Friday Sports in Brief
NEW YORK (AP) Two balls launched over the wall, one fired over an opponent’s head and just like that, David Wright and the New York Mets are right back in this World Series.
Wright homered and drove in four runs, Curtis Granderson also connected and rookie Noah Syndergaard set a nasty tone at the start of a 9-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals that trimmed New York’s deficit to 2-1.
Syndergaard’s first pitch was a 97 mph fastball just off the inside corner and way over Alcides Escobar’s head, eliciting a huge cheer from fans. The skinny shortstop went down to the dirt on his rear end and stayed there, legs splayed, catching his breath for several seconds.
”I feel like it really made a statement to start the game off, that you guys can’t dig in and get too aggressive because I’ll come in there,” said Syndergaard, who alluded Thursday to having ”a few tricks” up his sleeve for the leadoff man.
”My intent on that pitch was to make them uncomfortable, and I feel like I did just that. I know that for the past, I think every postseason game that Escobar has played in, he’s swung at the first-pitch fastball, and I didn’t think he would want to swing at that one.”
Escobar, having a huge postseason, acknowledged he was caught off guard.
”I didn’t like it one bit. He was saying yesterday that he had a plan against my aggressiveness. If that(asterisk)s the plan, I think that(asterisk)s a stupid plan,” Escobar said. ”I cannot fathom a pitcher would throw to the head a 98 mph pitch on the first pitch of the game.”
NEW YORK (AP) – Raul A. Mondesi made history when he came to the plate. He only wishes he’d made contact, too.
The 20-year-old Kansas City infielder became the first player to make his major league debut in the World Series, striking out as pinch-hitter during a 9-3 loss to the New York Mets in Game 3.
”It’s something big,” he said.
The Royals’ lead in the Series was cut to 2-1.
The son of All-Star outfielder Raul Mondesi, the youngster hit .243 with six homers and 33 RBIs this year at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. That’s the highest level he’d played in a pro ball, and he hadn’t been in a game that counted since Sept. 18 in the Texas League playoffs.
Being on this stage, was it overwhelming?
”No, normal, regular game,” he said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota will miss his second straight game, with the Titans ruling him out against the Houston Texans. Zach Mettenberger will start in his place again.
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said that Mariota made progress this week. The rookie practiced in a limited fashion each day, but Whisenhunt says Mariota isn’t ready yet after spraining his left knee on Oct. 18.
Mettenberger threw for 187 yards and a touchdown last week in a 10-7 loss to Atlanta. The second-year quarterback is 0-7 as a starter.
The Titans also ruled out cornerback Perrish Cox (hamstring) and wide receiver Harry Douglas (ribs) for a second straight game.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul says he never worried about his future in football after a July 4 fireworks accident cost him his right index finger.
In his first comments since the mishap, Pierre-Paul recalled his time in a Florida hospital with a mangled hand and burns covering his arm.
He says that even as the fireworks blew up he wasn’t frightened. This was the seventh year he put on a pyrotechnics display for the neighborhood children. He says: ”I looked at my hand, and my fiance was going crazy. But I kept calm.”
Pierre-Paul signed an incentive-driven, $8.7 million contract Tuesday and took part in contact work the next day. He says he will not attend Sunday’s game in New Orleans because he does not want to distract his teammates.
DENVER (AP) – Two emotional road wins to start the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now, an emotional day awaits as they attend the memorial service of Flip Saunders.
”We go tomorrow as winners to go bury our coach,” said Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 28 points and 14 rebounds as Minnesota beat the Denver Nuggets 95-78. ”That was more important to me.”
The Timberwolves have been playing with heavy hearts since Saunders died Sunday after complications from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Timberwolves veteran Kevin Garnett said that being on the court has been a ”good outlet” for his team as it goes through such a difficult time.
”Something that can take your mind off reality for a little bit,” Garnett said. ”Tough week for us. But we’re managing.”
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) – Despite a back issue, LeBron James intends to play in every game for the Cavaliers this season.
The 30-year-old James recently received the second anti-inflammatory injection in his back in 10 months. He said he ”didn’t feel that great” after playing in back-to-back games to start the season.
But when asked how many games he intends to play in this season, James said, ”Eighty-two.”
James, entering his 13th year in the league, sat out a career-high 13 games last season. The Cavs want to limit the four-time MVP’s playing time this season, and James hopes to reduce both his minutes and workload by having teammate Kevin Love more involved in the offense.
James and the Cavs play their home opener tonight against the Miami Heat.
PHOENIX (AP) – Steve Nash was the maestro of a frenetic basketball symphony with the Phoenix Suns.
Over a six-year span, from 2004-05 to 2009-10, his Suns reached the Western Conference finals three times. Nash twice was named league MVP.
Those teams never won an NBA title, or even reached the Finals, but they ushered in a high-speed, high-energy style that in many ways transformed the game. The reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors can trace their lineage to the desert.
On Friday night, the Suns inducted the prolific playmaker into the franchise Ring of Honor, joining the likes of Charles Barkley, Tom Chambers, Walter Davis and Connie Hawkins.
Nash thanked the fans and dozens of people in the organization by name in a long, unprepared speech after which, he said, ”They gave me a lot of drinks for the last two hours.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) – Stopchargingmaria won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff by a neck, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano their second victories on the opening day of the world championships at Keeneland.
The last of the day’s four Cup races was the most suspenseful, with the stewards needing several minutes to sort through a foul claim and objection before declaring the results official.
Stopchargingmaria ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.98 and paid $16.20, $8.40 and $6 at 7-1 odds.
Stellar Wind returned $9.20 and $6.60, while Pletcher-trained Curalina was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $7 to show. Pletcher’s third horse in the field, Got Lucky, finished 10th.
The stewards examined video of the stretch run, when Stopchargingmaria slightly bumped Stellar Wind and carried her wide toward the grandstand. Victor Espinoza, aboard Stellar Wind, filed the objection against Castellano, saying he was forced to check his horse.