Rob Font outclasses Cody Garbrandt at UFC Vegas 27

In the main event of UFC Vegas 27, we saw a pivotal matchup in the bantamweight champion. Former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (12-3) was back to take on the surging Rob Font (18-4).

Garbrandt is returning for the first time since UFC 250 last June. The former bantamweight champion knocked out Raphael Assuncao last June and immediately said that he was going to drop to flyweight to challenge the flyweight champion.

In fact, Garbrandt was booked to challenge for the flyweight title in November. However, the former UFC champion tested positive for COVID and really struggled to get over the virus. After battling COVID, Garbrandt decided to stay at bantamweight for now.

With that decision, the UFC booked him against Rob Font. Font has won three fights in a row leading into UFC Vegas 27. Font took on former title challenger Marlon Moraes back in December.

In what was the most impressive performance of his career, Font knocked out Moraes in the first round. That massive win put Font into the top five and earned him this shot against the former UFC champion.

UFC Vegas 27 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 27 main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Both men took the first few seconds to just try and gauge the range. The two trade jabs to start the striking and Garbrandt landed a nasty calf kick.

Font looked to work his jab, but was a bit out of range. Garbrandt fired a powerful headkick that was blocked by Font. Another good low kick lands for the former UFC champion. Font pushes forward trying to get Garbrandt against the fence.

Garbrandt circles and Font lands his own leg kick. Good jab lands for Rob Font, but Garbrandt counters with one of his own. Huge 1-2 lands for Font and Garbrandt is wobbled. Font tries to press forward, but Garbrandt gets some distance and stays calm.

Garbrandt uses the aggressiveness of Font to time a takedown attempt. The former champion gets Font to the ground with 90 seconds left to work. Font uses an escape to get back to his feet. Once on the feet, Font starts lighting up Garbrandt, but Garbrandt takes him right back down.

The round closes with Font getting back up to his feet. Extremely close round, but with two takedowns and some decent shots of his own, I lean slightly towards the former UFC champion.

Round 2

The second round starts and Font goes right back to the pressure. However, Garbrandt shoots in for a takedown and gets it. Garbrandt starts to attempt to pass the guard while throwing some shots in the guard.

Font tries to use a submission attempt to escape, but Garbrandt scrambles to keep the top position. Garbrandt is in halfguard and Font uses a kimura to scramble and get back to his feet.

Font immediately starts pushing forward behind his jab. Garbrandt tries for another takedown, but this time he can’t land it. The former UFC champion is looking a little tired with two minutes left in the round.

Big jab lands for Font and a counter left lands for Garbrandt. Font continues to touch Garbrandt with his jab and he throws a nice uppercut. Both men whiff on big power shots.

Another good jab for Rob Font. 1-2 lands for Rob Font and he’s gaining more confidence here. More pressure for Font and he lands another stiff jab. Garbrandt shoots deep for a takedown, but Font stuffs it. 1-1 after two at UFC Vegas 27.

Round 3

Entering the third round at UFC Vegas 27 and all the momentum is with Rob Font. Font immediately back on the pressure and jab to start round 3. Garbrandt tries to throw his own, but Font is landing here.

Nasty calf kick lands for Garbrandt. Stiff jab for Rob Font. Garbrandt pushes forward with a combination, but Font counters with two straight brutal 1-2s. Font pushes forward with little respect for Garbrandt here.

Garbrandt tries for another takedown, but Font stuffs it and reverses the position. Font presses Garbrandt against the fence and he tries for his own takedown. Garbrandt uses a scramble to separate and we’re back to striking.

Font presses forward and lands a jab followed by a 1-2. Garbrandt is forced to shoot for a takedown, but Font sprawls nicely. Font gets back to his feet and lands a nice knee to the body.

It’s all Rob Font here as he lands two straight jabs. Nasty hook to the body lands for Rob Font. Garbrandt looking frustrated, but there’s no significant answer. The round closes and it’s either 2-1 or 3-0 Rob Font at UFC Vegas 27.

Round 4

Entering the main event rounds and the former UFC champion needs to turn things around. The two touch gloves and Font lands two straight jabs. Garbrandt lands another really nice calf kick to start his striking.

Counter left hook lands for Garbrandt and Font pushes forward with about four shots of his own. Another nice jab lands for Rob Font. Right hand over the top lands for Rob Font. Garbrandt comes up top, but Font lands a nasty body shot.

Huge short left lands for Garbrandt, but Font just eats it. Body shot lands for Font and it hurts Garbrandt. Garbrandt immediately ties Font up, but Font separates. 1-2 lands for Rob Font and then he lands a good body kick.

Vicious combination lands for Rob Font and he’s in total control. Right hook over the top lands for Font. Leg kick and then a 1-2 for Font. Another jab for Font and Garbrandt is wearing it right now.

Massive 1-2 finds it’s home for Font. Sloppy takedown attempts from the former UFC champion are stuffed by Font. Three straight jabs land for Font. The round comes to a close and it’s all Rob Font here at UFC Vegas 27.

Round 5

Entering the final round here at UFC Vegas 27 and it’s going to take a miracle from Cody Garbrandt. However, entering the final round and Garbrandt looks a little checked out and frustrated.

1-2 for Garbrandt lands and a big combination after lands for the former UFC champion. However, Font pushes right through it and lands nice shots of his own. Garbrandt steps in and lands a big left hook.

The former champion lands a massive right hook. Big 1-2 lands for Rob Font and these two are throwing in the final round. Both trade jabs, but Font doubles it up Huge uppercut lands for Font and Garbrandt is wobbled.

Garbrandt steps away and regains his composure. Font pressuring behind his jab and Garbrandt is trying to regain himself. Two minutes left and another jab lands for Font. Huge right lands for Cody Garbrandt.

A jab and a massive right lands for Font and Garbrandt is hurt again. Garbrandt tries for a takedown and Font is all over him. Another jab for Rob Font. The boxing is so crisp for Rob Font.

1-2 lands for Font and this one is in the final seconds. Garbrandt tries a big spinning attack and Font gets a body lock. Font pulls Garbrandt to the ground and holds on as time expires. This one is over and it should be Rob Font 49-46.

Rob Font def. Cody Garbrandt by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 50-45, 50-45)

Paul Felder announces retirement at UFC Vegas 27

One of the more exciting fighters in the UFC‘s lightweight division is hanging it up. On tonight’s broadcast, top ten lightweight contender Paul Felder (17-6) announced that he was officially retiring.

Felder last fought at UFC Vegas 14 when he stepped in on short-notice to face Raphael Dos Anjos. Felder was competitive with the former UFC lightweight champion while having no training camp.

That fight back in November seemed to relight the fire in Felder. The Irish Dragon had spent most of 2020 leaning towards retirement. However, he declared after UFC Vegas 14 that he wanted to continue.

Since then, months have gone by and Felder started to reconsider. On the UFC Vegas 27 broadcast, Felder said that he’s really enjoyed his time off with his family and he’s been finding it harder and harder to get back in the gym.

Felder has also said in the past that if he didn’t see himself challenging for the title anytime soon, he’d likely hang it up. Well, Felder is ranked ninth in the UFC‘s lightweight rankings and would likely have had to string together three or four wins before getting a title shot.

UFC’s Irish Dragon

It’s been a great career and a heck of a run in the octagon for Felder. Felder made his UFC debut back in 2015 and entered the octagon at 9-0. The Irish Dragon has been in there with some of the best since making his debut with the promotion.

Overall, Felder has gone 8-6 during his UFC run. During that run, Felder has been in there with the likes of RDA, Edson Barboza, and Dan Hooker. The highlight of Felder’s UFC career is his TKO victory over current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.

I’m sad to hear the news tonight, but I completely get where Felder is coming from. It’s unfortunate we won’t see the Irish Dragon in the octagon anymore, but we will get to hear Felder doing some UFC play-by-play for years to come.

Yankees: Good news and bad news in Gerrit Cole domination over Chicago

yankees, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees’ starting pitching has been so good the last four games, they have enjoyed 30 straight innings of scoreless play. The last time a streak like this was in flux, the year was 1932. Impressively, the Yankees have allowed just one run over the last four games, winning five consecutive contests despite lackluster offensive play at times.

To start this incredible streak, Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter on Wednesday, followed by a phenomenal performance by Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery striking out 11 batters on Friday. Of course, Gerrit Cole couldn’t wait for his opportunity to shine, pitching 7.0 innings and allowing four hits, and striking out seven batters.

Cole currently hosts a 1.81 ERA, and the relief pitching continues to dominate. However, the Yankees are dealing with significant injuries in the outfield and are being bailed out by their pitching regularly. This recipe can only last so long.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

While the offense has been spotty the past few games, the Yankees broke out against Chicago on Saturday afternoon. Scoring seven runs, led by Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, and a stout performance from Gleyber Torres. They recorded 11 hits on the afternoon, including five walks, showcasing their patience at the plate.

Torres was the hero of this game, recording three hits and four RBIs, including a double and two singles. Seeing a bit of offensive proficiency was exactly what the Yankees needed, especially against a solid team like Chicago, who is eight games above .500. They plastered one of their top starters, Dylan Cease, who now hosts a 3.18 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

There wasn’t much negativity to go around, aside from the injury woes they are currently facing. It is very unlikely starting outfielder Aaron Hicks makes a return this season after a left wrist injury. In addition, they could use a bit more consistency from starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, who has been their only weak link as of late.

The Yankees will wrap up the series on Sunday afternoon against the White Sox, with Jameson on the mound, and hopefully, he can continue this incredible streak the starters are currently enjoying.

New York Giants: An intriguing competition brewing at slot cornerback

aaron robinson, new york giants

The New York Giants had one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2021. They allowed only 22.3 points per game and 237.9 receiving yards per game (ESPN). The Giants had an excellent secondary loaded with young talent, mixed in with some wise and efficient veterans.

One of the most talented youngsters in the Giants’ secondary was rookie slot cornerback Darnay Holmes. Darnay showed plenty of promise in his rookie 2020 campaign, yet the Giants still went into the 2021 NFL Draft and added another potential starter at slot cornerback, Aaron Robinson.

Now the Giants have a problem, but a great problem to have. The Giants’ problem is that they have so many talented defensive backs and not enough starting positions to give out. Aaron Robinson and Darnay Holmes are two highly-talented, young slot cornerbacks, yet there is only one slot cornerback position.

Aaron Robinson vs. Darnay Holmes

Darnay Holmes

The Giants’ 2020 fourth-round pick, Darnay Holmes, was an outside cornerback during his collegiate career at UCLA. But he impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl playing slot cornerback in 2020 and ultimately made the transition to slot cornerback full-time with the Giants. As a fourth-round pick, Holmes exceeded all expectations in his rookie season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Darnay Holmes had the most targets without a touchdown allowed among rookie defensive backs (52). Darnay also added an interception to the stat sheet in his rookie season along with 5 passes defended, 30 combined tackles, 3 pressures, and 0.5 sack. Granted, he was not lock-down in coverage, as quarterbacks did complete 75% of their passes against him in coverage. However, he did manage to keep receivers out of the end zone and had a few breakups in the end zone.

Darnay  Holmes was not perfect in his rookie season, but he did flash great potential. New York felt the impact when Darnay missed time with an injury. He played in only 12 games this season, however, the Giants struggled to cover the slot when Darnay was absent.

Aaron Robinson

The Giants traded up in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson. This pick initially surprised Giants fans that expected the team to target an offensive lineman in round three. However, fans quickly changed their tune when they found out what a special player the Giants got in Aaron Robinson.

Aaron Robinson is a great fit for the Giants because he has the versatility and physicality that they prioritize. Robinson was efficient in college playing on the outside and the inside, though he is expected to play in the slot primarily with the Giants. Robinson also posted an 80.0+ run-defense grade in his final two collegiate seasons (PFF).

Robinson’s physicality doesn’t just show up in the run game. ARob also has the ability to play bump-and-run coverage. For an inside cornerback, Robinson is impressive when playing press-man. The Giants have made it a point of emphasis this offseason to find press-man cornerbacks. The Giants are looking to switch their scheme back to a man-heavy defense. Aaron Robinson is a perfect fit for the revised scheme that Patrick Graham is looking to install.

Conclusion

Ultimately, while there is only one starting slot cornerback position to give out, the Giants have two very capable defensive backs that should both see the field a lot in 2021. Darnay Holmes earned playing time with an excellent rookie season. Aaron Robinson has the talent to start as well. Expect to see Patrick Graham get creative while he uses these two cornerbacks in a variety of ways, getting both of them on the field as frequently as possible.

NBA scouts divided on ‘one for the ages’ Knicks-Hawks series

new york knicks, julius randle

Too close to call!

That’s how NBA scouts view the New York Knicks-Atlanta Hawks series that will begin Sunday in a 15,000-packed Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks have swept the Hawks in the regular season but throw that record away from the window, as Tom Thibodeau said.

“It’s going to be really, really an interesting series. Not a lot of playoff experience on either side. I think the offense of Atlanta is probably a little more consistent than the offense of the New York Knicks. They have a lot of offensive weapons. But the grittiness and toughness and the defense of New York maybe can neutralize some of that,” said Michael Vandegarde, a former Philadelphia 76ers scout for 18 years, told Empire Sports Media on a phone call.

Both teams have ended their long playoff drought this season. The Knicks bucked the odds to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013, capturing the fourth seed in Thibodeau’s first season with the team. The Hawks, on the other hand, had a coaching change midseason that propelled them to the fifth seed in the East after a slow start. Atlanta’s interim coach Nate McMillan had guided the Hawks to a 27-11 record since taking over from Lloyd Pierce, who was fired after a 14-20 start with a spate of injuries in the roster.

“I believe this Knicks vs. Hawks series will be one for the ages,” said Tony Coleman, a freelance NBA scout, in an email.

“Thibs and (Nate) McMillan both are defensive-minded coaches, respectively, at heart and will present unpredictable strategies to throw the other off their game plan. Two tremendously talented teams playing at another level this season — turning around the direction of the organization in New York’s case, and Atlanta trying to make a statement of being a team in the Eastern Conference to reckon with and not to be looked upon as an easy opponent.”

Another active NBA scout said that the key to this first-round matchup would boil down to execution. The Eastern Conference scout, who preferred not to be named, pointed out that this series is a classic matchup between offense and defense.

The Hawks ranked eighth in the Offensive Rating (115.9) and seventh in Net Rating (+4.5) since McMillan took over. On the flip side, the Knicks have transformed into a defensive juggernaut under Thibodeau. They ended the regular season as No.1 in points allowed from 18th last season, No.1 in opponent’s field goal percentage from 17th last season, and first in opponent’s 3-point percentage from 28th last season.

“This is going to be one of the closest series in the first round. The Hawks have solid outside shooters, but the Knicks have the best three-point defense. If every game goes down the wire, New York has more clutch players. They got Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, Julius Randle, and to some extent, RJ Barrett, who’s hit big shots this season. Atlanta has only Trae Young, but he’s new to this playoff environment, and maybe Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams, but Lou shrunk in big moments against the Denver Nuggets in last year’s playoffs,” said the Eastern Conference scout.

Vandegarde expects a competitive series with both teams grinding out to the “last 8, 6 minutes of the game.”

“Who has a little more composure? Who gets higher-quality shots will play a big role in who will win this series,” Vandegarde said.

The biggest headache for the Knicks in this series is Young, who torched them with 24.7 points and 12.0 assists in their three matchups this season. For Vandegarde, who’s currently consulting for multiple NBA teams, the Memphis Grizzlies-Golden State Warriors play-in game could provide a blueprint for the Knicks on defending Young but with a caveat.

“It will be interesting to see what Thibs does [on Young]. I think it was interesting watching the game last night how Memphis guarded Stephen Curry. [Memphis] threw many double teams at him, and the supporting cast couldn’t make enough plays. Atlanta has a lot more offensive firepower and weapons than the rest of Golden State does,” Vandegarde said.

“I think you could double Trae and get the ball out of his hands, but Atlanta has three-point shooters, slashers, they got offensive rebounders. If you do that, the three-point shooting of Atlanta is a huge concern,” Vandegarde warned.

Coleman, a six-year pro scout who has done live scouting for TPG Sports Group (NBA Summer League) and behind-the-scenes work for a top Eastern Conference team in the past, also shares the same view on defending Young. But he wants the Knicks’ primary defender to be bigger and quicker.

“The best way to guard Trae, in my opinion, is to put a bigger guard on him with a quickness that will be as physical as possible on him. In addition, I would run and jump him with a second defender the minute he crosses the half-court line. In this case, he will have to pass. As a result, the ball is no longer in his hands, minimizing the dribble penetration, kick-outs, and lobs to Capela,” Coleman offered.

Thibodeau revealed earlier this week that he’s been contemplating on using Frank Ntilikina to shadow Young in the series. The embattled Elfrid Payton could remain as the starter, but his token minutes could be further reduced. But to Payton’s credit, he has been effective against Young when he’s the primary defender. Young has only scored two points on 2-of-8 shooting and dished out only two assists against a single turnover in the 14 minutes he was matched up against Payton, according to NBA.com.

Young’s penchant for baiting a foul is also a cause of concern for the Knicks. But Coleman said the Knicks could limit Young’s effectiveness by making him work harder on defense.

“Keep him off the foul line by limiting being in scenarios to foul him. Be relentless about denying him access to the ball while wearing him down over the course of the game with physical play ongoing. Make Atlanta play on one side of the court — not allowing ball reversal to keep Trae at bay, so to speak. Make him play defense. Post him up, make him run off a lot of P/R action to wear him down through physical contact and aggressiveness,” Coleman added.

Meanwhile, a Western Conference scout expects Randle to continue tormenting the Hawks in this series. Randle is averaging 37.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists against Atlanta this season. He dropped 40 and 44 points on the Hawks in their last two wins.

While De’Andre Hunter’s return could boost the Hawk’s defense, the NBA scout couldn’t see a single Atlanta player who could match up well with Randle. Even last year with a healthy Hunter, Randle was unstoppable. The Knicks’ main engine had two monster double-doubles (35 points, 18 rebounds, and 33 points, 11 rebounds) in 2020.

“Their only chance is to double him,” the Western Conference scout said. “So it’s going to be important for the Knicks’ outside shooters to be sharp and consistent throughout the series.”

The Knicks are the only team in the league that ranked in the top 10 in 3-point percentage (39.2%, third), but in the bottom 10 in the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range (34.7%, 24th), according to NBA.com. But they have six players who shot 40 percent from deep.

In many ways, both coaches — Thibodeau and McMillan mirror their teams’ bid in this year’s playoffs. Thibodeau has been demonized for his bitter ending in Minnesota. A playoff success with a young core in New York can absolve that if their surprising regular-season run hasn’t done that yet. Same with McMillan, who is out to put his first-round failures with the Indiana Pacers behind him with this fresh start with the Hawks.

“Thibs is a coach of the Year candidate if he’s not gonna win it. Nate has done a good job after taking it over,” Vandegarde said. And I think that’s everything you could ask for from a coach of the year, but ever since Nate took over, Atlanta has been great as well. I think they’re both extremely quality coaches and quality people.”

The Hawks were expected to make the playoffs with several additions of veteran players to their young core, but it took McMillan to unlock their potential. The Knicks’ turnaround is one of the biggest stories this season.

“I’m not sure if there’s a really big edge from either one guy. I think it’s gonna play out on the players on the court — how the two teams will handle the playoffs atmosphere and intensity. I think that’s the big key. Can Julius (Randle), who has never been to the playoffs, can mimic what he’s done the whole year? Can RJ (Barrett) step up? Can (Trae) Young do it? Can Kevin Huerter do it? Those guys don’t have any playoff experience. Can these guys bring their A-game throughout the series,” Vandegarde said.

Coleman picked the Knicks to win the series owing to their defense. The Western Conference scout also sees the Knicks as a slight favorite.

“Nothing against Nate but Thibs’ brilliance will come out on top in this series,” the Western Conference scout said.

The Eastern Conference scout and Vandegarde, on the other hand, are picking the Hawks because they believe Atlanta is equipped with more firepower.

“I’m excited about the series. I think it can go either way. I don’t think it’ll be a shock in either direction. But if I had to choose, I’d pick the Hawks,” Vandegarde said.

Vandegarde explained that Atlanta has more than enough firepower to overwhelm the Knicks’ defense.

“In the playoffs, it seems to be easier to take one or two players and limit their offensive opportunities. If they can take away Julius (Randle), there’s a lot less on the table for the Knicks offensively,” Vandegarde said.

“Obviously, RJ Barrett has been great, and Derrick Rose has been great. But that’s really the end of the offense. I know they shot it well from 3. But they’re not shooting a ton of 3s. That’s part of their game, but it’s not a major weapon like it is for the Hawks. I just think Bogdan Bogdanovic, (Kevin) Huerter, their three-point ability, John Collins, (Clint) Capela’s offensive rebounding and scoring, bringing Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari off the bench who have a major experience in the NBA as well as playoff experience and their offensive abilities, I just think in the end that will probably win out,” Vandegarde concluded.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Yankees Recap: Gerrit Cole shutout the Sox, Torres most RBI’s again

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Last night in one of the most exciting games of the season, the New York Yankees won game one of the Yankee White Sox series, setting them up for another series win. The Yankees have won seven series wins in a row. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole pitched for the Yankees in today’s matinee, and Dylan Cease pitched for the Sox. The weather was like a summer day, hot and humid under mostly sunny skies. The Yankees shut out the White Sox 7-0.

Gerrit Cole took to the mound in the first inning and faced Tim Anderson, who ground out to Torres. Adam Eaton flew to Brett Gardner in center. Yoan Moncada ground out to first for a 1-2-3 inning for Cole. At the bottom, Luke Voit led for an unusual lineup. He went down on strikes. Brett Gardner flew to left, and a diving Vaughn held on to it. Aaron Judge walked. Gio Urshela flew out to right field to end the scoreless inning.

The second inning was started by Jose Abreu, who singled up the middle. Yermin Mercedes hit into a double play, two outs. Yasmani Grandal struck out to end the half. Gleyber Torres led off the bottom by striking out. Rougie Odor also struck out. Miguel Andujar struck out for Cease’s fourth of the game. No score.

Andy Vaughn led off the third by walking against Cole. Leury Garcia hit into a double play. Nick Madrigal got a base hit up the middle. Anderson walked. Adam Eaton struck out to end the half. Mike Ford led off for the New York Yankees and flew out to left. Kyle Higashioka flew out to center. Luke Voit ground out. Cease put down 7 Yankees in a row. No score.

At the top of the fourth, Yoan Moncada walked, equaling the most walks Cole has issued all season. Abreu struck out. Mercedes hit into a double play. It was the second double play that third baseman Gio Urshela had turned in the game. He created the triple play last night. At the bottom, Brett Gardner ground out. Aaron Judge singled to right for the first Yankee hit. Gio Urshela walked for two on and one out. Gleyber Torres lined to left for a ball that rolled to the wall and Judge and Urshela both scored. Rougie Odor doubled driving in Torres. Miguel Andujar ground out. Mike Ford walked and stole second. Higashioka struck out, but the Yankees broke through in the game with 3 runs to support Gerrit Cole. New York Yankees 3 White Sox 0.

Grandal led off the fifth inning by grounding out. Vaughn ground out softly Higashioka to Ford. Garcia struck out on a 99 mph Cole fastball. At the bottom, Luke Voit singled to no man’s land in left. Brett Gardner singled to center, moving Voit to second. A wild pitch allowed the runners to advance. Aaron Judge, with two on and no outs, struck out. Gio Urshela walked to load the bases. Gleyber Torres faced the new pitcher  Matt Foster and got a 2 run single to left. Rougie Odor went down on strikes. Miguel Andujar ground out, but the Yankees picked up another two runs. New York Yankees 5 White Sox 0.

Madrigal ground out. Anderson singled. Eaton hit into a double play for the Yankee’s fourth double play turned in the game. Mike Ford led off for the Yankees at the bottom by hitting a homer far up in the center field bleachers, a place you don’t see many homers reach (447′). Kyle Higasioka got a single stolen from him when Anderson made an amazing bouncing catch to get Higgy out at first. Luke Voit walked. Brett Gardner singled through the second base umpire’s legs moving Voit to second with one on and one out. Gardner knocked Foster out of the game. Aaron Judge faced the new pitcher Jose Ruiz and struck out on a terrible call. Gio Urshela flew out to right. Yankees 6 White Sox 0.

Moncada led off the seventh against Cole, who had 76 pitches on the day and struck out. Abreu singled. Mercedes reached on a failed double play by Urshela that Odor dropped at second. Grandal struck out on a 100 mph fastball. Vaughn struck out, looking. After the seventh-inning stretch at the Stadium, Gleyber Torres was at the plate, and he singled up the middle. Odor flew out to the catcher. Miguel Andujar sent one to the centerfield wall driving in Torres from first. Ford struck out. Higashioka went down swinging, but the Yankees tacked on another run. Yankees 7 White Sox 0.

At the top of the eighth, Leury Garcia led off and struck out against new pitcher Justin Wilson. Madrigal got a standup triple on a ball that should have been caught near the left-field wall. Andujar is inexperienced in left; Brett Gardner would likely have made that play. Anderson singled, but Madrigal was called out at the plate. Danny Medick pinch-hitting struck out. At the bottom, Gerret Crochet took over for the Sox. Voit flew out to the right-center. Clint Frazier pinch hit for Gardner and went down on strikes. Aaron Judge lined to the left-field wall; it was hit so hard Judge had to spot at first. Tyler Wad pinch ran for Judge. Gio Urshela struck out to end the eighth. Yankees 7 Sox 0.

With last licks on the line for the White Sox, they faced Luis Cessa. Moncada went down swinging. Abreu ground out to Torres. Mercedes flew out to Frazier in right to end the game and complete the shutout. The Yankee’s fifth win in a row, and they were assured of their eighth series win in a row. The winning pitcher was Gerrit Cole, and the loser was Dylan Cease. The final score was Yankees 7 and the White Sox 0.

Yankees’ injured star is close to beginning a rehab assignment

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees’ rotation has been a strength this season. Gerrit Cole has been perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, Corey Kluber and Domingo German have turned their years around after rocky starts, and Jordan Montgomery overcame a bad outing earlier in the week to dominate the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night. Overall, it has been a good couple of months for the unit, as only Jameson Taillon seems to be struggling.

Fortunately for the Yankees, some reinforcements could be on the way. And it’s hard to think of a better addition to an MLB rotation than Luis Severino. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2020, but he is just about ready to make rehab starts, as he successfully completed another step in his recovery.

As a result, the Yankees could get a look at Severino against an actual opponent real soon, as NJ Advance media reported on Saturday.

According to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone, the Bombers are “getting close” to giving the green light for Severino to pitch in a minor-league rehab game. It would be his first game action in more than a year.

The Yankees would welcome Sevy back

The righty, who was a dominant starter for the Yankees in 2017 and 2018, threw another simulated game at the Yankees’ player development complex Wednesday.

“The reports were glowing,” Boone said Saturday. “Velocity, shape of the slider, all of those things. He’s doing really well.”

Severino is shaping up for an early-July return if he can start his rehab assignment next week.

Having Severino back would give the Yankees an extremely strong rotation that would allow them to better manage Taillon’s innings if that’s the direction they choose to follow.

Severino has a career 3.46 ERA with a dominant 1.15 WHIP in 530 innings, all with the Bombers, with 589 strikeouts to round out his resume.

Mets’ injury news: Seth Lugo completes second rehab outing; JD Davis takes reps at first base

As of Saturday morning, the New York Mets could probably field an entire team of players currently on the injured list. Their injury crisis is almost unprecedented, yet they have been able to maintain the top spot in the National League East division with a 21-17 record.

One of the Mets’ players that hasn’t even been able to make his season debut is Seth Lugo, who went down with an elbow injury during spring training. One of the most reliable relievers in the history of the franchise, Lugo won’t appear in official MLB games before June, but he is in the final stages of his recovery and will, barring setbacks, be ready for when it’s time for him to get off the 60-man injured list.

Lugo appeared in two rehab games this week, one on Tuesday with St. Lucie, and another one on Friday with Triple-A Syracuse, according to SNY. Yesterday, he tossed a scoreless seventh frame with one strikeout and a walk. He went out for the eighth, but walked the leadoff man and was pulled at that point.

The Mets’ right-hander threw 25 pitches. His next outing will likely come on Sunday, per Syracuse manager Chad Kreuter.

The Mets want JD Davis to play first base

On the other hand, Mets’ third baseman J.D. Davis, who has been out over a week with a sprained finger, may be preparing to play some first base upon his arrival.

He played first base for Syracuse on Friday night, and Kreuter said that the team wants to see if he can handle the position given that Pete Alonso is currently on the injured list.

Davis should be back with the Mets next week, and his return will be a welcomed development for a team that has been without Jeff McNeil, Alonso, and other stars in the past few days.

NASCAR: Three drivers to watch in inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix

This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series heads south to Austin, Texas for the inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at COTA. No driver in the field has ever run the Formula 1 designed course, setting things up for an interesting weekend. Since nobody in the field has ever raced this track before, this weekend’s event is one of the few with practice and qualifying in 2021.

Sunday’s race is scheduled for 68 laps/231 miles around the 20-turn, 3.4-mile road course. Here are three drivers to watch in the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix:

Chase Elliott (+240)

You can’t go to a road course without throwing Chase Elliott’s name into contention. 5 of his 11 victories have come on road courses, including back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen in 2018 and 2019 as well as back-to-back wins at the Charlotte Roval in 2019 and 2020. Elliott also won last summer at the Daytona Road Course, showing he can adapt to new tracks on the NASCAR schedule.

Although he hasn’t scored a victory in 2021, Elliott’s seven top-10 finishes have placed him seventh in the Cup Series standings. He finished third last weekend in Dover, contributing to Hendrick’s 1-2-3-4 finish. Elliott is a massive favorite this weekend, so expect him to be in a position to secure his first victory of the season.

AJ Allmendinger (+2800)

AJ Allmendinger, making his second Cup Series start for Kaulig Racing, is also a major road course favorite. He has a ton of experience in both IndyCar and IMSA, making him out as one of the best road course racers in the field. Allmendinger’s lone NASCAR Cup Series win came at Watkins Glen in 2014, and he also has four Xfinity Series victories on road courses.

Although he’s only running a part-time Cup Series schedule, Allmendinger is actually running a full-time Xfinity Series schedule. He has a win and six top-5s in 10 races this season, putting his name well into Xfinity Series title contention. Expect Allmendinger to have a chance to pull off an upset on Sunday.

Denny Hamlin (+900(

Denny Hamlin’s having one of the best yet one of the weirdest seasons we’ve seen in a long time. Despite failing to pick up a win through 13 races, Hamlin leads the standings by over 100 points. He has nine top-10s and five stage victories to help maintain his high points position.

Although he isn’t known as one of the best road course racers, Hamlin knows how to race them well. He won at Watkins Glen in 2016 and has seven top-10s on the circuit. Hamlin also has six top-10s at Sonoma Raceway in California. Sunday would be a great opportunity for Denny Hamlin to pick up his first win of 2021.

Former Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson raves about team’s progression, RJ Barrett

New york Knicks, Mike Woodson

The New York Knicks are just one day away from facing off against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday evening in their opening series of the postseason. The Knicks have enjoyed the week off to gather their strength and prepare mentally for their first appearance in the postseason since 2013.

The progress this team has made in just one season has been tremendous, thanks to Tom Thibodeau and Julius Randle. However, we shouldn’t discount the chemistry between the players, the performance of Derrick Rose, and the development of second-year shooting guard RJ Barrett. One former Knicks coach had nothing but great things to say about Barrett and the current state of the team.

SNY’s Ian Begley interviewed Mike Woodson, the Knicks’ former HC, to discuss the development of the team and especially RJ Barrett:

“The chemistry is fantastic because you haven’t had any issues off the floor or on the floor. They don’t fight amongst each other on the floor; they push each other, they’re all positive. It’s just a solid group of guys that’s been assembled in New York this year, solid.”

Woodson left the Knicks to become the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers men’s team. As a 10 year veteran in the NBA and spending the last few years as a coach at the NBA level, he was ready to make the shift and take on a new challenge.

Mike spoke specifically about RJ Barrett, who has experienced major progress this year with his shooting. He’s averaging 17.6 points per game, an increase of 3.3 compared to his rookie season. He also has made a jump in rebounds at 5.8, assists, 3.0, and is shooting .441 from the field. His most impressive statistic, though, has been the improvement of his three-point shooting, currently hitting on .401 of shots over 4.3 attempts per game.
“He’s made a major, major jump. Johnny (Bryant)’s worked with him some and he’s made the leap. Everyone was questioning and doubting him coming into the season, saying he can’t shoot. And he proved them wrong. But there’s always another level. Is he there yet? No, he’s not there. But he’s headed in the right direction, I’ll tell you that.”
Barrett has been a catalyst for the Knicks on offense this year, and his chemistry with Randle has proved to be one of the main factors behind their success. As long as Randle is drawing attention and healthy, Barrett continues to feed in the corners as one of the best shooters in the league from the baseline.
New York will need both Julius and RJ to be playing at their peak potential as they prepare for the Hawks on Sunday.