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South Africans 433 and 59 for 3 (Markram 20*, van der Dussen 8*) trail England Lions 672 (Duckett 145, Brook 140, Billings 92, Markram 6-91) by 180 runs

Harry Brook extended his run as the most in-form batter outside of England's regular Test XI with an aggressive century against the South Africans to put the Lions in the lead after three days of the tour match in Canterbury. Brook, Ben Duckett, who top-scored with 145, and Sam Billings, who made a 96-ball 92, played their own version of Bazball against an attack made up mostly of South Africa's reserve Test bowlers, none of whom have done enough to usurp the incumbents.
Duanne Olivier was the most successful seamer, and took 2 for 59, Marco Jansen bowled almost double the number of overs as Olivier and finished with 1 for 111 but Glenton Stuurman and Lutho Sipamla went wicketless. Keshav Maharaj, who is usually miserly, conceded at a rate of 7.68 to the over, and it was the part-time bowling of Aiden Markram that enjoyed the best rewards. Markram's wickets came as the Lions batters lost concentration on a day after which the South Africans may be glad this match does not have first-class status.

Brook resumed on 64, with a licence to play freely. He was fed deliveries that were too straight from the seamers and picked them off his pads and was particularly severe against Maharaj. His strong use of wrists and feet, and intent in advancing down the track to hit Maharaj over the top, would have given South Africa's first-choice spinner plenty to ponder ahead of the Test series.

Duckett is not in the squad but bettered Brook's score by five runs and the pair shared in a 191-run fourth-wicket stand which was broken when Markram accepted a return catch off Brook. It didn't give the South Africans much reprieve as Duckett and Billings went on to put on 151 for the fifth-wicket and took the Lions into the lead and over 500. Markram ended their stand too and worked his way through the lower order as the Lions were eventually bowled out for 672, 239 runs ahead and with 25 overs left in the day's play.

The visitors, perhaps feeling the heat from 117 overs in the field on a day where temperatures touched 30 degrees, did not respond as a Test line-up would want to. They were loose outside the off stump and careless in their shot-selection.

Ollie Robinson, a candidate to play in the second Test in Manchester, bowled South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar with his second delivery. Elgar misread the line and shouldered arms. Four overs later, he removed Elgar's opening partner Sarel Erwee, who was caught behind. Both Elgar and Erwee scored some runs in the first innings, where they shared an opening stand of 85, but Keegan Petersen, who was lbw cheaply to Craig Overton in the first innings, went the same way in the second. He has scored just 21 runs in the tour match.

Markram, who may be batting for a middle-order spot in the starting XI, and Rassie van der Dussen took the South Africans to the close. They will eye the fourth and last day as crucial to their chances of playing in the Test, with both coming off periods of poor red-ball form.

Sources: Jets add OT Brown after Becton injury

Published in Breaking News
Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:14

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- With right tackle Mekhi Becton likely sidelined the entire season with a knee injury, the New York Jets finalized a two-year, $22 million contract with offensive tackle Duane Brown, a five-time Pro Bowler, sources told ESPN.

The veteran free agent visited with the Jets over the weekend, attending their annual Green & White scrimmage at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets began courting Brown before Becton's injury Monday. Initially, coach Robert Saleh said Brown would be a "bonus" because he was satisfied with his tackle situation, but that changed Monday night when Becton's MRI revealed a chip fracture in his right kneecap.

Brown, who turns 37 on Aug. 30, has 203 career starts -- all at left tackle. His position with the Jets has yet to be determined, a source said. It will be discussed once he arrives. He didn't miss a start the past two seasons while playing for the Seattle Seahawks. He made the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement last season.

Statistically, Brown performed well for the Seahawks. He finished 26th among offensive tackles in pass block win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

If Brown plays left tackle, George Fant will move back to right tackle, where he played in 2020. The current backups are Conor McDermott and Chuma Edoga, neither of whom is a lock to make the final roster. McDermott sprained his left ankle in the scrimmage and is expected to miss one to two weeks. The Jets also selected Max Mitchell in the fourth round of the 2022 draft.

On Wednesday, Saleh declared the right-tackle job an open competition. Chances are, Edoga (12 career starts) will start Friday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he's just a placeholder now that Brown is on the team.

"The most important thing -- no offense to anyone else on the team -- is to protect the quarterback," Saleh said. "So, the person who's best prepared to protect the quarterback will be out there."

The Jets spent months looking for an experienced backup to Fant and Becton. In June, they visited with Riley Reiff, who wound up signing with the Chicago Bears. The sense of urgency was elevated with Becton's injury, which occurred Monday.

Brown was arrested last month at Los Angeles International Airport for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon. He was booked on a misdemeanor charge and released after posting a $10,000 bond.

ESPN's Adam Schefter contributed to this report.

Brady away from Bucs, handling 'personal things'

Published in Breaking News
Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:14

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will be away from the team for a period of time to "deal with some personal things," coach Todd Bowles said Thursday.

Bowles said Brady's absence was discussed in advance and that he will return after next week's preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 20.

"This is something we talked about before training camp started," Bowles said. "We allotted this time because he wanted to get in and get chemistry with the guys and go through two weeks of training camp, knowing he wasn't going to play the first two games. He didn't want to take away reps from Blaine [Gabbert] and Kyle [Trask], as well as 'Griff' [Ryan Griffin] going into these next two games, knowing it's something he needs to handle."

When asked if the issue was health-related, Bowles said, "It's a personal issue. That's all I can tell you."

Bowles said he has a "pretty high level of confidence" that Brady will be the starting quarterback in Week 1 at the Dallas Cowboys.

Bowles had previously announced that Brady would not play in the preseason opener Saturday against the Miami Dolphins.

Brady had excused absences Aug. 3 -- his previously scheduled off day and also his 45th birthday -- and last Friday. The Buccaneers as a team were off last Thursday.

Bowles said he did not have concern about missed time, largely because of Brady's experience and work ethic. He said he doesn't believe it will disrupt the offense's progression, even as Brady has worked to gain chemistry with new teammates such as wide receivers Julio Jones and Russell Gage and tight end Kyle Rudolph.

When asked if he was worried Brady's personal issue impacted his commitment to the team, Bowles said, "Per our conversation, I am not worried, no."

Bears WR Harry out indefinitely after surgery

Published in Breaking News
Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:14

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears wide receiver N'Keal Harry underwent surgery on his left ankle Thursday and will be sidelined for an unspecified amount of time, according to coach Matt Eberflus.

Harry sustained the injury on the first play of team drills Saturday when the ankle got wrapped up underneath linebacker Nicholas Morrow on a pass that went his direction. The 2019 New England Patriots first-rounder, who was traded to Chicago last month, could not bear weight on his ankle and was helped off the field by trainers and teammates.

Harry's injury is one of several at the wide receiver position for the Bears. Byron Pringle is out indefinitely with a quad injury, per the team, and rookie Velus Jones Jr. is classified as day-to-day despite missing the last week of training camp.

Chicago was without 21 players for the second day in a row at practice, its last before the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. On the first day he was eligible to return to practice, linebacker Roquan Smith did not participate.

Smith, who demanded a trade in a statement earlier this week, was removed from the physically unable to perform list Wednesday. Smith passed a physical, according to the NFL transactions wire.

"He was cleared by our medical staff as healthy," Eberflus said. "He did not practice. And the reason why for that is, you'll have to ask him. We expect all of our healthy players to practice, and that was his decision. Like I said, you'll have to ask him. I have not talked to him about it."

The Bears did not make Smith available Thursday per the team's policy that only players who participate in practice are able to speak with the media.

Smith is officially a hold-in, akin to wide receivers DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks and Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers, who were physically present at their team's respective facilities but did not practice before receiving contract extensions.

Eberflus said he did not have an "understanding one way or the other" whether Smith would continue to sideline himself from practice without a new deal.

Because he is present at training camp, the 2018 first-round pick is not subject to fines of $40,000 per day, which is the amount, according to the collective bargaining agreement, for players on their fifth-year option who have unexcused absences from training camp or are late to report without prior permission granted by the team.

It is unclear whether Chicago plans to fine Smith for skipping practice.

"That discipline really comes from the front office," Eberflus said. "... I'm not going to get into the details of what discipline is there. But we will certainly work through that when the time comes."

Asked to clarify whether Smith's absences will be unexcused if he continues to skip practice while deemed healthy, Eberflus said, "We'll work through that when we get there."

USA Basketball sets roster for WC qualifying

Published in Basketball
Thursday, 11 August 2022 13:20

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Basketball has picked its 12-man roster for the opening second-round window of World Cup qualifying, as the Americans look to move closer to clinching a spot in the field for next year's event.

Jim Boylen will return as coach, assisted again by Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.

The roster will include six players -- Michael Frazier II, Langston Galloway, David Stockton, DaQuan Jeffries, John Jenkins and Eric Mika -- who were with the Americans for the previous qualifying window in July.

The other six players for games Aug. 25 in Las Vegas against Uruguay and at Colombia on Aug. 29 are Tyler Cavanaugh, Malik Ellison, Dewan Hernandez, Mac McClung, Robert Woodard II and McKinley Wright IV.

The Americans went 5-1 in the opening round of qualifying from the FIBA Americas Region, easily becoming one of the 12 teams that moved on to the second round.

Of those advancing nations, seven will make next year's World Cup, which will take place in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. The World Cup is the primary qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

There are three two-game windows in the second round of qualifying -- for the Americas Region, they are Aug. 25 and 29, Nov. 11 and 14, and finally Feb. 23 and 26. If the U.S. tops Uruguay and Colombia, it likely could clinch a World Cup berth in the November window.

Canada (6-0) is the only team from the Americas Region that went unbeaten in the first round of qualifying. Also in Canada's group for the second round: Venezuela (5-1), Argentina (5-1), the Dominican Republic (4-2), Panama (2-4) and the Bahamas (2-4).

The U.S. is in a second-round group with Brazil (5-1), Uruguay (4-2), Mexico (4-2), Puerto Rico (3-3) and Colombia (2-4).

The top three teams from each group will advance to the World Cup from the Americas Region, along with the best overall fourth-place team.

NBA to retire Russell's No. 6 for all 30 teams

Published in Basketball
Thursday, 11 August 2022 13:51

The NBA will honor the legacy of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell by retiring his No. 6 jersey for all 30 teams, the league and the National Basketball Players Association announced Thursday.

Russell becomes the first player in NBA history to have his jersey retired leaguewide.

Along with the number being retired, all NBA players will wear a commemorative patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys during the 2022-23 season and every court will display a shamrock-shaped logo with Russell's No. 6 on the sideline near the scorer's table.

"Bill Russell's unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Permanently retiring his No. 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill's transcendent career will always be recognized."

Starting with the 2022-23 season, no NBA team will be allowed to issue No. 6 to any player. Players who currently wear No. 6 -- such as Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James -- may continue to do so. According to Basketball Reference, 25 players, including James, Kristaps Porzingis, Alex Caruso, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, wore No. 6 last season.

The league said plans for the Celtics, where Russell played all 13 years of his career, to honor Russell are still being determined and will be announced at a later date. Boston is planning a "separate and unique recognition" for Russell on its uniforms.

The NBA previously recognized Russell's contributions when it named the Finals MVP Award after him in 2009.

"This is a momentous honor reserved for one of the greatest champions to ever play the game," NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement. "Bill's actions on and off the court throughout the course of his life helped to shape generations of players for the better and for that, we are forever grateful. We are proud to continue the celebration of his life and legacy alongside the league."

Russell, an 11-time NBA champion, died July 31 at the age of 88.

During his 13-year playing career, Russell was named NBA MVP five times and was an 11-time All-NBA selection. He was named the Celtics' player-coach in 1966, becoming the first Black head coach in American professional sports, and led Boston to back-to-back titles in 1968 and 1969.

Russell remains second all-time in NBA history in rebounds (21,620) and rebounds per game (22.5). He is also the all-time leading rebounder in NBA postseason history with 4,104 total boards and 24.9 rebounds per game.

The ultimate winner, Russell led San Francisco to consecutive NCAA titles before making the jump to the NBA and won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics.

Russell was also known for his work in civil rights. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr., stood with Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.

Having his number retired leaguewide puts Russell in a very exclusive club.

Major League Baseball permanently retired No. 42 in 1997 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke the big league's color barrier, with the understanding that those who were wearing that number could continue to do so. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees was the last in the majors to wear No. 42, doing so through his final season in 2013.

The NHL, upon Wayne Gretzky's retirement in 1999, said his No. 99 would be retired leaguewide in honor of that sport's all-time scoring leader.

There have been more than 250 players in NBA history to wear a No. 6 jersey, and Russell is one of 12 players enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame who wore No. 6 at some point in their careers. The others: Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Ben Wallace, Don Barksdale, Chuck Cooper, Larry Costello, Tom Gola, Cliff Hagan, Alex Hannum, Buddy Jeanette and Neil Johnston.

Nobody has worn No. 6 for the Celtics since Russell's final season in 1968-69.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Baker back with Astros after missing 5 games

Published in Baseball
Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:10

HOUSTON -- Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker returned Thursday for the finale of a series against the Texas Rangers following a five-game absence after testing positive for COVID-19.

Baker, 73, said he never felt bad and had only mild symptoms that he attributed to seasonal allergies before testing positive.

"I'm very fortunate that I had both my shots and the two boosters," he said. "So, I'm really hoping that everybody goes and gets the shots and boosters, because if you do get [COVID-19] hopefully it's mild like mine was."

Baker tested positive on Friday when the team was on a road trip in Cleveland. He isolated in his hotel room all weekend and did not return to Houston with the team on Sunday night.

He returned to Houston on a private jet Monday but wasn't cleared to return to the dugout until Thursday.

At first, Baker welcomed the rest amid a hectic season in which he didn't get any time off during the All-Star break because he was the manager of the AL squad. But after a couple of days, boredom set in.

"I listened to music all day, watched TV, made phone calls and caught up on things," he said. "I don't get bored, but after five or six days you want to get back out here."

He kept up with the team by watching the games on television and staying in constant contact with bench coach Joe Espada, who managed the team in his absence. He didn't watch one game -- Sunday's 1-0 loss to Cleveland -- because it was broadcast on Peacock, NBC's streaming service, and he couldn't figure out how to watch it in his hotel room.

He wasn't that mad about it, though, because he used the extra time to catch a Bob Marley documentary on Netflix while keeping up with the game on his phone.

"That was a pretty good afternoon," he said, adding that he saw the late reggae great in concert twice, including once in Jamaica.

Baker said he was never that concerned about testing positive despite being in a high-risk age bracket.

"Not really because I didn't feel anything," he said. "And I kept waiting to feel something."

The Astros, who at 71-41 began Thursday tied with the Yankees for the best record in the American League, went 2-3 while Baker was out.

Woman countersues Bauer's defamation claim

Published in Baseball
Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:10

LOS ANGELES -- A San Diego woman who alleges Trevor Bauer sexually abused her has filed a countersuit to his defamation claim, alleging the Dodgers pitcher beat her and left her bruised, according to a court filing.

Bauer has denied abusing the woman he met through social media. He sued her for defamation in April, claiming she lied about details involving their sexual encounters in order to destroy his reputation and career while enriching herself.

Major League Baseball has suspended Bauer for two years, a ruling made after Bauer sued the woman. Bauer has said he engaged in consensual rough sex with the woman but did nothing to warrant a suspension.

The woman's battery claim filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleges again that Bauer punched and choked her on two occasions during sex in 2021.

Bauer's attorneys released a statement Thursday pointing to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge's decision last year denying the woman a restraining order. The judge said she had been "materially misleading" in part of her request.

"She 'materially misled' the court and could not meet the lowest burden of proof in our justice system -- because her claims were false," attorneys Shawn Holley and Jon Fetterolf said. "She is being sued for defamation to be held accountable for her lies and the damage it has caused. Her countersuit is a regurgitation of her judicially disproven claims and yet another attempt ... to defame Mr. Bauer and seek to profit from her lies."

The woman's lawsuit says her life has been "turned into a nightmare by a powerful man who mercilessly battered her and counted on facing no consequences whatsoever for his despicable conduct." After one encounter, the woman ended up with two black eyes, according to the filing.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial and unspecified damages.

In her response to Bauer's defamation suit, the woman denied allegations by his lawyers that she made a "false, misleading or defamatory police report" and denied she had altered or filtered photographs in requesting a restraining order in June 2021.

The woman denied she had a plan to destroy Bauer's reputation or career or exploit him for money, although she admits "she was angry at Plaintiff because he had sexually assaulted her."

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office declined to file criminal charges against Bauer.

Bauer, who is also suing two media outlets for defamation over their coverage of the allegations, is appealing his suspension by MLB. There is no timetable for a ruling.

MLB Power Rankings: Red-hot NL teams take top two spots

Published in Baseball
Thursday, 11 August 2022 11:52

Two-team races have emerged in both leagues as we enter Week 18 of the MLB season.

A month ago, it seemed like no American League team would be able to catch up to the Yankees. But New York has seen its lead in the AL dissipate after going just 13-20 since July 3 and is now tied with Houston.

Meanwhile, in the National League, the Dodgers have kept rolling -- with only five losses since the beginning of July -- while the Mets proved that they're the real deal by taking four of five games against the division-rival Braves this past weekend.

Which teams will prevail?

Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we've seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers, Joon Lee and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.

Week 17 | Second-half preview | Preseason rankings

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 77-33

Previous ranking: 1

It's hard to even fathom, but L.A. has found another gear. It's riding a 10-game winning streak that included a three-game sweep of a Padres team that had just traded for Juan Soto, Josh Hader and others. The Dodgers have won 30 of 35 games since the start of July, and their pitching has continued to dominate despite the absence of two of their best starters (Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler) and two of their best relievers (Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol). Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman continue to set the tone at the top of the lineup, but most encouraging of all is that Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger have been scorching hot this month. -- Alden Gonzalez

2. New York Mets

Record: 73-39

Previous ranking: 4

The Mets took four of five against the Braves over the weekend, including a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. They entered the series up 3.5 games on Atlanta and left up 6.5, increasing their odds of winning the division from 73.6% to 91.9% (according to FanGraphs). Jacob deGrom made his second start of the season on Sunday and retired the first 17 batters he faced before giving up a walk and a home run. Along the way, the Braves whiffed on the 18 sliders they swung at -- the first time in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008) that a team has swung and missed that many times in a row at one pitch. -- David Schoenfield

3. New York Yankees

Record: 71-41

Previous ranking: 2

New York has been playing sub-.500 baseball since the beginning of July, and its lead in the division is slowly shrinking as a result, down to single-digit games for the first time since June 15. The injuries are starting to pile on, too, as Matt Carpenter hit the injured list after fracturing his left foot amidst a resurgent 2022 campaign with the Yankees. While New York snapped a five-game losing streak on Monday against the Mariners, things are currently trending down for the team. -- Joon Lee

4. Houston Astros

Record: 71-41

Previous ranking: 3

After a long chase, the Astros finally caught the Yankees for the best record in the AL this week. Houston has the easier finishing schedule, both in terms of quality of opponent and in having more home games. Home advantage for a potential ALCS showdown between these two behemoths could be crucial. That's not necessarily because either team struggles on the road, as they've both played well away from home. However, the Yankees have gone 41-15 in the Bronx and supported that record with the run differential of a 117-win team, prorated for a 162-game season. That's easily the strongest home performance in the majors. Still, it might not matter. The biggest gap between the teams was nine games at the 65-game mark, when the Yankees were 49-16 on June 18. In less than two months, the Astros erased that advantage. -- Bradford Doolittle

5. Atlanta Braves

Record: 66-46

Previous ranking: 6

The series against the Mets was obviously a big disappointment and exposed a couple of current issues with the club. After giving up 11 baserunners in 4 2/3 innings against the Mets on Friday, Ian Anderson was optioned down to Triple-A (although he'll be called up as the 27th man to start in Saturday's doubleheader against the Marlins). Anderson has a 5.81 ERA over his past 14 starts. Meanwhile, Marcell Ozuna continues to struggle, going 0-for-5 on Tuesday and hitting .213/.264/.388 this year. He's been dropped to sixth or seventh in the lineup, and he's now hitting .214 with a .274 OBP over the past two seasons -- unacceptable for a DH. -- Schoenfield

6. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 61-49

Previous ranking: 9

St. Louis vaulted into first place and made a statement this weekend by sweeping the Yankees, but that was quickly followed up with a dud in Colorado on Tuesday. They aren't the first team to allow a crooked number at Coors Field, so it shouldn't impact their mojo moving forward. The Cardinals have been the best team in the NL Central all season -- they just didn't show it until now. It's their division to lose. -- Jesse Rogers

7. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 60-50

Previous ranking: 7

The Blue Jays' offense took a hit as George Springer went on the IL with elbow inflammation, but the team is seeing an upswing from first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is hitting .371/.429/.600 with 10 extra-base hits in 17 games since the All-Star break. Toronto does have some issues it needs to figure out in the rotation with Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Berrios struggling so far this season. The team hopes Mitch White -- whom it traded for at the deadline -- can help solve problems it's having with the pitching staff. -- Lee

8. San Diego Padres

Record: 63-51

Previous ranking: 5

The Padres got a major boost last week, trading for Soto, Hader, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury -- and then they were humbled. The Dodgers swept them in a weekend series in L.A. that saw the Padres muster only four runs. San Diego is 2-8 against the Dodgers this season and has lost 17 of its last 19 games against them. But it'll see L.A. nine more times in September, and chances are the Padres will be a different team by then. Their new stars should be settled in, and Fernando Tatis Jr., navigating through a rehab assignment, should be back. The Padres probably won't catch the Dodgers in the NL West, but they plan to make a serious run at the top wild-card spot, which would allow them to host the entirety of a first-round three-game series. -- Gonzalez

9. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 62-48

Previous ranking: 11

Wait ... is that the Phillies who are 41-19 since June 1? Why, yes, it is the Phillies. That's the third-best record in that span behind the Dodgers (44-17) and Braves (43-19). Some more stats from that span: They rank in the top 10 in ERA, lowest average allowed, runs and slugging. They've outhomered their opponent 92 to 58 and outscored them by 76 runs. Kyle Schwarber has 23 home runs and 46 RBIs, Rhys Hoskins has 16 and 34, J.T. Realmuto has 10 and 39 and Alec Bohm has hit over .300. Zack Wheeler has led the pitching, going 8-2 with a 2.27 ERA while Aaron Nola is 6-4 with a 2.89 ERA. Good test upcoming: seven games against the Mets over the next two weekends. -- Schoenfield

10. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 58-52

Previous ranking: 12

Shane McClanahan started off the season in All-Star fashion but has allowed nine earned runs in the past 10 2/3 innings he has pitched. New arrivals David Peralta and Jose Siri have also been off to slow starts. The Rays still find themselves sitting in the second wild-card spot in the AL East, but the team will need to continue managing injuries, with Wander Franco still recovering from wrist surgery. -- Lee

11. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 60-50

Previous ranking: 8

Did the Hader trade have an impact on Milwaukee? Conventional thinking would say yes, but there's no way to measure it. The Brewers did admit there was an adjustment period that might still be going on. There's no excuse to get swept by Pittsburgh and drop a series to Cincinnati, but at least a win on Tuesday against Tampa Bay helped right the ship. Rowdy Tellez has proven to be a solid, below-radar pick-up as he hit his 22nd home run on Friday, surpassing his career high set with Toronto in 2019. -- Rogers

12. Seattle Mariners

Record: 61-52

Previous ranking: 10

Tuesday's win over the Yankees has to go down as one of the games of the year for the entire league. Scoreless through 12 innings after Luis Castillo and Gerrit Cole were locked up in a classic duel (Castillo went eight innings), it was the longest scoreless game since 2019 (pre-ghost runner rule) and tied the longest game of the season at 13 innings. Thanks to some Yankees baserunning blunders that led to two double plays, the Yankees had just two plate appearances in the 11th and 12th innings. Luis Torrens finally delivered the walk-off single, making the Mariners 7-2 in walk-off games (best percentage in the majors) and 7-4 in extra-inning games. Matt Brash pitched the final two innings as the Seattle bullpen didn't allow a hit over a combined five innings. -- Schoenfield

13. Minnesota Twins

Record: 57-53

Previous ranking: 13

Not long after the Twins failed and/or decided to focus their deadline additions entirely on the pitching staff, which made sense, Minnesota found out that left fielder Alex Kirilloff was lost for the season with a wrist injury that required surgery. For now, manager Rocco Baldelli has been juggling Nick Gordon and Jake Cave in left field. Kyle Garlick should be back soon from a rib injury. Trevor Larnach is expected back in September after having surgery for a core muscle injury, and Gilberto Celestino should figure in as well. The Twins may not be able to give Byron Buxton as much rest as they like, though. They have decent options, but with their hold in the AL Central lead loosening, it'll be on Baldelli to pull the right strings down the stretch. -- Doolittle

14. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 58-52

Previous ranking: 17

Even after trading Trey Mancini and closer Jorge Lopez, Baltimore finds itself in the wild-card race, just 1.5 games behind the Mariners, and now five games ahead of the last place Red Sox in the division. GM Mike Elias recently told the Baltimore Sun that the team is ready to enter a decade-long window of winning, marking a tonal change around the conversation about the team. -- Lee

15. Cleveland Guardians

Record: 58-52

Previous ranking: 14

So much for hoping the demotion of Franmil Reyes to the minors would help spark a turnaround for the massive slugger in time for him to come back to aid the Guardians' during the stretch run. Instead, Cleveland set Reyes adrift via the DFA process, and now he's a member of the Cubs. On one hand, cutting ties to Reyes is understandable, as his back-slide at the plates this season has been maddening to watch. On the other hand, Cleveland is very much in the race for both a division title or wild-card slot, and they need to put up some runs to win one of those races.

For now, Cleveland appears to be going with in-house options, as it often does, with rookie Oscar Gonzalez getting everyday plate appearances since returning from an abdominal injury. More than anything, Reyes' departure is another example of the Guardians morphing from a team that once emphasized a three-true-outcomes approach into one that values contact and athleticism. -- Doolittle

16. San Francisco Giants

Record: 54-57

Previous ranking: 15

The Giants went from an improbable 107-win season that dethroned the Dodgers atop the NL West to a floundering 2022 that is trending toward a losing record. One of the biggest reasons for their descent has been their bullpen. San Francisco's relief corps was especially deep and versatile last year; this year it is noticeably lacking in reliable high-leverage arms, evidenced by the team's late loss to the Padres on Tuesday night. Giants relievers have the fifth-highest ERA in the majors this season and the second-highest dating back to the start of July, behind only the Red Sox. Outside of their young closer, Camilo Doval, it's hard to know who to trust in their pen at the moment. -- Gonzalez

17. Chicago White Sox

Record: 56-55

Previous ranking: 16

The White Sox have been playing pretty well for a month now, and while they haven't quite caught fire, they have managed to hang near the top of the AL Central. Last week's activation of Luis Robert from the IL finally put Chicago's planned everyday lineup on the field. With a soft schedule ahead, things were looking up on the South Side. Then earlier this week, the news dropped that All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson would miss four-to-six weeks with torn ligaments in his left hand. Chicago now has to manage yet another key injury while trying to catch and pass the Twins and Guardians. Initially, the plan appears to be to mix and match in the middle of the infield with Josh Harrison at second base, paired with some mix of Leury Garcia and rookie Lenyn Sosa. Some additional creativity may be needed. -- Doolittle

18. Boston Red Sox

Record: 54-58

Previous ranking: 18

Boston hopped out of the trade deadline by taking two of three games in a strong series against the Astros, followed by losing three of four to the Royals. Meanwhile, Chris Sale broke his wrist on a bike and is out for the season, knocking out a player that the team expected to depend on heading into the postseason. All of this while questions are emerging out of the front office about the direction and vision for the future of the team after Boston sent Christian Vazquez to the Astros while acquiring Tommy Pham and Reese McGuire. -- Lee

19. Texas Rangers

Record: 49-61

Previous ranking: 19

After over four months of baseball, it's safe to say Texas has underachieved -- especially considering its winter spending spree. The way the AL has evolved, the Rangers should be in the wild-card hunt or at least closer to .500. They just can't compete with the better teams in the league, compiling a 23-41 record against plus-.500 squads going into games on Wednesday. This, despite solid campaigns by Martin Perez and Jon Gray. It's been a learning year for pitchers like Dane Dunning and Glenn Otto. The former hurler produced a solid effort against the White Sox over the weekend, but there haven't been enough of those moments on the mound for Texas this season. -- Rogers

20. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 50-60

Previous ranking: 21

The D-backs won't make the playoffs this year, but they also won't lose 100 games. And some of their biggest signs of encouragement have come in their rotation, where Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly -- both locked in through as late as 2025 at the moment -- have combined for a 2.98 ERA in 250 2/3 innings. Kelly has allowed just nine runs (eight earned) in 48 1/3 innings since the start of July. Gallen is coming off seven masterful innings against the Pirates on Monday. -- Gonzalez

21. Miami Marlins

Record: 49-61

Previous ranking: 20

Remember that Opening Day outfield? Jorge Soler, Jesus Sanchez and Avisail Garcia? Hard to say which one has been most disappointing (answer: all three). With Soler and Garcia on the injured list and Sanchez back in Triple-A, it's an opportunity for JJ Bleday and Peyton Burdick to get regular playing time. Bleday, the fourth overall pick in 2019, was a three true outcomes slugger in Triple-A (.229/.365/.470, 99 K's in 85 games). The hope is he'll at least draw some walks to post a decent OBP despite the low average. Burdick, a third-round pick in 2019, has a similar profile after hitting .224 in Double-A in 2021 and .229 in Triple-A in 2022. -- Schoenfield

22. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 49-63

Previous ranking: 22

Mike Trout is still trying to return from a back injury, and Shohei Ohtani stands as the only true reason to tune in to Angels games these days. But it's a great reason. His Tuesday performance against the A's was a perfect example. He pitched six scoreless innings to notch his 10th win, joining Babe Ruth as the only players with 10 wins and 10 home runs in the same season. And he belted his 25th home run. Ohtani is the only player ever to hit at least 25 home runs and strike out at least 150 batters in the same season -- and he has done it two years in a row. -- Gonzalez

23. Colorado Rockies

Record: 49-64

Previous ranking: 23

Flawed as you might find the approach to be -- and many do -- the Rockies are clearly eyeing contention next year, evidenced by their stunning inactivity before the trade deadline. And if that is indeed the case, then they need to figure out a way to get German Marquez right. Marquez, who will make $15 million next year and carries a $16 million club option for 2024, was supposed to be the ace of their staff. But he has performed to a 5.18 ERA, one of the-highest marks among qualified starting pitchers, and his strikeout rate is down by nearly five percentage points. He has been better lately, at least. -- Gonzalez

24. Chicago Cubs

Record: 45-65

Previous ranking: 24

Chicago is in the hunt for the No.1 draft pick, jockeying with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh for a top lottery draw. Manager David Ross is using the rest of the season to test players in different situations -- sometimes at the expense of making the right move in a game. He'll also test Reyes at the plate. The Cubs picked him up off waivers from Cleveland and will give him a chance to find his game in the box again. He contributed in a late-inning rally in his first game on Tuesday, driving in a run with an opposite-field hit. The Cubs need power and are hopeful it returns for Reyes. -- Rogers

25. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 44-66

Previous ranking: 25

The Reds actually had a series win post-trade deadline over the Brewers before dropping one against the Mets. Youngster Graham Ashcraft continues to impress, with a one-run performance in one of their wins against Milwaukee. Cincinnati will give plenty of playing time to younger players the rest of the season while also being in the hunt for the No.1 draft pick next summer. The course for this season was set before the Reds even took the field, when they traded Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez and others right after the lockout. Then came the trade deadline unloading process. Prospects from those trades should start to make their way to the majors next spring. -- Rogers

26. Kansas City Royals

Record: 46-66

Previous ranking: 28

The Royals have been running out lineups recently with as many as seven rookies penciled in, which is what you like to see for a team playing out the string of a non-contending season. All those rookie hitters have done enough to merit the opportunity to get their feet wet in the majors, which is another positive sign for the Royals' rebuild. But perhaps the biggest developmental success this season isn't a hitter at all, or even a rookie, but third-year righty Brady Singer. Singer was bumped from the Royals' rotation during spring training, moved to the bullpen, then sent to the minors in an effort to stretch him out for more rotation work. Since Singer returned to the Royals in mid-May, he's pitched like the frontline starter K.C. hoped he'd become. As a starter in 2022, Singer is now 5-4 with 3.31 over 15 outings and a team-best average game score of 56.8. -- Doolittle

27. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 45-66

Previous ranking: 26

There's been something scrappy about the Pirates this season, as they continue to play spoiler while taking strides with a slew of young players. Their sweep of Milwaukee last week was huge considering it came right after the trade deadline, when Pittsburgh usually unloads. Yes, they traded a few pieces away, but they didn't rip apart the heart and soul of the team like they may have one year earlier in moving Tyler Anderson, Richard Rodriguez and all-star Adam Frazier, among others. Pittsburgh is clearly building around players like Ke'Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz. Could 2023 be a .500 or better year? It's not out of the realm of possibility. -- Rogers

28. Detroit Tigers

Record: 43-69

Previous ranking: 27

Miguel Cabrera was hitting .300 as recently as July 9, but as his chronic knee problems have begun to flare up yet again, he's been hard to watch over the last month. He recently suggested to reporters that he might not be back for the last year of his contract in 2023. Then he quickly walked those comments back, saying he would indeed play out his pact.

For the Tigers, the question becomes what to do with Miggy as he plays out the end of a Hall of Fame career. More load management would seem to be imperative, as Cabrera ranks third on the Tigers in plate appearances even as he's struggled to stay healthy. One option could be to use Cabrera primarily against lefties, against whom he's hit over .300 and slugged over .400 since the start of the 2019 season. Such a plan could not only keep his percentages strong, but it might help space out his playing time enough to keep his knee as strong as possible. -- Doolittle

29. Oakland Athletics

Record: 41-71

Previous ranking: 29

With Frankie Montas no longer on the team, this Oakland roster lacks significant star power. Catcher Sean Murphy leads the A's with a 3.3 bWAR and is slashing .245/.320/.430, while starter Cole Irvin is atop the pitching staff with a 3.1 bWAR, as well as a 2.92 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Seth Brown has been hitting well since the All-Star Break, smashing seven homers since then. -- Lee

30. Washington Nationals

Record: 37-76

Previous ranking: 30

Keibert Ruiz's first full season in the majors comes with mixed reviews. As expected, the contact ability has been excellent, with a strikeout rate that ranks in the top 10 among qualified hitters. He's hitting just .247, thanks to a low average on balls in play -- but that's in part because he's in the bottom 10% of all hitters in hard-hit rate. He had a two-homer game on Tuesday, and the Nationals would love to see more hard contact like that in the future. The defense also remains a work in progress, with below-average (although not completely terrible) framing metrics and a sub-standard pop time to second base. -- Schoenfield

The defending champion and the top seed are out after the first round of match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Kentucky's Jensen Castle, who prevailed last year at Westchester Country Club, was defeated, 1 up, by Ohio State's Aneka Seumanutafa on Wednesday at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.

Latanna Stone, like Castle a Curtis Cup team member as well as the No. 1 seed following stroke play, lost to No. 64 seed Julia Misemer.

The incoming Arizona freshman defeated the LSU senior, 2 and 1.

Megha Ganne, who was disqualified from the U.S. Girls’ Junior for signing an incorrect scorecard, fell to Julia Gregg in 19 holes.

Notables to advance to the Round of 32 were Rachel Heck, the No. 3-ranked amateur in the world; Alice Zhao, who is 13 and was a co-medalist; and college stars Amari Avery, Brooke Seay and Rachel Kuehn.

Thursday’s action can be seen on Golf Channel, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.


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