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Yankees make strong start

April 29, 2015 14:59:44 UK

The New York Yankees will look to increase their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday when they play the finale of their series with the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

New York once again got the better of Tampa Bay on Tuesday with a 4-2 triumph at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Chase Whitley (1-0) went the minimum allowing a single run on six hits and a walk while striking out five, but that was enough to secure the win after the Yankees, 23.00 to win the World Series outright, scored all four off of Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi (2-2).

Michael Pineda will head to the mound for the hosts on Wednesday against Drew Smyly in the finale of the series before New York prepare to travel to Boston to take on the Red Sox over the weekend.

Hanley Ramirez hit his ninth home run of the season on Tuesday, but it was not enough for Boston, who fell 11-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Tied with Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners for the Major League lead in homers, Ramirez has made a fast start to his Red Sox career.

The same can’t be said for Rick Porcello who has generally been roughed up while on the mound conceding at least three earned runs in each of his four starts.

On Wednesday the former Detroit Tiger is matched up against RA Dickey, with the Blue Jays then leaving town immediately for Thursday’s match-up with the Indians in Cleveland.

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Ireland pleased to appoint Bracewell

April 29, 2015 14:48:18 UK

John Bracewell will only attend next week’s one-day international against England in an observatory capacity after being named Ireland coach.

Bracewell, the former New Zealand coach who left Gloucestershire over the winter, was chosen as Phil Simmons’ successor.

The 57-year-old has a rich pedigree in limited-overs cricket, having steered Gloucestershire to half-a-dozen one-day titles around the Millennium.

During his tenure the Black Caps qualified for three semi-finals in ICC global events, while he also won six trophies with Gloucestershire.

Richard Holdsworth

However, he has been tasked with preparing Ireland for the goal of Test status by 2019.

“We are delighted to welcome John to the Irish cricket family, to take the team through new challenges towards our vision of Test cricket,” said Cricket Ireland performance director Richard Holdsworth.

“John has substantial international experience, not only playing in 41 Tests and 53 ODIs, but also as New Zealand coach in 41 Tests and 106 ODIs over five years.

“During his tenure the Black Caps qualified for three semi-finals in ICC global events, while he also won six trophies with Gloucestershire.

“The interview panel were impressed by John’s passion, commitment and knowledge, but more importantly his international experience both as a player and coach.

“We feel John’s knowledge gained over a 25-year period in the first-class game will help further develop our current players, but also ensure succession planning for our future squad who aim to be playing Test cricket by 2019.

“We believe John’s strong work ethic and great understanding of players as people as well as cricketers will help not just the Ireland team, but our pathway players aspiring to wear the Ireland shirt in all formats on the world stage in the future.”

Bracewell’s tenure begins in June, so assistant coach Peter Johnston will be in charge for the Malahide fixture against James Taylor’s England on 8th May.

Meanwhile, England are 1.72 to win the third and final Test against West Indies, which starts on Friday, with the draw available at 3.00.

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Lightning host Detroit in Tampa

April 29, 2015 14:40:21 UK

The Tampa Bay Lightning welcome in the Detroit Red Wings to the Amalie Arena on Wednesday in the final first round game of the NHL playoffs.
The winner moves on to play the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference …

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Hawks and Nets level pegging

April 29, 2015 14:26:55 UK

While the Washington Wizards sit at home awaiting their next opponents, the Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets play Game 5 of their best-of-seven series at the Philips Arena in Atlanta.

On Monday, the Nets squared the series at two games apiece with a 120-115 overtime triumph at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Deron Williams scored 35 points on the night, Brook Lopez recorded a double-double and all five starters were in double figures for the hosts who have played Atlanta tight in all four games.

As such Wednesday’s fifth game in the series sets up as a pivotal game as the two teams battle for the right to face the Wizards, 23.00 to win the NBA Championship outright, in the Eastern Conference semi-final.

Also playing a Game 5 are the Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers who meet at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The hosts lead the series by three games to one after failing to sweep the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. The Grizzlies are without point guard Mike Conley, lost to a facial fracture, and Portland can seize the initiative with a second consecutive win.

Over in Los Angeles, the San Antonio Spurs took command of their series with the Clippers following a four-point triumph on Tuesday at the Staples Center.

Tim Duncan had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili were all effective off the bench for the defending NBA champions who can close out LA when the two teams return to the AT & T Center in San Antonio on Thursday.

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Wigan backed to make immediate return

April 29, 2015 14:14:44 UK

Wigan Athletic chairman David Sharpe insists the Latics will bounce back after enduring a “disaster of a season” which ended in relegation from the Championship.

Wigan’s second relegation in three seasons was confirmed just two years after they beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final by Rotherham’s 2-1 victory against Reading on Tuesday.

The club sacked Malky Mackay earlier this month and handed the managerial reins to Gary Caldwell, but he was unable to stop Wigan sliding into the third tier of English football.

Our only target next season is promotion, nothing else will suffice.

David Sharpe

Sharpe released a statement on the club’s official website, which read: “It’s a sad day for everyone associated with Wigan Athletic but we will bounce back. I want that to be the main message to our fans.

“Our only target next season is promotion, nothing else will suffice, and the job of rebuilding the club is already well underway under Gary Caldwell and his staff.

“Football is full of examples of clubs who have come back stronger after relegation and I want us to be the latest one of those. We have an amazing opportunity to start afresh and begin an exciting new era for the club.”

Wigan are 8.50 to win their final game of the season at Brentford, who are 26.00 to be promoted from the Championship.

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Davies excited by all-French final

April 28, 2015 17:57:43 UK

Wales centre Jonathan Davies says his decision to move to France has been vindicated by Clermont reaching the European Champions Cup, where they will face Toulon.

The 27-year-old British & Irish Lion opted to leave Scarlets last summer to try his luck in French rugby and the switch has paid off handsomely, with Davies helping Clermont reach a second European final in three years.

I knew there was a chance I’d get an opportunity on the big stage.

Jonathan Davies

And, despite being faced by two-time defending champions Toulon in the showpiece at Twickenham on Saturday, Davies is relishing an opportunity to shine on the biggest stage in northern hemisphere club rugby.

He told Sky Sports: “Having the opportunity to contest a European final is the main reason I came to Clermont.

“They are one of the biggest clubs in Europe and I knew there was a chance I’d get an opportunity on the big stage.

“As a player you want to test yourself on the highest stage and in club rugby this is as good as it gets, so every player in the squad is excited about it.”

Clermont were edged out 16-15 by Toulon two years ago in the Heineken Cup final, with every point for the victors scored by an Englishman – a Delon Armitage try and three penalties and a conversion from Jonny Wilkinson.

This time around, Toulon are armed with another world-class kicker in the shape of Davies’ Wales and Lions team-mate Leigh Halfpenny.

Toulon are 1.66 to make it three European triumphs in a row, with Clermont 2.20 to clinch a first title, while Davies and co are 4.50 to win the Top 14 Grand Final.

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Astros continue to surprise

April 28, 2015 16:53:42 UK

The surprising Houston Astros made it four wins on the trot on Monday as they defeated the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego.

Leaders by three games over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West Division, the Astros scored three in the eighth and two in the ninth to take a 9-4 win in the first of three against the Padres in Southern California.

Joaquin Benoit (3-1) did not record an out in relief to take the loss allowing three runs on two hits and two walks.

Roberto Hernandez will head to the hill on Tuesday evening with San Diego expected to counter with Tyson Ross.

Dallas Keuchel and Andrew Cashner are then on tap for Wednesday’s finale before the Astros head home to Minute Maid Park in Houston to welcome in the Seattle Mariners.

The Astros are 8.00 to win American League West, with the Angels 2.50 and the Oakland A’s 5.25.

Meanwhile, the Angels head up the West Coast to the O.co Coliseum in Oakland to play the Athletics.

The A’s were swept by the Astros over the weekend, while the Halos finally divested themselves of outfielder Josh Hamilton when they completed the trade to send the slugger back to the Texas Rangers.

It will be curious to see if LA’s generally poor handling of the Hamilton situation comes back to haunt the Angels both on the field against their Division rival, but also as a destination now less desirable for free agents.

The decision to effectively throw Hamilton under the bus did not go unnoticed in the league where such actions are not looked upon kindly.

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Cubs win on return to Wrigley Field

April 28, 2015 16:39:16 UK

The Chicago Cubs blanked the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 on Monday as they opened a six-game home stand at Wrigley Field.

Jason Hammel (2-1) went a strong first eight innings for the Cubs to record the victory, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out seven and Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo each drove in two runs as Chicago made it three in a row.

Vance Worley (2-2) was pegged with the loss for the Pirates who sit two games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the standings and one behind the Cubs.

The Cubs are 3.30 to win National League Central, with the Cardinals 2.10 and the Pirates 3.50.

St. Louis welcomed in the Philadelphia Phillies to Busch Stadium for a four-game series on Monday, but could not get the better of Cole Hamels (1-2) who picked up his first win of the campaign.

With all the injuries to starting pitchers in the first few weeks of the season, including the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, the Phillies are likely to cash in on Hamels sooner rather than later.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said to have been asking for two top prospects for Hamels and may well get his asking price, despite it looking unrealistic at the start of spring training.

Philadelphia’s win and Washington loss in Atlanta, where the Nationals were doubled up by the Braves, also dropped Washington into sole possession of last place in the National League East Division.

There were more than a few suggestions that Washington manager Matt Williams was in over his head last season despite a Manager of the Year award and changes are likely to be made if the team slumps further.

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Mets take opener in Miami

April 28, 2015 16:29:26 UK

The New York Mets continue to lead the Atlanta Braves by 4.5 games in the National League East Division following Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Marlins in Miami.

Daniel Murphy’s three run shot in the top of the ninth was the difference in the game at Marlins Park as the visitors rallied for the win.

Dillon Gee went the first 7 2-3 innings for New York, but looked on the hook for the loss despite giving up a single run on six hits and no walks while striking out three.

Instead Carlos Torres (1-0) picked up the ultimate vulture victory with a single pitch win.

Jeurys Familia then recorded his league leading ninth save of the campaign in the bottom of the ninth as the Mets bounced back from losing two of three to the New York Yankees over the weekend.

The Mets are 3.10 to win National League East, with the Washington Nationals 1.44 and the Braves 16.00.

The Yankees, meanwhile, lead the American League East Division by a single game over the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox following their 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Monday.

Adam Warren went the first 5 2-3 innings and Justin Wilson (1-0) picked up the win in relief as New York made it eight wins in their last 10 contests.

Chase Whitley will head to the mound on Tuesday evening for the Yankees with the Rays expected to counter with Jake Odorizzi.

Up in Boston the Red Sox continue their series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. The hosts won 6-5 to keep the pressure on New York on Monday and Clay Buchholz faces Drew Hutchison in Tuesday’s match-up.

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Capitals move on to play the Rangers

April 28, 2015 15:41:53 UK

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers will meet in the Eastern Conference semi-finals after the Capitals defeated the New York Islanders in Game 7 at the Verizon Center.
Joel Ward and Evgeny Kuznetsov were on ta…

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Spurs and Clippers tied at two apiece

April 28, 2015 15:39:46 UK

The Staples Center in Los Angeles is the venue for Game 5 of the best of seven series between the Clippers and the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

LA bounced back from an awful third game in the series to secure a 114-105 victory over the Spurs at the AT & T Center in Game 4 over the weekend.

Chris Paul had 34 points and Blake Griffin added 20 points and 19 rebounds as the visitors’ shot 53.6% from the floor. Kawhi Leonard led the way for San Antonio, but the starting five of the Spurs – Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Tony Parker and Danny Green – were outplayed by their opposite numbers.

The winner of the Spurs and Clippers series takes on either the Houston Rockets or the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semi-final.

 The Rockets were unable to complete the sweep of the Mavericks on Sunday when they fell 121-109 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Monta Ellis paced the Mavericks’ attack with 31 points on 13-of-21 from the field and there were double-doubles for Al-Farouq Aminu, Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea in what was an excellent overall performance by the seventh seed.

The series returns to the Toyota Center in Houston on Tuesday as Dallas attempts to avoid elimination once more.

The Rockets are 6.50 to win the Western Conference, with the Spurs 5.00 and the Clippers 8.50.

Portland put off their ouster for another day on Monday when they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 99-92 at the Moda Center.

Memphis are a different team without their point guard Mike Conley who was injured in the third game of the series. Conley suffered a fracture near his eye and his return in the series is questionable.

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Johnson: We deserved to go down

April 27, 2015 17:43:37 UK

Gary Johnson has described some of the Cheltenham Town players as unprofessional after the Robins’ relegation from League Two was confirmed.

Former Yeovil Town and Bristol City boss Johnson was only appointed boss at Whaddon Road four weeks ago but their demotion was confirmed by the weekend defeat to Shrewsbury Town.

He said there was a lack of leadership, character and professionalism in the team, that have lost five of the six games under Johnson’s stewardship.

There have been some players we’ve trusted and some we haven’t, but had to use anyway. They’ve let us and the club down.

Gary Johnson

“Unfortunately, when you are second from bottom after 45 games and you get relegated, you deserve to have that happen,” he said.

“Over the season there hasn’t been enough in the team to keep us in the League. Unfortunately the losers among the group are less than professional and that is why a team gets relegated.

“There have been some players we’ve trusted and some we haven’t, but had to use anyway. They’ve let us and the club down.

“I don’t want to go into details. I don’t want to tell the whole truth to the whole world. I have told the players my thoughts.”

Cheltenham face AFC Wimbledon in their last game of the season on Saturday and are 4.00 to win the encounter.

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Johnson: We deserved to go down

April 27, 2015 17:43:37 UK

Gary Johnson has described some of the Cheltenham Town players as unprofessional after the Robins’ relegation from League Two was confirmed.

Former Yeovil Town and Bristol City boss Johnson was only appointed boss at Whaddon Road four weeks ago but their demotion was confirmed by the weekend defeat to Shrewsbury Town.

He said there was a lack of leadership, character and professionalism in the team, that have lost five of the six games under Johnson’s stewardship.

There have been some players we’ve trusted and some we haven’t, but had to use anyway. They’ve let us and the club down.

Gary Johnson

“Unfortunately, when you are second from bottom after 45 games and you get relegated, you deserve to have that happen,” he said.

“Over the season there hasn’t been enough in the team to keep us in the League. Unfortunately the losers among the group are less than professional and that is why a team gets relegated.

“There have been some players we’ve trusted and some we haven’t, but had to use anyway. They’ve let us and the club down.

“I don’t want to go into details. I don’t want to tell the whole truth to the whole world. I have told the players my thoughts.”

Cheltenham face AFC Wimbledon in their last game of the season on Saturday and are 4.00 to win the encounter.

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End of the road for veteran Dunn

April 27, 2015 17:21:35 UK

David Dunn, who won one cap for England, has confirmed that he will be leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old midfielder scored 59 goals in 377 appearances during his two spells at Ewood Park and will leave the club for a second time almost 17 years after making his debut for the club.

Dunn made his one England appearance, against Portugal in September 2002, and he joined Birmingham City in 2003 before returning to Rovers four years later.

All good things come to an end, or so they say.

David Dunn

He said: “All good things come to an end, or so they say.

“Having first arrived at Ewood as an eight-year-old with the usual boyhood dreams, I am proud to say that what unfolded in the 27 years thereafter has been something of which I am exceptionally proud.

“I have lived the dream of playing for my home town club, during which time to be capped by my country, while wearing the blue-and-white halves, transcended even the wildest of those dreams.”

Blackburn are set to finish in a mid-table spot in the Championship but also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before being beaten by Liverpool after a replay.

Rovers finish the season with a game against Ipswich Town on Saturday and are 3.40 to beat Mick McCarthy’s side, who are 5.50 to be promoted.

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Rose boosted by latest victory

April 27, 2015 16:59:17 UK

Justin Rose is targeting the major championships after emerging victorious at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana.

Rose did not have a bogey in his last 66 holes and fired a final-round 66 as he secured his seventh victory on the PGA Tour.

He will play at this week’s Cadillac Match Play Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco before taking part in The Players’ Championship at TPC Sawgrass next month, but is also keen to add another Major to his haul following his triumph at the 2013 US Open.

The 34-year-old, who is 23.00 to win the US Open again this year, said: “This is a great shot in the arm of confidence and I have just got to keep it going.

This is a great shot in the arm of confidence and I have just got to keep it going.

Justin Rose

“It obviously gets me up there in everything I want to be up there in; a boost in the world ranking, a boost in the FedExCup, a huge boost in confidence.

“Now I can target the major championships all the way through the summer without having to chase anything in between. It’s going to be great.”

Cameron Tringale finished second while Boo Weekley was third and Jim Herman and third-round co-leader Jason Day were in a tie for fourth.

“Earlier this year, it looked impossible to win,” added Rose. “I was struggling with my game and, when you are struggling with your game, sometimes winning seems very far off.”

Rose is 19.00 to win the Cadillac Match Play Championship outright, while Day can be backed at 17.00.

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Edwards set for early start

April 27, 2015 16:32:52 UK

Hampshire will step up their bid to sign Fidel Edwards ahead of schedule after learning that Jackson Bird’s neck injury is worse than was originally thought.

Edwards had been due to play for Hampshire from August onwards but the county will attempt to bring him to the Rose Bowl ahead of schedule, and he could make his debut against county champions Yorkshire at Headingley on 10th May.

“Jackson has a bulging disc in his neck, which is something they hadn’t picked up on, and we’re not sure how long he’s out for,” said Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein.

Jackson has a bulging disc in his neck, which is something they hadn’t picked up on.

Dale Benkenstein

“We’ve got Fidel coming. He isn’t doing anything at the moment so he’ll be here soon and have ten days to get ready for Yorkshire.

“A strike bowler would make a big difference and Fidel’s desperate to do well and have a longer- term contract.”

Edwards could play in four County Championship matches before taking part in the Caribbean Premier League and then returning to Hampshire to play in another five more games in the second half of the season.

“Jackson could still come back for the last half of the season but we’re looking at other [overseas] options,” added Benkenstein.

“The problem is a lot of players are at the IPL. [Nathan] Coulter-Nile was one who said he wants a rest for various reasons. It’s a real pain, you try and plan for everything but it doesn’t always work out how you want.”

Hampshire are 11.00 to win the Royal London One-Day Cup outright this year while Yorkshire can be backed at 7.50.

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Robertson eyes second world title

April 27, 2015 15:51:00 UK

Neil Robertson remains on course to win the World Championship in Sheffield after easing into an 11-5 lead against Ali Carter.

The 2010 champion led 6-2 after the first session and continued to dominate the second-round encounter when play resumed, winning five frames in a row to take complete control at 11-3 before Carter won the last two frames of the day.

The Australian will play Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals if he can see off Carter on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, Ronnie O’Sullivan leads Matthew Stevens 12-4 in their last-16 tie and needs just one more frame to earn a match with Stuart Bingham.

Five-time champion O’Sullivan is aiming for his third title in four years and showed his class in the second session after only leading 5-3 after the first session.

Shaun Murphy beat Joe Perry 13-5 to remain on track to triumph in a tournament he won ten years ago. Murphy will play qualifier Anthony McGill in the quarter-finals.

The world number eight led 12-4 overnight but finished the match off on Monday afternoon.

Judd Trump won five of the eight frames in his second session on Sunday against Marco Fu and eventually won the second-round tie 13-8 on Monday afternoon.

Trump, runner-up to John Higgins in 2011, will play Ding Junhui in the last-eight.

Trump is 5.50 to win the World Championship outright, while O’Sullivan can be backed at 2.62, Robertson at 4.33 and Murphy at 6.50.

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Anderson seeks consistency

April 27, 2015 15:00:19 UK

Huddersfield Giants head coach Paul Anderson says the club will be focusing on developing a level of consistency, following Friday night’s victory at Hull FC.

The win has put the Giants back on the right track following an inconsistent period, and Anderson is keen for his players to maintain a high level of performance.

“I felt that our defence was pretty good throughout and, at the halfway stage of the season, we can feel that we are doing okay – we’re certainly improving. The next stage is to develop that consistency we have been lacking,” said Anderson, whose side have drawn Leeds Rhinos in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup, a competition the Giants are 21.00 to win.

I thought that for the first 40 minutes we were very good.

Paul Anderson

“To go to Hull and win any game is good, and I was happy with that. Whatever the scoreline, 1-0 or 20-odd, to come to Humberside and leave with two points is a good result.

“I thought that for the first 40 minutes we were very good, we kept calm and composed and did what we wanted to do. The ten minutes after half time were not so good as Hull threw everything at us.”

The Giants will aim to continue their strong run when they face their Cup opponents Leeds in the Super League in front of the television cameras on Thursday evening.

The Rhinos will be aiming to bounce back from last Friday’s shock defeat at home to Warrington Wolves.

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Newell hails new Hales maturity

April 27, 2015 10:12:13 UK

Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell reckons Alex Hales’s excellent start to the County Championship season is down to increased maturity as a batsman.
Hales, now 26, followed up his career-best 236 against …

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Newell hails new Hales maturity

April 27, 2015 10:12:13 UK

Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell reckons Alex Hales’s excellent start to the County Championship season is down to increased maturity as a batsman.
Hales, now 26, followed up his career-best 236 against …