All-Star slugger hits 2 homers to reach 300

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All-Star slugger hits 2 homers to reach 300

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera's 300th homer cleared the wall in center field with room to spare and sailed toward the ivy at Comerica Park. That's not the easiest place to retrieve a baseball, but this one should make a nice keepsake. "Somebody got it. They got it somehow," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "They got in there and got it, and that's his 300th, so I'm sure they'll take care of it for him." Cabrera homered twice to reach another milestone in his remarkable career, and the Tigers finished a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 6-4 victory Sunday. Detroit wrapped up a 6-1 homestand against the White Sox and Los Angeles Angels and now leads the AL Central by 1 games over Chicago. The White Sox have lost five straight. Cabrera became the second Venezuela-born player to reach 300 home runs. Andres Galarraga hit 399. "For my country, yes, it's very special," Cabrera said. "Hopefully a lot of players can follow from Venezuela and try hitting 300 more." Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch also homered for Detroit to help rookie Jacob Turner (1-1) earn his first career win. Four relievers pitched for the Tigers, with Joaquin Benoit working a perfect ninth for his second save of the year. Detroit closer Jose Valverde has been dealing with a balky back and did not pitch. Philip Humber (4-5) allowed six runs in three innings. Alex Rios and Kevin Youkilis homered for the White Sox. The Tigers have won 16 of 21. Turner, Detroit's rookie right-hander, bounced back after giving up seven runs in two innings in his last start against the Angels. He went 5 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits. He struck out three without a walk before being lifted after Rios hit a two-run homer in the sixth. "I think the biggest difference is just being more aggressive, attacking the hitters and not really worrying about who might be at the plate, but just going right after them," Turner said. Cabrera and the Detroit offense provided plenty of support. After an RBI single in the top of the first by Rios, the Tigers scored three runs in the bottom half before Humber retired a batter. Berry's two-run homer gave Detroit the lead, and Cabrera followed with a high drive that cleared the fence just to the left of center field for home run No. 299. "I picked the wrong day to get balls up in the zone," Humber said. "The stuff was there, but when you are facing that team, and especially that team when they are hot, your stuff doesn't matter if you leave it up." Cabrera's second homer, in the third inning, was even longer. It ended up around where a camera platform is set up beyond the wall in center. A Tigers spokesman, citing ESPN Stats and Info, said it was estimated at 457 feet. "Dude has some of the most ridiculous pop I've ever seen," Berry said. "His smooth swing, to be able to go that high up and dead center, it's amazing. It's fun to watch. He does it in BP and he does it in the game. It's unreal." It was Cabrera's 23rd homer of the year, and he became the 14th player to reach 300 before turning 30, according to STATS, LLC. Cabrera was 29 years, 95 days old Sunday. When Hank Aaron was that age, he had 309 home runs, according to STATS. Barry Bonds had 222 by that age. Boesch added a two-run shot later in the third to make it 6-1. Humber allowed seven hits and a walk with no strikeouts. He's 3-5 with a 7.55 ERA since pitching a perfect game at Seattle on April 21. The White Sox chipped away after Humber was taken out. Rios' hit was ruled a homer after umpires consulted replay footage, and Youkilis hit a solo shot off Phil Coke in the seventh. Octavio Dotel, the third Detroit reliever, came on with one out and a man on in the seventh and retired all five hitters he faced, with four strikeouts. The White Sox were swept in a series for the first time all season. NOTES: Coke was pitching for the first time since his wife gave birth to a baby girl. Mickenzie LouAnn was born Saturday morning. ... The Tigers could afford to go deep into their bullpen with an off day coming up Monday. Chicago hosts Minnesota, with RHP Gavin Floyd (7-8) returning from a problem with his throwing elbow to start against Minnesota LHP Francisco Liriano (3-9).

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

BOSTON – With his new head coach Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics ownership and front office officials surrounding him, Jayson Tatum’s mind seemed to be somewhere else briefly.

He looked ahead, way, way ahead to the other end of the Celtics’ practice court where there were banners, lots of banners, raised high above all else in the gym.

This wasn’t just a passing glance, either.

TATUM SPEAKS

It was clear that the newest Celtic was in deep thought as he stared at the 17 banners and the one left blank, a steady reminder of what this franchise is about, past and present.

Yes, it’s a lot to soak in for anyone let alone a 19-year-old kid whose career with the Celtics can be timed on a stopwatch.

But the soft-spoken 6-foot-9 forward has been here long enough to understand that success around here is about more than playing well; it’s playing to win a championship.

And that in many ways separates Tatum from his teenage brethren who made up the majority of Thursday night’s NBA draft which included an NBA-record 17 players taken in the first round who like Tatum, were just one year removed from high school.

All come into the NBA with lots to learn, as well as goals and aspirations for this upcoming NBA season.

During an interview with CSN on Friday, I asked Tatum about what in his mind would make for a successful season.

And his answer initially was to ask me a question, “Individual or team?”

So I replied, either one.

“To get back to where they were last year and get over that hump,” he said. “Championships, chasing that number 18, that would be the ultimate success for me.”

That served as a reminder as to why despite having a handful of players under consideration at No. 3, the Celtics did the right thing in selecting Tatum.

His words may seem like the politically correct response, but take a look at the kid’s basketball resume and you’ll quickly see he is indeed about winning and doing so in whatever way possible.

After missing his first eight games at Duke with a foot injury, Tatum gradually improved as the season progressed and wound up on the all-rookie team as well as being named to the All-ACC third team.

Once the Blue Devils got to the ACC Tournament, Tatum became a different, better, more dominant player.

Indeed, Tatum led the Blue Devils to their first ACC championship since 2011 and did so in historic fashion as the Blue Devils became the first ACC school to win the conference tournament with four wins in four days.

Late in the title game against Notre Dame, Tatum put together a sequence of plays that speaks to why the Celtics were seriously considering taking him with the number one overall pick had they not been able to trade it for the No. 3 and a future first-round pick.

With the scored tied at 65, Tatum made a free throw that put Duke ahead.

Moments later, he blocked a shot and finished off the play with a lay-up that gave Duke a three-point lead.

After a Notre Dame basket, Tatum connected with a teammate for a 3-pointer that pushed Duke’s lead to four points with around a minute to play.

And then there was the 3-point play Tatum converted after getting fouled on a dunk which secured a 76-69 Duke win over the Fighting Irish.

Free throws. Blocks. Getting out in transition. Passing.

When his team needed him most, he gave whatever was required at that moment which is one of the intangibles that makes Boston feel good about his future.

“He does whatever he has to do to help you win,” said an NBA scout who said he has seen Tatum play “at least a dozen times.”

He added, “Like all of these kids coming into the league now, he has some things he has to get better at, get more consistent with. But he makes winning plays, whether it’s for himself or others. He’s a lot more unselfish a player than he’s given credit for being.”

And he’s 19 years old, which is both a blessing and a burden when you’re an NBA team executive charged with committing at least two years and millions of dollars into a young man.

Part of the process when making a draft choice, especially when it’s one of the top picks, is character evaluation.

Of the players at or near the top of the draft board, multiple league executives contacted by CSNNE.com in the past couple of weeks said this was an area where Tatum stood out in comparison to all of the top prospects.

“He’s the kind of young man you’d love whether he was a basketball player or not,” one Western Conference executive told CSNNE.com. “If you’re ranking guys on character alone in this draft, he’s your number one pick.”

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, acknowledged the challenge of differentiating between miscues made by a teenager as being problems of concern going forward, or whether that’s a teenager making the kind of bad/questionable decisions most teens make.

“It’s dangerous to play too much into a 19-year-old kid’s behavior,” Ainge told CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper on Friday. “But I think that, with all the things we do, from physical, emotional, mental, character, work ethic and their skills … it’s just really hard at 19. You hate to just be labeled what you are at 18.”

But in regards to Tatum specifically, Ainge added, “Jayson is a high character guy. We know he will get better because of his character and his work ethic.”

Said Tatum: “It’s a great feeling. Being part of a great organization like the Celtics; think of all the great players of the past and you can follow in their footsteps.”

And in doing so, blaze a trail of his own in the pursuit of Banner 18.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

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David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."