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NEW YORK — Twelve minutes into Aaron Hicks’ return from 3 1/2 weeks on the disabled list, Tampa Bay had loaded the bases in the first inning when Wilson Ramos drove a changeup toward the Yankees’ bullpen in right-centre field.
“Oh, gosh,” New York rookie left-hander Jordan Montgomery thought to himself on the mound.
Hicks raced from centre to the 385-foot sign and leaped to get his glove above the wall. He snagged the ball in the webbing, squeezed it tight and limited Ramos to a sacrifice fly with his Hollywood grab.
After nearly falling behind on a grand slam, the playoff-bound Yankees beat the Rays 6-1 Tuesday night to clinch home-field advantage if they end up in the AL wild-card game next week.
“It was fun, fun to be able to do that,” said Hicks, who also robbed the Los Angeles Angels’ Luis Valbuena of a grand slam at Anaheim on June 14.
New York closed within three games of AL East-leading Boston with five remaining. If the Yankees and Red Sox finish even, they would play a tiebreaker game in New York on Monday, forcing difficult decisions on whether to use top pitchers.
“It becomes really complicated,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Tampa Bay (76-81) was eliminated from playoff contention and missed the post-season for the fourth straight year.
“It was kind of a slow death, which is not fun,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Montgomery (9-7) allowed singles to his first two batters and walked the next one before striking out Logan Morrison. Ramos thought he had his second slam in five days.
“I thought he hit it pretty well, but it just kind of died for me and gave me a great opportunity,” Hicks said.
Ramos expected the ball to carry in Yankee Stadium
“That was a homer. He jumped and he stole that,” he said.
Montgomery then fanned Adeiny Hechavarria to end the inning and didn’t allow another runner past second. Told his night was over after giving up six hits in six innings, Montgomery walked over to Hicks in the dugout and gave him a hug.
“Thanks for saving me,” Montgomery remembered saying.
Hicks strained his right oblique muscle June 25 on a checked swing against Texas and did not return until Aug. 10. He strained his left oblique at Boston on Sept. 2 when he reached up to make a running catch on the warning track of Hanley Ramirez’s drive.
He walked three times and struck out in the sixth, leaving him with a .264 average, 13 homers and 49 RBIs in 83 games. The great grab gave him confidence.
“It’s definitely a big test,” Hicks said. “I’m fully extended and I was able to make the catch and I felt good and the body feels good right now.”
Starlin Castro hit a 445-foot home run leading off a four-run second, and New York (88-69) won for the 17th time in 23 games to move 19 games over .500 for the first time since finishing 95-67 in 2012.
Blake Snell (4-7) walked Hicks and Aaron Judge with the bases loaded in the second, and Chaz Roe threw a run-scoring wild pitch . Gary Sanchez and Matt Holliday added RBI singles in the eighth.
In the shortest of his 42 big league starts, Snell failed to retire any of his six batters in the second inning and threw only 24 of 49 pitches for strikes.
“I just kept opening up and couldn’t make the adjustment to staying closed,” he said.
Hicks’ play had changed the game.
“Incredible,” Girardi said. “I was worried off the bat.”
WHOOPS
New York threw its 52nd wild pitch of the season with Sanchez behind the plate.
SEAT OF THEIR PANTS
New York’s David Robertson and the Rays’ Austin Pruitt both threw out batters while seated on the infield grass after slipping to field eighth-inning dribblers.
IN THE MONEY
Ramos started his 55th game at catcher, triggering a rise in his salary next year from $8.5 million to $10.5 million as long as he doesn’t finish the season on the disabled list because of a right knee injury. If he starts the five remaining games, his salary would rise by an additional $250,000.
“I feel excited because I’m healthy and catching a lot and that’s my job,” he said.
LOOKING ON
Retired heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was on the field during batting practice.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb won’t pitch again this season because of workload.
Yankees: RHP Adam Warren, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 1 because of a lower back spasm, tossed a two-inning simulated game and could be activated this week.
UP NEXT
RHP Luis Severino (13-6) starts for the Yankees on Wednesday in what could be his last appearance before the playoffs. RHP Matt Andriese (5-4) goes for the Rays.

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — LeBron James has been likened to a man among boys since his prep school basketball days, but as the superstar embarks on his 15th NBA season, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says James’ aging process is going in reverse.

“He seems younger,” Lue said following Cleveland’s first practice of the season Tuesday. “I call him ‘Benjamin Button.’ He seems younger, he just seems happier with the game right now, just having fun. Enjoying the game. Hopefully it carries on for 82 games and into the playoffs.”

James, who turns 33 in December, is trying to secure an eighth straight Finals appearance come June, which would be his fourth straight with Cleveland.

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For the first time, Cavaliers star LeBron James publicly opened up about Kyrie Irving’s trade request, saying Monday that he went through a range of emotions but ultimately understood the new Celtics star guard’s request.
While the Cavs’ summer was filled with uncertainty, from general manager David Griffin’s dismissal and their failed attempt to trade for Paul George, to the abandoned pursuit of Chauncey Billups for a front-office post and the league-rattling deal in which they sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics and received an injured Isaiah Thomas as part of their return, James reported to camp as invigorated as ever.

And on Tuesday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Dwyane Wade plans to join Cleveland after he clears waivers Wednesday.

“I’m ready to go,” James said at the Cavs’ media day on Monday. “This is one of the best offseasons I’ve had in my career. And I’m extremely excited. What got me excited about the game of basketball is actually being with my sons this summer and watching their AAU games and you probably saw a couple videos where I was not a nice dad during the course of those games. But the ‘Basketball Jones’ and the basketball fever was put back in me early in July, and it’s crazy to say that my 12-year-old and my 10-year-old can inspire me and they did, and their teammates inspired me to get in the gym. I always get better throughout the offseason. I always work on my game or work on my body throughout the offseason.”

James’ body carried a heavy workload last season, playing a league-high 37.8 minutes per game, which was his highest average since the 2012-13 season.

Lue joked at media day that he would ride the four-time MVP even more this season.

“I’ll probably add a minute to his minutes,” Lue said with a smile. “So, 38 and a half (minutes per game). … We’ll see.”

James did not give a specific reason for his rebirth — theories abound wondering if he’s seeking to make a statement against Irving or simply trying to make the most of the last of his prime — but he acknowledged there is something motivating him.

“Something was different,” James said. “Something was just different throughout the offseason and hopefully I can, I’m not here to talk about it, because that’s not what I do. I’ll put it out on the floor.”

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Carmelo Anthony trade talks between the Knicks and Rockets appear to be going nowhere.

Yet, Anthony’s camp is reportedly cautiously optimistic he’ll get dealt by Monday.

This might explain why.

Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports:

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Carmelo Anthony’s people are trying a Hail Mary attempt to get him to Houston (Knicks won’t do it) … before he accepts a deal to Portland
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Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have recruited Anthony to Portland. The Trail Blazers have plenty of expendable players who could be aggregated to matching Anthony’s salary – Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis – plus lower-paid players to give New York value. This certainly looks plausible.

It’d make sense for Anthony to hold out as long as possible for Houston, his ideal destination. He can use his no-trade clause to force the Knicks to deal with only the Rockets.

But what if that fails?

I’m skeptical New York, Portland and Anthony all agree to a deal. There are just too many sides to please.

The Knicks will need more than just bad contracts to move Anthony, and the Trail Blazers don’t need more scoring enough to relinquish significant assets. Anthony would also have to approve, and as miserable as the Knicks have been, the New York market still matters.

Again, this is plausible, but I’m doubtful. Either way, we should know soon with training camp around the corner.

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The Miami Heat and guard Josh Richardson have agreed on a four-year, $42 million contract extension, league sources told ESPN.

The deal includes a player option on the fourth year, a league source said.

Richardson’s agents with BDA Sports, Bill Duffy and Erik Kabe, finalized several weeks of talks with Heat officials Wednesday.
Josh Richardson played only 53 games last season because of a recurring ankle injury but averaged 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Richardson has been one of the Heat’s great scouting and player development success stories, rising from the 40th pick in the 2015 NBA draft out of Tennessee to one of the franchises’ young cornerstones. He has won the trust of coach Erik Spoelstra in his development as a two-way player.

Richardson, who will turn 24 on Friday, averaged 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the Heat last season. He started 34 games but played only 53 overall because of a recurring ankle injury.

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Free-agent center Tyler Zeller has agreed to a two-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told ESPN.

Zeller, 27, was one of the top remaining free agents on the market. He’ll compete for minutes behind the Nets’ expected starting center, Timofey Mozgov.

The deal is guaranteed for the 2017-’18 season, and non-guaranteed for the 2018-’19 season, league sources said.

Zeller joins the Nets after three seasons with the Boston Celtics. In five NBA seasons, which included his first two in Cleveland, Zeller has averaged seven points and 4.4 rebounds. He had his best pro season with the Celtics in 2014-’15, averaging 10 points, 5.7 rebounds and playing 82 games.

Zeller was the 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and won a national championship at North Carolina in 2009.

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When a coach is as synonymous with his offense as Ben McAdoo, losses like the 19-3 one the Giants suffered on Sunday night to the Dallas Cowboys have the tendency to be taken personally.

That’s why it’s no surprise the typically monotone McAdoo went out of his way to throw a dart at a unit that put up just 233 total yards, 25:46 time of possession and, ultimately, three points in a prime-time loss to the division-rival Cowboys.
“The offense was very disappointing. We’re going to go back and look at the film, and see how we can get better,” McAdoo said, via NJ.com. “We need to go back and take a look at the film. I know no part of the offense was functional tonight.”

Perhaps McAdoo’s words were also a way of protecting the maligned offensive line — the root of the Giants’ woes all preseason and one of the main reasons the team has been averaging a stunning 13.57 points per game since Dec. 4 of last season. As NJ.com pointed out, McAdoo eventually passed on questions about the offensive line’s issues — a universal coach signal for you’re probably right but there’s really nothing else I have to say here.

The strange issue for the Giants here is how significantly they have been investing in their offensive line. Ereck Flowers is a first-round pick. Center Weston Richburg, their sturdiest asset up front, was a second-round pick. Justin Pugh was a first-round pick. Dallas built a dynamic offense by hurling high picks at the offensive line but, when you are the Giants and the unit is still an issue, what do you do next?

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Orlando Magic shooting guard and Houston native Jonathon Simmons said he had to “ride a boat, walk through muddy water and ride on the back of a dumpster truck” to escape from the city’s flooding caused by the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

Speaking to the Magic’s official website, Simmons detailed how he prepared for and ultimately escaped from the storm that caused massive flooding in the Houston area and beyond.

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Simmons said that he left his high-rise condo in the area to go to a friend’s house in Richmond, Texas, on Saturday and packed enough items to stay there for three days, but more friends who were flooded out of where they had holed up joined Simmons’ group.

“So that gave us another 11 extra people and most of them were kids,” Simmons explained. “We had to let the kids eat first, so most of the last two days it was kind of rough [without food].

“There was at least 20 people in the house and probably eight of them were kids,” Simmons said. “When I was little, my mom always kept the fridge full of stuff [during hurricanes]. This time, I ate a pack of Ramen noodles and that’s all for like a day and a half.”

Though their lodging in Richmond was never flooded due to the house being on a hill, other homes in the neighborhood were, and Simmons and his friends had to wade through flood waters to get out of the area. Simmons said he hasn’t been back to his condo and doesn’t have his car with him.

After two years with the San Antonio Spurs, Simmons signed as a free agent with the Magic this offseason. He said he’s heard from Spurs general manager R.C. Buford, Magic coach Frank Vogel and various teammates.

“It’s devastating,” Simmons said of the storm. “Luckily, none of my family was seriously affected, but I see a lot of my friends suffering and that’s difficult. But I’m also proud of how the city of Houston has come together to help one another. On the upside and the brighter side, there’s that seeing how people have been there to help one another.”

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The NFL preseason is over. The season is less than a week away from kicking off — and that means it’s time for teams to trim their rosters.

Here’s a team-by-team rundown of every player cut as NFL general managers trim their rosters to the mandatory 53-player limit by Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. We will update this list as cuts are announced:

Arizona Cardinals

RB Chris Johnson

Atlanta Falcons

OL Travis Averill, WR Bra’lon Cherry, WR Anthony Dable, WR Reginald Davis, OT Wil Freeman, OT Kevin Graf, OL Larson Graham, DL A.J. Jefferson, CB Jarnor Jones, DB Akeem King, OL Andreas Knappe, LB Jack Lynn, WR Josh Magee, K Mike Meyer, DB Jordan Moore, FB Tyler Renew, RB Kelvin Taylor, OL D.J. Tialavea, QB Alek Torgersen, DB Deron Washington

Baltimore Ravens

P Kenny Allen, LB Randy Allen, WR C.J. Board, G Jarell Broxton, TE Larry Donnell, DB Otha Foster, T Roubbens Joseph, QB Thaddeus Lewis, C Derrick Nelson, LS Taybor Pepper, G Jarrod Pughsley, RB Bobby Rainey, WR/RS Keenan Reynolds, FB/RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, CB Trevin Wade, G/T De’Ondre Wesley, WR Griff Whalen, G/C Jeremy Zuttah

Buffalo Bills

G Karim Barton, RB Cedric O’Neal, DB Bacarri Rambo, DB Jumal Rolle, WR Rashad Ross

Carolina Panthers

C Brian Folkerts, WR Trevor Graham, CB Devonte Johnson, DT Gabriel Mass, DE Arthur Miley, DE Efe Obada, WR Fred Ross, DB Zack Sanchez, TE Scott Simonson, TE Bryce Williams, DT Connor Wujciak, OL David Yankey

Chicago Bears

WR Victor Cruz, DT Kapron Lewis-Moore, LB Alex Scearce

Cincinnati Bengals

P Will Monday

Cleveland Browns

WR Mario Alford, WR Rasheed Bailey, LB B.J. Bello, WR Josh Boyce, DB Christian Bryant, DB Trey Caldwell, LB Ladell Fleming, CB Joe Haden, DB J.D. Harmon, DB Alvin Hill, TE Nate Iese, C Gabe Ikard, LB Cam Johnson, TE Taylor McNamara, WR Richard Mullaney, OL Kitt O’Brien, QB Brock Osweiler, DL Karter Schult, DB Channing Stribling, DL Brandon Thompson, RB Brandon Wilds, WR James Wright

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

DE Jimmy Bean, OT Justin Murray, RB Stevan Ridley

Detroit Lions

RB Matt Asiata, G Connor Bozick, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, DB Tramain Jacobs, DE Giorgio Newberry, WR Dez Stewart

Green Bay Packers

LS Derek Hart, WR Colby Pearson, RB William Stanback

Houston Texans

WR Devin Street, LB Dayon Pratt

Indianapolis Colts

G Blake Muir, TE Steven Wroblewski

Jacksonville Jaguars

RB DuJuan Harris, S Jeron Johnson, DT Tueni Lupeamanu, DB Exra Robinson

Kansas City Chiefs

OL Jah Reid

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

K Travis Coons

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

LB Christian Kuntz

New Orleans Saints

OT Khalif Barnes, TE Braedon Bowman, LB Audie Cole, DB Malik Foreman, WR De’Quan Hampton, DB Erik Harris, DE Jason Jones, DT Ashaad Mabry, LB Michael Mauti, DT Tony McDaniel, DB Elijah Mitchell, DB Damian Swann, OT Jerry Ugokwe, LB Jonathan Walton, DT Justin Zimmer

New York Giants

LB Chris Casher, LB Steven Daniels, WR C.J. Germany, DB Tay Glover-Wright, DB Daniel Gray, G Richard Levy, DE Owa Odighizuwa, DB Eric Pinkins, WR Darius Powe, DB Tim Scott

New York Jets

OL Jeff Adams, TE Brandon Barnes, DB Armagedon Draughn, DL Jeremy Faulk, WR Chris Harper, ST Ross Martin, LB Spencer Paysinger, DB David Rivers, OL Craig Watts, WR Myles White

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

DB Ron Brooks, LB Don Cherry, DT Winston Craig, WR Rashard Davis, TE Anthony Denham, QB Dane Evans, LB Carlos Fields, CB Aaron Grymes, DE Jake Metz, C Tyler Orlosky, T Victor Salako, LB Christian Tago, WR Paul Turner, DB Mitchell White, DT Gabe Wright, TE Adam Zaruba

Pittsburgh Steelers

DT Christian Brown, TE Phazahn Odom

San Francisco 49ers

QB Matt Barkley, C Tim Barnes, RB Kapri Bibbs, FB Tyler McCloskey, CB Will Davis, DL Leger Douzable, OL Andrew Gardner, RB Tim Hightower, OL, Andrew Lauderdale, WR Louis Murphy, WR Tim Patrick, OL Norman Price, K Nick Rose, LB Shayne Skov, S Vinnie Sunseri

Seattle Seahawks

TE Stevie Donatell

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LS Andrew DePaola, DE George Johnson, LB Paul Magloire, RB Blake Sims

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins