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Blue Jays deal with 2 losses to Rays, off-field personal matters

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TORONTO — Back-to-back losses in a doubleheader paled in comparison to off-field concerns for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Francisco Mejia had a two-run homer in the second inning and a solo shot in the fifth to lead Tampa Bay to an 11-5 rout of the Blue Jays hours after Isaac Paredes and Wander Franco each had a solo home run as the Rays won the first game 6-2.

Toronto first base coach Mark Budzinski left the second game early, with manager Charlie Montoyo repeatedly leaving the dugout for the clubhouse during the game. Bench coach John Schneider filled in as manager during Montoyo’s brief absences.

The Blue Jays closed their clubhouse after the game and cancelled their post-game media availabilities.

“As many of you are aware, Mark Budzinski left early in the game tonight,” read a statement from the team. “He is dealing with a personal matter and Charlie and our coaches are with him.

“Out of consideration for Bud, we ask that you please respect his privacy at this time. Thank you.”

The Blue Jays also had a scary moment in the second inning of the first game when starting pitcher Kevin Gausman took a sharply hit ball off of his right ankle.

He lay prone on the turf in front of the mound as catcher Gabriel Moreno completed the play. After the out trainers came to examine Gausman on the field before helping him to the clubhouse.

His X-rays came back negative and Montoyo said between the games that the pitcher had a contusion.

“Just like everybody else, I was hoping that it wasn’t anything worse than a contusion and that’s what had happened and that’s good news,” said Montoyo, who said Gausman would be considered day-to-day.

Paredes added a three-run homer and an RBI double in the late game as Tampa (42-36) earned back-to-back wins.

Starter Drew Rasmussen allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings. Reliever Dusten Knight allowed three runs over 2 1/3 innings and Ralph Garza Jr. earned the win, pitching scoreless ball the rest of the way.

Bradley Zimmer had a two-run homer for Toronto (44-35) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added a solo bomb.

Thomas Hatch (0-1) coughed up 10 runs on 12 hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Matt Gage, Sergio Romo, Tim Mayza and Adam Cimber came on in relief, with Gage allowing a run.

Tampa had lost four straight heading into Saturday’s doubleheader, including losses in Toronto on Thursday and Friday.

“That was an exciting day. We had to find a way to bounce back, we did,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “It kind of all came together for us through the course of a long day.

“It’s tough to win both games of a doubleheader, so really proud and impressed with the guys.”

EXTRA HELP — Casey Lawrence was recalled from triple-A as the 27th man for both games of the doubleheader. He pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief in Saturday’s first game, allowing six runs to take the loss. Relief pitcher Max Castillo was sent down to triple-A between games to make space for Hatch on Toronto’s roster.

PIRATES TRADE — The Blue Jays announced a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda during the first game of the doubleheader. Toronto sent cash considerations to Pittsburgh in return. Righty Julian Merryweather was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

UP NEXT — Ross Stripling (4-2) will start for Toronto in the finale of the rare five-game series against Tampa Bay. Shane Baz (0-1) will take the mound for the Rays.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2022.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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Canada’s men’s U18 team defeats Finland 4-1 to advance to Hlinka Gretzky Cup final

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RED DEER, Alta. — Canada’s men’s under-18 team defeated Finland 4-1 to advance to the Hlinka Gretzky Cup final Friday night.

Ethan Gauthier scored the opening goal in the first period, his tournament-leading fifth of the competition.

Calum Ritchie added another for his second in the past two games. Matthew Wood and Denver Barkey scored 19 seconds apart around the halfway mark of the final period to put the game out of reach.

Finland got on the board with only 18 seconds remaining, courtesy of Arttu Alasiurua.

Scott Ratzlaff made 23 saves, conceding his first goal of the tournament in three appearances for the undefeated Canadian team.

In the other semifinal, Sweden defeated Czechia 6-2 to set up another showdown against the Canadian squad. Sweden lost 3-0 to Canada in the final game of the preliminary round on Wednesday.

Canada will seek its first gold medal since 2018 when the two sides meet Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022

The Canadian Press

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Red Deer

Canada goes unbeaten in preliminaries after 3-0 win over Sweden at Hlinka Gretzky Cup

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RED DEER, Alta. — Canada’s men’s under-18 team closed out preliminary play undefeated after a 3-0 victory over Sweden on Wednesday at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager each recorded one goal and one assist, while Zachary Benson added a score of his own. Scott Ratzlaff made 18 saves in the win.

The Canadians dominated offensively for much of the way, firing no less than 12 shots on goal within each period of play and totalling 43 for the night.

Canada had previously defeated Switzerland 14-0 on Sunday, and Slovakia 9-1 on Tuesday in Group A action.

Finland, which finished second in Group B awaits Canada in the semifinals on Friday. The gold and bronze medal games will take place Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2022

The Canadian Press

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