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Red Sox flex muscles, power past Rays to even ALDS – Sportsnet.ca

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Boston slugger J.D. Martinez wasn’t sure how well he’d run, but he thought his sprained left ankle would be OK in the batter’s box Friday.

Lucky for him, the Red Sox took their time rounding the bases all night while turning an early deficit against the Tampa Bay Rays into a blowout win.

Martinez hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in his return to the lineup and the Red Sox backed Tanner Houck’s clutch relief effort with a franchise postseason record five home runs, rallying past the Rays 14-6 to even their AL Division Series at one game each.

Game 3 of the best-of-five showdown is Sunday in Boston.

Kike Hernandez had five of Boston’s 20 hits, including a homer and three doubles, becoming Boston’s first player with four extra-base hits in a postseason game.

Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers also connected for the Red Sox, who stunned Tampa Bay after ace Chris Sale allowed a first-inning slam to Jordan Luplow and was pulled following just three outs.

“Obviously, we had to make adjustments, and Tanner came in and did an outstanding job,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “But offensively, it was like: `Hey, don’t panic.’ We put up two (runs) in the first, and we still got eight innings. They did an amazing job the whole night.”

Hernandez’s leadoff homer in the fifth off Collin McHugh tied it before Martinez went deep against Matt Wisler (0-1) four batters later.

“He is definitely a huge piece of that lineup, and I think he showed why today,” Rays catcher Mike Zunino said of Martinez. “He came in, I know coming off an injury, and battling with that isn’t easy. But he had great at-bats all day. You tip your cap.”

Houck (1-0) kept Boston in the game after Sale was rocked for five runs in the first inning. The rookie right-hander came out of the bullpen to start the second inning and allowed one run and two hits over five frames, retiring his first 11 batters before yielding a two-out single to Wander Franco in the fifth.

Ji-Man Choi entered as a defensive replacement for Luplow and had the only other hit off Houck, a two-out solo homer in the sixth. Houck struck out five.

Martinez had four hits after missing Tuesday night’s wild-card victory over the New York Yankees and Game 1 of the ALDS. He was injured stumbling over second base while heading to the outfield during last weekend’s regular-season finale at Washington.

“It felt all right hitting,” Martinez said. “Didn’t feel good running, but felt all right hitting.”

Bogaerts, Verdugo and Hernandez had solo shots to steady the staggering Red Sox, who lost the opener 5-0 Thursday night. Martinez then delivered the lead.

Devers’ two-run homer off Michael Wacha hiked Boston’s advantage to 11-6 in the eighth. Christian Vazquez had an RBI infield single in the ninth, which Hernandez followed with a two-run single. Bogaerts, Verdugo and Vazquez had three hits each.

The Rays hadn’t allowed 14 runs in a game since Boston beat them 20-6 on Aug. 11.

“We knew coming in they have a very talented offense, and they just put together a lot of quality at-bats … and just kind of put it on us,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

“You chalk it up as a bad game,” Zunino added. “It just wasn’t our night.”

Martinez and Cora both said Boston’s medical staff deserved credit for helping the designated hitter get back on the field.

“Those guys guys, they work so hard, countless hours,” Cora said.

Verdugo also stole an out in left field, leaning over the short wall in foul territory in the sixth inning to catch Nelson Cruz’s popup.

A night after Randy Arozarena became the first player in major league history to homer and steal home in a postseason game, the Rays got off to another fast start that whipped a yellow towel-waving crowd of 37,616 — up from 27,419 for Game 1 — into a frenzy.

Rays rookie left Shane Baz became the second pitcher in big league history to start a playoff game with three or fewer career regular-season appearances. Matt Moore was the other, doing it with the Rays in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS at Texas.

In using Baz and Game 1 winner Shane McClanahan to begin the series, AL East-winning Tampa Bay joined Oakland as the only teams to start rookie pitchers in the first two games of a playoff series. The Athletics began the 2012 ALDS at Detroit with Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone.

Boston, meanwhile, has only gotten 2 1/3 innings combined out of its starting pitchers through two games. Sale, who returned from Tommy John surgery in August to make nine starts down the stretch, was pulled after giving up five runs and four hits in the first inning. That followed an abbreviated outing by Eduardo Rodriguez on Thursday.

Luplow’s grand slam was the sixth homer Sale has allowed 26 career postseason innings.

HE’S IN, HE’S OUT

Boston replaced injured right-hander Garrett Richards on the ALDS roster with reliever Matt Barnes. Richards has a left hamstring strain and will be ineligible for the AL Championship Series roster if the Red Sox advance.

UP NEXT

Nathan Eovaldi will start Game 3 for Boston. He allowed one run and four hits over 5 1/3 innings of Boston’s wild-card win over the Yankees. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 1.63 ERA in seven career postseason appearances, including three starts.

Cash hasn’t announced a starter for Sunday. He could go with right-hander Drew Rasmussen or opt for a bullpen day.

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Atlantic Division Preview: Nets remain title contender despite Irving drama – Sportsnet.ca

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The NBA is back, and Sportsnet is breaking down everything you need to know about each of the 30 teams in the lead-up to tipoff on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Today, we look at best- and worst-case scenarios for the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. (Teams are listed in the order in which we believe they’ll finish in the 2021–22 standings.)

Brooklyn Nets

2020–21 finish: 48-24, second in the Atlantic, lost in the second round.

Major additions: DeAndre’ Bembry, James Johnson, Patty Mills, Paul Millsap.

Major subtractions: Jeff Green, Mike James.

Best-case scenario: Don’t let the Kyrie Irving drama distract you from the fact that the Nets should be an elite title contender. Even if Irving doesn’t play this season – choosing to sit out on his ill-intentioned anti-vaccine stance – the Nets should still be alright because this is a team that still features James Harden and probably the best player in the world today Kevin Durant, along with a star-studded supporting cast including Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, plus sharpshooters Joe Harris and newcomer Patty Mills. So even without Irving, the Nets should be considered a legitimate contender and their goal of a championship shouldn’t change.

Worst-case scenario: The talent is there, and hopefully so will the health to allow this team to make a playoff run proper. But outside bad injury luck, the worst thing that could happen to this Nets team is if Irving proves to be too much of a distraction this season and it begins to impact his teammates on the floor. For as talented as Irving is, he doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a great locker room presence and there’s bound to be a time when the constant questions about him will grate on his teammates. How the Nets themselves deal with it will be interesting to witness.

2021–22 season prediction: 56-26, first in the East.

Philadelphia 76ers

2020–21 finish: 49-23, first in the Atlantic, lost in the second round.

Major additions: Andre Drummond.

Major subtractions: George Hill.

Best-case scenario: The best thing that the 76ers can do for themselves is to find an amicable end to this saga they’ve had going with Ben Simmons dating back to the off-season. Even if it means that the Sixers will need to get pennies on the dollar for Simmons he can’t be with the team anymore. Philly is a legitimate power in the Eastern Conference with realistic championship expectations that can’t be met if Simmons remains with the team.

Worst-case scenario: It feels like the Sixers are going to try to re-integrate Simmons back into the team, which, on one hand does kind of make sense given his talents, but to do so feels like a major mistake and will result in tempers eventually boiling over later in the season that could de-rail everything for the 76ers.

2021–22 season prediction: 49-33, third in the East.

Boston Celtics

2020–21 finish: 36-36, fourth in the Atlantic, lost in the first round.

Major additions: Al Horford, Enes Kanter, Josh Richardson, Dennis Schroder, new head coach Ime Udoka.

Major subtractions: Evan Fournier, Tristan Thompson, Kemba Walker.

Best-case scenario: The Celtics shook up their front office with Brad Stevens succeeding Danny Ainge as the president of basketball operations and then removing himself as head coach, opting to hire long-time NBA assistant Ime Udoka as the new bench boss. Under Udoka, the Celtics are going to want to play a more modern, ball-movement-focused offence which could prove beneficial for the team’s two stars of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Boston looks like good team, but compared to the likes of Brooklyn and Milwaukee it feels like there’s still some more left to be desired, even given how good Tatum and Brown are.

Worst-case scenario: The Celtics need to keep their house in order. During the pre-season both Brown and Al Horford have been forced into health and safety protocols. Given the fact the season is just getting underway this won’t impact Boston all that much, but it can’t be allowed to happen again.

2021–22 season prediction: 44-38, sixth in the East.

New York Knicks

2020–21 finish: 41-31, third in the Atlantic, lost in the first round.

Major additions: Kemba Walker.

Major subtractions: Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton.

Best-case scenario: The Knicks finally returned to the playoffs last season, and it wasn’t by fluke. The addition of Tom Thibodeau as head coach, the emergence of Julius Randle becoming an all-star and the step forward that R.J. Barrett took, not to mention the steady play of Derrick Rose coming off the bench all played significant factors in a good 2020-21 campaign for New York and now with the addition of Kemba Walker, who has had many memorable moments in Madison Square Garden dating back to his time in college, the Knicks added another dangerous offensive weapon to the mix. They didn’t get much better, but they also didn’t get much worse, either, meaning they should have a very similar season to their last one.

Worst-case scenario: The end of Walker’s tenure in Boston wasn’t the greatest as injuries robbed him of his signature quickness, plus his fit with Tatum and Brown wasn’t the best as all three needed the ball in their hands to be most effective. A similar situation could shape up in New York with Walker sharing the ball with Randle and Barrett. Hopefully, Walker will take a bit of a step back to let the Knicks’ true stars take over, but that’s not a guarantee.

2021–22 season prediction: 43-39, seventh in the East.

Toronto Raptors

2020–21 finish: 27-45, fifth in the Atlantic, didn’t qualify for the post-season.

Major additions: Precious Achiuwa, Dalano Banton (R), Scottie Barnes (R), Goran Dragic.

Major subtractions: Aron Baynes, DeAndre’ Bembry, Kyle Lowry.

Best-case scenario: The Raptors are, perhaps, the hardest team to figure out this season. They appear to be a club that’s trying to thread the needle by simultaneously keeping a small competitive window open while also trying to re-tool and shoot back up to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Given the championship-calibre talent on the roster, it’s feasible to think they’ll be able to do it, and No. 4 overall pick Scottie Barnes looks like the kind of high-ceiling talent who’ll be able to help push the Raptors towards that inevitable goal. For this season, if Toronto can reach the play-in tournament and even the post-season, proper it’ll be a successful season.

Worst-case scenario: Unfortunately, what the Raptors appear to be attempting is incredibly difficult and for all the optimism you can point to in regards to the roster, you can also find some worrying flaws and difficulties, such as how this team will score consistently – particularly with Pascal Siakam not expected to be in the lineup until closer to U.S. Thanksgiving – and whether this experiment of going all-in on “position-less” basketball will actually work. If things go awry it could lead to Toronto stuck in a no-man’s land position where they won’t be good enough to compete for a post-season spot, but not bad enough to get a high draft pick again – that is, unless Lady Luck decides to smile on them once again.

2021–22 season prediction: 38-44, 11th in the East.

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Ex-Bears Star Wanted To Punch Aaron Rodgers' Face Over 'Still Own You' Taunt – TMZ

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NHL suspends Sharks’ Evander Kane 21 games for COVID-19 protocol violations – Sportsnet.ca

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The NHL has suspended San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

The NHL also announced Monday that its concurrent investigation into allegations of domestic abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Deanna, could not be substantiated.

Kane said he is in counselling in a statement released by the NHLPA.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols,” Kane said in a statement released by the NHLPA. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”​

The Sharks also released a statement.

Kane will forfeit about $1.68 million of his $7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Kane had previously been cleared by the NHL in an investigation into allegations made by Deanna Kane that he bet on hockey games, including some against the Sharks.

But the league did determine that Kane violated the COVID-19 protocols. A person familiar with the investigation said earlier this month that the league was looking into allegations that Kane submitted a fake vaccination card. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details weren’t made public.

Using a fake vaccination card is illegal in both the United States and Canada, as well as against NHL rules.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that only four players on active rosters hadn’t been vaccinated.

Kane had not been around the team since the start of training camp while these investigations were ongoing in an agreement between him and the team.

Kane, 30, is three seasons into a $49 million, seven-year contract. He’s with his third organization after being drafted by and debuting with Atlanta/Winnipeg and a stint in Buffalo.

The 30-year-old led the Sharks in scoring last season with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games.

The Vancouver native has 506 career points (262 goals, 242 assists) in 769 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Sharks.

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