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The Sports Report: Dodgers mini-sweep the Astros

Edwin Rios celebrates with Enrique Hernandez after both scored on Rios' two-run home run.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: There was one question looming over Wednesday’s finale of a two-game series between the Dodgers and Houston Astros: Would the Astros retaliate after Joe Kelly ignited a benches-clearing gathering for throwing pitches near Alex Bregman’s and Carlos Correa’s heads Tuesday?

The answer was no.

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Pitches weren’t fired at any batters in the 13 innings played. Obscenities weren’t traded. There was no evidence that the clubs despised each other. They just played a clean baseball game inside a hollow Minute Maid Park and the Dodgers completed a mini sweep with a 4-2 win on Edwin Ríos’ tiebreaking two-run home run.

It was the first game the Dodgers played under Major League Baseball’s new rule for the 2020 season that stipulates a runner starts at second base in each extra inning.

Kiké Hernández, the final Dodgers batter retired in the 10th inning, went to second base to start the 11th with the game tied at one. He advanced to third base on a groundout. Max Muncy then worked a two-out walk before Mookie Betts whacked a 93-mph cutter from Cy Sneed off the left-field wall. They were the star right fielder’s sixth hit and third RBI as a Dodger.

The lead vanished when Correa lined a game-tying single to right field off Scott Alexander in the bottom of the frame. But the Astros (3-3) stranded runners on the corners when Dennis Santana struck out George Springer looking.

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Also Wednesday, Major League Baseball did not waste any time in issuing punishment for Joe Kelly’s actions Tuesday night against the Houston Astros. And the discipline wasn’t light.

The league announced Kelly was given an eight-game suspension — the equivalent of 22 games in a standard 162-game season — a couple of hours before the clubs took the field to conclude their two-game set at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday.

Kelly chose to appeal the suspension and will be available out of the bullpen Wednesday.

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was also suspended one game. He will served the sentence Wednesday, with bench coach Bob Geren serving as the Dodgers’ manager.

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Dylan Hernandez on Joe Kelly’s suspension. Read it here.

LAKERS

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: The “plan,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis told the media during a video conference call Wednesday, is to play against the Clippers when they meet Thursday night in the NBA’s restart to its season.

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There was concern about Davis because had been poked in the eye by Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams during Saturday’s scrimmage at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. Davis didn’t play in the final scrimmage against the Washington Wizards on Monday and didn’t practice Tuesday because of discomfort in the eye.

Davis was able to practice Wednesday, saying he is “way better than when I initially got hit in the eye.”

Davis said things were “moving in the right direction” for him to play against the Clippers, which will be the first night of regular-season NBA games in more than four months after the COVID-19 pandemic halted play.
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CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: More than four months after the suspension of the NBA season because of the novel coronavirus, the league’s official restart Thursday, sequestered on the Walt Disney World campus, feels to some less like a continuation of the 2019-20 season than the start of another.

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“Basically,” Kawhi Leonard said, “it’s a new season, pretty much.”

Yet for the Clippers, success in the so-called NBA bubble will be measured against the same expectations and challenged by the same complications that have followed ever since their first training camp opened 10 months ago.

By signing Leonard as a free agent, trading for fellow All-Star forward Paul George last summer, and months later bolstering the roster by adding starting forward Marcus Morris, backup guard Reggie Jackson and third-string center Joakim Noah, the Clippers have gone all-in to win the 50-year-old franchise’s first NBA championship.

That collection of raw talent has rarely been questioned.

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Their ability to harness it, however, has been.

UCLA FOOTBALL

Ben Bolch on UCLA football: UCLA’s tentative new football schedule might sound like an old vinyl record played backward.

California, initially slated to be the Bruins’ final opponent, could instead kick off their schedule on Sept. 19 in Berkeley.

USC, the archrival who traditionally plays UCLA around Thanksgiving, now could face the Bruins on Sept. 26 at the Rose Bowl in what would be the teams’ first meeting in that month since 1945.

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This all assumes, of course, that games will be played and are not pushed back or canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that already has led to the elimination of nonconference games and a delayed start to the season.

UCLA’s 10-game schedule also would include home games against Stanford, Arizona, Utah and Washington State at the Rose Bowl as well as road games against Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State and Washington, on dates to be determined. The only opponent added to the Bruins’ original 2020 schedule is Washington.

MIKE GILLESPIE

Mike Hiserman on the death of baseball coach Mike Gillespie: Mike Gillespie, whose teams won more than 1,500 games over a 47-year career coaching college baseball, died Wednesday at his home in Irvine following complications from recent lung issues and a stroke. He was 80.

Gillespie, who guided teams at College of the Canyons, USC and UC Irvine, is one of two people who won College World Series championships as both a player and coach. The late Jerry Kindall, who won as a player with Minnesota in 1956 and as a coach with Arizona in 1976, ’80 and ’86, is the other. Gillespie was the left fielder on USC’s title-winning team in 1961, and he coached the Trojans to a championship in 1998, outlasting Arizona State in a 21-14 slugfest in the decisive game.

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At Canyons, Gillespie had a record of 420-167 in 16 seasons. His teams appeared in five state championship games, winning three, before he made the rare jump from the junior college ranks to big-time college baseball.

At USC, he coached for 20 seasons, appearing in 15 NCAA regionals and four College World Series.

TENNIS

Helene Elliott on tennis: Ash Barty of Australia, the world’s top-ranked female tennis player, said Wednesday she will skip the U.S. Open because of her concerns about the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tournament is scheduled to be played Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 without fans in attendance. Usually the last Grand Slam in the calendar year, it would be the second contested this year: The Australian Open took place in January, before the coronavirus shut down the sports world, Wimbledon was canceled, and the French Open was moved to a late September start.

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Barty said in a statement she will also skip the Western and Southern Open, which is scheduled to precede the U.S. Open at the same site, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

“My team and I have decided that we won’t be traveling to the U.S. for the Western and Southern Open and the U.S. Open this year,” she said. “I love both events so it was a difficult decision, but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.

“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the U.S. next year. I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks.”

JOHN McNAMARA

John McNamara, who managed the Boston Red Sox to within one strike of a World Series victory in 1986 before an unprecedented collapse on the field extended the team’s championship drought into the new millennium, has died. He was 88.

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McNamara died Tuesday at his home in Tennessee, his wife, Ellen, told The Associated Press. The death was unexpected and the cause was not yet known, she said.

McNamara also managed the Angels for two seasons (1983-84) and was an interim manager for them in 1996. He had a 161-191 record with the Angels.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Dodgers at Arizona, 6:30 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

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Seattle at Angels, 6:30 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Clippers vs. Lakers, 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, TNT, 710 ESPN

Connecticut vs. Sparks, 7 p.m., ESPN

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

Tommy Lasorda bid a tearful farewell in an emotional speech to fans at Dodger Stadium on this date in 1996 when he officially gave way as manager to former shortstop and coach Bill Russell, who had taken over as “interim” manager 30 games earlier on June 25.

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Lasorda, who announced his retirement after he was hospitalized with a heart attack, met with the Dodgers players in the clubhouse before the game with the visiting Florida Marlins.

“It was very emotional, very hard for me,” Lasorda said. “I told them how much I loved them. How much I appreciated what they had done for me. But I had to walk out before I started to cry.

Other memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:

1932 — Athletes from 37 nations assemble at the Coliseum to open the Games of the X Olympiad in Los Angeles. The Olympics included the first residential villages — the men were housed in Baldwin Hills and the women stayed at the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Blvd. Babe Didrikson won gold medals in the javelin and hurdles, and a silver in the high jump.

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1947 — Ewell Blackwell’s 16-game winning streak is snapped when the New York Giants beat him and the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 in 10 innings. During the streak, Blackwell, nicknamed “The Whip,” completed every game and threw five shutouts, including a no-hitter against the Boston Braves on June 18 at Crosley Field.

1959 — Rookie first baseman Willie McCovey breaks into the big leagues going four-for-four in his first game with the San Francisco Giants, a 7-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies at Seals Stadium. McCovey, who would go on to be named the National League’s rookie of the year, singled in his first at-bat against future Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, and he also collected two triples.

1961 — Jerry Barber, 45, edges Don January by one stroke in an 18-hole playoff to win the PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club in suburban Chicago. Barber, one of the great putters on the current PGA Tour, sank a 52-foot putt on the 72nd hole in regulation to tie January, who had bogeyed the hole. The next day Barber shot a 67 for the one-shot victory.

1976 — Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner, sets the world record in the Olympic decathlon at the Montreal Games when he scored 8,618 points that broke the Soviet Union’s Nikolai Avilov’s mark by 164 points. After five events, Jenner trailed by 150 points but good performances in the 110-meter hurdles, the discus, javelin, pole vault and a win in the 1,500 meters sealed the gold medal that gave him the unofficial title of “world’s greatest athlete.”

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2004 — Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia breaks the women’s pole vault world record for the third time in five weeks clearing 16 feet, 0-3/4 inches at a meet in London. A month later at the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, the 22-year-old would win a gold medal when she set a new world record with a vault of 16-1¼.

2012 — In a nine-run sixth inning, switch-hitter Kendrys Morales homers from both sides of the plate to help the Angels beat the Rangers 15-8 at Arlington, Texas. Morales’ second blast was a grand slam and he became the third switch-hitter in big league history to hit home runs left-handed and right-handed in the same inning. Carlos Baerga of the Cleveland Indians did it in 1993, followed by Mark Bellhorn of the Chicago Cubs in 2002.

2013 — Katie Ledecky, 16, obliterates the world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle by six seconds to win her second gold medal at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona. Ledecky swam in 15:36.53 to beat American Kate Ziegler’s 15:42.54 mark set in 2007. Lotte Friis of Denmark touched the wall in second place about two seconds behind Ledecky, and Lauren Boyle of New Zealand finished third.

2016 — William Byron or Charlotte, N.C., wins the Pocono Mountains 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., breaking the record for first-year driver wins. It was the 18-year-old’s fifth victory in 12th starts, and it beat Kurt Busch’s rookie mark of four wins set in 2000.

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SOURCES: The Times, Associated Press

And finally

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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