Sunday, October 4, 2015

{allcanada} Blue Jays get crushed by Rays, will play Rangers in ALDS


Mark Buehrle failed to become the fifth major leaguer to pitch 200 innings or more in 15 consecutive seasons, and the AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays missed out on home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 12-3 Sunday in their regular-season finale.

Starting for the second time in three days, Buehrle (15-8) needed two innings to reach the milestone, but he failed to get through the first.

Two errors led to Buehrle allowing eight unearned runs and five hits over a career-low two-thirds of an inning. He had gone 6 2-3 innings Friday night en route to his 15th win.

Chris Colabello and Darwin Barney homered for the Blue Jays, who needed a win and a Kansas City loss to finish with the AL's best record.

David Price is scheduled to start Game 1 of the Blue Jays' AL Division series Thursday at home against AL West champion Texas. Toronto ended the regular season at 93-69, a 10-game improvement over last season.

Joey Butler homered twice and had six RBIs for Rays.

Tampa Bay's first run off Buehrle scored when first baseman Edwin Encarnacion dropped Steven Souza Jr's soft liner for the Blue Jays' second error in a span of five batters.

Tim Beckham drew a two-out bases-loaded walk and Butler hit a grand slam on an 85 mph offering — the fastest of Buehrle's 45 pitches — to make it 6-0. The slam came after a close call by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez went against Buehrle on a 2-2 pitch.

Manager John Gibbons took Buehrle out after Brandon Guyer's RBI single.

Mikie Mahtook completed the Rays' nine-run first with a two-run homer off Ryan Tepera. Butler had a two-run shot during a three-run fifth.

Colabello hit a solo drive in the fourth, and Barney had a two-run ninth-inning drive.

Matt Moore (3-4) gave up one run and four hits over six innings for the Rays, who went 80-82 under first-year manager Kevin Cash. Tampa Bay was 77-85 last year with current Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

The Rays finished with an MLB-low home attendance of 1,247,668 after drawing 15,815 on Sunday. Tampa Bay drew 1,446,464 last season.


Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki doubled in three at-bats during his second game after missing three weeks due to a cracked scapula and upper back bruises. He went 2 for 5 Friday.

Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier didn't start due to back tightness.


Blue Jays: Toronto work out at home Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Rays: Tampa Bay opens the 2016 season at home against Toronto on April 4.

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{allcanada} Canada wins first ever Junior Davis Cup title


MADRID - Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov won the decisive doubles match as Canada earned its first-ever Junior Davis Cup title with a 2-1 victory over Germany on Sunday.

Shapovalov opened the final with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Marvin Moeller to give No. 1 seeded Canada the 1-0 lead in the tie. Auger-Aliassime then lost his first match of the week, dropping a 6-3, 6-3 decision to Nicola Kuhn as Germany evened up the tie at 1-1.

After going 12-0 through its previous four ties, this was the first time Canada had to play a deciding doubles rubber. But Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov were up to the task against Kuhn and Moeller, defeating the German duo 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in a tight match.

"It was an unbelievable final," said Auger-Aliassime. "We had to clinch it in the deciding doubles but I think we did a great job. The support on the sidelines was amazing. We are really proud of what we did here."

The third member of the winning team was Benjamin Sigouin and the squad was captained by Oded Jacob. Prior to this year, the best finish by a Canadian Junior Davis Cup or Fed Cup team was second place — 2011, 2004, 2003 (Junior Fed Cup) and 2010 (Junior Davis Cup).

"It's very exciting being the first Canadians to ever win Junior Davis Cup," said Shapovalov. "We knew we had the team to do it as all three of the players on this team are great and contributed. We are very excited."

In Junior Fed Cup action, the Canadian girls and team captain Ralph Platz concluded their week on a winning note after falling in the semifinals. In the third-place play-off, Canada defeated Russia 3-0.

Bianca Andreescu started her team off strongly by posting a 6-2, 6-2 win over Evgeniya Levashova. Charlotte Robillard-Millette then secured Canada the bronze medal with a 6-3, 7-5 victory opposite Olesya Pervushina. In the doubles match, Vanessa Wong and Andreescu teamed to give Canada the sweep, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 against Elena Rybakina and Levashova.

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{allcanada} Power play, Galchenyuk among Canadiens' X-factors


The Montreal Canadiens have a glaring need for offense, but it's not yet clear where it will come from.

In order to improve on their 20th-ranked 2.61 goals per game from last season, the Canadiens made a number of offseason tweaks without a big splash.

General manager Marc Bergevin signed free agent forward Alexander Semin and acquired Zack Kassian from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade for Brandon Prust.

Each player comes with a checkered history, but they also have clear offensive talent.

The ability of one or both of those players to bounce back and take full advantage of his skills would help the Canadiens offensively, but that might not be enough to solve the problem.

Here are three other X-factors that will impact Montreal's offensive issues:

Fixing the power play: One of the main reasons Bergevin signed Semin was to help a power play that finished 23rd last season.

Semin is coming off the worst season of his NHL career, but he has something the Canadiens have been seeking for years: a dangerous right-handed shot.

Daniel Briere and PA Parenteau were brought in to provide that but each lasted one season in Montreal.

Having a right-handed shot on the power play could free up defenseman P.K. Subban for one-timers by forcing penalty killers away from the left point. If Semin can provide a deterrent to opposing forwards cheating toward Subban, the Canadiens power play should be able to use its biggest threat more often.

"They have to make a decision," Subban said. "The power play is all about forcing the [penalty kill] to make decisions in terms of who they want to give up and what they want to give up, and then it's up to those players to capitalize and make them pay."

The power play will be run by assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault and coaching consultant Craig Ramsay, two new voices who might breathe life into a unit that grew stale last season under assistant coach Dan Lacroix.

Alex Galchenyuk playing center: The Canadiens are committed to giving Galchenyuk a real chance to play center this season, and the success of that move might have the biggest impact on the team offensively.

Galchenyuk, 21, could be the most skilled forward on the Canadiens, a natural center who can beat defenders 1-on-1 and make plays to set up teammates. Having a player like that in the middle could be the difference between Montreal being a good team and a great one.

If Galchenyuk thrives at center between Lars Eller and Semin, it would allow David Desharnais to center a third scoring line, something the Canadiens lacked last season. It also would lessen the offensive burden on Max Pacioretty, Montreal's only consistent goal scorer, and force opposing coaches into a difficult decision when deploying their top defensive players.

Defensive pairs: The Canadiens will start the season with Subban paired with Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry with Alexei Emelin, and Nathan Beaulieu with Tom Gilbert.

The best thing that could happen is Beaulieu forcing Therrien to give him more than third-pair minutes.

Markov has had a severe dip in play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons, and at 36 it would be wise to manage his minutes in the regular season to keep him fresh for the postseason.

It is more difficult to cut Markov's minutes if he continues to play with Subban.

If Beaulieu shows he can handle the responsibility of taking Markov's place, which would mean facing top forwards every night, it would allow Markov to play fewer minutes paired with Petry and push Emelin out of the top-four into a third-pair role that would be more appropriate for him.

It also would give the Canadiens four puck-movers on their top two pairs, which definitely would help the offense.

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{allcanada} Canadiens agree to terms with Fleischmann


MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, announced Sunday that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year contract (2015-16) with free agent forward Tomas Fleischmann.

Fleischmann, 31, played 66 games with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks in 2014-15, recording 29 points (8 goals, 19 assists). The 6'01'' and 186 lbs left winger served 12 penalty minutes and maintained a +12 differential, while averaging 14:42 of ice time per game.

Since making his professional debut with the Washington Capitals in 2005-06, Fleischmann has played 581 regular season games, contributing 310 points (123 goals, 187 assists). He has scored 29 goals on the powerplay, one while shorthanded and totals 20 winning tallies. He has six 30+ point seasons, with a career-high of 61 in 2011-12 with the Panthers, in 10 full seasons in the NHL, with Washington, the Colorado Avalanche, Florida and Anaheim. He has served 168 penalty minutes. Fleischmann added nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) in 35 career playoff contests in the NHL. One of his goals came on the powerplay and another one was a game-winning tally.

Fleischmann suited up for Czech Republic on the international stage at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, at the 2003 and 2004 World Junior Championships, and at two World Championships (2008 and 2013).

A native of Koprivnice, Czech Republic, Fleischmann was selected in the second round, 63rd overall by the Detroit Red Wings at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He was invited as a professional try out to the Canadiens' training camp. The forward appeared in four preseason games, registering three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a +1 differential.

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