Masahiro Tanaka fans 10 in Yankees win over Cubs

Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka delivered a dazzling 10 strikeouts and allowed just two bunt singles Wednesday in the New York Yankees’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Tanaka, unfazed by unseasonably chilly weather at Yankee Stadium — where snow fell overnight — walked just one for the second time in three starts this season.

He lowered his earned-run-average from 3.21 to 2.05, drawing praise from Yankees manager Joe Girardi for his smooth transition to America’s major leagues.

“He’s pitched really well and we’re really happy with what he’s done,” Girardi said.

Tanaka had retired 15 straight Cubs batters before Anthony Rizzo’s bunt single against the infield shift to begin the seventh inning.

Tanaka responded by retiring the final six batters he faced — striking out three — before he was replaced by relief pitcher Shawn Kelly to start the ninth.

“He had outstanding command and good command of the splitter,” Girardi said. “He’s pitched really well so far. We’ve been pleased with the adjustments he’s made during the game. That’s important to me.”

via Baseball: Tanaka fans 10 in Yankees win over Cubs | GlobalPost.

Hyun-Jin Ryu stays perfect on the road in Dodgers’ 2-1 victory

Next time Hyun-Jin Ryu starts at home, disguise Dodger Stadium. Put a giant Coke bottle beyond left field. Add a pool in center. Slap Petco Park signs in the dugout or something.

Anything to make Ryu believe he’s pitching on the road, where currently he is invincible.

Ryu was at it again Thursday afternoon, holding the Giants scoreless in his seven innings to help the Dodgers salvage the finale of their three-game series at AT&T Park with a 2-1 victory.

The Dodgers now return home Friday to begin a 10-game homestand, tied with the Giants for first in the National League West with a 10-6 record.

Ryu (3-1) has started four games on the road this season and has yet to give up a run in 26 innings. In his only start at Dodger Stadium this year, he only made it through the second inning.

He gave up four hits, all singles, one walk and struck out three Thursday. Despite his rough start at home, he lowered his earned-run average to 1.93.

via Hyun-Jin Ryu stays perfect on the road in Dodgers’ 2-1 victory – latimes.com.

Video: Manny Pacquiao reclaims WBO welterweight title with unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley Jr. – ESPN

LAS VEGAS – In the view of most, Manny Pacquiao easily beat Timothy Bradley Jr. when they first met two years ago. In the rematch, Pacquiao did it again — and this time he also got the decision he deserved. Pacquiao, who promised to return to the aggressive ways that he seemed to have abandoned in recent fights, took it to Bradley throughout the fight before 15,601 on Saturday night at the electric MGM Grand Garden Arena and was rewarded for his efforts.

All three judges had it for Pacquiao, 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112, as he regained his welterweight world title and handed Bradley his first defeat. ESPN.com also had it for Pacquiao, 118-110.

“I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight,” said Pacquiao, who showed all the fire Bradley had accused him of no longer having.

Bradley had promised to go for a knockout and he did just that, wading into battle even though he is not known for having much power. He has only one knockout since 2007, against a long-faded former lightweight champion Joel Casamayor, but it did not deter him.

Still, that strategy played into Pacquiao’s hands because he was so aggressive, bordering on being reckless. Pacquiao let his hands fly throughout the fight and although he couldn’t knock Bradley down, he landed dozens of powerful punches and left no doubt that he deserved the victory to reverse the split decision loss he suffered on June 9, 2012.

“He gave me a good fight. He’s not that easy,” Pacquiao said. “I listened to my corner about keeping my hands up and timing. He threw a lot of punches. He threw wide, wide, wide hooks. I got hit one time and said it’s not good to be careless.”

Said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer: “Manny was a little sloppy tonight but I was happy with his performance. It looked like Bradley was going for a one-punch home run.”

Bradley said he was hampered by a right calf injury in the first round, but he did not make excuses. He was a sportsman and gave Pacquiao credit for the victory.

“I have no excuses,” Bradley said. “Stuff happens. I got nothing to say about it. ‎You can’t say nothing against Manny. I lost to one of the best fighters in the world. Manny fought his heart out. I tip my hat to his whole corner, Freddie Roach and his whole team.”

Said Joel Diaz, Bradley’s trainer: “After the first round Tim came back to the corner and said, ‘I think I tore my right calf.’ I began to massage it. He was in a lot of pain from that point on and I didn’t have much to work with.”

As soon as the fight started, Pacquiao turned on his aggressive jets and the pro-Pacquiao crowd began chanting “Manny! Manny! Manny!”

[+] EnlargeManny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley Jr.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsManny Pacquiao regained his welterweight world title, avenging his 2012 loss and handing Timothy Bradley Jr. his first defeat Saturday night.

Pacquiao, a southpaw, had great success with his straight left hand. As early as the second round, he used a straight left to knock Bradley off-balance and into the ropes, and then moments later stood him straight up with another excellent left hand. But Bradley, who earned $6 million plus a share of the pay-per-view profits, responded in an action-packed round, slinging overhand rights.

“I tried, I really tried,” Bradley said. “I wanted that knockout. Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world. I lost to one of the greatest fighters in boxing. I kept trying to throw something over the top, that was the plan. I knew I had to do more in this fight than in the last fight.”

“Bradley was wild on the outside so I went to the inside,” Pacquiao said.

They continued to let their hands fly in the third round. Pacquiao landed repeatedly with his straight left hand and Bradley landed hard body shots. They spent most of the wild round going for the knockout.

Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs), who was guaranteed $20 million plus upside on the pay-per-view profits, appeared to hurt Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs) late in the sixth round when he closed the round unloading a sustained flurry with Bradley backed into the ropes. Then he had a huge seventh round. He hurt Bradley and had him hanging on after firing about a dozen unanswered punches with Bradley in a corner. Moments later, he let another flurry fly, although Bradley motioned for him to come to him. Pacquiao obliged and the round ended.

The Filipino icon, still with tremendous speed at age 35, looked more like the younger version of himself, the one who attacked opponents relentlessly. Bradley, 30, of Palm Springs, Calif., was happy to go along and it made for an exciting fight, such as in the ninth round when there were many fierce exchanges, even though Pacquiao got the better of them.

Even though Pacquiao did not get the knockout he said he wanted to get, he still did something nobody else has done — hang an official loss on Bradley.

“He’s fighting Tim Bradley, who nobody has knocked out or beaten,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. “He was fighting one of the great welterweights in the world. He’s not fighting a guy who has cement in his shoes and can’t move and is a 15-to-1 to shot, charitably.”

That last remark was Arum making reference to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s May 3 welterweight title unification fight against heavy underdog Marcos Maidana in a fight Arum spent as much time during fight week criticizing as he did pumping up his own fight.

By the 10th round, the right side of Bradley’s face was red and swollen from eating so many left hands.

“I picked up more steam in the second half when I made adjustments,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley is much better than in the first fight we had. He hurt me on the chin.”

Bradley must have known he needed a knockout in the final round, but was unable to land much of anything, except for an accidental head butt in the final seconds that opened a cut over Pacquiao’s left eye.

[+] EnlargeManny Pacquiao

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports“I think I can fight for two more years,” Pacquiao said after reclaiming his welterweight title. “I am so happy to be a world champion again.”

“That was a helluva performance from two terrific athletes and two great sportsmen,” Arum said. “The crowd was entertained and it was a competitive match. Manny’s performance was absolutely great. I was very pleased. I thought Tim looked to surprise him with a game plan where he became the aggressor and Manny was able to turn that around. I’m really proud of them.”

Bradley figures to return in another major fight regardless of the loss. He remains one of the best in the world.

“Life goes on,” he said. “I’ll just go back to the gym.”

Pacquiao’s next fight could be against the winner of the May 17 title elimination bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado. The winner will be Pacquiao’s mandatory challenger, but what makes it more likely is that Arum promotes all three of them.

If Marquez wins, it would mean a fifth showdown between the all-time greats, the most recent match between them ending with Pacquiao face down on a one-punch sixth-round knockout loss in December 2012.

“I have no problem with fighting Marquez again, but that’s up to my promoter, Bob Arum,” Pacquiao said.

Whatever Pacquiao does next, he said he feels reborn in boxing after a tremendous performance.

“I think I can fight for two more years,” said Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division champion. “I am so happy to be a world champion again.”

video Manny Pacquiao reclaims WBO welterweight title with unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley Jr. – ESPN.

Koji Uehara secures 2nd save of the new season

Boston Red Sox stopper Koji Uehara used some strong pitching on Wednesday to close things out for his second save of the season.

David Ortiz had just put the Red Sox ahead with a three-run home run in the eighth inning that turned a deficit into a 4-2 lead over the Texas Rangers, and Uehara needed just 11 pitches to wrap things up with a perfect inning.

“I was told I’d be going to the mound if we took the lead, and I had been playing catch,” Uehara said. “I had the perfect amount of time to get ready.”

His ERA after five appearances remains 0.00.

Since allowing a run on Sept. 17 last season, Uehara has made 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, and is as steady as ever.

The Red Sox had started the season 3-5 and haven’t been able to get things going. But this was a mood-changing victory ahead of a series at New York against the rival Yankees.

via Uehara secures 2nd save – The Japan News.

Revolution Player of the Month, March 2014: Lee Nguyen

March was a real down month for the New England Revolution. Riding on soaring expectations after last season’s breakout, postseason-clinching campaign, the Revs were touted as Eastern Conference contenders, and Grant Wahl even predicted them to be a dark horse for the MLS Cup title. Opening night against Houston was to be a highly-anticipated spectacle of attacking soccer.

Instead the Revs got spanked 4-0, and the misery didn’t end there. They traveled to Philadelphia and got blanked 1-0, before coming home and drawing 0-0 to Vancouver, a notoriously poor traveling team. If not for a surprise 2-1 victory in San Jose at the end of the month, the Revs would have finished March goalless and winless in four matches. That said, goals and three consecutive strong defensive outings at least gave the impression that things have been stabilized, and a major factor in that stabilization wasLee Nguyen.

The only match Lee didn’t play in was an unmitigated disaster. Yes, the Revs then went on to lose at Philadelphia, but you could see the midfield – and, indeed, the entire team – stabilize with Lee in the lineup. He played well against Vancouver, and then ran the table against San Jose. Nguyen may have started his professional career as a quick-footed winger, but he’s really turned himself into a two-way box-to-box midfielder with excellent creative vision. Moreover, he’s the heart and soul of the Revs right now.

Jake: Remember how bad this team was in Houston? He wasn’t in the lineup that day and since then the Revs have posted a 1-1-1 record with him on the field. He takes so much pressure off the defense with his work rate I’m starting to think that his absence in Houston was a bigger problem than anything the defense did. And that winner against San Jose pretty much sealed his place as the Revs top player in March.

Corey: His contract extension during the offseason already has had significant implications just 4 games into the 2014 season. Nguyen is clearly valued greatly by the Revolution organization and he has shown that he’s prepared to honor that loyalty and commitment by leading the team into a new season which holds great uncertainty. Nguyen looked a more complete player in March than perhaps ever before in a Revs kit. Tactically, his game evolved into more a two-way midfielder with box-to-box tendencies. He is pivotal to the Revolution attack and there’s reason to believe that 2014 will be a good season for him.

Seth: As the 4-0 loss against Houston showed, the Revs are a different team when Nguyen isn’t in the lineup. More than a dynamic attacker, Nguyen helps bring bite to the midfield with timely tackles and smart fouls. Furthermore, the amount of ground that he covers is unmatched. Of course, Nguyen capped his solid month with a game-winning, stoppage-time goal against the Earthquakes. I would say that he clearly earned that contract extension he got in the off-season.

via Revolution Player of the Month, March 2014: Lee Nguyen – The Bent Musket.

New swing has Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa in a better place at plate

New swing has Pirates first baseman Ishikawa in a better place at plate | TribLIVE

Travis Ishikawa came to spring camp with no guarantees.

He was a nonroster invite with scratch-off lottery ticket odds of making the 25-man roster. The only reason he was invited at all was the Pirates failed to find a left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez via trade or free agency.

What he did have was a new swing.

The altered approach helped Ishikawa make a Cinderella run to a roster spot in March, beating out Andrew Lambo to become an unlikely platoon fit for Sanchez. Ishikawa is off to a strong start, batting .308 with a home run in the first week of the season. He has started five of the first six games at first base as the Pirates have faced all right-handed starters to begin the season. The Pirates return to play against another right-hander in the Cubs’ Edwin Jackson at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Ishikawa’s swing adjustment was born in a nondescript warehouse-type structure near Ishikawa’s offseason home in Southern California. It is there that private hitting instructor Craig Wallenbrock has studied the swings of nearly every successful major league hitter over the last 25 years. Ishikawa was introduced to Wallenbrock by his agent when Ishikawa was drafted by the Giants the 21st round in 2002 out of a Seattle-area high school.

“He’s watched so…

via New swing has Pirates first baseman Ishikawa in a better place at plate | TribLIVE.

Filipino-American Jason Brickman lead the nation in assists and became fourth player to 1,000 assists in NCAA Div 1

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Senior point guard Jason Brickman closed out his LIU Brooklyn career by becoming just the fourth player in NCAA history to record 1,000 assists in the Blackbirds’ 81-62 loss to Bryant on Saturday.

Brickman, who had 12 assists in the game, tied his own LIU and Northeast Conference single-season record with 290 assists in 2013-14. In the process, he also became just the second player in men’s college basketball history to average a double-double in points and assists in a year (Avery Johnson — Southern, 1987-88).

Needing only three assists to join an exclusive club that featured just three members, Brickman got things started with a backdoor feed to redshirt junior Troy Joseph at the 16:11 mark of the first half. Less than four minutes later, he found Joseph for a 3-pointer to give him 999 for his four-year career.

The 3-ball from Joseph and a free throw from sophomore E.J. Reed pulled the Blackbirds within four at 15-11 at the 11:51 mark. But a 9-2 spurt by Bryant that was capped by a layup from Alex Francis bumped the margin to double digits, 34-23, with 8:50 remaining in the opening half.

On the ensuing possession, the historic assist came to fruition as Brickman dished to junior Gerrell Martin for a 3-pointer to spark a 7-0 run that brought LIU within 24-20. He finished the half with six assists, and the Blackbirds went into the locker room with the same four-point deficit, 36-32.

The second half was one mired by offensive struggles for LIU Brooklyn, as the team missed its first nine shots and turned the ball over five times in the first 6:34. The Bulldogs built a 19-point lead over the stretch, with Corey Maynard leading the way with 11 points during the span to give his team control.

Brickman finally got the offense going with an assist on another 3-ball from Martin, then assisted on a layup by junior Gilbert Parga to pull LIU within 56-42 near the midway point of the period. That margin is as close as it would get, however, as Bryant built up a comfortable margin the rest of the way.

The only drama down the stretch was whether or not Brickman would secure a double-digit average for the season. Needing three more dimes with 2:40 to go, he threaded the needle with a pass to Reed for a difficult layup down low. On LIU’s next possession, Joseph cut through the middle of the lane for a contested hoop off a pass from Brickman to put him one away.

After a couple missed opportunities, Brickman finally got his 12th assist on a backdoor cut to Martin for a layup with 40 seconds remaining. Brickman, who finishes his career with 1,009 to rank fourth all-time, exited to a standing ovation for the final time in his LIU Brooklyn career.

via LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman becomes fourth player to 1,000 assists | NCAA.com.