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Sports Today: Blue Jackets halfway to a breakthrough as Reds’ descent continues

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after the Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after the Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

A nightmarish start to the baseball season in Cincinnati continued over the weekend, but let’s start with some good news. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets are making a strong early case to be the story of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The CBJ went to Washington and won the first two games against the Capitals, who are favored by seeding but seen as vulnerable by just about everyone who follows hockey. 

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That is because the Capitals have a tendency to disappoint at this time of the season, but also because the Blue Jackets are really good. 

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They have a great goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky, and Artemi Panarin gives them the type of offensive weapon who can carry a team for a while, so they certainly look like a tough out against anyone. 

Their 2-0 series lead can’t help but make one wonder if Columbus could be to the 2018 playoffs what Nashville was in 2017. 

The Predators upset the Blackhawks (in no small part because Panarin was nearly nonexistent for Chicago) in the first round last season then went all the way to the finals, collecting adoring media stories about them and their fans along the way. 

Like Nashville, Columbus is a relatively unknown hockey market since the CBJ have never won a playoff series and they don’t play in Detroit, Chicago or on a coast… 

Sunday saw the St. Louis Cardinals complete the least-surprising four-game sweep in the history of Major League Baseball. 

I cannot really fathom how the Reds could win a game against a good team, so I penciled in losses before the Cardinals got to town. 

That made the weekend less disappointing, I guess. 

On the bright side, the Reds were closer to winning a couple of times over the weekend than they seemed to be at the beginning of this losing streak. 

On the down side, they have Brandon Finnegan saying something ridiculous like, “It seems like everyone is getting lucky against us.” 

Actually, the Reds are in this hole less than three weeks into the season because they have played mostly terrible baseball. 

Nobody thought this was a World Series team, but I was among those who thought they could get close to .500 because they would get good hitting most of the time and good pitching about half the time. 

Hence they could win about half their games. 

Instead, the offense has been absolutely atrocious, the defense has been disappointing and the pitching has been probably what was expected. 

Of course, not having Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler in the lineup has hurt the offense. 

The manager has done plenty to cripple the team over the past week, too. 

That would include starting Finnegan, who hasn’t done nearly enough to be given a spot in the rotation when the younger, more talented Amir Garrett is also available… 

Meanwhile, Nick Senzel is still in Triple-A

I thought they might when he started playing third base early last week, but I don’t really mind them not calling him up given what a disaster the major-league club is at the moment.

It stands to reason they are at least discussing firing Price, causing more upheaval in the short term, so leaving The Future (Part 1) in the minors to work out some kinks against a different level of competition than he has previously faced is probably not the worst idea. 

Also Senzel went through a slump early last week, but he seems to have pulled out of it, for what that is worth.... 

Then there is The Future (Part 2). 

Hunter Greene was supposed to make his second Dayton Dragons start over the weekend, but Mother Nature had other plans. 

All three games scheduled against the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich., were postponed by wet winter weather (even though the calendar shows this is April). 

ARCHDEACON: Greene has all the tools -- and plenty of heart, too

That is really good news for Dragons fans because it means Greene’s next start is now scheduled for Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field. 

If everything had gone as planned, Greene wouldn’t have made another home start until the middle of May. 

As of now, Wednesday looks like the best day of the week as far as weather. 

We’ll see if that holds. 

He was awesome in his first appearance in the Gem City

Even if the Reds remain unwatchable, the Cincinnati Bengals should give us plenty to talk about over the next couple of months. 

That starts this week with voluntary workouts at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday and a big group of locals scheduled for a pro day there Tuesday. 

Two Ohio State defensive players -- Jerome Baker and Jalyn Holmes -- are probably the most talented players on that list, but the two most intriguing to me might be quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Malik Zaire. 

They could not have had more different college careers, but they both look like potential developmental options for a team that like the Bengals has an established starter. 

 

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Reds end 36-year home run drought in All-Star Game

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 12:08 AM

Cincinnati Reds: All-Star Game history

In his first All-Star Game at-bat, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett saved the National League — for one inning.

Gennett’s two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth tied the 89th All-Star Game at 5-5, but two Houston Astros, Alex Bregman and George Springer, hit back-to-back home runs in the 10th and the American League addded one more run to win 8-6 Tuesday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The AL has won six straight All-Star Games. Bregman was named the game’s MVP.

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» POLL: Reds player named friendliest in baseball

Gennett’s home run was the third game-tying home run in the ninth inning or later and the first since Fred McGriff’s in 1994. The only other was hit by Ralph Kiner in 1950.

Gennett also became the first Red to hit a home run in the All-Star Game since Dave Concepcion in 1982.

With that streak over, Joey Votto hit a home run in the 10th inning to draw the National League within one run. That was Votto’s first hit in an All-Star Game. He was 0-for-12 in six games after starting this game 0-for-2.

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An error by Votto almost cost the National League the game in the eighth inning.

Votto dropped a foul pop off the bat of the Seattle Mariners’ Jean Segura. It wasn’t the easiest play. Votto was about to run into the rail by the dugout. He still received an error.

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Segura hit the next pitch into the stands in left for a three-run home run, giving the American League a 5-2 lead.

Votto and another Reds All-Star, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, entered the game in the top of the sixth. This was the first All-Star Game for Suarez, who ranks second in the National League with 71 RBIs. In his first at-bat in the seventh inning, he was hit by a pitch. He struck out in the ninth.

           

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British Open: 5 players who could win this week in Scotland

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:43 PM


            CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during previews to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 16, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during previews to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 16, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

I’m going to change things up a bit as we tee up golf’s third major championship at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland this week.

Even though Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite to win The Open Championship, the world’s top-ranked player is not on my list.

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Johnson faded on the final day at Shinnecock Hills, and although his game seems to suit most courses on the PGA Tour, I’m going to look elsewhere for a winner.

Let’s start with the best player to never win a major — Rickie Fowler. Ye, he shot an 84 in the third round at the U.S. Open, but he still finished 20th and he warmed up with a top-10 finish last week in the Scottish Open.

Speaking of the last major, Tommy Fleetwood almost stole the U.S. Open with a remarkable 63 on the final day. The Englishman will be in the hunt on Sunday.

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Here’s one that might be off the radar a bit. Tony Finau owns top-10 finishes in both the Masters and the U.S. Open this year. He makes a lot of birdies and that’s never a bad thing.

Henrik Stenson won with a record 20-under par total two years ago at Royal Troon. That alone gives him a chance to do some damage at Carnoustie.

And finally, Justin Rose is going to win another major sooner than later, although his best finish the Open was the first one he played back in 1998 as an amateur — a tie for fourth.

Jordan Spieth is the defending champion and is listed at 18-1. Tiger Woods is right behind at 20-1 on the betting sheet with Phil Mickelson at 40-1.

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Michigan football sending local alumnus to Big Ten Football Media Days

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 9: Tyree Kinnel #23 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts the ball and scores a first quarter touchdown as Mike Boone #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives chase at Michigan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 9: Tyree Kinnel #23 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts the ball and scores a first quarter touchdown as Mike Boone #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives chase at Michigan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Looks like Michigan football will count a player from the Miami Valley to be among its senior leaders on defense for the second year in a row. 

At least that’s one thing that can be gleaned from Tyree Kinnel being among the Wolverines’ representatives at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago next week. 

Kinnel, a fourth-year player from Wayne High School, earned All-Big Ten honorable mention last season when he had 70 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and defended nine passes. 

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The 5-foot-11, 201-pound safety was named the team’s most improved player on defense for his efforts. 

Joining him in Chicago will be running back Karan Higdon and defensive end Chase Winovich. 

Ohio State will be represented by receiver Parris Campbell, defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones and offensive lineman Isaiah Prince. 

Last year, Mike McCray II was among the prominent faces of the Michigan defense. 

After wrapping up his career at Michigan, Trotwood-Madison grad Mike McCray II laid out his goals for pro football and beyond. Plus an update on his father’s status as an Ohio State fan. The elder McCray was a Buckeye

The senior linebacker from Trotwood-Madison was the only returning starter. 

He was eventually named captain, a distinction his father, Mike McCray Sr., held at Ohio State in the 1980s. 

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Scoochie Smith weighing his options after strong performance in NBA Summer League

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15:  Scoochie Smith #12 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives between Giddy Potts #20 and Rawle Alkins #1 of the Toronto Raptors during a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 82-68. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15: Scoochie Smith #12 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives between Giddy Potts #20 and Rawle Alkins #1 of the Toronto Raptors during a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 82-68. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Dayton Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith always felt he could play in the NBA. He showed he deserves a chance with his performance in the NBA Summer League.

Smith spoke to the Dayton Daily News on the phone from Las Vegas, Nev., on Tuesday as he prepared to leave town after playing seven games in 11 days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While Smith had confidence about his ability to play at the next level, he said, “Sometimes you’ve got to reassure the people. That’s what happened.”

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Smith earned an invitation to training camp with the Cavaliers and said while he would probably accept it, he hasn’t made up his mind yet. He’s keeping his options open in case other teams express interest in him.

Smith averaged 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 16.9 minutes per game in Las Vegas. His role grew as the Cavaliers advanced past the preliminary round into the Summer League tournament.

Smith, who finished his Dayton career with 1,289 points in 2017 and ranks 28th in school history, said he learned to be more aggressive and stay in attack mode.

“I think that will help me a lot,” he said.

In a 112-109 double-overtime loss to the Lakers on Monday in the semifinals, Smith had 14 points, five rebounds and a team-high five assists in 27 minutes. He made 4 of 12 shots from the field.

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Smith’s best performance came Saturday in the second round of the tournament. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the last seven minutes in a 92-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“I was just waiting on my moment,” Smith said. “I was fortunate enough it came during that Houston game, not right at the end of the tournament. I still got to showcase some more.”

Smith said the Cavaliers were happy with his play, and he thought they were maybe a little surprised by how well he performed.

“I think they learned a lot about me,” he said.

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This was Smith’s second experience in the Summer League. He played with the Boston Celtics in the Summer League a year ago but saw limited playing time.

“They drafted about four guys, so it was kind of tough for me to find an opportunity,” Smith said. “Staying positive and doing what I did in my first year (in pro basketball) helped me get the opportunity this week.”

Smith started his professional career last year in Australia and played in 27 games for the Cairns Taipans, averaging 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Smith then returned to Ohio to play for the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ affiliate in the NBA G-League. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 52.3 percent from 3-point range. He had his best game — 26 points and 10 assists — in the final game March 23.

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