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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Tuesday morning was another instance of that -- one of the first players on the court working up a sweat and teaching on the side.

    BOSTON -- There were three regulars for the Cleveland Cavaliers that joined the bottom-of-the-roster guys on the first bus to the TD Garden on Tuesday morning: Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton and JR Smith. 

    Despite that early morning workout, Smith's official status for the preseason opener against the Boston Celtics is still unknown because of soreness in his right hip. Head coach Tyronn Lue said he needed to see Smith go through the early-morning shootaround and have other conversations before making a final call. 

    In theory, this is an important camp for Smith. Some inside the organization have been stressing that for weeks.

    Smith, 33, is coming off back-to-back poor seasons and will be fighting off hungry youngsters that are trying to take his rotation spot. With his specific role up in the air, any kind of setback -- no matter how significant -- isn't ideal.

    Only it doesn't seem Lue views it the same. 

    "I mean, his body of work speaks for itself," Lue said. "He's a veteran who helped us win a championship two years ago. I think JR coming in the shape he came in, lost 15 pounds, looks great, great attitude and he's taken on that veteran leadership role as well of telling the young guys how it is and what they're supposed to be doing. He's been leading by example so that's good."

    Tuesday morning was another instance of that -- one of the first players on the court working up a sweat and teaching on the side.

    Smith's up-in-the-air playing status comes on the heels of being held out of team's annual intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday, only taking part in a fun 3-point contest before the exhibition tipped off.

    Even though he's missed some time and the team is taking a cautious approach, the belief is dropping 15 pounds will pay off when the regular season comes. 

    "I think as you get older, helps with the wear and tear on your body," Lue said. "The lighter you are, the better it is for your body. Being in shape the way he came in is phenomenal."

    As for the Cavs, they hope tonight's preseason game allows them to continue to get up to speed on offense while also implementing new defensive strategies. 

    "I just want to see some of the things that we have put that are different and see how those work," Lue said. "Especially against a team like this, you can really tell where you are at defensively. See how it works."    


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    Catcher Yan Gomes says he's ready to start Friday's ALDS opener after leaving Saturday's game against the Royals with a bruised and lacerated right thumb.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- All-Star catcher Yan Gomes said there's no doubt he'll be behind the plate on Friday afternoon for Game 1 of the ALDS against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

    "Absolutely," said Gomes on Tuesday when asked if he would start Friday. "Right now it just feels like a bad cut on my hand. And it's on the outside of my thumb so the ball isn't going to rub against it or anthing."

    The Indians will play Houston in the ALDS opener at 2:05 p.m. Friday.

    Gomes said he was going to swing the bat and do other baseball activities during Tuesday's workout at Progressive Field.

    "I'm hitting today," said Gomes. "I'm doing normal things. It's all just a matter of taking care of the stitches."

    Gomes needed two stitches to close a cut on his right thumb Saturday night. He was attempting to throw out a runner at second base in a game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium when he hit the bat of Alex Gordon with his right hand.

    He immediately left the game for treatment and X-rays. Gomes thought for certain that his thumb was broken, but the X-rays were negative.

    "Right now it just feels like I've got a jammed thumb," said Gomes.

    Gomes finished the season hitting .266 (107-for-403) with 26 doubles, 16 homers with 48 RBI.


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    Here are the starting lineups for Tuesday's intrasquad game between the Cleveland Indians starters and reserves.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here are the starting lineups for Tuesday's Cleveland Indians intrasquad game between the Cleveland Fellers (starters) and the Cleveland Dobys (reserves).

    What: Indians (91-71).
    When: 2:05 p.m.
    Where: Progressive Field.

    CLEVELAND FELLERS

    Francisco Lindor SS
    Michael Brantley LF
    Jose Ramirez 2B
    Edwin Encarnacion DH
    Josh Donaldson 3B
    Yonder Alonso 1B
    Melky Cabrera RF
    Roberto Perez C
    Jason Kipnis CF

    Mike Clevinger RHP

    CLEVELAND DOBYS

    Greg Allen CF
    Rajai Davis LF
    Eric Haase C
    Yandy Diaz 1B
    Tyler Naquin RF
    Erik Gonzalez SS
    Brandon Barnes 2B
    Adam Rosales 3B

    Shane Bieber RHP

    Note: The Dobys will not have a designated hitter and will bat eight in their lineup.


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    The one-point game between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions averaged 9.3 million viewers last Saturday night.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Saturday night's one-point game between Ohio State and Penn State was the most-watched game of the early college football season, ABC and ESPN announced on Tuesday.

    The Buckeyes' 27-26 win drew an average audience of 9.3 million, peaking at better than 12.5 million viewers toward the end of the game. That made it the most-watched game on any network this season, and put in the top five for ABC September broadcasts in the last decade.

    With the game against Penn State and the Buckeyes' win over TCU on Sept. 15, Ohio State has played in the most-watched games of the season so far, according to Nielsen ratings.


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    Check here for entry list, TV schedule for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open this week in California. It is the opener of the 2018-19 season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson, Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Cantlay, Ryan Moore, Hunter Mahan, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, Denny McCarthy, two-time defending champion Brendan Steele and former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder are among those in the field for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open 2018 this week in California. The Safeway opens the 2018-19 season.

    Mulder, who won three straight American Century Celebrity Golf Championships (2015-17), is a sponsor's invite.

    TV schedule

    • Thursday-Sunday, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Golf Channel.

    PGA TOUR
    SAFEWAY OPEN
    Site: Napa, Calif.
    Course: Silverado Resort. Yardage: 7,166. Par: 72.
    Purse: $6.2 million. Winner's share: $1,116,000.
    Defending champion: Brendan Steele.
    FedExCup champion: Justin Rose.
    Previous tournament: Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship.
    Notes: This is the first tournament of the new PGA Tour season. ... Phil Mickelson is the only Ryder Cup player at the Safeway Open. His management company runs the tournament. ... The tournament finished last year shortly before wildfires closed in on Silverado. ... Mickelson and Patrick Cantlay are the only players in the field who were at the Tour Championship two weeks ago. ... Fred Couples is making a rare PGA Tour start. ... Mark Mulder is playing on a sponsor's exemption. The retired Oakland A's pitcher won three consecutive American Century Classic titles, a tournament for athletes and celebrities. ... Steele is going for this third straight victory at Silverado. ... The winner receives an exemption to the Masters and to the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua at the start of next year. ... The PGA Tour leaves for three straight weeks in Asia after this week, returning Nov. 1 in Las Vegas.
    Next week: CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
    Online: www.pgatour.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Ohio State's coach is loving what he sees from the Buckeyes gunners on special teams, and that's big for a sophomore cornerback. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer hated the idea that Ohio State was forced to punt nine times against Penn State on Saturday. But he loved what he saw when the Buckeyes did it.

    Punter Drue Chrisman was put to work nine times for a 47.9 yard average against the Nittany Lions, with no touchbacks and three punts downed inside the 20-yard line. 

    "I can't imagine one better," Meyer said, admitting he hasn't studied national punters but believing Ohio State has the best one.

    He liked the coverage even more.

    Meyer said receiver Terry McLaurin and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah each had three tackles on punt coverage as the gunners. Those are the outside players who line up on punts like receivers do on offense, then are tasked with getting around the defender right in front of them and racing down the field to put pressure on the return man and either force him to make a fair catch or tackle him as soon as he grabs it.

    Both McLaurin and Okudah were all over it Saturday.

    "I could go on for the next hour and a half and talk about special teams because that was significant as anything, especially the punt, our punt coverage. That's elite right now, and it's driven by two guys that are also starters on offense and defense," Meyer said.

    In a game like that, Meyer was impressed by how hard McLaurin and Okudah went on special teams while playing huge roles on offense and defense. Okudah was forced to play even more on defense after fellow corner Damon Arnette went out with an injury. Arnette is probable for Indiana on Saturday.

    "(McLaurin) and Okudah were just blown out to the point where the most average human beings would pull themselves out of the game," Meyer said.

    Meyer said the Buckeyes had tough conversations since the Penn State game with some younger players about why they aren't contributing more. The example he used for the team was what those two gunners are giving the Buckeyes right now.

    "Why are you not running down on punts? Explain that to the team right now," Meyer said of what some of those conversations are like.

    He has at least two guys that are. He knows how much they mean to the No. 3 team in the country.

    Watch the video for more on why I think this is even a bigger deal for Okudah than for McLaurin.


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    Check here for odds to win World Series 2018, according to Bovada as of Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 2.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Boston Red Sox are Bovada's favorite to win World Series 2018, as of the afternoon before the playoffs begin. Bovada is a notable online sports betting site.

    The Chicago Cubs play host to the Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night, Oct. 2. The AL Wild Card Game is Wednesday night.

    The Red Sox went an MLB-best 108-54 and won the AL East by eight games. Their run differential was +229.

    Bovada gives the AL Central champion Indians the fourth-best odds to win the World Series. The Tribe opens a division series on Friday in Houston. The Astros, who were 103-59 and won the AL West by six games, have the second-best odds to win it all.

    2018 World Series - Odds to Win

    Boston Red Sox                       3/1

    Houston Astros                        13/4

    Los Angeles Dodgers                 6/1

    Cleveland Indians                      9/1

    Milwaukee Brewers                    9/1

    Atlanta Braves                          11/1

    New York Yankees                    11/1

    Chicago Cubs                           14/1

    Oakland Athletics                      14/1

    Colorado Rockies                     18/1

    2018 National League Champion - Odds to Win

    Los Angeles Dodgers                 7/4

    Milwaukee Brewers                    13/4

    Atlanta Braves                           4/1

    Chicago Cubs                           11/2

    Colorado Rockies                      6/1

    2018 American League Champion - Odds to Win

    Boston Red Sox                       7/4

    Houston Astros                         2/1

    Cleveland Indians                     11/2

    New York Yankees                    6/1

    Oakland Athletics                      9/1


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    The Indians will start Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger in the first three games of the ALDS against Houston. Starters Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer will open in the bullpen. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians have a starting pitcher for the first three games of the ALDS. It's important because in a best-of-five series, things can end that quickly.

    Corey Kluber will start Game 1 against the Astros on Friday at Minute Maid Park at 2:05 p.m. ET. Carlos Carrasco will start Game 2 on Saturday at 4:37 p.m. On Tuesday manager Terry Francona made it official that Mike Clevinger would start Game 3 on Monday at Progressive Field.

    The Astros will counter with Justin Verlander in Game 1, Gerrit Cole in Game 2 and Dallas Keuchel in Game 3. Keuchel is the only lefty among the six pitchers.

    As for Trevor Bauer, 7-0 against the Astros in his career, he'll be working out of the bullpen along with fellow starter Shane Bieber for the first three games of the series. Should the series reach four games, Bauer or Bieber will be a candidate to start.

    "It's going to be Clevinger in Game 3 and Game 4 will be either Bieber or Bauer," said Francona. "We're trying to take our roster and expand it a little bit. Depending on how Bauer and Bieber are used early, that could determine who starts Game 4. On the flip side, the hope would be that Carrasco will be available at some point to maybe facilitate the bullpen at the back end of the series."

    Regarding bringing Kluber back on short rest to start Game 4, Francona said it's something the Indians would like to avoid.

    Normally Bauer would have started one of the first two games of the series, but he suffered a stress fracture in his right leg on Aug. 11. Bauer has made three appearances since being activated and the last was his most impressive. On Sunday, the final game of the regular season, he threw four scoreless innings in relief of Carrasco in a 2-1 win over Kansas City.

    It offered an indication of how Francona could use him out of the bullpen.

    "I can see Trevor, Bieber, too, but I can see if we get where we want to go, Trevor having a bigger hand in it than he realizes right now," said Francona.

    The one thing Francona said he didn't want to do was overuse Bauer in the first two or three games.

    "That's not my preference," he said. "It depends on need. Having Trevor as a starter can be really important. If we need him to help us win those other games, again, we wouldn't use him without a leverage situation. But if we got some leverage, again, that's where we're going to try and figure it out. The other thing, too, is I don't know if I'd want him to go that long without pitching, so an inning or two wouldn't hurt him anyway."

    In the ALDS last year, Bauer started Game 1 and came back on short rest for Game 4. Kluber started Game 2 and Game 5. Kluber was not 100 percent in the ALDS. He struggled in Game 2, but the Indians won in 13 innings. In Game 5, he struggled again as the Yankees eliminated the Tribe.

    Bauer won Game 1, but lost Game 4 as the Indians kicked the ball around behind him.

    Francona said the Indians talked about starting Kluber in Game 1 or Game 2 against Houston.

    Kluber said he wanted Game 1.

    "He's ready to accept the challenge of anchoring our staff," said Francona. "We've talked about it to him -- about pitching Game 1 or pitching Game 2. There are some obvious reasons for both. He really wanted - and I don't want to say burden because I don't think it's a burden - the challenge of leading our team in the playoffs. I can't think of anybody better."

    Francona did not announce the rest of the 25-man roster. He said that all involved parties had been told if they made the roster or not.

    Regarding players on the bubble, utility man Erik Gonzalez was cleared from concussion protocol and started at shortstop on Tuesday in the Tribe's intrasquad game. Tyler Naquin, recovering from right hip surgery, joined the team from his rehab assignment in Goodyear, Ariz., and played right field.

    Outfielder Brandon Guyer didn't play in the final three games in Kansas City over the weekend. He's been bothered by a sore right shoulder.

    Guyer started in right field and bunted in his first at-bat. The Indians don't have to submit their final 25-man roster until 10 a.m. Friday and Guyer could be a last-minute decision.

    "He actually came and worked out on Monday and took some balls of that bat, stuff like that," said Francona. "We expected him to be fine. We just don't want to push it."

    Catch Yan Gomes didn't play because of a bruised and cut right thumb, but he's expected to start on Friday.

    Last year the Indians went into the ALDS with Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall far from healthy. Then Kluber didn't pitch well and Edwin Encarnacion twisted his ankle.

    The Indians have had to smooth some rough edges on this year's roster as well. They added Josh Donaldson. Relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen needed to get back on track. Jose Ramirez ended the season in a long slump and they had to navigate around Bauer's injury/comeback and Ramirez and Jason Kipnis changing positions because of Donaldson.

    It led to the Indians not always playing well over the last several weeks.

    "It's not a lot of fun, because it's unsettling," said Francona. "But I think -- in fact, I know -- it was for a good reason. Now, we're going to see if it pays off. We think we have Donaldson in a good place. We think Andrew's come so far. Kip's had three weeks to play center field. Jose's had three weeks at second. If you have too many question marks, sometimes the answer is no. And we really don't want that to happen."


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    Mitchell could still return this season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns placed starting cornerback Terrance Mitchell on injured reserve on Tuesday, the team announced. They elevated defensive back Jeremiah McKinnon from the practice squad to fill his roster spot.

    Mitchell had surgery on his broken right wrist on Monday morning, a day after injuring it against Oakland breaking up a pass to Jordy Nelson. Head coach Hue Jackson said after the game that it was a possibility Mitchell could be lost for the season, but was more optimistic on Monday.

    "I do not think that it will be season ending," Jackson said on Monday. "Obviously, he had the surgery. It is going to be some time, obviously, but I do not think that it may be season ending."

    Each team is able to designate two players to return from injured reserve and do not need to designate them until they are able to return to practice. Players are required to miss a minimum of eight games, but are eligible to return to practice after six weeks. The earliest Mitchell could return to game action is Dec. 9 against the Panthers.

    McKinnon played well in the preseason for the Browns and spent the first four weeks of the season on the team's practice squad.


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    JR Smith said he hasn't contacted the league regarding the "Supreme" tattoo on his right calf that they asked him to cover up. He doesn't plan on having that conversation.

    BOSTON -- JR Smith said he hasn't contacted the league regarding the "Supreme" tattoo on his right calf that they asked him to cover up. And he doesn't plan on having that conversation. 

    "No. For what?" he asked when approached by cleveland.com in the locker room at TD Garden in Boston Tuesday night. "I don't talk to the police. That doesn't do anything for me."

    Smith, who got the New York-based clothing brand logo inked on his leg this summer, was notified by the league office on Sept. 30 that he would have to cover it up or get fined. 

    A league spokesman told cleveland.com that "NBA rules prohibit players from displaying any commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair."

    Upon hearing from the league office, Smith lashed out on Instagram, finishing his post that day with a middle finger emoji. In that same message, Smith alluded to the league targeting him specifically and allowing other NBA players to get away with branding. He brought that up once again Tuesday night. 

    "They just said it's branding," Smith told cleveland.com. "But I'm not the only person with brands on me so it's more than that. I know that. They know that. Everyone knows that."

    Smith didn't mention specific names. He said even though some players have talked about this issue amongst themselves, he doesn't want to "tell on anyone." 

    Marcin Gortat has the Jordan Brand's "Jumpman" logo tattooed on his lower leg and Carmelo Anthony has the Warner Brothers' "WB" logo tattooed on his shoulder, a tribute to his hometown of West Baltimore, Maryland. Both tattoos are visible -- and have been for years. 

    As Smith was suiting up for Cavaliers' preseason opener against the Celtics, he stretched out his wine-colored socks about halfway up his leg before putting a pair of Kyrie Irving signature shoes that were gifted to him. The socks covered up about half the tattoo, with the "S-u-p-r" the only portion visible. 

    He has yet to decide what -- if anything -- he will use to keep it hidden consistently throughout the 2018-19 season to appease the league office. 


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    Kevin Love caught an entry pass along the baseline, faced the hoop and canned a 14-foot jumper. It was the beginning of his big night, which helped push the Cavaliers to a win against the Boston Celtics Tuesday.

    BOSTON -- In a year where nearly everything is supposed to be different, the Cleveland Cavaliers' first preseason game had a familiar vibe -- and it started with the opening possession.

    Kevin Love caught an entry pass along the baseline, faced the hoop and canned a 14-foot jumper. It was the beginning of his big night, which helped push the Cavaliers to a 102-95 win against the Boston Celtics Tuesday.

    In past seasons, the Cavaliers ran the first play of the game for Love, hoping it would help him find an early rhythm. This season, it's out of necessity.

    That's one of the many changes.

    It's Love's team now. He's in a new role -- the hub of the offense, the go-to scoring option that the Cavaliers will lean on heavily. He's the leader that's expected to keep the team competitive in the aftermath of LeBron James' departure.

    It's just one preseason game. There's a lot of work to be done. The regular season will bring numerous challenges. The Celtics were playing without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. It was Boston's third preseason game, fighting a bit of fatigue.

    Still, the early results for the Love-led Cavaliers were promising, as the five-time All-Star showed flashes of being the player who once starred in a leading role with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    "It's a great responsibility but I think it's helping me and saying to myself that every day I have to bring it," Love said following the win." The big thing we talked about the last four years was as long as we play extremely hard and bring it every day we're going to give ourselves a chance. This team, we have to do a little bit extra, do all the little things, but we have the guys in the locker room to be able to do that."

    Posting up on the block, initiating offense from the elbow and forcing his way to the free throw line, Love scored 17 points on 5-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range and 5-of-7 from the stripe in 17 minutes. He was done by halftime, as the Cavaliers -- behind a dazzling movement-based offense and active defense -- surged ahead by 19 points at the break.

    "Guys are excited. Guys are super excited to play," Love said. "It's a new chapter for us, a breath of fresh air and we are on the right track so far."

    Rodney Hood, identified as the Cavaliers' second scoring option by head coach Tyronn Lue recently, looked the part. He scored 10 points on 3-of-6 from the field in 19 first-half minutes.

    Cedi Osman, starting in James' old spot, tallied 11 points on 4-of-8 from the field.

    His jumper continues to be a work in progress, as Osman made one of his four triple attempts. However, the second-year man who has been waiting for this bigger opportunity, acquitted himself well. He attacked the basket repeatedly and filled up the stat sheet, adding seven rebounds and four assists.

    Both coaches only played their starters for one half (Cleveland won that portion of the game, 59-40). Lue rotated his first and second units in line changes throughout the first 24 minutes while some of the regulars played deep into the third quarter before mostly giving way to players fighting for end-of-bench roster spots. 

    The new bench unit -- Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver, Sam Dekker and Larry Nance Jr. -- opened the second half and picked up right where the starters left off.

    In his NBA debut, Sexton looked anything but a rookie. He checked in for the first time at the 5:16 mark of the opening quarter and immediately showed off his speed, quickness and tenacity. His first basket came at the 2:54 mark of the first quarter on a goaltend. 

    On the play, Sexton cut behind the defense, received a pass from Nance and tossed the ball off the backboard before it was swatted away, getting credit for a layup.

    The 19-year-old centerpiece of the Irving trade last off-season finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 from the field in 23 minutes. He even buried a pair of 3s -- something that was thought to be a problem coming out of Alabama where he shot just 33.6 percent from beyond the arc.

    Lue also provided Sexton with a good test, sending him back on the floor in the fourth quarter as the Celtics were making a late surge. 

    "Being in that situation in an NBA setting, great environment against a good team and having a chance to produce like he did," Lue said. "Good for him, continue to keep learning. He's going to make some mistakes, but the biggest thing is learning from his mistakes."

    Clarkson, asked to help anchor Cleveland's second unit, tallied 12 points on 5-of-8 from the field in 16 minutes. New arrival David Nwaba chipped in with 12 as well. 

    JR Smith, who has been dealing with right hip soreness, didn't play and it remains to be seen how Lue plans to use the former starting shooting guard. Lue said after the game that Smith will play in the second preseason game. 

    The Celtics were led by Marcus Smart. He scored 15 points. Marcus Morris added 14. Starter Jaylen Brown chipped in with 10. 

    At one point, as the Cavaliers were running the Celtics off their own parquet, an angry fan sitting behind media row shouted, "Take LeBron out of the game!"

    Well, the four-time MVP is gone, clearing the way for another East squad to ascend to the top of the conference. But the Cavs showed Tuesday night, in a building where they celebrated two conference titles, they won't give up that crown without a fight.

    NEXT UP: Cavs host the Celtics on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena. 


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    Sexton was the Cavaliers' second-leading scorer, pouring in 15 points on 5-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range in his debut Tuesday night against the Celtics.

    BOSTON -- The message from head coach Tyronn Lue to rookie point guard Collin Sexton prior to his first NBA game was short and to the point: Play hard and be yourself. 

    So far, so good. 

    Sexton was the Cavaliers' second-leading scorer, pouring in 15 points on 5-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range, in his debut Tuesday night against the Celtics. 

    "I thought I did pretty good," Sexton said following the Cavaliers' 102-95 win. "Made some mistakes, but as I continue playing, those mistakes will be less and less. I feel like it was a good night."

    There isn't much to complain about for the new-look Cavs, especially when it comes to Sexton's performance.

    He displayed the blazing speed that makes him believe he's the fastest player on the roster. The Celtics got a taste of the feisty defense that Sexton's teammates have seen throughout training camp, as the 19-year-old rookie has been picking up full court, diving for loose balls and battling bigger players on switches.

    At one point in the game, Sexton got matched up against Marcus Morris in the post. Not one to back down from a challenge, Sexton tried to stand his ground before getting a bit too grabby and being whistled for a foul. It's all part of the learning process for the talented teenager.

    Still, the willingness to take that challenge is what stood out to Lue. 

    "Thought he was good," he said of Sexton's debut. "Picking up full court, his toughness and things he's doing on the defensive end. Then offensively being able to get in the paint and attack. Just have to pick and choose his spots. I love his aggressiveness, pace and toughness."

    The whole day was a learning experience for Sexton, who was one of the first players to arrive at the team's morning shootaround. Sure, he had those kinds of sessions at Alabama. But not to this level and certainly not at the famed TD Garden, underneath so many retired jerseys and championship banners. 

    "Amazing to be out there," Sexton said. "Just playing in the Garden, used to watch all the great players that played in there and then you being one of them, to go out there and play behind all those people, it was cool."

    Sexton said he wasn't nervous. He doesn't feel jitters before games. It's one of the things the Cavs love about him. He's level-headed, keeps his mind free of the clutter and carries himself like a veteran, according to teammate and mentor George Hill.

    If anything, Sexton was just thrilled to get the first game under his belt and finally match up with players that don't wear wine and gold jerseys. 

    "We're getting tired of playing each other in practice," he said.     

    It looked like Sexton's night was going to end in the third quarter. But Lue had other ideas. Part of the Cavaliers big-picture plan with Sexton is putting him in challenging situations that will help him grow. They have created an environment where winning matters. Yes, even in the preseason. 

    With the Cavs leading by 10, Lue summoned his rookie for the final 5:37. Sexton was the only regular rotation player in the game at that time and it was his responsibility to keep the Cavs in front and guide them to victory.

    Not a problem for a guy who has been demanding the ball in big moments at practice. 

    When the Celtics cut the lead to single digits with about three minutes remaining, Sexton calmly stepped into a jumper and buried it to push Cleveland back in front by double figures. 

    Coming into the NBA, Sexton's jumper was supposed to be a detriment. But members of the coaching staff don't see it that way. They believe his willingness to take those outside jumpers will play a role in how he's defended and his confidence never wavers so don't expect him to start turning down shots. 

    Alongside player development coach Mike Gerrity, Sexton works tirelessly on his jumpshot, trying to master his release. If he can keep defenses honest and keep them from going under screens, he should be able to use his quicks off the dribble to get into the paint and finish around the rim.

    Tuesday night was a positive first step, as he made a respectable 50 percent from outside the paint, including that clutch jumper in the final minutes. 

    "Being in that situation in an NBA setting, great environment against a good team and having a chance to produce like he did, it was good for him," Lue said. "Continue to keep learning. He's going to make some mistakes, but the biggest thing is learning from his mistakes."

    Sexton pointed to a few of those after the game. He had three turnovers. He was called for three fouls. He missed some chances to set up his teammates, racking up just one assist. 

    At one point, while there was a pause for free throws, Sexton walked near the Cavaliers bench for a chat with JR Smith, who has taken on a larger leadership role this season. Throughout the night, Hill was staying in Sexton's ear, trying to teach him through his first NBA game. 

    Those talks weren't about shot selection. They weren't about miscues. They were about the important little details that often get overlooked or even forgotten while the game moves at such a rapid pace. 

    "Just make sure the team is under control, that I'm running the team the right way and the right way is following them," Sexton said of those messages. "They tell me little stuff like how to make sure the guys are under control, make sure I bring the guys in on free throws and stuff like that.

    "I follow them and they have helped me tremendously."

    If all goes according to plan this season and he can build off this promising start, Sexton's teammates may soon be following him instead.  


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    Cleveland Indians players and coaches are looking forward to facing the defending World Series champions. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Two teams that were built for October baseball are ready to face off Friday in the American League Division Series, and for the Cleveland Indians, facing the defending champion Houston Astros is a challenge they welcome with aplomb.

    Houston captured the regular-season series against the Indians, 4-3, outscoring the Tribe 45-29 in seven games. Greg Allen's walk-off home run in the 14th inning on May 27 salvaged a split of the four games between the two teams at Progressive Field.

    The season series was contested in the space of nine days in late May and included a handful of pitchers duels as well as a couple of blowouts that went in Houston's favor. Manager Terry Francona said the Astros are a fun team to play because their lineup and pitching staff are both relentless.

    "The one thing that I think they've really done for the last couple years is they play until it's time to go home," Francona said. "Sometimes you'll beat them, but they might just have run out of outs. They keep coming at you. You've got to pay attention to detail, but they're fun to play because they've got so many good players, so many good pitchers."

    Indians center fielder Jason Kipnis said you don't have to look too hard to see similarities between Cleveland and Houston's lineups and the strategies employed by both offenses.

    "This year, we're really good at swing-and-missing the least," Kipnis said. "We put the ball in play. That's something they did well last year and they'll tell you that it helped them. Just putting the ball in play can cause a lot of runs and a lot of havoc for the other team."

    It's a philosophy that has served the Indians well this season, leaning heavily on Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez at the top of their batting order for production. But Kipnis also said in the postseason, offenses like Houston's learn to make adjustments.

    "You need to have a long lineup," he said. "You need to put up tough at-bats and get to the next guy. I'm sure they're preaching the same thing."

    That productivity on offense can come from anywhere. Catcher Yan Gomes, one of the hottest Indians hitters in the final month of the regular season, said the postseason is about seizing momentum.

    "Playoff baseball is different, anybody can get hot," Gomes said. "At any point the momentum can shift and we just want to keep it on our side."

    Both teams have rosters loaded with All-Star talent and plenty of playoff experience. Kipnis believes this might be the best roster Cleveland has put together heading into the playoffs in the last three years in terms of talent, health and depth. Healthy pitchers including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco along with sluggers such as Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson give added dimensions to the roster that were not present during previous playoff runs.

    "We just have a bunch of extra stuff that we didn't have in '16 and '17," Kipnis said. "Top to bottom pitching and everything, this might be the best roster we've had."

    Kipnis said the Astros are a good matchup because they play well in all facets of the game. He characterized the pairing as one of the most even series in the first round.

    "They're aggressive," he said. "They really have from top to bottom maybe the most athletic lineup and they have a lot of confidence. It's going to be a lot of fun to lace it up and get on out there."

    Veteran reliever Andrew Miller said Houston's lineup is unrelenting from top to bottom, but he has faith that the Indians' pitching depth can neutralize Astros hitters in a short series.

    "It's pretty strong throughout," Miller said. "They're one of the best teams in baseball, they've shown that over the last two years. Our hands are going to be full and it's not going to be easy. But we've got some pretty good arms. We'll be prepared, we'll be ready."


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    Tony Wolters hit a tiebreaking single with two outs in the 13th inning, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Tuesday night in an epic NL wild-card game.

    CHICAGO -- Tony Wolters waited and waited as the NL wild-card game went deep into Tuesday night. He stretched a couple of times and tried to figure out when he might get a chance to play.

    When that opportunity arrived, he was ready.

    Wolters hit a tiebreaking single with two outs in the 13th inning and the Colorado Rockies outlasted the Chicago Cubs 2-1 at Wrigley Field in the longest win-or-go-home postseason game in major league history.

    "Probably the biggest hit I've ever had, that's for sure," he said.

    The 26-year-old Wolters, claimed off waivers from Cleveland in 2016, entered as part of a double switch in the bottom of the 12th. The reserve catcher came up with runners at the corners and drove in Trevor Story with a liner back up the middle off losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks, quieting the crowd of 40,151 on a crisp fall night.

    After playing its third big game over three days in three different cities, Colorado now heads to Milwaukee to open a best-of-five Division Series against the NL Central champion Brewers on Thursday at Miller Park.

    "We didn't make it easy on ourselves, that's for sure," Story said, "but we're going to enjoy this one tonight and we're definitely not done."

    Scott Oberg, the sixth Colorado pitcher, fanned Kris Bryant for the final out of the 12th and then struck out the side in the 13th to end the longest postseason game at 104-year-old Wrigley Field. Terrance Gore tried to sell that he was hit by a pitch, but was sent back to the plate after a replay review confirmed the initial call.

    After Albert Almora Jr. struck out swinging for the final out, Wolters ran out and grabbed Oberg. They were soon joined by the rest of the excited Rockies in a rollicking purple mob near the mound.

    "You're always wondering, 'How's this going to end?' But our guys fought all night and to be able to get that last out there was great," Oberg said.

    Wolters got his first hit since Sept. 10 in his playoff debut, and it was just the second postseason game for Oberg. Previously, the longest winner-take-all games in the postseason were 12-inning affairs in the 2014 AL wild-card round and Game 7 of the 1924 World Series.

    This one had pretty much everything, too. Hendricks was the third starting pitcher used by the Cubs, after Jon Lester worked six solid innings and Cole Hamels was pressed into action after the teams were tied at 1 through nine. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado exchanged a memorable hug with Javier Baez after he tagged the excitable Cubs star in the 11th.

    Colorado moved on to the Division Series for the first time since 2009. The Rockies lost to Arizona in the NL wild-card game a year ago.

    "Such a crazy game," Story said.

    The Cubs made it to the NLCS in each of the previous three seasons, winning the 2016 World Series to break a 108-year drought, but they were plagued by an inconsistent offense all season long. Chicago finished with six hits and left 10 runners on base after managing only three hits in Monday's 3-1 home loss to the Brewers in the NL Central tiebreaker.

    "Yeah, we played that game a lot," manager Joe Maddon said. "Believe me, it was on my mind for a large part of it."

    This time, it was Kyle Freeland cruising through Maddon's lineup.

    Starting on three days' rest for the first time in the pros, Freeland struck out six in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. The Denver native looked quite comfortable in his first career playoff appearance, helping his hometown team bounce back from Monday's NL West tiebreaker loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

    Lester helped Chicago stick around by matching a career playoff high with nine strikeouts in his 26th postseason appearance. But he took a little while to settle into the game, and the Rockies took advantage.

    Charlie Blackmon led off with a five-pitch walk. DJ LeMahieu followed with a ground-rule double on a 3-2 pitch -- with the ball getting stuck in the famed ivy in left-center -- and Arenado's sacrifice fly drove in Blackmon.

    Lester then limited the damage by striking out Story and Matt Holliday with LeMahieu on third.

    That one run looked as if it might hold up as Freeland cruised into the seventh. After Story robbed Daniel Murphy of a hit with a diving grab at shortstop in the seventh, manager Bud Black replaced Freeland with Adam Ottavino.

    Chicago loaded the bases with two outs, getting some help when Drew Butera was called for catcher's interference, but Ottavino struck out pinch-hitter Jason Heyward to end the inning.

    The Cubs got another chance when Anthony Rizzo singled with two outs in the eighth, and Maddon went for it. He ran for his star first baseman with speedy Terrance Gore, who promptly swiped second.

    Ottavino had an 0-2 count on Baez when his third pitch got too much of the plate. The free-swinging slugger drove it into the gap in left-center for a tying double, easily scoring Gore from second and sending a charge through the crowd.

    Hitters had been 0 for 36 against Ottavino with an 0-2 count this year.

    By Jay Cohen, AP sports writer


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    Terry Francona has Trevor Bauer in the bullpen early in the Houston Series. Is the Tribe manager taking the right gamble? Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Trevor Bauer in the bullpen?

    Listening to Terry Francona, it wasn't hard to understand what the Tribe manager has in mind.

    He didn't say it, but the Tribe manager seems to have an Andrew Miller role in mind for Bauer in the best-of-5 American League Division Series. It opens Friday in Houston.

    Bauer as Andrew Miller. That would be the Andrew Miller of 2016, when he was the most dominant reliever in the game.  

    It's when Francona would bring the long, lean lefty with the sensational slider into a game anywhere from the fourth to the late innings.

    "Leverage situations," Francona calls it.

    This is Francona's gamble, the kind that can help the Indians upset the favored Astros in this series.

    He wants a power pitcher who can throw multiple innings marching in from the bullpen to keep a game from getting out of control. I like it.

    The move is a bit bold. It is also based on sound reasoning, as Bauer is capable of pitching in relief.

    For his career, he has a  2.45 ERA in 22 innings out of the bullpen.

    The Astros are the defending World Series champions. They finished with a 103-59 record this season, compared to 91-71 for the Tribe.

    Houston is the better team.

    But the better team doesn't always win in a  5-game series, as Tribe fans know from watching their team be upset by the Yankees in the 2017 ALDS.

    BAUER'S REMARKABLE SEASON

    Bauer prefers to start. He was 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, striking out 221 batters in 175 innings.

    Bauer was a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate when he was hit in the leg with a line drive on Aug. 11. He suffered a stress fracture and didn't pitch again until Sept. 21.

    "If we get to where we want to go, Trevor (will have) a bigger hand in it than he realizes right now," Francona said.

    Had Bauer remained healthy, a strong case could have been made to having him start the opener. His season was matching 20-game winner and opening day Tribe starter Corey Kluber.

    Bauer is 7-0 with a 3.18 ERA for his career against the Astros.

    He also was in an early season Twitter battle with some Houston players. You can imagine it adding even more high-octane fuel to Bauer's pitching engine.

    But Bauer didn't stay healthy.

    He's pitched twice since coming back, covering 9-1/3 innings. He's been pretty sharp, allowing two runs and striking out seven. But he has not thrown more than 60 pitches.

    CHANGING THE GAME

    Here's the problem: Miller has dealt with hamstring, knee and shoulder injuries since he threw 19-1/3 innings over 10 games in the 2016 post-season. It was a lot to ask, but the Tribe needed a lot from Miller to reach Game 7 of the World Series.

    Miller had a 2-4 record and a 4.24 ERA this season.

    Cody Allen had the worst season (4-6, 4.70 ERA) in his seven years with the Tribe.

    Dan Otero (2-1, 5.22 ERA) and Adam Cimber (0-3, 4.05 ERA) also have struggled.

    Only Brad Hand (0-1, 2.28 ERA) and Oliver Perez (1-1, 1.39 ERA) have consistently supplied relief.

    I believe it's why Francona has Mike Clevinger ready to start Game 3, with Bauer set for Game 4. The manager will never say it, but this bullpen is not the kind to carry a team to the World Series.

    At least, not unless something changes. It's why rookie starter Shane Beiber also will be in the bullpen - although he could start Game 4 if Bauer is used a lot in the first three games.

    In the playoffs, Francona's approach has been to "win today's game." He'll worry about tomorrow . . . tomorrow. Bauer in the bullpen may put the Tribe in the best position to do just that.      


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    Despite turnovers Baker Mayfield still gives Cleveland a winning chance

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Well, the Cleveland Browns (1-2-1) lost a heart breaker in overtime Sunday to the Oakland Raiders (1-3). Despite giving up four turnovers that led to 21 points, they probably still should have won the game, mainly because of the play of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.

    Granted Mayfield was responsible for all four turnovers, but he kept coming back and throwing strikes, overcoming numerous dropped balls to lead the offense to 42 points. The Browns haven't scored over 40 points in a game since they scored 41 against Kansas City in 2009.

    Even after just two games, if the Browns are behind, there is the feeling that Mayfield can bring them back.

    We'll see how Mayfield progresses this week with the first-place Baltimore Ravens (3-1) coming to town fresh off of a convincing beat down of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Needless to say if the Browns are to beat Baltimore for the first time since 2015, Mayfield will want to avoid feeding the Ravens' top five defense turnovers.

    Crowquill, by Plain Dealer artist Ted Crow, appears three times a week in The Plain Dealer and on cleveland.com.


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    Check here for tee times, TV schedule for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open 2018 this week. Phil Mickelson is in the field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson, Joaquin Niemann, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Cantlay, Ryan Moore, Hunter Mahan, Fred Couples, Jason Dufner, Denny McCarthy, two-time defending champion Brendan Steele and former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder are among those in the field for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open 2018 this week in California. The Safeway opens the 2018-19 season.

    Mulder, who won three straight American Century Celebrity Golf Championships (2015-17), is a sponsor's invite.

    TV schedule

    • Thursday-Sunday, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Golf Channel.

    PGA TOUR
    SAFEWAY OPEN
    Site: Napa, Calif.
    Course: Silverado Resort. Yardage: 7,166. Par: 72.
    Purse: $6.2 million. Winner's share: $1,116,000.
    Defending champion: Brendan Steele.
    FedExCup champion: Justin Rose.
    Previous tournament: Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship.
    Notes: This is the first tournament of the new PGA Tour season. ... Phil Mickelson is the only Ryder Cup player at the Safeway Open. His management company runs the tournament. ... The tournament finished last year shortly before wildfires closed in on Silverado. ... Mickelson and Patrick Cantlay are the only players in the field who were at the Tour Championship two weeks ago. ... Fred Couples is making a rare PGA Tour start. ... Mark Mulder is playing on a sponsor's exemption. The retired Oakland A's pitcher won three consecutive American Century Classic titles, a tournament for athletes and celebrities. ... Steele is going for this third straight victory at Silverado. ... The winner receives an exemption to the Masters and to the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua at the start of next year. ... The PGA Tour leaves for three straight weeks in Asia after this week, returning Nov. 1 in Las Vegas.
    Next week: CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
    Online: www.pgatour.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Doug Lesmerises and Bill Landis discuss Ohio State's playoff chances, chat with Brady Quinn about the Buckeyes and answer your questions.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two teams lead the race for the College Football Playoff, according to ESPN prognostications: Ohio State and Alabama. Both teams have a near identical chance of making the four-team field come December.

    So we're discussing the playoff chances of the Buckeyes and the Big Ten on a new episode of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, which you can listen to below. We're using two ESPN predictions as the jumping off point:

    We discuss how good we feel about Ohio State making the playoff coming off a win against Penn State, whether the Big Ten can get multiple teams in, chat with Fox analyst Brady Quinn (who's calling this week's game against Indiana), and answer your Ohio State football questions.

    You can always submit questions via Twitter to the @BuckeyeTalkPod account. You can also now submit questions, comments and complaints via email to BuckeyeTalkPod@gmail.com.

    Before listening to the podcast below, make sure to subscribe to Buckeye Talk at any of these places:

    Buckeye Talk on iTunes

    Buckeye Talk on Google Play

    Buckeye Talk on Stitcher

    Buckeye Talk on Spotify

    Thank as always to ShopOhioState.com and MinuteManTickets.com for supporting Buckeye Talk.


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    Maybe the Buckeyes are closer to their ceiling than we realize.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State might not be as far from reaching its potential as Urban Meyer thinks.

    Monday, Meyer said of the 5-0 Buckeyes, "there is a tremendous ceiling on this, and we haven't got close to it."

    In the moment, that sounded right to me. In general, I've thought of the Buckeyes as a "young" team compared to last year's "old" team.

    A year ago, the Buckeyes counted six fifth-year seniors among their core players, plus nine fourth-year players. Guys like J.T. Barrett, Billy Price, Tyquan Lewis, Chris Worley, Sam Hubbard, Damon Webb and Jalyn Holmes made the Buckeyes go, and you knew who they were before the season started.

    That was 14 true veterans that played a lot.

    This season, the Buckeyes also have 14 veteran fourth- and fifth-year players among the core of 32 players on offense and defense that should be considered starters or co-starters. 

    That's more than I realized. The full breakdown of the 32 is this:

    * 5 players from the Class of 2014 (fifth-year players)

    * 9 players from the Class of 2015 (fourth-year)

    * 10 players from the Class of 2016 (third-year)

    * 8 players from the Class of 2017 (second-year)

    When I followed up with Meyer about Ohio State's ceiling, he went into a defense of what this team has accomplished already.

    "With all due respect, we went on the road twice, against TCU, a top ten team on the road, and Penn State on the road. I don't know any school in the country that did that this year," Meyer said. "We walked away with wins. Also we lost one of the top football players in America on defense (in Nick Bosa). We're just coaching our tails off to make the guys better. Young players have to contribute. The ceiling here is --  we don't have time. We are just working on what we have to worry about.

    Still, he thinks more is coming.

    I think his primary answer is right, though. They've done a lot in five games.

    So, truly, what don't we know?

    Offense? All the skill guys have done this before, and Dwayne Haskins is settling in. The offensive line has three seniors. Settled.

    Defense? It's younger, with six second-year guys among the 15 defenders that play. But Chase Young, Pete Werner, Jeffrey Okudah and the other Class of '17 members aren't babies anymore.

    So they'll improve. But this team is pretty fully formed. You want a title? You've seen the team that's chasing it.

    Buckeye Take is a quick 300- to 400-word column on a single aspect of Ohio State football. We're trying to replicate in written form the feel of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, where we drop a multitude of opinions every week. We know not all of you listen to the pod (though you should), and we don't want you to miss out on what we're thinking about the Buckeyes.


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    Discussing the idea of a trap game with Ohio State coming off a one-point win against Penn State. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer probably knew the question was coming this week. How does Ohio State avoid another Iowa?

    Last year, after beating Penn State by one point in Columbus, the Buckeyes went on the road and played one of the program's more puzzling games in recent memory in a 55-24 loss in Iowa City.

    Now Ohio State is coming off a one-point win against Penn State again, and ...

    "I only look forward at all," Meyer said Monday.

    He wasn't going down that road. Understandable. Why dwell on a terrible loss that kept you out of the College Football Playoff?

    It's a fair question, though. How will this team avoid whatever that was that happened last year against Iowa? Call it a trap game, physical fatigue, or just being out-coached and out-played -- the Buckeyes would prefer avoiding that when Indiana comes to Ohio Stadium this Saturday (4 p.m., Fox).

    "We haven't had that conversation yet," Meyer said. "We will. That's real. That's -- especially in places like Ohio State where it will be a really good team, and now prepare for another really good team. That will be the message."

    This is different this year. It's up for debate which team is better, last year's Iowa squad or this Indiana team, but it's mostly about where the game is. Ohio State has to combat some of the same things it did last year, but it will be doing that at home.

    That makes a big difference.

    Doug Lesmerises and Bill Landis discuss the potential Penn State hangover more in the video above.


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