MLB, NFL, NBA franchises team up for 'Rally the Vote' drive

MLB, NFL, NBA franchises team up for 'Rally the Vote' drive

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Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James fields questions during media day at the NBA basketball team’s practice facility Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in El Segundo, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

NEW YORK (AP) — Nine sports franchises from Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL are teaming up and asking fans to register to vote.

The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings from the NBA, along with MLB’s Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, and the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL are offering fans a platform to register starting Tuesday on the teams’ mobile apps, websites and social media as part of a “Rally the Vote” effort.

Vivek Ranadivé, owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings, says if teams can make ticket buying to sporting events accessible in a few clicks, there’s no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be the same.

According to the U.S. Census, there are 87.9 million Americans eligible to vote who are not registered.

Indians clinch third straight division title, rock Tigers

Indians clinch third straight division title, rock Tigers

CLEVELAND (AP) — Unchallenged for months, the Cleveland Indians clinched their third straight AL Central title with a 15-0 blowout on Saturday of the Detroit Tigers, who made four errors and managed only two hits.

Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley connected for back-to-back homers in the first inning off Michael Fulmer (3-12), Jose Ramirez had three hits and the Indians built an 11-0 lead after two on the way to becoming the first team to clinch a division championship.

It’s the initial step toward an October when Cleveland will try to win its first World Series since 1948 — the longest drought in the majors. After so many close calls, the Indians believe this is their year.

Cleveland’s current three-year reign in the Central is the club’s longest since winning five straight from 1995-99. The Indians became the first team this year to clinch a division and the second assured of the postseason after Boston, which will be no worse than a wild card.

Mike Clevinger (12-8) allowed one hit in six innings, and Yonder Alonso added a two-run homer as Cleveland’s offense awakened from a late-season slump.

The lone blemish for the Indians was an injury to designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who rolled his right ankle while rounding second base in the fourth. The team said the sprain was mild, but it’s one more issue manager Terry Francona must monitor while getting his team ready for the postseason.

The Indians removed any suspense about whether they would clinch by scoring six times in the first, the outburst triggered by the shots from Lindor and Brantley off Fulmer, who was pulled after five pitches because of knee inflammation.

Lindor’s 35th homer was also the All-Star’s eighth leading off, breaking the club record he shared with Grady Sizemore (2008). Brantley followed with his 16th homer, prompting Tigers catcher Brian McCann to wave to Detroit’s dugout to check Fulmer. The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year fell to 0-7 in his last 10 starts.

The Tigers hurt themselves by making two errors on routine grounders in the first.

Cleveland’s clinching had been a foregone conclusion.

The Indians were expected to win one of baseball’s least competitive divisions and did so with ease. They moved into first on April 21, took a double-digit lead for good on Aug. 8 and pulled away.

But while the standings show a runaway, the Indians, who have had their eyes on the upcoming postseason since blowing a 2-0 lead to the Yankees in the 2017 division series, have had their share of adversity.

There have been injuries, personal setbacks and a serious health scare that fortunately ended up being only that.

Anchored by two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Cleveland’s pitching staff has surpassed expectations. Kluber recovered from a knee problem midway through the season and has dominated, winning 18 and ranking among the league leaders in several categories. A third Cy Young is possible, but he hasn’t had do it alone with Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer having strong seasons.

Bauer’s currently sidelined with a broken leg, and the Indians are hoping he can help in the postseason. Also, Clevinger and rookie Shane Bieber emerged as dependable starters.

The Indians’ bullpen hasn’t been nearly as steady.

While closer Cody Allen set the franchise career saves record, the right-hander’s issues — and impending free agency — forced the Indians to trade top prospect Francisco Mejia to San Diego for closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber. Also, Andrew Miller has been on the disabled list three times and the two-time All-Star has been slow to return to form.

Michael Brantley’s return following two injury-slowed seasons has been a huge boost, stabilizing an outfield in flux following injuries to Bradley Zimmer, Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall.

The Indians addressed their precarious outfield situation by acquiring Leonys Martin in a trade, but not long after arriving he was stricken with a bacterial infection that began shutting down organs. Martin has since recovered but his baseball future remains uncertain.

Realizing the window to end their Series drought could be closing, the Indians acquired 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson late last month. His arrival at third shifted Ramirez to second and pushed Jason Kipnis to center field.

But while the Indians’ defense has a new look, the AL Central hasn’t changed.

FAREWELL, FRIEND

Victor Martinez was overcome with emotion during a pregame ceremony to celebrate his years with the Indians. Detroit’s DH plans to retire following his 18th season, ending a career that began with Cleveland in 2002.

“It’s like my mom says, ‘We’ll always have that team in your heart,'” said Martinez, who spent nearly eight seasons with the Indians.

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire and Francona have been on both sides with Martinez.

“He’s one of the reasons why I’m working for the Detroit Tigers now, instead of the old team I used to work for,” said Gardenhire, who managed Minnesota from 2002-14. “When he was here he killed us. We couldn’t get him out.”

Francona called Martinez “one of the nicest guys in the game and one of the most professional hitters, great teammate.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: CF JaCoby Jones left with right shoulder tightness in the fourth after crashing into the center-field wall and diving for a blooper.

UP NEXT

Bieber starts the series finale looking for his 11th win. Bieber’s the first Cleveland rookie to post double-digit wins since Mitch Talbot’s 10 in 2010. Francisco Liriano starts for Detroit.

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Buehler, Dodgers blank Cards to draw even in wild-card race

Buehler, Dodgers blank Cards to draw even in wild-card race

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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Walker Buehler allowed two hits in eight innings, Yasiel Puig homered twice and the Los Angeles Dodgers drew even with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL wild-card race with a 3-0 victory on Friday night.

Buehler (7-5) pitched beyond the seventh inning for the first time and earned his first victory since Aug. 17. He retired the first 13 batters before Paul DeJong singled to left field. Harrison Bader singled later in the fifth for the Cardinals’ only other hit.

Buehler struck out nine and walked two. In two career starts against St. Louis, he has not allowed a run and has 18 strikeouts in 15 innings.

The Dodgers and Cardinals are tied for the second NL wild-card position, four games behind Milwaukee for the top spot. Los Angeles entered 1½ games behind first-place Colorado in the NL West.

Puig homered in the second off Jack Flaherty (8-7) and connected again in the ninth off Tyler Webb. It was his second multi-homer game of the season.

In the seventh, Cody Bellinger scored on a passed ball by Yadier Molina.

Kenley Jansen hit Yairo Munoz with a pitch to open the ninth but retired the next three batters to finish the two-hitter, earning his 35th save in 39 opportunities.

Flaherty worked six innings, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. He has 168 strikeouts this season, the fourth-best total for a rookie in franchise history.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: Relievers John Axford and Tony Cingrani were scheduled to pitch in the California Championship Series for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night. “They’re stacking the deck, trying to help them make their playoff push,” manager Dave Roberts joked. “They’re supposed to go an inning each. We’ll see how they come out of it. Our hope is to get these guys back.” Axford could return to the majors after one appearance, while Cingrani (shoulder) would likely need more rehab work.

CARDINALS: IF Jedd Gyorko is likely to return to the starting lineup tomorrow, manager Mike Shildt said. He drew a pinch-hit walk in the 8th inning and was replaced by pinch-runner Adolis Garcia.

UP NEXT:

The Cardinals send right-hander John Gant (7-5, 3.16 ERA) to the mound Saturday afternoon to make his third career appearance and first start against Los Angeles. Veteran lefty Rich Hill (8-5, 3.88) starts for the Dodgers.

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