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The Sports Report: Dodgers steal win over Padres

The Dodgers' Max Muncy advances to third on a wild pitch as Padres third baseman Manny Machado is late with the tag
The Dodgers’ Max Muncy, right, advances to third on a wild pitch as San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado is late with the tag during the eighth inning Tuesday in San Diego.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Iliana Limón Romero, filling in for Houston Mitchell, who is on vacation (probably watching AJ Pollock highlights). Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: SAN DIEGO — One contingent of fans at Petco Park, the faction wearing brown and yellow, cheered wildly once Manny Machado cracked the curveball in the fourth inning Tuesday night. The San Diego Padres, down a run, still were seeking their first hit off Julio Urías. Machado’s blast, everyone in the stadium assumed, would give them not only a hit but also a lead over the Dodgers.

AJ Pollock’s job was to not assume. The Dodgers left fielder saw a chance. He retreated to the ad-cluttered wall, leaped, stuck his black glove between three panicky fans’ outstretched hands, and caught the baseball. Once the masses saw that he came down with the robbery, the other group of spectators, the visitors in blue, erupted. Urías held up his arms, pointing to Pollock, in a gleeful shock. Center field Cody Bellinger jumped and ran over to congratulate his teammate.

“I thought it was a home run,” Urías said in Spanish.

The play was a turning point in the Dodgers’ 5-2 win, keeping their 1-0 lead intact, and the result of an adjustment Pollock made after mistiming a jump at the wall Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

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“I embarrassed myself the last time I went up to rob a home run, so I was trying to tell the guys I have a little more hops than last time,” Pollock said. “I wanted to jump early so I wouldn’t hit the wall like I did last time. It’s always fun robbing homers.”

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Former Dodgers announcer Vin Scully speaks.
Former Dodgers announcer Vin Scully has released an NFT.
( Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Ethan Sears on Vin Scully: Recently, Amani Martin found himself explaining NFTs to — of all people — Vin Scully.

Martin, the manager of Vin Scully Digital, already helps run Twitter and Instagram accounts for the 93-year old broadcasting icon. NFTs, though, are another level of digital savvy. Scully had no idea what they were.

For those who might not know, NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are best explained as a digital collectible. The difference between an NFT and a physical collectible such as a baseball card is that, using blockchain technology, users can verify the authenticity and rarity of an NFT. In essence, that’s the analogy Martin used.

“Amani explained they were digital collectibles, like a computerized version of a physical trading card, and that each was unique,” Scully said in an email. “He likened it to the deed I have for my house where it’s recorded on a ledger as proof of ownership.”

ANGELS

Nathan Fenno on the Angels: Six weeks before the trial of a former Angels employee is scheduled to start in connection with the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, federal prosecutors have accused the team of refusing to comply with a subpoena seeking information about members of the organization potentially distributing drugs.

“Put simply, it strains credulity to accept any assertion that the Angels’s organization has not a single document, record, or report for months after one of its pitchers overdosed and died on a trip taken by the team,” the motion said, “for months after [ex-communications director Eric] Kay confessed to another Angels employee that he was in [Skaggs’] room late on June 30, 2019, and witnessed [Skaggs] ingesting drugs; and for weeks after learning about allegations of drug distribution by employee(s) within the organization.”

The motion, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, asks the court to order the team to produce documents related to “drug distribution within the [Angels] organization” by next Monday.

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The Angels' Juan Lagares (19) is greeted by Angels fielder Jo Adell (7) after hitting a two-run home run
The Angels’ Juan Lagares (19) is greeted by Angels fielder Jo Adell (7) after hitting a two-run home run Tuesday in Baltimore.
(Terrance Williams / Associated Press)

Jack Harris on the Angels: BALTIMORE — The Angels have grown accustomed to a certain brand of frustration in recent years, squandering historically dominant individual performances from Mike Trout and, this season, Shohei Ohtani on underperforming teams that have failed to break .500 since 2015, much less make the playoffs.

But what the club witnessed from their hosts on Tuesday at Camden Yards was something different — a scene of ultimate futility, abject despair and apathetic resignation.

For the 19th game in a row, the Baltimore Orioles lost, 14-8 to the Angels.

And as usual, it wasn’t all that close.

While the Orioles (38-86) led after one inning Tuesday, they came unglued immediately after. The Angels didn’t pitch particularly well, yet the Orioles staff was far worse. With Ohtani set to pitch on Wednesday, and the Tampa Bay Rays coming to visit this weekend, MLB’s modern-era losing streak record of 23 games appears to be in increasingly grave danger.

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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

Jack Harris on the Torrance team: SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Evelyn Schultz’s eyes welled up Sunday morning.

Usually, watching her grandson play baseball isn’t so emotional. But as her boy, Xavier Navarro, pitched a nearly flawless game for Torrance in the Little League Baseball World Series, she sat in the stands of Volunteer Stadium and fought back tears of joy.

“It’s like, somebody pinch me,” Schultz said. “It feels like a dream.”

For a Torrance team that will try to advance to the World Series semifinal when it faces Sioux Falls, S.D., on Wednesday (2 p.m. PDT, ESPN), Navarro has been one of the driving forces, a constant source of energy and direction for the roster of 12-and-under players.

SOCCER

Kevin Baxter on the MLS-Liga MX All-Star game: The memories of Mike Sorber’s first professional all-star game are hazy more than 25 years later.

It was in Mexico City, in Azteca Stadium, he knows. And Sorber, then a 24-year-old midfielder playing for UNAM in Mexico’s Liga MX, was chosen to a team of international stars that played Necaxa, the reigning league champion.

But when he’s asked who won, who scored and who played, Sorber shrugs. Who knows?

“I think it was 2-1 Necaxa,” he says after a pause. “But again, I’m not positive.”

There’s a reason the details of that summer day have been lost to time: All-star games aren’t as popular nor as common in Mexico as they are in the U.S., and the exhibition Sorber took part in, la fiesta del futbol, is no longer played. But it all became relevant again this week just the same because another team of Liga MX all-stars will play their counterparts from MLS on Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium, with Sorber on the MLS bench as an assistant coach.

“It’s a fun event. Look, the guys representing MLS, they’re important players for their team. That’s why the fans have voted for them and that’s why the coaches have voted for them,” Sorber said of a team that includes LAFC’s Diego Rossi, Jesús David Murillo and Eduard Atuesta and Julian Araujo of the Galaxy.

LAFC’s Carlos Vela and the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernández were also expected to take part but had to withdraw because of injuries. Neither will be eligible to play in Saturday’s El Tráfico either, an MLS spokesperson said, a penalty for skipping the all-star exhibition.

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Liga MX players celebrate after beating MLS in the MLS All-Star Skills
Liga MX players celebrate after beating MLS in the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge at Banc of California Park Tuesday night.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Baxter on the MLS-Liga MX All-Star Skills Challenge: If the courtship between North America’s top two soccer leagues leads to any serious proposals in the years to come, this week may be remembered as the one in which the romance became serious.

Major League Soccer, with 27 teams in the U.S. and Canada, and Liga MX, with 18 teams in Mexico, have competed in numerous competitions over the years — most of which ended with Mexico winning. But this week’s interleague activities at Banc of California Stadium, which kicked off with Tuesday’s skills challenge and will conclude Wednesday with the first MLS-Liga MX All-Star game, is both the largest and most intimate collaboration between the two.

That’s because it involves individual players, not teams, playing for pride and joy and not the name of the front of their shirts. Many passionate affairs have sprouted from far less.

Tuesday’s skills challenge matched eight players — two goalkeepers and six field players — from each league in five events, from passing to shooting to hitting crossbars. Liga MX won when Cruz Azul’s Jonathan Rodríguez broke a 25-25 tie by hitting the crossbar with a shot from distance.

PAC-12

J. Brady McCollough commentary on the Pac-12: They said it wasn’t about the money. Over and over again, three of the most powerful men in college athletics emphasized they were just trying to do the right thing, with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren even adding a “for once” in a Freudian slip.

“Today is a special day,” Warren said. “What it signifies is there’s still a lot of goodness in college athletics.”

Tuesday, the Pac-12, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast conferences, three of the “Power Five,” made official their “alliance” to collaborate in mapping a future for college sports that suits them — not the Southeastern Conference, which spurred this meeting of the minds by poaching Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 last month.

What the announcement of this alliance really signified is that the 41 university presidents and chancellors represented by their commissioners in a surreal press conference couldn’t pass up the opportunity to happily pat themselves on the back as their mouthpieces spouted high-minded rhetoric meant to differentiate between us, those who care about the welfare of the “student-athlete,” and them, the evil, Machiavellian SEC.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1804 — Alice Meynell becomes the first woman jockey as she rides in a four-mile race in York, England.

1888 — Henry Slocum becomes the first man to win the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association singles title besides Richard Sears.

1904 — Jim Jeffries knocks out Jack Munroe in the second round in San Francisco to retain the world heavyweight title.

1908 — The first $50,000 trotting race in the United States, the American Trotting Derby, is won by Allen Winter with Lon McDonald driving.

1922 — In one of the wildest games ever played, the Cubs beat the Phillies 26-23. The Cubs led 25-6 in the fourth inning, but held on as the game ended with the Phillies leaving the bases loaded.

1946 — Ben Hogan wins the PGA championship with a 6 and 4 win over Ed Oliver.

1950 — Sugar Ray Robinson knocks out Jose Basora at 52 seconds of the first round to retain world middleweight boxing title.

1973 — The NASL championship is won by the Philadelphia Atoms with a 2-0 victory over the Dallas Tornadoes.

1974 — The Los Angeles Aztecs edge the Miami Toros 4-3 to win the NASL Championship.

1984 — France’s Lutin D’Isigny wins the $250,000 International Trot by seven lengths, the largest margin of victory in this race. Jean-Paul Andre drives Lutin D’Isigny to a world record trot for the 1¼-mile in 2:30, smashing the record of 2:31.2 shared by Speedy Scot and Noble Victory.

1991 — Carl Lewis reclaims his title of world’s fastest human by setting a world record of 9.86 seconds in the 100-meter final in the world championships in Tokyo. Lewis clips four-hundredths of a second off the previous mark of 9.90 set by Leroy Burrell in the U.S. Championships two months earlier.

1996 — Tiger Woods wins an unprecedented third U.S. Amateur Championship, beating Steve Scott on the 38th hole after coming back from 5-down with 16 to play and 2-down with three to go.

2006 — Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato becomes the first golfer to make two holes-in-one in the same round of a PGA Tour tournament when he aces a pair of par 3s at the Reno-Tahoe Open.

2011 — The New York Yankees become the first team in major league history to hit three grand slams in a game, with Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson connecting in a 22-9 romp over the Oakland Athletics.

2012 — Alpha and longshot Golden Ticket finish in a historic dead heat in the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Golden Ticket leads the field of 11 3-year-olds in the stretch, but 2-1 favorite Alpha closes strongly and the two hit the finish line in tandem. It’s the first dead heat in the 143 runnings of the Travers, and a rare finish for any Grade 1 race. Alpha pays $4.10 and 33-1 shot Golden Ticket returns $26.80 to win.

2013 — Teen star Lydia Ko runs away with the Canadian Women’s Open with a five-stroke victory over Karine Icher. The 16-year-old New Zealand amateur successfully defends her title, closing with a 6-under 64 for her fourth win in 14 professional events.

And finally

The Dodgers’ AJ Pollock steals what looks like a sure Padres home run with a remarkable catch.

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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