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Marcus Semien's 3-run walk-off homer propels Blue Jays to victory over Athletics –



The Blue Jays continue to live by the home run this season as late-game bombs from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Marcus Semien kept their near-death playoff hopes alive on Friday.

Gurriel smashed a no-doubt grand slam to left to spearhead a six-run rally in the eighth inning, and Semien followed with a walk-off three-run shot down the left-field line in the ninth to push Toronto to a dramatic 11-10 victory against the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a critical three-game weekend series.

The come-from-behind win kept the Blue Jays (71-62) five games behind the Boston Red Sox, who defeated Cleveland 8-5 on Friday, in the fight for the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Athletics (74-61) are three games behind Boston.

“Every win is so important right now,” Semien said. “Just to be able to swing the bat and give us the win, it’s huge. It was the biggest comeback of the year. Hopefully, we can just build off this score, smaller runs tomorrow and see what happens.”

The Blue Jays found themselves down 8-2 after the Athletics scored two runs apiece in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Even after Gurriel hit a two-out first pitch from Oakland reliever Yusmeiro Petit into the second deck to tie the game 8-8, the Athletics grabbed a lead in the ninth with a two-run homer from outfielder Mark Canha.

Canha’s homer hit the left-field foul pole off Blue Jays receiver Jordan Romano, who had not allowed a run in his previous 11 appearances.

But to lead off the ninth, Breyvic Valera singled and advanced to third on George Springer’s double to set up Semien. He smacked his career-high 34th down the left-field line against the Athletics, a team he played six seasons with before signing with Toronto last January.

“A lot of guys were dragging their heads and dragging their bats,” Toronto starter Alek Manoah said. “He’s going out there like ‘I’m gonna win a ballgame.’ So if that tells you anything about his heart and competitiveness. He wants to win, and he never gives up on anything. So when he goes, we go.”

Teoscar Hernandez tied the game 2-2 in the fourth inning. The three homers gave the Blue Jays an AL-leading 200 for the season and a fifth walk-off win.

Blue Jays’ clubhouse in state of ‘pure happiness’

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo described the state of the clubhouse afterwards as pure “happiness.”

“I wish you guys could see it,” he told reporters in his Zoom post-game conference.

Manoah was in the clubhouse long before his teammates authored the comeback. After giving up a two-run homer to Tony Kemp in the sixth inning for a 6-2 Oakland lead, he exited.

Oakland punished the rookie pitcher for his patch of wildness. With the game deadlocked at 2-2, Manoah opened the fifth by hitting Josh Harrison in the arm and Starling Marte in the head.

Marte stayed down as the Athletics training staff attended to the fallen centre fielder. He remained in the game and, along with Harrison, scored on Matt Olson’s double to right field.

“Whenever you hit somebody in the head, it’s pretty scary, very dangerous,” Manoah said. “I felt really bad at that moment. I had some troubles with the mound early on.”

Marte stayed in the game to score, but he was pulled to start the bottom half of the inning.

Manoah also issued three walks, two strikeouts, five hits and six runs.

Blue Jays’ Teoscar Hernandez, right, celebrates with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre. (Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press)

Oakland starter Sean Manaea pitched on six days rest because Frankie Montas had visa issues to cross the border into Canada. So Athletics manager Bob Melvin moved Montas to pitch in Manea’s spot in Detroit on Thursday.

Manaea was effective. He went seven innings, striking out nine, allowing only five hits.

With Oakland leading 6-2, young Blue Jays pitcher Nate Pearson was summoned from the bullpen. He was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday, where he has spent the past three months rehabbing from groin problems.

Pearson was not sharp, surrendering two more runs.

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COVID-19: Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena among Ontario facilities to see major capacity limit increase – Global News



The Ontario government has announced a major boost of maximum COVID-19-related capacity limits at major outdoor and indoor sporting venues, such as the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.

“With public health and health-care indicators currently stable and proof of vaccination now in effect, we are able to recommend cautiously easing capacity limits in certain settings,” Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said in an update Friday afternoon, noting the increases will mostly be in places where vaccine proof is required.

“Increasing capacity limits does not mean we can let our guard down. We must remain cautious and humble in the face of this Delta variant.”

Read more:
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test will be needed to access Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field

Moore said the revised rules will take effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.

At indoor meeting and event spaces (convention and conference centres, banquet halls etc.), theatres, cinemas, concerts, sports events, racing venues and commercial TV and film shoots with audiences will be able to increase the number of people in attendance to up to 50 per cent of approved capacity or 10,000 people (whichever is less).

For outdoor event spaces where it is standing room only for patrons, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less) will now be allowed.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings'

COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings

COVID-19: Ontario expands capacity limits for some indoor, outdoor settings

When it comes to outdoor event venues where people are seated, up to 75 per cent of approved capacity or 30,000 people (whichever is less) can now be accommodated.

Officials said seated outdoor venues can see higher numbers of people because mobility is less and therefore it reduces the risk of potential transmission of COVID-19.

The announcement came just a day after the Toronto Blue Jays announced the release of additional seats for the final six home games of the regular season, citing ongoing discussions with Premier Doug Ford’s office and Moore. The team said the increase would be in line with public health measures.

Read more:
Ontario enforcement agencies report few incidents in early days of COVID-19 vaccine certificates

In an update right after Moore’s announcement, the Jays announced the 500L section at the Rogers Centre would be reopening to visitors now that up to 30,000 fans will be permitted to attend.

The current capacity limit at the Rogers Centre under Ontario’s COVID-19 regulations is 15,000 fans. At Scotiabank Arena, the limit was capped at 1,000 fans. Both venues have vaccination policies in place.

When Moore was asked why he is recommending these changes now, he said the COVID-19 situation in Ontario has been stable for several weeks and the province needs to have a “balanced and proportionate public health response” to the pandemic.

Read more:
Ontario COVID-19 vaccine certificate program for many indoor public settings now in effect

“For the majority (of attendees), they will be protected through vaccination, they will be wearing masks, they will be screening and monitoring for any symptoms … and I do think that is a much safer environment that we can start to safely and cautiously open,” he said, calling the recent implementation of vaccine certificates a “game-changer.”

“We’ll monitor these caps over the coming weeks to make sure this process remains safe. I’m confident that we can do this safely, and slowly, and cautiously because we all need balance. We’ve made sacrifices over the last year and a half and so have these businesses, and I think this will allow them to open safely and not be sources of infection or outbreak.”

As for how long vaccine certificates will be needed to access many indoor public settings, Moore suggested the program could be in place until the winter.

He went on to say as part of the provincial government’s gradual approach to reopening, it will assess other settings where capacity limits could be eased. He also pointed to early modelling on cases that suggested there could be a sharp rise of cases after Christmas.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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NBA denies Canadian Andrew Wiggins of religious exemption to skip COVID-19 vaccine –



The NBA has denied Canadian Andrew Wiggins’s request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco’s vaccination requirement.

The ruling was announced Friday, hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.

Because of local coronavirus regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.

Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.

“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’s request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement.

“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city’s vaccination requirements.”

NBA says unvaccinated players can play

Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days, and at least once — possibly more — on game days. Fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.

However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to visiting clubs.

WATCH | ‘Bring It In’ panel discusses vaccine passports’ effect on sports:

Discussing mandatory vaccine passports as fans return to stadiums | Bring It In

24 days ago

With fans returning to stadiums across Canada, host Morgan Campbell discusses the enforcement of mandatory vaccination in stadiums across the country with panellists Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin. 7:44

The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn’t yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season begins on Oct. 19.

Local mandate not yet in effect

Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco’s mandate doesn’t take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Tuesday.

The NBA has struck agreements this off-season to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.

The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85 per cent of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The league-wide figure is believed to have increased since.

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2020 Ryder Cup pairings: U.S. runs it back, Rory McIlroy out for Saturday foursomes – Golf Channel



After his team dug itself a 6-2 hole on Friday at the Ryder Cup, European captain Padraig Harrington had some decisions to make when deciding on his pairings for Saturday morning’s foursomes session.

One pressing question was whether he’d sit Rory McIlroy for the first time in McIlroy’s cup career. McIlroy had played in every session since making his debut in 2010 (26 for 26), but he’d dropped both his team-play matches on Friday at Whistling Straits while failing to reach the 16th hole in either one.

Ultimately, Harrington decided that his visiting side’s best chance at a comeback was to sit McIlroy on Saturday morning.

“We have plenty of options on our team,” Harrington said. “Spoiled for choice in many ways, and yeah … I’m very comfortable again with the team I’ve put out tomorrow. Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team.”

McIlroy and Poulter, who lost in foursomes on Friday morning, will both be benched, while Harrington will mix things up slightly elsewhere, splitting Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, and pairing them with Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger, respectively. Two of Europe’s foursomes pairings are intact: Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Match scoring for the 43rd Ryder Cup

Meanwhile, on the American side, captain Steve Stricker is going back to the well, keeping all four of his previous foursomes teams. All but Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth won on Friday morning, though Thomas helped lead a four-ball rally alongside Patrick Cantlay on Friday afternoon as the U.S. duo tied Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

Cantlay reunites with Xander Schauffele, who is 2-0. Dustin Johnson, also 2-0, reunites with Collin Morikawa.

“We had one other group that we were thinking about putting out, but it went so well this morning that I figured why mess things up and change things up at all,” Stricker said. “We changed the order a little bit is all, but we kept the same pairings.”

The U.S. leads by four points, its largest advantage after Day 1 since 1975. History is on the Americans’ side, too, as just once in five previous instances since 1979 (the year that the Great Britain and Ireland side was expanded to include continental Europe) has a team coughed up a lead of more than three points after the opening day.

Here are the matchups and starting times for Saturday morning’s foursomes session:

8:05 a.m. ET: Koepka/Berger vs. Rahm/Garcia
8:21 a.m.: Johnson/Morikawa vs. Casey/Hatton
8:37 a.m.: Thomas/Spieth vs. Hovland/Wiesberger
8:53 a.m.: Schauffele/Cantlay vs. Westwood/Fitzpatrick

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