by Juan Lozano and Jim Veturno, AP
HOUSTON (AP) — Legal experts say the federal hacking investigation of the St. Louis Cardinals could take longer if high-level executives are implicated in the breach of the Houston Astros’ database.
No charges have been filed in the ongoing probe, which legal experts believe is several months old and has likely involved scouring Astros servers for any IP addresses that might lead back to the Cardinals organization.
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. has blamed the alleged hack on “roguish behavior” by a handful of individuals. An attorney for the team has said high-level executives were not involved in the scandal.
Former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder says if any “higher-ups” are implicated, that would require corroboration and extend the investigation’s duration.
If it’s just low-level employees, it could wrap up quickly.
by Dave Skretta, AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals had just lost their fourth straight, getting shut out for the second time, and manager Ned Yost was hardly thinking about their impotent offense Thursday night.
He was ruminating on the guy who made them so punchless.
Kyle Gibson threw eight innings of four-hit ball, using his sinker to wiggle out of the only trouble he found, and the second-place Minnesota Twins went on to a 2-0 victory in the opener of a four-game series against AL Central-leading Kansas City.
“My thoughts are more on the way Gibson threw the ball than our offensive output. He did a really nice job executing pitches,” Yost said. “We had really two run-scoring opportunities, one with the bases loaded and two outs, and in the eighth inning. He just made quality pitches.”
Danny Santana and Eduardo Escobar had RBI triples for Minnesota, and Glen Perkins breezed through the ninth for his 26th save. He needs just two more to match bullpen coach Eddie Guardado (116) for the third-most in franchise history.
“He’s just on a really good roll,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
So is Gibson (6-6), at least when it comes to facing the Royals. Except for a rocky start last month, the former University of Missouri standout has been dynamite against Kansas City.
“You want to get your guys to bulldog through outs late in games,” said Molitor, who left Gibson in to finish the eighth despite his pitch count reaching 114. “It was touch-and-go there.”
The Royals’ Chris Young (7-4) dodged trouble for most of 5 1/3 innings, the only run he allowed coming on a triple by Santana in the fifth. The lanky right-hander turned over a 1-0 deficit to the game’s best bullpen, but his offense was unable to bail him out.
“You just tip your hat. Gibson was great,” Young said. “He was locating all his pitches. It was a pretty impressive performance. Gibson was better than me.”
The fact that the Royals were even in the game was surprising. The Twins collected five extra-base hits – including the run-scoring triples – and had runners advance three times when Young threw a pitch that got away from Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Then again, all Minnesota needed was a run against the slumping Royals.
Two of Kansas City’s four hits were bunts against the shift, and the hardest-hit ball – a single by Lorenzo Cain in the fourth – led to the most frustrating frame of the night: Kansas City went on to load the bases before Perez struck out looking to end the inning.
Not that it should have been surprising that Gibson shut them down.
He came into the game with 4-2 record and 2.68 ERA in six starts against the Royals. Even in a relatively poor start against them in June, when he took the loss at Target Field, Gibson’s sinker still drove the Kansas City hitters to fits.
Just as it did again on Thursday night.
“It was a good night out there,” Gibson said. “I wouldn’t say we needed to come out and make a statement. It’s still July. But anytime you play a team that’s higher than you in the standings, it’s an important game.”
STATS AND STREAKS
The Royals have been shut out seven times this season, twice by Minnesota. … Royals 3B Mike Moustakas snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a bunt single in the first inning.
Miguel Sano, one of baseball’s top prospects, made his big league debut for Minnesota. The power hitter from the Dominican Republic was the designated hitter and beat out an infield single for his first career hit in the ninth inning.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco received another opinion on bone chips in his right ankle, but no decision has been made on a course of treatment. … CF Byron Buxton (sprained left thumb) is still dealing with swelling, though Molitor said he is improving.
Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer (sprained right ring finger) was back in the starting lineup. … LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) threw 40 pitches in a simulated game. He’ll throw 60 pitches on Tuesday. “It was very encouraging,” Yost said.
Twins: Molitor officially announced that RHP Ervin Santana will return from his suspension to start the series finale Sunday. LHP Tommy Milone takes the mound Friday night and RHP Mike Pelfrey gets the start Saturday.
Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie tries to continue his dominance Friday at Kauffman Stadium, where he is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA over his last four starts.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Suddenly, the St. Louis Cardinals have hit a rough patch. No one seems overly concerned about the second three-game losing streak of the season that puts the onus on the offense.
“I just feel like it’s one of those times when it’s not falling your way,” Jason Heyward said after a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
“The last three games it’s just been that one AB where we didn’t get the hit.”
The 5-6-7-8 hitters combined for two walks and an RBI against the Padres. But Yadier Molina came close with his bid for a game-winning hit in the ninth foiled by first baseman Derek Norris’ diving stop.
“I’ve been saying it all year long. We’re not going to come through every time, we just want to be in the situation and put the pressure on teams,” Heyward added. “We’re not losing games, teams are playing well and beating us.”
Will Venable hit a pinch-hit two-run home run in the top of the 11th for the Padres, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Venable had been 1 for 17 coming off the bench before connecting on the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva (3-3) after the Padres successfully challenged a fair-foul ruling that resulted in a ground-rule double by Clint Barmes. The ball appeared to tick the line as Heyward, the right fielder, made an unsuccessful attempt at a sliding catch near the stands.
Venable followed with his sixth homer of the year.
Shawn Kelley (1-2) had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings and Craig Kimbrel earned his 20th save in 21 chances. Yangervis Solarte and starter Tyson Ross also homered for the Padres, who were shut out their two previous games.
Heyward and Matt Carpenter had two hits and an RBI apiece. St. Louis leads the majors at 51-27 and despite the slump also has the best home record at 29-10.
The Cardinals had won nine in a row at home before the slide, in which they’ve totaled five runs. They’ve been taxed physically and mentally lately with the last four games and five of the last six including lengthy rain delays or extra innings, with Thursday’s loss five minutes shy of four hours.
“We get sick of the rain delays,” center fielder Peter Bourjos said. “We’ve played so well, three games isn’t a big deal.
“But at the same time you’ve got to stay on it and continue to push.”
Both Ross and St. Louis rookie starter Tim Cooney allowed three runs in six innings, with two earned against Cooney. Ross hit his first career homer to the opposite field in right in the fifth and Cooney doubled to begin St. Louis’ two-run rally in the bottom half to tie it at 3.
“I had a little motivation to try to get him back,” Cooney said. “Happy it fell in.”
Cooney was much improved from his first career start, when he was limited to 2 1/3 innings against the Phillies on April 30.
Solarte led off the second with his third homer but was ejected for the first time in his career after arguing a strikeout to end the sixth.
Padres: IF Will Middlebrooks has been limited to two pinch-hit appearances since injuring his ankle stepping on a bat on Sunday but could start in the next few days.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia, pushed back from Thursday’s start rehabbing from a mild groin strain, is on track to work in a double-header next Tuesday in Chicago.
The four-game series continues on Friday. St. Louis ace Michael Wacha will be on six days rest and is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in nine career starts under those circumstances. San Diego’s Andrew Cashner was 1-2 in six June starts and is coming off one of his best outings of the year, allowing two runs in seven innings to beat Arizona.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Though it won’t show in the box score, defensive breakdowns were critical in both of the St. Louis Cardinals’ losses to the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox got an early boost in Wednesday night’s 7-1 victory when first baseman Mark Reynolds bobbled a grounder by Carlos Sanchez and could only get one out instead of a double play. Tyler Flowers advanced to second and scored the tying run on Adam Eaton’s single.
If Reynolds fielded the ball cleanly, manager Mike Matheny said it could have “drastically changed the game.”
“We consider those non-plays, even though they’re not errors,” the manager added. “In those tight games, those non-plays are going to hurt you.”
A night earlier, second baseman Pete Kozma had at least a force out at second on Eaton’s grounder, but dropped the ball and had to make the safe play at first. Pitcher Chris Sale advanced and scored on Jose Abreu’s single off the second-base bag to put the White Sox up early in a 2-1, 11-inning victory.
Melky Cabrera homered to back a strong outing from Jose Quintana, and the White Sox pulled away late in a game interrupted by three rain delays.
The Cardinals lead the majors with a 51-26 record and had a six-game winning streak entering the two-game series, but were held to a single run in each of the losses. They were 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position, including seven hitless at-bats Wednesday.
Matheny refused to use soggy conditions as an excuse.
“It’s the exact same for them,” the manager said. “It’s not like we’re the only guys in a holding pattern.”
Quintana (4-7) allowed a run in six innings with eight strikeouts to win for the first time in four starts. The lefty worked at least six innings for the 10th straight time, none of the starts lasting longer than seven innings.
Cabrera homered in the sixth to give the White Sox the lead. Flowers’ two-run homer highlighted a five-run ninth for the White Sox, who had dropped 12 of 16 entering the series.
There were 2 hours, 19 minutes in delays, all but a half-hour coming before the first pitch. On Sunday, the Cardinals beat the Cubs in a game that lasted 2:28 but consumed 2:29 in delays.
John Lackey (6-5) allowed two runs in seven innings with six strikeouts and two walks. The 36-year-old right-hander worked seven or more innings for the sixth time in seven starts.
Lackey left Busch Stadium without speaking to reporters.
Cabrera hit his third homer, and second in three games, for a 2-1 lead leading off the sixth. Flowers has homered in his last three games, a career best.
The Cardinals wasted Reynolds’ first triple since 2011 in the sixth after Eaton missed on a sliding attempt in center field when Quintana struck out Randal Grichuk and Yadier Molina flied out.
Jhonny Peralta had an RBI double in the first for St. Louis.
White Sox: LHP Dan Jennings (neck) was activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia was ruled out for Thursday’s start against the Padres but is optimistic about returning from a mild groin strain Tuesday in a doubleheader against the Cubs.
White Sox: John Danks, who faces the Orioles on Friday, was 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA in four starts last month.
Cardinals: Rookie Tim Cooney will be recalled from Triple-A Memphis to face the Padres Thursday. It’ll be Cooney’s second career start – the lefty lasted just 2 1-3 innings April 30 against the Phillies.
Marcus Hatley made his major league debut for St. Louis in the ninth, entering with the bases loaded and nobody out and top Chicago RBI man Jose Abreu at the plate. Abreu hit a two-run single through a drawn-in infield.
“It was awesome, a great experience,” Hatley said. “It felt like forever down there. It was a long game, but I was excited to get in there.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Blues have signed forward Jori Lehtera to a three-year contract extension that will begin with the 2016-17 season.
The 27-year-old Lehtera had 14 goals and 30 assists in 75 games in his first NHL season, and ranked second on the team with a plus-21 rating. He had two assists in five playoff games.
Lehtera was a third-round draft pick in 2008 and spent the first seven seasons of his pro career in Europe.
The Blues also signed defenseman Chris Butler to a one-year deal Wednesday. The 28-year-old Butler had three goals and six assists in 33 games last season. He’s played in seven seasons including stints with Calgary and Buffalo.
St. Louis also signed forward Cody Beach to a one-year, two-way contract.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Chicago White Sox activated reliever Dan Jennings from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Junior Guerra to Triple-A Charlotte.
The White Sox made the moves before Wednesday night’s game against St. Louis.
Jennings, a left-hander, has been on the DL since June 7, retroactive to June 5, with inflammation on the left side of his neck. He tossed six innings in three relief appearances during a rehab stint with Charlotte.
The White Sox acquired Jennings during the offseason from the Marlins. He has a 7.83 ERA in 22 appearances covering 23 innings.
Guerra made three relief appearances in June and allowed three runs in four innings. He was 2-6 with a 2.72 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 12 games, eight of them starts, with Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
(St. Louis) (AP) – The only damage against Lance Lynn came on a single that deflected off second base.
The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander didn’t threaten double-digit strikeouts, but he did just fine going up against Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale.
“My innings were ugly, but the defense made some plays and I made some pitches when I needed to,” Lynn said after the Cardinals lost 2-1 in 11 innings on Tuesday night. “The ball was moving pretty good and they weren’t able to square it up.”
Lynn made a big save in the second, too. Second baseman Pete Kozma dropped a relay throw, costing the Cardinals a double play and leaving the bases loaded with none out, but Lynn escaped without damage.
“Lance was pretty good, too,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He got better as he went, but unfortunately took him a lot of pitches to get there.”
Lynn allowed a run on six hits in six innings but needed 117 pitches. In two starts off the 15-day disabled list from a forearm strain he’s surrendered one run in 12 innings.
Sale matched a major league record by striking out at least 10 in eight straight starts, and Tyler Flowers homered in the 11th for Chicago. Sale struck out 12 in eight innings. The lefty tied the mark set by Pedro Martinez in 1999 with Boston.
The White Sox ace had fanned every hitter in the St. Louis lineup by the end of the sixth. He is 0-2 with two no-decisions during the last four games of his streak, getting only four runs of support.
Sale helped himself in his 100th career start, singling for his first hit and scoring the first run for the White Sox.
Flowers hit his sixth homer with two outs in the 11th. He connected off Miguel Socolovich (2-1), pitching for the first time in nine days.
“We like him in those situations,” Matheny said. “He’s been in mostly tough situations, he’s just got to pitch. We have no hesitation to throw him in there right there.”
Matheny would have loved Socolovich’s post-game comments, too. The right-hander refused to use the long layoff as an excuse.
“That’s OK, anything can happen in this game,” Socolovich said. “I’m going to be same tomorrow. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and help the team win.”
Daniel Webb (1-0) got the win and David Robertson earned his 16th save in 20 chances.
Randal Grichuk homered into Big Mac Land and doubled for the Cardinals, whose nine-game home winning streak ended.
Both teams recorded 14 strikeouts. White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton fanned four times and rookie Xavier Scruggs struck out three times for St. Louis.
Sale struck out the side in the third. He got his 10th strikeout against Jhonny Peralta in the sixth.
Sale singled leading off the third, advanced on a groundout and scored on Jose Abreu’s one-out hit that looked like a groundout before caroming off the second base bag. Sale had been 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in his career.
White Sox: Reliever Dan Jennings (neck) made his third rehab appearance Monday for Triple-A Charlotte, working two scoreless innings.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia has not thrown a bullpen session since cramping in his groin in his last start last Wednesday and is a question mark for Thursday’s start.
Chicago’s Jose Quintana is 2-6 in his last 12 starts but with a 3.10 ERA. John Lackey is 7-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 career starts in St. Louis, including 5-1 with a 1.91 ERA this year.
by Christy Reiken, AP
(Houston) (AP) – Kansas City starter Danny Duffy was done in by a couple of bad pitches on Tuesday night against the Houston Astros.
Duffy (2-4) allowed six hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings in his second start since returning from the disabled list in a 4-0 loss.
“For the most part (he pitched) really well,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “He elevated a couple of pitches they didn’t miss.”
George Springer had a two-run homer in the third inning. Jose Altuve drove in a run in the fifth to help Houston to the victory.
Marwin Gonzalez singled with two outs in the third inning before Springer’s soaring shot, which bounced off the foul pole in left field to make it 2-0 and snapped Springer out of an 0 for 8 slump.
“I think I was most upset about hanging the slider to (Gonzalez),” Duffy said. “I just tried to throw hard and make it really tight. But it just floated in there. I think that may have taken me out of the next at-bat, which is in my opinion the best hitter on their team.”
Evan Gattis tripled with one out in the fourth inning. The fly ball sailed just out of reach of the glove of Lorenzo Cain, who raced up Tal’s Hill in center to try and grab it and instead crashed to the ground and into the padded wall after coming up short.
“I felt like my first two steps were good and then after that my legs just gave out and into the wall I went,” Cain said. “I gave a great effort but at the end of the day, the hill won.”
Yost raved about Cain’s effort on the play, before adding that he thinks the hill should go. He’ll get his wish. The Astros are removing it at the end of this season.
“I thought it was phenomenal because anytime I’ve seen anybody go up the hill, they take a nosedive on the first step,” Yost said. “Lo took a nosedive on the third step. It shows you how great an outfielder he is.”
Gattis already has four triples this season after tripling just once in his first two years in the majors.
Chris Carter walked on a wild pitch by Duffy, which sailed over catcher Drew Butera’s head, and allowed Gattis to score and make it 3-0.
Springer drew a one-out walk in the fifth inning before scoring on a double by Altuve to push Houston’s lead to 4-0.
That was more than enough for Keuchel (10-3), who backed up a shutout win over the New York Yankees in his previous start by dominating the Royals. Keuchel struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter to lower his ERA to an American League-leading 2.03.
“He utilized both sides of the plate really effectively,” Yost said. “He’d get us looking away and then he’d start pounding us in. We couldn’t gauge him. He was changing speeds. He really did a great job of keeping the ball down.”
The Astros have taken the first two games of this matchup of teams with the best records in the AL. Houston is 46-34 and Kansas City is 44-30.
Cain had three hits for the Royals, including two doubles, but the rest of the lineup fizzled. Kansas City produced more than one hit in only one inning while being shut out for the second time in a week.
Royals: 1B Eric Hosmer missed a second straight game and will likely miss Wednesday’s game too with a sprained left ring finger. Yost said he isn’t sure when Hosmer will return, but doesn’t expect him to be out too long. Hosmer said he was feeling better on Tuesday and that most of the swelling was gone.
Astros: OF Colby Rasmus was out for the fourth straight game because of a skin infection on his left arm caused by a bug bite. Manager A.J. Hinch said Rasmus spent Monday night in the hospital receiving intravenous antibiotics to try to eliminate the infection and that he remained there on Tuesday. Hinch said they hope Rasmus responds to treatment and can avoid going to the disabled list.
Houston rookie Vince Velasquez (0-0) tries for his first win in his fifth major league start when he opposes Kansas City’s Edinson Volquez (8-4) in the series finale. Velasquez has a 3.72 ERA, but has not factored in the decision in any of his first four starts. Volquez looks for his fifth straight win.
MIAMI (AP) — Casey McGehee, the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2014, will need another comeback.
The veteran infielder was designated for assignment Tuesday by the San Francisco Giants shortly before they began a three-game series at Miami. The Giants purchased the contract of infielder Ehire Adrianza from Triple-A Sacramento.
McGehee, 32, lost his starting job at third base to Matt Duffy and was demoted to the minors earlier this season. After returning he went 5 for 17, and he’s batting .213 with two homers in 49 games. Despite playing part-time he has grounded into 15 double plays, tied for most in the majors.
Adrianza, a switch-hitter, has spent all of this season with Sacramento, batting .316 with three home runs.
by Colin Binkley, AP
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Schuyler Bailar was a star recruit for the women’s swimming team at Harvard University, a tough competitor with a shot at winning titles. But Bailar is opting to forgo such honors to join the men’s team instead, competing as one of the first openly transgender swimmers in the NCAA.
“It’s half terrifying and half exciting,” said Bailar, a 19-year-old from McLean, Virginia. “I’m just kind of embracing it with open arms.”
Bailar, an incoming freshman, came out as transgender this year after already being recruited for the women’s team. Initially he planned to stay on that team but had mixed feelings about it – he wanted to swim, but he also wanted to embrace his identity.
The Harvard women’s coach saw that Bailar was torn and helped orchestrate another option: In a surprise move, the university offered Bailar a spot on either the men’s or women’s team.
“I was blown away,” Bailar said. “I had no idea how to respond.”
On the women’s team, Bailar would have been a top athlete. He had hopes of breaking records and winning titles. In the world of men’s swimming, though, his times were far behind the best. It took two wrenching months to decide, but he finally dropped his competitive goals and joined the men’s team.
“I just want to be a boy,” he remembers thinking. “I can’t live this in-between thing anymore.”
By then, men’s coach Kevin Tyrrell had already gathered the team to talk about adding Bailar.
“We talked about how we’re all about character and values, and I kind of gave my two cents: If we’re going to say that we care about others, then this is something we should consider,” Tyrrell said. “And basically all the guys said, within 15 seconds, `Yeah, let’s do it.'”
Bailar is among the first openly transgender swimmers in the NCAA. Jay Pulitano, a Division III athlete at Sarah Lawrence College, competed on the women’s team for three seasons before joining the men’s team in the 2014-15 school year.
Athletes have come out as transgender in other college sports, too. In 2010, Kye Allums asked to be identified as a man while playing on the women’s basketball team at George Washington University. Keelin Godsey was already a national champion in the women’s hammer throw at Bates College before coming out as transgender in 2005.
The NCAA clarified in 2011 that transgender athletes can often compete on teams of either sex, depending on their hormone use.
For Bailar, joining the men’s team will bring obstacles. Beyond the daunting competition, he’ll have to adjust to a locker room full of guys, and he’s still getting used to wearing a men’s swimsuit.
But it’s also an immense relief, he said. Bailar has the chance to embrace his identity without losing the sport that was a bright spot during years of depression.
“Through high school I grew my hair out, I conformed, I dressed in the high heels to prom – and I was miserable,” he said. “I did succeed in swimming because that was really my only outlet. That was the only place to put my passion into, because I didn’t enjoy much else really.”
Among his accomplishments, he was part of a national relay record on a girls’ team, and he competed in the 2013 junior national championships.
He was recruited to Harvard during his senior year of high school but took a year off after graduation, in part to focus on therapy. That’s when he first came out as transgender.
“Once I was able to say that, a lot of things started clicking into place,” he said.
Supported by his family and friends, Bailar started to transition. He had his breasts surgically removed and has started hormone treatments.
In the two months before swimming season starts, he’s training hard but tempering his expectations.
“My goal is just to contribute something to the team, and be a good teammate and a good friend. I have no idea what my body can do,” he said.
But he’s already seeing physical progress and documenting it on social media. One post from last week includes a photo of a shirtless Bailar, flexing one of his biceps and giving a game-face scowl.
“Despite my face,” he wrote, “I’m actually really happy these days.”