Nelson Cruz showed power early on Sunday with two home runs, and patience and resiliency late coming through with the winning hit in the ninth inning after three strikeouts.
It was a display by Cruz of the many reasons why Seattle paid last offseason to add him to its lineup.
BOX SCORE: MARINERS 11, RANGERS 10
“Even when you hit homers you have to forget about what you do the (last) at-bat. I strike out three times and I have to forget about what happened the previous at-bats,” Cruz said. “That’s the beauty about baseball. You have a chance to do damage every time you go up there.”
Austin Jackson singled in the tying run in the ninth inning, Cruz followed with a two-out single for his fifth RBI of the game, and the Mariners overcame a pair of five-run deficits to beat the Texas Rangers 11-10.
Cruz homered twice in the first three innings, raising his major league-leading total to eight, and Jackson hit the 11th leadoff homer of his career.
That was just the start. The big drama came late as Seattle rallied from deficits of 7-2 and 10-5, scoring six runs in the final three innings.
“This team is a very gritty bunch. They’re built for this. They’re tough. Character-wise they’re tough,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We have a nice mix of veterans and young players. This team is built for greatness. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I like where we are.
This is it, Tim Tebow. Your last chance to stick on an NFL roster.
But fortunately for Tebow, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles is also his best shot to restart his NFL career.
Tebow, nearly two years removed from his last NFL experience (on the training camp roster of the New England Patriots) will sign a contract with Chip Kelly’s Eagles on Monday, and take part in the Eagles’ offseason program, according to a report from Fox Sports.
Tebow worked out for the Eagles last month, so the Eagles have at least some idea of what sort of shape Tebow will be in when he arrives. They’ve gotten a glimpse of what his throwing motion looks like after extensive work with private quarterback coach Tom House. And they’ve talked to him enough to know what sort of man they’ll be adding to their locker room.
After an offseason in the headlines, thanks to major moves like trading away running back LeSean McCoy, and signing 2014 rushing champion DeMarco Murray, Kelly and the Eagles must be OK with the media attention the addition will bring, because there will be no other bottom-of-the-roster quarterback in the league with more intrigue than Tebow, the enigmatic former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida whose popularity transcends sports.
Tebow, who spent the past year working as a college football analyst for the SEC Network while moonlighting for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” is joining perhaps the only team where it is OK that he isn’t a prototypical pocket passer, and will be playing for perhaps the only head coach in the league innovative, creative and crazy enough to try to find a place for Tebow on his roster.
The chances that Tebow becomes the Eagles’ starting quarterback are slim – even with a shaky quarterback situation after trading for former St. Louis Rams first-round pick Sam Bradford, who is coming off a second ACL surgery, last month. It seems unlikely that Tebow could even beat out Mark Sanchez for the backup job.
But maybe Kelly would see enough value in Tebow as a situational player to make him the No. 3 quarterback ahead of Matt Barkley.
So what will Tebow have to do to earn a spot on the 53-man roster?
First, he will have to prove that he has indeed improved his mechanics in his two years away from the NFL.
Let the championship chase begin.
New Orleans and Brooklyn are in. Indiana and Oklahoma City are out. And while San Antonio slipped to sixth in the loaded Western Conference, the defending champions are looking awfully dangerous again.
Forget the 82-game grind of the past six months. There are no more back-to-back sets, no more uneven schedules, no more excuses.
The playoff brackets are set. Everybody’s on equal ground. It’s time to crown a champion.
“It’s like a new beginning,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It feels like the first game of the season. You’re excited. There’s a renewed energy and a sense of urgency.”
It took the final night of the regular season — with more than half the games on the closing docket loaded with intrigue — to clear up the cluttered playoff picture.
Stephen Curry and the top-seeded Warriors will face Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in a best-of-seven series starting Saturday after New Orleans snapped San Antonio’s 11-game winning streak Wednesday night. That ran Russell Westbrook — who sealed the NBA scoring title — and the depleted Thunder out of the postseason and into the draft lottery.
“A month-and-a-half ago, nobody thought we would be in this position,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “So many people counted us out … We got here.”
In the East, the Nets nudged their way in by outlasting Orlando and getting a boost with Memphis’ win over a Pacers team that watched Paul George get helped off the floor again, this time with just a sore left calf, the team said.
Atlanta, the top seed in the East, opens against Brooklyn. LeBron James and the Cavaliers begin with Boston. Chicago meets Milwaukee, and Toronto takes on Washington.
In the wild, wacky West, a logjam between second and sixth is finally sorted out.
— No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers will face the Spurs.
— No. 2 Houston hooks up with seventh-seeded Dallas
— No. 5 Memphis meets No. 4 Portland, which won the Northwest Division to finish with a higher seed but will start on the road because of the Grizzlies’ better record.
At this point, seeds are just number anyway.
“If you get in, it’s a whole new season,” Nets forward Joe Johnson said. “Everybody is 0-0 and then you wipe your hands clean and then you give it another go.”
Indeed, the Warriors (67-15) whipped the competition in the regular season, setting a franchise record for wins. Kerr could be NBA Coach of the Year and Curry might be MVP, but only the team that wins 16 more games gets to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy as confetti falls from the rafters.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Curry, whose Warriors clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs a couple weeks ago. “Everything we’ve gone through to this point will hopefully prepare us for this journey.”
A few familiar faces won’t be part of these playoffs.
Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are among those who will be watching after getting injured or coming up short with their teams — or both.
The Knicks missed out on the best chance to land the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery; the Timberwolves (16-66) won that honor with the league’s worst record.
The Lakers (21-61), who started in Minnesota in 1948, lost more games than any team in their storied history. And after four straight trips — and two titles — to the NBA Finals with James leading the way, the undermanned Miami Heat are home already.
James found his way home to Northeast Ohio last summer.
The four-time MVP will try again to end the longest title drought for any North American city with three professional sports franchises. Cleveland hasn’t won a championship since the Browns beat the Baltimore Colts for the 1964 NFL title, but there’s renewed hope that James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love can do what previous Cavs teams couldn’t.
“We’ve been playing the right way — win, lose or draw — we’ve played the right way,” James said. “We’ve stuck to our system and I think it’s built some great habits for us.”
Now it’s time to put them to use.
Maybe, at long last, there is hope.
Major League Baseball, a $9 billion industry, finally is making inroads into solving one of its greatest concerns.
Major League Baseball, which will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day throughout every ballpark Wednesday, is represented by only 7.8% of African-Americans among the 868 players on the opening-day rosters and disabled lists, according to a study by USA TODAY Sports.
Yet that percentage remains flat from a year ago, and the total number of players has gone up, with 68 African-Americans on opening-day rosters.
The numbers sound modest, but after nearly three decades of decline, they represent promise.
Actually, big-time promise.
It’s a far cry from 1986, when 19% of major leaguers were African American. Yet, within these numbers and others, there’s signs of aninflux of young African-Americans entering the game.
Examining the rosters, 65% of the African-American players are 30 years old or younger this season.
Most encouraging, 18 African-Americans have been selected in the first round of the June amateur draft since 2012. When seven African-Americans were drafted two years ago in the first round, it represented the highest percentage since 1992.
Howie Kendrick had a game-winning two-run single in the ninth against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-5 victory over the Mariners on Tuesday night.
Rodney (0-1), who led the majors last season with 48 saves, was charged with his first blown save in three attempts. Justin Turner started the rally with a leadoff single, took third on Jimmy Rollins’ single and was erased in a rundown after third baseman Kyle Seager fielded Carl Crawford’s single.
Adrian Gonzalez walked to load the bases and Kendrick slapped the next pitch the other way to right field to give the Dodgers their second walkoff win in two nights. On Monday, Alex Guerrero gave the Dodgers a 6-5 win with a bases-loaded RBI single in the 10th inning.
Yimi Garcia (2-0) recorded his second big league victory in as many nights with a perfect ninth inning.
Nelson Cruz homered for the fourth straight game to match the longest streak of his career and Robinson Cano hit his first home run of the season for the Mariners. Starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed four runs and six hits in five innings, struck out five and walked three.
David Huff gave up four runs and seven hits through four innings in his Dodgers debut. The left-hander, who signed as a free agent in January, made his first start since Sept. 29, 2013 with the New York Yankees.
Guerrero, who hit his first major league home run on Sunday, pinch-hit for Huff in the fourth and cut Seattle’s lead to 4-3 with a homer to left-center after a two-out walk to Joc Pederson.
But Juan Nicasio walked three of his first four batters in the fifth after relieving Huff, and Cruz scored the Mariners’ fifth run on a groundout by Willie Bloomquist.
Andre Ethier got the defending NL West champions a run closer in the sixth with his first homer of the season, a drive just inside the right field pole on Iwakuma’s 95th and final pitch.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon brought in right-hander Charlie Furbush in the seventh to face lefty-
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday in a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the downfall of an athlete who once had a $40 million contract and a standout career ahead of him.
Hernandez, 25, looked to his right, pursed his lips and sat down after the jury forewoman pronounced him guilty in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old landscaper and amateur weekend football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. The conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole and automatically triggers an appeal to Massachusetts’ highest court.
Hernandez’s mother, Terri, and his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, cried and gasped when they heard the verdict, and Lloyd’s mother also cried. Jenkins wept loudly on his mother’s shoulder. Hernandez, his eyes red, mouthed to them: “Be strong. Be strong.”
The former football pro was also found guilty on weapons charges. Jurors deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before rendering their verdict.
“The jury found that he was just a man who committed a brutal murder,” District Attorney Thomas Quinn said. “The fact that he was a professional athlete meant nothing in the end.”
For reasons that were never made clear to the jury, Lloyd was shot six times in the middle of the night on June 17, 2013, in a deserted industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough.
Police almost immediately zeroed in on Hernandez because they found in Lloyd’s pocket the key to a car the NFL player had rented. Within hours of Hernandez’s arrest, the Patriots cut the former Pro Bowl athlete, who was considered one of the top tight ends in the game
NBA PLAYOFF PICTURE THROUGH GAMES OF APRIL 14
1. *Atlanta Hawks (60-21), Southeast Division champions
2. *Cleveland Cavaliers (52-29), Central Division champions
3. *Chicago Bulls (49-32)
4. *Toronto Raptors (48-32), Atlantic Division champions
5. *Washington Wizards (46-34)
6. *Milwaukee Bucks (41-40)
7. *Boston Celtics (38-42)
8. Indiana Pacers (37-43)
9. Brooklyn Nets (37-44)
10. Miami Heat (36-45)
1. *Golden State Warriors (66-15), Pacific Division champions
2. *San Antonio Spurs (55-26), Southwest Division co-leaders
3. *Los Angeles Clippers (55-26)
4. *Portland Trail Blazers (51-30), Northwest Division champions
5. *Houston Rockets (55-26), Southwest Division co-leaders
6. *Memphis Grizzlies (54-27)
7. *Dallas Mavericks (49-32)
8. New Orleans Pelicans (44-37)
Alex Guerrero hit a bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame a four-run deficit for a 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
Nelson Cruz hit two of the Mariners’ four home runs off Brandon McCarthy. Yasiel Puig homered and Howie Kendrick had a tying RBI single in the fifth for Los Angeles.
Dominic Leone (0-1), working his third inning of relief, gave up double to Andre Ethier leading off the 10th before retiring Puig on a comebacker. After Adrian Gonzalez was walked intentionally and Howie Kendrick also walked to load the bases, Tyler Olsons relieved.
He struck out Carl Crawford for the second out, but Guerrero lined a 2-2 pitch to right-center to end Seattle’s third straight extra-inning game.
Yimi Garcia (1-0) pitched a perfect inning to get his first major league victory.
Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager also connected off McCarthy, who gave up five runs and six hits in seven innings. He struck out 10 without walking a batter.
The only other time McCarthy gave up four homers in a game was in his second major league start on May 27, 2005, with the Chicago White Sox at the Texas Rangers.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, McCarthy was the 11th pitcher since 1914 with to give up as many as four homers and strike out at least 10 batters – and the first since Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers on Sept. 30, 2012 against Houston.
Seattle lefty James Paxton gave up five runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings and struck out six.
Former first-round NFL pick and Nebraska star running back Lawrence Phillips is suspected of murdering his prison cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, Calif., according to a report.
Jason Galvin of KGET reported the news and says Phillips is under investigation for possibly murdering Damion Soward, who died early Saturday morning
Soward, 37, was in prison for murder and died at Delano Regional Medical Center. He was one of two inmates to die that day.
Phillips was the star of Nebraska’s ’94 national championship team after rushing for 1,818 yards in his sophomore season. His success on the field was overshadowed by his legal issues and arrests off of it. Phillips pleaded guilty to vandalism and assault charges shortly after the title game. The next year he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend.
Phillips slipped to No. 6 overall in the ’95 NFL draft because of his criminal past, but the Rams still took him. They released him during his second season. The Dolphins picked him up but released him after two games following his arrest for assaulting a woman at a club. The 49ers gave him his last NFL shot in 1999 after he had a successful stint in NFL Europe, but they quickly released him after he became a distraction and constant problem throughout the season.
Even after his playing career ended, Phillips’ legal problems continued. He was arrested in 2005 for driving his car into three teens after playing against them in pickup football. At the time he was wanted by police in LA and San Diego for assaulting a former girlfriend. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony assault with a deadly weapon (his car). He was also later sentenced in 2009 for choking his former girlfriend. His prison term is for a combined 31 years.