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Seager’s 2 HRs give Seattle 5-3 win over Houston

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 12:02 am   Print This Print This

With one swing, Kyle Seager hopes he ended his personal skid at the plate and the Seattle Mariners’ slide.

“Any time you see the ball hit the ground, it’s obviously a big confidence booster,” Seager said. “It has felt better the last couple of days and today it showed up. Thankfully.”

Seager hit a three-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth, his second of the game, and the Mariners rallied for a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday to stop an eight-game losing streak.

With Seattle on the verge of getting swept for the second straight series, Seager hit a two-run homer in the seventh off starter Jarred Cosart. Then he capped the biggest hitting day of his big league career with his drive on the first pitch from closer Josh Fields (0-1) in the ninth.

It was the third multihomer game of Seager’s career, and the five RBIs were a career high. Seager had not homered since Sept. 3 of last season at Kansas City.

“He has a track record and I’ve said all along that he is going to hit,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Obviously, when you’re in a losing streak and the guys you expect to hit don’t hit, it’s a little frustrating but in that case you have one of two options: you can sit him or you can play him. I chose to play him and he didn’t disappoint.”

Seager had been one of Seattle’s few consistent hitters the past two seasons, establishing himself as a lock in the Mariners lineup. That made his struggles to start this season so surprising. Seager entered Wednesday hitting just .156 with two RBIs. He had more strikeouts (17) than hits (10) at the start of the day. Read more …

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Stars roar back, tie series with Ducks

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 12:08 am   Print This Print This

Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin skated the length of the ice, got around a sliding defender, closed his eyes and shot just before his stick got ripped out of his hands.

The top-seeded Anaheim Ducks can clearly see they are in quite a fight now.

Eakin scored on Dallas’ first shot of the third period, Alex Goligoski scored on the next one 1:22 later and the Stars beat the Ducks 4-2 in Game 4 on Wednesday night to even the best-of-seven series.

“Once I came around that D-man … I saw a guy and there was a lane,” Eakin said. “So, I just closed my eyes and shot.”

Even without captain Ryan Getzlaf, a surprise late scratch with an upper-body injury, and healthy scratch Teemu Selanne, the Ducks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.

“It’s not often we get outworked,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “But I thought after that, the last 40 was as hard as the boys could go. They emptied the tank.”

The Stars, who got physical at home after a pair of one-goal losses in Anaheim to start the series, are assured of playing another home game in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

“All year we’ve been good at putting stuff behind us. Things haven’t been going well, we’ve been able to put periods behind us,” Goligoski said. “We just stuck with the plan, kept going, kept getting in their zone and it paid off.”

Game 5 is Friday night in Anaheim, and the series returns Sunday to the American Airlines Center for Game 6.

Stars captain Jaime Benn scored unassisted, his third goal of the series, off a faceoff 27 seconds into the second period. About 6 minutes later, Vernon Fiddler managed to get the puck in a small gap between the post and rookie goalie Frederick Andersen to tie it at 2. Read more …

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Cowboys to open season vs. 49ers

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 12:03 am   Print This Print This

By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

The NFL released the 2014 schedule on Wednesday night.

Here is the Cowboys schedule with notes on every opponent (times CT).

Sept. 7 vs. San Francisco, 3:25 p.m. (FOX)
Sept. 14 at Tennessee, Noon (FOX)
Sept. 21 at St. Louis, Noon (FOX)
Sept. 28 vs. New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)
Oct. 5 vs. Houston, Noon (CBS)
Oct. 12 at Seattle, 3:25 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 19 vs. New York Giants, 3:25 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 27 vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Nov. 2 vs. Arizona, Noon, (FOX)
*Nov. 9 at Jacksonville, Noon, (FOX)
Nov. 23 at New York Giants, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)
Nov. 27 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m. (FOX)
Dec. 4 at Chicago, 7:25 p.m. (NFLN)
Dec. 14 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)
Dec. 21 vs. Indianapolis, 3:25 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 28 at Washington, Noon (FOX)
*Game played in London Read more …

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Rangers Complete Sweep Of A’s

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 12:01 am   Print This Print This

With the Texas rotation ravaged by injuries early in the season, Martin Perez has more than filled the void.

Perez pitched his second consecutive shutout to extend his scoreless innings streak to 26 and the Texas Rangers wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics with a 3-0 victory Wednesday.

“He’s been the glue,” manager Ron Washington said. “He’s held it together. He’s the one guy in that rotation who’s been in it from last year who hasn’t had a blip yet.”

The Rangers have been without Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis already at times this season but still find themselves in first place thanks to some strong play from fill-ins and major improvement from Perez.

Perez (4-0) outpitched Sonny Gray (3-1) in a heralded matchup of emerging stars, allowing just three hits and two walks in his first start since throwing a three-hitter against the White Sox for his first career shutout.

“I don’t want to think too much about my ERA and the games that I’ve thrown before,” Perez said. “I’m going to focus on my game today. We had a great game.”

Perez, who also threw eight scoreless innings against Houston on April 13, is the first Rangers pitcher to have three straight scoreless starts since Kenny Rogers had four straight over 30 innings in 2005. Perez also joined Charlie Hough in 1983 as the only Texas pitchers to have three straight starts of at least eight scoreless innings. Read more …

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Mavs respond, rout Spurs in Game 2

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 12:07 am   Print This Print This

Blowing their playoff opener turned out to be great therapy for the Dallas Mavericks.

Eighth-seeded Dallas rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.

Dallas didn’t relent in Game 2 after watching a 10-point lead evaporate in the final eight minutes of the series opener Sunday.

“Game 1 actually helped a lot more than today,” Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “We were down after Game 1, but in this building to be up 10 with six or seven minutes left, I think that gave us a lot of confidence coming into this one. Just keep executing the game plan.”

It was Dallas’ first playoff victory since June 12, 2011, when it rebounded from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Miami Heat for the NBA title.

If not for the final eight minutes of the series opener, the Mavericks would have a 2-0 lead entering Game 3 on Saturday.

“It feels great, but it’s nothing to celebrate,” Dallas point guard Jose Calderon said. “I think we have to keep doing what we’re doing. I think we played two really good games.”

In Game 2, the Mavericks used an aggressive offense and a brutal defensive effort that discombobulated the normally even-keeled Spurs, who finished the regular season with the league’s best record. Read more …

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Dirk: I’d rather play Game 3 on the road

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm   Print This Print This

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

SAN ANTONIO – Dirk Nowitzki enjoyed the Mavericks’ first playoff victory since they clinched the 2011 championship for a few minutes before he started fretting about Game 3.

The Mavs seized homecourt advantage in the series by routing the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 at the AT&T Center. However, Nowitzki doesn’t think the Mavs have much of a homecourt advantage, as much as he appreciates the folks who fill the American Airlines Center.

“I’m a little worried,” Nowitzki said. “I’m a little worried going home. I’d rather play Game 3 here, I guess. We’ve got to figure it out at home. We can’t relax. That’s the thing.”

The Mavs tied for the league’s fourth-best road record (23-18) during the regular season, winning six of their last seven games away from the AAC. Their home record (26-15) was the worst of any of the West’s eight playoff teams, including a disappointing 4-4 homestand late in the season.

The Spurs had the league’s best road record at 30-11, so relaxing even a little bit would be a recipe for disaster for the Mavs.

That was the message Nowitzki made a point to deliver moments after Game 2.

“I like our intensity right now,” Nowitzki said. “It’s a little dangerous going home. We’ve been actually a decent road team all year, but at home, we haven’t figured it out yet. We’ve lost the big [home] games over the last couple of months.

“We can’t take the foot off the gas. We’ve got to keep competing the same way, and then I like our chances going home.”

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Rangers dealing with injuries

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm   Print This Print This

By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

The banged-up Texas Rangers continue to deal with injuries as they prepare for a weekend series in Seattle against the Mariners.

They received some encouraging news and some disappointing news on Thursday.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, last week’s AL player of the week, is headed back to Dallas to be evaluated by back specialist Dr. Drew Dossett. Kouzmanoff’s lower back was still sore on Thursday. The club has to make a roster decision before activating third baseman Adrian Beltre on Friday and they’d like to know the extent of Kouzmanoff’s injury and whether he needs to go on the disabled list.

Kouzmanoff has been one of the hottest hitters in the league the past two weeks, batting .362 (17-for-47) with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in 13 games with Beltre on the DL with a mild quad strain.

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo reported improvement in his sprained left ankle and general manager Jon Daniels believes the leadoff hitter can avoid the DL.

The club has not decided when he will return to the lineup. He has missed the last two games after injuring the ankle Monday in Oakland.

Left-handed reliever Pedro Figueroa, who was placed on the DL this week with elbow inflammation, has a torn UCL and damage to his flexor tendon and will probably have Tommy John surgery next week.

Former closer Neftali Feliz is on the minor league disabled list with soreness in his elbow, but does not have any structural damage. The club hopes he can start throwing again next week.

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Cuban: NBA has ‘taken huge strides’

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm   Print This Print This

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

SAN ANTONIO — The NBA office has started providing teams detailed analysis of officiating after every game.

For several years, the detailed officiating analysis has been used internally by the league office. The decision was made to make the analysis available to the teams this season.

“For the teams, it gives them an idea of how we’re seeing the game, how it’s being graded,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn told ESPNDallas.com, adding that the analysis increases confidence around the league about the commitment to quality officiating. “It’s no longer a mystery, if you will.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who was the first to publicly mention the reports, has long lobbied for more transparency regarding referees.

Cuban describes the league as “far more proactive and far more transparent” since Adam Silver replaced the retired David Stern as the commissioner in February.

“I think they’ve taken huge strides,” Cuban said. “You can always improve, but you’ve got to take that first step before you can improve it.”

The league has continued its policy of making statements to acknowledge when a critical call late in a game is made incorrectly, such as after the openers of the Golden State Warriors-Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers-Houston Rockets series. The reports sent to the teams, which cover all calls made throughout games, are confidential.

“I’m happy with what they’re doing,” Cuban said. “We’re not allowed to talk about any of the specifics of them, but I think we’ve made huge steps. What [Thorn and his staff] have done up there is phenomenal, because it’s not like we just gave them an extra 20 people. They’ve been able to really bust their asses and do some great things.”

The league office has fined Cuban at least $1.9 million during his 14-year ownership tenure, largely for criticizing officiating. He has not been fined since Silver became the commissioner.

At this point, Cuban suggests the league should take the transparency a step further by making public statements when referees get controversial, critical calls right.

“I’d also like to see the correct ones that are mentioned as well,” Cuban said. “With transparency, you get rid of all of the conspiracy theories. That’s the whole goal. You want to send the message that we get them right, too, because we do.”

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Rangers to honor Michael Young May 17

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 5:38 pm   Print This Print This

By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

The Texas Rangers will honor Michael Young in a pregame ceremony Saturday, May 17, before the Rangers face the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Park.

The club has moved the time of the first pitch to 7:15 p.m. so that they can have a ceremony starting 30 minutes before the game. There are no details for the ceremony at this time, but Young’s longtime friend Vernon Wells will be involved.

Young retired as a Rangers on Jan. 31, 2014 after a 13-year career. He played 12 seasons in Texas and made seven All-Star teams and hit .300 or better seven times, including six seasons with at least 200 hits. He won the AL batting title in 2005 and owns a gaggle of club records — he’s the all-time leader in games (1,823), hits (2,230) and extra-base hits (647). Young won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008.

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Darren Oliver named special assistant to GM

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm   Print This Print This

By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

The Texas Rangers have officially added retired pitcher Darren Oliver to their staff as a special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels.

Oliver joins an impressive list of former players who are now consultants, including Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, infielder Tony Fernandez and catcher Pudge Rodriguez.

Oliver, 43, retired after the 2013 season with 118 wins in a 20-year career as a starter and reliever. He started for the Rangers in the club’s first playoff series in 1996 and returned to the postseason in 2006 with the Mets and was on the Rangers’ 2010 and 2011 playoff teams.

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Physical Blair plays with fire vs. ex-team

Posted/updated on: April 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm   Print This Print This

By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

SAN ANTONIO – Truth be told, there might have only been one member of the Dallas Mavericks who was happy to draw the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

That’s bench banger DeJuan Blair, who seeks some sort of redemption or revenge after riding San Antonio’s bench during the Spurs’ run to the Finals last season, his fourth and final year with the franchise.

“Yeah, but I’m not going to bring that up,” Blair said after the Mavs evened the series with a stunning rout in Game 2. “The Spurs are a great team, but we can play with the best of them. We showed that tonight, but we’ve just got to keep it up. It’s going to be a long series.”

It’s guaranteed to go at least five games now, in part due to Blair’s contributions Wednesday night after a quiet Game 1 against his former team.

Blair had eight points, seven rebounds and four steals in 14 minutes during the win. The Mavs outscored the Spurs by 13 points with Blair on the floor.

Those numbers can be found in the box score. There’s no telling how many bruises the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Blair left on old buddy Tim Duncan while battling his future Hall of Fame former teammate on the block and under the boards.

“He had a physical impact,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Blair. “He was on the boards and was getting deflections. The only way we’re going to win a series against a team like this is to have guys playing at complete full capacity, and he did. He gave us a huge lift.”

The highlight of the night for Blair was stripping Manu Ginobili in the open court and rumbling for a one-man fast break that he finished with a spinning layup. That play was a bonus for the Mavs. Blair’s job is to throw his big body around.

“That’s my plan,” Blair said. “We don’t have anyone on this team to do that. I know if I can play, I can come in and bring that physicality and just do what I do.”

Blair didn’t get to do that much during last season’s playoffs, giving him a little extra motivation when he returned to San Antonio with the Mavs this postseason.

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