Say good morning to baseball's new home run leader

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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.

Celtics can't complete comeback, fall to Bucks, 103-100

Celtics can't complete comeback, fall to Bucks, 103-100

BOSTON – Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks wasn’t the first time during their impressive run at home that the Boston Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the game.

But as hard as the Celtics fought, putting together one mini-run after another, it just wasn’t enough to knock off the red-hot Milwaukee Bucks who came away with a 103-100 win. 

The Celtics (48-27) had their four-game winning streak snapped while the Bucks (39-36) have now won 13 of their last 16 games as they continue to climb the Eastern Conference standings and pose a legit threat to any team they face in the first round of the playoffs. 

Boston, which trailed by as many as 14 points, rallied to tie the game at 93 in the fourth, but back-to-back baskets by Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon put the Bucks ahead 97-93. The Celtics soon found themselves back to within one possession after Jae Crowder split a pair of free throws making it a 99-96 game. 

But the Bucks did as they had done all game, responding to the moment with a big play of their own. This time it was Brogdon finding Greg Monroe under the rim after Al Horford slipped, for an easy dunk that made it a 101-96 game with 1:06 to play. 

A Celtics' time-out led to an Isaiah Thomas lay-up, making it a 101-97 game. Boston’s defense stiffened up, forcing a 24-second violation which led to a 20-second time-out by Boston with 36.9 seconds to play. The Celtics got another quick basket from Thomas who led all scorers with 32 points. 

Boston seemed on the verge of forcing a Milwaukee miss, only for Brogdon to step up with a clutch, tightly contested jumper that made it a 3-point game with 3.9 seconds to play. He finished with 16 points, nine assists and four rebounds.

Following a Celtics time-out, desperate for a 3-pointer to force overtime, Boston’s in-bounds pass was deflected. Marcus Smart was able to corral it before time expired, but his desperation was nowhere close to hitting the rim let alone going in. 

This game had the feel of a down-to-the-wire battle from the outset.

The Celtics were tied at 24-all after the first quarter, and trailed by six points at the half. Boston had good stretches in the third quarter, but once again found themselves trying to cut into Milwaukee’s lead which stood at 80-77 going into the fourth. But like each of the three previous quarters, the Celtics saw the window to close the gap slammed shut in their face as the Bucks opened the fourth with an 8-3 run to lead 88-80.

Boston’s uphill battle was fueled in part by a Milwaukee Bucks defense that didn’t give the Celtics many good looks at the rim. And offensively, Milwaukee’s ball movement was solid all game, generating lots of good looks at the rim. 

Despite all that, the Celtics were down just 90-87 following a 3-point play by Tyler Zeller. Boston had a chance to tie the game, only for Terry Rozier’s 3-pointer to hit the back of the rim and roll out. Bucks coach Jason Kidd knew he had to do something to slow the growing momentum by Boston, leading to him calling a time-out with 5:35 to play with it being a one-possession game. 

Boston continued to fight its way back into the game, and were within two (93-91) after Marcus Smart made the second of two free throws. 

He wasn’t done. 

Smart, who had his second double-double of the season with 11 points and a career high-tying 11 rebounds, scored on a driving lay-up to knot the game at 93-all with 2:46 to play. From there, the Celtics could not make the necessary plays to get the victory. 

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

BRIGHTON, Mass – While the NHL debut for Charlie McAvoy is a matter of “when” rather than “if” at this point after agreeing to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) with the Boston Bruins, the jury is still out on Boston University center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and University of Notre Dame winger Anders Bjork become pros. 

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney says that Forsbacka-Karlsson has yet to make a “final decision” on his status for next season after BU’s elimination from the NCAA hockey tournament, and Bjork is readying for the Frozen Four this weekend along with the rest of his Fighting Irish teammates. The 20-year-old Forsbacka-Karlsson just wrapped up his sophomore season with the Terriers and posted 14 goals and 33 points in 38 games with a plus-11 rating, and has not given the Bruins any firm word on his plans for the immediate future. 

The urgency perhaps isn’t there for the Bruins to lock things up with Forsbacka-Karlsson right this second, because he wouldn’t be a factor for this year’s NHL team. 

Meanwhile the Bruins can’t do anything with the 20-year-old Bjork until at least the end of next weekend, but have been mightily impressed with a player that’s posted 21 goals and 52 points in 38 games for Notre Dame this season. Bjork had three assists in the game that propelled Notre Dame into the Frozen Four, and there would be a great deal of urgency for the Bruins to lock up a talented forward that might be able to help them right now. 

“I’ve been able to see [Bjork] a few times including the regional [in New Hampshire] last weekend, and he was outstanding. He played every other shift, he set up goals in the game and he’s had a really nice progression as a college player this season,” said Sweeney of the explosive Notre Dame junior, who was far and away the best player at B's development camp last summer. “They’ve done a fabulous job with their team, and hopefully they get to the Finals on Saturday against Harvard, and we get the best of both worlds seeing how our prospects play in the final game. He’s had a tremendous college career to this point, and we’re excited about his development.”

McAvoy is the front-burner issue for the Bruins at this point, but it would surprise exactly nobody if both Forsbacka-Karlsson and Bjork join him in Providence in the next couple of weeks as they wrap up their AHL season.