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Thursday’s Sports in Brief

September 24, 2021 GMT

BASEBALL

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Chicago White Sox clinched their first AL Central title since 2008 with a 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in a doubleheader opener behind two home runs by Tim Anderson.

Chicago, a wild-card team last year, is going to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time. The White Sox are in their first season under Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who will turn 77 on Oct. 4. La Russa had retired after guiding St. Louis to the 2011 World Series title and was hired to replace Rick Renteria last October.

Chicago (86-67) moved into first place for good on May 7. The White Sox have not advanced in the postseason since winning the 2005 World Series and last hosted a playoff game 13 years ago.

Bolstered by offseason moves that added All-Star pitchers Lance Lynn and Liam Hendriks, Chicago has overcome significant injuries and is eyeing a deep run in October.

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PHOENIX (AP) — With a little over a week left in the season and his team tied for the worst record in the major leagues at 48-104, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo was given a one-year contract extension through 2022.

The deal announced Thursday includes a club option for 2023, according to general manager Mike Hazen.

Arizona had lost 14 of 17 entering Thursday and was tied with Baltimore.

Lovullo, 56, was Boston’s bench coach from 2013-16, serving as interim manager during the last two months of the 2015 season while John Farrell was treated for lymphoma. Lovullo replaced Chip Hale as Arizona’s manager after the 2016 season and was voted NL Manager of the Year in 2017, when the Diamondbacks went 93-69, beat Colorado in the NL wild-card game and were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki has been suspended for three games by Major League Baseball for intentionally hitting Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch in the latest salvo in a spat between the two AL East competitors.

MLB announced the punishment, which includes an undisclosed fine, before the Blue Jays began a four-game series at Minnesota. Manager Charlie Montoyo was also suspended for one game and handed an undisclosed fine. He served his punishment immediately.

Borucki appealed the decision by MLB senior vice president Mike Hill, delaying the discipline until completion of the process before MLB special adviser John McHale Jr.

Borucki was ejected from the game after plunking Kiermaier in the back in the eighth inning on Wednesday. That came two days after Kiermaier scooped up a Toronto scouting report that had fallen off catcher Alejandro Kirk’s wristband during a play at the plate and refused to hand it back.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is experimenting with pre-tacked baseballs at some Triple-A games during the last stretch of the minor league season.

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The test run could be a step toward updating the big league balls after the league cracked down midseason on the use of illegal sticky substances used by pitchers to improve grip. MLB confirmed the trial to The Associated Press after it was initially reported by Baseball America.

Pitchers have complained that the current major league ball is slick and that the mud rubbed on it before games is inconsistent, sometimes becoming dry and powdery.

The prototypes used in Triple-A have a substance applied to them to create a bit of tackiness. The league hopes to find a ball that will be easier for pitchers to grip but won’t allow them to enhance the spin rate of their pitches.

Only a few Triple-A teams will use the prototype balls over the final 10 games because MLB has limited supplies.

COLLEGE SPORTS

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Protesters, including some of the hundreds of people who survived sexual abuse by a University of Michigan sports doctor, gathered outside a meeting of the school’s governing board and called for more accountability by campus leaders.

Former football player Chuck Christian handed out T-shirts that read, “Hail to the Victims,” a reference to “Hail to the victors,” a famous lyric in the Michigan fight song.

“This man was a monster,” Christian told fellow protesters and reporters, referring to late Dr. Robert Anderson.

“It’s therapeutic just being here,” he said, tearfully. “There are so many victims.”

Christian, who said he was assaulted by Anderson in the late 1970s, and others want the administration to further acknowledge what happened to them. Jon Vaughn, a former football player and Anderson victim, said the school was “not taking any responsibility.”

Both Vaughn and Christian criticized their coach, the late Bo Schembechler, a legend at the school and in college football. Christian said Schembechler “kept sweeping it under the rug.”

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — A former St. John’s assistant basketball coach is suing the university and head coach Mike Anderson, claiming he was fired because of a health issue.

Steve DeMeo says in a lawsuit he was let go in June after telling Anderson about a serious heart condition that necessitated work accommodations due to the pandemic and would likely require additional procedures and medical leave. Previous to that, DeMeo asserts in the suit, Anderson had only praised his job performance.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Wigdor LLP in U.S. District Court, alleges DeMeo’s dismissal violated the Family and Medical Leave Act, along with New York human rights and labor laws.

“St. John’s University and coach Mike Anderson categorically deny Steve DeMeo’s allegations of wrongdoing, but cannot otherwise comment on pending litigation,” the school said in a statement.