Update on the latest sports
NHL-STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
Stamkos out for Lightning, injuries mount for Stars
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Steven Stamkos won’t play for the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Dallas Stars. But coach Jon Cooper says his injured captain hasn’t been ruled out for the remainder of the series.
Stamkos played less than three minutes Wednesday night in his first NHL game since February and scored on his only shot to help Tampa Bay win and take a 2-1 series lead. Stamkos had core muscle surgery in early March and aggravated the injury over the summer.
On the Dallas side, the injuries are piling up. Center Radek Faksa, defenseman Stephen Johns and goaltender Ben Bishop remain unfit to play and interim coach Rick Bowness says forward Blake Comeau will be a game-time decision.
The Lightning lead the Stars two games to one and a win Friday would give them a chance to take home their second Stanley Cup one night later in Game 5. The NHL is playing Stanley Cup Final games on back-to-back nights for the first time since 2009. That year Detroit won each of the first two games against Pittsburgh, which eventually won the series in seven games. That is the only time in the NHL’s modern era for a back-to-back at this point in the playoffs.
Heat can advance to finals with Game 5 win
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Heat lead the Boston Celtics three games to one in the Eastern Conference finals and can move on to the NBA Finals with a win Friday night.
But that isn’t a given in this close series. The composite score of the four games is Celtics 441, Heat 441. While that gives the Heat reason to be cautious, it also works as a reason for the Celtics to be optimistic.
Miami expects center Bam Adebayo to be ready to play after hurting his shoulder.
Eight NL teams vie for four postseason spots
UNDATED (AP) — Eight teams in the National League are vying for four available postseason spots heading into the regular season’s final weekend, and Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty could get St. Louis a crucial win Friday in the opener of a doubleheader against Milwaukee.
The Cardinals beat the Brewers 4-2 to Thursday to start in a five-game series that could have huge implications on the race, as none of the six other contenders are facing each other.
The Marlins, Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, Brewers and Giants are the top teams still in contention — and they’re packed tightly with slots available for one team from the NL East, another from the NL Central and then two wild cards. The Mets and Rockies are mathematically eligible but need to win out just to have a shot.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— One playoff spot remains open in the American League, and Michael Brantley and the Astros are on the verge of clinching it. Houston is visiting the Rangers this weekend. The Twins are trying to seal the AL Central. They hold a one-game lead over the White Sox and are at Target Field to finish up with Cincinnati. Minnesota slugger Nelson Cruz has missed four straight games with soreness in his right knee. Manager Rocco Baldelli says Cruz won’t be back in the lineup until he’s 100 percent.
— The White Sox and Cubs both hope to reverse recent slides when they meet this weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field before opening the playoffs. The Chisox have lost five in a row, dropping them out of the AL Central lead and one game behind Minnesota. The NL Central-leading Cubs have a magic number of two for clinching the division. They’ve lost five of six, scoring two or fewer runs in each of those losses. Cubs ace Yu Darvish starts Friday against Dylan Cease.
Brewers put Burnes on IL
UNDATED (AP) — Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes has been placed on the injured list with a strained left oblique. The move likely ends Burnes’ breakthrough season. Manager Craig Counsell says Burnes would be unavailable for the first round and would be doubtful for the second round if the Brewers make the playoffs.
The Brewers are outside of playoff position but haven’t been eliminated from contention yet heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Burnes is 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.
In other MLB news:
— A person with knowledge of the situation says manager Dave Martinez and the Washington Nationals have agreed to work out a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the club beyond next season. The person confirmed the news to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made. Martinez led the Nationals to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 2019, his second season as the team’s skipper. When he initially was hired, Martinez signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2021 that had not yet been picked up.
— Dodgers star Mookie Betts has supplanted Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for baseball’s top-selling jersey in his first year on the West Coast. Judge’s pinstriped No. 99 had been the most popular uniform in the majors for three straight years. But according to data released by Major League Baseball today he’s been bumped by his former AL East rival. The Boston Red Sox traded Betts to the Dodgers in February, and Los Angeles signed the 2018 AL MVP to a $365 million, 12-year deal that runs through the 2032 season. Betts’ No. 50 is the first Dodgers uniform to top the list since MLB began releasing sales rankings in 2010.
— Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez has a sprained right foot, likely sidelining the slugger for a pivotal season-ending series against the crosstown Cubs. The White Sox had dropped a season-high five in a row heading into the weekend set, falling out of first place in the AL Central. They are hoping to get back on track heading into their playoff appearance since 2008, but the health of Jiménez is a concern. Manager Rick Renteria said the 23-year-old left fielder will need “to be off his feet” for a few days.
Mullens to replace injured Garoppolo as 49ers starting QB
UNDATED (AP) — Nick Mullens will start at quarterback on Sunday for the San Francisco 49ers in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo (gah-RAH’-puh-loh) but won’t have All-Pro tight end George Kittle as an option. Garoppolo didn’t practice all week because of a high ankle sprain and has been officially ruled out for this week’s game against the New York Giants.
The 49ers will be without injured running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and edge rusher Dee Ford. Defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were placed on injured reserve this week with season-ending knee injuries.
Coach Kyle Shanahan also says Kittle will miss a second straight game after spraining his knee in the season opener. Kittle practiced on a limited basis but wasn’t healthy enough to go.
In other NFL news:
— The Atlanta Falcons’ secondary will be without safety Ricardo Allen and cornerback Kendall Sheffield in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. Allen has an elbow injury and Sheffield has a foot injury. Wide receiver Julio Jones still has a chance to play after missing practice this week with a hamstring injury. Jones is listed as questionable. If Jones is limited or held out, there would be more pressure on Calvin Ridley, who leads the NFL with four touchdown catches.
— New York Jets wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman have been ruled out for the team’s game at Indianapolis on Sunday because of injuries. It will be the second straight game Crowder will miss with a hamstring injury, while Perriman was a long shot to be active after injuring his left ankle last Sunday against San Francisco. Coach Adam Gase said neither receiver is expected to be a candidate for injured reserve. Gase also confirmed Friday that starting right tackle George Fant won’t play after suffering a concussion during practice Wednesday.
— The Cleveland Browns could be without both of their projected starting cornerbacks on Sunday against the Washington Football Team. Denzel Ward is listed as questionable with a groin injury, and Greedy Williams will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury sustained in training camp. Browns rookie coach Kevin Stefanski said Ward, who is Cleveland’s best cover defender, is “truly questionable” with his injury and it will likely be a game-time decision on whether he plays. The Browns did get back linebacker Mack Wilson and Kevin Johnson from injuries this week. Johnson suffered a lacerated liver during training camp.
— The Bills will be without rookie running back Zack Moss for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. Moss is out with a toe injury. Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are questionable. Both players were injured in Buffalo’s season opener and missed last week’s win over Miami.
— The Baltimore Ravens will allow 250 immediate family members of players, coaches and front office staff to Monday night’s game against Kansas City Chiefs. They will be the only people in attendance. The family members must be living in the same local household as a player, coach or staff member and are required to wear a mask and follow safety protocols. Ravens President Dick Cass calls this “an important step” in the team’s effort to host larger crowds as the season progresses.
— The Las Vegas Raiders will be without speedy rookie receiver Henry Ruggs III because of injuries to his knee and hamstring. Ruggs has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. Starting right tackle Trent Brown and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski also are out this week. Brown has been sidelined by a calf injury since leaving the opener at Carolina after one series. Kwiatkoski injured his pectoral muscle later in that game and will miss his second straight week.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE SPORTS
The MAC is back
UNDATED (AP) — The Mid-American Conference, the first major college football league to postpone its season, has become the final one to jump back in. That makes it 10 out of 10 conferences that will play in the fall.
University presidents in the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West have all decided to play this fall after all instead of spring.
MAC games will start Nov. 4 and the championship game will be played Dec. 18 or 19.
In other college sports news:
— Georgia State has postponed Saturday’s college football game at Charlotte because of the coronavirus. The school says it decided not to play out of an abundance of caution because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. It’s not known if the game will be rescheduled. This is the second straight postponement for Charlotte. The 49ers called off last weekend’s game at North Carolina after a positive test forced nine offensive linemen into quarantine. Georgia State opened its season last week with a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.
— Memphis has cut 19 positions and plans furloughs for all salaried employees making $40,000 starting Oct. 1. Athletic director Laird Veatch says COVID-19 has had a major financial impact on the Tigers’ athletics department. Memphis originally projected a $4.4 million deficit and made moves in July that included a 14% cut to operational budgets. That deficit has more than doubled to at least $9 million to $11.5 million. Veatch says all full-time employees earning $40,000 or more will have furloughs equal to 10% to 20% of their salary through the end of this fiscal year. The highest-paid employees will get the biggest cuts, with those earning $250,000 or more being cut 20%. Veatch says these moves will save more than $2 million, which will help cover unfunded scholarships for athletes.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-FRENCH OPEN
Virus again slashes French Open crowd sizes; now only 1,000
PARIS (AP) — Just days before the start of the French Open, organizers have reduced the number of spectators allowed to 1,000 per day because of the worsening coronavirus epidemic in Paris.
Organizers have repeatedly had to scale back their ambitions as virus cases have climbed. Three weeks ago they were planning to have 11,500 spectators per day. That was scaled back to 5,000 per day.
The reduction to 1,000 came after the French prime minister announced Thursday that new crowd-size limits introduced this week in Paris and other cities would also apply to Roland Garros.
The 15-day tournament begins Sunday and ends on Oct. 11.
Hornet sting, birdies take Swafford to lead at Punta Cana
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic (AP) — Hudson Swafford was stung on the pinky finger by a hornet after playing one hole Friday. That might have been a good thing at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. Swafford says it took his mind off golf. He shot 5-under 67 thanks to birdies on his last three holes.
Swafford has a two-shot lead over Sean O’Hair, Luke List and Justin Suh. O’Hair is still on the comeback trail. He tore his oblique at Pebble Beach in February 2019 and had surgery.
He was out a year, and then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for three months.
USA Swimming plans return to in-person meet in November
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — USA Swimming is remaking its national events for the rest of the year, including launching a virtual competition to recognize top performances before returning to in-person competition in November.
Meets scheduled in Southern California, Virginia and Georgia over the last three months of the year have been scrubbed. In their place will be a national leaderboard series beginning in October. It will consist of sanctioned and non-sanctioned long-course and short-course meters and short-course yards results.
The U.S. Open will be Nov. 12 to Nov. 14 at up to 10 venues nationwide. The long-course meet will feature about 100 swimmers at each site competing in four timed-final sessions over three days.
Jockeys riding at Pimlico on Preakness weekend face testing
BALTIMORE (AP) — Jockeys riding in the Preakness and other races at Pimlico next weekend must undergo a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their first mount. The Maryland Jockey Club announced protocols for jockeys competing Oct. 1-3 at the Baltimore track. Riders from out of state will have to leave the track after being tested and self-isolate until notified of their results.
Anyone with positive results will be barred from Pimlico. The three days include 16 stakes worth $3.35 million in purses, highlighted by the Preakness on Oct. 3.
It’s the final leg of this year’s Triple Crown series that was reconfigured because of the coronavirus pandemic.