MLB-NL WILD CARD
Dodgers win on Taylor's blast
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Taylor has put the Los Angeles Dodgers into the NL Division Series.
Taylor slammed a two-out, two-run homer off Alex Reyes in the bottom of the ninth to give the Dodgers a 3-1 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals. Reyes entered the game after Cody Bellinger was issued a two-out walk by losing pitcher T.J. McFarland.
A wild pitch by Max Scherzer scored Tommy Edman and gave the Cardinals the lead in the first inning. It remained 1-0 until Justin Turner unloaded a home run off Adam Wainwright in the bottom of the fourth.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts put the outcome in the hands of his bullpen after Scherzer was lifted with two on and one out in the fifth.
Wainwright had allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
The two clubs were a combined 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position until Taylor's blast.
The Dodgers get to face the 107-win San Francisco Giants, who say Logan Webb will start Game 1 on Friday. Webb won the NL West clincher on Sunday, hitting a two-run homer and working into the eighth inning.
Kevin Gausman gets the starting nod for the Giants in Game 2.
ALDS open Thursday
UNDATED (AP) — The two American League Division Series begin on Thursday.
The top teams in the AL East are squaring off in the Division Series. The Red Sox led the division by 4 ½ games on July 7, only to finish eight games behind the Rays. Tampa Bay won the season series, 11-8 despite losing their first four meetings with Boston.
Shane McClanahan starts Game 1 for the Rays on Thursday after going 10-6 during the regular season. He’ll be opposed by Eduardo Rodriguez.
Chris Sale could start Game 2 against rookie Shane Baz.
Bosox manager Alex Cora said Wednesday that he’s not sure J.D. Martinez will be available due to an ankle injury.
The White Sox and Astros were separated by just two wins as they captured their respective division titles, but Houston took the season series, 5-2. The Astros are making their fifth consecutive postseason appearance. The White Sox are in consecutive playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
A pair of Lances are the Game 1 starters. Lance Lynn pitches for the White Sox after going 11-6 with a 2.69 ERA in the regular season. The Astros counter with Lance McCullers Jr., who was 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA.
The Astros will send Framber Valdes to the mound for Game 2 against Lucas Giolito.
Padres fire Tingler after second-half collapse
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres have fired Jayce Tingler, who presided over the biggest collapse in franchise history just a season after finishing second in voting for NL Manager of the Year.
General manager A.J. Preller announced the move three days after the Padres finished 79-83 and in third place in the NL West, 28 games behind San Francisco.
Tingler’s fate was sealed during a brutal freefall that saw the Padres go from a one-game lead for the NL’s second wild-card spot on Sept. 9 to being eliminated from playoff contention with seven games left.
Fields now Bears first-string QB
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — After resisting the move, Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy has made Justin Fields his first-string quarterback going forward, moving veteran Andy Dalton into the backup role.
The former Ohio State quarterback and a first-round draft pick had played against Detroit and Cleveland as the starter but only because of veteran Dalton’s knee injury.
Dalton is recovered from a bone bruise and has resumed practicing this week.
In other NFL news:
— Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio says quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a chance to practice Thursday after leaving Sunday's game against Baltimore with a concussion. Fangio says Bridgewater is improving and was cleared to lift weights with the team and attend meetings.
— The Panthers have acquired veteran cornerback and 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick. The moves comes after Gilmore and the Patriots couldn’t come to terms on a new contract.
— Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis after missing Sunday's 36-28 loss to the Cowboys with a hamstring injury.
— Browns starting linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. has returned to practice and will likely be activated later this week to play against the Chargers. However, the Browns are without defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as well as cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II and nickel back Troy Hill.
— The Cowboys are moving on from linebacker Jaylon Smith without getting into the specifics of the decision to release their leading returning tackler four games into 2021. One of the factors was a looming $9.2 million guarantee on Smith’s 2022 salary if he got injured.
— Washington has put tight end Logan Thomas on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Thomas’ absence for at least the next three games could open the door for Sammis Reyes to become the first person from Chile to play in an NFL game.
— The Lions put standout center Frank Ragnow on injured reserve, another setback for a banged-up winless team. The Lions are expected to give center Evan Brown his first career start Sunday at Minnesota.
— Jaguars coach Urban Meyer publicly apologized for the third consecutive day Wednesday and said he never considered resigning after his “inexcusable” behavior at an Ohio bar was caught on camera and released on social media. Meyer says several members of the team’s leadership council have expressed their support. Team owner Shad Khan publicly reprimanded the Meyer for his actions at the bar last weekend.
— The NFL Players Association says it has sent a formal request to the league for information about Washington’s practice facility being searched by federal authorities last week. The NFLPA says the situation directly impacts player health and safety and that the collective bargaining agreement obligates teams to adhere to state and federal laws. Head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion was put on administrative leave for what a Washington spokesman called an ongoing criminal investigation unrelated to the team.
— Jets coach Robert Saleh says safety Marcus Maye has the team’s support. The star player is dealing with legal issues after being charged in February with drunken driving after a car crash in Florida. Saleh declined to say whether he and the team previously knew about the accident and arrest that was first reported Monday night.
— Suspended Dallas offensive lineman La’el Collins has sued the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Collins is seeking an injunction to stop the remaining two games of a five-game ban over substance-abuse violations. The suit claims the NFL suspended the seventh-year player for missed tests when the labor agreement reached in 2020 no longer allowed for suspensions over missed tests or positive marijuana tests.
NFL ratings up 17%, averaging 17.3 million viewers
UNDATED (AP) — NFL games are averaging 17.3 million viewers on television and digital, a whopping 17% increase over last season and 3% compared to two years ago.
Whether or not the league can maintain that level of growth remains to be seen.
Last season was played during the pandemic, mostly in empty stadiums. Also, many people’s viewing habits changed in a presidential election year.
Four of the five league broadcasters have growth above 20%.
No testing for marijuana in NBA this season
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA has agreed to not randomly test players for marijuana this season.
It’s a continuation of the policy that was put in place last year for the restart bubble and has remained since. Drug testing will continue for things such as human growth hormone, other performance-enhancers and “drugs of abuse” such as methamphetamine, cocaine and opiates.
More than half of the states in the U.S. have decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana.
AP source: NHL investigates Kane for fake vaccine card
UNDATED (AP) — San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane is being investigated on allegations that he used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press about the inquiry.
Using a fake vaccination card is illegal in both the United States and Canada, as well as against NHL rules.
This probe is just the latest into Kane, who was cleared last month of allegations made by his estranged wife that he bet on NHL games, some involving his own team.
In other NHL news:
— Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme says he does not expect Carey Price to practice before the start of the regular season, making the goaltender doubtful for the opener at Toronto. Ducharme says Price is recovering from a non-COVID-19 illness and offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
— The Coyotes have signed forward Alex Galchenyuk (gal-CHEHN’-yuhk) to a one-year deal. The 27-year-old returns to Arizona after scoring five goals with eight assists with Ottawa and Toronto last season.
— Quinton Byfield was placed on injured reserve by the Kings, a day after fracturing his left ankle in a preseason game. The second overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft was hurt in the third period of the Kings’ 4-1 loss to the Coyotes.