Thu, 29 Sep 2016 03:30:17 +0000ATLANTA | The Atlanta Braves are giving themselves plenty of reasons to be hopeful about 2017, from a surging offense to improved young pitching. All of it was on display Wednesday night in a 12-2 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies. Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games. Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer. Little-used Daniel Castro had a career-best three RBIs. On the mound, Mike Foltynewicz (9-5) pitched two-hit ball over five innings in his final start of the season — and his first since leaving a Sept. 12 game against Miami after being hit in the left calf with a liner. "When the atmosphere is like this, it's definitely contagious," Castro, who was hitting .189 and had just four RBIs for the season, said through a translator. "The team feels good. You feel good." The Braves won for the ninth time in their last 10 games, building some momentum for their move to SunTrust Park next season. Since an 18-46 start, when they had the look of one of the worst teams in baseball history, they've gone 47-46 under interim manager Brian Snitker. "It was another high-energy, get-after-it game," Snitker said. "I hope we keep adding to that." The Phillies are heading in the opposite direction. They lost for the fifth time in six games, prompting Ryan Howard and A.J. Ellis to call a team meeting that forced manager Pete Mackanin to huddle with the media in a tunnel outside the clubhouse. "It's nice to see," Mackanin said. "It means somebody cares." Adam Morgan (2-11) lasted five innings, giving up 10 hits and nine runs, the most he's allowed in a dismal season. "It's all about pitching," Mackanin said. "Pitching keeps you in games." Atlanta jumped ahead in the second when Dansby Swanson hit a run-scoring triple and Castro followed with a single. The Braves added three more runs in the third, with Swanson and Castro each contributing RBI hits, and really poured it on with a four-run fourth. Morgan's throwing error allowed one run to score, another came home on a wild pitch, and Kemp finished it off with his 34th homer into the seats in left-center. Castro added another run-scoring single in the seventh, equaling his career high with three hits. Freeman extended the longest streak in the big leagues this season with a single in the sixth off Phil Klein. Freeman had been tied with Boston's Jackie Bradley, who put together a 29-game run in April and May. Freeman had already extended his on-base streak to 46 consecutive games when hit by a pitch in the third, equaling the longest this season in the big leagues. Washington's Jayson Werth reached base in 46 straight games before his streak was halted Aug. 18. "You just take it for granted with this guy," Snitker said of Freeman. "He's a machine." MEMORABLE HIT Atlanta rookie Rio Ruiz, who spent most of the season in the minors, tripled in the eighth for his first big league hit. "It's great to get it out of the way," Ruiz said. "It's even better to get the win." THE REAL DEAL Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield took part in the countdown to the final game at Turner Field, pulling down a banner in left field to reveal "4'' — the number of games remaining at the ballpark and the season. Holyfield lives in the Atlanta area and was among those who carried the torch during the opening ceremony for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Turner Field was initially built as the 85,000-seat main stadium for the games, and then converted to baseball before the '97 season. TRAINER'S ROOM Phillies LF Roman Quinn didn't play after leaving Tuesday's game with a strained left oblique. It's not known if he'll get back on the field this season. "He's more scared than anything that it's going to recur or that he's going to make it worse," Mackanin said. "There's no sense in him getting hurt with four or five games left in the season." UP NEXT Phillies: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 3.78 ERA) goes against the Braves for the fourth time in his career. He's 1-0 with a 4.08 ERA in his previous appearances. Braves: RHP Josh Collmenter (3-0, 4.19) looks to remain unbeaten in his third start for Atlanta.[...]
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 03:18:44 +0000
MIAMI | Somber Miami Marlins players and personnel escorted a hearse carrying the body of star pitcher Jose Fernandez from the team’s ballpark Wednesday as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio sought a safety probe into the rock jetty where a boat crash claimed the lives of the baseball star and two friends.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Barry Bonds and the team’s players including Marcel Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton wore white T-shirts emblazoned with Fernandez’s image and the letters “RIP” as they slowly walked the hearse away from Marlins Park in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Many in the crowd of about 1,000 chanted “Jose! Jose!” and some waved Cuban flags in honor of the popular Cuban-American player.
Jose Portuondo, 55, came to the event with his dog, Sophie. He said Fernandez, 24, was a shining example for Cubans who often risk their lives at sea to come to the U.S. seeking freedom. Fernandez defected from the communist island at age 15.
“His is the story of many in South Florida. He brings it home,” said Portuondo, who drives a city trolley bus. “Being here, the sadness is just thick in the air.”
Junko Sasaki, 40, who is Japanese but spends a lot of time in South Florida, brought an offering of fruit, rice and water to a makeshift memorial to Fernandez that has sprouted up outside the ballpark. She said it was a traditional Japanese way of ensuring the honored dead have what they need in the afterlife.
She said Fernandez once tossed her a baseball from the field at a game.
A public viewing was scheduled for later Wednesday at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. A private funeral Mass will be held today with family and Marlins players and personnel.
Rubio, a Florida Republican, sent a letter Wednesday to the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers asking for a review of the century-old jetty and whether it poses a chronic danger to boaters. The jetty, which extends out from Miami’s port, is difficult to see at night, especially at high tide, Rubio said.
Shortly after the 32-foot boat owned by Fernandez crashed early Sunday, the Coast Guard said a lighted buoy that marks the channel opening at the end of the jetty was working properly. The jetty itself does not have lights, but officials say routine reviews have concluded the existing navigational aids are adequate for safety.
The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In addition to Fernandez, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero also died in the crash.
Investigators have said no evidence of alcohol or drug use was found at the scene, but medical examiner toxicology reports are pending. A Miami River bar and restaurant has confirmed that Fernandez was there before the crash, but it is unclear if he was drinking.
Fernandez was an emerging baseball star known for his exuberant personality and style of play. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was a two-time All-Star. This year he set a single-season Marlins strikeout record with 253.
Instead of flowers, the family asks for contributions to the JDF16 Foundation at www.MiamiFoundation.org/jdf16 .
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 03:17:44 +0000CHASKA, MINN. | Phil Mickelson criticized another past Ryder Cup captain Wednesday in explaining why he thinks this American team will be prepared to play its best. Mickelson was the catalyst for change in 2014 when he publicly questioned Tom Watson’s heavy-handed role – with Watson sitting at the same table – after another American loss at Gleneagles. That led to the PGA of America creating a task force that allowed for more player involvement. “When you look back on what the difference is, when players are put in a position to succeed, more often than not they tend to succeed,” Mickelson said. “And when they are put in positions to fail, most of the time they tend to fail.” That opened the conversation of how much a captain can mean in the Ryder Cup without hitting a shot or making a putt. “Let me give you an example, if I may,” Mickelson said, stopping just short of wagging his finger. He went back to 2004 when the Americans suffered their worst loss ever in the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. Nothing illustrated their failure more than when U.S. captain Hal Sutton sent out Mickelson and Tiger Woods twice. It was their first time playing together, and they lost both matches. Mickelson was lampooned that week for practicing on an adjacent course as he tried to adjust to the golf ball used by Woods. “We ended up not playing well. Was that the problem? I mean, maybe,” Mickelson said. “But we were told two days before that we were playing together, and that gave us no time to work together and prepare.” Mickelson said having to learn how to hit a different golf ball forced him to abandon his own preparations to get sharp. Mickelson said he wasn’t trying to knock Sutton – he said he liked how decisive Sutton was that week. “But that’s an example of starting with the captain. That put us in a position to fail. And we failed monumentally, absolutely,” he said. “But to say, ‘Well, you just need to play better,’ that is so misinformed. Because you will play how you prepare.” Mickelson is more optimistic than ever that the American can end two decades of futility against Europe, which has won eight of the last 10 times. Mickelson is playing his record 11th straight Ryder Cup, qualifying for every one of those teams, yet he has been on the winning side only twice. Two years ago, he was visibly angry after the loss at Gleneagles for the U.S. getting away from what worked under Paul Azinger in a rare 2008 victory, and what seems to work every year at the Presidents Cup against an international team that is not nearly as formidable as Europe. Davis Love III was captain at Medinah in 2012 when the Americans had a 10-6 lead going into singles, only to win three of the 12 singles matches as Europe rallied to win. Mickelson and Woods were part of that task force that agreed to bring Love back. “This is a year where we feel as though Captain Love has been putting us in a position to succeed,” Mickelson said. “He’s taken input from all parties. He’s making decisions that have allowed us to prepare our best and play our best, and I believe that we will play our best.” Just don’t get the idea Mickelson is predicting a victory. He considered European teams that for years have gotten their best out of players who don’t necessarily thrive in the majors or rise in the world ranking, yet deliver their best golf every two years in the Ryder Cup. “We are playing a very strong European team, and I don’t know what that means results-wise,” he said. “But our best golf will come out this week, and that’s our goal.” Mickelson is so involved in the Ryder Cup, from the task force to being part of the new Ryder Cup Committee, that Brandt Snedeker considers him part of the leadership of this American team. ‘’Phil to me is a vice captain,” Snedeker said. “He’s in there 100 percent. That’s infectious in the team room, when you have that many guys caring about one common goal and they are the best players of our generation. Y[...]
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 03:16:39 +0000
FLOWERY BRANCH | Falcons coach Dan Quinn loved watching his offense, defense and special teams make enough plays to win at New Orleans.
That might sound obvious, but Quinn tries to keep his goals simple.
After losing the opener to Tampa Bay and scratching out a victory at Oakland, the Falcons are coming off their most complete game since handing Carolina its only regular-season loss last December.
Monday’s 45-32 victory had a little bit of everything.
“Honestly that’s what we’ve been trying to build where all three units have a hand in winning,” Quinn said Tuesday.
“That was special teams on the punt return, defensively getting the turnovers and scoring with it, then offensively getting so many guys in on the attack to contribute.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan played one of his best games since the Falcons previously made the playoffs in 2012, completing passes to eight different receivers, throwing no interceptions and using a silent snap count to overcome the noise in the Superdome.
Running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combined for 194 yards rushing – 296 yards overall – and four touchdowns.
Their superlatives overshadowed the lack of production of All-Pro receiver Julio Jones, who was targeted seven times but caught just one pass for 16 yards. Limited by a sore ankle and calf through the first three games, Jones leads the Falcons with 188 yards receiving, but is just third on the team with 10 catches.
“Make no mistake – he is our feature guy,” Quinn said. “There are certain coverages that go his way and opportunities come for some other players. He knows that.”
As the Falcons (2-1) prepare to play host to Carolina (1-2) on Sunday, Jones is expected to be healthy enough to fully participate in practice. It’s just the fourth week of the season, so Quinn isn’t concerned about Jones’ numbers.
“I wouldn’t sleep on him not having many games on him having (low) numbers,” Quinn said. “There are things he did that definitely didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but I promise you he was a factor.”
Defensively, Atlanta had seven pass breakups and sacked Drew Brees twice. Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards to put the Falcons up 20 points early in the fourth quarter.
But the Saints picked up at least 13 yards on seven plays in the second half. Brees too often had enough time to set his feet and make accurate throws. Running back Mark Ingram picked up too many yards after initial contact.
Quinn is most concerned about the high number of big-yardage plays the Falcons are giving up.
“I do believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “I do believe in the players we have. I just know we’ll play like we’re capable of. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I do remember it’s a process we’re building and we have some new parts in here.”
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:50:42 +0000
Tennessee coach Butch Jones on Wednesday said his team is preparing as if Nick Chubb will play Saturday in Sanford Stadium.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart sounded less sure when asked about the running back returning this week from a sprained left ankle. Hours later, Chubb wasn't seen on the practice field during the media viewing periods for a third straight day.
“We’re day to day,” Smart said Wednesday in an interview on 680 AM. “Trying to get him back. We want him back bad. Don’t know if he’s going to be back. Based on yesterday, it’s hard to say. He’s got to recover some.”
Chubb left Saturday’s 45-14 loss at Ole Miss in the second quarter and did not return.
He was in rehab during the media viewing period at practice on Tuesday. Smart said Chubb later ran some, put “a little weight on it,” but didn’t do “a whole lot of cutting.”
After practice Wednesday, offensive tackle Greg Pyke said, "I didn't even see him out there," when asked what Chubb was able to do. "I didn't notice."
In another development from practice Wednesday, defensive end David Marshall wasn't seen during the media viewing periods. No injury for Marshall has been disclosed. The freshman from Thomaston started against Ole Miss and has nine tackles and a sack.
For the second straight day, sophomore Deandre Baker was with the No. 1 secondary. Juwuan Briscoe was working with the No. 2 group.
If Chubb can’t go Saturday, freshman Brian Herrien will have an increased workload along with Sony Michel and freshman Elijah Holyfield.
“Now if Chubb’s out, it’s a situation where (Herrien’s) going to have to carry the ball,” Smart said of the team’s second leading rusher with 184 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
Jones said if Chubb doesn’t play, “we won’t see much change whoever’s running the ball at Georgia because they’re so talented and they’re so deep there.”
Georgia is fifth in the SEC in rushing at 196.8 yards per game, but was held to 167 against Nicholls and 101 against Missouri. The Bulldogs ran for 230 at Ole Miss, but 137 in the second half after the game was all but decided.
Chubb has rushed for 422 yards and three touchdowns after returning from a season-ending knee injury sustained on the first play of the game Oct. 10 at Tennessee.
“We were looking all spring of having to play without him,” Smart said earlier on the SEC weekly teleconference. “We’re prepared to do so if we have to and we’ll continue to do that.”
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:32:25 +0000Quentin Moses has watched Georgia’s pass rushers this season with more than a passing interest. Moses rang up 25 sacks as a Bulldog defensive end from 2003-06, good for seventh on the school’s all-time list. “It’s almost like an art getting to the quarterback and actually finishing,” said Moses, a former Cedar Shoals High standout. “You work so hard to get there but then they get the ball off quick or they’re kind of keying on you. …It’s a matter of being patient and being persistent and not discouraged. The thing about sacks is you might go two or three games without having one and then you might get two and a half in a game.” Georgia would certainly take that kind of individual performance this season. The Bulldogs are second to last in the SEC with four sacks. SEC sack leader Arden Key of LSU has six himself. The outside linebackers have combined for half a sack--from Davin Bellamy. Cornerback Aaron Davis, defensive linemen Trenton Thompson and David Marshall each have one and safety Dominck Sanders has a half, but the Bulldogs insist they aren’t as focused on sacks. “We don’t measure sacks,” coach Kirby Smart said. “We let you guys (the media) measure sacks. We measure affecting the quarterback and we are not doing a good job of that. We want to disrupt him, get him out of the pocket, hit him, affect him on the throw. We hit (Ole Miss’) Chad Kelly several times the other day but it didn’t affect him. The affect has to come from getting him out of the pocket and getting him out of rhythym, hitting him in different coverages and we haven’t been able to do that.” Moses is teaching the finer points of the game as defensive line coach at Reinhardt Universty. The team is second in sacks in the 13-member NAIA Mid-South Conference. Moses has watched every Georgia game this season except for Ole Miss because he was on a bus ride back from a win at Pikeville (Kent.). So he didn’t see outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter twice come close to sacks, one time when Kelly eluded him and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass. “It's a situation where he came free on one, and one he did a nice job playing a run play and he came out of it and just missed the quarterback on it,” Smart said. “We're going to work hard at everybody tackling better, especially in space, and finishing on the quarterbacks.” Said Bellamy: “The sacks will come. ‘Zo should be second in the SEC right now in sacks with three.” In the preseason of 2015, Carter was demoted to second team and offered this gem of a quote: “Fresh legs mean more sacks. More sacks mean more money.” The five-star recruit from Norcross posted 4 ½ sacks in 2014 as a freshman. “Everyone knows who he is,” Moses said. “Everyone knew who he is since he graduated high school.” Carter has now gone 17 games without a sack for Georgia dating back to the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30, 2014. “Without a dominant pass rusher, Smart said “we’re having to manipulate it in certain ways to get it done and it’s tough because there’s two really good ones who left here last year and we haven’t been able to replace those guys yet.” Bellamy said for all the talk of losing Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins, their sack numbers weren’t off the charts last season. Floyd had 4 ½ and Jenkins had 4. “It’s not like 12 or 15 sacks seasons here every year,” Bellamy said. “It’s more of an everyone does their job kind of defense.” Georgia’s pass rushers these days are facing something that Moses didn’t have to deal with back in his day: RPOs, run-pass options that Georgia saw from North Carolina, Missouri and Ole Miss and expects to see from Tennessee Saturday. “It’s very frustrating,” Bellamy said. “It kind of takes away your tenacity. You’ve got to kind of play your keys and not just get off the ball and just go do what you want to do. …It slows you down a little bit.” Floyd, a first-round[...]
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:25:40 +0000
At Monsignor Donovan, the Rams improved to 5-8 with a 3-2 victory over Jackson County.
Monsignor Donovan won the opening set 25-20 and dropped the second 25-27 to the Panthers. The Rams then won the third set 25-15 and lost the next set 25-27, setting up the fifth and final set, which they won 17-15.
The Rams will host Gatewood at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Jackson County (12-12) will play Monroe Area, Loganville and Morgan County on Saturday at the Category 5 Classic at Monroe.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:24:08 +0000
At Bogart, North Oconee split a pair of Region 8-AAAA matches, defeating Oconee County 25-13, 25-21 and losing to St. Pius X 16-25, 16-25.
Against Oconee County, Mary Pearson recorded seven kills, Emma Boughner had eight kills and five digs, Madison Correll had seven kills, six digs and three aces, Sami Gascho had 27 assists and Neely Thompson posted seven digs.
Against St. Pius X, Gascho had 13 assists, four digs and three aces, Correll had five digs and Kiersten Chambers added four digs.
Oconee County also defeated Stephens County 25-7, 25-15.
The Titans (27-7, 7-1) will host Tallulah Falls on Thursday. Oconee County (16-19, 4-4) will face George Walton and Winder-Barrow on Thursday in Monroe.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:21:27 +0000
At Social Circle, the Redskins scored in four of their six at-bats to take a Region 8-AA victory over the Patriots.
Oglethorpe County (8-6, 3-3) will host Hart County at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:20:04 +0000
At Athens Christian, the Eagles saw a three-game winning streak snapped in a non-region game with Landmark Christian.
Lexi Veamoi recorded a two-run home run for the Eagles.
Athens Christian (11-9, 8-1 in Region 8-A) will play at 4:45 p.m. Thursday at Hebron Christian.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:18:48 +0000
At Commerce, the Panthers scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to pull away from the Eagles in Region 8-AAA. Jackson County also avenged a 12-3 loss to East Jackson that happened on Sept. 8.
For East Jackson, Jessie Marvin was the losing pitcher, and Kate Woodall and Mckenzie Arnold both recorded home runs. Ally Petering also added two hits for the Eagles.
Jackson County ends the regular season at 10-11 overall and 5-5 in the region, and will host Hart County in the first round of the region tournament on Saturday. East Jackson (16-9, 5-5) was set to host East Hall on Wednesday.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:17:10 +0000
At Bogart, the Titans snapped a three-game losing streak with an easy victory over the Jaguars.
North Oconee (6-13, 2-8 in Region 8-AAAA) will close out regular-season play Wednesday at Monroe Area and will face Oconee County in the region tournament on Friday. Cedar Shoals ends its season at 3-14 overall and 0-6 in Region 8-AAAAA.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:15:52 +0000
At Winder, Hallie Evans singled home pinch-runner Tiffany Watkins with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Bulldogs the Region 8-AAAAAA victory.
Winder-Barrow led 5-1 going to the sixth inning, but Dacula scored four times in the frame to set up the Bulldoggs’ seventh-inning fireworks.
Jakayla Sullivan had three hits, two runs and an RBI, Paige Skinner had three hits and an RBI and Krista Thomason had two hits and a run.
Sophomore Rose Johnson earned the pitching victory, scattering 14 hits in a complete-game performance that also included five walks and three runs.
The Bulldoggs (11-14, 5-5) will host Habersham Central in a best two-out-of-three series that begins will a doubleheader on Thursday in the first round of the region tournament.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:09:33 +0000
LILBURN – Prince Avenue Christian kept pace in Region 8-A standings Tuesday with a come-from-behind 7-4 victory over Providence Christian Academy in eight innings.
The Wolverines (11-6, 7-2) trailed 3-1 for most of the game but tied the score at 3-3 in the sixth inning thanks in no small part to hits from Alex Tuttle (who also had an RBI) and Taylor Bond.
In the eighth inning, Sally Cornwell tripled with the bases loaded and then scored on a throwing error to give Prince Avenue four runs. Bond was the winning pitcher, going the distance.
The Wolverines were set to play at doubleheader on Wednesday at Social Circle and will host George Walton at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:35:40 +0000
SAN FRANCISCO | The San Francisco Giants are taking no chances as they chase a playoff spot in the final week of the season.
The Giants acquired infielder Gordon Beckham on Tuesday in a trade with the Atlanta Braves to give themselves some help with Eduardo Nunez injured.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Beckham was due to arrive shortly before first pitch of Tuesday night's series opener against Colorado. San Francisco is looking to secure one of the NL wild cards and Beckham could make some starts this weekend against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers. He also provides a veteran right-handed bat off the bench.
Nunez had an MRI exam that showed a mild right hamstring pull that is expected to keep him out a few days.
"With what happened there with Nuney, we just felt like we could use a little help," Bochy said.
Beckham is batting .217 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 85 games, playing second, third and shortstop. He would not be eligible for the postseason roster, but Bochy credited general manager Bobby Evans for finding a capable fill-in to try to get the Giants into the playoffs. They have won the World Series every even year this decade: 2010, '12 and '14.
Nunez could be ready by the weekend series with the Dodgers.
"Every day we'll re-evaluate him," Bochy said. "We're hoping he'll be ready the last series."
San Francisco is sending Class-A infielder Rich Rodriguez to Atlanta.
Also Tuesday, Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto threw a bullpen session — Bochy even stood in as the hitter for a few minutes — to test his strained left groin and did fine. He is slated to start Thursday as planned without restrictions. Cueto will go through some fielding work Wednesday to make sure the groin is fine.
San Francisco also added catcher Tony Sanchez to the roster for insurance behind Buster Posey and Trevor Brown. Outfielder Mac Williamson was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a quadriceps strain that was unknown to the team until he could "barely walk" after landing from San Diego on Sunday night. Left-hander Matt Reynolds was designated for assignment.