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This Week in Sports

Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano scores from third on a wild pitch by Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy in the first inning on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

By Mike Staley

Whitecaps Baseball

The West Michigan Whitecaps started out slow this past week but finished strong to go 4-3 on the week.

Monday, the Whitecaps traveled to Fort Wayne to do battle with the Tincaps. The team struggled on the road losing three of the four games to the Tincaps. West Michigan looked to rebound from a bad road trip when they came home to play the Lake County Captains, and rebound they did. The Whitecaps swept the weekend series and the offense was alive and well. West Michigan scored seven runs in all three wins.

After three straight wins, the team is now 23-19 and four and half games back of the first place Lansing Lugnuts. They remain in fourth place in the division and will look to climb the ladder this week.

The Whitecaps will look for revenge on Fort Wayne when they host the Tincaps for a four-game series starting Monday at 7:05 p.m. Friday, West Michigan will head back out on the road when they travel to South Bend to take on the Cubs for a three game, weekend series. To find tickets to upcoming games click here.

National Basketball Association

After pummeling Cleveland in game one of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, Boston once again took it to the Cavaliers on Tuesday winning 107-94.

LeBron James had a 42 point triple-double, recording 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Kevin Love also added 22 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and had 15 rebounds. Outside of those two players however, the rest of the Cavaliers failed to show up, and the Celtics took full advantage. Boston had all five starters in double-figures, and Marcus Smart added 11 points off the bench. The Celtics were led by Jaylen Brown’s 23 points and took a commanding 2-0 series lead on the Cavaliers.

Down 0-2, the Cavaliers went back to Cleveland hoping to defend home court. Cleveland did just that on Saturday when they beat the Celtics 116-86. The game was out of hand almost immediately. After the first quarter, the Cavaliers led by 15 and never looked back. Cleveland’s roll players showed up in a big way in this game and helped the Cavaliers get their first win of the series.

Game four is Monday night in Cleveland. The Cavaliers will look to tie the series while the Celtics will look to buck their road playoffs woes. So far this postseason, Boston is undefeated at home, but just 1-5 on the road.

Out West, the Warriors and Rockets began their series Monday in Houston. Game one saw the defending champs show off their dominance with a 119-106 win over the Rockets.

Kevin Durant led the way with 37 points while Klay Thompson added 28. James Harden and Chris Paul both had the points but struggled to consistently share the ball and help their teammates score easy baskets.

In game two, the Rockets defended home court beating Golden State 127-105. Steph Curry struggled shooting from beyond the arc going 1-8 from three. Durant once again dominated putting in 38 points but had little help from the rest of the Warriors. Thompson only contributed eight points while Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala struggled to score. Durant and Curry were the only Warriors in double-figures. The Rockets had five players score double-digits with Harden and Eric Gordon both scoring 27. The Rockets played a well rounded game and had 23 assists in game two as opposed to just 18 in game one.

Tied at one, the two teams headed back to Oakland for game three Sunday night at Oracle Arena. The Warriors came out looking like the defending champions and embarrassed the Rockets by 41 points, handing Houston its worst playoff loss in team history with a 126-85 win. Curry seemed to figure things out scoring a game high 35 points while going 5-12 from three. Durant added 25 points and all five starters were in double-figures. For the Rockets, Paul and Harden had quiet nights shooting just 12-32 combined.

The Rockets will look to rebound down 2-1 in the series when they play game four on Tuesday night in Oakland.

National Hockey League

When this week started, the Las Vegas Golden Knights were in Winnipeg staring at 0-1 deficit. When this week concluded, the Knights were carrying the Campbell Bowl off the ice as the Western Conference Champions.

After their game one loss to the Jets, Las Vegas never looked back and won their next four games to win the best-of-seven series in just five games. This team has defied all odds and in their first season in the NHL, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Marc-Andre Fleury has continued to be the team’s leader. In game five on Sunday, he recorded 30 saves on 31 shots securing a 3-1 victory for the Knights and launching them into the Stanley Cup Finals. This is Fleury’s third consecutive trip to the finals winning the previous two years with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Knights will now wait for either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals to emerge victorious in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Eastern Conference finals started out in a strange fashion with the Capitals taking the first two games on the road in Tampa Bay. On Tuesday, the series shifted back to the nation’s capital for game three. The Capitals were looking to go up 3-0, but Tampa had other plans. Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists for the Lightning while goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 36 of 38 shots from the Capitals to give Tampa a 4-2 game three win.

In game four, it was more of the same. Vasilevskiy once again had 36 saves on 38 Washington shots. Brayden Point had a goal and an assist that helped push the Lightning past the Capitals 4-2. Through the first four games, the home team was winless.

Sunday, the Lightning tried to put an end to the home ice blues, and hosted the Capitals for game five with the series tied at two. Tampa Bay jumped out to grab the early lead and just 33 seconds into the second period were up 3-0. The Capitals needed the help of their two best players to get back into it. Early in the second period, Evgeny Kuznetsov got the Capitals on the board with his 11th goal of the postseason. The score stayed at 3-1 for the rest of the second and most of the third period until the Capitals pulled the goaltender to get the extra attacker on the ice. With the man advantage, the Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin scored his 11th goal this postseason with a scorching one-timer past Vasilevskiy. With just over a minute and a half left in the game, the Lightning held on to preserve the 3-2 win for their third straight win in the series and bringing them within one win of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Capitals will try to stave off elimination when they host the Lightning for game six on Monday night in Washington D.C.

Major League Baseball

The big story in baseball this week was the 80-game suspension for Seattle Mariners second baseman, Robinson Cano. The 14-year veteran heard the news Tuesday that he tested positive for the banned substance, diuretic furosemide. It should be noted that this is not a performance enhancing drug, but it is a substance that hides PED’s from showing up on a drug test.

Cano released a statement Wednesday stating he had no knowledge that he was having a banned substance put in his body.

“Recently I learned that I tested positive for a substance called furosemide, which is not a performing enhancing substance,” Cano said. “For more than 15 years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a performance enhancing substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one.”

Cano claims he was given the substance by a licensed doctor in his home country of Dominican Republic. He said that the medication was given to him for a medical condition and was unaware that the substance was on the banned substance list in the Major Leagues.

Sadly, this will more than likely take Cano out of the running to ever make the Hall-of-Fame. Cano’s stats would’ve surely gotten him there as he has accumulated 2,417 hits along with a career batting average of 304. Reaching 3,000 hits all but punches a player’s ticket into the Hall-of-Fame. Needing only 583 more hits to reach that magic number, Cano, barring any major injury, will almost surely reach that number in his career. With the suspension now on his resume, Cano can kiss his chances at the Hall-of-Fame goodbye.

While Cano deals with this suspension, his team must put it behind them and focus on the season at hand–a season that is going quite well for Seattle.

The Mariners are in the thick of the American League West and have leap-frogged the Los Angeles Angels into second place in the West behind the Houston Astros.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox continue to pull away from the field. The Yankees (30-13) and the Red Sox (32-15) are tied atop the AL East and continue to have the two best winning percentages in the league.

In the National League, The Atlanta Braves have quietly climbed to the top of their division and currently have the best record in the National League at 28-17.

The NL Central remains tight with the Milwaukee Brewers sitting in first place with a record of 28-19 while the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are all tied for second place a game and a half behind the Brewers.

ESPN’s top five power rankings

  1. New York Yankees (30-13)
  2. Boston Red Sox (32-15)
  3. Houston Astros (29-18)
  4. Los Angeles Angels (26-21)
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks (25-21)

The Collegiate’s top five power rankings

  1. New York Yankees (30-13)
  2. Boston Red Sox (32-15)
  3. Atlanta Braves (28-17)
  4. Houston Astros (29-18)
  5. Milwaukee Brewers (28-19)

National Football League

Another senseless act of violence was carried out this week when 10 people were killed and another 10 were injured by a gunman at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday.

The high school is about 30 miles from Houston, and Texans’ star defensive end, J.J. Watt decided to help the victims’ families. Watt announced that he is going to pay for all 10 funerals of the victims. Watt has been extremely involved in the Houston community since joining the team in 2011. When Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area, Watt started a fundraiser that raised over $37 million to help displaced families and help with some of the repairs.

Watt continues to be a role model in Houston and is exactly the kind of star athlete this country needs as it struggles through another tragedy.

Sports can often be an escape during times of tragedy and Football is the nation’s most popular sport. Many people will try to distract themselves from tragedies like these by focusing on what’s happening with the NFL’s offseason.

One former Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Brown quarterback is back in the news.

Johnny Manziel has been working out trying to get back in the NFL. It appears that for the time being, the NFL will have to wait for Manziel. Manziel announced this week that he will be playing north of the border and has signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

After joining the team, Manziel spent much of his first practice with the team on the sidelines watching and learning.

Manziel last played professional football on Dec. 27, 2015. With that big of a gap in between snaps, there will surely be a big learning curve for Manziel as he continues to take the appropriate steps to get back into the NFL.

Professional Golfers’ Association

The AT&T Byron Nelson Invitational took place this weekend in Dallas. American golfer, Aaron Wise recorded his first PGA tour win in impressive fashion. Not only did Wise win, he set the course record by shooting -23 for the tournament. As the winner, Wise took home $1.4 million on Sunday. Wise was definitely a surprise winner as he is not currently ranked in the top 50 golfers on the tour.

The hometown hero, Jordan Spieth won this tournament as a 16-year-old rookie on the tour, but has since struggled to place in the top 10 in his backyard. Spieth finished at -11 and tied for 21st place in the tournament.

The tournament will stay in Texas this week as the tour shifts to Fort Worth for the Fort Worth Invitational. Kevin Kisner won this tournament last year and will try to take home a big part of the $7.1 million purse.

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