Update on the latest sports
Hawks host Hornets, Spurs visit Pelicans in play-in games
UNDATED (AP) – The Charlotte Hornets visit the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night in a matchup between the ninth and 10th seeds in the East.
The Hawks never expected to be in this position, after last summer’s surprising run to the conference final. But here they are, needing to win two play-in games just to make the playoffs. The Hornets are in the play-in tournament for the second year in a row. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 but look like a franchise on the rise. The winner of the 9-10 game advances to face either Brooklyn or Cleveland for the East’s final playoff spot.
The New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs both made it to the postseason through patience and perseverance.
First-year Pelicans coach Willie Green had to adjust to star forward Zion Williamson being unavailable because of injury the entire season and also had to overcome a 1-12 start. His team has had a winning record since Thanksgiving. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich is the career leader in NBA coaching victories and has won five championships.
But his young team opened this season 4-13 and was 16 games below .500 in early March. Now they’ll meet in New Orleans in a winner-take-all Western Conference play-in game.
Wednesday’s Major League happenings
UNDATED (AP) – One day after suddenly ending up in the spotlight, Alyssa Nakken will be right back at work trying to help the San Francisco Giants beat San Diego.
The 31-year-old made major league history as the first female coach on the field in a regular-season game Tuesday night during San Francisco’s 13-2 victory over the Padres. She came in to coach first base for the Giants in the third inning after Antoan Richardson was ejected.
When she was announced as Richardson’s replacement, Nakken was greeted with a warm ovation from the San Francisco crowd. She also received a congratulatory handshake from Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Nakken is an assistant coach who works heavily with baserunning and outfield defense. She normally watches games from an indoor batting cage near the steps to the dugout – and has a Giants jersey nearby, just in case she needs it. And in an instant Tuesday night, she did.
Nakken jogged onto the field four days after Rachel Balkovec became the first woman to manage a minor league affiliate of a Major League Baseball team. Balkovec guided the New York Yankees’ Class A Tampa club to a win in her first game.
Nakken had previously coached first base in spring training and during part of a July 2020 exhibition game at Oakland. She started at first again a night later against the Athletics in San Francisco as the teams prepared for the pandemic-delayed season.
Elsewhere around the majors:
– Remarkable rookie Steven Kwan has reached base at least three times in all five games of his major league career with Cleveland. The 24-year-old outfielder kept up his super start with a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly Tuesday in a 10-5 win at Cincinnati. Kwan is 10 for 15 since making his debut on opening day. He has reached base in 18 of 24 plate appearances, the most times for any player in his first five games since 1901. Kwan also has swung 39 times and not missed a single time, according to Statcast. The lefty hitter and the Guardians next face left-hander Nick Lodolo, who will make his big league debut. The Reds picked him seventh overall in the 2019 draft.
– Tigers lefty Eduardo Rodriguez gets a look at his former teammates when he pitches against Boston at Comerica Park.
Rodriguez was 64-39 in six seasons with Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox before signing a $77 million, five-year contract with Detroit as a free agent. The 29-year-old Rodriguez gave up three runs and four hits in four innings against the White Sox in his Detroit debut.
– Off to a sensational start, Padres newcomer Sean Manaea (mah-NY’-ah) is back on the mound at San Francisco. Traded from Oakland to San Diego in the final week of spring training, the 30-year-old lefty pitched seven hitless innings against Arizona in his Padres debut. Manaea was pulled after 88 pitches with the no-hitter intact. Manaea pitched six seasons for the A’s before being dealt. He’s still waiting to settle into San Diego – the trade came while he was in Arizona for spring training, then the Padres opened against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix before heading to San Francisco.
– Clayton Kershaw gets his first look at Target Field when he faces the Minnesota Twins for the first time in his career. The three-time Cy Young Award winner makes his season debut for the Dodgers. He chose to stay with Los Angeles rather than sign as a free agent with the Rangers in his home state of Texas. Now in his 15th season, the 34-year-old Kershaw was sharp in four spring training starts. While he’s never taken on the Twins, Kershaw will pitch against a familiar opponent. Chris Paddack makes his first start for Minnesota after being acquired in an opening day trade with San Diego. Paddack was early in his rookie season of 2019 when he lost to Kershaw in an NL West matchup.
– Robbie Ray impressed in his first game for Seattle, showing the stuff that won him the AL Cy Young Award last year with Toronto.
The 30-year-old lefty was in control last week, winning at Minnesota with seven innings of three-hit ball. Ray now takes on Jose Abreu (ah-BRAY’-oo), Tim Anderson and the White Sox in Chicago. Dallas Keuchel (KY’-kul) starts for the White Sox, trying for his 100th career win. The 34-year-old lefty, who won the 2015 AL Cy Young with Houston, struggled last season and was shaky in spring training last month.
– Wednesday’s Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals game has been postponed because of inclement weather. The teams will make it up on Monday, May 2, at 3:15 p.m. Central time at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won the first game 6-5 on Tuesday night as Albert Pujols (POO”-hohlz) homered for the first time since returning to St. Louis. It is the second Cardinals game to be postponed this week. Monday’s home game was also postponed because of weather.
2 funeral services scheduled for Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins
UNDATED (AP) – Funeral services for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was killed when he was hit by a dump truck on Saturday, will take place next weekend.
The first will be held April 23 at noon at Christ Church in New Jersey’s Rockaway Township. The next day, services will occur at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland.
The 24-year-old Haskins was hit by the truck while he was walking on a South Florida highway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.