#DigSportsDesk - The Lede

Post ASG Break: Sox Win 3

BOSTON, July 20, 2014 --  Jon Lester pitched eight shutout innings as the Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 6-0 on Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep.

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    The left-handed Lester, making his first appearance since pitching one inning in the All-Star Game, improved to 10-7 and lowered his ERA to 2.50. He gave up four hits and two walk with eight strikeouts.

    The Red Sox battered Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura (7-8) for a season-high six runs and nine hits over 4 1/3 innings, with four walks, a home run and a wild pitch. It was the only start this season in which he has not recorded a strikeout.

    The Red Sox got to Ventura right away, as lead-off hitter Brock Holt pulled a 100-mph fastball into right field for a single. Holt went to third on left fielder Daniel Nava's single and scored on a fielder's choice by second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

    That would be all the runs the Red Sox would need, but they added two more in the third when Nava's ground-rule double scored catcher David Ross, who opened the inning with a walk, and center fielder Jackie Bradley, who followed with a single.

    Boston added three in fourth on Ross' sixth home run of the season, scoring right fielder Shane Victorino, who led off with a double. After consecutive singles by Bradley and Holt put runners on the corners, Nava's sacrifice fly gave the Red Sox a six-run lead.

    Boston knocked Ventura from the game in the fifth. After the first three batters reached -- first baseman Mike Carp on a walk, Victorino on a single, and shortstop Stephen Drew with another walk -- Ross was out on foul pop to catcher Brett Hayes. Left-hander Francisley Bueno entered, keeping Boston in check by striking out Bradley on three pitches before Holt flied out to end the inning.

    NOTES: Royals RHP Jeremy Guthrie will make his 20th start of 2104 on Monday at the White Sox. In his last two outings, he has allowed 14 runs in eight innings. In his previous eight starts, he had posted an ERA of 2.68. ... Royals C Salvador Perez was not in the starting lineup for the series finale in Boston because of slight right groin strain. He plans to play Monday for the start of the series in Chicago against the White Sox. ... Royals LHP Jason Vargas continues to progress from his appendectomy and could throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Royals 1B Eric Hosmer extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest active streak in the majors. ... Red Sox RHP John Lackey (10-6, 3.79) is scheduled to make his 20th start of the season on Monday at Toronto. In his last five starts, he is 2-2, with a 5.59 ERA, giving up 18 earned runs over 29 innings. Red Sox RF Shane Victorino, who returned from the disabled list Saturday for the first time since May 23 and who has been limited to just 23 games because of back and hamstring injuries this season, will get some scheduled time off in the next week.


Jeter Shines at Final ASG

MINNEAPOLIS, July 16, 2014 -- Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, for the second year in a row, became more about honoring a retiring New York Yankees legend than the game itself.

Derek Jeter made his 14th and final All-Star Game a memorable one, going 2-for-2 and helping the American League earn a 5-3 victory over the National League on Tuesday night at Target Field. The shortstop started a three-run run first inning with a double. He also singled in the third, then took his position in the field to start the fourth inning. AL manager John Farrell of the Boston Red Sox sent out Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez to replace Jeter, who received a long ovation. Jeter, who announced in February that he is retiring at the end of the season, doffed his cap to his crowd, then hugged each of his teammates once he returned to the dugout. With the fans asking for a curtain call, Jeter went in front of the dugout and tipped his cap again.

"I really appreciated the response, from the crowd and from the players on both teams," Jeter said. "It was very humbling."

Farrell planned Jeter's exit in advance.

"We tried to get him two at-bats and then having him come out," Farrell said. "You know what, he has a flair for the dramatic. Two base hits and scored the first run. It worked out pretty well."

It was reminiscent of last year's All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York, where Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the focus of the festivities. Rivera was selected the game's Most Valuable Player after pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save.

Jeter wasn't the MVP this year, though. Fittingly, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who seems poised to replace Jeter as the face of Major League Baseball, won the honor. He went 2-for-3 with two extra-base hits and two RBIs.

"Derek Jeter was my role model growing up," Trout said. "To be the MVP in his last All-Star Game is really special to me."

Trout's double in the fifth inning off St. Louis Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek broke a 3-3 tie and proved to be the game-winning hit. Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve followed with a sacrifice fly off Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard to make it 5-3.

Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a pair of RBI doubles for the NL, and Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez also had two hits. Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer got the win, and Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins earned the save. Neshek took the loss. Perkins and Neshek are both natives of the Twin Cities area.

Jeter sliced a double down the right field line to lead off the first on the second pitch from Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, and he scored on a triple by Trout. One out later, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera blasted a two-run home run to left field to put the AL ahead 3-0.

Wainwright was tagged for three runs and three hits in his one inning, a day after NL manager Mike Matheny of the Cardinals chose his team's ace as the starting pitcher over Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. It was a decision that created some minor controversy considering that Kershaw recently had a 41-inning scoreless streak.

Wainwright told reporters after he left the game that he grooved a fastball to Jeter in hopes the veteran would get a hit. However, Wainwright backtracked from that statement later.

Kershaw followed Wainwright by pitching a perfect second inning.

After Seattle Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez threw a scoreless first inning for the AL, the NL scored twice in the second off the Red Sox's Jon Lester. Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Lucroy hit back-to-back RBI doubles.

Lucroy hit a run-scoring double in the fourth off White Sox left-hander Chris Sale to tie the score at 3-3.

NOTES: Oakland Athletics RHP Jeff Samardzija was a man without a country as he suited up with the National League team, even though he is now playing in the American League. He was voted into the game by NL players before being traded by the Chicago Cubs on July 4, but he was deemed ineligible to play by Major League Baseball. ... Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who won seven AL batting titles with the Minnesota Twins, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Next year's All-Star Game will be played at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.


Lebron: "I'm Coming Home"

CLEVELAND, July 11, 2014 - LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, announcing the move in a heartfelt letter that set off celebrations in the home state he infuriated in 2010 by fleeing via free agency to the Miami Heat.

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    James, in an exclusive essay with Sports Illustrated, said the move goes far beyond basketball.

    "But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I'm from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get," the essay reads.

    "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home."

    James said he sat down man-to-man with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to discuss the letter he wrote scolding James and calling him a coward following the infamous "Decision" to join the Heat.

    "To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned -- seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, 'OK, I don't want to deal with these people ever again.' But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I've met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We've talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I've made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?"

    James is expected to sign a maximum contract with the Cavaliers, joining All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the No. 1 overall draft picks the last two seasons -- Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins. Cleveland could acquire forward Kevin Love from the Timberwolves in a deal that has been on the table contingent on James signing with the team.

    The Cavaliers made two trades Wednesday that resulted in creating $21.7 million in salary cap space to make James an offer. Point guard Jarrett Jack was shipped to the Brooklyn Nets along with Sergey Karasev, and Tyler Zeller and a lottery protected first-round pick went to the Boston Celtics for a second-round pick as part of a three-team deal that also included Marcus Thornton.

    James made expectations clear -- he is out to collect championships -- but warned it will not be easy. He said he will not have a party or a press conference, rather begin getting to work.

    "I'm not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver," the essay read. "We're not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I'm realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I'm going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn't know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I'm excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can't wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates."

    Former teammates Ray Allen and Mike Miller are reportedly possibilities for the Cavaliers. Allen, 39, is contemplating retirement but said last month he would return if the chance to play with James was a possibility.

    James won two NBA titles in four seasons with the Heat. Last season, he averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6..4 assists per game. In 11 NBA seasons, he owns averages of 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists. He is also a 10-time All-Star and four-time MVP.