Bo Bichette said he is just "starting to heat up" after his walk-off home run lifted the Toronto Blue Jays past American League (AL) East rivals the New York Yankees.

Bichette hit two homers, including the game-winning shot at the bottom of the ninth inning, in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Yankees as the Blue Jays clinched the series in Dunedin.

The 23-year-old tied Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for the most multi-extra-base hit games (14) in his first 87 MLB appearances.

Bichette's single in the opening inning also extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching a career high.

"I'm just starting to heat up," Bichette said. "I was grinding for a while and staying alive. I think that's part of baseball.

"You fight until you start feeling good. I feel good. I know I have all the time in the world.

"I'm not worried about fastballs getting by me, so that’s a good feeling to have."

"Sometimes when you're in the box, you feel like you've got to swing right when the guy lets go of the ball," Bichette said.

"For me, it's just about reminding myself how much time we have. We always have more time than we think."

Entering the 2021 campaign, Bichette was the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons).

"That's why the sky is the limit with this kid," added Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.

Shelby Rogers booked her spot in the MUSC Health Women's Open quarter-finals, but fellow seeds Ajla Tomljanovic and Lauren Davis crashed out.

Following her third-round appearance at the Volvo Car Open, Charleston native Rogers moved through to the quarters of her second hometown tournament in as many weeks after easing past qualifier Claire Liu 6-2 6-2.

"I think I was due for a couple of tame matches," said third seed Rogers, who lost to world number one Ash Barty at last week's Volvo Car Open. "I've had quite a few mental battles over the last couple of months, so it's been nice to just take care of business in straight sets, get in and get out."

Next up for Rogers at the WTA 250 event is in-form Montenegrin opponent Danka Kovinic, who upstaged seventh seed Davis 6-1 1-6 6-3 on Wednesday.

Australian sixth seed Tomljanovic was swept aside by teenager Clara Tauson 6-1 6-4, while Nao Hibino beat Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-4 6-3.

The high-flying Los Angeles Clippers will try to keep their winning streak alive in the NBA with much of their star power on the bench. 

Amid a six-game winning streak, the Clippers will be missing Paul George (rest) and Serge Ibaka (back tightness) for Wednesday's game against the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Kawhi Leonard (sore foot) and Patrick Beverley (hand) will also continue to sit out as their injuries heal.

Clippers star Leonard has missed the last two games, while Beverley has been absent for three consecutive outings.

Despite their injury woes, the Clippers (38-18) enter the game with the longest active winning streak in the league. 

George, who is continuing to work his way back from a toe injury, contributed 36 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in Tuesday's victory over the Indiana Pacers. 

Jadeveon Clowney is looking forward to teaming up with fellow pass rusher Myles Garrett after signing for the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns confirmed the arrival of free agent Clowney on Wednesday, reportedly on a one-year, $10million contract.

Clowney, the first overall pick in 2014, was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Houston Texans before spending the 2019 season with the Seattle Seahawks and joining the Tennessee Titans for 2020.

Cleveland has become the 28-year-old's latest stop and he is revelling the opportunity to play opposite Garrett.

Clowney has 32.0 career sacks, a tally bettered by Garrett, who has quickly racked up 42.5 along with 83 quarterback hits in four seasons.

"I've been getting double-teamed an awful lot in this league, in my career," the new signing said.

"I'm looking forward to playing with somebody dominant on the other side in Myles Garrett who can draw a double-team. Maybe I can go one-on-one more."

Clowney will be hoping to rediscover the form of his final two seasons in Houston, which saw 18.5 sacks and 42 QB hits across 31 games.

He has had just 19 starts since leaving the Texans and missed the second half of last season in Tennessee with a knee injury.

Dak Prescott's season-ending Week 5 injury ensured 2020 was a wasted year for the Dallas Cowboys.

Rather than bolster their defense, the Cowboys gave Prescott an exciting new weapon with the 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft last April.

But wide receiver CeeDee Lamb's impact was diminished after Dallas' quarterback sustained a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle.

Without their talisman, the Cowboys stumbled to a 6-10 record, only good enough for third in the poor NFC East.

However, Prescott is set to return in 2021 and has committed his future to the franchise following a long-awaited breakthrough in contract talks.

This year's draft also provides the opportunity for a re-do, which should address the key flaws highlighted here with the help of Stats Perform data.

Offense

Prescott's lay-off makes an assessment of the Cowboys' offense last year rather tricky, but the team showed enough in his limited time on the field to encourage optimism.

Dallas finished 17th in the league for total points scored with 24.7 per game, yet this average was 32.6 points across the five games Prescott played. Over the course of the season, the Green Bay Packers led the league with an inferior 31.8 points.

Likewise, for five weeks, Prescott threw a sensational 371.2 yards per game, the most of any QB in the NFL in 2020. It is an achievement even more impressive when considering he bowed out in the third quarter of his fifth outing.

To put the Cowboys' miserable results in perspective, backup QB Andy Dalton (197.3 yards per game) ranked 37th. In the NFC East, he outperformed only Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Hurts (70.7 yards per game) among players with 100 attempts.

Even with Dalton applying the handbrake, Amari Cooper put up 1,114 yards from 92 receptions for five touchdowns. Lamb also had five TDs on 74 catches for 935 yards, while Michael Gallup's own five came from 59 receptions and 843 yards.

Cooper had contributed eight scores the previous season when paired with Prescott throughout, and Lamb will hope he can similarly profit from the starting QB's return.

The receiving corps could still be more efficient, however. Lamb dropped 8.1 per cent of the passes sent in his direction, while running back Ezekiel Elliott dropped 8.5 per cent - the Dallas pair ranking third and second-worst among players with 50 or more targets.

Behind an offensive line also ravaged by injury, Elliott - another former first-round pick on offense - led the way on the ground with 244 carries for 979 yards and six rushing TDs. The Cowboys' 111.8 rushing yards per game ranked 17th.

So there is still plenty of room for improvement but reason to believe Prescott's return will lift this offense into the upper echelons.

The Brooklyn Nets will be undermanned for Wednesday's blockbuster NBA matchup with Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers after Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin were ruled out.

Brooklyn and Philadelphia are set to do battle in a first-place showdown midweek – the two championship hopefuls share 37-17 win-loss records atop the east.

But the Nets will be without superstar Durant (hamstring – injury management) and former All-Stars Aldridge (illness – non-covid related) and Griffin (knee – injury management) as the trio join James Harden (hamstring) on the sidelines.

The star-studded Nets, however, do welcome back Kyrie Irving after he missed Tuesday's 127-97 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves due to personal reasons.

Former MVP Durant was in doubt for the 76ers clash after playing 27 minutes against the Timberwolves.

Durant posted 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting in his third appearance following a 23-game injury absence.

The Nets-Timberwolves matchup was initially scheduled for Monday, but it was pushed back in the aftermath of Daunte Wright being shot and killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.

It meant Durant faced the prospect of back-to-back games, which the Nets opted to avoid as they eye their maiden NBA title.

Durant is averaging 28.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists for the star-studded Nets this season.

He is also shooting a career-high 44.8 per cent from three-point range, while the two-time NBA champion (53.5) only boasted a better field-goal percentage in 2016-17 (53.7).

Jamaica’s Isaac Mair has described his B Class victory at the Florida State Championships this past weekend as 'the sweetest' of his wins this year.

Rafael Nadal's bid to win a 12th Monte Carlo Masters title got off to an emphatic start as the Spaniard swept Federico Delbonis aside after Novak Djokovic had also booked his passage to the third round.

Nadal, 34, has won the competition more times than anyone else in its history and looked in good shape as he returned to the court for the first time since losing to Stefano Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarter-finals on February 17.

He needed just 81 minutes to get past the Argentinian qualifier 6-1 6-2 as he improved his record in the tournament to 72-5, breaking Delbonis' serve five times and only dropping his own once.

He is not getting carried away, however, with Grigor Dimitrov likely to provide a sterner test in the next round after beating Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

"It was solid match, I think. Of course, a very positive result. He's a good player on clay. [It was a] positive start for me," Nadal said in his post-match interview.

"I think I just really played a solid match. Nothing unbelievable, but nothing wrong. Just a solid match, a positive start. I think I did what I had to do."

On Dimitrov, Nadal added: "We've had some great matches. In Melbourne, of course... we played another great match in Beijing, another one in Shanghai. He's a good friend, a good guy, and a great player. It's going to be a tough test in my second round.

"It's going to be his third. I need to be ready for it. I hope to be ready for it. I am just excited to play a tough match very early in the tournament."

A little earlier in the day, world number one Djokovic was in a similarly unforgiving mood as he overcame the potentially tricky obstacle of Jannik Sinner, the Serbian and two-time Monte Carlo champion winning 6-4 6-2.

Like Nadal, Djokovic was back in action for the first time since the Australian Open – which he won – and appeared fresh as he gave the promising young Italian something of a lesson in game management, reaching 10 matches unbeaten at the start of a season for the sixth time.

"It feels great [to be back and] also playing in Monaco, where I reside," Djokovic said. "I have used this club as a training base for almost 15 years, so it feels like playing at home."

Despite the rather commanding nature of his win, Djokovic was keen to pay tribute to the 19-year-old Sinner, adding: "It was a very good encounter. I thought it was a great first match [and] a big challenge for me. Jannik is in form. He played the final [in] Miami and has been playing well. I just hung in there today and managed to find the right shots and the right game at the right time.

"He has got a lot of talent and he has proven that he is the future of our sport. Actually, he is already the present of our sport. He played a final [in an] ATP Masters 1000 [tournament] already. He is making big strides in professional tennis."

Dan Evans awaits Djokovic after an impressive 6-4 6-1 win over Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz, while Alexander Zverez and Andrey Rublev – the fifth and sixth seeds – moved into the next round with respective straight-set victories over Lorenzo Sonego and Salvatore Caruso.

There were mixed fortunes for the other two top-10 seeds in action on Wednesday, as Pablo Carreno-Busta defeated Karen Khachanov 6-2 6-3, but Diego Schwartzman was sent packing by Casper Ruud, the Norwegian winning 6-3 6-3.

The pressure is on Red Bull to respond to a disappointing first race as the 2021 Formula One season continues at Imola.

The Austrian outfit, led by Max Verstappen, were expected to lay down a marker for defending champions Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in week one.

But Hamilton claimed a stunning triumph in Bahrain, described by the victor as "one of the hardest races I've had for a while".

The against-the-odds success might suggest a tricky year ahead for Red Bull, who had set the pace in pre-season testing.

They will be aiming to prove that was merely an early blip when Verstappen takes on Hamilton again at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this week.

A response would set the season up nicely, but Hamilton will be similarly determined to continue his pursuit of a record-breaking eighth title.
 

LAST TIME OUT

Bahrain looked to be set for a season-opening Verstappen victory. The Dutchman was fastest in pre-season, then in practice and again in qualifying.

After starting from pole, his pace was obvious again in a titanic tussle with Hamilton.

But what the Briton lacked in speed - still adjusting to his W12 car, which team-mate Valtteri Bottas claimed was "undriveable" - he more than made up for in experience.

And the strategy of Mercedes had Hamilton in front, although it still took a Verstappen error to giftwrap a Silver Arrows success.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton with four laps remaining but went beyond track limits and crucially had to give first place back to his rival.

Bottas completed the podium in third, also collecting a point for the fastest lap, while Charles Leclerc was the best-placed Ferrari finisher down in sixth.

Aston Martin new man Sebastian Vettel was a frustrating 15th, one place ahead of debutant Mick Schumacher, while the returning Fernando Alonso failed to finish.
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR AT IMOLA

Until the Mercedes drivers can properly get to grips with their cars - not relying on errors and chaos for wins - the Hamilton versus Verstappen theme is likely to continue.

The Silver Arrows have at least had time to work on their flaws, three weeks on from Sakhir, while Red Bull have been left to stew on their mishap.

Particular attention will be paid to practice and qualifying and any change in the significant pace gap between the teams last time out.

As long as Red Bull retain the faster car, Verstappen should be in a title race - even if he cannot afford further mistakes.

A two-way fight for the championship is an improvement on recent years in which Hamilton has been comfortably clear of the grid, and there is also intrigue elsewhere.

Ferrari's continued struggles combined with improvement in the McLaren ranks mean there is competition between the two again.

Both outfits will be bidding for third place in the standings this year, with McLaren boasting the edge heading in to race two, while a busy off-season means the pecking order further back is far from concrete.
 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Back on pole? - After Verstappen qualified fastest in Bahrain, Mercedes are facing up to the possibility of failing to secure a pole position over the first two races of a season for the first time in the Hybrid Era (since 2014).

Setting the standard - This is one of only four tracks at which Hamilton has never achieved pole, but victory would make this the first time he has ever started a season with back-to-back wins. Only twice before this year had the F1 great triumphed in the season opener, going on to claim the title in both 2008 and 2015.

Man in form - Verstappen is certainly the driver to beat in qualifying after consecutive pole positions at the end of last season and start of this. He only had two poles in his prior 118 races in F1.

Streaking McLaren - Daniel Ricciardo has earned points in his past 12 races, while McLaren team-mate Lando Norris - fourth last time out - could set a new career best with a seventh straight points finish.

In his father's footsteps - Mick Schumacher will this year become used to turning out at events where his father has previously dominated. Michael Schumacher has seven Imola wins, more than any other driver, while Ferrari and Williams are tied on eight team triumphs.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 

Drivers 

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 25
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 18 
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 16 
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) - 12 
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) - 10 

Constructors 

1. Mercedes - 41 
2. Red Bull - 28 
3. McLaren - 18 
4. Ferrari - 12
5. Alpha Tauri - 2

The top two teams in the Eastern Conference do battle in Philadelphia on Wednesday as the 76ers host the Brooklyn Nets.

Philadelphia and Brooklyn are tied atop the conference going into a mouth-watering clash.

Yet the Nets will again be without their full complement of stars at Wells Fargo Center, with James Harden struggling due to a hamstring issue and Kyrie Irving having missed Tuesday's game in Minnesota for personal reasons.

But they do have Kevin Durant at their disposal for a contest in which the Nets must try to contain an MVP candidate.


TOP PERFORMERS

Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers

Embiid is expected to miss out on the NBA's top individual honour, with Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets the firm favourite, but he has continued to present a strong case.

He is averaging a career-high 29.6 points per game and has been key to each of the 76ers' past four wins, scoring 24, 35, 27 and 36 points in those contests.

Kevin Durant - Brooklyn Nets

Durant has had his fair share of injury issues this season, but the Nets' sole healthy superstar carried them in a rearranged meeting with the Timberwolves on Tuesday.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP shot 11 of 15, including four of six from three-point range, to rack up 31 points. He will need similar production if the Nets are to see off the Sixers on this unanticipated back to back.

KEY BATTLE - A DUEL BEHIND THE ARC

Durant's performance was indicative of how the Nets have thrived this season. Their three-point field goal percentage of 39.0 is the third-best in the NBA.

In the Sixers, however, they are coming up against a team that has done an impressive job of stopping teams getting hot from deep. Only six teams have allowed fewer three-point makes per game than Philadelphia (11.8).

HEAD TO HEAD

The Sixers came out on top in February's meeting with the Nets, prevailing 124-108 and they have dominated this matchup in recent times.

Philadelphia have won three of the previous four meetings between the two and have not lost a home game to the Nets since December 2018.

Dustin Poirier will face Conor McGregor at UFC 264 in Las Vegas this year.

The much-anticipated trilogy fight will take place at the T-Mobile Arena on July 10, UFC president Dana White confirmed on Wednesday.

"I am so happy to finally be able to say: Vegas is back," he said in a video posted on social media.

"This summer, Las Vegas is back open for business and on July 10, UFC 264 will be at the T-Mobile Arena at 100 per cent capacity.

"This card will be headlined by the third fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor."

The update comes after McGregor claimed the bout was off on Monday during an expletive-laden exchange on Twitter.

Poirier claimed victory in their previous showdown at UFC 257 in January in Abu Dhabi with a second-round knockout, after which McGregor conceded the result was "a tough one to swallow".

McGregor, who described his opponent's performance three months ago as "phenomenal", stopped the 32-year-old American in 106 seconds in their first encounter in September 2014.

The former two-weight world champion, who is also 32, has not won a UFC bout since January last year.

Paul George has a had a "breakthrough" after putting his toe injury into perspective and rediscovering his best form.

The star guard helped the Los Angeles Clippers extend their winning streak to six matches with a 126-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

That result came in the absence of Kawhi Leonard, with George stepping up to contribute 36 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

It is the fourth game running in which George has hit 30 points, underlining how well he is now coping with a persistent toe problem.

According to George, it has been a shift in his mindset that has allowed the 30-year-old to produce such outstanding performances.

"The injury allowed me to kind of make an excuse for myself," he said.

"But then I put it in perspective – if I'm going to play, then don't let it limit me.

"I feel like I've had a breakthrough because of that mindset.

"It hasn't been flaring up, so that's been working and hopefully, at some point, it just goes away and it's an afterthought, nothing I'm worried about going forward."

Team-mate Marcus Morris Sr lauded George's display and his willingness to take centre stage for his side.

"He's definitely in a groove," the forward said. "He's playing with a chip on his shoulder.

"He is making an emphasis of really taking over and being the best version of himself."

The Brooklyn Nets warmed up for Wednesday's showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers with a comfortable 30-point victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Tuesday's postponed game.

Kevin Durant top scored for the Nets with 31 points along with four rebounds, with guard Joe Harris adding 23 points in the 127-97 win.

Brooklyn improved to a 37-17 record, equal with the 76ers, in the absence of James Harden (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons).

The Utah Jazz regained some form after losing three of their past five games, triumphing 106-96 over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert put on a show with 13 points, 14 rebounds and a staggering seven blocks, while Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanovic top scored with 23.

 

No Kawhi but Clippers keep on winning

The Los Angeles Clippers extended their winning streak to six games despite missing Kawhi Leonard in a 126-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Leonard was out with a sore right foot but Paul George was up to the task, with 36 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. That's the fourth straight game he's reached 30 points.

The Clippers have now won 12 of their past 14 matches and move to a 38-18 record, equating to third in the West.

The Los Angeles Lakers managed a 101-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets to move to 34-21 in the West.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis still out injured, the Lakers relied on Kyle Kuzma with 24 points including four threes while center Andre Drummond had 12 rebounds.

The Phoenix Suns remain firm in second in the West with a 106-86 win over the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics edged the Portland Trail Blazers in a final quarter thriller 116-115 as the jostle for play-offs seedings continues.

 

Thunder crashing down

Guard Luguentz Dort may have scored a career-high 42 points but he was not able to celebrate as the Oklahoma City Thunder slumped to their seventh straight loss against the Jazz. The Thunder are now 20-34 and practically out of playoffs contention.

 

LeBron loves Kuz sledgehammer

Kyle Kuzma got LeBron James on his feet with a massive one-handed dunk on the transition late in the second in the Lakers' win.

 

Tuesday's results

Brooklyn Nets 127-97 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 126-115 Indiana Pacers
Atlanta Hawks 108-103 Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Lakers 101-93 Charlotte Hornets
Utah Jazz 106-96 Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns 106-86 Miami Heat
Boston Celtics 116-115 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Nets in Philly

The top two in the East will face off when the Philadelphia 76ers host the Brooklyn Nets (both 37-17) with Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant available to play although James Harden will likely miss due to injury.

Akil Baddoo's history-making MLB season continued after starring in the Detroit Tigers' 8-2 win over the Houston Astros.

Tigers rookie Baddoo – selected in the Rule five draft, which aims at preventing franchises from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other clubs would be willing to play them in the major leagues – has made a flying start to his career with the Tigers.

Baddoo, who was a Rule five pick in December having been originally drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 2016, is already the first player in modern MLB history to hit a grand slam, another home run and a walk-off hit in his first three career games.

The 22-year-old outfielder added to that on Tuesday after homering in the Tigers' comprehensive victory away to the Astros in Houston.

Through eight games, Baddoo has four homers, a double and a triple. According to Stats Perform, his 1.043 slugging percentage is the highest in American League (AL) history through eight career games.

Baddoo is also the first Tigers player to drive in a run in six or more of his first eight career games since Don Ross in 1931, while only four players in MLB history have had more than six such games – Jorge Soler most recently with seven in 2014.

 

Giolito and Bieber put on a show, Duvall makes history

The Shane Bieber-Lucas Giolito pitching duel did not disappoint as the Cleveland Indians edged the Chicago White Sox 2-0. Reigning Cy Young Award winner Bieber pitched three-hit ball over nine scoreless innings in a battle of the All-Star aces. Bieber also finished with 11 strikeouts. Bieber has 35 strikeouts this season. Through three appearances of a season since 1983, only Nolan Ryan (37 in 1973) and Gerrit Cole (36 in 2018) have only managed more. Giolito also impressed across seven scoreless innings, only giving up three hits with eight strikeouts.

Adam Duvall posted seven RBIs in the Miami Marlins' 14-8 success against the Atlanta Braves. In September last year, he had nine RBIs for the Braves against the Marlins. Duvall in the first player in history with a seven-plus RBI game for both sides of the same matchup, per Stats Perform. He also joined Alex Rodriguez as the only two players since 1954 to have multiple games with seven RBIs, two homers and four runs.

The Pittsburgh Pirates topped the San Diego Padres 8-4, despite walking 13 and hitting three batters. According to Stats Perform, the Pirates are the first team to issue at least 16 combined batters walked and batters hit in a nine-inning win since the Browns in 1948.

 

Strasburg struggles

Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals were put to the sword 14-3 by the St Louis Cardinals. World Series champion and MVP Strasburg gave up eight hits, eight runs – seven earned – and three homers on five walks across four tough innings. Strasburg was replaced after allowing all three batters to reach base in the fifth, leading to a nine-run inning for the Cardinals.

 

Betts back with a bang

Following a four-game absence due to a stiff lower back, Mookie Betts made a smashing return to the Los Angeles Dodgers' line-up. He hit a 394-foot home run as the World Series champions routed the Colorado Rockies 7-0.

 

Tuesday's results

Oakland Athletics 7-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles 7-6 Seattle Mariners
New York Mets 4-3 Philadelphia Phillies
New York Mets 4-0 Philadelphia Phillies
Boston Red Sox 4-2 Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4 San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays 7-3 New York Mets
Texas Rangers 8-3 Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins 14-8 Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs 3-2 Milwaukee Brewers
St Louis Cardinals 14-3 Washington Nationals
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Indians 2-0 Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers 8-2 Houston Astros
San Francisco Giants 7-6 Cincinnati Reds
Los Angeles Dodgers 7-0 Colorado Rockies

 

Red Sox at Twins

American League (AL) East leaders the Red Sox (7-3) will put their seven-game winning streak on the line in a doubleheader against the Twins (5-5) on Wednesday.

Kevin Durant played down the importance of the Eastern Conference showdown between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers as the superstar focuses on his return to full fitness.

The Nets and 76ers will go head-to-head in a blockbuster clash pitting the east's top two teams against each other on Wednesday – Brooklyn and Philadelphia share 37-17 records atop the standings.

Brooklyn eased past the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-97 in their rescheduled game on Tuesday, with Durant posting 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting in 27 minutes as the former NBA MVP works his way back from a 23-game absence following a hamstring injury.

The Nets-Timberwolves matchup was initially scheduled for Monday, but it was pushed back in the aftermath of Duante Wright being shot and killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.

It means Durant is facing the prospect of back-to-back games, with his status for the 76ers contest uncertain midweek.

"I want to play just to get back in the swing of things more so than like pinpoint that matchup," said Durant as the Nets eye their maiden championship. "You know what I'm saying?

"I think for us we want to get everybody healthy and acclimated to what we're doing out there and I think that's just as important as circling the calendar for Philly.

"They're a great team, well-coached and I'm sure a team we're going to run into here soon but for us at this point we want to continue to fine tune what we do get better at the things that make us who we are and we'll see what happens down the line."

Durant – in his first game back as the Nets played without James Harden (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (personal) – added: "I felt good out there. I felt like my wind and legs were getting underneath me in each and every minute I'm playing.

"That's really what I wanted out of this time and we'll see how I feel in the morning and I'll talk to coach and the training staff to see where we go from there."

Durant is averaging 28.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists for the star-studded Nets this season.

He is also shooting a career-high 43.7 per cent from three-point range, while the two-time NBA champion (52.8) only boasted a better field-goal percentage in 2016-17 (53.7).

"It's a tricky balance because he needs to play a certain amount of minutes for his benefit," said Nets head coach Steve Nash. "At the same time, when the game is that out of hand, you're caught like, do we want to risk him being out there at this point in the game.

"In an ideal world he'd play close to 30 minutes, but at the same time, he's out there at the end of the game in meaningless minutes you want to be careful as well.

"We're trying to find that balance. At least he had a good game and got some minutes in his legs."

Ben Simmons insisted the Philadelphia 76ers can win the NBA title this season ahead of their Eastern Conference top-of-the-table clash with the Brooklyn Nets.

The 76ers and the star-studded Nets share 37-17 win-loss records atop the east heading into Wednesday's blockbuster match, with both franchises having strong claims for championship favouritism.

Philadelphia – swept in the first round of last season's playoffs, having reached back-to-back Eastern Conference semi-finals under former head coach Brett Brown – have not won the title since 1983, while the Nets are searching for their maiden championship.

Simmons, playing alongside fellow All-Star Joel Embiid in Philadelphia – told ESPN on Tuesday: "I think we can win it all".

Simmons and the 76ers will come up against a strong Nets side with Kevin Durant back in their ranks following a 23-game injury absence.

Brooklyn will be without former MVP James Harden with a hamstring strain but Kyrie Irving is expected back after missing Tuesday's 127-97 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons.

"There's one ball, there's one ball and you have to play defence still," Simmons said of the Nets.

"I take pride in defence. I know if I'm able to get stops and give guys a hard time doing their job then we're going to be able to go further.

"They have a lot of talent, but at the same time you've got to be able to play together as a team."

Australian star Simmons was forthright in pushing his credentials for this season's NBA Defensive Player of the Year award too, despite stiff opposition from Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert.

Simmons is averaging 14.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game for Doc Rivers' 76ers this season.

"I'm one of those guys who can guard one to five," the 24-year-old Simmons said.

"Obviously, there's a lot of respect for Rudy. I know what he's capable of. I know he's great down there in the paint, but he's not guarding everybody and that's just what it is.

"He guarded me in Utah… I had 42 [points] and apparently I'm not a scorer. It is what it is, but I have a lot of respect for him. At the same time, I think it's mine this year."

Top seed Ons Jabeur advanced to the last 16 at the MUSC Health Women's Open, while Magda Linette was a casualty on Tuesday.

Jabeur – who reached the semi-finals of the Volvo Car Open – made a winning start at the WTA 250 event after toppling Stefanie Vogele 6-4 6-1.

The Tunisian won 88.9 per cent of her first serves to set up a clash with qualifier Alycia Parks – the latter eased past fellow American Grace Min 6-1 6-4.

However, second seed Linette crashed out at the hands of in-form Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano.

Osorio Serrano, who claimed her maiden singles title at the Copa Colsanitas in Bogota last week, upstaged Linette 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Elsewhere, 15-year-old wildcard Linda Fruhvirtova – in just her second WTA main-draw appearance – progressed 6-2 6-7 (7-9) 4-4 after fourth seed Alize Cornet retired in the final set.

The Denver Nuggets have been dealt a blow after star guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the left knee.

Murray will be sidelined indefinitely after the high-flying Nuggets revealed the injury diagnosis on Tuesday.

Denver were left sweating over Murray's fitness following Monday's 116-107 NBA loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Murray fell to the floor in agony following an apparent non-contact injury – the 24-year-old clutching his left knee amid serious concerns on court.

Denver's Murray has been averaging a career-high 21.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this season.

Murray has also been boasting career highs in field-goal percentage (47.7) and three-point percentage (40.8).

The Nuggets (34-20) – led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic – are fourth in the Western Conference.

Novak Djokovic will tackle teenage rising star Jannik Sinner for the first time in a tantalising clash of tennis generations on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters.

World number one Djokovic is returning to action this week, having taken time away from the tour since banking an 18th grand slam title by winning the Australian Open in February.

He received a first-round bye, but waiting for him in the last 32 is Sinner, who on Tuesday saw off 2017 Monte Carlo runner-up Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 6-4, again illustrating the 19-year-old Italian's great potential.

World number 22 Sinner is the only teenager ranked inside the top 80 in the men's game and is coming off his first run to a Masters final, at the Miami Open.

The switch from hard courts to clay is one that Sinner is having to deal with, and seeing off a specialist on the surface in round one represents an impressive start, although facing two-time former champion Djokovic will be a step up.

"It's always good for me to see what I can do on clay," Sinner said, quoted on the ATP website. "Obviously, I am not in the best form on clay now for the first week.

"But I think today was a solid match from my side. It was not easy. He's not giving [away] one point, so you have to stay there the whole match. I think I played a good match from my side."

Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last 16 with a 6-3 6-4 win over Russian Aslan Karatsev, but there was disappointment at the same stage for Italian eighth seed Matteo Berrettini, beaten 7-5 6-3 by Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Those were the only second-round matches of the day.

Surprise Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz made a winning start, battling to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 first-round success against Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano to reach round two.

Roberto Bautista Agut, Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini each booked places in round two thanks to straight-sets wins.

Qualifier Federico Delbonis was a 7-5 6-1 victor over France's Adrian Mannarino, meaning the Argentinian faces the ultimate test in clay-court tennis next, a tussle with Rafael Nadal, the 11-time former champion in Monte Carlo.

Nadal has won all four of their previous matches, and their fifth encounter will immediately follow the Djokovic-Sinner match on Wednesday.

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