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The Sports Report: Dodgers fall to Giants in series opener; Bill Plaschke talks to Vin Scully

Donovan Solano scores as Will Smith waits for the ball during the seventh inning.
(Associated Press)

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

Steve Henson on the Dodgers: Every time a Dodgers starting pitcher is sidelined because of injury or idiocy, the same name is flagged as a potential replacement: Is Josiah Gray ready?

On Tuesday, the answer appears to be yes.

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Barring a last-minute change of heart, the Dodgers consensus top prospect will follow an opener — a pitcher who will try to get through one or two innings — and attempt to carry the load into the late innings. And it will occur against the San Francisco Giants, that overachieving bunch led by multiple World Series champions Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, a cadre of no-names and a surprisingly effective pitching staff.

The Giants began a four-game series at Dodger Stadium on Monday with the best record in the major leagues, one game ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West. The teams also play a three-game set next week in San Francisco, so one poor game can be overcome.

At least the Dodgers hope so. The Giants broke open a close game with a four-run seventh inning to win, 7-2. Most of the damage came against left-handed reliever Victor González, who was activated from the injured list earlier in the day.

The outburst marked the first scoring since the first inning. Posey and Wilmer Flores hit back-to-back homers off Tony Gonsolin for a three-run lead in the first only to be answered by consecutive solo blasts from Max Muncy and Justin Turner off All-Star Kevin Gausman in the bottom of the inning.

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Bill Plaschke on Vin Scully: Vin Scully sounded strong.

He also sounded sad.

Vin Scully with his wife, Sandi, in 2016.
(Associated Press)

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Vin Scully was so sharp, one could easily envision him stepping right back into the broadcast booth.

He was also so muted, one could feel his pain.

In some of his first public comments since the Jan. 3 death of his beloved wife, Sandi, Scully answered my recent phone call with both resignation and hope.

“I’m OK, I really am,” he said. “I’ve been severely wounded, but I’ve also come to grips with it. I believe it’s all God’s plans. I’m just trying to do the best that I can for as long as I have.”

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What ensued was a 30-minute conversation that revealed the human side of a Los Angeles sports deity, the city’s most trusted voice lowering his tone to share the anguish of his loss, the path toward his recovery, and the wisdom gained on the journey.

He was speaking from his home, where the 93-year-old icon spends virtually all his time these days with constant visits from his three daughters and the 24-hour presence of a nurse.

“I’m able to get out, but in all honesty, for whatever, 100 different reasons, I guess, I’m just more content being in the house, far from the maddening crowd, I guess you could say,” he said. “I find a great deal of peace just being at home.”

He was also speaking from his heart, which was indelibly broken when his wife of 47 years died of complications from ALS.

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Read the rest of Plaschke’s column by clicking here.

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ANGELS

Shohei Ohtani
(Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: Monday was a good night if you were a Shohei Ohtani fan.

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The two-way star pitched six scoreless innings, striking out eight batters while yielding just three hits and one walk. He hit a double in his second at-bat as a hitter. And for the sixth time this year, he played in the outfield as well, spending the seventh inning in right in order to get an extra trip to the plate.

It was maddening, however, if you were an Angels fan too, the team squandering Ohtani’s gem in a 4-1 loss to the Oakland A’s.

Three batters after Ohtani left what was then a scoreless game, the Angels immediately fell behind, as reliever Steve Cishek walked two batters before giving up a decisive three-run homer to Ramón Laureano.

Matt Olson tacked on an insurance blast in the eighth, and an Angels rally ended in the ninth on a long running catch in foul ground by Matt Chapman.

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It wasn’t the first time such a script had played out this year — Ohtani playing great, the Angels losing anyway — and provided another example of why the team with the clear-cut favorite for American League MVP is also under .500 at 46-47 with the trade deadline less than two weeks away.

“If we can get on a bit of a roll, it changes the narrative regarding what can happen at the end of this month or not,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “We want to get that going.”

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Time for Rob Manfred to save baseball in Oakland, or go down trying

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NFL

Raiders team president Marc Badain has resigned just before the start of training camp after helping orchestrate the team’s move to Las Vegas.

Owner Mark Davis announced Monday that Badain is leaving the organization and that executive vice president and general counsel Dan Ventrelle will take over on an interim basis.

Badain went from being a ball boy for the team to a 30-year career with the organization. He eventually became the chief financial officer for the team and was an assistant to former CEO Amy Trask.

He took over as interim president in 2013 when Trask resigned and got the full-time job in 2015. He helped put together the stadium deal in Las Vegas that led to the team’s move from Oakland last year into sparkling Allegiant Stadium.

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Badain leaves before the stadium hosts a game with fans with the team playing before empty seats during the pandemic last year.

“The successful construction and operation of Allegiant Stadium has been unequivocally the most challenging part of my 30 years with the organization,” Badain said in a statement. “Seeing it through to the end has been rewarding beyond measure. Together the Raiders and Las Vegas accomplished what seemed impossible. Now that the project is complete, it is time for me to focus on my family and look ahead to new pursuits.”

OLYMPICS

Where’s the Olympics coverage? You will be receiving a special Olympics edition of the Sports Report, which should hit your inbox around 7 a.m. PT each day, and will run daily during the Games. You can also check out all of our Olympics coverage by clicking here.

NBA PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE/RESULTS

All times Pacific

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NBA FINALS

Phoenix vs. Milwaukee
Phoenix 118, Milwaukee 105
Phoenix 118, Milwaukee 108
Milwaukee 120, Phoenix 100
Milwaukee 109, Phoenix 103
Milwaukee 123, Phoenix 119
Tonight: at Milwaukee, 6 p.m., ABC
*Thursday: at Phoenix, 6 p.m., ABC

*-if necessary

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1858 — Fans are charged for the first time to see a baseball game. Approximately 1,500 fans pay 50 cents to see the New York All-Stars beat Brooklyn 22-18 at Fashion Race Course on Long Island.

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1958 — The PGA championship calls for medal play for the first time and Dow Finsterwald beats Billy Casper.

1963 — Mary Mills wins the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship by three strokes over Sandra Palmer and Louise Suggs.

1974 — Carl Rosen’s Chris Evert beats Miss Musket by 50 lengths in the winner-take-all match race at Hollywood Park.

1975 — Sandra Palmer wins the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship by four strokes over Nancy Lopez, Joanne Carner and Sandra Post.

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1980 — Tom Watson wins the British Open by four strokes over Lee Trevino. Watson shoots a 13-under 271 at Muirfield Golf Links at Gullane, Scotland. Watson becomes the fourth American to win three Open titles, joining Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus.

1997 — Justin Leonard closes with a 65 to win the British Open at 12-under 272 at Royal Troon. Leonard, whose closing round is one of the best in major championship history, takes the lead from Jesper Parnevik with a birdie on No. 17.

2002 — Tiger Woods, at the British Open trying to win the third leg of the Grand Slam, shoots his worst round (81) as a professional, knocking himself out of contention.

2008 — Padraig Harrington is the first European in more than a century to win golf’s oldest championship two years in a row. Harrington pulls away from mistake-prone Greg Norman and holds off a late charge by Ian Poulter for a four-shot victory in the British Open.

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2009 — Lauren Lappin homers to start a three-run rally in the third inning, and the United States beats Australia 3-1 in the World Cup of Softball championship game at Oklahoma City.

2013 — China’s Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao wins the first diving gold medal at the world championships in Barcelona, Spain. Wu earns a record sixth world title in the women’s 3-meter synchronized springboard.

2014 — Rory McIlroy completes a wire-to-wire victory in the British Open to capture the third leg of the career Grand Slam. McIlroy closes with a 1-under 71 for a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. McIlroy, winner of the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship, joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players with three different majors at age 25 or younger.

2015 — Zach Johnson rolls in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and outlasts Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a three-man playoff to win the British Open. Jordan Spieth, looking to win his third straight major, falls one shot short of joining the playoff.

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And finally

Vin Scully discusses the history of beards. 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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