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This Week in Sports

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completes a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 15, 2017, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

Today’s issue of This Week in Sports is dedicated the victims and their families of the tragedies in the city of Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville experienced two separate shootings over the weekend that both saw fatalities. Friday night at Raines High School in Jacksonville during a football game, a shooter opened fire killing one and injuring two. Yesterday, a disgruntled gamer at a Madden 19 tournament at Jacksonville Landing began shooting at fellow gamers after losing in the tournament. Two were killed while an additional nine people suffered gunshot wounds. The gunman turned the gun on himself taking his own life.

Welcome to another weekly roundup in the world of sports. This week, the St. Louis Cardinals have been hot and are trying to chase down the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central while the Boston Red Sox have stumbled as of late and allowed the New York Yankees to climb back into the division race. The West Michigan Whitecaps had a rough ending to their week and have one more week to secure a playoff spot. The NFL’s week three of the preseason was this weekend and many regular starters got some significant playing time. And Urban Meyer had his punishment handed down to him by Ohio State University. Meyer issued an apology and learned exactly how many games he would miss to start the season.

Major League Baseball

The division races are heating up as baseball heads into to the final month of the regular season.

The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to hold a slim lead in the National League West. They have won seven of their last 10 games but the teams behind them aren’t going anywhere. The Colorado Rockies have an identical record as Arizona in their last 10 games and are just one game behind the Diamondbacks in the standings. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost control of the division but are just two and a half games out of first place in the West. With 31 games left on the schedule for the Dodgers, there is still plenty of time to make up those two and a half games and reclaim the title of NL West division leader.

The Chicago Cubs are peaking at the right time. They’re currently riding a five-game winning streak and have won seven of their last 10 games. They hold a four game lead over the surging St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have won 19 of their last 24 games. A few weeks ago, St. Louis was an afterthought in the NL with a sub .500 record and more than 10 games out of first place. With their recent hot streak, they’ve moved within striking distance of the Cubs and have overtaken the Milwaukee Brewers not only in the division, but also in the Wild Card standings. The Brewers are a half game behind the Cardinals in the division and the Wild Card. If the season ended today, the Cardinals would host the Brewers for a one-game Wild Card playoff game.

In the NL East, the Atlanta Braves have created a small amount of breathing room over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves are playing .500 ball in their last 10 games and have a three-game lead over the Phillies. The Phillies have lost six of their last 10 games and are looking to get back to their winning ways in hopes of catching the Braves in the East. The Washington Nationals are still hanging around but have their work cut out for them if they want to catch the teams in front of them. Currently, they are one game below .500 and eight and a half games out of first place. It doesn’t look good for them, but when they have players like Max Scherzer on the mound and Bryce Harper leading the offense, crazier things have happened.

(**GB=Games Back)

NL Division Leaders
East — Atlanta Braves (73-57)
Central — Chicago Cubs (76-53)
West — Arizona Diamondbacks (72-58)

NL Wild Card
St. Louis Cardinals (73-58) +0.5
Milwaukee Brewers (73-59) —
_____________________________
Colorado Rockies (71-59) 1 GB
Philadelphia Phillies (70-60) 2 GB
Los Angeles Dodgers (70-61) 2.5 GB

The American League West has become a very interesting division. The Houston Astros had some August woes that allowed the Oakland A’s to get back in contention for the division. Now however, both teams are hot. The Astros have won five in-a-row and seven of their last 10 games. The A’s are riding a modest three-game winning streak and have also won seven of their last 10 games. The Astros have a game and a half lead over the A’s in the division while the A’s currently hold the second Wild Card spot behind the New York Yankees. The Seattle Mariners are still fighting for the division but have fallen off as of late. They are six and a half games behind the Astros for first place but still have hopes to climb back in the division and at the very least, overtake the A’s in the Wild Card standings.

The Cleveland Indians have continued to stand pat in the AL Central. They’re .500 in their last 10 games but with the subpar baseball every other team is playing in the division, they continue to hold a large lead over the second place Minnesota Twins. Cleveland has a 13 game lead on the Twins and 21.5 game lead on the Detroit Tigers.

The Boston Red Sox are experiencing something they haven’t been accustomed to a lot this year, a losing streak. They have lost three in-a-row and dropped six of their last 10 games. The Red Sox recent woes have allowed the New York Yankees to inch closer to them in the standings. The Yankees have won four straight games and eight of their last 10 games. They’re now six games behind Boston in the AL East. The Tampa Bay Rays, while more than likely will not make the playoffs, have won eight in a row. They’re 19.5 games back of Boston, but even with their chances being slim to none, they’ve continued to play good baseball.

(**GB=Games Back)

AL Division Leaders
East — Boston Red Sox (90-42)
Central — Cleveland Indians (74-56)
West — Houston Astros (80-50)

AL Wild Card
New York Yankees (83-47) +4.5
Oakland A’s (79-52) —
____________________________
Seattle Mariners (74-57) 5 GB
Tampa Bay Rays (70-61) 9 GB

ESPN’s top five power rankings

1. Boston Red Sox (90-42)
2. Houston Astros (80-50)
3. New York Yankees (83-47)
4. Oakland A’s (79-52)
5. Cleveland Indians (74-56)

The Collegiate’s top five power rankings

1. Boston Red Sox (90-42)
2. New York Yankees (83-47)
3. Houston Astros (80-50)
4. Oakland A’s (79-52)
5. Chicago Cubs (76-53)

West Michigan Whitecaps

The West Michigan Whitecaps had the luxury of playing all but one game this past week at home but failed to capitalize on the home field advantage.

The Whitecaps started the week last Monday, Aug. 20 finishing a three-game series on the road against the Lake County Captains. They had lost the previous two games of the series and were trying to avoid the sweep on Monday. West Michigan did so with a 3-1 victory over the Captains to start the week out 1-0.

On Tuesday, the Whitecaps returned home to host the Dayton Dragons for a three-game set. The Whitecaps dropped the series opener to the Dragons 7-4 and were looking to turn things around Wednesday. The Whitecaps won the next two games in one-run fashion with a 3-2 win on Wednesday, and a 5-4 win on Thursday. With the series win over the Dragons, the Whitecaps moved to 3-1 on the week and welcomed the Great Lakes Loons to town for a four-game series on Friday.

The weekend was a rough one for the Whitecaps. The first two games of the series, the Loons didn’t allow the Whitecaps to plate any runs. After an 8-0 loss Friday and 1-0 loss on Saturday, the Whitecaps offense looked to get on the board Sunday. The Whitecaps finally scored some runs on Sunday but it wasn’t enough to pick up the win as they lost the third game of the series 4-2 yesterday. The Whitecaps will try to avoid the sweep when they host the Loons for the fourth and final game of the series tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Fifth Third Ballpark.

For the week, the Whitecaps won three games while dropping four. After losing their last three games, the Whitecaps move to 29-33 in the second half of the season. They have lost six of their last 10 games and are in a tie for fourth place with the Fort Wayne Tincaps in the division nine and a half games out of first place. The Whitecaps and Tincaps are currently tied for the final playoff spot.

Following the game tonight against the Loons, the Whitecaps will have a day off tomorrow before traveling to take on the Dayton Dragons for a three-game series starting Wednesday. The team will finish the regular season with a three-game home stand against the Fort Wayne Tincaps starting Saturday, Sep. 1. This series has the possibility of deciding which of these two teams gets into the playoffs. For tickets to upcoming games, click here.

National Football League

Week three of the NFL’s preseason is in the books which means there’s only one more week of meaningless football before the regular season starts.

Week three is typically where some of the team’s regular starters play for a quarter or two. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Friday night. Both Brady and Newton played, but neither of them could lead their team to a touchdown drive while in the game. Brady finished 12-for-18 throwing for 102 yards. Newton on the other hand was 11-for-17 for 142 yards passing. Neither quarterback had any touchdowns or interceptions. The Panthers ended up winning the game 25-14 thanks to two second half touchdowns.

Two long time veterans did battle Saturday night when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints took on Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers. Both quarterbacks had under 10 throws in the game but Brees threw an uncharacteristic interception on his first drive. Brees finished throwing 7-for-9 for 59 yards with no touchdowns and one pick. Rivers’ numbers were also low only throwing for 29 yards on 5-for-7 passing. Rivers didn’t have any touchdowns or interceptions. After most of the starters left the game, it became a lopsided affair with the Saints blowing out the Chargers 36-7. Alvin Kamara did manage to pick up a touchdown for the Saints on one of his four carries.

Matt Stafford took the field for the Detroit Lions against the soon-to-be-suspended Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night. Winston was suspended three games earlier in the off-season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Winston was accused of groping a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona in March of 2016. Stafford threw for 113 yards but only completed 50 percent of his passes on 9-for-18 throwing. Stafford was also sacked three times. LeGarrette Blount had 11 carries out of the Lions’ backfield for 45 yards. Near the midway point of the third quarter, Tampa Bay had a 27-6 lead over Detroit. Over the next quarter and a half, the Lions’ young playmakers chipped and clawed their way back and eventually won the game 33-30.

Ben Roethlisberger made his 2018 preseason debut for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday afternoon against the Tennessee Titans. Roethlisberger had a strong outing throwing for 114 yards on 11-for-18 throwing. His day was highlighted by a perfectly thrown ball over defenders to hit Justin Hunter for a 32-yard touchdown. The Steelers’ defense looked to be in mid-season form as they had six sacks and held the Titans to 42 yards rushing and just 168 yards through the air. The Titans struggled the entire game to move the ball and never entered Steelers’ territory until the fourth quarter. Marcus Mariota struggled to lead his team and could only manage to pick up one first down while in the game. Blaine Gabbert came in for the Titans and did eventually lead them on a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. This was the only time the Titans saw paydirt and ended up falling to Pittsburgh 16-6.

For a list of all other games and players stats, click here.

NCAA Football

Ohio State University has finished its investigation into Urban Meyer and his handling of information he had received on one of his staff member’s alleged domestic abuse.

The University decided this was not a fireable offense and chose rather to slap Meyer on the wrist with a three-game suspension. Meyer released an apology to Courtney Smith on his Twitter page Friday night.

“Let me say here and now what I should have said on Wednesday,” Meyer tweeted. “I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through.”

Meyer referred to Wednesday in his tweet which was the day that he, OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith and University President Michael Drake answered questions from reporters for 20 minutes after the university had made its decision. None of those men mentioned Courtney Smith by name.

Ohio State is the fifth ranked team in the country and will host Oregon State University on Sat., Sep. 1 for their first game of the season. Meyer will obviously be absent for the game and will have Ryan Day take over as the interim coach for this game as well as Rutgers and Texas Christian in weeks two and three.

Meyers’ suspension however, gives him some liberties that most suspended employees aren’t awarded. Meyer is not allowed with the team for the first game and leading up to it. But, Meyer is allowed to be with team coaching in the practices for their second and third game, though he will not be allowed to travel to Arlington, Texas when the team visits TCU. All-in-all, Meyer seems to have gotten off very easy for an offense some deemed to be fireable.