Thursday Sports in Brief
NEW YORK (AP) — George Springer and Carlos Correa each hit three-run homers and the Houston Astros got another wild ace off the hook to beat the sloppy New York Yankees 8-3 Thursday night and reach the cusp of a second World Series visit in three years.
The Astros lead the AL Championship Series 3-1, putting the 2017 World Series winners on the brink of a showdown with the NL champion Washington Nationals.
Houston still has Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole queued up for this series, and the Yankees will have to beat both to survive. Verlander will start Game 5 on Friday night against James Paxton.
DENVER (AP) — Now the wait begins to see how long it takes Patrick Mahomes to return from a gruesome right knee injury.
Waiting in the wings, just in case: 35-year-old backup Matt Moore.
Mahomes, the MVP quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, was hurt on a second-quarter sneak in a 30-6 win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid doesn’t yet know how long Mahomes may be sidelined as the Chiefs (5-2) snapped a two-game skid with Moore stepping in and the Chiefs defense stepping up (nine sacks and a defensive score).
Facing fourth-and-short deep in Denver territory, Mahomes picked up a first down by sneaking through the line.
As the pile began to clear, Mahomes didn’t jump up.
Struggling to straighten his right knee, he tossed his helmet to the side and covered his face with both hands. His teammates immediately checked on him.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Chinese officials wanted Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to be fired for his tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, and the league emphatically dismissed the request.
Silver also said that the league is already feeling “substantial” financial losses because of the Chinese reaction to Morey’s deleted tweet.
“Obviously, we made clear that we were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said Thursday during an appearance at the Time 100 Health Summit in New York. “We said, ‘There’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.’”
The league and LeBron James, one of its biggest stars, has been heavily criticized by some U.S. lawmakers for the perception that they caved to the Chinese regime. Morey has not been rebuked publicly by the league, and Silver has said that the league will support his freedom of expression.
“We wanted to make an absolute clear statement that the values of the NBA, these American values — we are an American business — travel with us wherever we go, and one of those values is free expression,” Silver said. “We wanted to make sure everyone understood we were supporting free expression.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Zion Williamson won’t play in New York in the New Orleans Pelicans’ final preseason game because of a sore right knee.
The Pelicans said Thursday that the No. 1 pick didn’t travel with the team to New York, remaining in New Orleans to undergo further testing and evaluation at Ochsner Sports Medicine.
He was to have played Friday night against former Duke teammate RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick, in a nationally televised game.
Williamson has averaged 23.3 points on 71.4% shooting in four preseason games. The Pelicans said further updates will be provided when available.
NEW YORK (AP) — Bradley Beal has agreed on a two-year extension worth nearly $72 million with Washington, a major victory for the Wizards and a move that will keep the All-Star guard out of free agency for at least the next three summers.
The agreement was confirmed Thursday by Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein. ESPN first reported the details of the extension.
Beal still had two years left on his existing contract. The extension kicks in for the 2021-22 season, has a player option for the following year and means that Beal won’t be part of what has been shaping up to be an NBA free-agent extravaganza in the summer of 2021.
The Wizards were willing to give Beal a three-year extension that would have been worth about $111 million over three years. Beal went the two-year route and that protects his future options — he could opt out of the deal in the summer of 2022, coinciding with his 10th year in the league.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Vegas Golden Knights forward Valentin Zykov was suspended Thursday for 20 games without pay for a violation of the NHL’s performance-enhancing substances program, the league said.
The suspension is accompanied by a referral to the league’s program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment. The league said it would have no further comment.
The Knights said the franchise respects the league’s decision.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Clint Bowyer has reached an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to return to the No. 14 Ford next season.
Bowyer has been with SHR for three of his 15 seasons in the Cup Series. His extension announced Thursday came as the Kansas native headed to his home track on the verge of elimination from the playoffs.
Bowyer, from Emporia, Kansas, is 11th in the 12-driver playoff field going into Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. The bottom four drivers in the standings will be eliminated after Kansas.
NEW YORK (AP) — An Atlanta businessman and former NBA referee was spared prison time Thursday after pleading guilty in a college basketball scandal that paid bribes to steer top athletes to certain schools and money managers.
Rashan Michel wiped his eyes when U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in New York announced prison would be excessive punishment, even for what she described as a serious crime. She also ordered him to forfeit $24,000, the amount he was paid in the scheme.
The sentencing came in a case that exposed how fledgling money managers and representatives of sports apparel companies paid bribes to college coaches and families of top recruits to steer youngsters toward favored schools and handlers so they could cash in when the players reached the NBA.
Michel was a full-time NBA referee from 1997 to 2001 and a part-time college referee from 2006 to 2017. He also founded and operated a clothing store that catered to pro athletes and traveled the country to meet his clients.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Ed Beck, a fierce rebounder for Kentucky’s 1958 NCAA championship team nicknamed the “Fiddlin’ Five,” has died. He was 83.
The school said Beck died Wednesday in Sun City, Arizona. A two-year captain for coach Adolph Rupp, Beck grabbed 11.6 boards per game with 5.6 points on the school’s fourth title squad. Beck was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year that season.
As a junior, Beck averaged 14.1 rebounds and 9.6 points to earn Associated Press All-SEC second team honors. His career average of 10 rebounds was Kentucky’s third-highest total at the time.
Beck’s leadership in 1958 followed a personal loss with the offseason death of his first wife, Billie, from Hodgkin’s disease. He turned down an offer from the NBA’s New York Knicks after graduation to enter the ministry and served there for over 50 years.