Say good morning to baseball's new home run leader

526488.jpg

Say good morning to baseball's new home run leader

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 29, 2011
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Even without Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, the New York Yankees still pack a wallop. Curtis Granderson hit two of New York's five home runs, rookie Ivan Nova won his 10th straight decision, and the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 Sunday night for a split of a day-night doubleheader. Granderson hit a three-run drive in the third inning and a solo shot in the seventh to take over the major league lead in homers (38) and RBIs (107). "It's incredible what he's done this year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's a lot of talk about MVP, and that will all be settled later. He's been unbelievable for us." In the first game, rookie Zach Britton allowed four hits over seven innings to lead the Orioles to a 2-0 victory. It was Jeter's 2,402nd game with New York, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle for most in a Yankees uniform. But Jeter fouled a ball off his right knee in the third inning, and although he shook off the pain to finish the game, the Yankees captain was a late scratch in the nightcap with a bruised knee. "We iced it between games and afterward, and it swelled up and became a challenge," Jeter said after the second game. X-rays were negative, but Girardi expressed doubt about Jeter's availability Monday night for the finale of the four-game series. Rodriguez also watched Game 2 from the dugout with a sore left thumb. "We just felt it wasn't in our best interest in playing him, either," Girardi said. The second game was tied at 3 before New York hit three straight homers in a four-run sixth. After Robinson Cano connected with a man on, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones also went deep. It was the first time the Yankees hit three successive homers since May 20, 2009, against Baltimore. Despite the power surge, Girardi hates the idea of being without Jeter and Rodriguez. "We need to get them healthy," he said. "It is somewhat of a concern." Nova (14-4) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings, striking out seven and walking two. The right-hander has won seven straight starts and is 10-0 in 11 outings since June 3. Brian Matusz (1-7) allowed six runs and six hits -- including three home runs -- in 5 1-3 innings. Adam Jones had two RBIs for the Orioles, whose six-game winning streak ended. Baltimore led 2-0 before Granderson hit his first homer. He has 11 career two-homer games, including four this season. Granderson still doesn't consider himself to be a slugger. "It's one of those freak things," he said. "I was thinking about the home run guys, those that can do it, they hit mammoth shots. Mine, as long as they get over the fence, that's great." In the first game, Britton allowed four singles, struck out five and walked one before being pulled after throwing a career-high 120 pitches. It was a vivid contrast from his previous start against the Yankees, when he yielded nine runs and got only one out in a 17-3 loss July 30. "I wasn't thinking about getting revenge or anything," Britton said. "You have to have a short memory." Britton (8-9) has given up only one run over 12 innings since coming off the disabled list (strained left shoulder) on Aug. 22. Before going on the DL, he surrendered 23 runs in three starts. "Not only was it like a break for me physically, but mentally, too," Britton said of his time off. The game was scoreless until the seventh, when Nick Markakis doubled and Vladimir Guerrero singled. Baltimore added a run in the eighth when Mark Reynolds led off with his third hit and scored on a two-out single by J.J. Hardy. Jim Johnson pitched a perfect eighth and Kevin Gregg worked the ninth for his 19th save, getting Rodriguez to hit into a double play after giving up a one-out single to Mark Teixeira, who had three hits. Cano went 0 for 3, ending his 17-game hitting streak. He had also hit in 18 consecutive games at Camden Yards. The Yankees failed to get a runner past first base in their first shutout loss since June 13. Bartolo Colon (8-9) gave up two runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings. He had a two-hitter through six innings before faltering. He has lost his last three starts and is 2-6 in his last eight decisions. But he considered this effort to be a breakthrough. "I feel very happy. Thank God that everything is back together," he said through a translator. "We'll see how far we're going to go." NOTES: The nightcap was rescheduled from Saturday's doubleheader rainout. The other game will be made up on Sept. 8 at 1:05 p.m. ... Britton's 120 pitches were most by an Oriole this season. ... New York intends to activate RHP Freddy Garcia (cut index finger) from the DL to start in Monday's series finale. Alfredo Simon (4-6) will pitch for the Orioles.

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

WALTHAM, Mass. – NBA players are creatures of habit so you can understand why Al Horford was just a little bit out of his element on his first practice with the Boston Celtics.
 
After nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford hit the free agent market this summer and signed a four-year, $113 million with the Celtics.
 
Horford acknowledged that his first practice with the Celtics “was a little different” but added, “It’s definitely a weird feeling, but it feels right to be here.”

Players, coaches, national pundits, the list is seemingly endless when it comes to folks who believe Horford is an ideal fit with the Boston Celtics.
 
“He can do score in the paint, shoot 3s, defend, pass, he can do it all out there,” Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He’s going to fit in well with us.”
 
But like any rookie or newcomer to a team, Horford admitted he had some moments when he was a step or two late getting to where he needed to be on the floor.
 
“We’re running through a lot of plays, a lot of concepts being thrown out,” Horford said. “It’s a matter of getting comfortable with all the sets.”
 
As much as he will work to figure things out, Horford is wise enough to know he’ll need the help of his new teammates, too.
 
“I’m going to lean on a lot of the guys,” Horford said. “I’ll definitely ask a lot of questions. Avery (Bradley) already has gotten in my ear, anything I need he’s there for me. I just want to get acclimated as fast as I can.”
 
Horford also said that head coach Brad Stevens has been extremely helpful in assisting him in speeding up his learning curve.
 
“Coach (Stevens) is very sharp, very . . .  he explains things well,” Horford said. “He explains things well. He wants practice to move along. The pace of practice, definitely a faster pace.”
 
But you won’t find Horford complaining.
 
Horford is clearly excited about starting this new chapter in his basketball career.
 
“For me it’s more of a relief, finally being here in Boston, house, being settled,” Horford said. “Now we can just focus on the season.”