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Smeltzer sizzles to give Twins share of 1st

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Smeltzer sizzles to give Twins share of 1st

n”,”providerName”:”Twitter”,”providerUrl”:”https://twitter.com”,”type”:”rich”,”width”:550,”__typename”:”ExternalEmbedContent”},”$ROOT_QUERY.getForgeContentBySlug({“locale”:”en-us”,”slug”:”devin-smeltzer-s-scoreless-start-sends-twins-past-guardians”,”type”:”story”}).parts.2″:{“data”:{“type”:”id”,”generated”:true,”id”:”$ROOT_QUERY.getForgeContentBySlug({“locale”:”en-us”,”slug”:”devin-smeltzer-s-scoreless-start-sends-twins-past-guardians”,”type”:”story”}).parts.2.data”,”typename”:”ExternalEmbedContent”},”type”:”oembed”,”__typename”:”ExternalEmbed”},”$ROOT_QUERY.getForgeContentBySlug({“locale”:”en-us”,”slug”:”devin-smeltzer-s-scoreless-start-sends-twins-past-guardians”,”type”:”story”}).parts.3″:{“content”:”“It was a heck of an outing for \[Smeltzer\], and this was a day we needed someone to just come in and do something like that, and he really showed up,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.nnThe Twins (39-32) and Guardians (36-29) finished the series in a virtual tie atop the division once more, with all three games in the set decided by one run. Victories in these matchups look like they won’t come easily, and on Thursday, working without any wiggle room due to the success of opposing starter Zach Plesac, Smeltzer gave his team another one of its best outings of the season to swing the game in Minnesota’s favor.nnThe left-hander rebounded from a tough start in Arizona (4 1/3 innings, six earned runs) by matching Opening Day starter Joe Ryan for the team lead with his second outing of six or more scoreless innings in 2022.nnThat kind of upside and relative consistency has led to Smeltzer securing an unexpected spot in what is now a five-man rotation, with Josh Winder now the odd man out after being optioned to Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday following his rehab assignment.”,”type”:”markdown”,”__typename”:”Markdown”},”$ROOT_QUERY.getForgeContentBySlug({“locale”:”en-us”,”slug”:”devin-smeltzer-s-scoreless-start-sends-twins-past-guardians”,”type”:”story”}).parts.4.data”:{“html”:”

Lefty paves way with 6 scoreless frames, bullpen squashes Guardians’ late rallies

June 23rd, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — There’s nothing quite like clutch pitching to bust a team out of a skid.

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The Twins needed a win to avoid a sweep and pull back even with the Guardians atop the American League Central, and they needed a lengthy start to avoid having to dig too deep into a taxed bullpen that had blown late leads in the first two games of the series.

Smeltzer delivered six crucial scoreless innings in Thursday’s series finale at Target Field, then the relief corps held on for dear life as Joe Smith stranded the bases loaded in the seventh and Caleb Thielbar left the potential tying run on second base in the ninth to preserve a 1-0 victory.

“It was a heck of an outing for [Smeltzer], and this was a day we needed someone to just come in and do something like that, and he really showed up,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

The Twins (39-32) and Guardians (36-29) finished the series in a virtual tie atop the division once more, with all three games in the set decided by one run. Victories in these matchups look like they won’t come easily, and on Thursday, working without any wiggle room due to the success of opposing starter Zach Plesac, Smeltzer gave his team another one of its best outings of the season to swing the game in Minnesota’s favor.

The left-hander rebounded from a tough start in Arizona (4 1/3 innings, six earned runs) by matching Opening Day starter Joe Ryan for the team lead with his second outing of six or more scoreless innings in 2022.

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That kind of upside and relative consistency has led to Smeltzer securing an unexpected spot in what is now a five-man rotation, with Josh Winder now the odd man out after being optioned to Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday following his rehab assignment.

“Being able to settle into a role, knowing that I’m starting, knowing that I’m going to get back out there every five or six days, it’s huge,” Smeltzer said. “Because I can put in my work, I can do the homework. It’s huge on the mental side of things, and recovery, rest, you know where you’re going to be. You’re not bouncing around. So it’s really big.”

But the starting pitching has been less of an issue than the bullpen in this recent stretch, and the finale against Cleveland figured to bring another unconventional road to the finish line after Minnesota had worn out the majority of its leverage arms in the close matchups on Tuesday and Wednesday.

With Smeltzer having needed 92 pitches to get through six innings, the Twins had to navigate the final three innings with some combination of Smith, Thielbar and Jhoan Duran — and at last, they got it done.

Not that it went completely smoothly.

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Smith began the seventh by loading the bases on a walk, a Franmil Reyes double and a hit-by-pitch, a continuation of the recent struggles that led to a 7.88 ERA across his past 11 appearances and a 1.43 WHIP that marked his highest since his rookie season in 2007.

But the veteran has shown that he’s capable of getting ground balls in big situations, and he did so twice for a pair of forceouts at home before he induced an inning-ending flyout off the bat of Myles Straw.

And though the Twins have often allowed Duran to pitch two-inning stints to finish out games, they didn’t let the rookie do so on Thursday, even after he had thrown a scoreless eighth and blown Reyes away on three pitches to begin the ninth. With the right-hander’s pitch count at 17, Baldelli instead turned to Thielbar, who allowed a double to Andrés Giménez but induced a groundout and a strikeout for his first Major League save.

“[Duran] threw two innings two days ago,” Baldelli said. “And you don’t know what happens if you start leaving a guy in there in a second inning of work. We realistically can’t let his pitch count get [near] the 30s for the second time in three days. We’re going to need this guy all year long.”

There are 13 more of these matchups this season — and if these games have been any indication, it’s going to be quite the fight for the division.

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“These games are always tough,” Thielbar said. “They play us well, regardless of who’s a better team in a given year. Every year I’ve been up … they’ve always played us well.”

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No. 1 recruit Williams commits to Mulkey, LSU

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No. 1 recruit Williams commits to Mulkey, LSU

Mikaylah Williams, the top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023, according to ESPN HoopGurlz, has committed to Kim Mulkey’s LSU program, she announced Friday.

Williams, a 6-foot-1 guard from Bossier City, Louisiana, chose LSU over Ole Miss, Baylor, Duke and Texas A&M.

“In order to take my game to the next level and to continue to learn and grow as a young woman, there’s only one place where I’ve wanted to be. Home,” Williams said in her video announcement. “I’ve decided I’ll be attending the Louisiana State University.”

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Williams won gold with Team USA in the 2021 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup, where she was MVP, and recently earned a spot on the U.S. team for the FIBA U17 World Cup, which will compete July 9-17 in Hungary.

She was named the Gatorade Louisiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year in March after averaging 22.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals as a junior at Parkway High.

With Mulkey in her second season in Baton Rouge, the Tigers are looking to propel themselves back into the conversation as title contenders and to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. LSU fell to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.

With a host of seniors departing the program, Mulkey was active in the transfer portal, bringing in Angel Reese from Maryland, LaDazhia Williams from Missouri, Kateri Poole from Ohio State, Jasmine Carson from West Virginia and top juco transfer Last-Tear Poa from Northwest Florida State College to join a 2022 recruiting class ranked No. 17 in the nation by ESPN.

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Sources: Five-star Buzelis picks G League Ignite

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Sources: Five-star Buzelis picks G League Ignite

11:04 AM ET

  • Adrian WojnarowskiSenior NBA Insider

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    • Host of The Woj Pod
    • Joined ESPN in 2017

Five-star recruit Matas Buzelis — the No. 11 player in ESPN’s Top 100 for the Class of 2023 — has committed to the G League Ignite for the 2023-24 season, sources told ESPN on Friday.

Buzelis, a skilled 6-foot-10 forward, will bypass college basketball and sign into the NBA’s professional pathway program once he graduates from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas next spring, sources said.

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Buzelis, an Illinois native who starred for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire last season, had narrowed his college choices to Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida State and Wake Forest.

The G League Ignite program is based out of Northern California and constructed to prepare young players ahead of NBA draft eligibility. Former NBA guard Jason Hart is beginning his second season as the program’s coach, and several recent players, including the No. 8 pick Dyson Daniels (New Orleans) and No. 24 pick MarJon Beauchamp (Milwaukee) on Thursday, were first-round draft choices.

Buzelis participated in the Nike Hoop Summit in 2022, and a USA Basketball minicamp at the site of the Final Four in New Orleans. He led powerhouse Brewster Academy to a 31-8 record and a New England prep school championship.

Excel Sports represents Buzelis in name, image and likeness deals.

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WNBA union decries overturning of Roe v. Wade

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WNBA union decries overturning of Roe v. Wade

1:39 PM ET

  • ESPN News Services

The Women’s National Basketball Players Association reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion by focusing on voting rights and urging people to “vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”

In a statement, the WNBPA said, “This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity.”

“We must recognize that when we cast a ballot it is to elect officials and to connect the dots to policies and legislation that align with our values,” the WNBPA said.

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The Supreme Court on Friday voted 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. The ruling came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step, and it was supported by the court’s conservative majority.

Alito, in the final opinion, wrote that the original 1973 decision on Roe and a 1992 decision reaffirming it (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) were “wrong the days they were decided and must be overturned.”

Alito wrote that the authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches of government and not the courts. The decision leaves it up to the states.

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote.

Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas joined the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks and prompted the case to get to the Supreme Court, but he didn’t vote to overturn Roe.

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The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states, some beginning immediately.

“It’s just incredibly disheartening. There are an infinite amount of reasons why a woman chooses to do what she does with her body or what they do with their body — none of which are anybody else’s business.”

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe

Three of the court’s liberal justices wrote in a joint dissent that the decision would bring “sorrow” for the many millions of American women who will be losing a “fundamental constitutional protection.” The WNBPA statement said an abortion ban “could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone.”

In September, a number of prominent women athletes, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe and basketball standouts Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, joined 500 athletes and groups who signed a friend-of-the-court brief to the justices. The group included 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes and various athlete associations. They argued that abortion rights have helped the growth of women’s sports and expressed concern that future athletes would suffer without those protections.

Rapinoe on Friday called it a “really sad, sad day” and said the ruling is “completely misguided and wildly out of touch with the desires of the country.”

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“The right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness and liberty is being assaulted in this instance,” Rapinoe said. “And it’s just incredibly disheartening. There are an infinite amount of reasons why a woman chooses to do what she does with her body or what they do with their body — none of which are anybody else’s business.”

Rapinoe’s U.S. women’s national soccer teammate Lindsey Horan said, “I’m still a little bit shocked and trying to take it all in. But I do feel like this is taking a step backwards for our country.”

In a statement, the National Women’s Soccer League wrote that the ruling “denies individuals in this country the full liberty and equality that is the cornerstone of a just society.”

The statement added: “Reproductive rights are human rights. Until every individual has the same freedoms as their neighbor, our work is not done. We will continue to make our voices heard.”

Bird, who is engaged to Rapinoe, took to Twitter to react to the Supreme Court’s decision.

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Gutted 💔

— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) June 24, 2022

Bird’s WNBA team, the Seattle Storm released a statement on Twitter that also referenced the Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling on gun rights.

Furious and ready to fight. pic.twitter.com/6fdEHUd4pM

— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) June 24, 2022

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert issued a joint statement Friday afternoon.

“The NBA and WNBA believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health and future, and we believe that freedom should be protected,” the leagues said in the statement. “We will continue to advocate for gender and health equity, including ensuring our employees have access to reproductive health care, regardless of their location.”

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The much-anticipated ruling, applauded by pro-life conservatives, was decried by a number of prominent athletes on social media.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King wrote: “This decision will not end abortion … it is a sad day in the United States.”

Wrote Portland Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart: “To the women in this country … I’m sorry.”

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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