Game 7 in ALCS, Game 6 in NLCS
UNDATED (AP) — The American League Championship Series will be decided Saturday night, after the Houston Astros forced a Game 7 by beating the Tampa Bay Rays for the third straight day.
The Astros are now one win from their third World Series in four seasons. They’re hoping to join the Boston Red Sox as the only teams to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series.
The Tampa Bay Rays are one win away from their second trip to the World Series, just as they have been since Wednesday when they had a 3-0 series lead. That means they’re also one loss away from matching the worst playoff collapse in 116 years of postseason baseball, when the Yankees blew a similar lead against Boston in the 2004 World Series.
Charlie Morton will start Game 7 for the Rays against Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. They’ll share the mound in an elimination game for the first time since doing so as teammates in 2017. McCullers started and Morton closed for the Astros in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers try again to avoid elimination in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers stayed alive Friday night by beating the Braves 7-3 in Game 5.
Chris Taylor is out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup for the Saturday afternoon game. He hurt his right ankle in Game 5, but manager Dave Roberts says he is moving around and could be available to play. Kike (KEE’-kay) Hernandez was starting at second base with AJ Pollock in left field. Taylor started at second base in Game 5, and had moved to left field during the game. He hurt his ankle on a throw in the eighth inning but finished the game.
Atlanta, trying to get to its first World Series since 1999, had its same lineup as Game 5 to face Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler.
Patriots back at work; Denver running backs coach tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — The New England Patriots are back at work, one day after a fifth player on the team tested positive for COVID-19.
The Patriots canceled practice Friday and later placed center James Ferentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They’re preparing for Sunday’s game against Denver. A Patriots spokesman said the team would proceed with its walkthrough, but all meetings would be virtual.
Meanwhile, the Broncos say running backs coach Curtis Modkins has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t accompany the team to New England. The Broncos said in a statement they learned of Modkins’ diagnosis early today and no other COVID-19 cases have turned up on the team.
Denver was originally scheduled to play at New England last weekend but that game got delayed twice, first by a day, then by seven, after several coronavirus cases on the Patriots.
The Broncos haven’t played since Oct. 1. If they play Sunday, they’ll have had 16 days between games. That’s one day longer than Tennessee’s layoff before the Titans beat Buffalo on Tuesday night following the NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak, which affected two dozen members of the organization.
Denver’s layoff is the longest in the league since 2001, when the NFL postponed all games on the weekend following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In other virus-related NFL news:
— The Jacksonville Jaguars say a player on their practice squad has tested positive for the coronavirus. The initial result was confirmed by a second test Friday evening. The player was quarantined, and the team is reviewing contact tracing data to determine what further precautions need to be taken. Jacksonville decided to hold football activities remotely on Saturday in keeping with NFL protocols. The 1-4 Jaguars host 1-3 Detroit on Sunday and plan to play as scheduled.
— Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had a second negative COVID-19 test in 24 hours, clearing him to rejoin his teammates and play in Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. Beckham was kept away from Cleveland’s facility and didn’t practice for two days after feeling ill on Thursday and being sent home. Under NFL coronavirus protocols, he had to twice test negative before being allowed back. The league has instructed teams to remove anyone showing symptoms similar to COVID-19 even if they are caused by a cold or the flu. Beckham didn’t practice, but the three-time Pro Bowler participated in team meetings remotely.
Alabama’s Saban cleared to coach after 3rd negative test
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban will be back on the sideline against Georgia after all.
The Southeastern Conference cleared Saban on Saturday to coach in the game after he tested negative for COVID-19 the past three days. The move came hours ahead of Saturday night’s game between the second-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 3 Bulldogs.
Saban had initially tested positive on Wednesday, along with athletic director Greg Byrne. Team physician Jimmy Robinson said Saban was tested the next three mornings, and the initial result was deemed a false positive. The initial positive came from an outside lab Alabama had used to supplement the testing mandated by the SEC.
Bassino leads Brignone for Italian 1-2 in season-opening GS
SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Marta Bassino led Federica Brignone (feh-deh-REE’-kah breen-YOH’-nay) for an Italian 1-2 finish in the season-opening women’s World Cup giant slalom.
Bassino held on to her first-run lead to beat her teammate and defending overall World Cup champion by 0.14 seconds. Petra Vlhova posted the fastest second-run time and the Slovakian racer finished third.
Three-time overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the race after tweaking her back in training. Shiffrin’s teammate Paula Moltzan started 62nd in her second GS and finished a career-best 10th.
No spectators were allowed as one of the precautionary health and safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.