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Merrifield, Blue Jays top Diamondbacks for third consecutive victory

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TORONTO — Chris Bassitt had little time to prepare for his short-notice start on Saturday.

The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander found out Friday that he would be starting in place of all-star pitcher Kevin Gausman on Saturday after the latter was scratched due to discomfort in his left side.

Bassitt, however, did not disappoint.

All-Stars Whit Merrifield and Bo Bichette both homered and the Toronto Blue Jays earned a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bassitt (9-5) had five strikeouts while surrendering seven hits and zero walks in six innings of action in front of a sellout crowd of 42,328 at Rogers Centre.

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“Overall, good,” Bassitt said of his performance. “(The approach) was just pound the strike zone and trust your stuff. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me, it was just more so the preparation leading up to it was obviously not normal.”

Merrifield and George Springer each had two RBIs for Toronto (52-41), which extended its winning streak to three games.

Nate Pearson, Erik Swanson and Yimi Garcia — who got the save — held the Diamondbacks scoreless in three innings of relief.

“I thought the bullpen did a phenomenal job,” Toronto manager John Schneider said.

“They kind of feed off one another,” Schneider added. “They’re aware of what they’re doing and they’re taking pride in what they’re doing. When you have a good team and you have a good bullpen, it’s a luxury to throw those guys out there.”

Jake McCarthy had two RBIs for Arizona (52-41), which dropped its third in a row.

Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen (11-4) surrendered six hits and three walks, while striking out five batters in five innings of work. Relievers Miguel Castro, Andrew Chafin, Scott McGough gave up two runs in four innings.

“I felt like I just really couldn’t put guys away,” Gallen said. “I felt like I was making decent pitches, they were fouling them off. They were just waiting me out to get pitches they could handle.”

It was Gallen’s first start since being the National League starter in Tuesday’s All-Star game.

“We made him work,” Merrifield said. “We didn’t chase his stuff out of the zone early on and I think that when you do that to a pitcher, it kind of gets in their head a little bit, like ‘I gotta get the ball over the plate.’

“And when we did that, we did enough to get three runs off him. Against a guy like that, it’s a win.”

The Blue Jay bats found their rhythm in the second inning. Merrifield produced the first hit of the game with a single. After Daulton Varsho struck out, Alejandro Kirk nailed a 93 m.p.h. fastball into right field for a double.

Gallen then walked Cavan Biggio to load the bases. Springer followed up with a two-run single into deep left field that scored Merrifield and Kirk.

In the fourth, former Blue Jay Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled, followed by a double from Emmanuel Rivera. With a full count, two outs and runners on second and third, McCarthy hit a two-run single and narrowly made it safely to first base.

To the dismay of the crowd, a review did not lead to the call being overturned and the game was tied 2-2.

Those jeers quickly turned into cheers in the bottom of the inning. Merrifield cranked a 86.2 m.p.h change-up 372 feet into left field for his sixth homer of the season, with the ball bouncing off the top of the wall and over.

Bichette tacked on another homer in the eight inning — his 16th of the season — with a shot to left centre field off McGough to make it a 4-2 game.

Merrifield picked up his second RBI when his sacrifice fly scored Brandon Belt in the eighth.

INJURIES

The Blue Jays said an MRI revealed no damage and that Gausman is day to day.

Meanwhile, reliever Jordan Romano was not available Saturday after he exited Tuesday’s All-Star game with left lower back tightness. Schneider said the closer had an MRI that “came back clean” and that he’d be “taking it day by day.”

ON DECK

Yusei Kikuchi (7-3) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays in Sunday’s series finale. Tommy Henry (5-1) is set to take the mound for the Diamondbacks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2023.

 

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Garnacho on target as United beats Crystal Palace in League Cup defence

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Seven months after lifting the trophy, Manchester United made a successful start to its defense of the English League Cup on Tuesday by beating Crystal Palace 3-0.

Alejandro Garnacho and Casemiro fired the holders into a 2-0 first-half lead at Old Trafford and Anthony Martial added a third after the break in the third-round match.

It is now back-to-back wins for Erik ten Hag’s team, which has endured a disappointing start to the season.

The dominant performance against an understrength Palace followed Saturday’s narrow victory at Burnley and will give United fans hope the team has turned its form around.

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“The mood is always good, but of course when you are not winning at United there is disappointment, and there is frustration, but the togetherness is always there,” Ten Hag said. “We know we are not now in the position where we want to be. So we have to build up, we have to catch up and then you have to go from game to game, working on the process and working on the results. Don’t get too far ahead.”

The League Cup ranks fourth among English soccer’s most important trophies. But Ten Hag still savored last season’s success.

Victory against Newcastle in February’s final at Wembley Stadium ended the club’s six-year wait for a trophy and saw Ten Hag deliver silverware in his first season at the club. He went on to also reach the FA Cup final, only to lose to Manchester City, and also guided United back into the Champions League to mark an impressive campaign.

Things have not gone so well this term, with his team losing four out of five games before beating Burnley 1-0.

This latest victory was far more convincing, even if Palace benched regular starters Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Joachim Anderson and was also without forward Odsonne Edouard.

Ten Hag also made changes with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund on the bench and Christian Eriksen absent.

Mason Mount, however, made his first appearance since Aug. 19 after returning from an injury.

Garnacho fired United ahead in the 21st minute after converting Diogo Dalot’s cutback in the box.

His low shot had too much power for Palace goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who had only just come on as a substitute for the injured Dean Henderson.

Johnstone was tested again moments later when Dalot blasted an effort from an angle, which the keeper blocked.

He was beaten again, however, in the 27th, this time by Casemiro, who headed in Mount’s corner to double United’s lead.

Martial added a third 10 minutes into the second half when firing across goal after meeting Casemiro’s looping ball to the far post.

United plays Palace again in the Premier League on Saturday and the Londoners showed their threat when twice forcing saves from ‘keeper Andre Onana later in the match. But manager Roy Hodgson did not sound confident about securing a different outcome when the teams next meet.

“We are going to have to become a totally different team in the way we approach the game and the way we play the game,” he said.

CUP UPSETS

Third-division Exeter produced a shock 1-0 win against Luton to knock the Premier League club out of the competition. Luton made 10 changes from the team that picked up its first topflight point of the season against Wolverhampton on Saturday, but the result will still go down as a big upset. Demetri Mitchell scored the winner in the 83rd, but Exeter had to see out the game with 10 men after he was sent off in the 88th.

Wolverhampton was also eliminated after throwing away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at second-division Ipswich. Hwang Hee-Chan and Toti Gomes had seemingly put the visitors on course for the next round after goals inside the first 15 minutes. But Omari Hutchinson, Freddie Ladapo and Jack Taylor sealed a comeback win for Ipswich.

BURNLEY ADVANCES

Burnley is still waiting for its first win in the league this season, but it is powering on in the cup after a 4-0 win against Salford City, the fourth division club co-owned by Manchester United greats including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough beat Bradford 2-0 and Port Vale won 2-1 against Sutton United.

Fourth-division Mansfield beat third-division Peterborough 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation time. Lucas Akins’ penalty to even the score in the 93rd had sent the game to a shootout.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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Matt Irwin Deserves a Spot on the Canucks’ NHL Roster, Right?

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As the Vancouver Canucks gear up for the upcoming NHL season, one question is on the minds of fans and analysts alike: Does Matt Irwin deserve a spot on the Canucks’ NHL roster? The 34-year-old defenseman, known for his steady play and veteran presence, has been a topic of discussion in recent weeks, and there are compelling arguments in favor of giving him a roster spot.

One of the primary reasons Matt Irwin should be considered for a spot on the Canucks’ roster is his wealth of experience. Irwin has played over 400 games in the NHL, with stints on multiple teams, including the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, and most recently, the Buffalo Sabres. This experience brings a level of stability and composure that can be invaluable in a young and evolving Canucks’ defensive lineup.

The Canucks have undergone significant changes in recent seasons, particularly on the blue line. Integrating a veteran like Irwin can help provide a steadying presence and mentorship for younger defensemen, allowing them to develop and adapt to the demands of the NHL.

Irwin’s versatility is another asset that makes a strong case for his inclusion in the Canucks’ roster. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the ability to play in various defensive pairings and adapt to different playing styles. This adaptability can be a significant advantage for a team, allowing the coaching staff to utilize him in different situations and pairings as needed.

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Furthermore, Irwin is known for his reliability and consistency. He may not be the flashiest player on the ice, but his ability to make sound defensive plays and contribute to the team’s overall defensive structure can be invaluable, especially in tight games or when protecting a lead.

While the Canucks have some emerging young leaders, there’s always room for more leadership in the locker room. Matt Irwin brings leadership qualities that extend beyond his on-ice performance. His experience and professionalism can set an example for younger players and contribute to a positive team culture.

Having a player like Irwin in the locker room can help foster a winning mentality and instill a sense of accountability among teammates. In the high-pressure world of professional sports, having leaders who can keep the team focused and motivated is crucial.

Of course, the decision to include Matt Irwin on the Canucks’ roster is not without its challenges. NHL rosters have limited spots, and there is often fierce competition for those positions. Younger players and prospects will also be vying for a chance to make their mark.

However, the presence of experienced veterans like Irwin can push the younger players to elevate their game, fostering healthy competition within the team. Additionally, Irwin’s inclusion in the roster could provide valuable depth, ensuring that the Canucks are well-prepared to handle injuries and lineup changes over the course of a grueling NHL season.

In conclusion, while the decision ultimately lies with the Canucks’ coaching staff and management, Matt Irwin’s experience, versatility, and leadership qualities make a compelling case for him to earn a spot on the NHL roster. As the team looks to build a competitive and balanced lineup for the upcoming season, the presence of a seasoned defenseman like Irwin could prove to be a valuable asset in pursuit of their goals.

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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada

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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.

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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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