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Saturday, October 10, 2015


HAMILTON - Jeff Mathews' shoulders are feeling a little lighter.

The 24-year-old rookie quarterback threw the first three touchdown passes of his CFL career to lead the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 30-15 over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Tim Hortons Field in CFL action Friday night.

"It (feels) more like a little bit of weight off your back after playing three games,'' said the Cornell product. "Now it's been lifted, we can just go play and not think about it.''

It was his second CFL career start with the Ticats - and his first win - after having to take over for starter Zach Collaros in the second quarter of Week 13's game against Edmonton, a 25-18 loss in which he threw two picks returned for touchdowns, one interception in the end zone and one fumble. Things weren't much better last week in his first start - a 23-20 loss to Calgary in which he threw one interception and had one fumble.
This time Mathews had zero turnovers and completed 22-of-33 pass attempts for 385 yards.

"We finally got our execution level up,'' he said, crediting the play-making ability of his receivers. "We were able, obviously, to... make some great plays. It was a great day.''

Mathews' first TD pass was a nine-yard strike to fellow Cornell alumnus Luke Tasker midway through the second quarter that was set up by an Ed Gainey blocked punt recovered near the goal line. He followed that late in the half with a 91-yard drive ending with a six-yard strike to Tiquan Underwood and in the third with an 87-yard catch-and-run to Terrell Sinkfield - Hamilton's longest play from scrimmage this season.

Head coach Kent Austin had been saying all week his starter just needed to get some game experience.

"When he gets that experience, and has to face different situations and conditions and adversity and things, he'll get a lot better, and he has,'' said Austin. "He was very poised I thought today. We protected him well and the receivers really played well. They made some big catches, some big plays for him. But he was very accurate.''

Hamilton snapped a two-game losing skid to improve to 9-5 and take sole possession of first place in the CFL East. Saskatchewan fell to 2-13 and is eliminated from playoff contention for only the second time since 2002.

"At the beginning of the year, that's the goal (making the playoffs),'' said Roughrider head coach Bob Dyce. "Now realizing (we are out), it's a little disheartening. We now have three games and we are going to keep fighting. Obviously, our focus changes.''

Saskatchewan was down 20-0 at the end of the first half, so rookie pivot Brett Smith was sent in to replace starter Kevin Glenn to start the second. He hit Weston Dressler for a 79-yard catch-and-run TD and Ryan Smith with a 68-yard TD strike. He also threw one interception.

Glenn made 11-of-17 pass attempts for 67 yards and one interception in the first half. Smith completed 11-of-20 pass attempts for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Smith's opening drive ended with an interception by Courtney Stephen at the Saskatchewan 21 and returned to the 18. When Hamilton failed to get the first down on a botched fake 22-yard field-goal attempt, the Roughriders got the ball back on their own eight.

Three plays later, Smith found the wide-open Dressler downfield and the score was 20-7 4:53 into the second half.

Hamilton got that back four minutes later when Sinkfield escaped a tackle after a 10-yard pass from Mathews and ran it the rest of the way for an 87-yard score and the 27-7 lead.

Ticats kicker Justin Medlock's 18-yard field goal with 4:34 left in the game followed by Smith's 68-yard TD catch-and run, with a two-point convert with 1:57 left, finished the scoring.

Medlock hit all three field-goal attempts, from 25, 44 and 18 yards.

Saskatchewan kicker Paul McCallum missed from 27 yards out.

Hamilton running back Michael Ford rushed for 54 yards while Brett Smith led Saskatchewan with 57 rushing yards. Jerome Messam, the league's second-leading rusher, was held to eight yards.

Notes: Attendance at Tim Hortons Field was 24,222.

(Canadian Press)



- A little challenging.  Offensively throughout the course of the whole game we really didn't have much flow.  Defensively we fought hard for the majority and special teams had that block which led to our first touchdown.  But some mental lapses bit us.  We talked about that but it bit us in the rear-end.

- I think it was a combination of things.  I certainly won't put this on Kevin Glenn.  There were a number of drops in the first half.  There may have been some miscommunication and mislocated balls and when you do that against a defense like this you won't have success.

- Changing quarterbacks wasn't planned.  You can't go a half in the CFL without scoring points so we made the decision to go with Brett in the second half.

- Normally the protocol is to be notified on pass interference if it should be challenged.  Afterwards Weston said he was interfered with but we just didn't get it in time.

- Alex Hall likely won't play for the rest of the season.  On the others, I haven't had a chance to check yet.  Monroe went down and didn't finish.

- Brett Smith is an interesting guy.  The first touchdown was a result of a broken coverage and credit to his mobility, he escaped and had time downfield.  We'll have to watch film.  The coach said there were some things that possibly could've been missed but we'll have to look at the film.  The late touchdown to Ryan was a great ball and he put up 15 points which is great but as always there were things that possibly could've been better.

- It's Kent prerogative to run a fake.  I'm just happy our guys were on point and stopped it.  It's his job to score points.  That's the objective of the game.  That's his prerogative.

- On the shortkick, it was a great kick.  I told Paul that as soon as he walked off the field.  We coulda played the ball instead of the man.  Jeff could've tapped it over the receiver.  It's hard for me to see who could've got through but we could've maybe schemed it better.

- Luckily we're in a bye week so we'll be able to sit down and see how to adjust the roster going forward.  Obviously we still want to win games.  You can't change 15 guys and expect to have continuity.  We'll look at it this week and look at all possibilities and go from there.


- It's very disappointing right now.  The season is basically over for us, for the postseason.  It always hurts for us but coming off the bye week we have to stay focused.  We've still go three games left.

- I had a lot of help this year. Coach Pettaway is good, man.  He's showed me a lot and I'm still learning.  I'm a rookie and have a lot to learn. Coach Dyce and the staff believe me in put me in position to make plays.  I have to make sure I make them.

- Moving to the middle is a big responsibility.  You've gotta communicate with the back-end and the front-end plus your own assignments but I embrace it.  I love the challenge.

- When the scouts saw my film on line, I got a call and I was asked to come to camp in Florida before the NFL Draft.  My agent was opposed to it but I'm my own man and I took the chance to go to Florida.  They invited me to camp, I made it through rookie camp and made it through and made the roster.  It's been a blessing.


- We just didn't execute as we needed to in the game.  We moved it decently in the first quarter and didn't finish a few drives.  A few things off cost us.

- It's just that.  When everything goes right there's always one thing that goes wrong.  It's one thing different each week.  It seems like we can't get it all together at the same time.

- It's nice to see Getz back on the field.  He's a good friend of mine obviously and watching him on the sidelines the past seven weeks was frustrating. It was nice to see him back out there.

- Brett does a lot of really good things with his legs and he extends plays.  He makes big plays happen downfield and he's getting better and better each time he gets to play.  He's making the proper reads and getting the ball out on time.  He'll continue to improve.  It's not easy to run this offense if you're a rookie quarterback in this league.  He works hard on it.  I like to call it 'organized chaos' when he's making those plays.

- I have no idea what our staff is going to do with the last three games.  I don't take this game for granted.  I know how quickly it can end at any time.  I'm going to make the most of my opportunities whenever I'm on the field.

* The Riders now head into a bye in Week 17.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Keith Hershmiller Photography
Regina, SK - The Vancouver Giants lost in heartbreaking fashion on Friday night, falling 6-5 to the Regina Pats in overtime at the Brandt Centre. Ty Ronning had a hat-trick for the G-Men while Ty Comrie and Dakota Odgers also scored. The Giants are 3-2-1-1 on the season.

Ronning netted his first of the game just over five minutes into the first period to give the visitors the early lead, but Connor Hobbs and Sergey Zborovskiy both scored goals in the last five minutes of the frame to give the Pats a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Ronning pulled the Giants back to level terms in the opening minutes of the second stanza, but Rykr Cole responded for Regina to put the home team on top again. After Cole’s goal, Vancouver starter Cody Porter was replaced by Ryan Kubic between the pipes. Comrie pulled the Giants back onto level terms yet again, scoring his first as a Giant after a nifty setup by Alec Baer, and Ronning completed his hat-trick with a power play marker in the final minute of the period to give the Giants the advantage.

Odgers extended the Vancouver lead in the third period, scoring a shorthanded goal on an odd-man rush to make it 5-3, but the Pats stormed back late, getting goals from Riley Woods and Lane Zablocki in the last five minutes to force overtime.

In the 3-on-3 period, Kubic came up big with a couple of dazzling saves on Austin Wagner to keep the Giants alive, but it wasn’t enough, as Adam Brooks scored the winning goal on a 3-on-1 rush to give the Pats the extra point.

The Giants were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Pats were 0-for-2.

The attendance was 3521.

The Pats host the Edmonton Oil Kings Sunday at 4:00 pm on 620 CKRM.

(Courtesy VancouverGiants.com)


PHILADELPHIA - Defenceman Logan Pyett of the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and will be out indefinitely.

The team said Friday the 27-year-old from Milestone, SK has a sarcoma in his upper leg. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall told CSNPhilly.com there's "a lot of positive signs'' and the "indications are it's fairly isolated in his leg.''

Pyett, a former captain with the WHL's Regina Pats, signed a one-year contract with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after being at the Flyers' training camp. He was selected by Detroit in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL entry draft. He signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers in 2012 and spent two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.


5:30 pm Friday, Tim Hortons Field
TSN, ESPN3, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network
Pregame Coverage: 2:30 pm 620 CKRM

RIDERS: Road 0-6, vs East 1-5
TICATS: Home 4-3, vs West 5-2

QB Kevin Glenn makes his 179th career start (6th in CFL passing, 2107 yds, 9 TDs, 9 INTs) ... SB Weston Dressler is 13th in CFL receiving (673 yds, 3 TDs) ... RB Jerome Messam is 2nd in CFL rushing (818 yds, 2 TDs) ... Riders are 6th in points scored and 9th in sacks allowed.

QB Jeff Mathews makes his 2nd career start (402 yds, 0 TDs, 4 INTs) ... WR Luke Tasker leads the Ticats and is 11th in CFL receiving (701 yds, 4 TDs) ... RB R. Holley is their rushing leader (309 yds, 1 TD) ... Ticats are 1st in points scored and 5th in sacks allowed.

DE John Chick leads the team in sacks (8) ... LB Macho Harris leads the team in INT (3) ... LB Jeff Knox Jr. leads the league in tackles (68) ... Riders are 9th in points allowed and 9th in sacks.

DE Justin Hickman leads the team in sacks (8) ... LB Simoni Lawrence leads in tackles (61) ... DB Emmanuel Davis leads in INT (5) ... Ticats are 2nd in points allowed and 6th in sacks.

RIDER SPEC TEAMS: K Paul McCallum is 6th in FG percentage (82.9%) ... P Ray Early is 3rd in punting average (45.1) ... Tristan Jackson leads in KR yards and Nic Demski leads in PR yards (1 TD) ... Dylan Ainsworth leads in ST tackles (11).

TICAT SPEC TEAMS: K/P Justin Medlock is 2nd in FG percentage (88.2%) and 9th in punting average (40.2) ... Brandon Banks leads in KR and PR yards (4 TDs) ... Frederic Plesius leads in ST tackles (13).

INTANGIBLES: Less than 150 tickets remain for the game ... The referee is Dave Foxcroft ... Riders are 9th in turnover ratio (-10) while the Ticats are best at +15 ... Saskatchewan is the CFL's most-penalized team while Hamilton is 7th ... The Ticats are favoured by 7.5-points ... The forecast calls for a 30% chance of showers and winds gusting to 40 km/h ... Hamilton beat the Riders 32-21 at Mosaic Stadium in Week 5.



It is Friday so here is the weekly set of thoughts running through my muddled mind and as always, they are in no particular order.

-- I'm not going to lie to you, I have absolutely zero interest in Friday's game at Tim Hortons Field between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Oh, I will watch it, but like many others I am now just waiting for this season to end and then eagerly await what happens with the general manager and head coach positions and what changes will be made for 2016. I don't think I am the only one in this boat, and for some they came to this conclusion a long time ago and I really can't blame them. Of course, part of this may be because the Chicago Cubs are playing the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of their NLDS.

-- Are people really questioning Weston Dressler and wondering if number 7 is in the twilight of his career? If they are, they are sadly mistaken.  Dressler is one of many Riders who have had a season to forget and I am expecting him to be the same Weston Dressler that has excited Rider Nation with his play in 2016. Despite his "lack of production" as some will say, he is putting up some decent numbers considering he has dealt with a number 3 quarterback for a good portion of the season. Has it come to the point that some have to diss Dressler now? You're better than that!

-- I have been lobbying for the CFL to get involved with Draftkings and Fanduel as a way to increase fan interest and get more people talking on both sides of the border about the game. If the CFL is interested, they aren't saying, but it was interesting to see Major League Soccer has signed a 4 year deal with one of the two one day fantasy sports sites out there. If MLS can do it, surely the CFL can.  It is too late for this year, but games in 2016 would be relished by many I think. It is one of many things on the table for Jeffrey Orridge between the time he hands out the Grey Cup and the time training camps start in June.

-- A decision this week by the Regina Public School Board to cancel graduation dinners is just stupid in my opinion. You watch your child go through the highs and lows of their education and the Grade 12 dinner and ceremony is a very special occasion for not only those who are graduating and having one last night with their friends and classmates before entering the real world, but for the parents who have tagged along for the ride and sit there with extreme pride.  I'm not buying the reasons being given. Why is it every tradition must somehow be scrutinized and then gotten rid of in one fashion or another? It is just ridiculous!

-- Good on the NHL for getting rid of Raffi Torres for 41 games. His style of play is no longer welcome in the NHL, but he is just too stupid it would seem to realize that.

-- Two thumbs up to former Pats defenceman Brandon Davidson for making the Oilers final roster. He could get sent down to Bakersfield at some point during the season, but to see what that kid went through to get to this point is inspiring and is a tremendous story.

-- Two thumbs also are up for former Pats forward Jordan Weal for cracking the Kings lineup this year too. Like Davidson, Weal could get sent back to the American Hockey League, but I get the feeling now that he is up, he may never go down as he just keeps meeting every challenge thrown in front of him.

-- Picking ties in pro-line are going to be a lot more difficult with 3 on 3 overtime and the odds show that. If you can pick a couple and they come through, you should be a happy camper at the end of the night.

-- Want a Stanley Cup prediction? How about the St. Louis Blues over the Washington Capitals.

-- Week 5 NFL Lock of the Week (4-0)   Giants over Niners
    Week 5 NFL Upset of the Week (1-3)  Seahawks over Bengals

-- I can't believe the Blue Jays had Cito Gaston throw out the first pitch before Game 1 of the ALDS. As Sportscage baseball insider Craig Slater texted to me "Wasn't Mitch Williams available?". There's nothing wrong with Gaston throwing it out, but I might have gone with Joe Carter. Here's hoping Roy Halladay gets a chance to throw out a first pitch before this run is over.

-- Game 1 of the ALDS was a disaster, but the Blue Jays perhaps asked for that disaster to happen. The decision by John Gibbons to shut down David Price early to get him ready for the playoffs causing him to get extra rest was a move many including myself questioned when he did, and it is a move that backfired. As Gregg Zaun and others so quickly pointed out, Price was not in rhythm after having extended time off the mound. He was not as sharp and Texas capitalized. It didn't help Toronto that Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista both left to injury, but reports are both should be back for what really is a must win Game 2. The pressure is on Marcus Stroman to even this series. It will be the biggest start of his young career.

-- Back to the Cubs and I never ever imagined at the start of the year this team would be close to winning 100 games and be a playoff squad. I knew Joe Maddon would get that young team going, but I saw the progression to the playoffs start in 2016 and I never, ever thought Jake Arrieta would be the best pitcher in baseball. Since August 1, he is 12-0 with an ERA of 0.37. Some of the all-time greats have never done that! I simply can't wait to see them battle the Cardinals and then hopefully the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

-- The Hallowe'en whopper with a black bun? Uhhhhhhhh no!

-- That's all I got. Stuff yourself on turkey and have a great Thanksgiving long weekend! Start some Christmas shopping. Yeah right!


Friday: Saskatchewan at Hamilton
Saturday: Edmonton at Calgary
  Winnipeg at BC
Montreal: Toronto at Montreal

BALL (38-22): HAM - EDM - BC - TOR
PHIL (36-24): HAM - CGY - BC - TOR
R.P. (33-27): SK - CGY - BC - MTL
SCHULTZ (33-27): SK - CGY - BC - TOR
SCRUFFY (33-27): HAM - EDM - BC - TOR
SHARKY (32-28): SK - CGY - BC - TOR
LYNCH (31-29): HAM - CGY - BC - MTL
LUC (30-30): HAM - CGY - BC - TOR
ABOU (28-32): HAM - CGY - WPG - TOR
COIN (28-32): SK - EDM - WPG - MTL

* Winner gets a $50 gift card to the Press Box Sports Bar.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


HAMILTON (CP) - Diminutive Brandon Banks likes to think big.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats' dynamic punt returner expects to score each time he settles under a booming kick. Although such expectations are unrealistic, the five-foot-seven, 153-pound Banks remains the CFL's most dangerous special-teams performer with four punt returns for touchdowns.

That's one behind the league record held by Ottawa Redblacks receiver Chris Williams, who set the standard in 2012 while with Hamilton. Banks, who had an 83-yard punt return TD in last weekend's 23-20 home loss to the Calgary Stampeders, will have Williams' mark in his sights when the Ticats (8-5) host the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-12) on Friday night (5:30 pm Sask Time, TSN, 620 CKRM Network).

"I just want to go out there pretty much every time and return the kick if I can, but we know the reality,'' Banks said on the Ticats' website. "Hopefully I can get (fifth return TD) to tie the record.

"I just want to go out there and give 110 per cent effort ... I'm just going to scratch and claw. I'm not so big so I've got to give a little bit more than the (other) guy. I'm just going to go out there each punt return and try to take one to the house.''

Kent Austin, Hamilton's head coach/GM, said Banks certainly brings a unique skillset to the table.

"They (punt return TDs) are not easy to do,'' Austin said. "He's a great player, a great returner.

"He doesn't just help us on the ones he takes back to the endzone but he has the ability to flip the field and get us good field position. He's a premiere punt returner.''

The Ticats can certainly use Banks' big-play abilities given they're tied atop the East Division standings with the arch-rival Toronto Argonauts (8-5) and Ottawa (8-6). What's more, Hamilton has shown a vulnerability at home, having lost three of its last four games at Tim Hortons Stadium.

The Ticats won their first 10 games at the facility before the Montreal Alouettes snapped that streak with a 26-23 road victory Aug. 23. Hamilton has lost two straight for the first time this season and will look to avoid its first three-game home losing streak since Sept. 19, 2008 - a span of 64 games.

Banks said Hamilton can't afford to look past a Saskatchewan squad that's 2-3 under interim head coach Bob Dyce.

"Actually, they're a good team with the new coach,'' Banks said. "Watching film I saw guys out there making plays especially on the defensive end.

"We can't just look at them as just another team. We've got to come and play because these next five weeks are critical for us.''

Hamilton won the first meeting of the season 31-21 in Regina on July 26.

Surprisingly, Saskatchewan remains in playoff contention but needs plenty of help to reach the post-season.

Saskatchewan must not only win all four of its remaining games, but have B.C. drop all five of its contests. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers must beat the Lions this weekend, then go winless the rest of the way.

And finally, Montreal must lose four of its final five contests.

The good news for Saskatchewan is veteran slotback Chris Getzlaf appears poised to return to the lineup after missing seven games with a foot injury. Despite his lengthy absence, the 32-year-old Regina native's four TD grabs is tied with Rob Bagg for the team lead.

"I think it means a lot to the quarterbacks, I think it means a lot to the team on a whole,'' Dyce said of Getzlaf's anticipated return. "A veteran like Chris, he's a total pro.

"He's kind of like a coach out there, even while he's injured he's helping guys out so that understanding and sometimes the presence of a veteran leads to greater confidence of the whole team.''

But centre Dan Clark (concussion) won't play and will be replaced by Corey Watman.

For the Ticats, centre Mike Filer (lower body) and defensive end Eric Norwood (knee) are both expected to play Friday night.


The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released the following five players from the practice roster.

· International defensive back Antareis Bryan
· International defensive lineman David Hunter
· National kicker Brett Lauther
· International linebacker Jonathan Willard
· International wide receiver Devin Wilson


TORONTO -- The Canadian Football League announced today:

Saskatchewan Roughrider Dan Clark was fined for a chop block on Montreal Alouette Alan-Michael Cash during Week 14 play in Saskatchewan.

As per league policy, the amount of the player fine was not disclosed.


TORONTO - Advantage Texas Rangers.

The underdog AL West champions, no strangers to being written off, spoiled the Blue Jays' long-awaited return to the post-season Thursday, beating Toronto ace David Price en route to a 5-3 win.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister sends Cole Hamels, his marquee man, to the mound Friday afternoon to face Marcus Stroman in Game 2.
Rider fan Gregg Zaun preps for the broadcast

There's a ways to go in the best-of-five series, but Texas is smiling while Canada has its fingers crossed.

"I care a ton,'' said a disappointed Price. "I want to go out there and pitch well for my teammates and pitch well for this country and I didn't do that today.''

A sellout crowd of 49,834, waving rally towels, lived and died with every pitch under the roof at the Rogers Centre, which last saw playoff action in 1993 when the Jays won a second straight World Series.

Russell Martin, the Jays' Canadian catcher, called the atmosphere "awesome.''

"The fans were great. Good energy, from start to finish,'' he said. "The only thing that wasn't good was the result.''

Countless other Canadians took in the game from further afield as baseball took centre stage at the start of hockey season.

Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos homered and combined to score four of the Rangers' runs as the bottom of the Texas order took its toll on Price, who was pitching on 11 days rest.
Fans peer in from outside Rogers Centre

Price, who left after seven innings, gave up five earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He threw 90 pitches, 59 for strikes in taking the loss.

"That's baseball. If you don't like it, pitch better,'' he said, quoting a slogan that hangs in his locker. "That's something I always say. I definitely don't like the result of what happened today but there's a lot of things that were in my control today and I didn't control those things.''

Price, who did not hit a batter as a Jay during the regular season, hit Odor twice in five innings - a Toronto playoff record. Both times the Texas second baseman came home to score.

Odor, a 21-year-old from Venezuela, is the second-youngest player to score three runs in a post-season game, according to ESPN Stats. Only Andruw Jones in the 1996 World Series was younger.

For all his regular-season exploits, Price has lost six straight in the playoffs since a win over Boston in 2008.

"It's been about seven years so I want that monkey off my back,'' Price said. "I expect to have better results out there on the field. I didn't throw the ball the way that I'm capable of today and I'll be ready to go whenever it's my turn again.''

The Rangers never trailed, scoring twice in the third and fifth before adding a single run in the seventh. Toronto, limited to single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth, outhit Texas 6-5 but was only 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Carm Carteri and I took in the game

Jays manager John Gibbons called it one of those games.

"He (Price) didn't give up many hits. The key ones were the two home runs, the two-runner by Chirinos and then Odor getting him later, that was really the difference in the game,'' said Gibbons, his voice hoarse from a chest cold.

Texas only won two of six games against Toronto this season and Yovani Gallardo was on the mound for both. He started strongly Thursday, retiring the first nine Jays he faced before exiting after five innings with a 4-2 lead.

Rangers manager Jeff Bannister, whose Rangers seemed to come into the series with a chip on their shoulder given the attention on the Jays, pointed to his team's resolve in the wake of the win

"We've got a very confident group of guys,'' he said. "We've got a group of guys that they absolutely love playing together and they've been up against it all year long since spring training.

"So it's not anything that we haven't faced already about what is said on the outside about our ball club. We know that we're a ball club that's not a perfect ball club, but we've got a group of guys that play extremely well together. It's a good team. They play very well together.''

Both teams lost key players during the game, with Jays' MVP candidate Josh Donaldson and right-fielder Jose Bautista and Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre leaving early with injuries.

Toronto said Donaldson, dinged in the head by Odor's knee in breaking up a double play, had cleared the concussion protocol and would be evaluated Friday.

"I think he got a little light-headed, (felt) something wasn't right,'' said Gibbons. "But he did pass the test so that's a good sign.''

In sacrificing his body, Donaldson kept the fourth inning alive and set the stage for Toronto's first run. He did it at some personal cost, losing his batting helmet and grimacing as he got up.

Bautista was diagnosed with a hamstring cramp and is not expected to miss any more action.

An MRI showed a lower back strain for Beltre, with no immediate word on his availability.

Bautista homered deep to left-centre off reliever Keone Kela to open the bottom of the sixth, cutting the Texas lead to 4-3 and lifting hopes. The Jays slugger paused to admire his first-ever post-season blast then trotted around the bases.

One hitter later, Edwin Encarnacion almost repeated the feat but his blast went just foul.

Odor's line-drive homer to right in the seventh made it 5-3, shushing the crowd after Bautista's homer.

Hard-throwing Sam Dyson got the save for Texas, hitting 98 m.p.h. in the ninth. Encarnacion opened with a single but the Jays came up short.

"The thing we've got going for us is I think we have been resilient all year ... One thing I know about us is we always seem to respond,'' said Gibbons.

"I still like our team,'' said Martin. "We fought hard all year. I don't know how many series that we lost the first game and still came out and won the series. It's good to have that in the back of your mind.''

Added Bautista: "It's one game. This could have been the fourth game of the series. It doesn't make a difference. We've still got to go out there (Friday) and keep winning games and we have to go to Texas anyway and win there. So it doesn't change anything about our approach."

The contest featured a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in baseball since the all-star break (405 runs for Toronto, 381 for Texas). Toronto went 40-18 and Texas 38-22 since the start of August.

While Toronto (93-69) was making its return to the post-season after more than two decades, Texas (88-74) has made it four of the last six years. Still the Rangers' ride this season is noteworthy, given they were last in the American League last year at 67-95 and they opened this season at 7-14.

Disappointed Jays fans head home postgame
"They counted us out in April but today we start the post-season,'' the Rangers tweeted prior to Thursday's game with their signature NeverEverQuit hashtag.

There was plenty of pre-game hoopla, with the "2015 AL East Champs'' banner unfurled high in the rafters.

Cito Gaston, who managed the Jays to back-to-back World Series the last time Toronto was in the playoffs, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. And there was another tie to the glory days with the Canadian anthem - a recording of the late Michael Burgess from the 1992 World Series played as members of the military manned a giant Canadian flag in the outfield.

(Canadian Press/Neil Davidson)


Regina, Saskatchewan – The Regina Pats Hockey Club is pleased to announce new food and beverage specials Evraz Place will offer for the 2015-16 season in addition to a returning favourite.

Wiener Wednesdays are back for another season featuring two-for-one hot dogs at all three Wednesday night games this year.

The Pats play three Tuesday home dates and there’s a whole new reason to eat at the rink.  ‘Taco in a Bag’ Tuesdays make their debut featuring two ‘Taco in a Bag’ for $10.

Friday games see a new beer special at the Brandt Centre with $4 cans all night.  This new promotion begins Friday evening when the Pats face off against the Vancouver Giants at the Brandt Centre.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.ca, the Brandt Centre Box Office and Safeway locations throughout Regina.



1 - HAMILTON -- In sports circles in North America, this is where the action is this week.  Maple Leafs/Canadiens, Blue Jays/Rangers MLB playoffs, Roughriders/Ticats.  How fortunate we are to basically be right in the middle of it.  Hamilton is 32 miles from Toronto (however it's at least an hour's drive), but it's part of the fabled Golden Horseshoe and for this week anyways, being in this area is a sports fan's dream.  Again, how lucky we are.

2 - Honestly I expected more hype.  Walking through the Toronto airport upon our arrival on Wednesday, there was one store with wall-to-wall Blue Jays merchandise stamped with their playoff slogan "MISSION OCTOBER" and "TAKE OCTOBER".  However other than that, there hasn't been much craziness.  Anywhere.  I'm told once we get to downtown Toronto, the Jays Fever will be ramped up and off the charts.  We're going to Game 1 of the ALDS today between the Rangers and Blue Jays at Rogers Centre so we'll know soon.

3 - Quick: can you name the Roughriders' marketing slogan/campaign for 2015?

4 - The front cover of the Toronto Sun's sports section today blares "LEAFS WORK HARD, DROP HOME OPENER", following Toronto's 3-1 loss to Montreal last night.  More on the game further down in the column, but it shows you where the Blue Jays are in the pecking order.  They're in the playoffs for the first time in 22 years but they still get trumped by the perenially bad Maple Leafs.

5 - Let's not forget we're here for a football game!  The Riders visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday night but it doesn't look like it'll be a great night for football.  The forecast calls for showers and 18 degrees.  The Ticats are favoured by 7.5-points.  They have far more to play for given the fact they're in a three-way tie for first-place in the East, while the Riders are one loss away from being mathematically eliminated.  This 2-12 Roughriders season is just now providing some challenges in our area of the game.  Local fans seem to have lost their zest whatwith the NHL season starting up, the Blue Jays in the playoffs and the NFL going into Week 5.

6 - The Ticats haven't won since Zach Collaros went out with the season-ending knee injury so Friday's game is huge for Hamilton to prove they can still contend for a Grey Cup with rookie Jeff Mathews at quarterback.  It'll be interesting to pick Ticats coach & GM Kent Austin's brain later today on how they plan to win without their top pivot.

7 - The Calgary Stampeders have already clinched a home playoff game and are headed to the playoffs for an 11th consecutive season.  The Montreal Alouettes currently have a 19-year playoff streak going while the B.C. Lions have achieved the postseason for 18 straight.  One of those will likely fall since Montreal's fourth in the East but, as of today, not in position for the crossover.  The Riders are looking at missing the playoffs for the second time in five seasons and any belief otherwise is Fantasy Football.  At least the Riders' braintrust noticed they were heading off path and made the necessary adjustment.  This off-season will be critical in Saskatchewan.

8 - The touchdown catch by B.C. quarterback Jon Jennings last week against Saskatchewan got the CFL statisticians scrambling.  That doesn't happen very often.  The last time a Roughrider quarterback caught a touchdown pass was Kerry Joseph in 2006.  Incidentally, Lions offensive coordinator George Cortez called this week to reiterate that he doesn't recall Jon Jennings from the Riders' 2014 Florida minicamp.  He wasn't fibbing when he told reporters that on Friday.  It's likely once Cortez and the Riders made their minds up which quarterbacks they were going to keep, they moved on and flushed everything else.

9 - Some in the media (Scruffy) thought the Austin Collie-to-Jon Jennings touchdown pass was a display of poor sportsmanship Saturday night.  They felt the Lions shouldn't have run a trick play while up 33-5.  I called the game and felt no such way.  It's part of the game.  B.C. put Jennings at considerable risk by running that Quarterback-Reverse-Throwback and a Rider defender could've (should've) taken his head off in the endzone.  We move on.

10 - The CFL vs NFL debate rages.  One area where the Canadian game lags is in credibility and lack of defense.  The NFL Monday Nighter saw Seattle beat Detroit 13-10 in a gem.  The next night Toronto beat Ottawa 38-35 in a track meet.  In that sense, (or in my view), the NFL game was more enjoyable to watch.  However the CFL game ended in a mind-boggling onehanded TD catch by Toronto's Chad Owens which was replayed endlessly on USA television networks.  Meanwhile the NFL game ended in a botched referee's call which had the NFL issuing an apology to the Detroit Lions later in the night.  Maybe the leagues aren't as dissimilar as we think!!!

11 - You'll be reading a lot about what I'm seeing on American television networks after I got ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN U, ESPN3, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and every other channel hardwired into my house this week.  I'll NEVER give up my Access subscription and digital boxes, but this is a nice little supplement and contrary viewpoint.  I may never watch Canadian Sportscentre again.

12 - If the CFL's going to take a major step forward with sports fans, they need to make a foray into sports betting.  Once they do that, they need to get more more serious about being transparent with injuries.  We knew on Saturday of last weekend Colts quarterback Andrew Luck wasn't going to play due to a shoulder injury.  Meanwhile in the CFL, coaches have historically kept their starters a secret until kickoff.  That needs to change, and pronto.

13 - One word came to mind while watching Glenn Healy provide between-the-benches commentary of the Leafs-Habs game Wednesday night: awkward.  Why is he there?  It seemed quite often like throwing to Healy was an annoyance for colour commentator Craig Simpson, and rightfully so.  At one point they showed all the NHL awards Montreal goalie Carey Price won last season and Healy followed that up by bringing some of childhood awards to the booth.  So weird.

14 - And whatever happened to showing highlights of other games during your telecast?  The Rangers and Blackhawks opened the new season last night but if they showed any of the goals on Sportsnet, I didn't see them.  I thought opening night of the NHL season, as far as television broadcasts go, was a fail.

15 - An NHL P.R. company sent out some interesting odds this week.  The odds-on favourite for the first coach to be fired is St. Louis's Ken Hitchcock at 5/2.  Next is Arizona's Dave Tippett at 4/1.  Calgary's Bob Hartley wasn't on the list but I'm told he could be out by Christmas.  Last night's 5-1 loss to Vancouver wasn't a good start.

16 - Connor McDavid's odds of being named Calder Trophy winner as NHL Rookie of the Year are 1/1.  Doesn't that make it a lock?  The top four favourites to win the Stanley Cup are Chicago (7/1), Tampa Bay (8/1), L.A. (10/1) and N.Y. Rangers (10/1).  Those are the exact Stanley Cup favourites chosen by ESPN's Barry Melrose this week on Sportscenter.  The top early favourite Canadian team is Montreal at 15/1.

17 - The Arizona Coyotes are the biggest longshot at 250/1 to win the Stanley Cup.  That blushingly suits them just fine since they'll then be in prime spot to take Auston Mathews, the #1 prospect who hails from Scottsdale, AZ.  He fell in love with hockey after attending a Coyotes game at the age of 3.  Mathews represents the best chance to save hockey in The Valley.

18 - And as far as team popularity goes, the Edmonton Oilers have seen a 131% increase in ticket sales (home and road) from this time last year and you can thank Todd McLellan and Connor McDavid for that.  Edmonton's gone from the 16th highest-selling ticket to 6th in the NHL.  The Oilers are the 7th-best road selling team in the NHL.  The top four are the N.Y. Rangers, Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.  The top Canadian home-selling teams are Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal.

19 - NFL owners wrapped up meetings in New York this week and ESPN had a reporter camped outside the boardroom.  Here are the conclusions from the meetings: 1) They will vote on franchise relocation (Rams, Chargers, Raiders) to Los Angeles in December, 2) Commissioner Roger Goodell still wants Tom Brady to serve his four game suspension for Deflate-gate and will vigorously pursue it, 3) Video Review will be revisited after the Monday Night Football debacle, 4) Sirius/XM renewed their satellite radio rights deal for six more years and 5) Rams owner Stan Kroenke shifted ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his wife in order to comply with the NFL rule that an owner can't have ownership of a team or teams in another league.

20 - The CHL Top 10 rankings came out this week and the Calgary Hitmen are now the WHL's #1 team, and #3 in Canada.  The Wheat Kings slipped to #4 in the CHL.  Both teams shutout the Pats on the weekend, but now you know why.  The Red Deer Rebels are #9 while the Prince Albert Raiders earned an honourable mention.  The Regina Pats are home to the Vancouver Giants Friday night at 7:00 on 620 CKRM.


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