Update on the latest sports


Playoffs begin

UNDATED (AP) — The NBA playoffs begin Saturday with four games, starting with No. 3 seed Milwaukee hosting No. 6 Miami. Milwaukee lost to the Heat on Miami’s way to the Eastern Conference title last season, and the Bucks are looking forward to the playoff rematch.

Next, the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers host No. 5 Dallas. The last time the Mavericks won a playoff series was the 2011 NBA Finals. They were beaten in six games by the Clippers last season.

No. 7 Boston visits No. 2 seed Brooklyn Saturday night. Brooklyn’s Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden make their playoff debut together against a Celtics team that went to the East finals last year and never got rolling this season. Irving will play in front of Boston fans for the first time since leaving the Celtics in 2019.

The No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers visit No. 3 Denver, which won 30 of its last 40 games. Portland is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year — the longest current run in the NBA — but three of its last four appearances resulted in a first-round exit.

On Sunday, the Utah Jazz will open their postseason run against Memphis, and the Philadelphia-Washington, New York-Atlanta and Phoenix-Los Angeles Lakers series will begin as well.


Three Game 4s and a Game 2 on tap

UNDATED (AP) — Saturday’s NHL playoff schedule starts with Florida at Tampa Bay. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Lightning lead the best-of-seven matchup 2-1.

In the day’s other two Game 4s, the Pittsburgh Penguins head to New York with a 2-1 lead over the Islanders and the Vegas Knights take a 2-1 lead to Minnesota.

Montreal visits Toronto with a 1-0 lead in that series.


Mickelson and Oosthuizen share lead

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Phil Mickelson starts the weekend in position to become the oldest winner of a major championship. The 50-year-old heads into the third round of the PGA Championship as the co-leader with Louis Oosthuizen (OOST’-hay-zehn) at 5-under 139.

Mickelson is the oldest player to have a share of the lead at the midway point of a major since a 52-year-old Fred Couples in the 2012 Masters. And he is the sixth player since 1900 to be atop the leaderboard at a major over four decades. That list includes Sam Snead, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd and Tom Watson.

The start of the third round brought a slight reprieve in the relentless wind that has been blowing at Kiawah (KEE’-uh-wah) Island.


Cole on the mound as Yankees host White Sox

UNDATED (AP) — Gerrit Cole takes the mound for a Yankee Stadium matinee against American League MVP José Abreu (ah-BRAY’-oo) and the Chicago White Sox, who arrived in town with the best record in the American League.

The $324 million right-hander is coming off a 5-2 loss Monday at Texas, where he allowed a season-high five earned runs in five innings. His 85 strikeouts are the most by a Yankees pitcher through the first nine starts of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Abreu returned to the lineup Friday night after missing three straight games in Minnesota with left ankle inflammation. Right-hander Dylan Cease makes his first career appearance against New York.

In other highlights of the Saturday schedule:

— Tampa Bay has won eight in row and looks to extend its streak with another unusual road game. The Rays kept rolling Friday night when Francisco Mejía hit a grand slam in the 12th inning to beat Toronto 9-7. Tampa Bay has hit three or more homers in five straight games, one shy of the major league record set by the 1987 Baltimore Orioles. Tampa Bay’s home stadium, Tropicana Field, is about 25 miles from TD Ballpark in Dunedin (duhn-EE’-dihn), Florida, where the Blue Jays are playing their third and final homestand at their spring training facility before relocating to Buffalo, New York. It means the Tampa Bay players can stay home during the four-game series. Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan faces Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray.

— Fernando Tatis (tah-TEES’) Jr. and the Padres try for their eighth win in a row when they host the virus-stricken Seattle Mariners. The Mariners lost their fourth straight Friday night, 16-1 at San Diego. Before the game, they put four relievers on the COVID-19 injured list after reporting a positive test within the team. The Mariners did not identify who tested positive. Placed on the IL were right-handers Robert Dugger, Will Vest and Drew Steckenrider and left-hander Anthony Misiewicz.

— Miles Mikolas returns to the majors for the first time since starting the opener of the 2019 NL Championship Series for St. Louis. He’ll start for the NL Central leaders when they play the Cubs at Busch Stadium. The 32-year-old Cardinals right-hander missed last season after surgery to repair a flexor tendon in his pitching arm. He has been on the injured list this year with a sore right shoulder. Mikolas was an All-Star in 2018 when he tied for the NL lead with 18 victories. In 2019, he tied for the NL lead with 14 losses.

— Indians ace Shane Bieber starts at home against Minnesota after lasting a season-low 4 2/3 innings in a 3-2 loss at Seattle in his previous start. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fanned seven against the Mariners. That ended his major league record streak of 20 straight games with at least eight strikeouts. Kenta Maeda starts for the Twins.

— Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler is unbeaten in 17 consecutive regular-season starts since a loss to Colorado on Sept. 21, 2019. Buehler pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in his last start to beat Arizona. Buehler now faces the Giants on the road. He is 4-0 in seven games against San Francisco.

MLB-20,000th Player

MLB hits 20,000 players when Godoy debuts for M’s

SAN DIEGO (AP) — There was a big number reached in Major League Baseball during the San Diego Padres’ 16-1 blowout over Seattle, and it had nothing to do with runs.

When Mariners backup catcher José Godoy made his big league debut Friday night, he became the 20,000th player in MLB history.

There was no fanfare at Petco Park when Godoy came in to catch in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Mariners trailing 12-1. But to fans who had been tracking the procession to 20,000 on the Twitter postings by the web site Céspedes Family BBQ, it was a big deal.

The 26-year-old from Venezuela who signed with St. Louis in 2011 and joined the Seattle system last winter grounded out and walked in his two plate appearances.


Ferrari’s Leclerc takes pole for Monaco GP, Verstappen 2nd

MONACO (AP) — Charles Leclerc has won the first pole for Ferrari since 2019 despite crashing with 18 seconds remaining to end qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Leclerc held the top spot at his home track until his Ferrari grazed a barrier to break a suspension piece. He then hopped a curb and crashed into another barrier to bring the qualifying session to an abrupt end.

Leclerc could forfeit the pole if the damage to his Ferrari is too great that he receives a grid penalty. If the gear box must be changed he’d lose five positions on the starting grid.