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Thursday’s Sports Minute

Thursday’s Sports Minute

DODGERS: Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig throws ice in the air in the locker room after defeating the San Francisco Giants 9-1 and clinching the National League West Division championship in baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 24, in Los Angeles. Photo: Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill

Here is a look at the big sports stories you’ll be talking about today, Thursday, Sept. 25.

Dodgers wrap up division

The Los Angeles Dodgers are National League West champions for the second straight year.

Clayton Kershaw picked up his major league-leading 21st victory and the Dodgers claimed their division by routing San Francisco 9-1. Kershaw hit an RBI triple and struck out 11 while holding the Giants to a run and eight hits in eight innings to improve to 21-3. He also lowered his ERA to a major league-best 1.77 in what was likely his final appearance of the regular season.

The game was tied 1-1 until Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer to spark the Dodgers’ four-run sixth. Carl Crawford added a two-run double and scored on Juan Uribe’s single later in the inning. Uribe added a two-run single in the eighth.

The Giants’ eighth loss in 11 games prevented them from clinching a playoff berth. They still own a magic number of one over Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card spot.

On the other coast, Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention, losing a three-run lead in a 9-5 loss to the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles. Jeter went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter in his next-to-last home game, ending a seven-game hitting streak and dropping his average to .253. The Yankees missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992 and ’93. The only other time New York missed the playoffs during in the retiring captain’s 20-season big league career was in 2008.

Jeter will play his final game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night in what promises to be an emotional evening in the Bronx.

Around the majors:

  • Howie Kendrick doubled and drove in three runs, and the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels held off the playoff-hopeful Oakland Athletics 5-4. Los Angeles, at 98-61, maintained its two-and-a-half game lead over Baltimore for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage for the AL playoffs. The A’s are tied with Kansas City for the top AL wild card.
  • Cleveland beat Kansas City 6-4, dropping the Royals two games back of Detroit in the AL Central. Yan Gomes cracked his 21st homer, a three-run shot, for the Tribe.
  • Justin Verlander pitched eight impressive innings to help Detroit clinch a postseason spot with a 6-1 win over the White Sox. Verlander is 15-12. He allowed a run and seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts in eight innings.
  • The Tigers clinched a postseason spot when Seattle lost 1-0 at Toronto. Mark Buehrle and Aaron Sanchez combined on a three-hit shutout. The Mariners have lost 13 of 17 to fall on the brink of elimination. The Mariners are three back in the wild card race with four to go.
  • After the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrated clinching a playoff berth, their collective hangover showed Wednesday night. They were beaten 6-2 by Atlanta. Andrew McCutcheon’s 25th homer, a two-run shot, was all the offense the Bucs could muster.
  • Milwaukee blanked Cincinnati 5-0 on a Kyle Lohse two-hitter. The Brewers are four-and-a-half games out of the final NL wild card.
  • Cassel out for season

    Minnesota has lost starting quarterback Matt Cassel for the season after he suffered broken bones in his left foot during Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.

    Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will start in his place Sunday against Atlanta.

    The Vikings also say guard Brandon Fusco is out for the season with a pectoral muscle injury in the same game.

    Elsewhere:

  • Baltimore left tackle Eugene Monroe will be sidelined for several weeks following knee surgery. Monroe has been a key figure on an offensive line that far has enabled the Ravens to average 4.6 yards per rush. In addition, quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked only three times in three games. Monroe will be replaced by rookie James Hurst, who will start Sunday against Carolina.
  • Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin will miss his second straight game because of a hand injury. Coach Marc Trestman calls McClellin “week to week” and said he will not play Sunday against Green Bay.
  • Titans quarterback Jake Locker did not practice because of an injured right wrist. Whether he plays against the Indianapolis Colts will depend on how much he heals up by Sunday.
  • Buffalo will be without backup receiver and key special teams player Marcus Easley for Sunday’s game against Houston. He injured his left leg in last week’s loss to San Diego.
  • The winless Jacksonville Jaguars have benched two more starters. Coach Gus Bradley is sitting down safety Winston Guy and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds in favor of backups Josh Evans and J.T. Thomas. Evans and Thomas will start Sunday at San Diego.
  • NFLPA hires investigator in Rice case

    The NFL players’ union has hired former federal prosecutor Richard Craig Smith to oversee its investigation into the Ray Rice domestic violence case.

    Smith will look at how the league and the Baltimore Ravens handled issues of due process and discipline in Rice’s domestic violence case. He’ll also look at the conduct of the league office and the Ravens that led to the indefinite suspension Commissioner Roger Goodell (guh-DEHL’) gave to Ray Rice.

    The Ravens cut Rice after video of him punching his then-fiancée in a hotel elevator went public. Originally, Goodell had given Rice a two-game suspension.

    Rice and the NFL Players Association have appealed his suspension.

    Cowboys owner Jones denies payoff money claim

    An Oklahoma woman accuses Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a lawsuit of paying her for at least four years to keep her from reporting an alleged sexual assault.

    An updated lawsuit filed Monday by Jana Weckerly’s attorney accuses Jones of forcibly touching Weckerly and kissing her on the lips without her consent more than five years ago – then bullying her into not reporting the alleged attack. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages.

    Jones has denied Weckerly’s allegations. The Cowboys have cited an earlier statement from a Jones attorney calling the claims “completely false.”

    A hearing is set Friday on whether the lawsuit should be dismissed.

    DA will not press charges in Ward death; civil case ahead

    A grand jury in New York State has decided not to bring criminal charges against Tony Stewart in the August death of a driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York.

    Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said the victim, Kevin Ward Jr., was under the influence of marijuana the night of the accident and it was enough to impair judgment.

    A few hours after the grand jury’s decision was announced, the Ward family indicated in a statement read over the telephone by sister Kayla Herring that they will seek civil damages in the young driver’s death.

    Mobil 1, Stewart’s primary sponsor, says its funding for the three-time NASCAR champion remains unchanged.

    Bass Pro Shops and Rush Truck Centers, two of Stewart’s other top sponsors, both strongly supported the driver when he made his return to racing after three weeks in seclusion.

    Bledsoe gets $70 million over 5 years

    The Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe have agreed on a five-year, $70 million contract. The deal is considerably more than the four-year, $48 million the Suns initially offered but well below the five-year, $80 million-plus maximum contract Bledsoe sought as a restricted free agent.

    Rangers Stepan breaks leg

    New York Rangers center Derek Stepan has broken his lower left leg during a conditioning drill. The 24-year-old Stepan missed a scrimmage on Sunday and preseason game on Monday with a leg injury. After several X-rays, he was cleared to take part in fitness testing on Wednesday.

    The Rangers say it’s unclear how long Stepan will be sidelined.

    ESPN suspends Simmons 3 weeks

    ESPN has suspended Bill Simmons for three weeks after he repeatedly called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar during a profane tirade on a podcast.

    Simmons’ podcast was released yesterday. He said he thought Goodell lied about not knowing what was on a security video that showed former Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his wife in an elevator.

    Simmons is the editor of the sports web site “Grantland,” which is owned by ESPN.

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