Spurs advance to Western final after Game 6 rout of James Harden, Rockets

Patty Mills had 14 points and seven assists, and Pau Gasol added 10 points and 11 rebounds.Rockets: Ariza received a technical in the third for the scuffle with Ariza. … … But the Rockets also had trouble scoring in general, making just 28.6 per cent (22 of 77) of their shots overall.When there was about four minutes left, large chunks of empty seats filled the arena dotted by pockets of San Antonio fans who stood and cheered while the remaining Rockets fans sat dejected.During a timeout soon after that several Spurs danced near the bench to music piped through the arena as Aldridge placed a towel over his shoulders and accepted congratulations from his teammates with his work was done for the night.TIP-INSSpurs: Danny Green got a technical in the third quarter for a scuffle with Ariza. Dekker had six points … Clint Capela finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.UP NEXTGame 1 of the conference finals is Sunday at Golden State. The Spurs were up by 19 by halftime in a game that was over quickly, and didn’t let up to reach the Western Conference finals for the first time since winning the title in 2014. The 4-2 series win sends them to conference finals against the Golden State Warriors.Trevor Ariza led Houston with 20 points on a night when MVP hopeful Harden capped his stellar season by tying a season low with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out with 3:15 left.Jonathon Simmons filled in nicely for Leonard, scoring 18 points and hounding the Rockets on defence.San Antonio was up by 23 after the third quarter and scored the first seven points of the fourth to make it 94-64 and send many of the home fans streaming to the exits.Already without veteran Tony Parker, who suffered a season-ending quadriceps injury in Game 2, the Spurs looked to be the underdog entering this one without Leonard’s scoring and defence.Instead, things went wrong early for the Rockets with Aldridge scoring 10 points in the first quarter as San Antonio dashed out to a 31-24. Coach Mike D’Antoni added Sam Dekker to the rotation after being criticized for not adding anyone to the rotation Tuesday in the first game since Nene suffered a season-ending thigh injury. The San Antonio Spurs eliminated the sluggish James Harden and Houston Rockets with a 114-75 victory in Game 6 on Thursday night, and they didn’t even need Kawhi Leonard to do it.LaMarcus Aldridge had a season-high 34 points and added 12 rebounds in his second big game of the of the Western Conference semifinal series to pick up the scoring slack with Leonard out after rolling his ankle in San Antonio’s overtime victory in Game 5 on Tuesday night. He made that 3-pointer to whittle the lead a bit, but it didn’t get the Rockets going.The Spurs opened the third quarter with an 8-1 run, with six points from Aldridge, to extend their already big lead to 69-43 with about 9 1/2 minutes left.The Rockets used a 7-2 spurt after that with 3-pointers from Ariza and Eric Gordon to cut the lead to 71-50 with about seven minutes remaining in the third.A 3-pointer by Harden not long after that got Houston within 20, but San Antonio scored the next four points to make it 77-53 a couple of minutes later.Houston, which relied on its 3-point shooting to get this far, couldn’t make shots from long-range going 13 of 40. Houston was already down 50-29 when Harden took his first shot midway through the second quarter.

Dallas Stars sign goalie Ben Bishop to six-year, $29.5M deal

Louis.The Denver native spent the 2004-05 season with the NAHL’s Texas Tornado, playing in the same rink that holds the Stars’ training complex in suburban Frisco.“As I stated previously, Ben is an elite goaltender in this league and we’re thrilled to be adding him to our mix,” Nill said. “Ben’s commitment to what we are building in Dallas, and his passion for wanting to be a part of it, was evident during the negotiating process. The combined buyouts for both would be about $3.5 million.The 6-foot-7 Bishop played just seven games after the Kings acquired him from Tampa Bay to play alongside Jonathan Quick. Those two goalies are under contract for next season at a combined $10.4 million. The Dallas Stars have signed goaltender Ben Bishop to a six-year, $29.5-million deal.General manager Jim Nill announced the terms Friday, less than a week after acquiring rights to the 30-year-old Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick in next month’s draft. Since-fired Kings general manager Dean Lombardi engineered the trade to create an elite goaltending duo that would allow the Kings to rest Quick, who was returning from a major injury.Los Angeles still failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Bishop went 2-3-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average.Bishop spent parts of the past five seasons with the Lightning, reaching the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. He finished second in the Vezina voting in 2016 after getting selected for the All-Star Game. The Stars see the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist as their new starter in net after using both Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi last season, when they failed to make the playoffs. Bishop was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer had Dallas not signed him before July 1. Bishop also has played for Ottawa and St. We are excited to have him under contract for the next six seasons.”

Trudeau urges Montreal, Toronto NHL fans to get behind Senators

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s setting aside his NHL allegiance to his beloved Montreal Canadiens for now to back the Ottawa Senators – and urging fellow hockey fans to join him.Many of those fans have a simple message back: no thanks.“I think all Canadians will be rooting for the final Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Trudeau told a news conference today in Brampton, Ont. “This is preposterous,” said another.Added a third: “I’ll cheer when the Senators start golfing.” Justin Trudeau and other Ottawa residents cheer on Senators (The Canadian Press)

The Senators, who face the Pittsburgh Penguins starting Saturday, were left standing alone after the Edmonton Oilers suffered a narrow Game 7 loss earlier this week to the Anaheim Ducks.“We’re all happy to support Ottawa right now,” Trudeau said, “and even Torontonians and Montrealers can agree on this particular one.”If the reaction on social media has been any indication, that may not be the case.Leafs and Habs fans on Twitter are just some of those who are treating the comments as an affront to their collective dignity.“Fake news,” tweeted one.

Arland Bruce’s concussion lawsuit against CFL dismissed by B.C. Court of Appeal

Bruce, 39, had originally named neuroscientist Dr. “The judge
focused her attention on the fact this was an ‘unusual contract’ at least four
times… Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed Bruce’s lawsuit on Friday,
upholding a B.C. “That’s been where we knew it
had to go from Day 1 for us to be successful.“Would we have liked to see something different? Supreme Court decision in March that issues raised in the suit
are part of a collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and CFL Players’
Association and should be resolved through the grievance and arbitration
process, not the courts. If it’s accepted, Wishart will then have the chance to present Bruce’s
case to the country’s highest court.The CFL issued a brief statement following Friday’s ruling.“The CFL is very pleased with the Court of Appeal’s decision,” the league
said. In court
documents, Bruce alleges he suffered concussions while playing for B.C. “We hope that this decision brings finality to any proceedings in the
courts with respect to concussion litigation against the CFL.”The defendants in Bruce’s case include the CFL, former commissioner Mark
Cohon and all nine teams. “Instead, it requires that players
negotiate certain terms of their employment (including the important matter of
regular season compensation) with the clubs directly rather than through the
Players’ Association.“For another thing — and for obvious reasons — the collective bargaining
agreement continues no provision for seniority or security of employment: and
the terms dealing with workplace injury are geared to determining with despatch
whether players are fit to return to playing ‘skilled football.’ ”Newbury also pointed out the football players are exempt from the Workers’
Compensation Act, and as a result “they are not precluded from the Act from
suing their employers for workplace injuries.”“The path we’re on has been strengthened by the court acknowledging the
unusual nature of this employment relationship,” Wishart said. in ‘12
and was allowed to return for a playoff game while still feeling the
effects.The documents state Bruce was still showing symptons the following year with
Montreal. the judge said they’re a vulnerable class, there is no WCB that
applies and they were concerned that these people did not have a remedy.“The Supreme Court of Canada looks at issues that are a matter of public
importance and concussion in sport right now is at the forefront of the public’s
concern. and
Montreal, winning Grey Cups with the Argonauts (2004) and Lions (2011). Bruce also says he continues to suffer from chronic traumatic
encephalopathy (CTE), depression, paranoia, delusions and other issues.In her judgement, Madam Justice Mary Newbury called the CBA between the CFL
and its players “an unusual one.”“For one thing, it does not purport to contain all the terms and conditions
of employment of CFL players,” she wrote. Robyn Wishart, Bruce’s lawyer, wasn’t surprised by Friday’s verdict, but she
said her client’s legal fight isn’t over.“We’ve been waiting for our chance to take this to the Supreme Court of
Canada,” Wishart said in a telephone interview. Charles Tator, the Canadian Football League Alumni Association and its executive
director, Leo Ezerins, in his suit but action was discontinued against them as
they weren’t bound by collective agreement.Bruce played 14 seasons in the CFL with Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, B.C. Either way, the decision of the Court of
Appeal is that there is a forum available for the players.”The CFL also faces a $200-million class action lawsuit filed in Ontario
Superior Court last year by former players Korey Banks and the league Eric (The
Flea) Allen. With that, we hope the Supreme Court of Canada will give us an
opportunity to let our story be heard. Arland Bruce III’s lawyer is prepared to take the former CFL player’s
concussion lawsuit to the Supreme Court of Canada despite a second legal
setback.The B.C. Sure, but if you understand
the way that the law works, this is the path we knew we were on all along.”Up next for Wishart is to apply for a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of

Chelsea bests West Bromwich Albion to win the English Premier League

He later referred to himself as an “unexpected hero” in a Twitter post.“The beauty of football,” Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas said, “a player who didn’t play a lot scores the winning goal for the championship.”Batshuayi’s 82nd-minute strike was only his second league goal, and first since August, in a tough first season in England.As for Conte, it couldn’t have gone any better.The Italian became the fourth manager — after Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Manuel Pellegrini — to win the Premier League in his first season in English soccer, and he was thrown in the air by his celebrating players in joyous scenes after the final whistle.His moves in the transfer market, his tactical switches, and his late substitutions have all come off. Second-placed Spurs are 10 points behind Chelsea with three games remaining.It could get even better for Conte’s team, which has also reached the final of the FA Cup where it will play Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on May 27.For now, Conte will savour winning the Premier League. It encapsulated the game for Chelsea, only for Batshuayi to intervene following his 76th-minute introduction.Cahill’s mishit shot was so badly struck that it spun out to the right wing, where Cesar Azpilicueta collected the ball and got to the byline before sending in a low cross. Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois sprinted over to join in the big huddle.“These are moments you need to cherish,” Cahill said. “It was great. Within six minutes, Batshuayi was poking home a close-range finish and getting mobbed by teammates in front of Chelsea’s jubilant visiting fans.It sealed a 1-0 win at The Hawthorns and Batshuayi had just won the league for Chelsea. It wasn’t easy for me to arrive in England ”and try different habits, a different language and inherit players after a bad season.“But he’s taken it all in his stride.Chelsea’s players have gone from being champions in 2015, to finishing in 10th place in 2016 following the worst-ever Premier League title defence, to being champions again.“People have written us off as a team and individually,” Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said, “and this has shut them up.”Chelsea — the league leader since early November — has won 28 of its 36 games, including nine of its last 11 matches, to resist a late title challenge by Tottenham. Batshuayi was the most alert, diverting the ball past goalkeeper Ben Foster with his left foot.Conte jumped into the arms of his fellow coaches near the dugout. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has had the golden touch in his first season in the English Premier League, all the way through to the title-clinching game.With Chelsea scoreless at West Bromwich Albion on Friday and looking like squandering the first of three opportunities to regain the trophy, Conte took the bold decision to remove star winger Eden Hazard and introduce substitute Michy Batshuayi, a player with just one goal to his name all season. “I can’t wait to get my hands on that trophy.” After long celebrations on the field, Conte returned to the dressing room and was showered first by a large tub of water and then by a bottle of champagne poured by a semi-naked Diego Costa.The end of the evening was in stark contrast to the start, as a stubborn West Brom defended deep and in numbers and frustrated Chelsea.Just after the hour mark, Hazard cut inside and drove in a wild shot that went out for a throw-in. He has now won four straight domestic league titles, taking in three in a row with Juventus from 2012-14 before a spell in charge with Itay.“Michy paid me a lot with this change,” Conte said.

Montreal racehorse owner Irving Liverman had a long lucky streak

White’s death, a small bone fracture ended Silent Majority’s racing career. It’s been tremendous for me. Mr. 22, 1923, in the Town of Hampstead, on the island of Montreal.He attended West Hill High School, but at the age of 17, in 1940, he was determined to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. Please include I Remember in the subject field. Liverman was talking on the phone. She didn’t want to, but my father was adamant.”He eventually wore down his mother and began training as a pilot in 1940. I’ve met so many people who have become life-long friends.”In 2000, Montreal Gazette sportswriter Red Fisher, a friend of Mr. Liverman could have sold off his assets and left the sport after a couple of profitable years instead of investing his winnings back into racing. The modest businessman, who lived a charmed life, transformed a tiny light-bulb business into a thriving multimillion-dollar enterprise. And Billy never ever did sell any fans.”Along with his son, Herb, who worked with his father in both the appliance business and horse racing, he purchased many more champions, with names like Kadabra, Wild Honey, Windshield Wiper and Bee A Magician. Liverman’s daughter, Carol, recalled. Liverman’s warmth and generosity. The yearling burst out of the gate with eight straight wins. Lucky, owned a stable of trotters and pacers that won some of the most prestigious harness races in North America. Silent Majority won 17 victories in his first 21 races, on his way to becoming one of North America’s most celebrated pacers.Tragedy struck the partnership in September, 1971, after Mr. When Mr. Liverman to accompany him on a private flight to a yearling sale south of the border. Mr. He also survived on two occasions when airplane accidents might have claimed his life, further confirming the presence of an auspicious horseshoe that defined his life. Liverman remarked that she had the ugliest face on Earth, but that he wanted to buy some more ugly ones just like her.When asked about his success at purchasing champion horses, Mr. When he was later scheduled to be deployed overseas, however, Mr. Liverman’s for more than 50 years, spoke about one of the breeder’s most endearing qualities. Liverman was introduced to Montreal racehorse trainer Roger White. Liverman was nearly crushed to death in a fluke accident at an army base in Ontario. Liverman’s curiosity was piqued, and he doubled down on his investment in 1971 when he and Mr. The stallion headed into retirement to stud in Kentucky, where he sired a champion named Abercrombie and was syndicated for more than $2-million, providing financial security for Mr. Mr. He’s just a great person, a gentleman in everything he does, always quick to help out friends in times of need.”Irwin Liebman, who was a lifeguard at the Hillsdale Golf Club 45 years ago, attested to that kindness and generosity when he shared a recollection on a memorial page recently. I left that up to my trainers. White, however, went ahead with his plan and died when his plane crashed in the Pocono Mountains.Two years after Mr. “His mother was upset because he needed her to lie for him and sign a document stating that he was 18. Two years later, he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered.Mr. Irving Liverman, who died on April 29 at the age of 94, was blessed with good fortune both on and off the track during his long life. … She wasn’t the prettiest thing ever to look through a bridle, but he came to love the filly with the long face.” Mr. His enlistment was a point of contention between the teenager and his mother, Mr. Liverman was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, he told The Canadian Sportsman magazine that it wasn’t the prize money that kept him involved in racing. The second child of clothing-factory foreman Herman Liverman and the former Ruth Rutenberg, Irving Gordon Liverman was born on Jan. Liverman declined the invitation. Liverman considered the offer but his mother reminded him that the trip would interfere with the Jewish high holidays, so Mr. Liverman his nickname, Lucky. A week later, he sent me a personal cheque for the entire season with the note: You were the best lifeguard we ever had.”After 60 years of marriage, Mr. “You meet such great people in the standardbred business. He was in a phone booth inside a hangar when a taxiing plane clipped a support beam that came loose and crashed down upon on the booth where Mr. Liverman once answered, “I never found any yearlings. Mr. There aren’t a lot of people like that.”In 2002, the same year Mr. White inquired if he’d be interested in partnering on the purchase of a young filly named Keystone Wish, Mr. “That’s the surprising thing, that he put everything back in the industry. Liverman followed up his purchase of Silent Majority with a filly named Handle With Care. He eventually turned that modest operation into Super Electric, a $35-million-a-year business that imported and distributed household appliances.In 1969, Mr. By the time Handle With Care retired, she was the fastest and richest pacing mare in harness-racing history.Mr. Liverman, a.k.a. I told Billy [Haughton] that the minute he started selling electric fans, I’d start picking out my own horses. Liverman leaves his two children, Carol and Herb; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.To submit an I Remember: obit@globeandmail.comSend us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Liverman married a former West Hill classmate, Shirley Bronstein, and he began importing light bulbs and distributing them out of the back of his car. Then laughter broke out among the stable hands and trainers, and the old mare returned to the barn. Liebman remembered Mr. A mare trotted out of the stable wearing a victor’s blue ribbon. His skull was fractured, his son, Herb, said. When they arrived at the stables, both the father and daughter were caught off guard. Liverman spoke with genuine affection about her during a conversation with Hoof Beat writer Dean Hoffman circa 1990. Mr. White put down $9,500 for a horse named Silent Majority. Liverman, who rarely visited the racetrack, agreed.His daughter remembers the afternoon when she accompanied him to inspect the horse, in which he had just invested $4,500. “But she was old and feeble and my father and I looked at each other, and I knew he thought that he’d made a huge mistake. “A metal plate needed to be inserted into his head, and he remained in the hospital for several months.”After the war, Mr. Hoffman noted how “Liverman loved seeing her long legs gobbling up ground. Their stable amassed hundreds of victories at tracks across North America, including some of the sport’s biggest races: the Hambletonian, Meadowlands Pace and several Breeders Crowns.In an article in harnessracing.com, Montreal harness-racing executive Mike MacCormac noted that Mr. “The people he’s really friendly with extend from the best doctors and richest people in town to people some would describe as pretty low on the social scale. Then the real Keystone Wish was escorted out for us.”Although Keystone Wish never developed into a champion, Mr. Mr. Liverman, who was the pool’s chairperson, had to terminate the lifeguard’s contract mid-season.“It really bothered him. White’s widow and children.Following the advice of Billy Haughton, who would become a Hall of Fame trainer, Mr. Liverman’s wife, Shirley, died in 2009. She won her first 24 races; a performance that garnered Mr. White invited Mr.

Kelly: The Blue Jays are prime for a tear down, but were they designed to fail?

The Jays were the oldest team in the majors on opening day.In order to reinforce the point, Shapiro called the age of the roster “playing with fire” and said “no one should be shocked” by the number of injuries.“It’s a similar level of risk that we had last year, but it’s one year further along.”It does leave one wondering why the Jays chose to address that problem by signing Jose Bautista (36), Kendrys Morales (33) and Steve Pearce (34) in the off-season.This club does analytics on the quality of its analytics. It is hard to believe the Blue Jays failed to notice that they were constructing a roster designed to dominate baseball’s Senior Tour, if such a thing existed.The only plausible rationale is that the team was, on some level, designed to fail. He won’t tell you anything about how he’s planning to get there.On Friday, he was discussing the optimal makeup of a major-league team – an equal mix of younger, in-their-prime and veteran players. It’s not a time to give up,” he said. I also have a hard time believing “some people” at the New York Yankees are preparing for a clear-out at the trade deadline. They’ve made no substantive new roster commitments to a team that’s made the postseason two years running. It’s only been a short period of time that we’ve had this level of success. Whenever possible, they’ve let the most expensive high-end talent leave.This is the rare professional sports outfit in an extended period of complete stasis.Winning obscured the curious lack of commitment to either the right now or the near future. Losing highlights it. The fans wanted more of the same. Quite the opposite. But everything he’s done up to this point – both in Cleveland and here – suggests that’s where he’s headed.Once it happens, it won’t be management blowing up the team. Many of the wagons are old and in very poor condition, necessitating the use of many second-rate wagons from the triple-A wagon affiliate. They’ve talked about building up depth in the minor-league system, which is still a desert. In order to sow the field, you must occasionally burn it. As metaphoric journeys go, this season could be turning into the Donner Party. “Come talk to me in 20 more games, after we’ve got all [our injured players] back. Instead, he left it to be read between the lines.“There are no decisions to make yet. That’s worked out pretty well.Baseball is not hockey, but the same principles apply. We don’t have the same level of history as the Leafs.“We would not enter into it lightly. Before you commit arson, it’s probably a good idea to get as many villagers on side as possible.Shapiro did not say that’s the plan on Friday. Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro did two full tear-downs during his tenure in Cleveland. How about a limited tear-down?“It’s possible,” Shapiro said brightly and let it go.Whenever a sports executive answers a question without bracketing it with a couple of dozen caveats, it’s a good bet that’s what he means.So, barring a comeback for the ages, the real question for the next three months isn’t ‘Should you do it?’ It’s ‘How far do you go?’ That must be up to and including Josh Donaldson.Trading an MVP-calibre player would be Shapiro’s first blank-stare moment in Toronto. Literally.Speaking in hypothetical terms, Shapiro had some non-hypothetical suggestions for the path forward.“In our situation here, you need to do [a complete tear-down] – if we ever did it – it would be reluctantly. They’re planning on heading the other way.Since arriving here, Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins have preached youth and done the opposite thing. It would be very hard to believe this wasn’t the plan all along – win or bust. And you know what they say about getting what you want.The planned self-destruction template exists locally. The Toronto Maple Leafs used the disastrous first few months of the 2014-15 season to make the case for a total restart. He’ll tell you a lot about where he wants to be. The team will already have detonated itself, with Shapiro & Co. Success was always a possibility, but a long way from likely, unless everything broke perfectly. He calls those times the “blank-stare period.”“You believe in what you’re doing, but everybody around you gives you the blank stare.”After a year and a fifth of holding the course, Shapiro’s team may not yet be in that new territory, but the Jays wagon train is headed there. left to sweep out the creakiest bits of roster rubble. Currently, it’s just breaking, period. He works to the theory that the young ones are just happy to be there, the late-twenty-somethings are thinking about money and the older guys just want to win.“If you’re skewed one way or the other, it’s trouble. At some point, to have a sustainable championship team, you need that balanced roster.”Is this team balanced?“I don’t have to answer that,” Shapiro said, momentarily non-plussed. Not to say that there aren’t some people here thinking about that and preparing for that possibility.”When the president is telling you that the idea that his team is a contender “defies logic,” that’s probably a good time to begin considering the end. I’m not thinking that that’s in the offing.”So this won’t be an ‘Everything Must Go!” job. We’ll either have enough to feel like they can piece it together – though I realize that defies some logic – and if not, as we get into July, [trading away players] will be more of a conversation. For me to come out and say that would be disrespectful and not constructive.”As well as true. “You can answer that for yourself. Like most sports executives, Shapiro is a student of the ‘specific ideas, very non-specific answers’ school. Only as a last case, if we didn’t see any other potential course back.

Bautista appears to hit his stride in Jays’ third straight win

“Thanks Beest,” Gibbons said he told the former president and chief executive officer at the conclusion of the pep talk.It is unlikely the same fate awaits Gibbons – at least this season, anyway.It was just back in March during spring training that Gibbons was rewarded with a contract extension for two more seasons, plus a club option for 2020.The manager can hardly be blamed for the team’s tepid start with a roster chock-full of Triple-A wannabes thanks to a horrific array of injuries to key regulars, including Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki.And who knows, depleted lineup and all, things just might be turning around for this 2017 outfit.With Joe Biagini making his second start, after injuries to 3/5 of the starting staff meant he had to relinquish his secure role in the bullpen, the Blue Jays responded with a 4-0 win over the Mariners at Rogers Centre.The win was Toronto’s third in a row – a season high – and the team has now won five of its past six to improve to 15-21.That’s just six games under the .500 level, a far sight better than the 11 games under the break-even mark, where the Blue Jays were April 28.And don’t look now but Jose Bautista, who has struggled mightily at the plate, appears to be finally hitting his stride, cranking his second home run in three games to pace the attack.All eyes on the start of the game were on Biagini, the whimsical right-hander who turned more than a few heads in his first major-league start on Sunday with a solid outing against Tampa Bay in a four-inning, one-run, 52-pitch, two-hit effort.Biagini was credited with a no-decision in a 2-1 Toronto victory.Friday night, as he made his way to the mound to begin warming up, his “walk-out” song, One by Three Dog Night, blasted over the public-address system.Biagini was anything but lonely in the early going with teammate Justin Smoak making a nice stab of a line drive off by Ben Gamel down at first base in the first inning to lend a helping hand.Biagini retired the side in order over the first two innings and pitched a solid five-plus, holding the Mariners off the scoreboard with just four hits during his 68-pitch performance. He earned his first major-league-starting victory.He turned the game over to the bullpen in the sixth inning with Toronto leading 3-0.The Blue Jays offence got rolling in the second inning when Devon Travis stroked his first of two sacrifice flies, this one scoring Steve Pearce from third base.Then it was Bautista who added some ballast in the third, smoking a line drive off Seattle starter Christian Bergman that careened off the left-field foul pole for a two-run homer, his fourth of the season. Heading into Friday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners the Blue Jays had won just 14 of their first 35 games.Beeston pointed out to Gibbons that the Blue Jays rebounded after that abhorrent start in ‘89 to win the AL East by two games, playing .611 ball the rest of the way to finish with a record of 89-73.“The only problem,” Beeston was so kind to point out to Gibbons at the end of his tale, “we had to fire Jimy Williams.”Cito Gaston called the shots during the stirring comeback, hired after Williams was dismissed after the opening 36-game debacle. His wise words may be the reason the Toronto Blue Jays keep Paul Beeston around.The team is struggling, off to one of its worst starts in years, and everybody from manager John Gibbons to the players – even the clubhouse attendants – are walking around with that “my dog just got run over” expression. Trust Beeston, the retired executive gatekeeper from the franchise’s glory days, who still carries around a President Emeritus title, to weigh in with some calming words of wisdom.The way Gibbons recounts the story, Beeston recently dropped in on him with the aim to lift the manager’s deflated spirits.The wizened baseball lifer hearkened back to the start of the 1989 season when things were equally dreary, when the Blue Jays were off to a 12-24 start with manager Jimy Williams directing traffic.The Blue Jays, who have played in the American League Championship Series the past two years, have experienced a similar slide to begin the 2017 campaign.

Nadal snaps winless streak versus Djokovic to reach Madrid final

Then in the second I got the typical nerves from playing Djokovic,” Nadal told Television Espanola.“I couldnt be happier. To reach another final in Madrid means everything to me.” Rafael Nadal ended a seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic in emphatic fashion by thrashing the world number two 6-2 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Madrid Open and move within a step of a third consecutive clay-court title.The Spaniard and four-time winner in Madrid got off to a dream start in the 50th meeting between the two great rivals, winning every point in the first game to break Djokovic, with the home crowd wildly celebrating his first point — a potent return which the Serbian could only hit into the ground. The world number two broke back in the fourth to tie the set at 2-2 and celebrated by punching the air.It proved to be just a brief respite for the Serbian, however, as Nadal broke him again in the next game and held to restore his two-game lead.He missed two match points on his serve and then had to save a break point before taking the contest at the third time of asking to reach the Madrid final for the eighth time.Nadal will play either Austrian Dominic Thiem or Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in Sunday’s final, where he will look to add to his recent triumphs in the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open.“I knew I’d have to play very well and I thought I did very well in the first set. Defending champion Djokovic, who broke with long-time coach Marian Vajda and his staff the week before the tournament in a bid to reverse his downward trajectory of results in the last year, surrendered his serve again in the third game, and Nadal held to go 4-0 up.Real Madrid great Raul and all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo were among those watching in the stands in the Caja Majica on a scorching day in the Spanish capital in as Madrid fan Nadal continued his rampant start to the year.The Spaniard finished off the first set in 40 minutes and again broke the struggling Djokovic in the opening game of the second.