “So I’m going to use it in every workout, every BP session, cage session I have and be ready for spring training this year.”

The 2020 season was so different, with the novel coronavirus pandemic cutting the schedule from 162 games to 60, sparking a summer camp of training part two and causing Yankee Stadium’s stands to fill with echoes on game nights rather than the usual boisterous fans.

But the denouement was similar to 2019’s. Aroldis Chapman gave up a home run that eliminated New York from the playoffs, this time Mike Brosseau’s eighth-inning drive in Division Series Game 5 against Tampa Bay following a walkoff shot by Houston’s José Altuve in the ninth inning of Championship Series Game 6.

Not even the addition of ace Gerrit Cole for a $324 million, nine-year contract was enough to make the difference.

Now general manager Brian Cashman faces a series of key decisions. Big league batting champion DJ LeMahieu is eligible for free agency along with pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. New York has a $17 million option on pitcher J.A. Happ the team made sure would not become guaranteed and a $10 million option on 37-year-old outfielder Brett Gardner, the last link to the Yankees’ 2009 champions.

Giancarlo Stanton is expected to keep the remaining $218 million and seven guaranteed seasons left in his contract rather than opt out, and reliever Zack Britton appears likely to stay under either player or club options.

“We’re going to get there. I know it. And it’s going to make it all the sweeter,” Aaron Boone said after his third unfulfilling season as manager.

New York is expected to exercise Boone’s option for 2021 or to give him a new contract.

“There’s a lot of pain in that room. There’s a lot of closeness and love for one another in that room,” Boone said after Friday night’s 2-1 loss. “A lot of people in that room have been through the battles together, where we’ve had a lot of success and had some heartbreaking playoff losses. And it stinks, you know, it stings. I do believe it makes us closer and hopefully continues to make us hungrier.”

Boone knows he’s being second-guessed for his decision to use rookie Deivi García as an opener in Game 2 and replace him after one inning with Happ. García gave up a solo homer and Happ a pair of two-run drives in an 7-5 loss. Happ revealed he had lobbied to start and brusquely deferred questions on his use to Boone.

“I’m sure there will be people that take it to if we just started a guy and went with them, we win the game,” Boone said, “I mean, that’s kind of ridiculous. All over the league things like this are done and done really effectively, and we’ve done really effectively.”

“So it was just a great back-and-forth series with another great team that has a chance to go win a world championship, and it came down to basically the last inning of the series. I don’t think anyone’s surprised by that necessarily. And we came up short. I dissect everything, usually on a nightly basis. I certainly can look back and reflect on things, but I don’t have them regrets,” he said.

Despite an $84 million payroll as adjusted for the shortened season, third-highest in the major leagues, the Yankees lost to the $29 million Rays, a team whose spending was third from bottom. Tampa Bay beat the Yankees eight of 10 times during the regular season,

For the second straight season, the Yankees were decimated by injuries. After 30 players made 39 trips to the injured list in 2019, the Yankee restructured their health and performance staff and replaced pitching coach Larry Rothschild with the more analytically minded Matt Blake. In a season just 37% of normal length, 16 players had 18 stints on the IL.

Aaron Judge (strained right calf) and Stanton (strained left hamstring) missed long stretches for the second year in a row. While Stanton batted .308 with six homers and 13 RBIs in the playoffs, Judge hit .133 (4 for 30) with three homers and five RBIs.

Voit, who led the major leagues with 22 home runs during the season despite plantar fasciitis in a foot that might need surgery, was 2 for 18 (.111) with a solo homer against the Rays. Gio Urshela was 2 for 19 (.105) and catcher Gary Sánchez was benched for four of five games in favour of Kyle Higashioka.

Attention immediately turned to the off-season and 2021. The rotation must be filled out behind Cole, García and left-hander Jordan Montgomery,

Former ace Luis Severino is expected back next season following Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, but hard-throwing reliever Tommy Kahnle had Tommy John surgery on Aug. 4 and is likely to miss all of next year.

Domingo Germán, who led the pitching staff for much of 2019, also was out the entire season while completing an 80-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

“We have the talent to do it,” Stanton said. “It’s just a matter of getting it done.”

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Bills' Knox tests positive for COVID-19 – TSN

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Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss Sunday’s road game against the New York Jets.

The team said Saturday he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list along with three players in close contact with Knox — Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney (on the PUP list) and Nate Becker (on the practice squad). They, too, will miss the game.

This is the first positive coronavirus test for a Bills player since the season began. Each of Buffalo’s previous two games were moved from their initial dates because of the the outbreak in the Tennessee Titans organization.

The Bills will travel as scheduled Saturday afternoon and continue preparations for the Jets.

Buffalo has two remaining tight ends on its roster — Tyler Kroft and Reggie Gilliam.

Four players were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster — wide receiver Duke Williams, offensive lineman Jordan Devey, linebacker Andre Smith and cornerback Dane Jackson.

The team said backup linebacker Tyrel Dodson (hamstring) was placed on injured reserve.

The Bills were previously affected by a string of false positive tests in late August. They sent their rookies home in late July to work remotely after five players tested positive.

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Kershaw shines against Rays to put Dodgers back on course toward World Series glory – CBC.ca

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Clayton Kershaw’s glittering career lacked two of the most satisfying accomplishments: a win deep in the World Series and a championship ring.

He took the mound Sunday night with the Los Angeles Dodgers shaken, and Kershaw steadied his team with a gritty performance, plus one particular delivery home that will long be remembered.

Now with one more victory, the Dodgers would claim their first title since 1988.

Kershaw beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second time in six days, escaping a fourth-inning jam with a quick reaction throw to cut down Manuel Margot trying for a rare steal of home, and the Dodgers held on for a 4-2 win and a 3-2 Series lead.

“Well, it’s happened to me before, at least one other time that I can remember,” Kershaw said. “Carlos Gomez tried it against me in Houston one time. You know, I work on that with the first basemen.”

Max Muncy, looking on from first, was ready.

“I was fortunate enough to see one or two guys break hard, so I knew what to expect when he broke,” Muncy said. “I sprinted toward Kersh and said, `Home! Home! Home!'”

Mookie Betts and Corey Seager sparked a two-run first inning, and Joc Pederson and Muncy homered off long-ball prone Tyler Glasnow, whose 100 mph heat got burned.

Joc Pederson of the Dodgers celebrates a solo home run in the second inning. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

His scraggly dark brown hair dangling with sweat, Kershaw was cruising when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed the 32-year-old left-hander in favour of Dustin May after getting two outs on two pitches in the sixth inning.

The mostly pro-Dodgers fans in the pandemic-reduced crowd of 11,437 booed when Roberts walked to the mound, well aware of what happened with the bullpen the previous night, when closer Kenley Jansen wasted a ninth-inning lead in a stunning 8-7 loss.

Those boos quickly turned to cheers as the LA rooters saluted Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, as he walked to the dugout. Kershaw improved to 13-12 in post-season play, including 4-1 this year.

May, Victor Gonzalez and Blake Treinen combined for two-hit scoreless relief. May got five outs, Gonzalez stranded a pair of runners in the eighth by retiring Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe on flyouts, and Treinen got three outs to become the fourth Dodgers pitcher with a post-season save.

“Kersh, a lot of credit goes to him for what we’ve been able to do in this World Series,” Treinen said. “There’s a tough narrative on him. He’s a phenomenal pitcher on the biggest stage.”

Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw pitched five and-two-third innings on Sunday, setting a new mark for post-season strikeouts with his 206th and then 207th K to become the all-time leader. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Margot singled leading off the ninth, but Austin Meadows struck out, Joey Wendle flied out and Willy Adames struck out.

Thirty of the previous 46 teams to win Game 5 for a 3-2 lead have won the title, but just six of the last 14. Teams that wasted 3-2 leads include last year’s Houston Astros.

Los Angeles did not have an obvious candidate to start Game 6 on Tuesday, when Game 2 winner Blake Snell starts for Tampa Bay,

Walker Buehler, the 26-year-old right-hander who has supplanted Kershaw as the Dodgers’ ace, is waiting in the wings for a a Game 7, like a Hollywood understudy ready for a leading role.

With a 175-76 regular-season record, five ERA titles and an MVP, Kershaw ranks alongside Dodgers greats Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser. He won World Series openers in 2017 and again this year, but he faltered in Game 5 in both 2017 and 2018 and has never won a title.

Tampa’s Randy Arozarena hits an RBI-single during the third inning. (Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press )

A Dallas native pitching near his offseason home, Kershaw shut down the Rays on two runs and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 15 2/3 innings over two starts in this Series with 14 strikeouts and three walks. Kershaw also set a career post-season record with 207 strikeouts, two more than Justin Verlander’s previous mark.

Provided a 3-0 lead, Kershaw allowed Tampa Bay to pull within a run in the third when Kevin Kiermaier singled, Yandy Diaz tripled on a ball down the right-field line that skipped past Betts and Arozarena’s single. The 25-year-old Cuban rookie asked for the ball after his record 27th post-season hit, one more than San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval in 2014.

“I didn’t have my stuff like I did in Game 1,” Kershaw said. “My slider wasn’t there as good as it was, so fortunate to get through there.”

Kershaw escaped a first-and-third, no-outs jam in the fourth after Margot walked leading off, stole second and continued to third when the ball got away from second baseman Chris Taylor for his second big error in two games. Hunter Renfroe also walked, but Wendle popped out and Adames struck out.

Manuel Margot of the Rays is tagged attempting to steal home by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes during the fourth inning. (Tony Gutierrez/Associates Press )

With Kiermaier at the plate, Margot bolted for home as Kershaw raised both hands over his head in his instantly recognizable stretch position. While many pitchers might have panicked and perhaps balked, Kershaw coolly and quickly stepped off the rubber and calmly threw to catcher Austin Barnes.

Barnes grabbed the ball and got his mitt down on the Margot’s outstretched hand while the runner’s helmet tumbled off and cut his own lip.

Margot went on his own, manager Kevin Cash said, and became the first runner caught stealing home in the Series since Minnesota’s Shane Mack in Game 4 in 2001.

Globe Life Field’s roof was closed on the cool, rainy night, as it was for Game 3, and the visiting Dodgers broke on top within 10 pitches against Glasnow, a lanky 6-foot-8 right-hander who appeared to be overthrowing.

Glasnow allowed four runs and six hits in five innings, leaving him 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in the Series. The two home runs raised his total to a record nine in a single post-season.

Betts doubled on a 99 mph fastball leading off and scored two pitches later when Seager pulled a curveball into right field for a single and his 19th post-season RBI. This Series joined 1932 as the only years with runs in four straight top of the first innings.

Randy Arozarena, left, of the Rays gets tagged at second by Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Seager advanced on a wild pitch, Muncy drew his 20th walk of the post-season and after a two-out wild pitch, Cody Bellinger hit a grounder that was stopped with no play by Lowe, the second baseman positioned on the right field grass. Seager scored the Dodgers’ 58th run with two outs this post-season and became the first player to cross the plate in each of the first five Series games since the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in 2000.

Glasnow tied a Series record with two wild pitches in the 34-pitch inning and set the mark with three in the game.

Pederson hit a 428-foot opposite-field drive to left on a fastball at the letters for a 3-0 lead in the second.

Glasnow retired eight straight before Muncy homered in the fifth to make it 4-2. He became the record ninth Dodgers player to homer in the post-season, one more than the 1989 Oakland Athletics of Bash Brothers fame.

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Wilson runs wild before injury, 49ers crush Pats – TSN

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo was once considered to be the man in waiting to take over at quarterback in New England for Tom Brady.

Now he’s the guy who helped hand the Patriots their worst home loss under Bill Belichick.

Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and 112 yards before leaving with an ankle injury and the San Francisco 49ers crushed New England 33-6 on Sunday.

Garoppolo finished 20 of 25 for 277 yards with two interceptions in his first game against his former team. San Francisco (4-3) has followed back-to-back losses with consecutive wins and is 3-0 on the road.

“It was an exciting night. Lot of emotions. Couldn’t imagine it going any better than this,” Garoppolo said.

The Patriots’ 27-point loss was their largest at home under Belichick. They had gone 286 games without a three-game losing streak, the longest span between three-game slides in NFL history. New England fell to 2-4 for the first since Belichick’s first season in 2000, when the Patriots went 5-11.

New England was outgained 467-241 in total yards.

“We were clearly out-coached, outplayed. Just out-everything,” Belichick said. “We’re still a long way from where we need to be. That’s obvious.”

San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk had six catches for 115 yards and Deebo Samuel had five catches for 65 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.

“When we got them down, we got to keep them down, don’t want to give them any chance to breathe. I thought we did that tonight,” Garoppolo said. “Started from the first snap and carried its way throughout the whole game.”

Cam Newton struggled for the Patriots, completing 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions before being replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Stidham was 6 of 10 for 64 yards and an interception.

Belichick said his plan is to keep Newton as the starter.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said.

Newton was out of sync from the outset, making poor reads and poorer throws. Garoppolo, meanwhile, was successful in spreading out New England’s defence with a steady diet of passes behind the line of scrimmage and jet sweeps to get the ball into the hands of Wilson, Samuel and tight end George Kittle.

San Francisco dominated the first half, taking a 23-3 lead, holding the ball for 22:30 and racking up a 301-59 advantage in total yards. The Patriots managed four first downs to the 49ers’ 18.

The Niners took just over five minutes and nine plays to march 75 yards and take a 7-0 lead on 3-yard run by Wilson. It was the first time the Patriots have allowed a touchdown on an opponent’s opening drive at home since Week 4 of 2016 against Buffalo.

Following a Patriots punt, San Francisco was pinned inside its 15. Long completions by Garoppolo helped erase some early penalty losses before he missed high on a pass for Kittle and was intercepted by Devin McCourty.

San Francisco’s defence limited the damage, yielding a 40-yard field goal by Nick Folk.

That wasn’t the case for the Patriots later in the second quarter.

Trailing 10-3, Newton made a bad play worse when he tried to dump off the ball on the run to receiver Jakobi Meyers. It was picked off by linebacker Fred Warner. Five plays later, the 49ers capitalized on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Juszczyk.

The lead grew to 23-3 with just under a minute to go before halftime on a 16-yard run by Wilson.

“D just played impressive the whole day. I thought special teams and offence did, too. It was an extremely physical game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was fun to watch.”

INJURIES

49ers: WR Richie James left with an ankle injury. … Wilson had just crossed into the end zone following his third TD when his leg twisted as he was tackled. He stayed down on the field before walking off under his own power. Shanahan said the tentative diagnosis is a high ankle sprain. “Not sounding great right now,” he said.

Patriots: WR N’Keal Harry left with a head injury and did not return. … LG Joe Thuney departed with an ankle injury. … RT Justin Herron also left with an ankle injury.

NEWTON’S MILESTONE

With an 11-yard pass to Jakobi Meyers in the third quarter, Newton became the 48th NFL quarterback to reach the 30,000-yard plateau.

He also became the first NFL player to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards in his career.

UP NEXT

The 49ers head to Seattle next Sunday. The Patriots visit Buffalo.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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