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    The Browns will open at home against the Steelers for the second straight season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns will open their 2018 season the same way they did their 2017 campaign -- at home against the Steelers, on Sept. 9.

    But they have no plans of finishing the season the same way, with an 0-16 record.

    It won't be easy to win in 2018, however. The Browns have the fifth-toughest schedule in the NFL based on 2017 records, and have five games against playoff teams before their bye in week 11.

    In the first two weeks alone, they face the AFC North champ Steelers (13-3) and the NFC South champ Saints (11-5) for a combined 24-8 record. 

    It also marks the 16th time in 20 seasons since their return in 1999 that the Browns are opening at home. They're 1-14 in season openers at FirstEnergy Stadium in that span.

    "We like to open at home in front of our great fans and this will be the second season in a row we do it against the Steelers," coach Hue Jackson said in a release. "We start with the best in our division."

    The Browns also finalized the dates and times of their preseason schedule.

    Thursday, Aug. 9 - at New York Giants - 7 p.m.
    Friday, Aug. 17 - Buffalo Bills - 7:30 p.m.
    Thursday, Aug. 23 - Philadelphia Eagles - 8 p.m. (FOX)
    Thursday, Aug. 30 - at Detroit Lions - 7 p.m.

    Week 1: Sept. 9 - Pittsburgh Steelers - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 2: Sept. 16 - at New Orleans Saints - 1 p.m./Fox
    Week 3: Sept. 20 (Thu) - New York Jets - 8:20 p.m./NFLN
    Week 4: Sept. 30 - at Oakland Raiders - 4:05 p.m./Fox
    Week 5: Oct. 7 - Baltimore Ravens - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 6: Oct. 14 - L.A. Chargers - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 7: Oct. 21 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 1 p.m./Fox
    Week 8: Oct. 28 - at Pittsburgh Steelers - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 9: Nov. 4 - Kansas City Chiefs - 1p.m./ CBS
    Week 10: Nov. 11 - Atlanta Falcons - 1 p.m./Fox
    Week 11: Nov. 18 - BYE
    Week 12: Nov. 25 - at Cincinnati Bengals - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 13: Dec. 2 - at Houston Texans - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 14: Dec. 9 - Carolina Panthers - 1 p.m./Fox
    Week 15: Dec. 15 (Sat) - at Denver Broncos - TBD/NFLN
    Week 16: Dec. 23 - Cincinnati Bengals - 1 p.m./CBS
    Week 17: Dec. 30 - at Baltimore Ravens - 1 p.m./CBS

    The Browns will have to be ready for prime time by week when they host the Jets on NFL Network's Thursday Night Football on Sept. 20. It marks their only scheduled prime time appearance of the season, although the time of their Dec. 15 game at Denver on NFL Network has yet to be determined. It could be a 1 p.m., 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. start.

    "We have a Thursday night early in the season and then our bye week in Week 11. That gives us two extended periods at different points in the season for our players to get some rest and recovery," Jackson said. "That's a benefit because it is a long season."

    The Browns and Jets have played each of the past three seasons with the Jets winning all three games.

    Dorsey open to 'all options' at No. 1

    The Browns also close out the season against an AFC North rival -- Dec. 30 against the Ravens. Three of their last six games are against AFC North foes.

    "I'm always excited about the release of our schedule," Jackson said. "The release of your schedule is one of the final pieces to your planning for the season. I like our schedule. It's balanced, it's tough but that's exactly what we expected. We play some really good quarterbacks to start the season and two playoff teams out the gate."

    The schedule features cross-division games against the AFC West and NFC South, with the Browns hosting the Chiefs, Chargers, Falcons and Panthers and traveling to face the Raiders, Broncos, Saints and Buccaneers.

    The Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Steelers and Chiefs are all coming off 2017 playoff appearances, a major reason the Browns' schedule is so tough.

    "It's great that we know the order of our opponents," Jackson said. "We now have a clearer picture of the opponent we will be focusing on first and that's something you can point to throughout the entire offseason."

    The overhauled Browns -- led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- will find out right off the bat how they stack up with the best in the division when the Steelers come to FirstEnergy Stadium on Sept. 9. It marks the eighth the time in franchise history the Browns have opened against the Steelers, who are 32-6 against the Browns since 1999.

    It will also mark the first chance for offensive coordinator Todd Haley to face the Steelers, where he spent the previous six seasons as coordinator.

    The Steelers finished first in the AFC North last season with a 13-3 record, and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Jaguars, 45-42. The Browns, on the other hand, have not won a division game since Oct. 11, 2015 when they beat the Ravens 33-30 in overtime.

    The Browns, who have a chance to transform the roster in the draft beginning next Thursday, will also try to vanquish Ben Roethlisberger, who's 22-2 against them since being taken by Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2004 draft.

    Overall, the Browns are 1-18 in season openers since 1999. They've won two of their past four home openers and are 27-38 all-time in season openers. They wrap up the season series with the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 8 (Oct. 28), and don't see the Bengals for the first time until Week 12 in Cincinnati.

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    The Indians and Twins split the Puerto Rico Series, but there was a lot more than just baseball going over the four days they spent on the island. Watch video

    SAN JUAN, P. R. - A lot of people didn't think the second game of the Puerto Rico Series between the Indians and Twins would get played on Wednesday night.

    About four hours before game time, a TV crew was sitting in the office of Twins manager Paul Molitor at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and the two lanterns on his desk were the only source of light.

    Across the diamond, Indians manager Terry Francona sat in his office playing cards in the dark with Josh Tomlin. They had one lantern and no air conditioning.

    Another island-wide power outage hit Puerto Rico several hours before Wednesday's scheduled first pitch. Some of the light standards at the ballpark were working, thanks to generators. But some weren't.

    Chris Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations, and GM Mike Chernoff met with Twins and MLB officials behind home plate. They talked for close to a half hour and when a reporter asked if he could get an update, Antonetti smiled and said, "No."

    But a few minutes later Antonetti was talking to Indians player rep Andrew Miller. The chances of the game being played were flickering like the lights at the ballpark.

    Would it have made a difference if this one game in a 162-game season was postponed until a later date? The Indians and Twins could have played it in Minneapolis later in the season.

    But MLB and Puerto Rico invested a lot in this two-game series. Puerto Rico wanted to show the world it was open for business after being ravaged by two hurricanes in September. MLB spent a reported $2 million repairing hurricane damage to the stadium to make these games happen.

    They had made a commitment to an island that has a long tradition of sending players to the big leagues and wanted to keep it.

    Finally, the city of San Juan, with the backing of Mayor Carmen Cruz, opened its power grid to the ballpark so the game could be played. Power was sent to area hospitals and the ballpark, but many of the buildings around the ballpark were mostly dark.

    So naturally at such a dire time, when every moment counted, the Indians and Twins not only played one game, they almost played two. The 16-inning game, won by the Twins, 2-1, was the longest international MLB game played outside the continental United States and Canada.

    The lights flickered in the press box more than a few times during the 5-hour, 13-minute game, but the conga drums, thunder sticks, salsa music and singing rarely stopped in the stands. And the power and lights held.

    The Indians should have won the game five or six times in extra innings. But a team-wide failure to lay down a sacrifice bunt cost them. It started with rookie Greg Allen, spread to veteran Rajai Davis and even included MVP candidate Francisco Lindor. If the Indians are going to bunt like that, they may as well not bunt at all. Just swing away.

    But there was more going on here than a failure to execute one of the game's fundamentals. You could see it before the game when Carlos Carrasco came out of the dugout and gave away Indians T-shirts and caps to children in the stands. The day before he'd been honored by the vice mayor of San Juan for his foundation's relief work in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

    When Carrasco, a native of Venezuela, finished handing out the gear that came out of his paycheck, he took the mound and threw seven scoreless innings against the Twins.

    "It was important to do that because that's what I love to do," said Carrasco. "Tony Amato (clubhouse manager) brought all that (from Cleveland) for me. I think it was important to those kids."

    Roberto Perez, Carrasco's catcher, started the 10th inning with an infield single. Perez, never known for his speed, hustled down the line, forcing second baseman Brian Dozier into a bad throw that put Perez on second to start the inning. He was replaced a pinch-runner and received a nice ovation as he came off the field.

    Puerto Rico is home for Perez. His mother, Lillian Martinez, was in the stands. Hurricane Maria destroyed her home in Mayaguez on the western side of the island. Perez is building her a new one.

    "This is a moment I will never forget," said Perez. "I will live with this day the rest of my life."

    The connection runs deep between Puerto Rico and its players. It was easy to see that when Perez talked about his hustle single.

    "The message was there are kids out there (watching) and I just wanted to play the game hard," said Perez. "Especially since we're here. I don't want them to feel like I betrayed them."

    The Indians and Twins spent almost four days in Puerto Rico. They arrived Sunday and left early Thursday morning.

    Indians players donated a full playoff share from last season's ALDS of almost $37,000 to Puerto Rico. It was split between entities in the hometowns of Lindor and Perez. The Indians wives association made a $4,000 contribution to a home for battered women.

    Twins players Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios, Puerto Rican natives, visited hospitals. Twins executives, including Derek Falvey, went to an orphanage, and helped repair damage from the hurricane.

    But probably no one had a better stay on the island than Lindor. On Monday he visited his old grade school in Gurabo, P.R. When he walked through the gates of the school, 250 students and teachers chanted "Lindor, Lindor, Lindor." The students had worked for two weeks on art projects in anticipation of Lindor's visit and they hung them on the walls outside their classrooms.

    He stayed for about two hours, conducting a clinic, talking to students, posing for pictures and giving autographs. Lindor and his mother, Maria, visited each classroom to examine the art projects made in his honor.

    On Tuesday night, in the fifth inning, Lindor hit a two-run homer to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Lindor hit a 3-2 curveball from Jake Odorizzi. For a moment it looked like it would be caught at the wall, but when it found the right field bleachers, the sound the crowd made seemed to come from deep inside the island.

    The next day an Uber driver was headed to the stadium. He hadn't seen Tuesday's game, but he told his passenger, "When I read about what Lindor did, the hair on my arms stood up."

    The sellout crowd of nearly 20,000 wasn't cheering for the Indians or Twins at that moment. They were cheering for Lindor and for baseball. They would have done the same for Perez, Berrios or Rosario if they had matched Lindor.

    You can't let the lights go out on something like that.

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    Here are some things to know about each of the Browns' games in 2018.

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    Akron right-hander Michael Peoples gave up one run and three hits in seven innings.

    AKRON, Ohio -- Ka'ai Tom's RBI single in the eighth inning allowed the RubberDucks to send the game into extra innings Thursday night, but Cole Tucker's RBI single in the 10th gave the Altoona Curve a 2-1 victory over Akron at Canal Park.

    The Curve started the 10th inning with a runner on second as part of the minor league's new pace-of-play rule. After a groundout moved the runner to third, Tucker singled to make it 2-1.

    Akron (7-6) also started with a runner on second and moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt, but Curve reliever Yeudy Garcia ended the game with a strikeout and with a groundout.

    The RubberDucks lost, but right-hander Michael Peoples put in a good performance, giving up one run and three hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked three.

    He was matched by Curve right-hander Dario Agrazal, who gave up four hits in seven scoreless innings, striking out three.

    RubberDucks catcher Sicnarf Loopstok had two of Akron's six hits. The Curve had only five hits in the game.

    Go here to see a box score of the game.

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    We look back at the last 10 NFL Drafts and compare how many Ohio State players were drafted compared to the other teams in the Big Ten.

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    The storms earlier this week muddied fishing waters, but the outlook is good for this weekend: D'Arcy Egan's Fishing Report for April 20.

    CWRU Students and Brown Trout at Wallace Lake .jpegAn ichthyology class from Case Western University worked with Mike Durkalec of the Cleveland Metroparks recently on Wallace Lake in Berea. The students netted and checked a variety of fish, including these three lively brown trout. (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Metroparks)  

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The rowdy nor'easter that roared through Northern Ohio last weekend muddied fishing waters just about everywhere, but lakes and rivers are recovering surprisingly fast. Lake Erie walleye were being caught on Western Lake Erie's near-shore reefs yesterday and some of the Northeast Ohio steelhead trout streams should be in action this weekend.


    The Northeast Ohio rivers and streams are dropping nicely, and should be fishable by the weekend. Many of the post-spawn steelhead trout were most likely swept back to Lake Erie by the flood conditions, but some fresh steelhead also arrived from the big lake.

    The Rocky and Chagrin rivers and Conneaut Creek will clear first, and spawn bags tied with colorful mesh should help them to be seen in stained waters. Fly fishermen will be casting bright egg patterns, sucker spawn and wooly buggers.

    The high water last weekend halted the stocking of 600 pounds of rainbow trout in the East Branch of the Rocky River from Route 82 almost to Wallace Lake. Park officials are hoping to release those fish early this coming week. The smallmouth bass run on the Rocky and Chagrin rivers is just getting started. The Sandusky and Maumee western walleye rivers are both high and muddy.


    Anyone watching the waves crash the Ohio shoreline last weekend would find it hard to believe walleye would be willing to bite around the Niagara Reef complex off Camp Perry. On Wednesday, intrepid anglers took a shot at casting jigs around the shallow rocks and reported walleye success. Hair jigs in purple and black tipped with a very short leader and stinger treble hook did best.

    The trolling fishermen will have to wait a few days before the huge numbers of walleye begin to school up again. While diving plugs and slow trolling speeds have been working, look for drift-and-cast anglers to have success soon with worm-tipped weight-forward spinners.


    Wallace Lake repairs are complete and the small Berea lake's water levels are only a couple of feet low. A fisheries survey there earlier this week revealed good numbers of coho salmon, rainbow trout and even a few trophy brown trout.

    Many of the inland lakes are still muddy, but the upground reservoirs such as Wellington Upground, Norwalk and Oberlin have much clearer waters. Anglers can catch crappies, bluegill, yellow perch and largemouth bass from those lakes.

    The largemouth bass fishing has been good at Mosquito Reservoir and at Turkeyfoot and Mud reservoirs in the Portage Lakes chain. LaDue Reservoir is still quite muddy, as well as Berlin and West Branch reservoirs.


    Steelhead trout fishermen will have a new access area on Conneaut Creek. The Phil Hillman Conneaut Creek Access Area was dedicated last Saturday on South Ridge Road, east of State Route 7. Take I-90 to the State Route 7 exit and head south for about a mile. Turn left on South Ridge Road. The area is a short distance to the east. Hillman was an Ohio Division of Wildlife District 3 fisheries manager for more than 30 years before his recent death. He was instrumental in developing Ohio's steelhead trout fishery and was an avid trout angler.

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    The Indians and Orioles meet for the first time this season in a four-game wrap-around series that starts Friday night at Camden Yards.

    BALTIMORE - Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the series between the Indians and Orioles that begins on Friday night.

    Where: Camden Yards, Friday through Monday.

    TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio will carry Friday, Sunday and Monday's games. Fox Sports 1 will do Saturday's game. WTAM/1100 and WMMS/FM 100.7 will carry the series.

    Pitching matchups: RHP Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.25) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (0-2, 1.40) Friday at 7:05 p.m.; RHP Mike Clevinger (1-0, 2.70) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (0-3, 11.91) Saturday at 4:05 p.m.; RHP Corey Kluber (2-1, 1.52) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (1-2, 3.00) Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 2.60) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (1-1, 5.57) at 7:05 Monday.

    Series: The Indians went 6-1 against the Orioles last year.

    Team updates: The Indians, who have played only two games in the last six days, split a two-game series with the Twins in Puerto Rico. They have the lowest batting average in the AL at .208, but rank third in ERA. The Orioles have lost six straight. They rank 14th in the AL with a .223 batting average and 13th with a 5.11 ERA.

    Disabled list: Indians - OF Lonnie Chisenhall (right calf), INF Giovanny Urshela (right hamstring), LHP Ryan Merritt (left shoulder), RHP Danny Salazar (right hamstring) and RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow) are on the disabled list. Orioles - LHP Zach Britton (right Achilles tendon), OF Colby Rasmus (left hip flexor), 2B Jonathan Schoop (right oblique), DH Mark Trumbo (right quad) and RHP Gabriel Ynoa (shin splints).

    Next: Cubs visit Progressive Field for quick two-game series starting Tuesday night.

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    Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James and a little help from bench going into Game 3 of first-round playoff series against Indiana Pacers

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- First-round action between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers moves to Indianapolis tonight for Game 3 of the series, which is tied 1-1.

    In Game 2, LeBron James was in full playoff mode, scoring the Cavs' first 16 points on his way to a 46-point performance.

    The Cavs ended up needing every one of LeBron's points in what turned out to be a 3-point win, 100-97, because once again the bench, which combined to score only 16 points, wasn't much help.

    Hopefully the bench will get its playoff legs and perform more like it did in the regular season because LeBron might be Superman, but even Superman needs a little help sometimes.

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

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    Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has already made some good moves that give reason to think he'll get it right in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    BEREA, Ohio -- At his Thursday news conference, John Dorsey did a good job of saying nothing in a mildly interesting way about the 2018 NFL Draft.

    That probably was the goal of the Cleveland Browns new general manager.

    What about Sam Darnold losing nine fumbles in 2017 -- the most in Division I football?

    I asked Dorsey about that, and what about fixing it. Is it hard to do so?

    "I don't think it is," he said.

    Then he talked about a quarterback needing to be a very accurate passer and throw the ball "through tight windows in the red zone."

    Doesn't quite sound like USC's Darnold.

    But it sure fits the description of Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.

    How about playing in the AFC North, where weather can be awful.

    He talked about a quarterback having good size and large hands. That's important to hanging onto the ball in cold, wet weather.

    That could be Wyoming's Josh Allen. It's cold in Laramie. And Allen's hands were measured at 10 1/8 inches, the largest of any quarterback at the NFL Combine.

    But in other interviews, Dorsey indicated none of the quarterbacks had hand sizes that were too small. So how is Dorsey going to pick his quarterback at the top of the draft?

    "Listen to every piece of information," he said. "Be very prudent. But also trust your eyes watching film."


    In the end, it comes down to trusting a guy who has spent his post-NFL playing career as a scout and later a player personnel man.

    Dorsey spent seven years as a scout, then 19 more in the player personnel area. He is an old-line football guy.

    But I also think he does use some analytics.

    Tyrod Taylor, the Browns new veteran quarterback?

    The analytics branch of the front office absolutely loved Taylor because he's durable, doesn't turn the ball over and made a bad team better.

    When I asked Dorsey about Taylor, he stressed leading Buffalo to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

    Dorsey's eyes matched what the numbers showed -- Taylor is an experienced, dependable quarterback. He can bring some stability to the position.

    But after signing veteran Drew Stanton as a backup, Dorsey has cleaned out the quarterback room. Gone are DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan.

    Dorsey values experience. He wants depth at the position so there is no need to rush the rookie quarterback into action.

    That's why I think Dorsey could pick Allen and be patient with the physically gifted but raw Cowboy quarterback.


    Dorsey's drafting record in four years in Kansas City is sound.

    His early moves with the Browns are bold and generally make sense.

    He has been blessed with incredible draft riches thanks to the moves of the Sashi Brown front office.

    My favorite quarterback in the draft is UCLA's Josh Rosen. There is very little buzz about him and the Browns.

    But I do think Dorsey will "get some good football players in here," as he said Thursday.

    I also think Dorsey will surprise us, much as he did before free agency opened by trading for Jarvis Landry and Taylor.

    It will take a year or two to really sense how Dorsey did in this draft.

    But my guess is we'll look and be pleased, based on what he has done before.

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    Kevin Durant left in the fourth quarter of Golden State's 110-97 win after rolling his ankle, but he expects to play in Game 4 on Sunday.

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    Here's how we think the first three picks of the draft will play out. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- We are now officially less than a week away from the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns can do whatever they want at No. 1 overall, but what happens in the immediate aftermath of that pick will be very interesting for the Browns and their fans.

    Mary Kay Cabot and I did a mini-mock draft each of the first three picks to see who we think could be left at No. 4 for the Browns. Check out the video above to see our picks and tell us how you think those picks will go in the comments.

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    The Cavaliers play at the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference first-round series. Watch video

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cavaliers play at the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.

    When: 7 p.m.

    TV: ESPN, Fox Sports Ohio

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: Watch ESPN, FoxSports Go apps

    Series recap: The Cavs' 100-97 win in Game 2 tied this series, 1-1.

    Cavs minute: In case you heard differently, the team insists there is no structural damage to Kevin Love's left thumb. X-rays were negative and it's just a sprain; he'll play Friday. ... In the meantime, Love is shooting 8-of-24 in two games. He, along with any number of Cavs, needs to be better. ... Cleveland has won playoff series five times after splitting the first two games, the most recent the 2015 conference semis against Chicago. A side note -- the Cavs lost Game 3 of that series in Chicago. ... LeBron James needs four steals to pass Scottie Pippen (395) as the NBA's all-time playoff leader. James' 46 points in Game 2 stood as his 20th playoff game of 40 or more points, tying Jerry West for second all time. ... Jeff Green has two points in two games.  

    Pacers minute: LeBron's 46 points were the most a Pacers' opponent has ever scored in a playoff game. ... Victor Oladipo is averaging 27 points so far in this series. He scored 22 in Game 2 on 9-of-18 shooting, but was limited by foul trouble. ... Myles Turner is averaging 17 points. He's shooting .619 from the field. Oladipo is chucking it at a .541 clip (and .471 from 3-point range), and Thaddeus Young, though he's only averaging 7.5 points, is shooting .700 from the field. The point -- Indiana is getting good looks. ... Through two games, Pacers' reserves and Cavs' reserves have each scored 47 points. The bench was supposed to be a strength for the Cavs.

    See Cavs stats

    See Pacers stats

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    Check here for live scoring, TV, live streaming, schedules and live updates for NASCAR 2018 and NASCAR Xfinity races this weekend (April 20-21) at Richmond, Virginia.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- NASCAR rookie Bubba Wallace has not be burning up the track this season. But he has made his presence felt going into this weekend's Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond, Va.

    The race is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on FOX. Practice and qualifying will be today on FS1. Live streaming is available on FOX Sports Go. Live scoring and updates are available at NASCAR's Race Center.

    The Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 is tonight at 7 p.m., with qualifying at 4 p.m., both on FS1.

    Wallace is coming off an impressive 16th-place finish at Bristol, including a brief tour as race leader, and now sits 21st in the series standings with a pair of top-10 finishes. Wallace actually led for six laps and was running in the top 10 before late handling issues caused him to fall back.

    It's a short week for the stock car drivers considering Bristol was Monday after weather delays, and this is a two-day event ending with Saturday's short-track (3/4-mile) event at Richmond Raceway.

    It's a perfect setup for the veterans and the power teams to pile up points at the expense of rookies and the lightly funded not used to a short turnaround.

    Here is this week's NASCAR schedule (all times Eastern):

    Site: Richmond, Virginia
    Schedule: Friday, practice, 11:05 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. (FS1), qualifying, 5:30 p.m. (FS1); Saturday, race, 6:30 p.m., FOX
    Track: Richmond Raceway (oval, 0.75 miles).
    Race distance: 300 miles, 400 laps.
    Last year: Brad Keselowski picked up his second win of 2017.
    Last race: Kyle Busch won the weather-delayed race at Bristol.
    Fast facts: It was the second win in as many weeks for Busch. He held off runner-up Kyle Larson, who led a race-high 200 laps on Monday. ... Busch has a 59-point lead over Joey Logano heading to Richmond. Kevin Harvick is third, but he has a series-high three wins and 12 playoff points. ... Ford says it plans to bring back the Mustang for the 2019 season.
    Next race: Geico 500, April 29, Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Alabama.

    Site: Richmond, Virginia
    Schedule: Friday, practice, 8 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. (FS1), qualifying, 4:05 p.m. (FS1), race, 7 p.m. (FS1)
    Track: Richmond Raceway.
    Race distance: 187.5 miles, 250 laps.
    Last year: Kyle Larson won despite leading just 10 laps.
    Last race: Ryan Preece took first in Bristol.
    Fast facts: Last weekend's race was just the second career win for Preece, who also won at Iowa in 2017. Preece pocketed a $100,000 bonus thanks to the Dash 4 Cash program for series regulars and was the fourth different driver to win at Bristol for team owner Joe Gibbs. ... Elliott Sadler, who has seven top-10 finishes in as many races, enters this weekend with a six-point lead over Daniel Hemric.
    Next race: Sparks Energy 300, April 28, Talladega Superspeedway.

    Last race: John Hunter Nemechek won at Martinsville on March 26.
    Next race: May 4, Dover International Speedway, Dover, Delaware.

    (Race capsules from the Associated Press)

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    Check here for live scoring, TV, live streaming and updates from this weekend's (April 20-22) IndyCar 2018 Grand Prix of Alabama.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The tight racing this season with IndyCar already has drivers taking verbal swipes at each other with veteran Sebastien Bourdais leading the way going into Sunday's Grand Prix of Alabama. Coming off last week's disappointing finish at Long Beach, Bourdais had some choice words for his peers calling them, "idiot drivers."

    The race is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Practice and qualifying will be Friday and Saturday.

    Live streaming is available at SportsnetNOW and You can get live scoring and updates at IndyCar's Race Control.

    Bourdais, who won the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, currently sits fourth in the series standings behind Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal. This week at Birmingham's 15-turn Barber Motorsports Park is the last race before a three-week break going into the 'Month of May' at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    Here is this weekend's complete open-wheel schedule (all times Eastern):

    Site: Birmingham, Alabama
    Schedule: Friday, practice, 12:15 and 3:50 p.m., Saturday, practice, 11:50 a.m., qualifying, 4:05 p.m.; Sunday, race, 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
    Track: Barber Motorsports Park (road, 2.38 miles).
    Race distance: 207 miles, 90 laps.
    Last year: Josef Newgarden held off Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud.
    Last race: Alexander Rossi took control of the championship chase with a dominant weekend at Long Beach.
    Fast facts: Rossi led 71 of the 85 laps in California for his third IndyCar win. He was also the first pole winner to win the race in 11 years. ... Will Power was second and claimed his 63rd podium finish, 16th-best in series history. ... Rookie Zach Veach was fourth as Andretti Autosport took three of the top six spots at Long Beach. ... Through three races, the top five drivers in the standings are from five different teams, with Rossi leading Newgarden by 22 points
    Next race: IndyCar Grand Prix, May 12, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana.

    Last race: Daniel Ricciardo won in Shanghai, his third victory in three years.
    Next race: Azerbaijan Grand Prix, April 29, Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan.

    Site: Baytown, Texas
    Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 5:30 and 8 p.m., Saturday, qualifying, 3 and 5:30 p.m., Sunday, finals, 4:35 p.m., FS1.
    Track: Royal Purple Raceway
    Last year: Leah Prichett took first in the 30th NHRA event in Baytown.
    Last race: Steve Torrence picked up his second win of 2018 in Las Vegas.
    Fast facts: Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) also won at Royal Purple in 2017. ... Pritchett won three times in her first five starts in 2017, including in Baytown, but she ended the season with just one more win and finished fifth. Prichett is looking for her first win of 2018. ... Capps has four career wins at Royal Purple, and Doug Kalitta has three in Top Fuel.
    Next race: Four-Wide Nationals, April 27-29, zMax Dragway, Concord, North Carolina.

    (Race capsules from Associated Press)

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    Check here for the live second-round leaderboard from the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open 2018 today (Friday, April 20).

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Joaquin Niemann, Sergio Garcia, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Si Woo Kim, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Ryan Armour and defending champion Kevin Chappell are among those in the field at the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open 2018 this week. Round 1 is today (Friday, April 20).

    Chilean Niemann, 19, is making his pro debut.

    Site: San Antonio.
    Course: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks). Yardage: 7,435. Par: 72.
    Purse: $6.2 million.
    Winner's share: $1,116,000.
    Television: Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (NBC Sports).
    Defending champion: Kevin Chappell.
    Last week: Satoshi Kodaira won the RBC Heritage.
    FedExCup leader: Justin Thomas.
    Notes: Sergio Garcia is playing in the event for the first time since 2010. Garcia was a consultant on the AT&T Oaks Course. ... Joaquin Niemann of Chile made his professional debut at the Texas Open. He already has conditional status on the Tour. ... Among those getting a sponsor exemption is Chris Paisley of England, who has not played on U.S. soil since his college days at Tennessee. Shubhankar Sharma makes his third start in Texas this year, following appearances at the Dell Match Play in Austin and the Houston Open. ... The field includes Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk and Presidents Cup captain Ernie Els. ... The Texas Open will move next year to the week before the Masters. ... The RBC Heritage was the 10 sudden-death playoff on the PGA Tour this season. ... Adam Scott returns to San Antonio for the first time since 2011. He won the Texas Open in 2010, the first time it was held at the AT&T Oaks course. ... Zach Johnson (2008-09) is the last player to successfully defend at the Texas Open.
    Next week: Zurich Classic.

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)

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    Indians hitters have had a rough time laying down sacrifice bunts in 2018, but they're still among the American League's top bunting teams in the last six years. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It seems the Cleveland Indians have had a lot of trouble lately getting sacrifice bunts down in big at-bats with the game on the line. But since 2013 the Tribe ranks in the top half of the American League in advancing baserunners by utilizing one of the game's most fundamental plays.

    And there is no shortage of Indians hitters who have had their share of success when asked to bunt late in games.

    Yes, when Francisco Lindor, Greg Allen and Rajai Davis all fail to get bunts down in critical situations, the shortcoming is magnified. Especially in a close game, such as Wednesday's marathon 16-inning loss to Minnesota in Puerto Rico.

    But, per Statcast, in the last six seasons, Indians bunters have successfully moved runners to third base nearly 30 times in the eighth inning or later when facing a situation with a runner on second base and nobody out.

    Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez and Lonnie Chisenhall have each bunted successfully three times in that scenario in the last five seasons. Lindor has done it twice.

    Most recently, Lindor collected Cleveland's lone sac bunt of 2018 on April 8 against Kansas City. Lindor's bunt moved Bradley Zimmer to third with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth inning against Royals reliever Justin Grimm. Zimmer eventually scored the game-tying run on Jose Ramirez's RBI groundout as the Tribe went on to win, 3-1.

    Lindor led the league with 13 sacrifice bunts in 99 games as a rookie in 2015. He tallied three sac bunts in 2016 and five more last year. It's as much a part of his game as his defense or last season's 33-home run outburst.

    "If that's what it takes, I'm going to do it," Lindor told in May 2017. "I don't care. I'm going to do it."

    On Wednesday, the Indians had the go-ahead run at second base with nobody out three different times after the 10th inning. In all three instances, Tribe bunters failed to advance the runner to third base.

    In the 10th inning, pinch runner Rajai Davis was at second after Roberto Perez reached on an infield hit and advanced on Brian Dozier's throwing error. Pinch hitter Greg Allen failed to get a bunt down in fair territory on the first pitch he saw from Twins reliever Zach Duke. Allen then took a called strike and swung and missed at strike three. Davis was eventually stranded at third after a groundout by Brandon Guyer and a fly out by Jason Kipnis.

    In the 12th, Yonder Alonso led off with a base hit, and pinch runner Erik Gonzalez advanced to second on a wild pitch by Minnesota's Ryan Pressly with Davis at the plate. Davis took a called strike and then fouled off a bunt attempt before popping out to left field.

    In the 15th, Lindor let perhaps Cleveland's best scoring opportunity fall by the wayside after Yan Gomes led off the frame with a double and Guyer got plunked in the helmet, giving the Tribe runners at first and second with nobody out. Lindor took a called first strike from Twins reliever Alan Busenitz before failing to get a bunt down in fair territory. With two strikes, Lindor fouled a pitch away before striking out on a Busenitz curveball. Kipnis followed by grounding into an inning-ending double play.

    It was a frustrating microcosm of what has become a bigger trend in the last two seasons. The Indians, once the American League's bunting kings under manager Terry Francona, have started to slip back to the pack.

    Cleveland led the American League in sac bunts in two of Francona's first three seasons at the helm. The number of total team sac bunts has dropped drastically from a high of 51 in 2014 to last season's low of 23.

    Indians sac bunts by season since 2013
    (AL rank in parenthesis)
    2013 - 31 (7th)
    2014 - 51 (1st)
    2015 - 47 (1st)
    2016 - 31 (3rd)
    2017 - 23 (5th)
    2018 - 1 (T7th)

    Roberto PerezRoberto Perez is among Cleveland's most consistent bunters. 

    Personnel and player development could have a lot to do with the shift in recent years. When Ramirez and Lindor were newcomers, they were asked to bunt more. But as they developed into hitters with more power potential, Francona has opted to play for the big inning more often.

    Indians sac bunt team leaders by season since 2013
    2013 - Mike Aviles (7)
    2014 - Jose Ramirez (13)
    2015 - Francisco Lindor (13)
    2016 - Jason Kipnis, Roberto Perez (5)
    2017 - Francisco Lindor (5)
    2018 - Francisco Lindor (1)

    Indians most sac bunts since 2013
    Mike Aviles - 23
    Francisco Lindor - 22
    Jose Ramirez - 19
    Roberto Perez - 19
    Jason Kipnis - 17
    Michael Bourn - 15
    Lonnie Chisenhall - 13

    Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota TwinsManager Terry Francona said he wants to see Bradley Zimmer add bunting to his repertoire.  

    Last season, bunting played a key role in Cleveland's walk-off win against Boston on Aug. 21. After Brandon Guyer led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double, Perez sacrificed him to third. Red Sox first baseman Brock Holt's throwing error allowed Guyer to score the game-winning run.

    But with power hitters such as Mike Napoli (34 home runs in 2016) and Edwin Encarnacion (38 HR in 2017) in the lineup, Francona has seen the necessity to bunt runners over drop late in games.

    Still, the Indians have a number of capable bunters on the roster, including Kipnis, Perez and Chisenhall. Bradley Zimmer recently bunted for a base hit against Detroit lefty Daniel Norris, and Francona said he would encourage more of the same from the speedy young outfielder.

    Whether or not Zimmer and his teammates can come through this year when a big run is on base remains to be seen.