Yanks clinch division with rout of Red Sox

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Yanks clinch division with rout of Red Sox

From Comcast SportsNet

NEW YORK (AP) -- Yankees fans broke out in in a raucous roar in the seventh inning, momentarily startling Alex Rodriguez. The slugger stepped out of the batter's box and saw the news on the center field scoreboard: Baltimore had lost, New York was the AL East champion.

A couple of innings later, the Yankees finished off a 14-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox for their 13th division title in 17 years after a thrilling back-and-forth race for the crown with the Orioles.

"This year we had to fight, scratch and claw," Nick Swisher said.

Covered in bubbly and wearing his new AL East champions hat, Derek Jeter sounded almost relieved.

"This was difficult. Come into the last day of the season, nobody knows what's going on. We've been taking it one day at a time for quite some time," Jeter said. "It feels good."

With the new playoff format, the Yankees' next move is to wait.

Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each hit a pair of homers. Cano went 4 for 4 and tied a career high with six RBIs as New York (95-67) finished two games ahead of Baltimore and secured home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The Yankees will open on the road Sunday against the winner of Friday's wild-card game between Baltimore and Texas.

"To have the best record and not know where you're going is strange," manager Joe Girardi said.

In front of fans poised to party from the first pitch on the final night of the regular season, the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the last-place Red Sox to win their second consecutive division crown.

When Freddy Garcia struck out Ivan De Jesus looking to end it, third-string catcher Francisco Cervelli pumped his fist and his teammates hugged and slapped fives on the field. They put on their newly printed champion shirts and hats while fans feted them with a standing ovation as "New York, New York," blared over the loudspeakers. The team walked off the field to chants of "Let's go Yankees!"

"Now the real season starts," Jeter said.

Getting to the postseason, though, wasn't easy.

New York led the division by 10 games on July 18 but the Orioles caught up on Sept. 4 and were tied with the Yankees after 10 different days in September. Many players credit Girardi with keeping the clubhouse calm during that stretch.

"He's very even-keeled," Granderson said. "You never see him get too excited or down."

The Yankees rode the long ball all season, and the four homers in the finale set a franchise record at 245.

Hiroki Koroda (16-11) shut Boston down with an encouraging performance after struggling through much of September. He allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings.

With New York heading into the playoffs without career saves leader Mariano Rivera -- he tore a knee ligament shagging flies in May -- the rout gave the Yankees a chance to rest Rafael Soriano, who threw 43 pitches over two innings of the 12-inning, 4-3 comeback win Tuesday night. It is the first time since 1981 that the Yankees have been in the postseason without Rivera on the roster.

Bobby Valentine brought the lineup card out to the umpires for what might have been his final time as manager of the Red Sox, who finished last in the AL East at 69-93 in his first season leading the club. Boston, in the cellar for the first time in two decades, ended the year with eight straight losses, their longest skid since losing nine in a row in 2001. The Red Sox lost 26 off their last 33 games.

"Very disappointing season. Extremely disappointing," Valentine said.

Granderson hit his career-best 42nd homer in the second, a three-run shot off Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-7), making his first start since Sept. 19. Cano then connected in the third for a 5-1 lead. One batter later Matsuzaka was finished, most likely ending his six-year career with Boston.

Cano hit his 33rd homer in the fifth, following Rodriguez's double. It was A-Rod's first extra-base hit since Sept. 14.

Cano has been on quite a tear, hitting .615 (24 for 39) during a stretch of nine straight multihit games that lifted his average to .313.

"It's a great feeling," Cano said. "It just came up at the right time."

Granderson matched his teammate with a solo shot to right-center leading off the seventh for a 10-2 lead.

The Yankees narrowly avoided what would've been their biggest blown division lead in team history -- they led by six games in 1933 and finished seven back of the original Washington Senators.

This summer's skid was brought on as CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Rodriguez got hurt. The Yankees stumbled through August -- often looking old and tired. But New York went 19-8 down the stretch, thanks to two stirring comeback victories led by 40-year-old Raul Ibanez.

Girardi thinks the group was able to make a run after losing the division lead because they were old -- well, experienced.

"I think having that experience in there when it got to zero no one panicked," he said of the division lead. "They had the same personality every day. The looseness, some of the guys were goofy."

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Orioles win it in a walk-off again, downing the Rockies in extra innings

Orioles win it in a walk-off again, downing the Rockies in extra innings

BALTIMORE—For years, the Orioles have watched Adam Jones win games with big hits, superlative catches and wonderful throws. On Monday night, they watched him win it in little ways. 

There was the RBI single on a ball he seemed merely to tap in the second inning. Then, there was the infield out in the seventh that tied the score, and finally, it was Jones scoring the winning run in the ninth when a former teammate couldn’t handle a rush throw on a simple grounder back to the mound.

Jones’ little ball proved to be big as the Orioles extended their winning streak to five games, and moved a season-high 18 games over .500 with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies in 10 innings before 19,361 at Oriole Park. 

It was the second straight time the Orioles won a game in their last at-bat. 

In the bottom of the 10th, Jones led off with a single off Jordan Lyles (2-3). He raced to third on Jonathan Schoop’s single to right and scored when Manny Machado grounded back to the box.  Lyles bobbled the ball for a moment and Colorado catcher Nick Hundley couldn’t handle Lyles’ throw home, and Jones scored the winning run.

“Adam takes a lot of pride in being an all-around player and he is,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Jones wasn’t being particular about socring.

“It doesn't matter how you score. As long as you win the game, that's all that matters,” Jones said. 

Jones made his way from first to third on Schoop’s single, and that was big, too.

“That's called pride. Play the game hard, man.  I can run. It's a situation where we need a guy on third base. I'm going to bust my tail to get there.”
 
Chaz Roe (1-0) pitched the 10th for the win. Mychal Givens and Zach Britton retired the seven batters they faced. 

For the second straight game, Yovani Gallardo pitched into the seventh inning. He allowed two runs on five hits as the Orioles starters continue to pitch deep into games. In five of the last six, starters haven’t gotten outs in the seventh inning, something that wasn’t seen very much earlier in the season.

“The thing is, maybe we’re being more aggressive. I know that for myself. That’s what I’ve tried to do, the last two games, and the pitch count shows it. I’m being a little bit more aggressive with my first pitch and getting guys to swing the bat,” Gallardo said. “We all feed off of one another. I think it’s always a big help to have the guy in front of you go deep in the ballgame, and try to do the same thing or even better. It’s always a friendly competition, and that’s going to help and benefit in the long run as a team. You’ve just got to keep moving forward, stay consistent and hopefully we’ll do something.”\

RELATED: COULD JIMENEZ START FOR O'S ON THURSDAY?

Gallardo allowed a home run to Nolan Arenado to lead off the fourth. 

In the second, J.J. Hardy scored on Jones’ single to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. 

With two outs in the seventh, David Dahl, playing his first major league game, singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. 
After a prolonged at-bat, Mark Reynolds singled up the middle to score Dahl. That gave Colorado (47-52) a 2-1 lead. 

The Orioles (58-40) tied it at 2 in the bottom of the seventh. Reimold was hit by a pitch with one out. He moved to third on Dariel Alvarez’s double, his first hit of the season. Jones grounded to short, scoring Reimold. 

Last week, the Orioles were sick with the flu and had an awful time in New York before winning the final game of the four-game series. 

“We lost three straight and it was kind of like an apocalypse was happening here, so we're just grinding it out every day, happy with the results we're getting,” Jones said. 

NOTES: After the game, the Orioles optioned Dariel Alvarez to Norfolk. Hyun Soo Kim will presumably be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. Kim was 2-for-4 with a single and home run in his second rehab game at Bowie. He played six innings in left field. …The Orioles have five winning streaks of at least five games this season. … Jones passed Rafael Palmeiro for seventh place on the team’s RBI list with 703. … Reimold reached after manager Buck Showalter asked for a replay. The Orioles have now been successful on 13 of their 23 replay challenges this season, and their last five straight. … Chad Bettis (8-6, 5.31) faces Chris Tillman (14-2, 3.18) on Tuesday night. … Temperature at game time was 95 degrees, highest for a game this season. … Davis is 0-for-21.

MORE ORIOLES: WIETERS BACK IN ORIOLES LINEUP

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Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

The concussion suffered last year by Rams quarterback Case Keenum against the Ravens, and the way it was handled, surely played a part in new punishment announced Monday by the NFL for teams violating the league’s concussion protocol.

The Players Association and the league made a joint announcement about the new standards.

Under the new policy, teams could be fined anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation of the concussion protocol, or suffer loss of draft picks. For a second violation, the minimum fine will be $100,000.

Major concerns about enforcing in-game concussion protocol were raised during a November game last year at M&T Bank Stadium between the Rams and Ravens.

With just over a minute left to play, Ravens defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan sacked Keenum, and the back of his head slammed violently against the turf. Keenum held his head while lying on the ground and initially had trouble getting to his feet.  

The Rams’ athletic trainer ran onto the field to check on Keenum, but he remained in the game. Keenum fumbled two plays later, and after the game, it was announced he had suffered a concussion.

The league investigated the Rams’ handling of the situation and the team was not fined. However, not everyone was satisfied, including NFLPA president Eric Winston.

“Show me someone that says, ‘No, the Rams did exactly the right thing,”’ Winston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year. “They didn’t. Everybody knows they didn’t.  So there has to be discipline, right? Because when a player doesn’t do something that he’s supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety.”

As a result, the NFL and the Players Association have agreed on punishment that could help protect players who have been concussed.

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Two ex-Wizards face legal trouble

Two ex-Wizards face legal trouble

Becomng the latest focus of a TMZ scoop isn't a good thing. Two former Wizards -- Glen Rice Jr. and DeJuan Blair -- made their onto the site Monday.

Rice, a 2013 second round pick who played parts of two seasons with Washington, was arrested for robbery Monday. From TMZ:

More trouble for ex-NBA player Glen Rice Jr. -- the 25-year-old was arrested for robbery Monday morning in Georgia ... less than a year after he was shot in a bizarre gunfight at T.I.'s restaurant. 
Here's what we know ... Rice was booked at 6:37 AM this morning for felony robbery, aggravated battery and possession of marijuana. He has since been released from custody. 
The details surrounding the incident are unclear -- we're working on it. 
By the way, Rice just completed a pre-trial intervention program stemming from the 2015 shooting incident. 
As we previously reported, Rice was arrested -- after he was shot in the leg -- when cops say he was carrying 240 grams of weed and a bunch of cash. He was charged with weed and gun possession. 
Unclear if this new arrest will affect that case. 

Rice played 16 career games for Washington with the five during the 2014-15 season.

Blair signed with the Wizards in 2014 and remained with the franchise until February when he was shipped to Phoenix in the deal for Markieff Morris. The Suns quickly released the big man, who remains a free agent. 

None of that involves the mention here. From TMZ Sports:

NBA player DeJuan Blair -- who played for the Washington Wizards last season -- was cited for misdemeanor battery against a woman at a Vegas club this weekend ... TMZ Sports has learned.

Las Vegas Metro PD has confirmed ... officers were called to Drai's nightclub at The Cromwell around 1 AM Sunday morning to respond to a report of a man who allegedly got physical with a woman.

The alleged victim told police ... she was arguing with Blair over the line into the club when he picked her up and tossed her off to the side. The woman was pissed and retaliated by striking him back -- before calling for help.  

Sources tell us ... when cops arrived they checked security video and decided there was enough evidence to issue a citation to Blair for misdemeanor battery. He was NOT arrested. 

However, cops tell TMZ Sports Blair was also issued a "trespassing warning" from the property and told to leave immediately.  

The TMZ report cited a source that claims Blair "simply moved her out of the way when he was trying to get by her. Nothing more." The report also said the alledged victim is considering a lawsuit against Blair.