Thursday’s Sports In Brief


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Houston Astros beat the Kansas City Royals at their own game Thursday night, relying on sharp pitching from Collin McHugh and stingy defense behind him for a 5-2 victory in the opener of their AL Division Series.

McHugh (1-0) allowed four hits, including a pair of solo homers by Kendrys Morales, while pitching around a 49-minute rain delay. The right-hander lasted six innings before turning the game over to his bullpen, which scattered just three runners over the final three frames.

Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Oliver Perez got the game to Luke Gregerson, part of Oakland’s wild-card collapse in Kansas City last year. He handled the ninth to earn the save.

George Springer and Colby Rasmus went deep for the homer-happy Astros, but they also scored via the same sort of small ball the Royals used in reaching the World Series last season.

TORONTO (AP) – Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run homer against David Price, Rougned Odor had a solo shot and the Texas Rangers beat the Blue Jays 5-3 Thursday in an AL Division Series opener as postseason baseball returned to Toronto for the first time in 22 years.

Both starting third baseman left with injuries: Texas’ Adrian Beltre in the third with a sore lower back and Toronto’s Josh Donaldson in the fifth after he was kneed in the head while sliding in an attempt to break up a double play.

Yovani Gallardo (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, improving to 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in four career starts against Toronto. Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson finished, with Dyson getting a save.

Pitching on 11 days’ rest, Price (0-1) allowed five runs and five hits in seven innings. He dropped to 1-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 11 postseason games, including six starts.

NEW YORK (AP) – The Chicago Cubs’ return to the playoffs has drawn the largest television audience in the short history of baseball’s wild-card game.

The Cubs’ 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night in the NL wild-card game on TBS averaged 8.3 million viewers, topping the previous high of 7.6 million set a night earlier for the Astros’ win over the Yankees in the AL game on ESPN.

The viewership is up 48 percent from the 5.6 million for last year’s NL game between the Giants and Pirates on ESPN and 60 percent from the 5.2 million for the AL game on TBS between small-market Kansas City and Oakland.

It’s the most for a Major League Baseball game on cable since the 2011 NL Division Series between the Cardinals and Phillies.

Baseball added the wild-card round in 2012.

PITTSBURGH (AP) – It’s all good between Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Sean Rodriguez and the water cooler he TKO’d in the dugout during Pittsburgh’s wild-card loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

Rodriguez was ejected in the seventh inning when the benches cleared and decided to take out his frustrations on an unsuspecting water cooler. Rodriguez worked several combinations on the cooler before it tumbled to the ground.

The one-sided bout drew an avalanche of meme’s and GIFs as well as a (at)Piratescooler parody Twitter account that quickly gained over 8,000 followers. Rodriguez took to Twitter to apologize on Thursday ”for allowing my emotions to control my actions in a negative manner.”

Rodriguez added he ”spoke to the cooler, apologized personally, and he’s forgiven me as Christ forgives all.”


INCHEON, South Korea (AP) – The International team went from all square to 2 up by just playing one hole in a bizarre incident involving Phil Mickelson at the Presidents Cup.

Mickelson used a different type of golf ball on the seventh hole of his fourballs match with Zach Johnson. Players cannot switch models during the round. The penalty is known as a one-hole adjustment to the match.

However, the referee was wrongly told that Mickelson was disqualified from the hole for using a different ball. In fact, Mickelson should have been allowed to finish the hole and then the adjustment would be made.

Jason Day, playing with Adam Scott, made birdie and won the hole to go 1 up. And then the one-hole adjustment made it 2 up.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek is ”very confident” there was ”no inappropriate conduct” between Volunteers coach Butch Jones and a player.

While speaking Thursday to the Board of Trustees, Cheek said there were rumors and misinformation about ”an alleged incident during football practice.” The chancellor said he and athletic director Dave Hart have ”done our due diligence” on this matter.

Cheek was responding to message board discussions and reports that Jones had a ”physical altercation” with center Mack Crowder during a preseason practice. Jones said the allegation was ”absolutely ridiculous.”

Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC) hosts No. 19 Georgia (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday.


CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Matt Kenseth won the pole Thursday night for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kenseth turned a lap at 194.532 mph to edge fellow Chase contender and teammate Kyle Busch and sweep the poles at Charlotte this season.

It is Kenseth’s fourth Sprint Cup pole this season and the 17th of his career.

Joey Logano qualified third for the Saturday night race, non-Chase driver Greg Biffle was fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth.

Among the other Chase contenders who’ll start in the top 10 are Kurt Busch in sixth, Carl Edwards in eighth and Ryan Newman in 10th. Kevin Harvick, who raced his way into Round 2 with a clutch win last week, will start 11th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. begins 12th.

Only three of the 12 drivers remaining in the Chase didn’t make it to the final round of qualifying – Brad Keselowski (starts 13th), Martin Truex (15th) and Jeff Gordon (22nd).


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – The equestrian events for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro might have to take place outside Brazil, the head of the country’s equestrian confederation has warned.

Luiz Roberto Giugni blasted the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry for delays in issuing the documentation needed to allow horses brought into Brazil from Europe, the United States and Canada to enter and leave the country.

”If the problem is not resolved by the end of the month, we run the risk of not having the event in Brazil,” Guigni told reporters on Wednesday at a news conference in Sao Paulo. ”We are running late.”

Regulations for bringing horses to and from Brazil are strict, as the country is still subject to diseases affecting horses. Earlier this year cases of glanders, a lethal highly contagious bacterial infection, were recently diagnosed in a few horses stabled at a military facility near the site of the 2016 Olympic equestrian competitions.