Kings

Which Yankees star hit his 200th career HR?

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Which Yankees star hit his 200th career HR?

From Comcast SportsNetCLEVELAND (AP) -- Rafael Soriano and the New York Yankees dodged their way to an important win.Curtis Granderson hit his 200th career homer and Soriano shook off getting hit on the side of his right hand by a line drive as the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Sunday."It feels fine right now," Soriano said after getting struck in the ninth inning by a shot by Jason Kipnis that was headed right at his head. "It hit my glove or my hand, I'm not sure which one first."Soriano recovered to get the ball and make the out, then the right-hander the next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, on a soft liner for his 33rd save in 35 chances since replacing the injured Mariano Rivera as closer.The Yankees have battled injuries all year and after being swept in three games in Chicago, felt the Tampa Bay Rays closing in on their AL East lead."We're really fortunate," manager Joe Girardi said.New York took two of three from the Indians to open a four-game lead on the idle Rays."These are important games down the stretch," Girardi said. "We need wins and to win series. That's the way to do it, win series."The Indians, meanwhile, keep losing. Kipnis had three hits and three stolen bases for Cleveland, which has lost nine of 10 and is 5-23 since July 26."We pitched OK, which made for a decent ballgame," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That makes it easier to take than when you're trailing by a ton of runs and it sucks the energy out of everybody."They did trail quickly, however, when New York took a 3-0 lead in the second off Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13). Granderson's 33rd homer in the sixth made it 4-2 and gave the Yankees a record eight current players with 200 or more career homers."It's cool to accomplish that," said Granderson, who had champagne in a bucket of ice awaiting him at his locker, where his nameplate was changed to read "200"."When you see the list of names, all the guys together on this club, it speaks to what the organization is doing."Boone Logan (5-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings for the win as Girardi turned to his bullpen early."They were well rested," Girardi said of Soriano, Logan and David Robertson, who worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings.Nick Swisher had three hits as New York improved to 26-15 in series finales, including 10-5 in the deciding game of three-game sets.Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki had RBI singles in the Yankees' second and Derek Jeter also drove in a run with a groundout.Jeter went 0 for 5, but still leads the majors with 173 hits.A large group of Yankees fans chanted "Der-ek Je-ter" each time New York's captain came to the plate. Indians fans responded with a resounding boo -- and each side turned up the volume throughout each at-bat.Cleveland's fans cheered the loudest when Jeter bounced into double play to end the ninth against Esmil Rogers.Garcia worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, getting Carlos Santana to pop a 3-2 pitch to right. Garcia thought he had Santana struck out on the previous pitch, stomping around the mound after plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called ball three.The right-hander wasn't as fortunate in the fifth after getting two quick outs. Kipnis singled, Garcia hit Cabrera with a pitch and then walked Shin-Soo Choo. This time, Santana grounded a two-run single up the middle to make it 3-2.Logan came on and retired Michael Brantley on a groundout with runners on first and third.Later, Robertson stared in at Cederstrom and Girardi quickly met Cederstrom at the plate for a chat."I went out as peacemaker," Girardi said.Granderson homered off reliever Tony Sipp. It was the 195th homer this year by the Yankees, who have gone deep in 40 of their last 45 games.Garcia struck out six over 4 2-3 innings. He failed to go the necessary five innings for a starter to get the win and remained 5-1 in daytime starts this year.Jimenez fanned four over five innings, yielding eight hits and three runs. The right-hander dropped to 1-6 with a 7.96 in nine starts since July 14.NOTES:Ohio native John Glenn, the former U.S. senator and astronaut celebrating 50 years since his historic space flight, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Girardi expects updates on 3B Alex Rodriguez, out since July 25 with a broken left hand, and LHP Andy Pettitte, sidelined since June 28 by a broken left ankle when the team returns home. Rodriguez could take regular batting practice before the Yankees play Toronto in New York on Monday. ... Granderson joined Rodriguez, Jeter, Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones in the 200-homer club. ... Cleveland went 1-5 against the Yankees this season.

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

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AP

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

Rinse and repeat. After shocking the Portland Trail Blazers Friday evening at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings hopped on a plane where they’ll face the same team on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back.

Dave Joerger shook up his lineup on Friday, installing De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings responded with their best defensive effort of the season. Cauley-Stein went off for 22 points and 10 rebounds with the second unit and his defensive effort was next level.

The Blazers have become a two-man wrecking crew. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum score the bulk of the team’s points on a nightly basis, but coach Terry Stotts is still searching someone who is ready to step up and help. Jusuf Nurkic is part of the puzzle, but the Blazers need more consistency from the other 12 players on the roster.

BETTING LINE:
Blazers by 12

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
De’Aaron Fox vs. Damian Lillard -- Fox put on a defensive show against Portland at Golden 1 Center. The rookie came into the league with high-end potential as a two-way player and he showed it against Lillard, holding the All-Star point guard to 29 points, but on 9-of-25 shooting. Lillard loves to hoist up shots. If Fox can't provide the same pressure, the Kings will struggle to keep up with the Blazers.

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 4-11, fifth place in Pacific

Trail Blazers: 8-7, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) out, F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Trail Blazers: F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) out, G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out, PG Wade Baldwin (thumb) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
CONSISTENCY -- You can’t show flashes of brilliance and then take a step back. The Kings defensive effort and overall intensity won the game on Friday night. It’s a place to build from.

FINDING A ROLE -- Joerger shook up everything when he turned to Fox and Labissiere. Offensively, both players struggled, as did Bogdanovic off the bench. This group of young players needs to find a role and figure out a way to help the team, even when the shots aren’t falling.

GET DEFENSIVE -- Portland didn’t know what hit them Friday evening, but they’ll have a few hours to make adjustments. Sacramento’s bigs showed on every high screen and roll. The guard and wing play was aggressive and spot on. The Kings are young and energetic. If they can focus that energy on the defensive end night in and night out, they might have a chance to build something.

SERIES HISTORY:
Sacramento leads the season series 1-0 after Friday night’s win. The Blazers lead the all-time series 129-78 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 88-47.

QUOTE:
"Whether you think the sky is falling or not, we are 3-3 in our last 6 games." - Dave Joerger

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

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USATSI

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

Martin Jones was a Boston Bruin for less than a week.

The “Original Six” franchise acquired Jones from the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. Four days later, Jones was traded back into the Pacific Division, this time to Northern California.

The Sharks gave up a first round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly for Jones. It seemed like a fairly high price at the time, but it’s one San Jose was happy to pay: No goalie started more games than Jones over the last two seasons, and the team signed him to a five-year extension this summer.

The first Jones trade in 2015 set off a flood of goalie transactions, as five netminders were traded during Jones’ extremely brief Boston tenure. One of those was Anton Khudobin, who will start for the Bruins as Jones backs up Aaron Dell against  his “former team” on Saturday night.

Khudobin was traded from Carolina to Anaheim, where he started seven games before getting sent down to the AHL. He then signed with Boston in 2016, returning to his former club as the Bruins tried to fill the hole that trading Jones left behind entrenched starter Tuukka Rask.

Jones and Khudobin will have taken vastly different paths to their respective creases on Saturday night. The former enters the game as his club’s undisputed franchise goalie, and the latter the unheralded backup.

Naturally then, Khudobin’s been the better goaltender this season.

Among the 46 goalies that have played 200 five-on-five minutes this season, Khudobin’s .962 five-on-five save percentage was the best entering Saturday, according to Corsica.  So, too, is his .954 save percentage off of high-danger shots.

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 27th (.920) and 14th (.833) in those respective categories.

What does it all mean? For one, it’s early in the season, and the fact that Khudobin’s made seven fewer starts undoubtedly plays a role in his superior performance to Jones.

Mainly, it speaks to just how fickle goaltending can be.

The Bruins backup is arguably getting the nod Saturday night because of how bad the man ahead of him has been. Rask, once one of the league’s best goaltenders, has steadily declined over the last three years and reached a new low this season: This year, he’s 40th out of 46 qualifying goalies in five-on-five save percentage.

Jones has demonstrated this, too. He’s stopped a lower percentage of low-and-medium danger shots at even strength than the last two seasons, but has stopped a higher percentage of high-danger shots.

Plus, he’s played behind one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams after playing behind one of its worst last season, and has benefitted from a corresponding bump in his shorthanded save percentage.

So much of what a goalie does is out of their control. Yet who’s playing in front of them, what kind of shots they see, and how often they see those shots all can affect their performance.

Khudobin and Jones are living proof of that this season.