Update on the latest sports
Braves and Astros can clinch division titles
UNDATED (AP) – Atlanta can clinch its fourth consecutive NL East title Thursday night with a win at home over Philadelphia, which would complete a three-game sweep of their high-stakes series. The Phillies will get eliminated from playoff contention with one more loss or any Atlanta win the rest of the season.
Philadelphia’s biggest bats have gone silent at the worst possible time. Bryce Harper, a top contender for NL MVP, and cleanup hitter J.T. Realmuto (ree-al-MOO’-toh) are a combined 0 for 15 in the series. Harper, who had reached base in 23 straight games before Wednesday, is 0 for 7 with five strikeouts.
Ian Anderson pitches for the Braves and Kyle Gibson goes for the Phillies.
In other Thursday highlights:
– Houston looks to wrap up its fourth AL West crown in five years with a victory at home against Tampa Bay. Lance McCullers Jr. starts the series finale for the Astros, who have lost five of their last six games. The AL East champion Rays will go with an opener or Ryan Yarbrough. Rays rookie Wander Franco reached a milestone Wednesday night as Tampa Bay beat Houston 7-0 to clinch home-field advantage through the AL Championship Series. The 20-year-old switch-hitter has safely reached base in 43 straight games, tying Frank Robinson for the longest string by a major leaguer 20 or younger.
– Madison Bumgarner will finally get his moment to be celebrated by the San Francisco fans. The big Arizona lefty pitches against his old Giants club, this time with a crowd. His first outing back at Oracle Park last September was in front of cardboard cutouts. The Diamondbacks played in San Francisco earlier this season and he came out of the dugout to wave at the crowd but didn’t pitch. Bumgarner signed an $85 million, five-year contract with Arizona in December 2019 after 11 seasons with the Giants. He was the 2014 World Series MVP as San Francisco won the championship and helped the team take titles in 2010 and ’12.
Winless Jags face Bengals on Urban Meyer’s return to Ohio
CINCINNATI (AP) – The Jacksonville Jaguars look for their first win when they play the Bengals Thursday night in Cincinnati.
The Bengals are 2-1 for the first time since 2018. Quarterback Joe Burrow is healthy and rediscovering the chemistry he had with receiver Ja’Marr Chase when they were teammates on LSU’s 2019 national championship team.
Jacksonville is trying to avoid losing its 19th consecutive game.
Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer now coaches Jacksonville. He’s returning to his home state for the first time since making the jump to the NFL.
Meyer was a proud member of the Buckeye State long before he became the Buckeyes’ coach and led the team to the 2014 national championship. He was born in Toledo, grew up in Ashtabula (ash-tuh-BYOO’-luh) rooting for the Bengals, went to college at Cincinnati, played safety for the Bearcats and got his first coaching job at nearby Saint Xavier High School in 1985.
Now, he’s about to face a Cincinnati team filled with former Buckeyes, starting with Burrow, who ended up transferring to LSU and winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy. Cornerback Eli Apple, safety Vonn Bell, defensive end Sam Hubbard and offensive tackle Isaiah Prince also played for Meyer during his seven-year tenure at Ohio State.