Miller’s absence felt by Indians as Mariners win 5-4

The first day without Andrew Miller didn’t work out too well for the Cleveland Indians.

Kyle Seager’s RBI double in the eighth off Nick Goody lifted the Seattle Mariners to a 5-4 win on Thursday night.

With Miller on the disabled list after straining his left hamstring on Wednesday, the AL Central-leading Indians used three relievers in the eighth.

“We’ve been winning a lot of close games and Eddie’s stuff was right there, like it has been the last three games,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Seattle’s James Paxton matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings, throwing 100 pitches.

“I felt good and I thought I did some good things, but I was upset with the (three) walks,” he said.

Yonder Alonso hit a two-run homer in the sixth, and the Indians tied the score in the seventh on Kipnis’ RBI double against Marc Rzepczynski and Edwin Encarnacion’s run-scoring single off Altavilla.

Coming off his first big league shutout, a two-hitter at Baltimore, Mike Clevinger gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.

“It’s a blessing for my family overall,” said Terrell Edmunds, whose father, Ferrell, made the Pro Bowl twice during his six-year NFL career as a tight end for Miami and Seattle. “It didn’t matter where [Tremaine] went and I went.

“I’m thankful to everyone for supporting us all the way.”

“I was surprised, honestly” to be picked, he said. “I’m ready. I’m telling you I’m ready.”

The brothers’ selections gave Virginia Tech a set of first-round picks for only the second time in the common draft era. In 2004, DeAngelo Hall (eighth) and Kevin Jones (30th) were drafted by Atlanta and Detroit, respectively.

For the Steelers, Edmunds has the size (6-foot-1, 217 pounds) and the speed (4.47 40-yard dash) to become a valuable contributor in a defensive backfield that includes Joe Haden, Artie Burns and Sean Davis.

“We felt this was the best player,” general manager Kevin Colbert said after the Steelers used a first-round pick on a safety for the first time since taking Troy Polamalu 16th in 2003. “This was plain for us.”

Darvish rebounds as Cubs beat Brewers 3-2

Yu Darvish pitched up to the Chicago Cubs’ expectations.

The $126 million free agent addition bounced back from a pair of poor outings to allow only an unearned run over six innings in a 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.

“This is certainly a confidence booster and I’ll keep going,” Darvish said through a translator.

Addison Russell scored the go-ahead run on shortstop Eric Sogard’s seventh-inning error.

Cubs slugger Kris Bryant missed his fourth straight game after he was beaned during a victory at Colorado last Sunday. Maddon said the third baseman could return to the lineup on Saturday.

Milwaukee lost its second straight one-run game to the Cubs on a chilly, windy day. The Brewers arrived in Chicago with an eight-game winning streak.

“In weather like this, there are no runs out there,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Milwaukee’s bullpen hasn’t allowed an earned run in 32 consecutive innings. An unearned run was the difference.

With the game tied at 2, Addison Russell greeted Dan Jennings (2-1) with a single starting the bottom of the seventh. Russell took second when Jason Heyward sacrificed and was held by third base coach Brian Butterfield when pinch-hitter Victor Caratini singled to right.

Jeremy Jeffress fanned Almora for the second out and got Javier Baez to bounce to Sogard, who allowed the ball to squib out of his glove near second, then threw wildly past the base while trying for an inning-ending forceout.

“He’s gonna have to have a good answer. I’ve listened to a couple of interviews, and I think it’s gonna come from the heart and he’ll be fine. But he’s gonna maybe have to work a little bit harder to get respect from certain people in the locker room, but I don’t think it’s an issue, because that’s who he was and not who he is.”

Tweets that Allen made while in high school in 2012 and 2013 were published Wednesday by Yahoo! Sports. The tweets, which have been deleted, contained racial slurs and other offensive language.

After the Bills traded up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select Allen in the first round Thursday, the former Wyoming quarterback said the tweets did not represent who he is today. Allen told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that some of the tweets made reference to rap lyrics and television, including a saying that was part of an episode from the sitcom “Modern Family.”

Alexander offered advice to Allen to immediately address the tweets in front of the team.

“Because you don’t want it lingering,” he said. “You’re always going to have guys like, ‘Eh,’ trying to watch it extra close, trying to confirm it, vs. you addressing it. Then it’s kind of over.”

Allen reacted to Alexander’s suggestion when being introduced later Friday.

Capela scores 26; Rockets eliminate Wolves with 122-104 win

James Harden had another huge third quarter to propel the Houston Rockets to their latest win, and coach Mike D’Antoni wants to know what’s behind those scoring bursts.

“When you do talk to him about it, would you let me know, because I’m dying in the first half. My health is an issue,” D’Antoni said with a laugh.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 20 points off the bench.

“It’s a major jump from where we were two years ago,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have to take all the things we learned this past season and make a commitment to continue to improve.”

Paul and Harden both raved about the work of Capela, who throughout the series has outshined Towns, an All-Star this season and the top overall pick in 2015.

“He opens up everything for us because he’s such a threat when he rolls to the rim,” Paul said.

The Green Bay Packers’ home schedule includes a Monday Night Football matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 15, and the New York Giants will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.

Earlier Thursday, the NFL announced dates for its three London games. A matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams in Mexico City on Nov. 19 was announced Wednesday.

The 2018 schedule has three three-game road trips, down from seven last year. Also, no team plays a road game following a road Monday night match. That occurred last year five times.

Thanksgiving will provide a feast of divisional games. The traditional doubleheader in Detroit and Dallas has the Lions playing the Bears, followed by the Redskins at the Cowboys. At night, it will be Atlanta visiting New Orleans.

Other intriguing matchups include the Cleveland Browns, who lost all 16 games last season, hosting archrival Pittsburgh Steelers on the opening Sunday; New England at Jacksonville in a rematch of the AFC title game in Week 2; the Eagles and Vikings in an NFC championship game redux in Philly on Oct. 7; and the Steelers vs. Patriots in Pittsburgh in Week 15.

“We like to open at home in front of our great fans and this will be the second season in a row we do it against the Steelers,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We start with the best in our division.”

Robert Kraft: Patriots may need to draft a quarterback

Last year the Patriots traded away the last two quarterbacks they drafted, Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo. Now it might be time to draft a quarterback who will stick around long enough to succeed Tom Brady.

That’s the word from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was asked at the league meeting if the Patriots need to draft a quarterback and acknowledged that might be the case.

The Giants should be listening to all trade offers from teams that want to jump the Jets to get their preferred QB, but in the wake of the Jason Pierre-Paul trade, their pass rush becomes even more of a glaring weakness. Chubb would thrive in New York’s new defense as a sack artist with a variety of moves; the next Chandler Jones for coordinator James Bettcher.

The Jets’ move to No. 3 cost them a lot, so let’s hope they feel good about the quarterback they want to get. Rosen proved at the Combine he can be the face of a big-market franchise to go along with his immense potential as a pocket passer.

It seems likely that the Redskins will be adding help on the defensive line via the draft later this month, but a full season from Allen might wind up as the biggest positive change up front from last season.

A dream scenario for the Browns after the Jets’ trade — Cleveland could get its top quarterback and top non-quarterback. Barkley would finalize the Browns’ offense, though Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fits for their defense, too. They also could trade back if a team covets the last of the top four quarterbacks.

The Broncos are planning to keep Paxton Lynch behind Case Keenum, so quarterback might not be their target in Round 1. Instead, they’ll look for an immediate upgrade for their still-improving offensive line. Nelson can be just that.

Carolina brought back Julius Peppers for one more year, but it’s finally time for the Panthers to draft his replacement. Davenport has some concerns both developmentally and motivationally, but his athletic comparison to Peppers is obvious.bills_123

Ziggy Ansah not signing franchise tender anytime soon but likely will before camp

Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah has no immediate plans to sign his franchise tender, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.

But Ansah, who currently is in Ghana, is expected to sign it before training camp.

Wait even a half-second, and that advantage shrinks. Ojeleye can set his feet. Guerschon Yabusele, guarding Gobert, could dip back into the paint and barricade Exum’s path. In the NBA, defenses close seams in a flash. The new Exum is diving through them like Indiana Jones ducking under a lowering wall (without the hat grab).

Utah has scored 1.2 points possessions anytime Exum drives and shoots, or dishes to a teammate who shoots after one or zero dribbles, per Second Spectrum — a mark that ranks 14th among 300-plus who have recorded at least 50 drives.

He also commented on one of Cayleb’s Instagram posts: “Without you, I wouldn’t be here. you literally saved my life cayleb. nobody will understand what happened, but as long as I have you I could care less. You’ve always had my back. Since day 1. True definition of my brothers keeper, til the end.”

Zay Jones also thanked his fans for supporting him.

The charges were eventually dropped, and the Bills seem comfortable enough with the situation that they aren’t going to cut him or anything.

Kade Potter, a 23-year-old recovering heroin addict from rural Kentucky, was Jamie’s roommate at Sea of Recovery and slept in a bed just a few feet away in a garage converted into a bedroom. Potter told Outside the Lines that in the brief time he and Jamie shared a room together, they frequently abused drugs. Jamie’s drug of choice, he says, was Xanax, the same drug he had abused in college.

Former Vikings tackle Grady Alderman dies at 79

Grady Alderman, one of the “50 Greatest Vikings,” passed away Thursday, the Vikings announced. He was 79.

Alderman, an offensive lineman, played for the Vikings from 1961-74. He was a backup for the Detroit Lions his rookie season (1960) before being selected by the Vikings in the expansion draft. Alderman was a six-time Pro Bowl pick and a two-time All-Pro selection during his Vikings career.

You can quibble with a couple of those choices. Maybe you prefer Luck over Wilson, even though Wilson has won a Super Bowl and has been far more productive in Seattle. Perhaps you think Jimmy Garoppolo has already proved to be better than Derek Carr. And there are some cases in which there really were no winners: The Bills would probably prefer to have Geno Smith over EJ Manuel, but you suspect they would rather have stayed out of the quarterback market altogether in 2013. You get the idea, though: The first guy often isn’t the best guy.

It’s fair to note that this doesn’t tell the whole story. Teams that pick first are often some of the worst organizations in football, and they’re among the worst because they’re bad at talent evaluation and subsequent development. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy — in other words, the Browns stay the Browns.

“Honestly, I don’t really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me,” Reed said. “I’m out here to do my job, and that’s to play golf. I feel like if I’m doing it the right way, then that’s all that really matters.”

It was a good answer. ESPN writer Kevin Van Valkenburg  made a great observation in 2016: “There is a little bit of New Jersey attitude in Reed.” He isn’t going to be deferential about anything in a sport that rewards the athletes for doing things “the right way.” 

This isn’t the UFC, where throwing a handtruck through a bus window will only improve a competitor’s profile. Still: With so many robotic PGA Tour players out there, you’d think more fans would find Reed’s cockiness is refreshing. There’s only one guy like him. 

“If there was not a mic around, and you went out and asked every single guy, and if they knew you weren’t media, and you asked them where do you want to be, they’d say No. 1 in the world,” Reed said. “And if they don’t, then those guys aren’t winning every week or even having the chance to win golf tournaments because they’re not believing in themselves.” bills_047

Raiders, Khalil Mack Not Close On Extension

Reggie McKenzie has long said he is targeting this offseason for a Khalil Mack extension, and that deal is expected to ensure the top Raiders talent is the NFL’s highest-paid defender. But this process has evidently encountered some turbulence.

Mack did not show for the first day of Jon Gruden‘s offseason program Monday, Ian Rapoport of reports (on Twitter). This is out of the ordinary for Mack, who is going into his final year of his rookie contract (via the fifth-year option). And this might be contract-related.

The Raiders and Mack were discussing an extension, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets, adding the team was hoping to get this done quickly. But Gehlken reports the sides are not close on a deal.

Shurmur was asked whether he believed the trade rumors – fact or fiction – would affect Beckham moving forward.

“I’m not worried about it. I really believe that Odell is a professional and he wants to be great,” Shurmur said. “He understands the importance of the offseason and he’s a competitive guy and, again, we had already started communicating before all that information kind of got out there and was talked about a great deal. He’s a professional and I’m glad he’s here.”

The safety market has been very slow to develop and even those who have signed contract such as Morgan Burnett got less money than many were projecting. Reid is among a group of notable free agent safeties that also includes Tre Boston, Kenny Vaccaro, T.J. Ward and Tyvon Branch.

The $62 million signing of Solder to play left tackle triggered a transition to right tackle for Flowers, who has not played that spot since early in his college career at Miami.

The Giants could still look for an upgrade at right tackle, perhaps in Day 2 of the draft with prospects such as Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby or Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill.

Flowers has his third offensive line coach in four seasons, his third head coach and he is being asked to change positions in what promises to be the most important year of his professional life.bills_015

NFL Draft Rumors: Giants Would Select Sam Darnold at No. 2, Not Josh Rosen

The New York Giants have the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL draft and seem to have narrowed down their options.

“Their top three choices are [Sam] Darnold, Saquon Barkley and Bradley Chubb,” an NFL executive told Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media. “They are debating Barkley vs. Chubb, because they need an edge-rusher, but the scouts love Barkley.”

That would signal a rebuild is on the way, whereas if the Giants drafted an impact player like Barkley or Chubb, it could help the team contend for the playoffs in 2018.

Though it’s always difficult to trust rumors that come out as the draft approaches, these options match up with reported visits by prospects to New York.

Art Stapleton of the Record reported Thursday that Chubb was visiting the Giants and that Barkley, Rosen, Darnold, Allen and Baker Mayfield would visit them.

Everything was copacetic as Apple and the Giants reported for the first day of the team’s offseason workout program on Monday. Apple spent most of his offseason in California with several of his Giants teammates, and some relationships were mended.

“We talked. Definitely we talked. We’ve definitely buried the hatchet a while ago,” Collins said on a conference call with reporters. “That’s my guy, my brother. I’m always going to have his back. We knew what kind of caliber player he is. He knows what kind of caliber player I am. We’re just trying to get to work and make this season go.”

The Giants are trying to rebound from a disastrous 3-13 season where everything seemingly went wrong. Three cornerbacks were suspended at different points of the season for their conduct.

Apple had trouble with teammates and coaches during the troubling year, on and off the field. But the former first-round pick remains on the roster after ending last year by being suspended and told to stay away from the team.rams_089

Tyrod Taylor faces off against the team that wanted to jettison him for more than a year.

After missing the entire 2017 season with a mysterious, lingering injury to his throwing arm, Andrew Luck is appealing to the Indianapolis faithful for patience as the Colts assemble for Phase 1 of their offseason program.

Toiling through an extraordinarily deliberate rehabilitation program, Luck began throwing again in February. To this point in the process, however, he has yet to reach the next level of throwing “The Duke” — the NFL’s official football.

“When the time is right,” Luck explained, “I’ll pick it up.”

Although the face of the Colts franchise is tempted to accelerate his rehab efforts, he emphasized the importance of diligently following his prescribed timetable.

With that Week 1 target date in mind, Colts fans shouldn’t expect to read rave reviews of Luck’s progress in mastering Reich’s offensive scheme during practices over the next two months.

The goal is to be ready for training camp “without a governor on,” Luck added, meaning full participation with no limitations. Once he reaches that pivotal stage, the three-time Pro Bowler expects to embark on a successful season that will have him in the running for NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

“I am very, very confident and very, very optimistic,” Luck explained. “I’m going to be absolutely fine and come back better than I was. I think I’ll be a better quarterback, a better teammate, a better person and I’m very confident.”

Case Keenum hosts the team that believes it upgraded at his position. Toss in the fact that Keenum and Kirk Cousins debut with their new teams on the same field and you’ve got yourself an enticing storyline. Taylor could also be battling the No. 1 overall pick for the starting gig. Preseason is little more than a walkthrough for starting quarterbacks, but if you don’t think at there is at least a little bit of residual bitterness in the bones of Taylor and Keenum after they were cast aside following playoff berths, you’re underestimating the competitive edge NFL players harness daily.

Well, duh, no amount of revenge in the preseason would make up for a Super Bowl loss. That doesn’t mean watching the reigning conference champions duke it out is worthless. Both Bill Belichick and Howie Roseman have retooled their squads this offseason to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. How will those new pieces mesh? We could also get the nascent return of Carson Wentz to the playing field after his ACL tear last season.

Owner Robert Pera ‘committed to Memphis’ as home of Grizzlie

Robert Pera, the controlling owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, announced Monday that he will retain his majority interest in the team in connection with the “buy-sell” process.

Pera, 40, made the announcement in an open letter that was emailed to Grizzlies season-ticket holders. He will continue to operate the team with controlling interest after making a “buy-sell” agreement with minority partners.

In his letter, Pera said he is “committed to Memphis as an NBA market and as the home of the Grizzlies.”

Story homered for the second straight game, sending a fastball into the left field seats in the fourth, one inning after Nolan Arenado singled in a run .

Freddie Freeman’s RBI double with two outs in the sixth made it 2-1 and chased Bettis.

Braves: 3B Johan Camargo (right oblique strain), who went 0 for 4 Friday while playing shortstop for Class A Florida, will move his rehab to Triple-A Gwinnett after DHing Saturday. “He feels good, health is not an issue,” Snitker said. “It’s just about wanting to see some pitches.”

Rockies OF Charlie Blackmon battled through a stiffening back and was replaced by defensive sub Mike Tauchman to start the 10th.

ESPN has not announced terms of the deal.

“Tonight was obviously a debacle,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We were stuck in mud from the beginning of that game.”

Portis scored 13 points in the first quarter to help erase an early 16-7 Nets lead.

In the second quarter, baskets by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson bookended a 14-1 run for the Nets which opened a 61-47 lead with 1:11 left until halftime.

Crabbe knocked down four of the Nets’ nine 3-pointers in the third as Brooklyn pushed the lead past 20 points, cruising the rest of the way.

“It’s pretty tough, man,” Portis said of defending Brooklyn. “It’s like playing the Rockets. They shoot a lot of 3s. They shoot a lot of contested shots. That’s what their coach preaches.”