Friday, April 18, 2014


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CLEVELAND -- Sergio Santos wasn't as wild. He was just as worrisome.

Santos retired Michael Brantley on a hard grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to close out Toronto's 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Melky Cabrera had four hits and scored Toronto's go-ahead run in the seventh inning on Edwin Encarnacion's single before the Blue Jays withstood a shaky ninth by Santos, who bounced back from an awful outing in Minnesota on Thursday.

"It got a little hairy there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But the bottom line is he got it done."

On Thursday, Santos threw three wild pitches in the eighth, allowing three runs to score, and he and two Blue Jays relievers combined for eight walks in the inning as the Twins rallied to beat Toronto 9-5 and sweep a doubleheader.

Clinging to a 3-2 lead against the Indians, Santos gave up a leadoff double to Lonnie Chisenhall and struck out Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher -- on six pitches. Santos then went to 3-2 counts before walking Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana to load the bases before getting Brantley on a one-hop smash that Encarnacion knocked down before touching the bag.

"Trust me, I'd love to get a 1-2-3 with fewer pitches," Santos said. "But it's a long year and I'm trying to learn as much as I can."

Santos insisted he didn't carry Thursday's performance to the mound.

"I didn't think about that once," he said. "The second we left Minnesota, all that stuff was left there. New day. New stadium. New team. New opportunity. That's all I was looking for."

The Blue Jays trailed 2-1 in the seventh before Munenori Kawasaki hit an RBI single off reliever Marc Rzepczynski (0-1), and Encarnacion delivered against Cody Allen.

Steve Delabar (1-0), also involved in the eighth-inning debacle at Minnesota, got the win in relief of starter Drew Hutchison.

Following the game, Kawasaki was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for shortstop Jose Reyes, who has been out since opening day with a strained hamstring.

Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer for the Indians, who have dropped six of eight.

Cabrera got his first three hits off Indians starter Justin Masterson, improving to 15 for 27 against the right-hander.

Down 2-1, the Blue Jays scored twice in the seventh to take the lead and chase Masterson.

Ryan Goins walked with one out and manager Terry Francona pulled Masterson, who allowed six hits, struck out nine and remained without a decision in four starts. Cabrera followed with a single off Rzepczynski, and Kawasaki tied it with his single.

Allen came on to face Jose Bautista, and catcher Yan Gomes' throwing error to first moved up the runners. Bautista was then walked intentionally and Encarnacion hammered his single to centre, putting the Blue Jays ahead 3-2.

Gomes and Swisher had put on a play to try to pick off Kawasaki, but the throw skipped into right field.

"It's a hard one to swallow," Gomes said. "Probably right there it cost us the game."

Santana busted out of a long slump with his homer in the sixth off Hutchison to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.

Santana was in a 1-for-30 slide before he connected off Hutchison, who took a shutout into the sixth with nine strikeouts. Santana had been hitless in his previous 11 at-bats.

Hutchison cruised into the fifth before the Indians finally got to the right-hander. Jason Kipnis beat out an infield single and Santana drove a 3-2 pitch to right for his first homer since Sept. 28.

Toronto pushed across a run in the fourth off Masterson, who had escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third.

Colby Rasmus doubled off the wall in centre with one out and moved to third on Masterson's wild pitch. Brett Lawrie followed with a tapper toward third that Santana charged but was unable to grab with his bare hand as Rasmus scored.

NOTES: Bautista has reached safely in all 17 games. ... Cabrera has 11 four-hit games. With a chance to get his fifth hit, he grounded out in the ninth. ... In addition to the Reyes move, the Blue Jays placed DH Adam Lind on the DL with a sore back. Toronto also purchased the contract of 1B Juan Francisco from Buffalo. They moved INF Macier Izturis (knee) to the 60-day disabled list. ... Hutchison's nine strikeouts matched a career high.

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VANCOUVER -- Striker Kenny Miller wants to make the most of his seemingly limited time left with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Miller, a former Scottish international slated to become a free agent under a quirky contract that expires at mid-season, hopes to start Saturday in the second of back-to-back games with the Los Angeles Galaxy at B.C. Place Stadium. He was deployed as a second-half substitute in the opening encounter last weekend in Carson, Calif.

"Obviously, it's disappointing for any professional to sit and watch," said Miller. "You want to go on that field and you want to be helping the team out and you want to be in a position where you can influence the game.

"If you sit and watch, it's really frustrating, because you can't do that."

The Whitecaps (2-2-2) lost 1-0 to the Galaxy (2-1-1) last weekend. Not only does Vancouver want to avenge that loss but also earn its first victory in three games.

Miller's presence in the starting lineup could come in handy because he leads the team in scoring with three goals and one assist in six appearances.

Coach Carl Robinson used Miller as a substitute last weekend to rest and refresh the 34-year-old Edinburgh native. Miller, who came on in the 70th minute, didn't take kindly to the move.

"I want to play every minute of every game," said Miller. "I don't want to come off. I don't want to sit on the bench.

"I want to play every game. He's paid to make the decisions and that's the decision he made, so you've got to accept it."

Miller had off-season knee surgery, and Robinson, who is in his first season as Vancouver's head coach after two as an assistant, made it known early in the season he'd rest older veterans, especially in road games. Captain Jay DeMerit stayed home for a road game against New England.

But Miller doesn't see a need to rest for health reasons, contending he's "probably the fittest" he has felt since joining the Whitecaps midway through the 2012 season.

If Miller does start, as expected, he'll probably line up in a two-striker formation with Darren Mattocks rather than a lone-striker setup the club has used in the past. Robinson believes Miller and Mattocks play better inside rather than with one out on the wing.

The Whitecaps have only one win -- a 3-1 home decision last season - in nine MLS meetings with the Galaxy. Robinson liked how his team played defensively last weekend, but wants it to produce more scoring chances against an L.A. team he feels has "an aura" because it has won two of the past three MLS championships.

If Miller does get more playing time, it could eventually help his chances of re-signing with Vancouver. Robinson, a former teammate of Miller with Wolverhampton in England, is looking for Miller to make an impact before the club offers him a contract extension.

Vancouver signed Miller to a rare six-month extension last October. In accordance with FIFA rules, he is now eligible to negotiate with other teams and has instructed his agents to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Despite persistent reports last year the striker wanted to rejoin his former Glasgow Rangers squad, Miller has insisted he wants to remain a Whitecap.

But he and the club haven't started formal contract talks.

"There's nothing, there's no update," he said. "On June 30, the contract runs out. Until then, if they don't see it differently, that's when it's done.

"Six months ago, they knew what the situation was going to be and we just get on with that. The club, of they want to talk, then I'll talk. If they don't, then we don't."

In the meantime, Miller plays on -- at Robinson's discretion, with the Vancouver coach not offering any confirmation if Miller would start against L.A. Robinson said Miller's playing time will depend on factors heading into each game between now and June 30. His minutes won't be cut to give young players more action in preparation for his departure.

"A decision won't be based upon any contractual status," said Robinson. "It'll be based on who I think will win us that game, and then (June 30), we'll see where we go."

Robinson admitted he was "sitting on the fence" on Miller's status, adding he has already devised a plan with coaches and management based on this year and next. Dealing with Miller's contract deadline will mark the first step in the plan.

But Miller isn't the only veteran looking to reclaim his starting position. Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker is anxious to play after sitting out the past three games. He missed the first two contests due to a concussion suffered in a freak off-field collision with a bicycle rack but was a healthy scratch last weekend in L.A.

Robinson said Reo-Coker has trained the right way this week, but the English midfielder contended he needs game action to stay at his sharpest.

"The best form of fitness is games," said Reo-Coker.

But working against Reo-Coker is defensive midfielder Matias Laba's return following a one-game suspension for receiving a red card against Colorado on April 5. Robinson was also pleased with the performance of central midfielders Gershon Koffie and Russell Teibert and suggested they'll be called on again.

Teibert, a Niagara Falls, Ont., native, drew Robinson's praise for his aggressive marking of famed Galaxy striker Robbie Keane, who leads L.A. with three goals and an assist this season. Robinson noted Teibert "got under (Keane's) skin."

The Vancouver coach and Keane have also been known to exchange unpleasantries on the field --but not for long. They've been close since they were teenage teammates with Wolverhampton in the mid-1990s.

"We do go way back," said Robinson. "But for 90 minutes, he's not my friend."

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GUELPH, Ont. - Scott Kosmachuk scored twice and set up two more as the Guelph Storm crushed the Erie Otters 7-2 on Friday in Ontario Hockey League playoff action.

Kerby Rychel and Zack Mitchell also had a pair of goals each for the Storm, who lead the Western Conference final 2-0, and Robby Fabbri had a goal and an assist.

Andre Burakovsky and Cory Genovese supplied the scoring for the Otters.

Guelph's Justin Nichols made 34 saves for the win as Erie's Oscar Dansk allowed seven goals on 30 shots.



OSHAWA, Ont. — Jake Smith won the goaltending battle by stopping all 24 shots he faced as North Bay blanked the Generals to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.

Battalion forward Nick Paul scored the game's only goal at 15:40 of the third period.

Oshawa's Daniel Altshuller stopped 50 shots, including 21 in the second period alone, and earned the game's first star.

Neither team could produce with the power play as North Bay went 0 for 4 while the Generals went 0 for 1.

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HALIFAX - Louick Marcotte scored once and set up two more and Antoine Bibeau made 28 saves as the Val-d'Or Foreurs defeated the host Halifax Mooseheads 5-2 on Friday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff action.

Anthony Mantha and Anthony Beauregard each had a goal and an assist for the Foreurs, who lead the third-round series 1-0, and Samuel Henley and Nicolas Aube-Kubel added a goal apiece.

Nikolaj Ehlers and Philippe Gadoury supplied the scoring for the Mooseheads.

Halifax's Zachary Fucale stopped 18-of-22 shots in a losing cause.



BAIE-COMEAU, Que. — Philippe Cadorette stopped all 21 shots his way as the Drakkar blanked Blainville-Boisbriand to take Game 1 of their third-round tilt.

Robbie Graham scored the eventual winner for Baie-Comeau at 11:02 of the third period while Francis Turbide added an empty-net goal at 19:48.

Christopher Clapperton led the Armada with six shots on Cadorette.

Etienne Marcoux kicked out 30-of-31 shots for Blainville-Boisbriand.

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