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Dodgers lose to Giants as Kenley Jansen lets another 9th-inning lead disappear

LOS ANGELES — A casual conversation with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during batting practice Thursday afternoon ended with this pronouncement.

“Kenley’s getting the save tonight,” Roberts said, the ever-optimistic manager striding away confident in his pronouncement.

Roberts had no idea how wrong he would be.

Hours later, Roberts entrusted Kenley Jansen with another ninth-inning lead, his third in the past five days. By the time Jansen strode off the mound, the lead was gone again, Roberts had been ejected for the second consecutive game and the Dodgers were about to lose, 5-3, to the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants came to town one game ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West and they leave having stretched that lead to three games thanks to ninth-inning rallies Wednesday and Thursday. The two ancient rivals will catch their breath over the weekend then meet again for three more games starting Tuesday in San Francisco.

Desperate for good starts from Julio Urias and Walker Buehler in the back half of this series, the Dodgers got them. The two combined to allow two runs on eight hits over 14-1/3 innings, walking two and striking out 14.

The Giants scored a run off Buehler in the first inning – the third time in the four-game series they had taken a lead before the Dodgers reached the bat rack. But Buehler worked out of a first-and-third jam in the second inning, striking out Thairo Estrada and the opposing pitcher, Anthony DeSclafani, and stranded Yastrzemski at third base after his two-out triple in the sixth.

Yastrzemski’s triple was one of only two Giants hits off Buehler after the second inning. The Dodgers right-hander retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced and went at least six innings for the 19th time in 20 starts, at least seven for the eighth time.

Will Smith gave him a lead to protect with a two-run home run off DeSclafani in the fourth inning. The Dodgers catcher has driven in 12 runs since the All-Star break, going 7 for 18 with a double and three home runs in that week.

Buehler passed the lead to Blake Treinen in the eighth – and Jansen in the ninth.

The embattled closer’s appearance on the video boards as he warmed up before the ninth inning sent a nervous rumble through the crowd. Then he made their worst fears come true.

After striking out Yastrzemski to start the inning, Jansen gave up a single to Wilmer Flores – distinct improvement over the two-run home run Jansen served up to Flores in the ninth inning Wednesday. That brought the tying run to the plate.

After striking out Alex Dickerson, Jansen gave up a double to Donovan Solano that put the tying runs in scoring position. With the crowd on its feet – no doubt, many prepared to boo Jansen for a second consecutive night – Jansen walked pinch-hitter Jason Vosler to load the bases.

Estrada bounced a slow ground ball to shortstop Chris Taylor, who threw to second for the forceout that only briefly ended the game. After a replay review, the original call was overturned, a run scored and the drama continued long enough for Darin Ruf to work a full count against Jansen.

Ruf checked his swing on the seventh pitch of the at-bat – a cutter up and away. At least that’s what first base umpire Ed Hickox believed. He signaled no swing, allowing Ruf to walk and force in the tying run.

Roberts erupted from the Dodgers dugout, firing his hat into the ground and quickly getting ejected.

Jansen’s next pitch was lined into right field by Wade, falling in front of Billy McKinney, freshly arrived from the New York Mets and no substitute defensively for Mookie Betts. Two runs scored on the single, the fifth consecutive batter to reach safely with two outs.

Jansen, who had a 1.24 ERA through his first 36 appearances this season, has allowed eight runs on nine hits and four walks while recording six outs in three appearances since, all blown saves.

More to come on this story.

Andrew Heaney rebounds from rough start to pitch Angels past Twins

  • Angels catcher Max Stassi catches the ball to make a play at the plate as the Twins’ Trevor Larnach tries to score during the second inning of Thursday’s game at Target Field in Minneapolis. Larnach was ruled out on the play. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani takes a practice swing on deck before batting against the Minnesota Twins, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda throws to the plate during the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Angels in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani fouls off a ball during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ohtani struck out swinging on the at-bat. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani strikes out swinging on a pitch from Kenta Maeda #18 of the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of the game at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Twins third baseman Willians Astudillo fields a single by the Angels’ David Fletcher in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • The Angels’ David Fletcher is forced out at second as Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco, left, turns a double play off a hit by Justin Upton in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco throws to complete the double play after the force at second on the Angels’ David Fletcher djring the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. Justin Upton hit into the double play. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • The Angels’ Brandon Marsh breaks his bat on a swing in the second inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney throws to the plate during the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins in Minneapolis. Heaney pitched seven innings in the 3-2 win, his first quality start since June 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Minnesota Twins’ Trevor Larnach and Los Angeles Angels catcher Max Stassi (33) collide during the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • The Twins’ Trevor Larnach is thrown out at home during the second inning of Thursday’s game against the Angels in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Twins’ Andrelton Simmons (9) tugs the jersey of Trevor Larnach to help Larnach reach for home plate, but Larnach was out after colliding with Angels catcher Max Stassi during the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • The Twins’ Trevor Larnach is thrown out at home in the second inning of Thursday’s against the Angels in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Twins’ Trevor Larnach, right, and Angels catcher Max Stassi, center, react after a collision at home plate, with Larnach being tagged out, in the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • Twins manager Rocco Baldelli speaks with umpire Tom Hallion after Trevor Larnach was ruled out on a play in the second inning of the game at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda throws to the plate in the third inning of the game against the Angels at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Twins’ Miguel Sano, right, collides with Angels third baseman Jack Mayfield as Sano stole third base during the fourth inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney throws to the plate during the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney throws to the plate during the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda pitches in the first inning of the game against the Angels at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani looks on after a pitch in the fourth inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • The Angels’ Jack Mayfield, foreground, rounds the bases after hitting hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning off a pitch by Minnesota Twins starter Kenta Maeda (18) during a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • Angels second baseman Jack Mayfield (59) celebrates his three-run home run with Shohei Ohtani (17) in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney pitches in the sixth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney receives a fist bump on the bench after pitching the seventh inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Shohei Ohtani of the Angels swings at a pitch in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Shohei Ohtani of the Angels reacts after striking out in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on July 22, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ohtani struck out three times in the Angels 3-2 victory over the Twins. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Angels shortstop Jose Iglesias, left, tags out the Twins’ Jorge Polanco, who was trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Angels relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias throws to the plate during the ninth inning of Thursday’s game at Target Field in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Angels relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias celebrates after striking out the Twins’ Trevor Larnach to end Thursday’s game at Target Field in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Angels relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias celebrates after striking out the Twins’ Trevor Larnach to end Thursday’s game at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Angels relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias celebrates with catcher Max Stassi after striking out the Twins’ Trevor Larnach to end their 3-2 victory on Thursday night in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

  • Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, and second baseman David Fletcher (22) celebrate their win over the Minnesota Twins in a baseball game Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

  • Angels players, including Shohei Ohtani, right and catcher Max Stassi (in front of Ohtani) celebrate their win over the Minnesota Twins in a baseball game, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons, right, greets Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani before Thursday’s game in Minneapolis, Minn. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

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MINNEAPOLIS — Each time Andrew Heaney walked off the mound during the Angels’ 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night, he had a little message for himself.

“You’re a good (expletive) player. You’re a good (expletive) player.”

The Angels left-hander admitted that, after four miserable starts, his confidence had begun to wane, so his self-affirmations were badly needed.

And apparently effective.

Heaney rebounded from a tough start – 44 pitches in the first two innings – to get through a season-high seven innings, allowing two runs. He retired the last 11 hitters he faced.

Heaney’s start, along with two solid innings from the bullpen, two great throws from right fielder Adam Eaton, and a three-run home run from Jack Mayfield, were enough to get the Angels a victory.

“This is extremely nice for us to get a win, for me to get a win for me to build on,” Heaney said. “And frankly, for my confidence, it was something I needed to have.”

Heaney had a 9.33 ERA through his previous four starts, and he hadn’t had a quality start since June 8.

“It’s hard to go through pitching the way I was pitching,” Heaney said. “Obviously you start to look at a lot of things, question a lot of things, losing a lot of confidence.”

That’s why Heaney spent time before Thursday’s game watching video of himself, not to get too in-depth with mechanical analysis, but just to see what it looks like when he’s getting outs.

It was, essentially, a hype video.

“It sounds corny,” Heaney said. “But there are times you aren’t going good and you doubt you can get guys out. I promise I’m not the only one. I hope I’m not the only one.”

To Manager Joe Maddon, Heaney improved throughout Thursday’s game because he threw more fastballs. Maddon always insists that’s Heaney’s strength, but in recent starts, the fastball wasn’t working as well.

It didn’t seem like this was going to be a good night for Heaney at the outset, as he had to work around four baserunners in the first two innings. He was aided by an out at the plate. Left fielder Justin Upton and shortstop José Iglesias each made perfect throws to nail Trevor Larnach at the plate in the second.

Heaney eventually gave up two runs in the fourth, on a pair of doubles and a walk, but that was it.

After Willians Astudillo’s double in the fourth, Heaney did not allow another baserunner.

He retired all nine Twins hitters the third time through the lineup, including three straight strikeouts in the sixth. In the seventh, which he began with 94 pitches, he retired all three hitters on routine groundouts, throwing just eight more pitches.

“At the conclusion of the fifth inning, something kicked in and he got progressively better,” Maddon said. “He just kept getting better. It’s not really complicated. He got more aggressive with the fastball. It had good ride at home plate, and that’s what they were having a hard time with.”

Maddon took the ball from Heaney after the seventh and gave it to a bullpen that had struggled. Mike Mayers got through the eighth, but with plenty of help from his defense.

He gave up a leadoff single to Jorge Polanco, who was thrown out by right fielder Adam Eaton when he tried to stretch it into a double. Max Kepler then hit a ball into the gap in right-center, but Eaton pounced on it and fired it to second quickly enough to hold Kepler at first. The Angels then turned an inning-ending double play.

After Raisel Iglesias pitched a perfect ninth, Maddon flashed back to Eaton’s contribution.

“Adam Eaton is probably the most responsible person on this team for that win tonight,” Maddon said. “Those are great plays. It really highlights how important outfield defense is. For me, he won the game for us tonight.”

Back up at water treatment plant that caused sewage spill ‘nearly catastrophic,’ officials say

The “nearly catastrophic flooding” at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which led to a sewage spill that closed South Bay beaches for several days last week, has left the facility operating at less-than-full capacity and requires repairs that could take more than a month, Los Angeles sanitation officials said this week.

Those repairs have led to a stench emanating from the plant, adding another concern for residents, who had already questioned why it took most of a day before the public at large was notified about the 17-million gallons of sewage elevating bacteria in the ocean to unhealthy levels.

About a dozen of those residents protested in front of Hyperion, near El Segundo, on Thursday, July 22, the organizer of which said her child swam in the ocean within hours of the spill and heard others complain about the odor making them sick.

Hyperion officials, meanwhile, said this week that they alerted the state Office of Emergency Services to the July 11 spill around 8 p.m. that day, about an hour after the sewage began flowing into the ocean from a one-mile outfall. In doing so, Hyperion officials effectively placed blame on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for failing to notify beachgoers earlier.

The county health department, in turn, said in a statement that it took time to assess the seriousness of the spill, delaying when it could make an appropriate announcement.

The revelations this week shed further light on how serious the incident was, but also how much worse it could have been if the entire plant — which handles 260 million gallons of waste per day from around LA County — shut down or workers had failed to stop the flooding. LA Sanitation & Environment, the city agency that operates the plant, described its workers’ efforts as tantamount to preventing a major environmental crisis.

“They put up a valiant struggle to save Hyperion and the Santa Monica Bay during the emergency overflow discharge,” the department said in a Wednesday, July 21, statement. “Their heroic efforts averted a much larger catastrophe, and limited the discharge of untreated wastewater to 17 million gallons, which is a small fraction of the 260 million gallons per day that could have polluted Santa Monica Bay for days on end.”

Sewage spill

The Hyperion plant, which opened in 1894 and has been expanded and improved multiple times over the decades, is LA’s oldest and largest wastewater treatment facility.

It is part of a massive network that takes raw sewage from its source – such as the waste from toilets – through the 6,700 miles of piping the sanitation department manages, to Hyperion for treatment and then, finally, the Santa Monica Bay.

LA Sanitation & Environment manages wastewater for Southern California’s most populous city – with about 4 million residents – and about 30 other cities it contracts with, from Beverly Hills to Culver City, executive plant manager Timeyin Dafeta told the Southern California News Group last week.

That vast network typically handles the deluge of waste each day without much fanfare.

And, Dafeta said in last week’s interview, the plant should have had enough capacity on July 11, a Sunday, to handle the sewage coming in.

But it did not.

Instead, the system became overwhelmed.

Sensors at the plant began showing sewage flows going above capacity at around 7 p.m. that day, Dafeta said, and workers notified the state Office of Emergency Services at 8:10 p.m.

While an investigation into the cause is ongoing, it’s likely that a combination of materials not intended for the sewer system were to blame.

“We see pieces of lumber,” Dafeta told SCNG. “We see all that stuff that just comes in, that finds a way into the sewer system that does not belong there.”

While the plant has experienced similar incidents in the past, including in 2005, the July 11 one was worse, Dafeta said.

To cope, the plant, which normally sends treated wastewater down a five-mile outfall to the ocean, began sending untreated sewage through its one-mile outfall.

That caused beaches from El Segundo to the southern end of Playa del Rey to be contaminated with bacteria above levels the state deems safe.

Those beaches would close on Monday, July 12, and wouldn’t reopen again until Thursday, July 15.

Public health crisis

The controversy over the spill has traveled in recent days along two separate tracks:

One about whether officials acted quickly and adequately enough when informing the public about the potential health consequences, and the other about the severity of the crisis the plant faced.

California’s Office of Emergency Services said, in a statement this week, that once Hyperion officials notified it of the spill, the state agency almost simultaneously told the county Department of Public Health.

The health department, in its own statement, confirmed that, but also said assessing the danger to the public took time.

“At 12:58 a.m. Monday,” the county statement said, “officials at the Hyperion Plant were still unable to determine how much sewage had been discharged through the one-mile outlet.”

Plant officials confirmed around 10 a.m. that day that 17 million gallons had spilled, the health department said, and within the hour, signs were up at the beaches warning of the danger.

But the first widely disseminated notification did not come from Hyperion or DPH. It came from LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who tweeted about the beach closures around 2:30 p.m. July 12.

The health department’s public advisory did not get posted on Twitter until 5:30 p.m.

That wasn’t nearly soon enough for some residents and officials.

“I know (DPH is) saying it’s the city of LA’s responsibility and they followed protocol,” said Nikia Gonzales, who helped organize the Thursday protest at Hyperion’s entrance, on Vista Del Mar. “But at what point do you use your common human sense to notify the residents?”

The El Segundo resident’s daughter swam in the waters that morning during one of her first days back at a beach summer camp since the coronavirus pandemic.

A lifeguard at the camp, Gonzales said, saw the posted signs and made her own decision about halfway through the day to pull children out of the water.

The experience has left Gonzales frustrated and angry, she said, though her daughter has not demonstrated any ill health effects, she said.

Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin has also demanded answers.

In a letter to Sanitation & Environment this week, Galperin demanded to know, among other things, what the criteria is for a crisis at Hyperion to trigger an emergency alert via the NotifyLA mass notification system.

Hahn has also demanded a report on the spill.

Los Angeles officials plan to address residents’ concerns at the Aug. 17 City Council meeting.

‘Nearly catastrophic’

The other issue, however, is how severe the plant’s malfunction was – and how much worse it could have been.

The sewage that spilled into the ocean was 6% of the plant’s daily load. And workers released the sewage, Dafeta said last week, as a last resort to prevent the whole plant from flooding.

“It was either have that water go out or flood the whole plant,” he said, “and then you would have a plant that’s not running, and then you have 260 million gallons going out for an extended period of time.”

But significant flooding still occurred, according to a Wednesday statement from Sanitation & Environment.

Raw sewage flowed through the one-mile outfall, intended to relieve the system when it becomes overburdened, for eight hours while plant staff worked overnight to clear the backed up headworks facilities, the department’s statement said.

Yet, wastewater overflowed into the plant.

“Wastewater from the plant headworks flowed through roadways within the plant,” the statement said, “inundated multiple buildings on site, flooded underground pipe galleries, submerged equipment and caused significant damage.”

That statement also described the flooding as “nearly catastrophic.”

The sanitation department, though, did not explain how close Hyperion came to a worst-case scenario.

“Worst-Case-Scenario would be the discharge of 260 million gallons per day of untreated wastewater into the Santa Monica Bay for days on end,” Elena Stern, spokeswoman for the LA Department of Public Works, which oversees Sanitation & Environment, said in an email when asked to define “nearly catastrophic.”

“What is most important,” she added, “is the Worst-Case-Scenario was averted by the heroic efforts of the hard working and dedicated frontline staff of LA Sanitation and Environment.”

City workers and contractors, however, are still working around the clock to pump out the water, Sanitation and Environment’s Wednesday statement said.

And the flooding caused a temporary shutdown of Hyperion Bioenergy Facility, which has brought its own set of problems – for the plant and residents.

That facility generates power from digester gas, a byproduct of wastewater. The facility, when fully operational, produces 20 megawatts of power a day, enough for 30,000 homes – and annually saving 95,000 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, the sanitation department said.

It will take “no more than a month” to restore the Bioenergy Facility, the primary power generator for Hyperion, Stern said.

In the meantime, the plant must combust the unused digester gas, resulting in flaring – and an odor that has further riled residents.

“Over the past several days,” Gonzales said earlier this week as she organized the protest, “I am seeing kids posting on Facebook about people feeling sick and going to the hospital, having nausea and headaches and waking up in the middle of the night because the smell is so intoxicating.”

When asked to respond to that and other allegations about ill health from the odor, Stern referred to the sanitation department’s website for more information.

“The City of Los Angeles recognizes and regrets the inconveniences to El Segundo residents,” a Thursday statement on that website says, “caused by the incident at Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant on July 11, 2021.”

To help improve “quality of life,” the statement said, Los Angeles will offer residents affected by the odor one of two choices:

They can get an air conditioning unit worth up to $1,200. Or they can seek reimbursement for a hotel stay, at $182 per day, plus meals and other expenses up to $62 per day for each person. To complete an application: lacitysan.org/alerts.

Hyperion officials, meanwhile, are trying to complete repairs at the plant quickly.

Stern said the plant won’t know the cost of the damage until repairs are done. And when asked at what capacity Hyperion is operating, she said it’s treating “260 million gallons” daily, the amount it typically handles – despite the plant not being 100% operational.

“It is expected to take a month or more to repair damaged facilities and equipment in order to restore full functionality to Hyperion,” Sanitation & Environment said in its Wednesday statement. “Our commitment is to complete the repairs as soon as possible.”

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Ducks 2021-22 schedule: 8 games to watch

The Ducks said good riddance Thursday to the West Division, the one-season-only, pandemic-necessary, eight-team division of 2020-21, and welcomed the return of the Pacific Division and the expansion Seattle Kraken.

The NHL returned to its traditional divisional alignment, and with a familiar 82-game schedule. Left to be determined is whether the league will send its players to the Beijing Olympics. The schedule-maker left a three-week break for the Games.

The Ducks will face five of the seven Pacific Division teams (San Jose, Vegas, Calgary, Vancouver and the Kings) four times each and the other two (Edmonton and Seattle) three times each.

The Ducks’ longest homestand is five games (Feb. 25-March 6), and they have three five-game road trips (Dec. 6-12, Jan. 24-31, and March 8-15). The Ducks also have 13 sets of back-to-back games.

Here are eight dates to save for the coming season.

OCT. 14, VS. WINNIPEG

This will be only the seventh time since the Ducks’ inaugural 1993-94 season that they’ll start on home ice. Stranger still, they’ll play host to the Minnesota Wild one night later before hitting the road for the first time.

Player to watch: The Ducks lost out to the Jets in the Pierre-Luc Dubois sweepstakes last season, and it will be intriguing to see if he’s found his comfort zone yet.

OCT. 31, VS. MONTREAL

Montreal advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993, upsetting the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights before running into the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Player to watch: Corey Perry could make his Honda Center return if he re-signs with the Canadiens. He adapted to a fourth-line role last season, and the Canadiens seem willing to re-sign him.

NOV. 11, AT SEATTLE

The Ducks make their only appearance in Seattle to face the Kraken on the second game of a two-game trip that also features a stop in Vancouver. The remodeled Climate Pledge Arena was always a tough place to play for NBA visitors when the Sonics called it home before leaving for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Player to watch: The Kraken selected defenseman Haydn Fleury from the Ducks in the expansion draft and it will be interesting to see what role he plays with Seattle.

NOV. 30, AT KINGS

The Ducks and their nearby rivals must wait more than a month before renewing hostilities, which doesn’t make much sense. You would think the NHL scheduler would pit them against each other on opening night. Or at least in the opening weeks.

Player to watch: Anze Kopitar is a player fans should always focus their attention upon. He had 50 points in 56 games last season, including 37 assists, proving that he still has a lot left in the tank after 15 seasons in the NHL, all with the Kings.

DEC. 31, AT VEGAS

Could this be a new tradition, spending New Year’s Eve in Sin City? The Ducks ended 2019 with a game at T-Mobile Arena, the last time the NHL attempted to play a full season. The Ducks are 2-6-2 in 10 games over four seasons in Las Vegas.

Player to watch: Pick one. They all seem to play well against the Ducks.

JAN. 21., VS. TAMPA BAY

The Lightning won their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship earlier this month, and the third in their history. The Lightning and the Ducks are the only post-1990 expansion teams to win the Cup. It might be a while before the Ducks are contenders again, but the Lightning could challenge for a third in a row in 2021-22.

Player to watch: Victor Hedman is the spark that ignites the Lightning, a former winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.

FEB. 25, VS. KINGS

The Kings make their first Honda Center appearance, and it’s also the first game after the Olympic break. Additionally, it’s the start of a five-game homestand that could make or break the Ducks’ season.

Player to watch: Cal Petersen’s play in goal last season made it possible (or necessary) for GM Rob Blake to expose longtime No. 1 Jonathan Quick in the expansion draft in order to protect Petersen.

APRIL 29, AT DALLAS

The regular season comes to an end on an unusually late date because of the Olympic break. Oddly enough, this will be the Ducks’ only trip to Dallas in 2021-22.

Player to watch: Who knows? It’s so far away, the Stars’ roster might have changed dramatically as they attempt to return to the playoffs.

Dodgers’ Corey Knebel nearing long-awaited rehab assignment

Corey Knebel threw approximately 22 pitches off the Dodger Stadium mound to hitters on Thursday. The last six or seven, he said, left him feeling good.

“Four of those were curveballs and they were great,” the veteran right-hander said. “I’m close.”

Those words should come as a relief to the Dodgers, who have found Knebel difficult to replace ever since he strained his right lat in April. The 29-year-old right-hander made six straight scoreless appearances to start the season, saving two games and picking up the win in another. It was a small preview, but hitters swung and missed at 17 percent of the pitches Knebel threw – a mark of elite deception and an outstanding sign that his curveball and fastball had returned to their pre-2019 form.

The Dodgers acquired Knebel from the Milwaukee Brewers last December, taking on some risk in a pitcher who had thrown all of 13⅓ major league innings the previous two seasons combined. Now that three months have passed since he threw his last pitch, Knebel’s absence is felt dearly. He will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment in the coming days, with a goal of returning sometime in August.

“It’s going to be a new trade chip, an acquisition,” Manager Dave Roberts said, “a guy who’s been through pennant races, pitched in postseason games. When (other pitchers) are taxed, logging innings, to get (Knebel) back fresh is something we’re excited about.”

Nine of the 13 pitchers on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster have missed time this season due to injuries or, in the case of Trevor Bauer, administrative leave. The first pitcher summoned from the minor leagues (Dennis Santana) was ultimately designated for assignment. The second (Alex Vesia) returned to Triple-A one day later. It was an omen of the revolving door to come.

When David Price moved into the starting rotation on a long-term basis, it left four healthy relievers in the Dodgers’ bullpen with postseason experience.

The Dodgers know Knebel’s postseason work well. They faced him six times in the seven-game 2018 National League Championship Series. He allowed just one run across seven innings.

“I know we’re not going to rush him,” Roberts said. “He’s saved competitive-game bullets with the injury. There’s no cemented plan right now, we just want to make sure he’s 100 percent when he comes back.”

While his fastball command is typically quick to return once he gets on a mound, Knebel said, “the curveball’s always the one that’s tougher. Once I can control that, and control the running game, I’m in a good spot.”

Pitchers have up to 30 days to complete their minor league rehab assignments. Knebel doesn’t believe he will need that long, saying 15 to 20 days ought to do. His affiliate team is to be determined.

BETTS AILING

Mookie Betts was held out of the starting lineup for the fifth consecutive game because of a hip pointer on his right side. Billy McKinney, whom the Dodgers acquired Wednesday from the New York Mets for minor league outfielder Carlos Rincon, got the start in right field.

Betts remains day-to-day. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning Monday against the Giants in his only at-bat over the last five games.

Roberts acknowledged the 10-day injured list has been discussed internally as a possibility for Betts. Last week, the former American League MVP got four days’ rest when he elected not to participate in the All-Star Game. Still, Betts’ injury is serious enough that playing daily doesn’t make sense, Roberts said, “until we can get him to a point where we feel when he’s out there, the contribution is worth him going through the pain he’s going through.”

“If he were (playing daily) he would be considerably limited,” Roberts said of Betts. “Right there, makes my decision a lot easier for this particular day. It’s more about revisiting him each day and seeing where his pain level is at.”

ALSO

Pitcher Jimmy Nelson (right forearm inflammation) threw to live hitters pregame as well. Roberts said the right-hander will not need a minor league rehab assignment before he returns, potentially as early as Sunday. … The Dodgers have officially signed three of their 20 draft picks, including first-rounder Maddux Bruns, a left-handed pitcher out of UMS Wright Prep School in Alabama. … Pitchers Lael Lockhart (ninth round, University of Arkansas) and Michael Hobbs (10th round, St. Mary’s College) are the other early signees. … Sunday’s pitching matchup will not reflect the weather forecast for Los Angeles: Colorado’s Jon Gray is slated to oppose the Dodgers’ Josiah Gray.

UP NEXT

Rockies (RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, 3-6, 5.99 ERA) at Dodgers (LHP David Price, 4-0, 3.12), Friday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, 570 AM

Tokyo Olympics TV schedule for Friday July 23

Here’s the Tokyo Olympics TV schedule for Friday July 23. The opening ceremony will be shown live from 3:55 a.m. to 8 a.m. on NBC, with a replay starting at 4:30 p.m.

NBC

(all times Pacific)

3:55 a.m. – 8 a.m. – Opening Ceremony (LIVE)

10 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Preview Show

4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Opening Ceremony

NBCSN

11 p.m.(Thursday) – 1 a.m. – Men’s Soccer – Mexico vs. France

1 a.m. – 3 a.m. – Men’s Soccer – Japan vs. South Africa

3 a.m. – 5 a.m. – Men’s Soccer – Brazil vs. Germany

5 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Softball – U.S. vs. Italy Softball – U.S. vs. Canada Rowing – Qualifying Heats

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Women’s Soccer – China vs. Brazil

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Women’s Soccer – Japan vs. Canada

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Women’s Soccer – U.S. vs. Sweden

9 p.m. – 11 p.m. – 3×3 Basketball Archery – Mixed Team Elimination Rounds Women’s Water Polo – U.S. vs. Japan (LIVE)

OLYMPIC CHANNEL

7 p.m. – 11 p.m. (Thursday) – Tennis (LIVE) Men’s Singles, First Round Women’s Singles, First Round Men’s and Women’s Doubles, First Round

USA

4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. – Rowing – Qualifying Heats & Repechages (LIVE) Cycling – Men’s Road Race (LIVE)

Sun Valley gang member gets 31 years in prison for shootings, illegal drug and gun sales

A federal judge sentenced a gang member from Sun Valley to 31 years in prison for taking part in gang shootings in 2016 and illegally dealing drugs and firearms throughout the San Fernando Valley, officials said Thursday.

Jesus Gonzalez Jr., 27, pleaded guilty in January to multiple Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges of attempted murder and drug and gun sales. Gonzalez is one of 31 members of the gang charged in January 2019; so far, 17 have been convicted, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Ciaran McEvoy.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald delivered the sentence over Zoom to Gonzalez, who has spent the last several years locked up at a San Bernardino County Jail. Gonzalez already has been serving a 17-year state prison sentence on state charges stemming from the 2016 shootings in Los Angeles County. He will serve the state and 31-year federal sentence simultaneously, McEvoy said.

Paul Blake, Gonzalez’ attorney, had asked for a shorter 20-year sentence for him, according to court documents.. Blake said his client had accepted responsibility in entering the guilty plea in a timely manner.

In the court filings, Blake laid out Gonzalez’ history, describing a father who had left, a single mother trying to raise her family alone while dealing with diabetes and chronic joblessness. His family was forced into a transient lifestyle when Gonzalez was 10, making an education difficult, Blake wrote. At 12, Gonzalez began working to help his family.

Gangs and drugs were common in the neighborhoods they lived in. Also at 12, and throughout his teenage years, Gonzalez began using drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamines and codeine to cope with the challenges of his life, the documents said.

“His substance abuse, as well as his experience growing up, has helped cause his negative decision making,” Blake wrote, adding that his client is interested in substance abuse treatment through the federal prison system.

Prosecutors asked the court for a 35-year sentence, and in court filings argued that a reduced sentence “cannot be justified given the extensive violence and scope of defendant’s criminal conduct here.”

Federal prosecutors often use RICO Act charges to go after organized crime groups and the case involving Gonzalez is not the first time federal prosecutors have used the act against the Sun Valley gang. In 2006, prosecutors filed charges against 49 members of the gang, which had been known as a street gang but became “a criminal enterprise with national reach.”

During that case, a number of the gang’s leaders were convicted of various RICO charges, including the 2003 murder of 16-year-old Martha Puebla, who was going to testify against one of the gang members. Puebla was shot dead in front of her Sun Valley home.

Despite the wide-ranging charges and convictions against the Sun Valley gang, it had built itself back up in recent years, with continued activity of drug and weapon sales. The illegal deals fuel the majority of the organization’s profit, according to court documents.

Throughout 2016, Gonzalez sold thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamines and illegal firearms, including an AR-style rifle “ghost gun”, to an informant working with the FBI, court documents said. The deals often took place outside fast-food chain restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King on Glen Oaks Boulevard.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez took part in various drive-by shootings, including an April 2016 incident in Sun Valley where he shot and injured a man following an argument at a party, a shooting of a rival gang member that same month on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, and a third shooting the following May, also on Lankershim, where he shot a man in the back.

Gonzalez also admitted in the deal to taking part in a shootout in South Los Angeles, near the University of Southern California campus, with a rival gang over the alleged killing of a member of Gonzalez’ gang.

Lakers make Talen Horton-Tucker a restricted free agent

The Lakers will have the inside track to retain Talen Horton-Tucker, a 20-year-old bright spot at shooting guard, when free agency opens next month.

As expected, the team extended a qualifying offer to the 6-foot-4 Horton-Tucker, making him a restricted free agent. The Lakers will have the right to match any offer Horton-Tucker receives this summer, if they don’t come to an extension agreement with the Chicago native first.

Horton-Tucker averaged 9 points and 2.8 assists in his second season, shooting 45.8% from the field, 77.5% from the free-throw line but only 28.2% from 3-point range while breaking into the guard rotation just a year removed from being the No. 46 overall pick out of Iowa State in 2019. He’s the youngest member of last year’s roster, and while he developed a reputation as a dynamic driver to the basket, he might be best known as the sticking point in a potential deal the Lakers didn’t make at the trade deadline: The team reportedly opted to keep Horton-Tucker during trade talks for Toronto’s All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry.

The Lakers have many of their guards in the free agency mix, notably starting point guard Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso and Wesley Matthews. While Horton-Tucker has exceeded expectations as a second-round draft pick, the Lakers could face a high cost to retain him if he receives an offer sheet from other teams this summer.

Horton-Tucker has drawn praise from the foundational players on the roster, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and is represented by their agency Klutch Sports. Horton-Tucker has expressed interest in returning, saying he hoped to be back for a third season with the Lakers with a more consistent shot and a better handle on defense. He was squeezed in the playoff rotation, logging just 48 minutes in the four games he played. He impressed with regular-season minutes, including a game-winning basket against the New York Knicks in the last week of the season.

General Manager Rob Pelinka said in June that the Lakers hoped to retain Caruso and Horton-Tucker this summer, in part because of how proud they are of their player development.

“Of course with players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma, the players that you draft or bring into your two-way system and groom and develop, there’s a level of pride in that in what the Lakers have been able to do with those players and to grow them,” he said. “So, of course, our intentions would be to keep our core together and to have a championship team.”

Kings’ 2021-22 schedule: 8 games to watch

The NHL released its regular-season schedule on Thursday with an announcement on Sportscenter, a fitting venue as the league shifts to new platforms this season, most notably those of ESPN and Turner Sports.

After a truncated 56-game schedule of all intra-divisional play last season, the league returns to an 82-game schedule where each team will face every other team at least once before a traditional 16-team playoff bracket for the Stanley Cup.

What is not business as usual is the Olympic break. Two versions of the schedule were released to teams, one with a pause in play from Feb. 7-22 in order to accommodate the Winter Olympics in China and another with no break. The public schedule included the pause.

Though the NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement that would allow players to potentially participate in the Olympics after foregoing the tournament in 2018, there are still logistical issues to be worked out with the International Olympic Committee, which might be resolved later this month.

Typically, an Olympic break precludes the staging of All-Star Weekend, however this year regardless of Olympic participation there will be an All-Star Weekend event on Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas.

Last season, the NHL did not hold All-Star Weekend, the Winter Classic or its Stadium Series events because of the pandemic, though there were a pair of games played at an outdoor rink in Lake Tahoe. This year the Minnesota Wild will host the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Target Field and the Nashville Predators will host the Stadium Series against Tampa Bay on Feb. 26 at Nissan Stadium.

For the Kings’ part, either way, they’ll have a complete schedule and, foreseeably, fans will be back at Staples Center in full throat. They will face five of the seven Pacific Division teams (San Jose, Vegas, Edmonton, Seattle and the Ducks) four times each and the other two opponents (Calgary, Vancouver) three times.

Expansion Seattle doesn’t visit Staples Center for the first time until late March, when the Kings host them for a two-game set on March 26 and 28.

The Kings have two, seven-game homestands (Nov. 17-Dec. 2 and Dec. 28-Jan. 13) and play eight consecutive road games from Jan. 23-Feb. 24, though that is really a six-game trip before the Olympic break and a two-game trip afterward. The Kings also have 15 sets of back-to-back games this season.

Here are eight dates to save for the coming campaign.

Oct. 14, vs. Vegas

Proximity and a postseason sweep at the hands of the Golden Knights in their inaugural season made Vegas a natural rival for the Kings. They open the season hosting Vegas, which took six of the eight head-to-head meetings last season.

Player to Watch: Winger Viktor Arvidsson should make his Kings debut in this game, and 2014 playoff hero Alec Martinez will be back at Staples, but this time in a Vegas sweater.

Nov. 8, at Toronto

Always a popular trip for Ontario-born players, this season’s visit will also include some old friends of the Kings and defenseman Drew Doughty, in particular. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin and goalie Jack Campbell were close with Doughty in Los Angeles, and winger Wayne Simmonds was his roommate.

Player to Watch: Auston Matthews, who remains one of the best natural scorers in the world and a significant figure for USA Hockey.

Nov. 17, vs. Washington

The Capitals have won the last four meetings with the Kings, scoring some highlight goals in the process, including a beauty from defenseman John Carlson in their last meeting at Staples Center.

Player to Watch: Winger Alex Ovechkin, whose every goal has milestone potential. His first goal of 2021-22 will tie him with Kings legend Marcel Dionne for fifth all-time, and he could surpass Jaromir Jagr for third place on the career list before the season is over. He also needs just six power-play goals to surpass Dave Andreychuk for the most ever.

Nov. 30, vs. the Ducks

The Freeway Faceoff will have four more installments this season, beginning with this showdown at Staples Center. After a string of forgettable seasons, both teams will be seeking to begin their ascent back to prominence in 2021-22. The teams also meet on Feb. 25 and April 19 at Honda Center, before concluding the regular-season series April 23 at Staples Center.

Player to watch: Trevor Zegras, the imaginative playmaker for the Ducks who they belive will usher in a new era of prosperity.

Dec. 2, vs. Calgary

An engagement with the Flames means one thing above all else: Drew Doughty vs Matthew Tkachuk. The two have exchanged cross-checks and chirps since Tkachuk arrived in the league in 2016-17.

Player to Watch: Tkachuk, whose antagonism has motivated Doughty at times and flummoxed him at others.

Jan. 13, vs. Pittsburgh

Like Washington, Pittsburgh features generational talent with centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This season, another of their pivots will be the focus of many Kings fans on hand.

Player to Watch: Jeff Carter, whose 2012 arrival in Los Angeles signaled an era of unprecedented success and whose departure via trade last season ruffled feathers in the Kings’ dressing room.

Jan. 15, at Seattle

The NHL’s newest expansion franchise joined the Pacific Division – the Arizona Coyotes moved to the Central to accommodate the addition – and the Kings will face them four times, beginning with a visit to Climate Pledge Arena.

Player to Watch: After rising from undrafted free agent to Norris Trophy winner and team captain in Calgary, defenseman Mark Giordano will begin a new chapter of his career in Seattle.

April 7, vs. Edmonton

Whether or not this stage of the season will be pivotal or pathetic for the Kings remains to be seen, but regardless Edmonton usually proves to be well worth the price of admission.

Player to Watch: Center Connor McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl are the last two Hart Trophy winners, with McDavid posting a staggering 105 points in 56 games last season.

Democrats renew questions about FBI probe of Kavanaugh

By Eric Tucker | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are raising new concerns about the thoroughness of the FBI’s background investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after the FBI revealed that it had received thousands of tips and had provided “all relevant” ones to the White House counsel’s office.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, responding to longstanding questions from Democrats, disclosed in a letter late last month that it had received more than 4,500 tips as it investigated the nominee’s past following his 2018 nomination by President Donald Trump. The process was the first time that the FBI had set up a tip line for a nominee undergoing Senate confirmation, Wray said.

A group of Democratic senators said in a letter to Wray dated Wednesday that his response “raises significant additional questions.” They called on him to explain, among other things, how many tips the FBI decided were relevant and what criteria agents used to make that determination and what policies and procedures were used to vet the tips. The senators also asked for more information about the tip line, including how it was staffed and how the tips were recorded or preserved.

“Your letter confirms that the FBI’s tip line was a departure from past practice and that the FBI was politically constrained by the Trump White House,” the senators wrote.

Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court in October 2018 after a rancorous process in which claims emerged that he had sexually assaulted women three decades ago. He emphatically denied the allegations.

The FBI conducted a original background investigation into Kavanaugh that consisted of interviews with 49 people over the course of five days, Wray said. The bureau then did a supplemental background check after new information arose about a woman, Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged that Kavanaugh had assaulted her when they were teens. As part of that process, Wray said, the FBI interviewed 10 people over six days.

But, he stressed, the inquiry was limited in nature, without the “authorities, policies and procedures” that would be used for an FBI criminal investigation.

Lawyers for Ford said in a statement that the FBI’s letter established that the investigation was a “sham and a major institutional failure” and chastised the bureau for not interviewing Ford or acting on the thousands of tips it received about Kavanaugh.

“Instead, it handed the information over to the White House, allowing those who supported Kavanaugh to falsely claim that the FBI found no wrongdoing,” said the lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks.


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