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The Sports Report: Cubs sweep doubleheader from the Dodgers

David Bote watches his game winning RBI single in the second game.
(Associated Press)

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

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, his hair wet on a frigid afternoon, blankly stared ahead from his seat in the Dodgers’ dugout Wednesday at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers and Chicago Cubs were about to begin the second inning and — for the first time in his 14-year career — Kershaw’s start wouldn’t continue beyond the first.

Kershaw’s outing ended after a disastrous inning in the Dodgers’ 7-1 loss in the first game of a seven-inning split doubleheader. He gave up four runs and threw 39 pitches in his shortest start of his career.

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“It’s embarrassing,” Kershaw said. “No excuses. That was horrible.”

It was the first chapter in another forgettable day, perhaps the lowest in a recent series of low ones, for the skidding Dodgers. Their offense finally came to life late in the second game, but the Cubs rebounded to win 4-3 on David Bote’s walk-off single in the ninth inning to take both games from the Dodgers with Kershaw and Trevor Bauer on the mound.

The sweep plummeted the Dodgers to 17-14. They are 4-12 since starting the season since 13-2. That’s the worst record in the National League during the stretch.

“I think if you look at how they’re playing baseball, it’s just not all-around, all-facets-of-the-game executing,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So that’s what happens when you don’t do that.”

The Dodgers were, on paper, set up to continue where they left off from their rout of the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. The Cubs (13-16) owned the highest starters’ earned-run average in the majors entering the day. Kershaw and Bauer have been two of the best starters in the majors this season.

Kershaw had given up four runs in his previous five starts. He matched that in the first inning Tuesday. It was the first time he’s given up four runs in an inning since he yielded four runs in an inning on Sept. 18, 2017 against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the second time he’s given up at least four runs in the first inning; he surrendered five against the Nationals on Aug. 28, 2008.

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CLIPPERS

Patrick Beverley earlier this season.
(Associated Press)

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Andrew Greif on the Clippers: But for the black wrap covering the surgically repaired fourth metacarpal on his left hand, Patrick Beverley looked little different Tuesday night from the version who had last played in a game that counted back on April11.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said before tipoff against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center that Beverley’s playing time would be capped as a precaution in his return after a 12-game absence. The fiery veteran guard responded by looking for any opportunity to operate at full speed, as long as possible, treating his minutes limit like a racecar driver told to drive only a few miles.

Receiving an ovation from the arena’s limited-capacity crowd upon entering the game with three minutes left in the first quarter, Beverley burst over screens on defense, knocked down three of his first four shots, and recorded one assist and one steal — in eight first-half minutes alone.

“Ain’t no turnoff for me,” Beverley said during a postgame videoconference. “I play one way: I play hard as f— and that’s it.”

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Hampered by 10 first-half turnovers and traps and blitzes by Toronto that rarely allowed Kawhi Leonard to attack offensively, all while getting used to new rotations, the Clippers in a 105-100 victory looked more often stuck than able to take advantage of their fresh legs after playing just five games in the last 13 days. The win ended a three-game losing streak.

LAKERS

The Lakers' LeBron James during Friday night's game against the Kings.
LeBron James
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James probably will miss Thursday’s game with the Clippers and Friday’s game at Portland with a sore right ankle and could be out longer as he tries to recover from an injury that sidelined him for 20 games this year, people with knowledge of the injury said who were not authorized to speak publicly.

James missed his 21st game because of the injured ankle Monday after he was forced out of the final minutes in Sunday’s loss to Toronto.

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He visited an ankle specialist this week and will be cautious in returning, possibly waiting for the team to hold a practice before he’s able to return.

After Sunday’s game, James said his ankle had responded well to pregame warmups in each of his two games back after missing a month, but at halftime he experienced stiffness and soreness in the joint.

“My thing is I need to be healthy. I need to make sure my ankle is where it was before the injury,” he said. “I’ve got to be smart with it. I’ll talk to my trainer Mike [Mancias] and go over it with the coaching staff and talk over with some of the players as well, but the most important thing for me is to be healthy and to be at full strength when it really matters.

“It matters now to me, you know, because I hate sitting out games and I hate not being out on the floor. But I’m also not helping myself or helping my team by being out there if I’m not at full strength.”

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Dylan Hernández: Lakers’ chances to repeat as NBA champions are over

ANGELS

Manuel Margot scores after a single and a fielding error Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: On Monday afternoon, Angels manager Joe Maddon described his team’s early-season defensive woes as “surprising and disappointing.”

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On Tuesday night, 8,156 fans at Angel Stadium saw exactly what he was talking about.

In an 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Angels committed four errors, yielded three unearned runs and added another ugly chapter to what has become an unexpected and increasingly concerning story line amid their 13-15 start to the campaign.

Back in the spring, there was hope the Angels’ defense would be a strong point. So far, it’s been anything but.

Tuesday, the troubles started in the first inning. With two outs, Manuel Margot hammered a grounder just to the right of shortstop José Iglesias, an offseason acquisition who was supposed to compensate for the departure of Gold Glove winner Andrelton Simmons. Instead, Iglesias entered the night with a team-high seven errors, then committed an eighth by booting the bouncing ball, fumbling around for it in his feet as Margot took first.

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On the very next pitch, Brandon Lowe rolled another grounder in the hole between first and second base. Coming over from his shifted position in shallow right field, second baseman David Fletcher tried to backhand the ball but instead kicked it into center. As he chased it down, Margot turned on the jets, racing all the way home from first to score on what was Fletcher’s first error of the year.

The Rays (16-15) doubled their lead with another unearned run in the fifth. Randy Arozarena led off the inning with a single, then broke for second base during the next at-bat.

Entering Tuesday, the Angels already had the worst fielding percentage in the majors (.975) and were second to last in defensive runs saved (-16), a metric calculated by Sports Info Solutions which rates individual players as above or below average on defense.

CORONAVIRUS AND SPORTS

Steve Henson on the coronavirus: Businesses all over are undoubtedly rejoicing at the news Tuesday that Los Angeles County has moved into the least-restrictive yellow tier of California’s COVID-19 reopening system. However, major sports teams aren’t promising significantly higher attendance soon, even though more fans would produce more revenue.

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The reason? The six-foot distancing requirements between seating groups that haven’t shown proof of vaccination.

The Dodgers have no immediate plans to increase attendance, spokesman Jon Chapper said. They could not sell even to the 33% of capacity allowed under the orange tier because of distancing requirements. The Dodgers introduced fully vaccinated sections that require no social distancing to about 500 fans at their last homestand and plan to increase the number to 1,000 fans when they return home May 11.

The Lakers and Clippers sold tickets to 2,000 to 3,000 fans per game at Staples Center under orange tier guidelines. Neither team is optimistic that they could increase attendance to 50% of Staples Center’s 19,068 capacity under the yellow tier because of distancing restrictions. Both teams are working on creating fully vaccinated sections but must gain approval from the county and the NBA.

Orange County remains in the orange tier, and the Angels have no immediate plans to increase capacity from one-third (about 15,000 seats) even if the county moves to the yellow tier. Like everyone else, the Angels are awaiting more guidance to see whether they will be able to expand capacity after June 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s tentative target date for fully re-opening the state.

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Southern California NFL and college football teams haven’t announced their attendance plans for the fall yet. The Rams declined to comment Tuesday. The team has said since the pandemic began that it would follow state and local guidelines.

PARALYMPICS

David Wagner
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Helene Elliott on the Paralympics: David Wagner is swatting soft serves over the net, but few of the kids on the other side are hitting it back. Most are still figuring out how to push their wheelchair into position to receive the ball, time their swing and make contact. Some become frustrated when their turn comes and they miss.

Sitting in his specially adapted wheelchair, his racquet bound to his right hand with white athletic tape because his spinal cord injury robbed him of the use of his core muscles, Wagner is hopeful the kids will stick with it and discover the worlds that wheelchair tennis can open for them, as it did for him. He dispenses useful tips and encouraging words as he scoots around the court at a U.S. Tennis Assn. Southern California event at Great Park in Irvine.

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“Good try,” he calls out to a youngster who swings and misses. “Good rally,” he says to a kid who hit the ball back well. “Thanks for making me look good,” he tells another.

Wagner, a Fullerton native who grew up in Washington state, became a quadriplegic at 21 when he broke his neck while chasing a frisbee into a deceptive current at Redondo Beach. A natural athlete, he wanted the camaraderie of playing sports to carry over into his new life. He loved basketball, but the nature of his injury ruled out wheelchair basketball because he couldn’t easily catch or shoot the ball. “I didn’t have a huge desire to even try it, and I’m not sure really why, to be honest with you,” he said. “Maybe it just had a different feel to me.”

Table tennis was the first sport he tried. Wheelchair tennis became his calling.

Wagner, 47, has won four medals in the quadriplegic singles category and four medals in quad doubles — three of them gold — in the last four Paralympic Games. He has mathematically qualified for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, which are scheduled for Aug. 25 through Sept. 5, and he’s training full time at the Olympic training center in Chula Vista.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1904 — Cy Young of the Red Sox pitches a perfect game against the Philadelphia Athletics, beating Rube Waddell 3-0.

1934 — Cavalcade wins the Kentucky Derby by more than three lengths over Discovery. It’s his third victory in less than two weeks.

1966 — The Montreal Canadiens beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 to win the Stanley Cup in six games.

1969 — The Boston Celtics beat the Lakers 107-102 in the seventh game to win the NBA championship for the 10th time in 11 years. Player-coach Bill Russell and Sam Jones retire as players.

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1973 — Secretariat, ridden by Ron Turcotte, wins the Kentucky Derby with a record time of 1:59.2. Secretariat beats Sham by 2½ lengths and goes on to win the Triple Crown.

1978 — Pete Rose of the Reds becomes the 14th player with 3,000 hits, singling in the fifth inning against Montreal’s Steve Rogers at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium.

1993 — Canisius beats Niagara 11-1 in softball to set an NCAA Division I record with 34 straight wins.

2001 — Monarchos wins the Kentucky Derby carrying Jorge Chavez across the finish line in 1:59 4-5, only two-fifths of a second off the track record set by Secretariat en route to the Triple Crown in 1973. Monarchos finishes a dominating 4¾ lengths over Invisible Ink.

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2007 — Street Sense, ridden by Calvin Borel, roars from next-to-last in a 20-horse field to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 1-2 lengths over Hard Spun.

2007 — Floyd Mayweather Jr. beats Oscar De La Hoya in one of the richest fights. Mayweather, with superb defensive skills and superior speed, wins a 12-round split decision and the WBC 154-pound title in his first fight at that weight. The sellout crowd of 16,200 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas sets a record $19 million gate.

2012 — I’ll Have Another catches Bodemeister down the stretch and pulls away in the final furlong to win the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Mario Gutierrez, riding in his first Derby, guides the 3-year-old colt to a 1½-length victory in front of a Derby-record crowd of 165,307.

2013 — LeBron James is the overwhelming choice as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. The Miami star gets 120 of 121 first-place votes in this year’s balloting, giving him the award for the fourth time.

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2017 — Corey Perry scores 6:57 into the second overtime after the Ducks rally from a three-goal deficit in the final minutes of regulation, completing a spectacular 4-3 comeback win over the Edmonton Oilers. Rickard Rakell scores the tying goal with 15 seconds left in regulation to cap a stunning sequence of three goals in just over three minutes, all with goalie John Gibson pulled for an extra attacker.

2018 — Justify splashes through the slop to win the Kentucky Derby by 2½ lengths, becoming the first colt in 136 years to wear the roses after not racing as a 2-year-old. The colt that began his racing career in February improves to 4-0 and gives trainer Bob Baffert his fifth Derby victory. Jockey Mike Smith earns his second Derby victory as the 5-2 favorite in the field of 20.

And finally

Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby. Watch it here.

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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