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This Week in Sports

Brooks Koepka raises the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo. (Richard Ulreich/Zuma Press/TNS)

Welcome to another weekly roundup in the world of sports. This week, the Boston Red Sox continue to chase history and cement their spot as the best team in baseball. Matt Carpenter emerged as the new favorite to win the National League’s Most Valuable Player as he’s helped the St. Louis Cardinals climb back into contention. The West Michigan Whitecaps had another .500 week despite their pitching staff shutting down opposing team’s bats. The NFL’s first week of preseason is in the books and multiple notable players tried to establish themselves. And the PGA Championship took place over the weekend. Brooks Koepka may have won the tournament, but Tiger Woods was the talk of the golfing world.

Major League Baseball

After the trades the Los Angeles Dodgers made before the deadline, many expected them to walk away with the National League West. That has not happened as of yet and in fact, the Arizona Diamondbacks have taken a one-game lead in the division. The Dodgers are currently riding a three-game losing streak that has put them in second place. Right on their heels are the Colorado Rockies just a half game back of the Dodgers and one and a half games out of the division lead. They picked up three games on the Dodgers over the weekend winning three in a row.

The Chicago Cubs continue to cling to a small lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. While the Cubs have won six of their last 10 games, the Brewers have lost six of their last 10, giving the Cubs a three-game lead. The St. Louis Cardinals a week ago were in fourth place and many experts were counting them out. They have won their last five games and are 8-2 in their last 10. Their success has been led by Matt Carpenter who many are now calling the frontrunner to win the National League MVP. They’re five and a half games behind the Cubs and have gained three games over the Pittsburgh Pirates who have cooled off since their 11-game winning streak. The Pirates are now eight games out of first place but still have a Wild Card spot in their sights.

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have been jockeying back in forth atop the NL East and are now tied for a share of the division lead. The Braves have played fewer games than the Phillies and hold the slightest edge over the Phillies via win percentage. The Washington Nationals have climbed back over the .500 mark but are still five and a half games back of the Braves and Phillies. Like the Pirates, the Nationals still have a slim chance to win their division but their true hopes of making a postseason run lies in the Wild Card.

(**GB=Games Back)

NL Division Leaders
East — Atlanta Braves (64-51)
Central — Chicago Cubs (68-49)
West — Arizona Diamondbacks (65-54)

NL Wild Card
Philadelphia Phillies (65-52) —
Milwaukee Brewers (67-54) —
Los Angeles Dodgers (64-52) 2 GB
Colorado Rockies (63-55) 2.5 GB
St. Louis Cardinals (63-55) 2.5 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates (61-58) 5 GB
Washington Nationals (60-58) 5.5 GB
San Francisco Giants (59-60) 7 GB

The American League West has been run by the Houston Astros virtually all year. The Seattle Mariners however, just put a big dent in their division lead by sweeping them in a four-game series over the weekend. In the middle of those two teams in the standings are the Oakland A’s. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games. They’re now only two and a half games behind the Astros and with six weeks left in the season, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to overtake them in the division. The Mariners still have a chance as well, now only four games back of the division lead. This division is much closer than most anticipated and could come down to an exciting last month of play.

The Cleveland Indians have regained the crown for largest division lead in the big leagues. They’ve won seven of their last 10 games and have pushed their division lead to 12 games over the Minnesota Twins. The Detroit Tigers’ struggles have continued and they’ve lost seven of their last 10 games. They’re now 17.5 games out of first and have now been all but eliminated from contention in the AL Central.

The Boston Red Sox are starting to run away with the AL East via their nine and a half game lead over the New York Yankees. They’re also running away from the rest of the League and have the best record in baseball by a comfortable margin. They have a legitimate shot at challenging the 2001 Seattle Mariners for most wins in baseball history. The record is 116 wins and with the 85 wins they currently have, Boston will have to go 32-10 to break the record. It’s a tall order, but if any team can do it, it’s the Red Sox.

(**GB=Games Back)

AL Division Leaders
East — Boston Red Sox (85-35)
Central — Cleveland Indians (66-51)
West — Houston Astros (73-46)

AL Wild Card
New York Yankees (74-43) +4.5
Oakland A’s (70-48) —
Seattle Mariners (69-50) 1.5 GB

ESPN’s top five power rankings

1. Boston Red Sox (85-35)
2. Houston Astros (73-46)
3. New York Yankees (74-43)
4. Cleveland Indians (66-51)
5. Chicago Cubs (68-49)

The Collegiate’s top five power rankings

1. Boston Red Sox (85-35)
2. Houston Astros (73-46)
3. New York Yankees (74-43)
4. Chicago Cubs (68-49)
5. Atlanta Braves (64-51)

West Michigan Whitecaps

The West Michigan Whitecaps started the week off hosting the Dayton Dragons for the rubber match of the their three-game series last Monday, Aug. 6. The Whitecaps outlasted the Dragons in a 2-1 pitchers duel to win the series.

After a travel day on Tuesday, the Whitecaps headed to Bowling Green to do battle with the Hot Rods on Wednesday. The Hot Rods have the best record in the league and their pitching staff showed viewers why in this series. In game one of the series, the Whitecaps pitching staff held their own giving up only one run. Unfortunately, the Hot Rods didn’t bend and won the game 1-0. The next night, the Whitecaps’ bats once again couldn’t figure out the Hot Rods’ arms. Bowling Green picked up 3-1 win and was going for the sweep on Friday. Trying to avoid the sweep, the Whitecaps finally turned the tables and shut down the Hot Rods’ bats. The Whitecaps did indeed avoid the sweep with a 2-0 win in the final game of the series.

On Saturday, the Whitecaps moved on to Indiana where they faced off against the Fort Wayne Tincaps. Even though the Whitecaps had lost two of their four games through the week, their pitching staff was consistently stout and hard for opposing hitters to deal with. That didn’t change on Saturday either. The Whitecaps took down Fort Wayne on the road 3-1. Through five games in the week, the Whitecaps had only allowed six runs. Yesterday however, the West Michigan pitching staff was solved by opposing hitters for the first time in a week. The Tincaps had 12 hits and won the game 5-2. The two teams face off again tonight in the third game of a four-game series.

For the week, the Whitecaps went 3-3. They still sit at .500 for the second half with a 24-24 record. They’re in third place in their division just four and a half games behind the division leading Bowling Green Hot Rods. They’ll finish their series with Fort Wayne tomorrow night before returning home Wednesday to host the Lansing Lugnuts for a three-game series. On Saturday, they’ll head back out on the road to play the Lake County Captains for a three-game set. For tickets to upcoming games, click here.

National Football League

Week one of the NFL preseason is in the books and many teams’ young players have already showed some of their potential.

The New York Giants and Cleveland Browns faced off Thursday night and it was probably the most anticipated game of the preseason, yes, the Giants and Browns. The two teams had the first and second picks in the draft this year and both players they picked were on full display. Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley took center stage in the NFL for the first time in their careers.

Barkley wasted no time getting the home fans off their feet. His first ever run in the league was an electrifying 39-yard run. After that run, he only touched the ball three more times for four more yards before he was taken out for the remainder of the game. He finished with four carries for 43 yards.

Mayfield on the other hand, didn’t get his chance until the second quarter. While his completion percentage was average to below average, he showed a knack for leadership and command of the offense while leading the Browns on two different scoring drives. The highlight of his night was when he converted on a third and 18 to keep the drive alive for his first touchdown pass in the NFL. For the game, Mayfield finished 11/20 with 212 passing yards, two touchdowns and no picks. He also picked up 13 yards on three carries. There are still three more preseason games to be played, but there could still be a quarterback controversy in the Browns camp. Tyrod Taylor played almost perfect with the time he was given. Taylor was 5/5 throwing for 99 yards and a touchdown and had a perfect QBR of 158.3.

Andrew Luck made his return as the Indianapolis Colts quarterback for the first time since week 17 of the 2016 season. He led his team down the field twice but on both drives, the team had to settle for field goals. Luck was 6/9 for 64 yards with an 87.3 QBR.

The third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft made his debut for the New York Jets. Sam Darnold seemed to have a strong grasp on his offense and the stage didn’t look too big for him. His team pitched a shutout against the Atlanta Falcons in a 17-0 win. Darnold was 13/18 passing with 96 yards and a touchdown.

Josh Rosen’s debut with the Arizona Cardinals could’ve gone better, but wasn’t a terrible start for a rookie. He’ll need to get his completion percentage up a bit if he wants to be successful in the NFL. He was 6/13 for only 41 yards and averaging just 3.2 yards a pass. He didn’t have any touchdowns or interceptions. He showed his coaches some flashes of potential but also has showed them there’s still a lot of work to be done.

One other important note from week one of the preseason was the Washington Redskins losing their second-round rookie running back Derrius Guice to a torn ACL. Guice will be out for the entire 2018 season. Guice had six carries for 19 yards before the injury occured. The injury sparked a conversation that’s been going on for years. Should the NFL and its players be risking serious injury in non-important games that don’t count? Many teams don’t even play their stars and if they do, they’ll only play one or two series. The conversation will more than likely continue, but odds are the NFL won’t change anything due to their financial profits from the preseason.

Professional Golfers’ Association

The 100th PGA Championship was this past weekend in St. Louis, Missouri and Brooks Koepka won his third major title and second of this year.

Koepka was challenged by a welcome and familiar face to golf fans. Tiger Woods finished two strokes behind Koepka. There were cheers and chants of Tiger that haven’t been heard for some time and it brought back the memories of the days Woods was on top of the golfing world.

Despite the cheers and chants for Woods, Koepka maintained his focus all while knowing Woods was breathing down his neck. He finished strong and had birdies on holes seven through nine that more than likely won him the championship. Unfortunately for Koepka, with how strong Woods played and him finishing second, Woods got the same, if not more media attention.

Koepka finished -16 with his strongest round coming in the second round where he scored a tournament low 63. Woods started the weekend out slow finishing even in the first round. Woods’ play improved as the weekend progressed though, and he scored four under in the second and third round and six under on Sunday. For the tournament, Woods finished -14 and took home nearly $1.2 million. Koepka earned $1.98 million for his win and gained 600 FedEx points.

This was the final major of the 2018 season but there’s still more tournaments to be played. Next week, the tour moves to Greensboro, North Carolina where the Wyndham Championship will be played at the Sedgefield Country Club. Henrik Stenson is the defending champion of the tournament and will try to win the largest portion of the $6 million purse for the second straight year.

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