Patriots

All-Star slugger hits 2 homers to reach 300

784044.jpg

All-Star slugger hits 2 homers to reach 300

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera's 300th homer cleared the wall in center field with room to spare and sailed toward the ivy at Comerica Park. That's not the easiest place to retrieve a baseball, but this one should make a nice keepsake. "Somebody got it. They got it somehow," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "They got in there and got it, and that's his 300th, so I'm sure they'll take care of it for him." Cabrera homered twice to reach another milestone in his remarkable career, and the Tigers finished a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 6-4 victory Sunday. Detroit wrapped up a 6-1 homestand against the White Sox and Los Angeles Angels and now leads the AL Central by 1 games over Chicago. The White Sox have lost five straight. Cabrera became the second Venezuela-born player to reach 300 home runs. Andres Galarraga hit 399. "For my country, yes, it's very special," Cabrera said. "Hopefully a lot of players can follow from Venezuela and try hitting 300 more." Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch also homered for Detroit to help rookie Jacob Turner (1-1) earn his first career win. Four relievers pitched for the Tigers, with Joaquin Benoit working a perfect ninth for his second save of the year. Detroit closer Jose Valverde has been dealing with a balky back and did not pitch. Philip Humber (4-5) allowed six runs in three innings. Alex Rios and Kevin Youkilis homered for the White Sox. The Tigers have won 16 of 21. Turner, Detroit's rookie right-hander, bounced back after giving up seven runs in two innings in his last start against the Angels. He went 5 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits. He struck out three without a walk before being lifted after Rios hit a two-run homer in the sixth. "I think the biggest difference is just being more aggressive, attacking the hitters and not really worrying about who might be at the plate, but just going right after them," Turner said. Cabrera and the Detroit offense provided plenty of support. After an RBI single in the top of the first by Rios, the Tigers scored three runs in the bottom half before Humber retired a batter. Berry's two-run homer gave Detroit the lead, and Cabrera followed with a high drive that cleared the fence just to the left of center field for home run No. 299. "I picked the wrong day to get balls up in the zone," Humber said. "The stuff was there, but when you are facing that team, and especially that team when they are hot, your stuff doesn't matter if you leave it up." Cabrera's second homer, in the third inning, was even longer. It ended up around where a camera platform is set up beyond the wall in center. A Tigers spokesman, citing ESPN Stats and Info, said it was estimated at 457 feet. "Dude has some of the most ridiculous pop I've ever seen," Berry said. "His smooth swing, to be able to go that high up and dead center, it's amazing. It's fun to watch. He does it in BP and he does it in the game. It's unreal." It was Cabrera's 23rd homer of the year, and he became the 14th player to reach 300 before turning 30, according to STATS, LLC. Cabrera was 29 years, 95 days old Sunday. When Hank Aaron was that age, he had 309 home runs, according to STATS. Barry Bonds had 222 by that age. Boesch added a two-run shot later in the third to make it 6-1. Humber allowed seven hits and a walk with no strikeouts. He's 3-5 with a 7.55 ERA since pitching a perfect game at Seattle on April 21. The White Sox chipped away after Humber was taken out. Rios' hit was ruled a homer after umpires consulted replay footage, and Youkilis hit a solo shot off Phil Coke in the seventh. Octavio Dotel, the third Detroit reliever, came on with one out and a man on in the seventh and retired all five hitters he faced, with four strikeouts. The White Sox were swept in a series for the first time all season. NOTES: Coke was pitching for the first time since his wife gave birth to a baby girl. Mickenzie LouAnn was born Saturday morning. ... The Tigers could afford to go deep into their bullpen with an off day coming up Monday. Chicago hosts Minnesota, with RHP Gavin Floyd (7-8) returning from a problem with his throwing elbow to start against Minnesota LHP Francisco Liriano (3-9).

Ex-Pats Moss, Law and Seymour among Hall of Fame semifinalists

cp-pro-football-hall-of-fame-logo.jpg

Ex-Pats Moss, Law and Seymour among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Former Patriots Randy Moss, Ty Law and Richard Seymour are among 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

In January, selectors will reduce the list to 15 finalists, who will join seniors Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributor Bobby Beathard on the final ballot. The annual selection meeting will take place Feb.y 3, the day before Super Bowl LII.

Click here for the complete story from NBC's Pro Football Talk.

Since joining Celtics, Irving has grown into complete player

Since joining Celtics, Irving has grown into complete player

BOSTON – For most of this NBA season, the narrative surrounding the Celtics has centered around the maturity of their young players.

Well, there's a much bigger tale of growth on this team. But we're not talking about rookie Jayson Tatum or second-year wing Jaylen Brown.

We're talking about Kyrie Irving, whose desire for growth fueled his decision to want out of Cleveland this past offseason.

And that growth has in turn sparked the Celtics to what has been an unprecedented run of success.

"He's doing things that we never saw when he was in Cleveland," one league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. "He always had great talent, but could he lead a really good team? I think we got our answer now."

The Celtics (16-2) boast the best record in the NBA, which is amazing when you consider Gordon Hayward broke his ankle less than five minutes into the season opener. Not to mention they lost their first two games.

Literally all they've done since then is win.

Boston's 16 straight victories is an NBA record after losing the first two games of the season. The winning streak ranks as the fourth-longest in franchise history.

And while the pieces to Boston's success vary, the man whose growth has been at the epicenter of the Celtics' emergence as a title contender has been Irving.

You can count Mike Brown, Irving's former coach in Cleveland, among those impressed with the growth in Irving on all levels.

"To see Kyrie taking ownership of not only little things offensively, but even on the other end of the floor, leadership and all that other stuff ... I'm happy for him, I'm excited for him," Brown, now an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, told NBC Sports Boston. 

MORE CELTICS

While his numbers have taken a slight dip here in Boston, Irving seems to be better in tune with what he needs to do to positively impact the play of his teammates and the team as a whole.

In Boston's 110-102 overtime win at Dallas on Monday, Irving had 47 points, the most he's scored as a Celtic.

His scoring binge included 10 points in overtime. 

And when talking about his monster scoring night, Irving provides a clue as to how his approach to the game has changed over the years in terms of scoring.

Irving described his breakout scoring night as something that "was called upon," adding: "I don't think I needed to score over 20 or 25 in particular games. So I think if you would have asked me that question probably a few years ago, I would probably tell you that I would definitely be trying to get 40."

Earlier this season, Irving talked about developing some bad habits early in his career because his primary goal, like most high draft picks, was to get buckets. That frequently led to the ball sticking in his hands too long, or him having to force up shots and not getting his teammates involved as much as he should have.

While some chalked it up to him being a selfish player, Brown saw it differently.

"A lot of it was his youth, which is more than understandable," said Brown, who coached Irving in Cleveland during the 2013-14 season. "When he first came into the league, he had played 11 games in college. Before that with high school and AAU, for a guy that talented, it was pretty easy for him. He could go out and get 40 and win and not have to focus on anything else."

Brown recalls one of the early challenges with Irving was getting him to get his teammates involved more consistently.

"One of the things I used to always hit him with, he can score and finish in a crowd like no other, especially at his size," Brown recalled. "He draws a lot of attention. I always used to tell him, whether it's the strong-side or the weak-side, guys in the corners are wide open when you dribble-penetrate because you are such a dangerous finisher."

There would be film study to illustrate this point. It would show just how easily Irving would get to various spots on the floor by breaking his defender down or splitting an upcoming double team. But it would also show that when he made his moves in traffic, far too often his head would be down, which is why he wasn't finding teammates open.

Brown pointed this out as an area Irving needed to get better at if he were going to continue ascending up the point-guard stratosphere in the NBA.

"And you know, he got a little better at it," Brown said. 

Today?

"I tell you right now, he's a double-edged sword," Brown said. "Now, not only can he finish in traffic, now he's finding guys in the strong-corner. He's finding guys in the weak corner. And he's finding guys that are in the slots above the corner on the wing. To see him make that pass with such ease and precision right now, at least for me it's a joy. It's a joy for me because it's something I knew he could do. As a young man in high school and AAU, he's probably thinking, score, score, score. So that's not something he developed growing up, at least he didn't show to me. Now to see him do it, it's beautiful."

It certainly has been for the Celtics, who are off to their best start under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens. Stevens has found a way to blend his system, which is heavily predicated on ball movement offensively and the ability to switch frequently on defense, with Irving's immense individual talent. So far at least, has been a good fit for all involved.

"Kyrie is trying to do his role to the best of his ability," Stevens said. "Obviously, his role garners a lot of attention because he scores the ball and he has those moments where he mesmerizes everybody with his ability to score the ball and handle the ball and stuff. He's trying to do all the little things. It's a brand new system. There's going to continue to be an adjustment period for him. But he's done a good job."

Listening to Irving talk following the win over Dallas, it's clear there's a considerable amount of thought on his part given to how he'll attack defenses even though we're talking about split-second, on-the-fly decisions.

"It just happens," Irving said when asked about his best scoring night as a Celtic. "Just the flow of the game, understanding where spacing is, where the shot is going to come from, when it's time to put the foot on the gas pedal, being aggressive and take advantage of certain things I was seeing out there. But my teammates did a great job of continuing to pressure the basketball."

And he continues to provide both strong play and leadership, which have moved the needle closer to him achieving what he was seeking when he asked the Cavs to trade him during the offseason.

"This was literally a decision that I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward," he said earlier this season.

Watching him inside the Celtics locker room and on the floor, it's clear that he's having a good time out there.

And his career going forward? 

Irving's impact on winning has positioned him to where a strong case can be made for him being a top-5 league MVP candidate.

Following the Dallas win, Irving was serenaded by fans chanting, "M-V-P! M-V-P'" which certainly brought a smile to his face and was somewhat unexpected considering Boston was on the road.

"It's pretty awesome," Irving said of the chants. "But we got a long way to go."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE